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Studs vs Duds: Heart Attack Edition

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by Lunchboxer, Sep 30, 2012.

  1. mradtke66

    mradtke66 Cheesehead

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    Heh, I was thinking out loud. That said, I did find this: http://chenlab.ece.cornell.edu/people/Andy/footballDatamining.pdf

    Particularly interesting, their statistical model says you should never punt on 4th and 1 or less, regardless of field position.
     
  2. HardRightEdge

    HardRightEdge Cheesehead

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    Fine, if that's what the data tells you. But I'll go back to my earlier point...if you're going to follow the data, you must do it ALL THE TIME for the law of averages dictated by the stats to do their work. That's clearly not the case in an occasional attempt to go for it, and invoking the stats in support of the occasional attempt is a falacy.

    In further support of my earlier comment, the Cornell study found this regarding the outcome of 1st. and 10 from your own 20 (very similar to the Packer situation):

    "The team with the ball is slightly more likely to score the next points in the game (1628 times the next score was a touchdown by team A, and 1413 times the next score was a touchdown by the other team)." In other words, the value of the first down in that situation is not persuasive, as I noted earlier.

    I view the the 4th. and 1-or-less data with some skepticism. You'd have to think those instances in the data set are weighted toward trailing teams later in games. And a certain number are teams trailing by a wide margin at any point in the game. In these instances, the defense is not likely to sell out for the run, are playing prevent, or would gladly trade a short gain for a first down in exchange for time burned off the clock or a burned time out, while protecting against the big gain.

    I'd be a lot more agreeable to the call if it's on the opponent's 35 yard line on a cold or windy day. The FG is a dicey proposition under those condition; the punt could go touchback or short out of bounds causing you to lose the field position advantage, which is what punting is all about.

    Unless and until somebody does it ALL THE TIME, and leverages the 4 down run/pass series (which could possibly be a powerful strategy) by imbedding it in their offensive play call strategy (and even their personnel selection process), I fail to be persuaded. With the kickoff rules as they stand now, ditching the punt entirely relieves you of the need to keep quite as many guys who are coverage specialists. Maybe Denver should try it? The Jets? ;)
     
  3. HardRightEdge

    HardRightEdge Cheesehead

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    That is exactly my point. Each play is a risk/reward proposition. In this case, the risk far outweighed the reward. It is not just cuz.

    Besides, they give you the ball first-and-10 ten times per game...you have to do something other than kick ball; there is no plausible choice between play or kick. Same on second or third (unless it's 3rd. and 30 and you're Randall Cunningham.) On 4th. down, kicking is a plausible option in any situation.
     
  4. mradtke66

    mradtke66 Cheesehead

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    I think you misinterpret the data, if only slightly. They completely ELIMINATE 4th quarter statistics because of the very bias you mention. The team with the lead is more concerned about running out the clock, the team that trails enters desperation mode.

    Note page 4, Optimal vs. Actual 4th down decisions. That they match rather well in the center to center-right helps convince me the chart and the math behind it is sound.

    This document does NOT advocate ditching punting entirely. It merely shows that one should punt less and in a reversal, kick MORE field goals as you approach the redzone clean until you're knocking on the goal line.
     
  5. mradtke66

    mradtke66 Cheesehead

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    I disagree. It is my position that we, as football fans, have been conditioned that this is the case. It may have even been true in previous years, but no longer is.

    If you must, think of it like gambling. To give yourself the best chance of success, there are 'rules' to follow on where to bet, how much, etc, based on pure stastics and likelyhood of particular outcomes. You can follow them to the letter and still lose your entire budget in one night. It doesn't mean the decisions were wrong or that you should readjust your strategy. Over a longer period, the 'right' plays will bear out more often than not.
     
  6. HardRightEdge

    HardRightEdge Cheesehead

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    Page 2 states:

    "One amazing thing about the recommended strategy is that for very short yardage-to-go on fourth down (e.g. less than 1 yard), punting is never optimal." This statement is unqualified and precedes the second analysis that weeds out 4th. quarter stuff.

    These guys can't even endorse their own broad conclusion, just cuz.

