Update: Possibly sparked by the following (below), the NYT today launched a "4th Down Bot." They will analyze every 4th down play in the NFL the rest of the season and report on what the coach SHOULD have done, based on stats and probability. They've already posted on what they know already and in general, they declare--as I've long held--that coaches are far too consevative and should "go for it" more often.
Earlier: Well, almost never. High school coach has been successful, even winning championships, since 2005 with his bold scheme of rarely punting on 4th down (and also doing a lot of onside kicking). And stats bear him out, all the way up to the pros. I've long wondered about the automatic punting strategy and now it seems I may have been on to something--but very few are following this coach's example, although it's more risky when you get to NFL. Still, stats show if it's 4th and less than 4, it's the right thing to do.
What I'd add is that it changes the whole way you play the game--and that's probably the key, if followed regularly. Instead of starting each series feeling you only have 3 downs to get a first, you act like you have 4. So if you don't gain much on first down, say, you don't panic and automatically heave a pass on second, but maybe run again. Then maybe it's 3rd and 5. Need to throw at least a 6 yard pass for the first? No, you can run again or throw a little screen and set up a 4th and 1. And so on...
Monday, December 2, 2013
"The Coach Who Never Punts"--and Now a 'NYT' Bot
is author of a dozen books (click on covers at right), including the new "THE TUNNELS: Escapes Under the Berlin Wall and the Historic Films the JFK White House Tried to Kill." He was the longtime editor of Editor & Publisher. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @GregMitch