How to Win in Football

No Timeouts with Clock Stopped
By: Paul Bessire, WhatIfSports.com
January 15th, 2009

6. No timeouts with the game clock stopped: Like other items on this list, there may be extenuating circumstances where the rule can be broken. For instance, if the defense has too few players on the field or realizes that it has a horrific play called for the offense/situation, it can call a timeout to prevent being exploited. Yet this is the item that is most egregiously abused in football. It should really be titled: only use timeouts when you need them; but coaches tend to have a different definition of need than they should.

Timeouts should be used to maximize the total number of offensive plays that a team can have without the clock running out. This allows the team to continue to move the ball toward a score.

A timeout immediately following a play when the clock is running can yield at least one more play for the offense. In the NFL in 2008, teams averaged 5.5 yards per play. Timeouts used to prevent a five yard delay of game penalty when the game clock is already stopped and the offense loses the opportunity for a play later when it needs it are net losses. In general, timeouts are more valuable than five yards. Take the penalty and keep the timeout for a time when an extra play is needed.

If the game clock is stopped (or the play clock has already run almost all the way down with the game clock running) there are very few circumstances where a timeout is needed.

This rule also applies to the use of challenges, which can cost timeouts.

Go to #5 Speed and Confusion on Defense or go back to the Introduction for more.

Paul Bessire is the Senior Quantitative Analyst and Content Manager for WhatIfSports.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. With any comments, questions or topic suggestions, Paul can be reached at btb@whatifsports.com. Thanks!

SimLeague Football

Compete in a full season with your dream team from NFL past and present. Depth charts, game plans, prizes and more.

Try It For Free


Hoops Dynasty

Coach, recruit, and run your own college basketball program.

Every DI, DII & DIII College Awaits


FC Dynasty

Coach, build and develop your own soccer club.

Play Now! It's Free

What is WhatIfSports?

WhatIfSports.com is a sports simulation and online gaming site providing free content and unique games for the MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, NCAA sports and more.

Join WhatIfSports.com today to get these members only benefits:

  • Create your own Dream Team
  • Save your favorite SimMatchup results
  • Play a FREE SimLeague trial season
  • Start playing a Dynasty game
  • Manage baseball games LIVE
  • Access to SiteMail
  • Post in our Forums
  • Build a Buddy list to easily invite friends
  • Use our online Customer Service
  • Earn game credits by using our Referral & Affiliate program

Terms of Use Customer Support Privacy Statement Advertising Choices

Popular on WhatIfSports site: Baseball Simulation | College Basketball Game | College Football Game | Online Baseball Game | Hockey Simulation | NFL Picks | College Football Picks | Sports Games

© 1999-2014 WhatIfSports.com, Inc. All rights reserved. WhatIfSports is a trademark of WhatIfSports.com, Inc. SimLeague, SimMatchup and iSimNow are trademarks or registered trademarks of Electronic Arts, Inc. Used under license. The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.