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Given that this was a game between Andy Reid and Kyle Shanahan, I was expecting a bonanza for this thread, but it was fairly well-coached. I didn't love SF kicking the FG on 4th and 2, though not sure that was "obviously" stupid. Shanahan's clock management at the end of the first half, though, was pretty bad, and may have ended up costing them points. Against that offense, you have to be more aggressive. He went half in, running at first and then trying to move the ball down the field when there was too little time (although they still almost managed to pull it off absent that OPI on Kittle).

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On 1/16/2020 at 8:48 AM, zftcg said:

Did anyone else watch the Jeopardy "Greatest of All Time" tournament? Ken Jennings won largely because, on multiple occasions, he bet everything on Daily Doubles and in Final Jeopardy, even when he was already in first place. If Jennings had missed those questions, I'm sure there would have been a lot of second guessing of his strategy. But my assumption (and I haven't heard him speak to this) is that he recognized that, facing such stiff competition, he was going to have to take some aggressive, calculated risks to vault himself ahead. I would also imagine that he only did it in cases where the category was a subject in which he felt particularly confident.

I bring this up because it reminded me of the argument we often hear that going for it on 4th down, or attempting the two-point conversion, is a bad idea because "If you don't get it, you're screwed." I've mentioned this before in this thread, but loss aversion is a powerful psychological motivator, and we're hard-wired to prioritize avoiding the worst-case scenario. But sometimes you need to recognize that not taking advantage of a situation that calls for aggressiveness, particularly one where the odds of success are in your favor, is itself highly risky. If Jennings had gotten those questions wrong he might have been screwed. But if he hadn't been willing to risk it all he might not have won.

ETA: The big bets were what stood out to me watching the tournament, but I would be remiss if I didn't point out that Jennings ultimately clinched the title by betting $0 in Final Jeopardy (which was absolutely the right move in that situation). And also that the aggressive betting strategy was pioneered by James Holzhauer (though kudos to Jennings for learning from it and beating him at his own game).

What's odd is that I believe -- believe -- from memory that Jennings didn't bet that way when he was on the show and changed because of Holzhauer's approach, which saw Holzhauer out to great leads never to be caught. Ah, I started typing before I saw your edit.

Jennings, as you note, took a cue from Holzhauer and had to adapt or be smushed, really. 

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6 minutes ago, zftcg said:

Shanahan's clock management at the end of the first half, though, was pretty bad, and may have ended up costing them points. Against that offense, you have to be more aggressive. He went half in, running at first and then trying to move the ball down the field when there was too little time (although they still almost managed to pull it off absent that OPI on Kittle).

Brian Burke Tweeted that it (not taking the time out) wasn't that bad a move by Shanahan, and I've got to go with Burke on that.

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Running the ball on 2nd and 1 with 7:18 left in the game and down 10 is horrible.  Take a shot down the field.  If everyone is covered, maybe Mahomes can scamper for a chunk play.  If Mahomes has to throw it away, at least it stops the clock and they would still have 2 plays to convert the first down.  Overall, teams in the NFL run it 76% of the time on 2nd and 1.  Makes no sense.

Edited by Don Hutson
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2 hours ago, Don Hutson said:

Running the ball on 2nd and 1 with 7:18 left in the game and down 10 is horrible.  Take a shot down the field.  If everyone is covered, maybe Mahomes can scamper for a chunk play.  If Mahomes has to throw it away, at least it stops the clock and they would still have 2 plays to convert the first down.  Overall, teams in the NFL run it 76% of the time on 2nd and 1.  Makes no sense.

I'd always believed that as well, but I read something by an analytics-type (I'll see if I can find the source) that said the smart choice on 2nd and short is just to pick up the first down, not go for the home run.

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15 hours ago, zftcg said:

I'd always believed that as well, but I read something by an analytics-type (I'll see if I can find the source) that said the smart choice on 2nd and short is just to pick up the first down, not go for the home run.

One interesting thing about the game is that KC got 8 or 9 yards on first down a lot; five times by my count. So this came up a fair bit. The following plays were mostly conservative.

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18 hours ago, zftcg said:

I'd always believed that as well, but I read something by an analytics-type (I'll see if I can find the source) that said the smart choice on 2nd and short is just to pick up the first down, not go for the home run.

