Best, worst at preserving timeouts

  • Greg Garber [ARCHIVE]
  • ESPN.com | January 7, 2010

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.

Career Clock Management Percentages

How well has the 2009 crop of head coaches managed timeouts in close games over the course of their careers? This chart provided by the Elias Sports Bureau provides some answers.

Pct. Times Retained Timeouts Close Games Coach 2009 Team

1.00000 8 8 Jim Caldwell Colts 1.00000 4 4 Perry Fewell Bills 1.00000 9 9 Todd Haley Chiefs 1.00000 7 7 Jim Schwartz Lions .93939 62 66 Wade Phillips Cowboys .93103 54 58 Marvin Lewis Bengals .93103 27 29 Mike Tomlin Steelers .92857 91 98 Bill Belichick Patriots .92000 23 25 Jim Mora Seahawks .91667 11 12 Mike Singletary 49ers .91589 98 107 Tom Coughlin Giants .89286 25 28 Eric Mangini Browns .89063 57 64 John Fox Panthers .88172 82 93 Norv Turner Chargers .88000 110 125 Jeff Fisher Titans .87500 7 8 Rex Ryan Jets .86364 38 44 Lovie Smith Bears .86154 56 65 Jack Del Rio Jaguars .85714 6 7 Raheem Morris Bucs .84615 11 13 Tom Cable Raiders .83871 26 31 Mike McCarthy Packers .83333 15 18 Mike Smith Falcons .82759 24 29 Brad Childress Vikings .82143 23 28 Gary Kubiak Texans .81250 65 80 Andy Reid Eagles .80000 16 20 Tony Sparano Dolphins .77273 17 22 Jim Zorn Redskins .75000 18 24 Ken Whisenhunt Cardinals .71429 5 7 Josh McDaniels Broncos .67857 19 28 Sean Payton Saints .66667 10 15 John Harbaugh Ravens .66667 4 6 Steve Spagnuolo Rams

Greg Garber is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

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