Why Errors Happen

I recently read an interesting blog written by Paul Levy regarding the missed field goal attempt by Billy Cundiff. In his blog, Paul Levy challenged the reader to rethink who was at fault for that missed field goal attempt. So, was it an individual error? Or, was it the system error? Or, was it the coach’s fault? What do you think?

For those who watched the post game interview it might appear it was an individual error, as Cundiff took full responsibility for the miss. However, let us take into consideration few other explanations offered by Stefan Fatsis:

“Because the sidelines of an NFL game are crowded—scores of players, coaches, staff, and game officials, a tangle of benches, equipment, and cables, all crammed between the two 30-yard lines—the best way to follow down and distance, and to watch the plays, is on the scoreboard, which is how Cundiff coordinates his pre-kick routine. On Sunday, during what would be the Ravens’ final set of downs, Cundiff completed his first-down prep and checked the scoreboard: second down. He ran through his routine and looked up at the scoreboard again: third down. Then, suddenly, chaos on the sidelines. Coaches were screaming—from the opposite end of the field to where Cundiff was thinking his third-down pre-kick kicker thoughts—for the field-goal unit. The play clock was ticking and Cundiff, as per normal, was back from the sideline and farther from the line of scrimmage than his teammates.
As he was not expecting to go in yet, he had to run to get into position for a game-tying kick. Then there was a quick snap to avoid exceeding the allowed time on the play clock.  Cundiff’s kicking form was off, and the ball went wide. And now look at this leadership decision: The Ravens, of course, could have made all this confusion moot by calling a timeout. Instead, coach John Harbaugh decided to let Cundiff run on the field and kick. What was the coach thinking?  We get it directly from him here: With the play clock winding down, it appeared that Cundiff might have benefited from a timeout. But coach John Harbaugh said he didn’t think about calling the team’s final timeout to slow things down for Cundiff and the field-goal unit.
“Yeah, that never occurred to me,” Harbaugh said. “I didn’t think that. You know, looking back at it now, maybe there was something we could have done. But in the situation, it didn’t seem like we were that rushed on the field. [I] thought we were in pretty good shape.”
So, who was at fault?
Aren’t we all experts in something because we have our routines and standards?  So, what happens when we start to rush and we feel stressed out?
Next time I find myself in a similar situation I will — stop, take a time out, set my routine and standards – and then move on with my task. Well, wait a second. Is my system designed to support a time out? And, does my leadership team encourage me to time-out? Fortunately, in my work environment the answerer to both question is YES.
What about your work environment? I hope you might have a strong opinion regarding this topic and I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts.

1 Comment so far

  1. Nice post which The Ravens, of course, could have made all this confusion moot by calling a timeout. Instead, coach John Harbaugh decided to let Cundiff run on the field and kick. Thanks a lot for posting this article.

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