To kick or not to kick, that is the question

What were your thoughts about Bill's decision to kick a 56 yard FG in the rain with 50 seconds left?

  • Good decision

    Votes: 33 11.4%
  • Bad decision

    Votes: 69 23.8%
  • Preferred going for it but was ok with kicking

    Votes: 118 40.7%
  • Preferred kicking but would have been ok with going for it

    Votes: 19 6.6%
  • Either decision was acceptable - just too bad

    Votes: 50 17.2%
  • Other

    Votes: 1 0.3%

  • Total voters
    290

Smiling Joe Hesketh

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I didn't like the decision to kick. Folk is 36 and has been battling a sore plant leg. The weather was awful. And even if he makes it Brady would be getting the ball back with around 45 seconds left and 2 time outs, needing only a FG to win.

BB said that the Pats' lack of 3rd down success all game played a part in his decision to kick. Which is a good point.

One of those 50/50 calls that can be second-guessed no matter the decision or outcome.
 

bankshot1

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He lets Folk kick a 56 yarder in the rain but wouldn't let Ghost try a 48 yarder in the desert?

I know apples and pineapples.

I'm being a little facetious about the nature of BB's mind and FG kickers.

I thought he would go for the first down, get a little closer, kill the clock, as even if the 56 yard kick was good Brady had about a minute left to deliver a heart-breaker 22-20 nut punch win.

I thought it was about 50/50 either way.
 

Jimbodandy

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I'm sure there's a universe where the ball tails a couple feet less and it squeaks inside the goalpost. I'm also sure there are many universes where the ball lands a few yards short of the crossbar, or tails another 15 feet left.
Don't forget the universe where they go for it, and the pass gets batted down again.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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That's exactly my point - there's no way to know. So "he had the leg" or "he barely missed it" can't be justifications supporting the decision to kick because we don't know if that was among the best or worst possible outcomes. Put another way, if you thought the decision was bad prior to the kick, the fact that he hit the upright shouldn't change that thinking.
I just can't understand this. We may be talking past each other. He drilled it and just missed. What's the basis for thinking he wouldn't have drilled another attempt?

We saw what he did with our own eyes. A guy who did what he did is entirely capable of making it. I just don't see how it's not great evidence for what he was capable of. A shank is always possible. But we saw clearly that he was good from close to 60 at that moment in time in those conditions.

Maybe this is a good spot for IK, but how isn't what he did perfect evidence of what he could do? Add into that that the decision was made by people who pay a lot of attention to what the kicker can and cannot do and I think we have pretty good evidence that it was a reasonable choice and zero evidence for the proposition that was the best he could do.
 

lexrageorge

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I said this in the goat thread, but the possible plays that the Pats could run at 4th-and-3 were quite limited. No chance of a running play. Highly unlikely that they go downfield at all. Basically, the Tampa D is playing for a pass in a 5 yard window around the sticks. Pats were 2-9 on 3rd down during the game; the chances of a conversion there are definitely lower than the stat sheets.

As for the practice kicks: the main purpose of the warmups is to get a feel for how the kicker's leg looks. The coaches have the best info in terms of any nagging (and unreported) injuries their kicker may be dealing with. In Folk's case, it was known he was dealing with an issue with his plant leg. But if he is booming them in warmups, it's safe to conclude that the injury was less of an issue than feared, and that he could be counted on to at least make an honest attempt at a long kick. Given that it missed by inches, I fail to see how it would be the "best outcome"; a made try was well within the error bars given the fact that it hit the upright. As, to be fair, was an outright miss.

Finally, can Brady drive the team downfield for a FG with 50 seconds left in a driving rain? Sure. Is it guaranteed? Definitely not.

I also would not have been upset if they went for it and failed. As noted elsewhere, the pass deflection at 3rd down was where the game was essentially decided.
 

