Red Zone

Chiefs coach Andy Reid explains logic behind late timeout in loss to Colts

Updated: 2014-01-08T14:22:04Z

By TEREZ A. PAYLOR

The Kansas City Star

During a fascinating 30-minute interview with Soren Petro of 810 Sports on Tuesday ― feel free to watch it here ― Chiefs coach Andy Reid gave fans a rare glimpse into his thought process before the team’s final offensive play in their 45-44 loss to Indianapolis.

Here’s a quick refresher: The Chiefs were trailing the Colts 45-44 in the wild-card game at Lucas Oil Stadium with two minutes left. They needed a field goal and were out of Ryan Succop’s range, so they had to go for it on fourth-and-11.

After a short break due to the two-minute warning, the Chiefs came out in "11" personnel with one running back and one tight end. At the bottom of the screen, you see Dwayne Bowe has single coverage against the Colts’ best cornerback, Vontae Davis, to the field side. Davis didn’t have a great game to that point and had been battling a groin injury, but with a grade of plus-15.5, he graded out as one of the best corners in football this year, according to Pro Football Focus.

Now, even with Davis’ pedigree, this is a great look if you’re trying to get the ball to your number one receiver. But Reid decided to call a timeout here, which perplexed NBC’s color analyst, Mike Mayock, who quickly said, “I don’t understand how you go to a two-minute break, have the time to make the call, then come back and have to burn your final timeout unless you see something crazy … but you didn’t. I thought they had an advantageous look, Dwayne Bowe by himself one-on-one with Davis with no help. The criticism in Philadelphia on Andy Reid was time management.”

In talking with Petro on Tuesday, Reid had an interesting explanation.

“I really had a couple plays there in mind,” Reid said. “I wanted to get up and show ’em a formation. I probably shouldn’t tell you these secrets, but they have a tendency to back-to-back their defensive calls at timeouts. So I got up, showed it to them, and they came back and ran the same thing. We got our best guy, our best receiver, on their third corner, man-to-man, bump-and-run situation and we’re going, ‘This is a pretty sweet deal.’”

Indeed, check out the way the Chiefs lined up after the timeout.

Look at Bowe at the top of the screen. The Colts again came out in single-high, but instead of facing the league’s third-best corner ― who remains at the bottom of the screen ― Bowe now has a one-on-one matchup with backup corner Josh Gordy, who was a PFF grade of plus-1.4 this season.

“We had the look we wanted,” Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith said afterward.

It just didn’t work out. And in a moment of candor, Reid went on to explain why.

“Dwayne Bowe is one of the best slant runners in the National Football League,” Reid said. “He also is a great fade-ball catcher, (a) back-shoulder, fade-ball catcher. Dwayne’s big and strong. He’s playing fast, but he’s not the fastest receiver.

“Well, he beat this kid clean off the ball, and this kid’s got some speed. And I’m not sure he realized how clean he actually beat him off the ball. So normally, what he’d do is, he’d climb back on top. You go out to practice and see you see those red lines we have drawn on the field? You kind of go back and capture that red line. The red line sits four to five yards off the sideline, and you want to get right back on top that son of a gun if you beat somebody that fast. If not, you just fade it and the quarterback dots you on the back shoulder.

“He didn’t realize quite how clean he got that thing, and he bowed it out just a little bit towards the sideline. And he still had an opportunity — it was close. Half his foot was in, half was out. So if he had to do it all over again, he’d probably get over the top.”

Watch this replay and you can see what Reid is talking about. Bowe beat Gordy clean but drifted toward the sideline. This was a difficult throw for Smith, yet they still came very close to completing it. Even Mayock exclaimed “he’s got him” during the middle of the play.

At the end of the day, I guess I’m OK with the timeout. I’m sure there are plenty of reasons to criticize the call, and I’m open to listening to them. But if you know the ballgame basically comes down to that play, and you know the Colts’ tendency is to call the same play after timeouts (I’m presuming that’s true), and you have a chance to do anything to influence your chances of converting that first down … I can see the logic.

To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to tpaylor@kcstar.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/TerezPaylor.

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