    In conclusion they state, "in computing the expected values of given field positions for punts and first downs, the data is based on outcomes that occurred with “conventional” coaching decisions. For example, a good number of the times that Team A fails to score and punts, Team B then punts back. So I suspect that the estimated expected points from a given field position is underestimated because of the overuse of the punt. We really want our expected values of field positions to be based on the optimal coaching strategy, and then we could use those expected values to find even more optimal coaching strategy."

    In short, they go a step further than what I said. I said we need to see somebody do it ALL THE TIME to see if it works. They say, in effect, we need to see the whole league do it all the time to see how it works.

    Their statement that overuse of punts underestimates expected points from any given field position is unsupported and amounts to conjecture until it can be tested, which it never will be unless the punt is banned. The inference in this last conjecture is that overuse of punting is believed to reduce overall scoring, but that's the point they're trying to prove in the first place. Or maybe not!? If the conjecture is correct, there would be fewer possession in total so there might be less overall scoring. Oh well.

    The argument beyond page 2 has some characteristics of being circular. I remain unconvinced.

    With the data and interest in the game these guys have, I think their time would be better served looking into the influence of giveaway/takeaway on game outcomes. As powerful as it is known to be, I believe it is underestimated. As weighted as the QB rating is to INT %, it may still be underweighted. It would be particularly interesting to see if turnovers can be weighted by field position...I suspect turnovers in your own territory work out to be more damaging than those in the opponents end.
     
  7. mradtke66

    mradtke66 Cheesehead

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    Sure they can. This document is exactly what I thinking aloud about and what you asked for: probability of scoring based on field position. It just goes a step further and applies that data in a model.

    If you are at yard line X and execute an average punt, the other team gets it at yard line Y, their likelyhood of scoring is Z.

    Implied in this analysis is why you should go for it more often deep in your own territory: you won't net enough yards in your average punt to keep them out of scoring position for long.
     
  8. HardRightEdge

    HardRightEdge Cheesehead

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    My comment on the page 2 conclusion is in counterpoint to what you cited from page 4.
     
  9. ThxJackVainisi

    ThxJackVainisi Lifelong Packers Fanatic

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    What's the easiest thing to do as a fan? Certainly second-guessing a call that went wrong has to be near the top of the list. The converse is what HardRightEdge is doing here: Second-guessing a call that not only worked but led to a TD. IMO it's reasonable to question the call because unlike the fake FG attempt if it failed, it would have almost certainly led to points, IMO most likely a TD. (Check the Saints percentage of TDs in the red zone this season.) The reason I don't question the call is because not only could Kuhn have called it off, but his call directed a double team to be performed against the "NT", the player most likely to blow it up. The first thing Kuhn noticed was because the Saints were double teaming both gunners - they had a return on - there were only 6 defenders in the box so the Packers had a number advantage of blockers vs. defenders.
    http://www.jsonline.com/sports/packers/special-teams-prevail-tm723o4-172033251.html


    Even so, HardRightEdge is right in posting the risk, because of field position, was huge. If Kuhn stumbled, if the defender beat the double team, if Kuhn fumbled, if the snap hit Kuhn in the knee - or not at all, if a ref made a boneheaded call or spot, etc. (Wait, that last one never could have happened.) Even a casual football fan doesn't need stats or a link to understand the risk of turning the ball over inside one's 20 yard line. So even though I disagree in this instance, kudos to HardRightEdge.

    I have previously read a "never punt" argument that is absolute and I would put "never punt on 4th and 1 or less" in the same category: A prescription to get the HC fired. Several scenarios immediately come to mind in which it would be nothing short of idiotic to adhere to these strategies. Fourth and 35 from your 20 yard line. Fourth and a yard from your 25 yard line with an 8 point lead, one minute left, your opponent has no time outs and your defense has been playing great. Write an article on the theory and when it doesn't work out, sheepishly grin and cite the stats while writing your next article. But if you're the HC don't punt in either instance and get fired. IMO what should be learned from the compiled stats which advocates use to advance these "never" theories is to punt less. For example how about 'almost never punt beyond your own 45 yard line'? IOW, be cautious of "always" or "never" theories in almost every endeavor.
     

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