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Third Down Performance

Discussion in 'Green Bay Packers Fan Forum' started by HardRightEdge, Nov 14, 2019.

  1. HardRightEdge

    HardRightEdge Cheesehead

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    First, the offense, through Week 10, 2019:

    The offense is 19th. at 37.2%, much improved over the last 3 games at 43.8%, 8th. ranked. Compared to the low 30's early in the season, the recent improvement amounts to one additional extended drive per game, not insignificant. Evidently, this data does not include "no play" penalties:

    https://www.teamrankings.com/nfl/stat/third-down-conversion-pct

    The Packers are 3rd. ranked in the league in 3rd. down converstions by penalty at 2.9 per game. To what degree this may be a byproduct of hard counts and and/or running down the game clock would be a matter for intense research into the film, something I'm not willing to do.

    https://www.teamrankings.com/nfl/stat/penalty-first-downs-per-game

    There is something interesting below the surface exposed in a series of pro-football-reference.com queries. I'll forgo the monster links and just show the data. Including "no play" penalty snaps, we see the following Packer 3rd. down results broken down by yards-to-go:

    0 - 3 yards, 13 - 27, 21% of attempts with a 48% conversion rate
    4 - 6 yards, 20 - 33, 26% of attempts with a 61% conversion rate
    7 - 10 yards, 16 - 40, 31% of attempts, with a 40% conversion rate
    11+ yards, 3 - 29, 22% of attempts with a 10% conversion rate

    There are only 4 kneel-down in the data, one in the 0-3 range, three in the 11+ range, not meaninfully altering the overall picture.

    If we take out "no play" penalties the percentages are, respectively, 52%, 57%, 37%, 7%.

    Net penalties on 3rd. down in the 2nd. and 4th. tranches are slightly positive, slightly negative in the 1st. and 3rd. tranches. Net-net, penalties have added a slightly better conversion rate by about 2%.

    What really sticks out in the data is outperformace at 4-6 yards over 0-3 yards and the high percentage of 7+ yard 3rd. down attempts where performance expectedly drops off.

    Here's the data for the entire league, including no-play penalties:

    0 - 3 yards, 625 - 1057, 26% of attempts with a 59% conversion rate
    4 - 6 yards, 445 - 996, 24% if attempts with a 45% conversion rate
    7 - 10 yards, 406 - 1200, 29% of attempts with a 34% conversion rate
    11+ yards, 157 - 889, 21% of attempts with an 18% conversion rate

    Overall, the league's success rate on 3rd. down (including the penalty plays) is 39.4% vs. the Packers' 40.3%, a fairly negligible 1 out of 100 difference.

    The bolded numbers are where the striking differences lie keeping in mind we're comparing an 8-2 team to a league average.

    The league's distance on third down skews downward compared to the Packers, particularly in the first tranche. The league average (including penalty no-plays) is 7.5 yards. The Packers' is 8.0 yards.

    The league's success rate progressively erodes the longer the 3rd. down distance. That would be an "of course" observation without data except that the Packers excel in 4-6 yard attempts, which confounds conventional wisdom, while underforming in short yardage and the expected very long yardage.

    What should we conclude?
    • Team success cannot be attributed to offensive 3rd. down performance. That was pretty obvious before getting into the weeds.
    • Performance in the 0-3 yard range is clearly sub-par. La Fleur/Rodgers need to figure out how in the game planning and play calling these shorter yardage situations can be maximized. The Packers have a couple of good running backs who can get short yardage so that would not appear to be an issue. The Packers are 9-18 converting on throws; 4-5 on runs; 0-3 as a result of two false start penalties and an offensive PI, and one kneel down. Short yardage passing improvement should be a priority.
    • Barring that, keep the 3rd. downs in the 4-6 yard range with the exceptionally high conversion rate. Just kidding. The first point needs to be addressed. But given the success rate in this mid-range tranche suggests an emphasis on getting to short yardage more often is probably not all that necessary; getting more out of the shorties is the priority.
    • The percentage of very long yardage attempts are comparable to the league, but the league succeeds at double the frequently. You would like to see some improvement in this area.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2019
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  2. HardRightEdge

