Take the Football or Play Defense?
I was out watching football this past Sunday and I overheard a discussion regarding the coin toss. One of the gentleman said he would defer to the second half if he won the coin toss. His buddy on the other hand would take the ball every time. Here are my thoughts…
The majority of coaches will usually defer (at least coaches I have asked). I personally like deferring and starting the game on defense. But, I will say that most of my assistant coaches actually want to take the football first. But, I like deferring because I believe the game is won in the second half. I love starting the second half with the football. If you are behind at halftime, receiving the ball to start the second half can get your team back into the game (if you score of course). If your team is ahead at halftime and you receive the ball to start the second half, this will put a tremendous pressure on the opposing defense. Say we are up 14-7 at halftime. We receive the ball to start the second half and we drive down and score. That will demoralize the opposing team. In addition, halftime allows us to make any offensive adjustments so we can hit the ground running in the second half.
C’mon coaches, who doesn’t love starting the game with your defense on the field? Set the tone on defense!
Again, my coaches love to receive the ball to start the game. They want to use our explosive wing t offense and take the football down the field and score right off the bat! This does make sense for us because we do score a lot on our first possession. It takes defenses a long to adjust to our offense and our overall tempo/no huddle play calling The whole reason why coaches want the ball first is set the tone. Scoring first is a big confidence boaster for the kids. Scoring first will get the coaches, players, and parents (the crowd) hyped up. Scoring first in a “big game” can do wonders for your team.
I feel a lot of it has to do with a coach’s philosophy and/or team situation. If you team isn’t as good, maybe you receive the ball first and try to score. Taking the ball down and scoring to start the game will boost a team’s confidence. If a team has an explosive offense the coach will probably choose to take the ball. If you are a coach that loves defense, then most likely that coach will defer if he wins the coin toss. If you are like me, you believe that the game is won in the second half. Receiving the football in the second half can get you back into the game or it can increase your lead. Let’s not forgot that you can elect to defend a side of the field as well. This can be important depending on wind direction, rain, and even sun light (sun in the players eyes).
Regardless if we receive or defer, our goal is to either get a strong stop or a touchdown to start the game. We practice scoring and stopping teams on the first drive everyday in practice.
Percentage of times NFL teams choose to defer when they won the coin toss (according to FoxSports):
2011: 41 percent
2012: 55 percent
2013: 65 percent
2014: 68 percent
Tell us in the comments if what your team does if you win the coin toss.
One comment on “The Coin Toss- Defer or Receive”
Andy Anderson says:
I love to defer at the coin toss. Here’s why:
– Defense is fresh and raring to go.
– Having your opponent start with the ball first, go three and out, and then your own explosive offense drives and scores on their first possession is like getting the ball first for both halves.
– Regardless of being ahead or behind (unless you’re ahead so far that it would be more sporting to kill the clock), executing a sharp two-minute drill to finish the half and scoring in the final seconds essentially means you are scoring and then you set up to receive a kick instead of scoring and then kick it away. Even at the NFL level, this offsets close shootout games where both teams are scoring back and forth on every drive.
– Making big plays or scoring drives to open the second half (where, I agree, games are really won) is a huge momentum shift for your team, and a demoralized for the opponent, which can cause them to drag around and play worse. Well-known recent Super Bowl examples would be Jacoby Jones returning a second half-opening kickoff against the 49ers for 108 yards and a score that ultimately decided the game, or the Saints recovering the second half-opening onside kick against the Colts.
In summary, the ideal chain of events for momentum success would be to defer, stop opponent opening drive three and out, opening drive score, score both right before the half and right after the half for fourteen unanswerable points before they can go on offense, maintain lead and burn the clock when that time comes, win bacon.