Late and Trailing by 14 Points: Always Go For 2 After a Touchdown

There’s been a lot of talk1 about the Browns analytics-driven front office, yet on Sunday we saw an example of how their coach Hue Jackson did the traditional thing and passed up an easy decision – from an analytical perspective – to go for to 2 in the fourth quarter.

No one blinked an eye when Jackson called for an extra point after cutting the Bengals’ 14-point lead to 8. Going for 2 in that situation probably wasn’t giving a passing thought by most watching the game. Continue reading “Late and Trailing by 14 Points: Always Go For 2 After a Touchdown”

Forget Ezekiel Elliott, The Cowboys Really Miss Tyron Smith

Ezekiel Elliott finally began serving his on-off-on-off-on-off-on suspension this week, and everyone had an opinion on how much of an impact it would have the Cowboys offense.1

On Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, what was more noticeable than Elliott’s absence on the running game was the massive effect that an injury to Tyron Smith had on the Cowboys’ ability to protect Dak Prescott. Smith’s replacement gave up six sacks to Adrian Clayborn, the most any player has had this season and in the top-5 of all time. For context, Smith only gave up two sack in Weeks 1-9 and two all of last season. Continue reading “Forget Ezekiel Elliott, The Cowboys Really Miss Tyron Smith”

The Saints Defense (Not Run Game) is Why They’re Legit

The New Orleans Saints have been one of the most dominant teams in the NFL this year at 7-2, a big departure from last three seasons when the team finished 7-9 each year.

The Saints improved run game has been the talk of the town, with Twitter lighting up to label the Saints running success as a game-changer for the franchise.1 Continue reading “The Saints Defense (Not Run Game) is Why They’re Legit”

Kizer or Hogan: Who Should the Browns Start Next Sunday?

We have our first serious quarterback controversy in Cleveland after head coach Hue Jackson benched rookie starter DeShone Kizer and turned the reins over to second-year backup Kevin Hogan.

A day later, Jackson passed when asked whom he would choose to start at quarterback this coming Sunday, saying that he needed to go watch the tape before making that decision. Continue reading “Kizer or Hogan: Who Should the Browns Start Next Sunday?”

Running from Shotgun Formation Works, Even in Short Yardage

An stat popped up in my Twitter timeline yesterday on how teams average significantly more yards per carry from the shotgun than any other formation.

This piqued my interest for a couple reasons: 1) You logically wonder if this is a down-and-distance issue more than a formation issue, and 2) I’ve been thinking for a while that the traditional way for running the ball from jumbo formation in short-yardage situations might not be the optimal choice.  Continue reading “Running from Shotgun Formation Works, Even in Short Yardage”

Marcus Mariota, the Red Zone and the Danger of Splitting Small Samples

It’s been highlighted in reporting for at least the last year that Marcus Mariota has some very gaudy red zone stats. In 103 career red zone attempts, Mariota has thrown for 475 yards, 33 touchdowns and zero interceptions. His 112.7 quarterback rating is better than any quarterback with more than 10 red zone attempts.

The topic is Mariota’s incredible red zone numbers has come up again after receiving praise from the head coach of this week’s opponent, Pete Carroll. Continue reading “Marcus Mariota, the Red Zone and the Danger of Splitting Small Samples”

How Is Deshaun Watson Currently Second in ESPN’s QBR?

Last week I started posting the expected points added (EPA) for Week 1 by quarterback. The total figure aggregates the EPA on all the different types of play a quarterback was involved in: passes, interceptions, scrambles and runs. Sam Bradford led all Week 1 passers in total EPA and EPA per play, and his efficiency mark still stands at the top after missing Week 2.

One of the more well-known quarterback statistics that uses EPA in its calculation is ESPN’s Total Quarterback Rating (QBR). But QBR isn’t as simple as totaling up the various EPA figures, it adjusted credit/blame for the quarterback on various plays and also has a “clutch-weighting” on individual plays based on how close the score is at that time. I like QBR in concept, and I believe the analysis built into the calculation is likely sound. But, when there is a confusing or counterintuitive result in the final QBR numbers, we’re left guessing as to why QBR differs so much from fan impressions, or even the raw EPA figures. Continue reading “How Is Deshaun Watson Currently Second in ESPN’s QBR?”