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Counterpoint: Jeff Saturday's Timeout Management Wasn't That Bad

First off, Steven, thank you for your opinion. It is an opinion that I am confident 95% of people (conservatively) would agree with.

I'm not as much of an NFL fan as Steven Cheah. If I were to actually sit down and debate this subject with him, it would likely not go too well for me. I'm self-aware enough to know when I'm probably wrong. But being "probably wrong" has never stopped anyone at Barstool Sports from giving their thoughts before, and it's not going to stop me now.

I watched that Colts/Steelers game just like everyone else (as a bit). That first half of football was one of the least remarkable pieces of television I've ever witnessed. We could not have ended the Post-Cyber Monday stream fast enough as soon as that first half whistle blew.

But miraculously, in the second half, that game actually got entertaining. My favorite part was the Colts' second drive of the half when they were down 16-10. It was a drive that featured a 4th down conversion where Matt Ryan fake drew the Steelers offsides, then snapped the ball with 0 seconds left on the play clock and Superman dove over the line of scrimmage. Followed by a defensive pass interference call that outed the ref as a Colts fan. Complete with a goal line fumble where against all odds, Matt Ryan managed to fall directly on top of the ball and somehow not recover it. He legitimately might have a hole in his chest.

But I'm not here to talk about the game, although I do feel the need to apologize on behalf of the Colts for making you all sit through that on Monday night. I want to talk about the Colts final drive. The Colts got the ball back down 24-17 with 3:28 left. That's when Matty Ice entered the chat.

I promptly lost 7 followers following that tweet.

Matty Ice proceeded to march the ball right down the field. Turns out he is capable of throwing it further than 10 yards down the field. Something that didn't seem possible leading up to that point. The Colts end up coming out of the 2 minute warning with a 4th & 3 from the Pittsburgh 37 with 3 timeouts remaining (already fantastic timeout management for 90% of the 2nd half by Jeff Saturday). The Colts then pick up the first down. 

Now this is the point where Steven Cheah would say that Jeff Saturday was "Not Actually Coaching The Colts". Factually, Steven, that is incorrect. I saw it myself. He was standing on the sideline looking very handsome with his piercing blue eyes and sheik Colts hoodie. If he's not coaching the Colts, then explain this.

So technically Steven is already wrong, and I've won this argument. But his real point is obviously that Jeff Saturday should have started using his timeouts. I suppose that is one school of thought. Roger Goodell blesses teams with 3 timeouts at the start of each half. It stands to reason that they should use them. Not using them is a slap in the face to Roger. 

But anyways, after the Colts pick up the first down, they go no huddle instead of using their timeout. I'm totally fine with that. There's a ton of plays left to be made. 

The next play, Matty Ice fumbles the ball and loses 7 yards to make it 2nd and 17. Still no timeout. Pretty dumb right? Wrong. There's 1:30 left, that's an eternity in football time. The Colts hustle to the line of scrimmage, and Jeff Saturday calls a play where he has Matt Ryan fake like he's looking for a receiver downfield, then tucks the ball and scrambles up the middle for 14 yards. Genius play calling. 

Now the Colts have a 3rd & 3 from the Pittsburgh 26 with about a minute left in the game, and the clock is running. This is where I'm probably going to lose all of you (if I haven't already). I might even lose myself in the process of making this argument, but here's what I think Jeff Saturday was doing. The Colts have arguably the best running back in the league, and they've been running the ball at will in the second half. You have to expect Jonathan Taylor picks up that first down. He's been getting 5 yards every carry. If he gets the first down, then the Colts have the ball in the red zone with 30 seconds left and 2 timeouts. That is a great situation to be in. That leaves you with so many options. You can still run 2 plays to the middle of the field. You can even run the ball again if you want. If Jonathan Taylor picks up that first down, Jeff Saturday could have honestly ended up looking very smart.

Obviously, it didn't work out that way. In hindsight, the Colts should have called a timeout after the Matt Ryan scramble to set up their next play and save some clock. It probably wasn't the right move to save the timeouts for that long. But I don't think it's as egregious as people online made it seem. And who knows, if he calls his timeouts earlier, maybe the Colts end up in a situation where they have 45 seconds left and have to burn their last timeout. Then their only move is to take shots at the end zone or to the sideline. There's a million ways that game could have gone. 

My main point is that if Jonathan Taylor gets that first down, the Colts have the the ball 1st & 10 from the Pittsburgh 20 with 30 seconds left and 2 timeouts. That would have been a pretty great situation to be in. If you can't pick up 3 yards with the best running back in the league when you need it most, then you probably don't deserve to win that game anyways. That's where the game was lost. 

Even though Cyber Monday is over, the Barstool Sports Store still has Matty Ice shirts available for full price. Buy a shirt now to have it in time for the Colts playoff push!