8slim

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Don't forget the universe where they go for it, and the pass gets batted down again.
Yeah, I'm aware, and I said that converting on 4th was no gimme. Honestly, I'd be fine with a kick of, say, 51. Folk has made that in his Pats tenure. I just felt in the moment, and still today, that 56 was too far.
 

troparra

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He lets Folk kick a 56 yarder in the rain but wouldn't let Ghost try a 48 yarder in the desert?

I know apples and pineapples.

I'm being a little facetious about the nature of BB's mind and FG kickers.

I thought he would go for the first down, get a little closer, kill the clock, as even if the 56 yard kick was good Brady had about a minute left to deliver a heart-breaker 22-20 nut punch win.

I thought it was about 50/50 either way.
I don't think Belichick wanted to put the game on his rookie QB's shoulders. I have no evidence for this thought, mind you. But in that situation, you basically put the game in the hands of the rookie QB or the veteran place kicker. If you consider the situation (bad weather, zero ability to run the ball) and the game itself (much hyped return of the GOAT), then protecting your rookie QB isn't such a bad thing.
 

Jimbodandy

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Yeah, I'm aware, and I said that converting on 4th was no gimme. Honestly, I'd be fine with a kick of, say, 51. Folk has made that in his Pats tenure. I just felt in the moment, and still today, that 56 was too far.
And you're right. In that instance it was.

And someone posted about once that we didn't let Ghost kick (perhaps 4th and 2 wasn't the best example), and we second guess that too. Or CDs example where someone holds and we're out of field goal range.

Basic win probability analysis seems to have it as a coin flip. Add in Brady, bad weather, our defense rocking it most of the night, our bad offensive line, etc., and I'm not sure that the 50% needle moves much in any direction. It's a coin flip.
 

Jungleland

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I wind up defending almost every borderline Belichick decision, and for once I think it was almost definitively the wrong choice. Given that Folk ultimately had the distance, I was less angry after the miss than I was concerned when he lined up, but to me it was a far worse decision than not going for it to end the half.

It's been said already, but looking at every factor:
  • Folk is hurtish
  • Folk hasn't hit from that distance in a decade
  • It was pouring, and one would think that level of rain is more likely to affect a long kick than a short pass
  • The Bucs would have had almost a full minute and 2 time outs to go 50 yards in 4 down territory
I think there is a decent chance Mac would have gotten clobbered, or the pass batted down, or a good pass dropped...but comparing these two options, I take B every time:
  • A) Kick a 56 yarder in the rain with an accurate but low strength kicker then stop the Bucs from getting into field goal territory
  • B) Pick up 3 yards, then milk the clock as you pick up 10-15 more yards to put it in Folk's wheelhouse and kick roughly as time expires
I thought the coaching staff pitched an almost perfect game last night - the defense played fantastically on the scariest WR trio in the league and McDaniels called some of his best drives in literal years - but I think kicking there was objectively wrong unless you think Mac would crumble if he blows it, which doesn't at all fit with what we've seen from him (and would be a problem in its own right).
 

DJnVa

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I thought they were definitely going to go for it, and Tampa was going to bring the house. I was shocked when they kicked.

Analytics say, in a vacuum, it was the right call, but I really wish they had gone for it.
 

midnightgang

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Given the O lines problems, the ball security issues they've had, the fact they were 2-9 on third-down conversions, and how Folk kicked it I was ok with it. They had a legit chance to go ahead and though there was a decent chance Brady leads them to a winning FG the D had been playing well all game. I would have been ok with going for it as well
 

Old Fart Tree

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At the time, I wanted them to go for it. When I think on it, the fact that they had absolutely no running game and the fact that clearly he had enough leg... I think kicking was arguably the right call.

Neither option is awesome though.
 

Marciano490

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Feel like later in the season when Mac has more rapport with Jonnu and Henry, we’d go for it. Or maybe if Harry hadn’t missed time. Seems like the down and distance where you go to your big bodies and they screen off the defender and make the grab 5 yards out.
 

patinorange

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Nick Folk is a stud. He's been great. Just missed it. To me is was a pure 50/50 decision.
The only thing that made me queasy was giving the ball back to Tom with 2 time outs. I'm guessing Bill thought he could contain him.
I would have loved seeing that play out.
 

