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Koetter understands the risk of going for two on a regular basis


It’s easy for NFL coaches to talk about going for two all the time. It’s another thing for coaches to do it. New Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter understands that.

Via, Koetter told Steve Duemig of WDAE in Tampa that “mathematically, it does make sense” to go for two every time. As a practical matter, it doesn’t.

“Say we go out there that first game, and we score three touchdowns and we don’t make any two pointers and we lose 21-18,” Koetter told Duemig. “Who’s going to get killed? You’re going to be on [the radio] and you’re going to be dog-cussin’ me the whole time.”

That’s a more colorful way to make the point we’ve made since the moment the NFL pushed the snap for the single-point try from the two to the 15. If a coach makes the conventional decision and it doesn’t work out, the coach doesn’t get criticized. If he makes an unconventional decision and it doesn’t work out and a bright or dotted line connects the blunder to the final score in a loss, the coach will get criticized.

If the coach gets criticized enough, he gets fired. And possibly replaced by a member of his staff.

“Pittsburgh went for it 11 times last year,” Koetter said. “I think they made seven or eight, but if you actually went for it 48 or 50 times, and you have one of those games when you’re 0-for-6. . . . To commit to it for a whole year, no, I would be scared to do it. And we didn’t, we drafted a heck of a kicker, Roberto Aguayo. Very excited about him and what he brings to the table. We won’t be doing it, but maybe somebody will.”

It would be as big of a mistake to go for two all the time as it would be to never go for two. The best approach is to change it up, week after week and drive after drive. The uncertainty forces every opponent to spend practice time preparing for the possibility of defending against the two-point play, diluting the team’s ability to prepare for the rest of the offensive wrinkles.

Ideally, the opponent will never know when a team will be going for one or going for two, except in late-game situations where the decision becomes obvious. But good luck, NFL coaches, when it comes to persuading radio hosts, writers, and/or fans that there’s anything conventional about an inherently unconventional approach aimed at creating the same sense of randomness as the flip of a coin.