Thursday, July 29, 2010

More graphs: Play call% by yard line for each down

Yesterday, I looked at pass locations, run directions, field goal distances, and FGA% vs. Punt% by yard line. The following graphs, however, are far more interesting. They show the play call %s on each yard line, and there's a graph each for 1st down, 2nd down, etc.

For the 1st down graph, the first thing to notice is that rushes tend to be called much more than passes on 1st down when you start off with terrible field position. This is probably due to the fact that your QB is set up in the end zone and in order to avoid a safety, teams always run the ball first and play it safe. Consistent with conventional thinking. The second thing to see is that passes on 1st down occur more often than rushes mainly between the 50-70 yardline range. Interesting.

For the 2nd down graph, things are a little bit more desperate here, so pass% is > than rush% for nearly every yard line EXCEPT when you're stuck in your own end zone or when you're 2nd and goal. In only those situations do NFL teams, on the aggregate, tend to rush the ball at a higher % of the time. This is also consistent with conventional thinking.

For the 3rd down graph, pass% is >>> than rush% in nearly all cases, except when you're 3rd and goal and short in the redzone. It's your 'last' chance to get a 1st down, so passing the ball in order to get more yards is the most common play here. This is also consistent with conventional thinking.

The 4th down graph is very interesting, it's similar to the FGA% vs. Punt% graph I posted yesterady. It seems that at around the 35 yard line, 4th down plays are a toss up between punt, FG, and "go for it" pass/rush play, and likely depending on the game situation, such as time left on the clock or yards to go.

A few things to note: None of these graphs indicate yards to go, and that is obviously a huge determining factor on whether the offense decides to pass, rush, punt, etc.

Finally, an interesting thing I found. There are three occurrences in 2008 in which the offense elected to punt on 3rd down (haha).

Dec. 18, NE
(5:16) (Shotgun) M.Cassel punts 57 yards to BUF 2 Center-D.Koppen downed by NE-S.Morris. Quick kick.

Dec. 18, NE
(1:18) (Punt formation) C.Hanson punts 41 yards to BUF 19 Center-L.Paxton. F.Jackson pushed ob at BUF 49 for 30 yards (M.Slater).

Nov. 3, PIT - (2:39) M.Berger punts 48 yards to WAS 25 Center-J.Retkofsky. A.Randle El pushed ob at WAS 30 for 5 yards (An.Smith).

All three happened in the 4th quarter with a few minutes left in the game. The Patriots did it twice in the game against the Bills when the Dolphins won on the same day and kicked the Pats out of a playoff berth: and one of the punters was Matt Cassel.

The Steelers were leading the Redskins 23-6 with 2:39 in the 4th qtr when they punted on 3rd down.



I don't understand this stufff! Haha.

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