Key Fourth Down Decisions from Kelly, Riverboat Ron, and Belichick

December 17, 2013 Coaches

Chip Kelly, Bill Belichick and Riverboat Ron (née Rivera) are the three coaches most associated with aggressive fourth down decisions. In week 15, all three faced a key fourth down decision, and each situation provided a good teaching moment. Philadelphia goes for it on 4th and 1 on their own 24, down by 15, 3rd […]

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Arians Attempts to Make History, Kicks Chip Shot Field Goal Down 18

October 18, 2013 Current Events

Last night, the Seattle Seahawks defeated the Arizona Cardinals, 34-22. At the start of the fourth quarter, the Cardinals trailed 31-13, and faced 4th-and-goal from the Seattle four-yard line. Bruce Arians elected to kick a 22-yard field goal in that situation, which cut the lead from 18 to 15 points. On opening night, John Harbaugh […]

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Trailing in the 4th quarter, send out the kicker!

October 3, 2013 Coaches

Through four weeks, there have been 28 cases where a team, trailing in the 4th quarter, sent in the kicker or the punter. In general, that’s a pretty low rate — it’s just under once every two games. But while going for it on 4th down isn’t always the right decision when trailing in the […]

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John Harbaugh’s conservative 4th down decisions

September 7, 2013 Coaches

John Harbaugh is a Super Bowl-winning head coach. He might represent the new archetype for owners when it comes to hiring a head coach. He outcoached his brother in Super Bowl XLVII. But that doesn’t mean his fourth down decisions on Thursday Night were above criticism. 1) Punting is not the way to beat Manning […]

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John Harbaugh outcoaches Jim Harbaugh, wins Super Bowl

February 5, 2013 Coaches

“He’s the best coach in football right now.” That was what John Harbaugh said about his little brother after the game. It’s hard to argue: I’ve said a few times that I think Jim Harbaugh is the best coach in the league, too. (Although I gave my mythical COTY vote to Pete Carroll.) It was […]

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What to do on 4th-and-7 in No Man’s Land

December 14, 2012 Coaches

Twice in close games in the last month, an NFL team has arrived at a three-way junction with seemingly no desirable path. In each case, the team faced a 4th and 7 from so-called ‘no man’s land.’ On November 25th, trailing the Atlanta Falcons 24-23, the Buccaneers had the ball on 4th and 7 from […]

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Checkdowns: Lane Kiffin’s 4th down decision

November 26, 2012 Checkdowns

Lane Kiffin is not a very good coach, and that’s putting it mildly. He’s one of the most hated men in college football and he’s the face of a USC team that has had the worst season of any preseason favorite since at least 1964. With a 7-5 record, no one is defending Lane Kiffin. […]

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Mike Mularkey went for it on 4th and 10 in overtime

November 19, 2012 Coaches

With 2:36 remaining in overtime, the Jacksonville Jaguars were at the Houston 47-yard line. It was 4th-and-10, following two short incomplete passes that were sandwiched around a run for no gain. Surprisingly, Mike Mularkey kept his offense on the field. The only similar example I can find of such an aggressive move in this situation […]

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Checkdowns: Are teams more risk-averse than ever in 2012?

November 17, 2012 Checkdowns

Scott Kacsmar posted an interesting article yesterday, noting that teams are punting or kicking on 4th down in 2012 more frequently than at any other time in the last 20 years. So far in 2012, just 1.27% of all plays are 4th down attempts. Scott also noted that teams have been less aggressive on 4th […]

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Dennis Allen punted instead of letting Sebastian Janikowski try a 58-yard field goal

October 20, 2012 Coaches

Most criticisms of 4th down calls spring when teams fail to go for it on 4th down and instead punt or kick a field goal. It is much rarer for stat geeks to cry out for a field goal attempt instead of a punt, and for good reason: field goals aren’t that valuable. One reason […]

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Mike Tomlin makes aggressive, unconventional call, converts, no one cares

September 25, 2012 Strategy

[Note: I'm scheduled to appear on The Bobby Curran Show on ESPN 1420 at just after 12:30 today. If you're interested, you can listen here.] If you weren’t watching the Steelers-Raiders game, you probably didn’t hear about Mike Tomlin’s gutsy call late in the 4th quarter. That’s because it worked. On 3rd-and-1 with 4:34 remaining […]

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