View Full Version : Why Don't Teams Go For It More On Fourth Downs?

03-10-2014, 12:22 PM
Actually an article on the state of analytics but thought this chart was interesting in regard to the NFL. Thought Chip Kelly might bring going for it on 4th to the pros...

http://cdn1.sbnation.com/assets/4116903/sloanchart2.png (http://cdn1.sbnation.com/assets/4116903/sloanchart2.png)
College football fourth-down success rates in 2013 by yard line and yards to go.(click for larger)

WHY DON'T TEAMS GO FOR IT MORE ON FOURTH DOWNS? (http://www.sbnation.com/college-football/2014/3/10/5481882/football-analytics-stats-sloan-sports-conference-recap)
My friend Justin Moore of Tempo-Free Gridiron calls it Godwin's Law of football analytics: Eventually every football analytics discussion boils down to going for it on fourth downs. When casually mentioning football during an early panel, ESPN's Nate Silver mentions fourth downs. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey mentions that he doesn't know why football teams don't go for it on fourth downs. It is the equivalent of the "fouling up three late in the game" debate in basketball -- it matters, obviously, but it doesn't dictate a game's worth of decision-making -- but it's about as far as football gets in the general discussions.

It's well-established that NFL teams probably don't go for it on fourth down enough. It's like hitting on 16 in blackjack -- sure, there are times when the math works out, but your salary is on the line, and you'll get crushed and/or feel crazy for not remaining staid and conservative if it doesn't work. Teams leave potential points on the board because they are risk-averse, and it's a shame. This is not debatable. It's the case in the more liberal college ranks as well. Certain coaches are more prone to playing the percentages and going for it, but plenty still punt because that's simply what you're supposed to do.

So yes. Fourth downs are not typically utilized well. Very true...

03-10-2014, 01:14 PM
You make a 1st down. Thats good. Most likely you still need yardage before you are even in field goal range. You dont make it and you lose momentum, team gets a little deflated, the other team is probably already in FG range.