BigSoxFan

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Nick Folk is a stud. He's been great. Just missed it. To me is was a pure 50/50 decision.
The only thing that made me queasy was giving the ball back to Tom with 2 time outs. I'm guessing Bill thought he could contain him.
I would have loved seeing that play out.
Yeah, the loss sucked. But not getting the theater of Brady going for the FG really sucks.
 
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I think it was a bad decision and the math EV calculations are pretty convincing in that regard, but it's not the end of the world and I don't think Belichick has lost it.
 

ElcaballitoMVP

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I don't want to be argumentative, but I disagree with the overarching point about Folk having the leg. I mean, yes, the ball hit the upright so there was appropriate length. But to get that length he had to kick on a trajectory that compromised accuracy. Needless to say, the two are connected. Folk hasn't made a FG from that distance in 11 years, and I presume that's because it is exceedingly unlikely that he can.
Can you expand on this? How does kicking on a lower trajectory compromise accuracy? I realize it's easier to block, which didn't happen, but why does it make the kick less accurate?

And of course it was unlikely he'd make the kick. It was 56 yards in the rain. I said I didn't agree with the decision before the kick. But I'm not sure how you can say he doesn't have the leg to make it after watching that kick. A foot to the right and it's in. You don't think that's within the range of possibilities if you gave him another shot at it?
 

joe dokes

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In that moment, BB had more faith in the kicker (who told him or someone else that yes, he could reach the posts from 56) and the defense than the offense. I really dont see how anyone could say that was definitively wrong.
 

dynomite

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In that moment, BB had more faith in the kicker (who told him or someone else that yes, he could reach the posts from 56) and the defense than the offense. I really dont see how anyone could say that was definitively wrong.
It's about as close to 50/50 as it gets. The people who are *sure* what should have happened are mostly wearing radio headsets and speaking into microphones with the luxury of having watched how it turned out.

Still, I also find it hard to disagree with those who say the Pats should have gone for it, considering all the factors that have been mentioned: 1) the difficulty of hitting a 56-yard FG, 2) not wanting to leave Tom Brady 2 timeouts and ~50 seconds to get into FG range, and 3) the number of injuries in the Bucs secondary.

Again, a 50/50 call.
 

bakahump

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I wonder......Is BB using the kid gloves with Mac?

Not totally but defaulting to protecting/DEVELOPING him where he can?

So we make our Rookie try to convert on 4th down with a minute left.....a play after having his pass slapped down.....And inevitably answer questions if he failed.
or
We let the vet try and kick for the lead (who had been kicking that far in warmups) and let the D try to hold.....against the Goat....with timeouts. And force THEIR Kicker to make a potentially long kick (when he had already had trouble on 2 earlier kicks). Defense seemed gassed but had kept TB in check up till then.

Seems like "not putting Mac in a position to fail" was part of the Calculus. Maybe He wouldnt have (failed). Maybe he should be allowed to (Fail). But BB might also be playing some long con 3d Chess of not putting Mac physically or mentally at risk wherever he can.

I dont fault the decision despite some great points. Sometimes its 2 shitty decisions and you find some little glimmer that makes the difference. Maybe that was not having Mac miss on 4th down after going Toe to Toe with the goat.

What would BB have done in 01? I think he kicks the FG. (and yes I realize he had AV back then.)
 

Big McCorkle

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I wonder......Is BB using the kid gloves with Mac?

Not totally but defaulting to protecting/DEVELOPING him where he can?

So we make our Rookie try to convert on 4th down with a minute left.....a play after having his pass slapped down.....And inevitably answer questions if he failed.
or
We let the vet try and kick for the lead (who had been kicking that far in warmups) and let the D try to hold.....against the Goat....with timeouts. And force THEIR Kicker to make a potentially long kick (when he had already had trouble on 2 earlier kicks). Defense seemed gassed but had kept TB in check up till then.

