Singletary and game management
Mike Singletary had a Hall-of-Fame career as a linebacker. When he decided he wanted to get into coaching, of course, he worked on the defensive side of the ball. So what does this man know about game/clock management?
It’s always been my impression that defense is the more reactionary side of the ball, and those who coach offense are more in tune with managing a game. So I wanted to talk to the 49ers’ coach about how he has prepared himself to manage a game.
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Question: What did you do in the offseason to prepare for the game-management aspect of your job?
Singletary: “Why do ask?”
MM (defensively): Your experience is on the defensive side of the ball and other than the last half of last season, you’ve never had the experience of calling a game.
Singletary: “There are offensive coaches who make awful decisions. I mean . . . awful. So why do you have to pick on defense?”
(Singletary starts laughing.)
Singletary: “In all honesty, that’s something I’ve been doing for years, looking at the time-management part of it. How much time does it take to spike the ball? How does the two-minute (drill) run? How does the four-minute run? All of those kinds of things – the small things in the game that you have to be aware of. That’s why I wanted to have coordinators that could do their jobs, so I don’t have to micromanage them and I can watch the game. The two things I’m watching primarily in the game, I’m watching the defensive and offensive lines and I’m watching the clock. The other thing I’m watching is body language when the guys come off the field. I’m constantly talking to our people, our coordinators. What do you want here? What are you thinking here? So, yeah, you got to do that or otherwise you put the team in jeopardy. There are so many games that come down to the final two minutes. You better know what the heck you’re doing. You better be ready. You better be prepared.
Question: I know Mike Nolan had the clock-management chart on the sideline. Do you carry something similar?
Singletary: “I don’t have time to be looking at charts and all that stuff. But the thing I do, I familiarize myself with the finer points of the chart, such as how many seconds it takes for this or that, and the two-minute and four-minute drill before halftime and at the end of the game. But the biggest thing about that is communication. It comes down to communication.”
Question: Will you have (former NFL official) Ron Blum up in the booth like you did in the second half of last season?
Singletary: “I will not.”
Question: Will Paraag Marathe be in the booth?
Singletary: “He’ll be up there. I’ll communicate with him, as well as the other coaches. That’s something we continue to do. It’s a work in progress.”
Question: You say you’ve been doing this for several years. What have you done? Do you read books? Watch TV? How have you tried to familiarize yourself with the aspects of game management?
Singletary: “You look at video, as well as my playing days. As a defensive guy, you have to make sure you understand the clock as a captain. I’ve also talked to coaches and looked at games through the years, looking at some of the recorded games. I’ll go back and shut off all the voices on there, and making sure you’re just looking at the game and particularly when it gets down to the two-minute. What would I do different? It’s a constant part of the game that you have to make sure you manage and you’re on top of it.”
Question: Did you learn from the
Singletary: “Once again, the
Question: In the exhibition games, did you try to manage them like you would a regular-season game?
Singletary: “No. I’m sure some would say, ‘Why didn’t you take the opportunity to do it?’ I look at it, when the regular season comes, I’m going to coach it like it’s regular season. Preseason, I’m going to do it a little differently. As time goes on, you have to look at it and see if it makes sense, some of the decisions that I make. And we’ll go from there.”
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