Will The Bears' Failures Finally Kill The Squib Kick? - NBC Chicago

Will The Bears' Failures Finally Kill The Squib Kick?



    Will The Bears' Failures Finally Kill The Squib Kick?
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    Robbie Gould, may the wind always be at your back, and may you never squib it again.

    Sunday was not the squib kick's finest day, and the Chicago Bears' usage of it in the last few seconds of their almost-win-but-then-ahhh-horrifying-loss to the Atlanta Falcons was certainly not its finest implementation. Ideally, a squib kick is supposed to roll all the way down to, say, the 20 or 30, preventing a long return by swarming the receiver with kick coverage just as he retrieves the ball. The Bears' squib did neither of those things. It basically just allowed the Falcons to run the ball back to the 40 or so, plenty of space for them to execute ... well, you saw what happened.

    In all, the squib is supposed to be a "safe play," one that sacrifices some opposing yardage for the reduced prospect of a long return. Most important is preventing a touchdown. The squib does these things pretty well. But it's feast or famine, and when the Bears executed it so poorly, they got stuck with the famine.

    But we're over it, right? It happened last week. It's time to move forward. Which is why it might be time to consider never, ever using a squib kick again.

    As Salon's King Kaufman wrote last night, the squib kick is plainly poor strategy, and that it needs to be eradicated from the playbooks of NFL coaches everywhere:

    No matter how stupid a strategic gambit is, no matter how many times it doesn’t work, NFL coaches will keep using it until they get more criticism for using it and failing than they get for not using it and failing. Sunday’s squib kick so clearly handed the game to the Falcons that Bears coach Lovie Smith is getting roasted for it, though the squib does have its defenders. [...]

    But Smith went for the squib because it seems like the safe option. If the other team returns a deep kick all the way, the talk-radio crowd howls about a squib. Only it backfired on Smith, twice. First when it cost the Bears the game, and now that he’s taking heat for it.

    Could the days of the squib be dwindling?

    Looking specifically at the Bears situation isn't the only reason to do away with the squib. Mathematically, a long return is more likely to burn extra time off the clock, and it's not very likely to be returned for a touchdown. Of course in late-game situations NFL coaches react with more "gut feeling" than "statistical probability," but at the end of the day it comes down to trust. Can you trust your special teams to make a tackle on a kick return? Can you rely on them to prevent an incredibly unlikely outcome? If yes -- and this answer should always be yes -- rip the "squib" page out of that binder, pronto.

    If no, seek new employment, in whichever field doesn't require a boss trust his employees. Good luck.