Seems like "not putting Mac in a position to fail" was part of the Calculus. Maybe He wouldnt have (failed). Maybe he should be allowed to (Fail). But BB might also be playing some long con 3d Chess of not putting Mac physically or mentally at risk wherever he can.

I dont fault the decision despite some great points. Sometimes its 2 shitty decisions and you find some little glimmer that makes the difference. Maybe that was not having Mac miss on 4th down after going Toe to Toe with the goat.

What would BB have done in 01? I think he kicks the FG. (and yes I realize he had AV back then.)
I really don't think some vague effort at psychological pedagogy should have any influence on in-game decisions.
 

Cellar-Door

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The one thing I am 100% confident in... Bellichick made the call he did because he thought it was the one most likely to win the game.
 

8slim

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Can you expand on this? How does kicking on a lower trajectory compromise accuracy? I realize it's easier to block, which didn't happen, but why does it make the kick less accurate?

And of course it was unlikely he'd make the kick. It was 56 yards in the rain. I said I didn't agree with the decision before the kick. But I'm not sure how you can say he doesn't have the leg to make it after watching that kick. A foot to the right and it's in. You don't think that's within the range of possibilities if you gave him another shot at it?
To be clear, I'm not the Mona Lisa Vito of field goal kicking. I assume that the lower trajectory one needs to use to gain distance would also create more horizontal variance for the ball, coupled with the length obviously. I certainly could be wrong.
 

DJnVa

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I think it was a bad decision and the math EV calculations are pretty convincing in that regard, but it's not the end of the world and I don't think Belichick has lost it.
Actually, the EV things I've seen all morning say kicking was the right call.

 

Over Guapo Grande

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It was never called, and the deflection does not change the validity of an OPI call. So nothing gets called unless Henry was to hold the defender after the catch.
Without the deflection, if the ball is caught, does it get called? I/you know it shouldn't happen, but we know it does- flags are sometimes results based rather than merit based.
 

bakahump

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I really don't think some vague effort at psychological pedagogy should have any influence on in-game decisions.
Is that in any sport? Or just Football? Whats your thought on Closers?

I am not trying to be a jerk but I think a coach is CONSTANTLY taking ALL those little things into consideration. "Is so and so going to be confident enough to get this done? Is not getting it done going to have a longer term effect then this one play?"

I am not and did not say that BB is saying "Make Mac warm and fuzzy regardless of anything else" but I definitely think that stuff like that is always a consideration.
 

AB in DC

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It was bad. The numbers say it was medium bad but not awful. But even if you make it, giving the ball back to Brady with timeouts is even worse. Mac was carving them up and they had no secondary. Get your first and drain the clock.
View: https://twitter.com/ben_bot_baldwin/status/1444869298271526914

---> TB (19) @ NE (17) <--- NE has 4th & 3 at the TB 37 Recommendation (MEDIUM)
Do we really buy the notion that a 56-yard FG has a 54% probability of making? At the time I was thinking more like 20%, particularly given Folk's age, history, and the rain. I'd really like to know where those numbers are coming from.
 
Actually, the EV things I've seen all morning say kicking was the right call.

This is only one of multiple models out there - both of the other 2 I've seen have going for it as the better call. NFL next gen stats by some way (about 34% v 24% off the top of my head) and the other one much closer (34 v 32, something like that). ESPN's model was either much more confident Folk was going to make the kick or much less confident in Brady or both.

FWIW, ESPN's win probability chart also has the Bucs at 82% chance to win AFTER Folk had missed and while the Bucs were taking a knee, so I'm not sure how much confidence we should have in their model....
 

AB in DC

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Actually, the EV things I've seen all morning say kicking was the right call.

Same here. Just making the FG alone seems like way under 42%, then you subtract out the chance of another Brady drive.

