Commentary

Best, worst at preserving timeouts

The Elias Sports Bureau has a formula for measuring how coaches have fared

Originally Published: January 7, 2010
By Greg Garber | ESPN.com

There are no formal statistics regarding a head coach's clock management. But the Elias Sports Bureau came up with a creative way to measure a coach's ability to save timeouts for the end of close games.

"Timeouts are so valuable," said Dan Reeves, who coached three NFL teams for a total of 23 seasons. "Over time, you learn to preserve them at almost any cost."

The list below indicates the percentage of times in their career that 2009 NFL coaches retained at least two of their timeouts (times retained timeouts, or TRT) in close games.

As Kevin Hines of the Elias Sports Bureau explains it, an instance of a "close game" is defined as being a one-possession game with 5:00 remaining in the fourth quarter. After the start of the 1994 season -- when the NFL adopted the 2-point conversion rule -- a one-possession game would be defined as a difference of 8 or fewer points between the teams.

Before 1994 -- when current coaches Bill Belichick and Wade Phillips were coaching other teams, thus making that time frame relevant to this analysis -- a one-possession game would be a difference of 7 or fewer points. The percentage is the ratio of times the coaches retained two or more timeouts in close games to the number of such games.

Greg Garber is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

Greg Garber

Writer, Reporter
Greg Garber joined ESPN in 1991 and provides reports for NFL Countdown and SportsCenter. He is also a regular contributor to Outside the Lines and a senior writer for ESPN.com.