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Will Spurrier revolutionize NFL offensive football?
The has been a number of sports writers that have pointed out that the NFL offenses are arch conservative. In the Hidden Game of Football, the authors point out that the NFL almost always kick too many Field Goals and don’t go for enough TDs. Along that line, Bud Goode on his old site pointed out the high correlation between TDs and Wins and the fact that such a correlation does not exist for FGs.
Although we’re not really seeing this in the NFL preseason, it looks like Coach Spurrier of the Washington Redskins may well be moving in this direction and cause a further change in the dominant offensive philosophy started by Mike Martz of the Rams.
Another article in the US News and World Report has David Romer analyzing over 11,000 plays and finding that NFL teams punt the ball 'way too much.
"Romer layes out an intriguing argument. Going for a first down on 4th down with four yards or less is almost always the best strategy; going for it with 10 yds to go may be smart, too --depending on your field position."
Included in the article is a picture of...the Washington Redskins in their new "Florida State" Uniforms.
IMO coaches and managers of NFL and MLB have always followed a path of going by “the book” philosophy. They all seem to do this because they don’t want to lose their jobs because they are foreseen as not following the “proper” strategy. In the past when a coach or manager deviates from standard procedure the press and average fan ridicule them until they are fired or follow standard procedure. One thing I feel all NFL teams could do is employ someone who understood clock management. Every year we witness dozens of times where the coaches and players mismanage the clock. Examples of this:
Spiking the ball when for a couple of more seconds you could run a play (against a defense that is reeling).
Not going out of bounds and choosing to gain a few more yards.
Scoring to early before the half or before the final gun allowing the other team time to match that score.
Quarterbacks allowing a sack with no timeouts left and the team cannot get its field goal team on the field before time elapses.
Thinking about time and managing the clock in regard to # of expected remaining possessions. I would never want to give the ball to the other team with 2-4 min. remaining in a close game.
Team is up by one and intercepts (late in the game) for aTD and goes up by eight. Why not intercept and run out of bounds at the 1-yard line and not give the other team any chance of tying or winning.
My biggest beef with NFL coaches is not knowing the correct mathematical decision. IMO decisions in football should be similar to playing blackjack. There is only one correct decision and all other choices are mathematically inferior. Instead of paying a rookie a $10M signing bonus why not give him $9M and spend $1M on a crack computer team figuring out every possible situation and the probable percentages of all choices. I love it when a coach BLOWS a timeout to discuss weather to go for it on 4th down. You should already know what you are going to do if you are the least bit prepared. As if these guys could get it right anyway in the span of a timeout dominated by emotion. A lot more could be discussed on this subject but no time for it now.
Great points. I've had these same thoughts many times. The best strategy seems so obvious, you feel like smashing the TV.
Wasn't there a game a few years ago when a coach (Holmgren?) instructed his team to let the other team score from close in rather than trying to stop them, so his team could get the ball back and have a chance? As I recall, the coach was excoriated in the press the next day, but I thought it was the only option -- if he lets the other team sit on the ball, the game's over. But all the examples you guys have given are right on target -- it's unbelievable how much room there is for gaining an advantage by employing the correct strategy.
I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather. Not screaming in terror like his passengers.
That was the Super bowl and Holmgren was absolutely correct to do that.
Mind you maybe we shouldn't be complaining about all this arch conservativeness of coaches. It occurs to me that if coaches started to diminish their FG' s and increase their TD's, a certain margin of difference we all covet might start to diminish as well...
just a thought.
I like the blackjack analogy. Many commentators often like to say that "well that is just Coach Dumbass's style" which is total bs, there is a right and a wrong way to do it.
As tough as it is to score the TD in the NFL, I personally think it is almost always right to go for the FG (even on 4th and one inch) if you are between the 10 and the 30 yard line. The way I see it, you could take the field goal attempt, or you could take the chance of getting the first down which will yield something like 60% FG attempts, 30% TDs, and 10% turnovers anyway. Not enough value to risk it, because the red zone is so difficult.
On the other hand, except for certain late-game situations, no team should ever kick an 18 yard field goal. If the ball is inside the one, logically it is really foolish to kick the FG and give up 25 yards of field position.
The choice of a running play on 1st and Goal from the 8 yard line also doesn't make sense to me. I have heard so many times that it is actually easier to pass for a TD from the 8 yard line than it is from the 2 yard line, because the angles are better. I'm not sure I believe it is easier, but I'm willing to think that the difficulty (for a single play) is the same for both situations. So, rather than run it on 1st down to get to the 4 yd line, run it on 2nd down to get to the 2 yd line, and then pass anyway on 3rd down; just pass it three times to begin with unless the game situation requires you to be really turnover-averse.
Also, the parameters used in choosing whether to "pooch punt" from the 40 yard line or to go for it are nearly always fouled up. If you have a good defensive, you should decide to punt more often since you will nearly always regain the ball in good field. If you have a bad defense (or are playing the Rams) you should decide to go for it more often since the other team will likely dig themselves out of the backed-up field position anyway.
