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Did you guys see this article on going for it on 4th down?

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by HomerJay, Dec 21, 2007.

  1. HomerJay

    HomerJay Cheesehead

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    http://espn.go.com/nfl/columns/garber_greg/1453717.html

    It was on espn.com a couple of months ago. I am often yelling at the TV for coaches to go for it on 4th down instead of punting, and it's interesting to see someone studying the probabilities of it.

    Though I don't remember yelling at McCarthy too much for it though.....
     
  2. Bobby Roberts

    Bobby Roberts Cheesehead

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    The key in any equation is the data that's being crunched. In this case, this is the key point:
    "Since teams rarely go for it on fourth down -- last year, the league's 31 teams went for it a collective 468 times, an average of less than once per game -- Romer decided it was not a representative sample. He elected instead to use third-down statistics in assessing probability. In addition, he used only first-quarter statistics because, generally speaking, score and time left did not influence decisions that early in a game."

    Therefore it's much more complicated than the equation would indicate. The first major fallacy is using 3rd down statistics, but emotion/momentum have a ton of influence on any game. Not converting on 3rd down has a much different emotional response compared to not converting on 4th down. The next fallacy is only using data from the 1st quarter, which gives absolutely no direction on what to do for the remaining 3 quarters.

    I agree that there wasn't enough 4th down data in his initial analysis to create any meaning determinations. But rather than simply using 3rd down and 1st quarter data instead I believe was wrong. Instead if he really wanted to produce a meaningful study, increase the number of years of data and then break the analysis down by quarter. Then use the rating of the team's defense versus the opponents offense as well as the score difference as factors in the equation.

    I would agree with the general premise that teams tend to be too conservative when it comes to 4th down, but as Walsh indicated, it's much more complicated than the little equation indicates. I think MM has done a good job with his decisions on whether or not to go for it. One major thing helping him in those decisions is the fact that our defense is pretty good and can generally hold the opponent to a FG or less if we don't convert.

    IMHO, look at the game situation, your teams strengths/weaknesses versus the opponents, location on the field -- ultimately the reward versuses the consequence. I say that if you can live with the consequence of not converting, then go for it! It's a huge reward if you make it!
     
  3. Tiger

    Tiger Cheesehead

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    In fairness MM is pretty ballsy on 4th down, most young coaches are. Take a look at Jon Ryan's career passing and running stats for evidence :D
     
  4. PackinSteel

    PackinSteel Cheesehead

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    It's a good read just for the who's-who name dropping of recent NFL history. My basic "formula" for cheering the team to "go for it" on 4th is to look at how much better/worse off the oppoent would be if you punted instead. I would generally encourage a 4th down attempt anywere inside the 45 yard line.
     
  5. trippster

    trippster Cheesehead

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    I don't think Bill walsh is still a consultant for the 49ers....
     
  6. TheKanataThrilla

    TheKanataThrilla Cheesehead

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    All I think about when it comes to 4th down is when we didn't go for it (for about a yard) in that infamous playoff game against Philly. Green was running the ball like crazy that day, and basically we could have pretty much iced the game with a 1st down. I believe we kicked the ball and it went through the endzone leaving a very small net difference in field position. I am generally not a huge gambler, but in some cases when your RB is hot, you have to show confidence in your players to get the job done.

    God I am sad just thinking about that day.
     
  7. PackinSteel

    PackinSteel Cheesehead

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    Re: Did you guys see this article on going for it on 4th dow

    On the flip side of the argument though Philly did go for 4th and 26 that day
     
  8. Greg C.

    Greg C. Cheesehead

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    Like you, I have an unscientific formula. I put myself in the place of the opposing team, and I think, "If I was them, would I want the Packers to go for it or no?"

    The problem with mathematical formulas is that they ignore things like how good the teams are at converting or defending against fourth down plays. There's no one right answer. It varies depending on the situation.
     