I've studies this before, and I suspect that analysis like this misses the fact that no one attempts 55+ yard FGs unless you're Justin Tucker or some other superleg. So FG% stats at that range are artificially high, because kickers that can't make that FG have a grand total of zero attempts at that distance. But I'd have to see the algorithm to be sure.
 

johnmd20

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Do we really buy the notion that a 56-yard FG has a 54% probability of making? At the time I was thinking more like 20%, particularly given Folk's age, history, and the rain. I'd really like to know where those numbers are coming from.
In kicks over 50 this year, kickers are 27 for 42. 64%.

Obviously 51 is shorter than 56. But the kick had the distance, it just missed. Seems like 54% is a fair assessment, if the kicker has the leg
 

johnmd20

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Same here. Just making the FG alone seems like way under 42%, then you subtract out the chance of another Brady drive.

I've studies this before, and I suspect that the analysis like this misses the fact that no one attempts 55+ yard FGs unless you're Justin Tucker or some other superleg. So FG% stats at that range are artificially high, because kickers that can't make that FG have a grand total of zero attempts at that distance. But I'd have to see the algorithm to be sure.
Way under 42%? Did you see the kick? It missed by a few inches.

That result makes it clear it's not way under 42%.
 

DeadlySplitter

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Went with the 3rd option. Strongly wanted them to go but this offense isn't really there yet to go for any 4th & longer than 1 when you can kick. And clearly Folk could actually kick it.

Still would have gone considering Tampa's timeout situation and the clock.
 

Ed Hillel

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In kicks over 50 this year, kickers are 27 for 42. 64%.

Obviously 51 is shorter than 56. But the kick had the distance, it just missed. Seems like 54% is a fair assessment, if the kicker has the leg
It probably would have been good from 51, though. The further out you go, the less room for error on the angle of the kick.

42% win probability definitely seems high to me. The Pats are probably like 33%ish to win whether they kick or not.
 

lexrageorge

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Without the deflection, if the ball is caught, does it get called? I/you know it shouldn't happen, but we know it does- flags are sometimes results based rather than merit based.
Doubt it. Looks more like the camera still is catching the type of contact that happens in every play.
 

tims4wins

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It probably would have been good from 51, though. The further out you go, the less room for error on the angle of the kick.

42% win probability definitely seems high to me. The Pats are probably like 33%ish to win whether they kick or not.
I agree 42% is high. Say the kick is good 50-55% of the time. The 42% implies that if the kick is good, then the Pats have something like a 75-85% chance of winning. Given the time left, the opposing offense, and the amount of timeouts the Bucs had, this feels too high to me.

On the flip side I think the 37% is low. Again call it a 50% chance of conversion. If they convert, it implies a 74% chance of winning, which is basically just a shorter Folk FG at that point. If Mac's 3rd down pass had cleared the line, I'd have put their chances of winning significantly higher than than - the Pats would have been inside a 50 yard attempt. Game would have basically been in the bag.
 

rodderick

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I probably go for it there, but if the Pats end up converting on 4th down, what are we talking about there? A 5 yard pickup? They aren't likely to get big yardage there, so after that play and considering they'd probably keep it on the ground to burn clock, you'd still be looking at a 48-52 yard FG in all likelihood, which is a lot easier to make than the 56 yarder, but when combined with the 4th down conversion I'd wager the odds have to be similar enough. The thing that puts the decision to go for it over the top is that if you convert, the FG attempt probably ends the game, while what they did would give the ball back to Brady.
 

speedracer

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Lots of folks are correctly pointing out the confounds in the batched FG statistics that are being thrown around -- shorter FGs, better weather conditions and superior kickers being overrepresented in the data, etc.

The other thing is that the potential 4th down play is being modeled incorrectly. The Pats should not be running 5 comeback routes/pick route in the flat/etc, and the Bucs should not be playing cover 0 with the defenders parked on the line. A bigger gain as might result from a missed tackle or a defender getting turned means a massive gain in FG/win equity for the Pats. The play is much more like a 4th down play in the middle of the game than the Colts 4th-and-2. Optionality is on the Pats' side here.