Thanks to everyone for participating in Tuesday's SportsNation chat, which once again provided a real-time demonstration of how you all educate me much more often than the other way around. Most recent case in point: Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford's consecutive decisions to flip the ball out of bounds while scrambling toward the sideline in last weekend's preseason game against the Cleveland Browns.
What might have appeared a panic move to some actually made sense to most others. The relevant exchanges:
What do you think about Stafford's last minute throw the ball out of bounds maneuver. Seems like he has been told to stay healthy at all costs by the look of it.
Kevin Seifert (2:22 PM)
Yeah, I bet he got some ribbing for that and I'm surprised it hasn't been talked about more. He needs to take a hit at some point, but there is no sense having a cornerback take a dive at his knees when he is just trying to get out of bounds anyway.
From what I've read about Stafford's [flip], it's so that he doesn't lose a couple of extra yards. This way he doesn't take a sack and doesn't take any yardage loss.
Kevin Seifert (2:49 PM)
You mean flip, just to be clear. That makes sense. It doesn't come into play too often because usually a guy will get back to the line of scrimmage if he rolls that far toward the sideline.
Matt Stafford (Detroit)
3 Options: 1. Take the sack. 2. Run out of bounds for a loss. 3. Throw the ball out and don't loose yards. This shows that I "get it."
Kevin Seifert (2:54 PM)
Smart. I will be sure to include your thoughts in a future post.
In the end, it doesn't matter whether Stafford throws the ball out of bounds overhand or in a quick flip. I guess it's a normal football reaction to wonder if he is gun-shy about contact after two injury-filled seasons, but this wasn't a telling instance. It's much more likely a result of training designed around the maxim of avoiding lost yardage via any means necessary. Stafford could have turned up field to seek the line of scrimmage, inviting unnecessary contact, or accomplished the same goal by flipping it out of bounds. Why not?