Timing a football game has always been pretty straightforward . . . 30 plays a quarter, with all plays that stop the clock counted as ½ play. But, with changes to NFL rules and a desire to have a more realistic approach to timing, especially at the end of each half, many gamers have tinkered with the timing rules. So, what follows is my approach . . . and, as always, I’m looking for feedback and/or other enhancements that you have designed that could improve my innovation.
Let’s start with the NFL rule change from a couple of years ago that should have a pretty significant impact on the APBA experience. In an effort to speed up the game, the NFL no longer stops the clock on out-of-bounds plays, unless there are 2:00 or less remaining in the first half or 5:00 or less remaining in the fourth quarter. If you watch the game on TV, you’ll see them stop the clock on an out-of-bounds result temporarily until the ref places the ball on the nearest hash-mark, and then the clock starts immediately. So, the only plays from scrimmage that I mark as ½ play are incompletions and scoring plays – plays that actually do stop the clock.
So, what happens after I reach the 2:00 warning in the first half or the 5:00 mark in the fourth quarter? I add a third die when I roll for the result. I use a yellow die so it is easy to differentiate. On any pass play or outside running play, if that yellow die is either a “1” or a “6” then the play ends up out-of-bounds, and I time it accordingly. An “Inside” run never results in an out-of-bounds.
But, I also wanted to add a strategic element to timing a game, so I had made some additional modifications after the 2:00 warning in each half. I have included a copy of my Time Sheet with this post. As you view it you should notice that a normal play of 30-seconds requires two blocks to be marked off. A 15-second play would only require one block to be marked off.
But everything changes after the two minute warning. Now, my “Time Sheet” goes from 15 second intervals to 5 second intervals, and the amount of time that elapses on each play can depend on how long the play result is.
For example, an incomplete short pass is only 5 seconds (1 “tic”). An incomplete medium or long pass is 10 seconds, or 2 tics. A normal play that stays inbounds where no time-out is called is still 30 seconds, but this is now 6 tics instead of two, because each tic is 5 seconds.
But, here is where the strategy comes in. In an effort to manage the clock, the offensive team can use timeouts, can run the “hurry-up” offense, can spike the ball or can try to throw a pass to the sideline to increase the odds that the receiver will be able to get out of bounds.
And, if you look at my Time Sheet you will see that in the Two-Minute Timing box, each of these strategies will be timed differently depending on the yardage gained or lost on the play.
So, if the “Clock is Stopped,” either because the player went out of bounds or a time-out was called, any result up to 15 yards would be 5 seconds (1 tic). Results of 16-30 yards would be 10 seconds (2 tics); and plays that travel 31 yards or more would be 15 seconds, or 3 tics.
On a QB Spike, after an offensive play has been completed, the offensive coach can choose to spike the ball. If that previous play resulted in anything up to a 15 yard gain, it would be 10 seconds (2 tics). A 16-30 yard gain would be 15 seconds (3 tics), and anything 31 yards or greater would be 20 seconds (4 tics). And, this would make sense, because this timing actually represents TWO offensive plays – the preceding play that resulted in some gain or loss, and the spike (incompletion) itself.
The ”Hurry-Up” is different. You run a play and immediately line up to run another. So, let’s say I just ran the ball for 8 yards and it did not end up in an out-of-bounds result, and, now, I want to hurry up and run my next play. I only mark off 15 seconds for the 8 yard run, because we’re not going into the huddle which would take more time. But, if I choose to use the “Hurry-Up” option, I cannot substitute on offense. The same guys that were on the previous play must remain on the field for the subsequent play . . . and that makes sense to me.
The “Pass to the Sideline” option is treated differently. If I choose to throw a pass to the sideline, I will read the result down an offensive column. If the play would normally be read in the “A” column, I look in the “B” column for the result, and so-on. In my view, there should be a trade-off if you’re trying to manage the clock, and this seems appropriate to me – fewer yards and a lower completion expectation for a higher chance of stopping the clock. Then, when I roll for the result, I still use that third yellow die, but this time I want to get either a 2,3,4 or 5. If the play results in a completion and one of those numbers comes up on the indicator (yellow) die, then the receiver successfully got out of bounds. So, in this instance, the 1 and the 6 on that indicator die means that the receiver was unable to get to the sideline.
Under these rules, as you can probably imagine, it is so much more exciting to manage the “Two-Minute” offense, because you have to use strategy to try and preserve time-outs . . . and, at least for me, this makes the exercise much more entertaining!
Would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions!