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Riverboat Rivera - ESPN article (by David Newton)

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He's been stuffed on a power run a few times in the past, but it's definitely an 80% success rate. But do you really need to risk your franchise quarterback on every short down? I like the fact that Tolbert is being utilized again in that situation.

Yeah, I think Buffalo stuffed him but his success rate is top notch all the same.

 

 Brady runs alot of short yardage sneeks for NE. He's very good at it too for a "WIREY" chap.

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I've said it before and will say it again: the statistics are often on Rivera's side when it came to his short-down decisions in the past.However, i think he's decided that if his offense can be consistent in making the decisions pay off he will keep calling them when it makes sense until they show that they can't get it done. Also, there's a lot to be said for having our defense to bail the offense out (although they dropped the ball vs. Buffalo.)


Nope, the statistics say teams should almost always go for fourth and short in opponents territory. Here's economist Paul Romer: http://elsa.berkeley.edu/~dromer/papers/PAPER_NFL_JULY05_FORWEB_CORRECTED.pdf
There are also good pieces out there by Brian Burke, Football Outsiders and others explaining this.

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I love people who criticize Ron for not going for it on 4th down and when he does still give qualified praise or say he is only doing it due to media criticism. Trust me he doesn't care what the media is saying he is just trying to win. He is being aggressive because it is working. If it were not he wouldn't be. As long as we keep making them we will keep doing it. Defensive coaches are conservative by nature.  So for Ron to change is a big testament to the offense.  I like how we are aggressive on both sides of the ball these days.

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Nope, the statistics say teams should almost always go for fourth and short in opponents territory. Here's economist Paul Romer: http://elsa.berkeley.edu/~dromer/papers/PAPER_NFL_JULY05_FORWEB_CORRECTED.pdf
There are also good pieces out there by Brian Burke, Football Outsiders and others explaining this.

 

I've never really bought their arguments, because the samples sizes are very small and that particular situation isn't as extensively gameplanned for as it would be if teams started going for it more often. With the decline of offensive line play around the league most running plays are boom and bust and either get stuffed or go for a big gain, meaning it's harder than ever to generate only the one or tw yards necessary to convert.

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Nope, the statistics say teams should almost always go for fourth and short in opponents territory. Here's economist Paul Romer: http://elsa.berkeley.edu/~dromer/papers/PAPER_NFL_JULY05_FORWEB_CORRECTED.pdf
There are also good pieces out there by Brian Burke, Football Outsiders and others explaining this.


I have seen this study before and talked to some coaches about it. And almost all of them say there is a reason they are statisticians and economists and not coaches
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I have seen this study before and talked to some coaches about it. And almost all of them say there is a reason they are statisticians and economists and not coaches


That's not an argument. That's "I'm right and they're wrong because I'm the authority and what they say doesn't count." Coaches have many important skills, like designing and calling plays, motivating players, making roster and lineup decisions, massaging egos, managing practice and weight traing sessions, etc. They almost certainly do all of those things better than a statistician would. But there's no particular reason to believe that on this one narrow issue of fourth down conversions every single one of the quantitative studies is wrong and coaches' gut feelings are right.
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I've never really bought their arguments, because the samples sizes are very small and that particular situation isn't as extensively gameplanned for as it would be if teams started going for it more often. With the decline of offensive line play around the league most running plays are boom and bust and either get stuffed or go for a big gain, meaning it's harder than ever to generate only the one or tw yards necessary to convert.


The sample sizes are plenty large enough to infer statistical significance, there are numerous studies, and the odds of getting a yard on 4th and short are basically the same as the odds of getting a yard on third and short, which is quite common and is obviously game planned against. There is no real controversy here among people who have studied this. I know of no credible study that has come to the conclusion that's it's a good idea to punt on 4th and short on the opponents side of the field regardless of the score and time. There are dozens of good studies that show why coaches should go for it.
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That's not an argument. That's "I'm right and they're wrong because I'm the authority and what they say doesn't count." Coaches have many important skills, like designing and calling plays, motivating players, making roster and lineup decisions, massaging egos, managing practice and weight traing sessions, etc. They almost certainly do all of those things better than a statistician would. But there's no particular reason to believe that on this one narrow issue of fourth down conversions every single one of the quantitative studies is wrong and coaches' gut feelings are right.