I am not even going to get into clock management. [img]i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif[/img]
They didn't go into detail about how he came up with the success rate for attempting a fourth down conversion, though, and I suspect some serious flaws.
The only relevent data set to use, in my opinion, would be the success characteristics of going for it on fourth down, which would be a very small sample size for 1st quarter plays. That is to say, that the distribution of play results for 2nd and 3 from a team's own 40 yard line would not apply to a 4th and 3 situation from the same spot on the field.
In a 2nd and 3 situation, the defense's motivation is split between stopping the first down and not allowing a big play. In 4th and 3, they are nearly totally focused on preventing a 3 yard gain, and the type of pass coverage (likely an extemely tight zone coverage with as many as 7 guys underneath) is different.
Check out http://emlab.berkeley.edu/users/drom...s/nber9024.pdf ... this appears to be the article itself. (It does say "working paper", so maybe this is just an earlier draft of what was published).
Anyways, here's a couple more examples of coach/manager's going by the book where they shouldn't.
1. One minute left, fourth quarter, you're down 14 and score a touchdown, so that now you're down by 8. What's the overall success rate on two point conversions? If the coach thinks he has a 40% chance of success, going for two is the correct call. I'd really love to see somebody do this some day. (Assume you score again ... there's a (1-p)*(1-p) chance of missing two two-pointers and losing what would have been an OT game and a p chance of getting the two-pointer and winning what would have been an OT game.)
2. Baseball ... it makes a lot more sense to use your best reliever in a tie game, ninth inning than when you have a 3-run lead, ninth inning and nobody on. Managers will sometimes use their best reliever in the former case, but ALWAYS use him in the latter.
How many times have we seen a coach (usually a Dan Reeves who I actually like) punt when its 4 and 4 on the other teams 35 yard line. And inevitably its a touchback.
The Jets actually hired someone this year ( a former ref) whose sole job is to decide when to challenge calls. Think thats a good idea. They need another coach to handle the two pointer. LOL. Coaches screw that up more than anything.
As far as Spurrier, people need to do some reading on Sid Gillman. That guy revolutionized football.
Wow deepsouth, I never thought of that 2 pt conversion idea.
When the NFL put in the 2 pointer, my initial thought was that the 2 yard line was too close and that teams would be getting close to 60% success rate; and that they would go for 2's every single possession. Well, it turns out the NFL competition committee was not in danger of strange 2 pt conversions for two reasons:
(1) Success rate turns out to be very close to 50%.
(2) Even if the percentage were definitely greater than 50%, strategically it would often be wrong to "step out of line" and attempt a 2 pointer.
In a tie game with 4:00 to go, the Rams score a TD. Even if the Rams thought that their success rate at the 2 pointer was 60% and their opponents success rate was 40%, they should probably not go for two. If they succeed, the opponent (if they score which is the only situation that is relevent to the Rams' 2 pt conversion decision) will try for a 2 pointer to match. If they fail, the opponent will simply kick the automatic 1 pointer. The result:
Rams win out on two pointer scenario:
p(Rams success)*p(Opponent failure) = .6 * .6 = .36
Rams lose on two pointer scenario:
p(Rams failure)*p(Opponent make simple XP) = .4 * 1 = .40
Both teams make two point conversion to tie:
p(Rams success)*p(Opponent success) = .6 *.4 = .24
The general idea is that the creation of an imbalance in the extra-point situation allows the team with the last score (and thus the last extra-point decision) to have a strategic advantage since they will know what they have to do.
The same idea should extend, to a lesser extent, all the way back to the 1st score of the game. Creating an imbalance will result in a (relative) strategic advantage for the team that is behind, since they are more likely to have the last score in the game if the game is close (which again is the only scenario which is relevent to the extra-point decision).
alysheba: As far as Spurrier, people need to do some reading on Sid Gillman. That guy revolutionized football.
Exactly. Gilman was the real originator of the "West Coast Offense" and basically, Darth Visor is building on that heritage...
in a league where conservatism is the "name of the game", a coach like Spurrier allows for a significant "edge"......it seems(and I have no numbers to back this up, just a "feel") that anything new or fresh in the NFL has a great chance to be successful EARLY.....defense is by its nature is reactive, offense initiates.....new offense, ie. that which has not been seen before must therefore have an advantage until it has been studied(or reacted to,).....I'm not suggesting the Redskins will win the Super Bowl(although I think they will win more than their fair share of games), I'm merely stating that Spurrier's ideas are new in terms of what is commonplace in the NFL and will work early in the season....... Defenses will adjust but it will take time....Washington's talent level will produce "off' performances...but as a beer-money only bettor of football(not my game, I stick to bases and hoops), my weekend plays are on the 'Skins....
Monday Night Sept 16 Wash at home to Philly getting 2'....I'll buy to +3
<< alysheba: As far as Spurrier, people need to do some reading on Sid Gillman. That guy revolutionized football.
Exactly. Gilman was the real originator of the "West Coast Offense" and basically, Darth Visor is building on that heritage... >>
Spurriers offense = not at ALL like the west coast O