The entire 4th down theory has been around quite a while. I remember NFL Films doing a piece on this (it may be from the same person who, IIRC, was a professor at Cal at the time they filmed it).
Although this person was say that teams would be much better off going for it EVERY time on 4th down. Chip Kelly appears to look at the metrics a little more.
Being a statistician myself and a 'Moneyball' oriented type of person when it comes to sports...there's usually some hidden flaws in their thinking that don't quite get accounted for until it is applied in 'real life.' That doesn't mean it's bad or that it cannot be still successful, but the flaws need to be addressed.
Moneyball was a good example. Bill James was not a fan of having a closer and that presented some issues. He was also not interested in defense.
Generally, I think the Moneyball was great for the game of baseball, but I think it was something meant for low payroll teams like Oakland because their goal in the end was really about finding undervalued players (OBP, WHIP, etc be damned). Now that nobody undervalues high On Base players, the A's have switched strategies. They are still Moneyball centric, but the end game for them is to find undervalued players...not adhering by 'old' Moneyball rules.
I think we've seen the same in football. For years statheads were crying for teams to throw the ball more often because winning the passing game battle means winning the game nearly 80% of the time. And teams did and some teams were ultimately successful like the Saints and the Packers.
But now everybody is throwing the ball a ton. And the things I believe had creeped up is defenses get worse (I believe because since defensive players are more than twice as likely to get injured, you're increasing your chances of your defensive players getting killed)
I tend to believe that something like that will happen if teams get 4th down happy. I think those who do will have initial success. But eventually it will lead to some unforseen problems. And I think you need a pretty good running game to even think of doing it as historically the numbers show you're more likely to convert running it than passing it in short yardage situations. But, if you don't have a running game, you're only killing your odds of conversion.
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Legend of Kirby Dar Dar Blog