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  • Derek Taylor (DTonSC)

The Worst Coaching Decision So Far

This season I started tracking coaching decisions I think are poor. They'll make good fodder for talk on the Sports Cage. The Redblacks decision late in the game versus the Stamps goes to the top of that list.

Up four points with 1:14 left, the Redblacks faced 3rd down at their own six. Rick Campbell's team chose to give up the safety - making it a two-point game - and give Calgary the ball. Easy choice, I thought.

Ottawa gave up the safety. I don't get it, and here's some of why: 1) Teams punting from inside their own 10 net about 38 yards (the last 10 seasons)

2) Starting a drive at the Ottawa 44 (6 yard line + 38 yard net) isn't very dangerous. Here's a slice of the expected value chart I work from.

It uses every meaningful drive from 2008-18.

(I use yards from an offence's goal line in this table. The opponent's 44 is 66 yards from the offence's goal line)

Historically, a team in Calgary's situation scores a TD only 27% of the time.

3) Richie Leone is about five yards above average per punt this season.

4) If you give up the two, you lose to a field goal.

5) Rene Paredes has hit 14 kicks of 50+ yards in his career including one this season.

6) The average field position after a free kick is the receiving team's 45 (2008-18)

So to avoid a 27% chance of giving up the touchdown, the Redblacks chose to give up the safety. Essentially they said 'we would rather you go 20 yards for a make-able field goal than 44 yards for a touchdown.'

Campbell and his staff know best how this game situation compared to the league average. I find it tough to believe that they should be so scared of a Calgary offence that hadn't scored a TD in the game.

This is the first coaching decision this season that cost a team a win, so it goes to #1 on my list for 2019.


Derek Taylor is the radio play-by-play voice of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. He's also the creator of "The Details on the CFL"--his stats-based segment that originated on the CFL on TSN.

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