The sample sizes are plenty large enough to infer statistical significance, there are numerous studies, and the odds of getting a yard on 4th and short are basically the same as the odds of getting a yard on third and short, which is quite common and is obviously game planned against. There is no real controversy here among people who have studied this. I know of no credible study that has come to the conclusion that's it's a good idea to punt on 4th and short on the opponents side of the field regardless of the score and time. There are dozens of good studies that show why coaches should go for it.





Slow down.


Facts and sh!t do go over well here.


More emotion, less logic.

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Do those studies weight for time and score, human psychology, and momentum?

The game of football is more than sheer analytics.

I don't have a strong feeling one way or the other on gambling on fourth down. But I do like for a coach to have a philosophy and stick with it.

Because at the end of the day no matter what you choose will lose some games from being ultra aggressive and you will lose some games being too conservative. Just have a core belief and stick with it and the results will eventually even out.

Since the Panthers have been unlucky as of late we feel we need to be more aggressive, but that isn't always the right call.
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The sample sizes are plenty large enough to infer statistical significance, there are numerous studies, and the odds of getting a yard on 4th and short are basically the same as the odds of getting a yard on third and short, which is quite common and is obviously game planned against. There is no real controversy here among people who have studied this. I know of no credible study that has come to the conclusion that's it's a good idea to punt on 4th and short on the opponents side of the field regardless of the score and time. There are dozens of good studies that show why coaches should go for it.

 

By numerous, you mean one modern NFL-specific one (Brian Burke's EPA study), and by odds, you mean none, as 3rd and one is simply not the same as 4th and one. Look at the defensive coverages used by NFL teams on a 3rd and one vs. a 4th and one: on third down they're just as likely to play 2 deep safeties as to bring one in the box, while on 4th downs they'll often utilize goal-line style packages with a single high safety. The Vikings put nine in the box on our first 4th down attempt.

 

Again, I'm not saying that the right idea isn't to go for it on 4th down, but the implication of Burke's study had more to do with the expectation of points scored vs. actual points scored, and required him to attempt to normalize that estimate across multiple eras of football, and with zero insight related to the quality of the teams or schemes involved. Let's say you're a team wanting to run for it on 4th and one vs. the '85 Chicago Bears or the 2012 New Orleans Saints. Are the probabilities of success the same against both teams? Hell no. Do the probabilities tell you otherwise? Nope. These theories that dictate that going for it on 4th down is the only right choice are based in a fantasy world where NFL teams don't dedicate hundreds of manhours each week trying to negate as many advantages for the other team as possible.

 

So, while I like that Rivera is willing to be more intutive in his 4th down decision-making, I'm not going to act like that is something we should be doing every single time the opportunity presents itself, as it will negate one of the advantages of the 4th down call in the first place: the element of surprise (which is again not accounted for in any way by those studies, which is a massive blind spot in their conclusions.)

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Do those studies weight for time and score, human psychology, and momentum?

The game of football is more than sheer analytics.

I don't have a strong feeling one way or the other on gambling on fourth down. But I do like for a coach to have a philosophy and stick with it.

Because at the end of the day no matter what you choose will lose some games from being ultra aggressive and you will lose some games being too conservative. Just have a core belief and stick with it and the results will eventually even out.

Since the Panthers have been unlucky as of late we feel we need to be more aggressive, but that isn't always the right call.

 

They don't, and you're right. It's a high-variance sport with a large risk of catastrophe on every play, so simply playing the odds, no matter how favorable or unfavorable, is going to bite you in the ass just as often as save your hide.

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