    HardRightEdge Cheesehead

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    Second, the defense, through Week 10, 2019:

    I can keep this shorter with the offensive detail above in post #1. Packer defenisve performance on 3rd. down including no-play penalties:

    0 - 3 yards, 24 - 40, 32% of attempts with a 60% conversion rate
    4 - 6 yards, 14 - 30, 24% of attempts with a 47% conversion rate
    7 - 10 yards, 7 - 36, 29% of attempts, with a 19% conversion rate
    11+ yards, 4 - 18, 15% of attempts with a 22% conversion rate

    The overall conversion rate is 37.9%, somewhat below the league average of 39.4%. The Packers excel in stops in the 7-10 yard range, slightly worse than the league average in the remaining tranches.

    The league average in 3rd. down yards-to-go is 7.5; the Packers defense is 6.6. All-in-all, given the one yard difference it's fair to conclude the Packers are about an average 3rd. down defense. That's actually somewhat better than what I expected to find. Still, not enough to say it's a factor in the 8-2 record.

    Offense and defense taken together, this team has the 3rd. down performance of a 5-5 team.
     
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  3. AmishMafia

    AmishMafia Cheesehead

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    Very interesting! Thanks for your efforts.

    My first thought on the low short yardage is play predictably. I you had a bunch more time to kill, it would be interesting to see the play selection.

    I think my initial response is based on the halftime goal line stand last game. I was certain we were running up the gut behind Jenkins, and it seemed like the Panthers did too.


    The answer is probably more complex though.
     
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  4. HardRightEdge

    HardRightEdge Cheesehead

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    In the 3rd. bullet point in the "What should we conclude?" section at the bottom of post #1, I noted the following for 0-3 yards to go on 3rd. downs:

    "The Packers are 10-19 converting on throws, 4-5 on runs, 0-2 as a result of false start penalties, and one kneel down. Short yardage passing improvement should be a priority."

    I just noticed the 5 yard completion to Lazard was actually wiped out by an offensive PI by him. It should be 9-18 passing and 0-3 on penalties. The summary 13-27 and associated % was correct. I'm going to correct that breakdown. Passing game performance should be a lot better in short yardage on what should be high percentage throws.

    If you'd like more detail, you can scroll down through this big fat link where the individual plays are listed:

    https://www.pro-football-reference.com/play-index/play_finder.cgi?request=1&match=summary_all&year_min=2019&year_max=2019&team_id=gnb&game_type=R&game_num_min=0&game_num_max=99&week_num_min=0&week_num_max=99&quarter[]=1&quarter[]=2&quarter[]=3&quarter[]=4&quarter[]=5&minutes_max=15&seconds_max=00&minutes_min=00&seconds_min=00&down[]=3&yds_to_go_min=1&yds_to_go_max=3&field_pos_min_field=team&field_pos_max_field=team&end_field_pos_min_field=team&end_field_pos_max_field=team&type[]=PASS&type[]=RUSH&type[]=PUNT&type[]=KOFF&type[]=ONSD&type[]=FG&type[]=XP&type[]=2PC&turnover_type[]=interception&turnover_type[]=fumble&score_type[]=touchdown&score_type[]=field_goal&score_type[]=safety&rush_direction[]=LE&rush_direction[]=LT&rush_direction[]=LG&rush_direction[]=M&rush_direction[]=RG&rush_direction[]=RT&rush_direction[]=RE&pass_location[]=SL&pass_location[]=SM&pass_location[]=SR&pass_location[]=DL&pass_location[]=DM&pass_location[]=DR&order_by=yards
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2019
  5. captainWIMM

    captainWIMM Cheesehead

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    It's interesting to note that the Packers offense suffers way too many three and outs (24.8% of the time, 28th in the league) but that their third down conversion increases to 50.5% once they get a first down on a drive.

    On the other side their defense is one if the worst in the league forcing three and outs (15.2%, 29th).
     
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