If he claims to be an analytics guy and believes that 2nd and 1 should be a run play, he is a poseur.  A fraud.  A charlatan.

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4 hours ago, Don Hutson said:

If he claims to be an analytics guy and believes that 2nd and 1 should be a run play, he is a poseur.  A fraud.  A charlatan.

Hey now, watch the extreme language!! I don't even know what a charlatan is, but it sounds real bad.

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5 hours ago, Don Hutson said:

If he claims to be an analytics guy and believes that 2nd and 1 should be a run play, he is a poseur.  A fraud.  A charlatan.

Huh. I can't find the source that I read, but I did find this one arguing the exact opposite (ie, agreeing with you):

Quote

Across key positions on the field and particular defense/offense match-ups, 2nd and short seems to be a wholly misused and squandered opportunity by offensive coordinators. Instead of viewing this unique situation as one where creative play calling can come into play, on average the down is treated merely as one where the offense opts to play entirely too conservatively with the single goal of picking up the first down by moving the ball just a few yards. This pervasive strategy neglects the beautiful value this particular down offers an offense, which is the freedom of a near costless play — especially if you are a strong offensive team.

Maybe I'm misremembering my source, or maybe he has a good counter-argument to this guy (two smart analytics people may come to opposite conclusions). But absent any other evidence, I will revert to my previous position of thinking teams should take more chances on 2nd and short.

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3 hours ago, zftcg said:

Huh. I can't find the source that I read, but I did find this one arguing the exact opposite (ie, agreeing with you):

Maybe I'm misremembering my source, or maybe he has a good counter-argument to this guy (two smart analytics people may come to opposite conclusions). But absent any other evidence, I will revert to my previous position of thinking teams should take more chances on 2nd and short.

"You should take a shot" on second and short has been orthodoxy for so long that I'm reflexively suspicious of it.

Here's one way to look at it; it would take time to really analyze, but looking at PFR's win probability for first quarter tied games, ball on second and 1 at your own 48, expected points is 2.203; ball on first and 10 at your own 49, expected points is 2.191.

Second and 1 at the opponent's 31, expected points 3.589, first and 10 at the 30, 3.577.

So it may be slightly advantageous to get nine yards on first down instead of 10 yards, possibly because it gives you the opportunity to have a bigger play on second down.

Results of plays on second and 1, ball outside opponent's 10 (1994-2019):

Passes (n=3618): 9.8 yards average, 55.61% first downs, 3.54% turnovers (high!), 4.64% sacks, 2.54% TDs.

Rushes (n=8476): 4.2 yards average, 78.8% first downs, 0.72% turnovers, 0.76% TDs.

So teams are roughly twice as likely to rush on second and one. Rushing is substantially more likely to result in a first down, substantially less likely to result in a negative play, and substantially less likely to result in a big positive play. All of which is fairly intuitive. I am surprised, though, at the big disparity in turnovers; you're almost five times as likely to turn it over when passing rather than rushing on second and one. So you get roughly a three-fold increase in yardage and TD probability in exchange for a five-fold increase in turnover risk. 

My intuition is that turnovers are so expensive that the tradeoff isn't worth it. But a lot more detailed analysis would need to be done.

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1 minute ago, CalBear said:

Results of plays on second and 1, ball outside opponent's 10 (1994-2019):

Passes (n=3618): 9.8 yards average, 55.61% first downs, 3.54% turnovers (high!), 4.64% sacks, 2.54% TDs.

Rushes (n=8476): 4.2 yards average, 78.8% first downs, 0.72% turnovers, 0.76% TDs.

Looking only at deep passes:

Passes (n=804): 23.6 yards average, 39.35% first downs, 6.55% turnovers, 9.33% TDs. That looks better, but includes only plays where the pass actually was thrown (not sacks).

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1 minute ago, CalBear said:

"You should take a shot" on second and short has been orthodoxy for so long that I'm reflexively suspicious of it.

Here's one way to look at it; it would take time to really analyze, but looking at PFR's win probability for first quarter tied games, ball on second and 1 at your own 48, expected points is 2.203; ball on first and 10 at your own 49, expected points is 2.191.