  9. Zombieslayer

    Zombieslayer Cheesehead

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    Re: Did you guys see this article on going for it on 4th dow

    Punting inside the 35 is stupid. Anyone who does that needs to be slapped upside the head. MM never does that. Punting inside the 40 on a short yardage situation is a slap in the face to your offense. If it's 4th and 15 on the 40 and you think you might be able to pin them deep for a possible safety, then I could see it.

    I just wanted to get that off my chest. I'll go read the article now.
     
  10. PackinSteel

    PackinSteel Cheesehead

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    Re: Did you guys see this article on going for it on 4th dow

    Agreed. As with most football (sports in general) stats and formulas can best show "what was" and give probabilities of what will be. I guess if it all came down to formulas we'd just hand each coach a PS2 controller instead of a clipboard
     
  11. Zombieslayer

    Zombieslayer Cheesehead

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    Ok, now that I've read the article...

    I disagree on going for it in our own territory. But playing against a team like da Bears, we should go for it every time we're past the 50 yard line. It makes sense, unless it's 4th and 15 from the 20 yard line of da Bears, then take a field goal. But 4th and 4 or less from inside the 50, go for it every time. It's not like we should worry about da Bears scoring much.
     
  12. wpr

    wpr Cheesehead

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    Bobby R said it pretty well. They need a larger 4th down sample size not to use 3rd down results from the 1st quarter.

    I like the line, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics". It is no secret that coaches by and large are conservative in their play calling.

    A team that is on their own 25 facing 3rd and 17 will go for it in any quarter. A team that is up by 14 points and on their own 10 facing 4th and 5 with 3 minutes to play should not go for it. But if they are on the opponent's 45, down by 6 and there is only 1 minute to go they will go for it.

    What his equation leaves out by using 1st quarter 3rd down stats is desire. On 4th and 1 from the 50, players on both sides of the line are more willing to risk injury and sell themselves out by throwing their bodies into the play. Look at how Reggie White got those sacks toward the end of the Super Bowl to seal the victory. He cranked it up a notch and shut New England down.

    If it is still the 1st quarter, players are going to play hard. They need to save something for later.

    His stats are like someone looking at a stand of apple trees in WI and then trying to decide how many to orange trees he can plant in FL. after all they are all trees that bear fruit. Big difference.
     
  13. Zombieslayer

    Zombieslayer Cheesehead

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    Re: Did you guys see this article on going for it on 4th dow

    The thing is though, I'm hard-pressed to find any rational argument for punting within the 35 yard line. It's basically saying to your offense "you guys suck so we're just going to give up."

    He didn't hit on this specific point, and he didn't hit on other specifics, but it would make no sense to punt the ball against a pathetic O like da Bears from inside their 50. Just go for it. They won't score anyways.
     
  14. wpr

    wpr Cheesehead

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    Re: Did you guys see this article on going for it on 4th dow

    Z, I do not necessarily think a team should punt inside the 35. I have seen games were the weather (a 30-40 mile an hour wind blowing into the kickers face) could dictate that possibility.
    I am saying that the prof should use real 4th stats for his argument not use 3rd down stats from the 1st quarter and say that they are close enough.
    Truthfully I stopped reading the article. I found no relevance for his thesis if he is not going to use the correct statistical pool.
     
  15. Zombieslayer

    Zombieslayer Cheesehead

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    Re: Did you guys see this article on going for it on 4th dow

    Agreed. That's why I took it off on a tangent. The article failed to stay relevant when he didn't use a correct statistical sampling, and he didn't factor in field goal position.

    For example - what happens if you go for 4th on your own 20? What happens when you go for it at midfield? Those were questions he failed to answer.
     
  16. PackFanInSC

    PackFanInSC Cheesehead

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    When was this article written??

    Mariucci was the 49ers head coach and Wannstedt was Miami's coach. Eddie George was still playing.

    Are there more recent numbers to look at? Has anything changed rather than to say that -- most likely you have about a 50-50 chance?
     

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