Rodclo's Blog

Now that deferring on the opening coin toss has made it's way to the Pro ranks, a lot of teams are unsure how to handle it.  Most of them just go about the same routine they've always done, and elect to take the ball to start the game if they should win the toss.  The few that choose to defer are the ones with great defenses, who feel opening with their strength is to their advantage. 

However, I propose that teams should ALWAYS elect to defer.  Every team, every time.  It just makes strategic sense to do so.

Deferring means you get to make your decison on whether to kick or receive to start the second half.  If the opposing team elects to kick off to start the game, you can elect to receive to start the second half.  You get the opening kickoff in each half!  Granted, this would only work against stupid teams, but it's still worth the chance.

Besides that fluke in the rules, there's the simple fact that every team, no matter what the score, would be better off receiving the ball after half time, rather than kicking it away.  Look at some examples.

Home team 20, Away team 10.  If the home team receives the kickoff here, they have a chance to extend their lead to 17 points, and take a commanding advantage in the game.  If the away team can start with the ball, they can cut their deficit to only three, and make a game of it.

Home team 9, Away team 0.  In this defensive struggle, the home team can take possession and run out more of the clock, hopefully scoring in the process.  If the away team gets the ball, they have a shot to reduce the lead to a mere 2 points, and make it a close finish.

Home team 35, Away team 32.  In this ridiculous shootout of a game, whichever team gets the ball has the chance to put up more and more points before the other team gets to counter.

Home team 20, Away team 20.  This is the same as the beginning of the game basically, except there's half the time remaining and the end game is a little clearer.  Whoever gets the ball has the advantage of being able to take the lead.

There is no set of scores you can argue where a team would be better off kicking the ball away, other than extreme circumstances where they have a dominating defense and their unreliable backup QB is in, or if there are 30 mph winds.  Getting the ball after the half gives you the advantage of seeing how the first half went, what is working, what is not, what the other team is doing, and what specifically you need to do to win.  Getting the ball at the start gives you none of these.

If teams started to defer more often, as I suspect they will as the season progresses, they would find that they're often in more favorable situations.  Deferring the kickoff makes winning the coin toss actually mean something.  Coaches and players, use this to your advantage!  Give your team the best shot at winning, by making your choice thirty minutes later.


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