Second and 1 at the opponent's 31, expected points 3.589, first and 10 at the 30, 3.577.

So it may be slightly advantageous to get nine yards on first down instead of 10 yards, possibly because it gives you the opportunity to have a bigger play on second down.

Results of plays on second and 1, ball outside opponent's 10 (1994-2019):

Passes (n=3618): 9.8 yards average, 55.61% first downs, 3.54% turnovers (high!), 4.64% sacks, 2.54% TDs.

Rushes (n=8476): 4.2 yards average, 78.8% first downs, 0.72% turnovers, 0.76% TDs.

So teams are roughly twice as likely to rush on second and one. Rushing is substantially more likely to result in a first down, substantially less likely to result in a negative play, and substantially less likely to result in a big positive play. All of which is fairly intuitive. I am surprised, though, at the big disparity in turnovers; you're almost five times as likely to turn it over when passing rather than rushing on second and one. So you get roughly a three-fold increase in yardage and TD probability in exchange for a five-fold increase in turnover risk. 

My intuition is that turnovers are so expensive that the tradeoff isn't worth it. But a lot more detailed analysis would need to be done.

That's fascinating data. Thanks for looking it up.

I guess you would want to be able to boil it down to Win Expectancy Added on run plays vs pass plays. But I don't know how to standardize WEA for points/yards compared to negative WEA for turnovers.

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Just now, CalBear said:

Looking only at deep passes:

Passes (n=804): 23.6 yards average, 39.35% first downs, 6.55% turnovers, 9.33% TDs. That looks better, but includes only plays where the pass actually was thrown (not sacks).

Right, if you throw a tunnel screen that's functionally closer to a run than a downfield pass.

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On 2/4/2020 at 10:37 AM, zftcg said:

Huh. I can't find the source that I read, but I did find this one arguing the exact opposite (ie, agreeing with you):

Maybe I'm misremembering my source, or maybe he has a good counter-argument to this guy (two smart analytics people may come to opposite conclusions). But absent any other evidence, I will revert to my previous position of thinking teams should take more chances on 2nd and short.

Field position has (or should have) a fair amount to do with this decision as well.

If you're facing 4th-and-1 from the opponents' side of the field, it's almost always correct to go for it (certain fringe-case scoreboard/clock combinations excepted). Working backwards, you should then be more willing to take low-percentage deep shots on 2nd-and-1 because (a) you know ahead of time you'll have two more cracks at the first if you come up empty and (b) even the worst-case scenario of a turnover usually starts the opponent with relatively poor field position.

Neither of those advantages exist on, say, 2nd-and-1 from your own 19, and thus a more conservative approach that more often retains possession makes sense.

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  • 7 months later...
1 hour ago, ThaPenguin said:

Thoughts on Dallas going for it on 4th down inside the red zone down by 3 with over 10 minutes left in the game? And then throwing short of the sticks?

Based on various statistical charts, the decision to go for it was on the borderline of being justifiable.....but from a historical perspective, McCarthy is the first coach to ever do it as far as I can tell.

As for the decision to throw short of the sticks: 1) that's at least partially on Dak, and 2) I don't think there's any evidence showing that a screen pass is less likely to gain 3 yards. Maybe it's better to go for a high-percentage catch than to throw into traffic down the field?

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19 minutes ago, [scooter] said:

Based on various statistical charts, the decision to go for it was on the borderline of being justifiable.....but from a historical perspective, McCarthy is the first coach to ever do it as far as I can tell.

As for the decision to throw short of the sticks: 1) that's at least partially on Dak, and 2) I don't think there's any evidence showing that a screen pass is less likely to gain 3 yards. Maybe it's better to go for a high-percentage catch than to throw into traffic down the field?

I think you take the points most of the time......but, with all of Dallas' weapons and they can't convert on a 4th and 3, they don't deserve to win......the more I think about it, I'm ok with the call, based on the personnel, in that moment.......next time, not so much, because they showed that they can't execute......at least not currently.

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Fangio should be out of a job by the end of September. He's in over his head. Should have stayed a DC Vic....Man's got to know his limitations.

When Henry rushed for that 13 yard romp & Vic didn't call a timeout (1:33 left) -- that is indefensible at any point but especially when you have all 3 TO's left.

For Dallas, MM going for it in RZ didn't bother me as much - the defense was playing well & if you make it you put a TON of pressure on the Rams. Which might lead to a Ram turnover. Easy to say "take the 3" after the fact (hindsight = 20/20) - He went for the win instead of the tie. I'd do the same if I just signed a 5 year contract

 

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1 hour ago, Bruce Leroy said:

Fangio should be out of a job by the end of September. He's in over his head. Should have stayed a DC Vic....Man's got to know his limitations.

When Henry rushed for that 13 yard romp & Vic didn't call a timeout (1:33 left) -- that is indefensible at any point but especially when you have all 3 TO's left.

For Dallas, MM going for it in RZ didn't bother me as much - the defense was playing well & if you make it you put a TON of pressure on the Rams. Which might lead to a Ram turnover. Easy to say "take the 3" after the fact (hindsight = 20/20) - He went for the win instead of the tie. I'd do the same if I just signed a 5 year contract

 

I was actually surprised to see MM go for it. In the past, he would have settled for 3. But with that much time left, it was absolutely the right decision and actually the least risky call as well. 

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40 minutes ago, TwinTurbo said:

I was actually surprised to see MM go for it. In the past, he would have settled for 3. But with that much time left, it was absolutely the right decision and actually the least risky call as well. 

Apparently it wasn't.  I guess he spent all last year studying "advanced" analytics.

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8 minutes ago, Faust said:

Daniel Popper @danielrpopper

According to @edjsports, Anthony Lynn’s decision to punt in OT yesterday was the third-worst coaching decision in the NFL in Week 2 and decreased the #Chargers’ chances of winning by 6.9%

Yeah, not sure it qualifies as "obviously stupid" per the thread title, but pretty sure we all felt that the game was over at that point.

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  • 3 weeks later...
41 minutes ago, zed2283 said:

Nagy passing the ball instead of running and taking the clock down to :30 before kicking the FG, thus leaving Tom Brady 1:20 to break the Bears' hearts.  Even though that didn't happen, it was still a stupid move.

gross negligence 

they win games in spite of him

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6 hours ago, zed2283 said:

Nagy passing the ball instead of running and taking the clock down to :30 before kicking the FG, thus leaving Tom Brady 1:20 to break the Bears' hearts.  Even though that didn't happen, it was still a stupid move.

They do have a history of missing important field goals.

Maybe he was just trying to get closer.

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18 minutes ago, VikingFrog said:

They do have a history of missing important field goals.

Maybe he was just trying to get closer.

Yup we’ve seen guys bashed before for sitting on it and not trying to make it an easier FG. If he goes run, run, and then they miss the kick he’s probably getting slammed also for not trying to get closer. And this is coming from someone who thinks Nagy is a total moron.

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With 2:38 left and a 2 point lead and possession in their own end; the Bucs went run (-2 yards), pass (inc), pass (inc), punt.  Bears did not have to use a time out.  They then proceeded down the field for the winning field goal.

Why did the Bucs not pound the ball to burn clock (or Chi timeouts).  Very stupid play calling.

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13 minutes ago, Mr. Know-It-All said:

With 2:38 left and a 2 point lead and possession in their own end; the Bucs went run (-2 yards), pass (inc), pass (inc), punt.  Bears did not have to use a time out.  They then proceeded down the field for the winning field goal.

Why did the Bucs not pound the ball to burn clock (or Chi timeouts).  Very stupid play calling.

If you run twice more you're never gonna get a first down against that front seven and you won't burn more than 10 seconds off the clock. Which means you'll be handing the Bears the ball back near midfield, needing to go maybe 25 yards for a game-winning FG, and they'll still have a timeout at the 2:00 warning. Your GW odds are likely worse in that scenario than they are if you give Tom Brady two shots to find an open man and get you a first down.

I mean, that's the data-driven answer. The real answer is that if Bruce Arians had called three straight runs in that situation I'd have fallen out of my chair in shock.

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13 hours ago, Stompin' Tom Connors said:

Vrabel not enforcing the right COVID precautions on the team seems like a pretty bonehead decision to me.

21 people so far (12 players, 9 personnel).

Did we ever get a breakdown of the things they did wrong?  I haven't seen anything.

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