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When your defense is historically bad, why punt?

Discussion in 'Fan Zone' started by Common Sense, Nov 16, 2013.

  1. WV Cowboy

    WV Cowboy Waitin' on the 6th

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    Our middle school never punts. This game is a game about field position, .. I don't like never punting.
  2. T-RO

    T-RO Well-Known Member

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    Yes it has been scientifically proven. By the mathematicians at Harvard. But I'll walk you through it if you are a little slow about these things.

    Here are some scientific (mathematic) facts:
    --Running 4-downs you only have to average 2.5 yards per play, versus 3.3 yards per play running 3 downs.
    --If you want to go run heavy you only need 2 good runs out of 4 to move the chains
    --If you are going vertical passing you only need to complete 25% completion rate to convert a first
    --Since a recovered onside kick is equivalent to a turnover or forced punt...30% recovery rate would translate to 3 or 4 turnovers or forced punts...far better than we did on Sunday night.

    That big fact cigar was my gift. Smoke away. It'll burn all night long.

    Oh...and a bonus for you for parrying w/ me, Hoofie:
    Onside kicks in the NFL are successful 26% of the time.
    Source: http://www.advancednflstats.com
  3. Mookie

    Mookie Active Member

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    I have wondered this very thought exactly. Only the other way around; why don't teams go for it on 4th downs against us every single drive? That way we'd lose every single game, guaranteed!

    When opposing teams go for it against us, I feel absolutely scared.
  4. Beast_from_East

    Beast_from_East Well-Known Member

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    The NFL onside recovery rate is about 5%.

    We would start losing 60-0 if we did this.
  5. ScipioCowboy

    ScipioCowboy More than meets the eye. Zone Supporter

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    This was your claim: "So it's an absolute scientific fact that we would have been 100 times better off never punting and onside-kicking every time. In that game."

    The information you posted above does not validate this claim. In fact, in a purely scientific sense, the claim cannot be validated because it's too ambiguous. You say "we would have been been 100 times better off" without ever qualifying what "better off" refers to.

    100 times more likely to win?
    100 times more likely to have a lower point differential?
    100 times more likely to score an amount of points within X amount of the points scored by the opponent?
    100 times more likely to star in my own commercial?

    It's impossible to create a falsifiable model with the claim you made. No falsifiable model, no science.
  6. big dog cowboy

    big dog cowboy THE BIG DOG Staff Member

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    Glad we clearly that up.
    Common Sense likes this.
  7. T-RO

    T-RO Well-Known Member

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    One of us had a solid source. Onside kick recovery in the NFL is 26%. No guesstimates here. Book it.
  8. Hoofbite

    Hoofbite Well-Known Member

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    Actually they aren't. It's 19.2% (linked), which I will admit is higher than I would have expected but also quite misleading. I assume you're referring to this article: http://www.advancednflstats.com/2009/09/onside-kicks.html

    Perhaps in 2009 the success rate was higher. Perhaps it's just a typo because shortly after that he states that teams only ATTEMPT onside kicks 26% of time when put into a situation where their WP is 10%. I dunno but it doesn't matter because in the article the author outlines a couple of key points that are worth paying attention to.

    Element of Surprise:


    His definition of "when teams are expecting it" is too broad and doesn't actually capture the true reality of when a team expects an onside kick versus when they do not.

    In the Oakland and Philly game after the Raiders scored a TD to make it the score 21 to 10 they were below the cut off and there were 7 minutes to play in the 2nd quarter. At that point Oakland's WP was 13%. Nobody is actually expecting an onside kick at that point in the game, but if Oakland was trying to be extra sneaky and they did kick onsides and recover it, this would fall under the category of "when teams ARE expecting it". Philly was playing the return BTW.

    There have been 775 onside kick attempts since 2000 and 149 of them have been recovered which puts the recovery rate at 19.2%. While only 160 of these attempts has taken place in the first 3 quarters of football, teams have recovered the ball 75 times, or 46.8% of the time. In the 4th quarter however, you have 615 attempts and 74 recoveries which is only 12% of the time.

    Recently 4th quarter recovery rates have been trending down. In 2009 during the first year where they limited the number of players bunching one side on an onside kick the recovery rate was 16%. In 2010 it was 14%, in 2011 it was 8%, last year it was 4% and this year so far it is at 0%. 31 attempts in the 4th quarter so far in 2013 and none of them have been recovered. Compared to the span of 2000 to 2008 when 12.9% of attempts were recovered in the 4th quarter, the span of 2009 to present has only seen 8.5% of attempts recovered in the 4th quarter.

    Since 2011 there have been 133 attempts and 6 recoveries for a rate of 4.5%.

    Bottom Line: WP isn't a realistic measure of determining when a team is expecting an onside kick and when they are not. When teams are forced to onside kick and everyone knows it and the defense is lined up to recover the kick, the success rate plummets.

    What scenario do you think more closely represents onside kicking every single time and after having seen what the percentage is for that scenario, what do you think the percentage would be for a team that kicks onside every single time?

    Break Even Success Rate:


    This is what you have to hit to break even. 42.4% of your attempts must be recovered or else your costing your team.

    First and foremost you aren't going to sniff 30%. Hopefully that much is obvious by now but even if you could magically get 30% you're still coming out worse than if you had simply kicked it deep every time. How did you read that article and still shoot for a recovery percentage that is worse than the break even point?

    Secondly, in order to get 3 or 4 recoveries in a single game you'd have to kick off between 9 and 12 times which means you'd practically lead the league in scoring even if you never scored a single TD and kicked FGs on every possession.

    What team that would kick off that frequently would even need to onside kick? They're already scoring every time they touch the ball so they wouldn't even have to go for it on 4th down either. They'd be unstoppable. Prater kicks off less than 8 times on average. Talking 9 to 12? Please.

    You can't seriously isolate each new set of downs and say, "just average 2.5 yards over these next 4 plays. And then do the same for the next four plays, and the four plays after that". Teams average 5.4 yards per play and still face long 3rd downs because not every play is positive and not all positive plays cover up for the negative ones. Furthermore, teams pass at rates twice as high as 25% and still face 3rd down when the lowest YPA in the league is 6 yards. 2 attempts should get the job done.

    None of those things are based solely on chance. Getting 2 good runs out of 4 runs is a hell of a lot harder for Dallas than it is for Seattle or any other power running team. It could take Dallas an entire half to do such a thing.

    Yes, 2.5 yards per play when spanning 4 plays will get a first down. No, you cannot pick and choose when you will actually get 2.5 yards per play over the those 4 plays. If you complete 1 of 4 and it's for 10 yards you will get a first down. Solid work, figure out how to guarantee that happens on any given series. Then write a recipe for doing it to a great enough extent that the punts you have avoided have provided a greater benefit to you than your opponent.

    You've simply stated a bunch of things that when isolated into a small box will get the job done. Problem is, games are played out over the course of multiple series and averages and percentages are really based on 60-70 plays, not 4.

    I could just as easily narrow your 4 plays down to one and say that gaining 4 yards every single down will avoid 4th down all together. Why don't I? Because there's no way to guarantee that happens on ANY SINGLE play.

    You've identified things that if they were to play out would produce a team that was unstoppable. If a team got 2.5 yards per play over the span of 4 plays and each 4th play resulted in a first down, they would never be stopped. Have any idea how to do that though? Nah, didn't think so.
    ScipioCowboy likes this.
  9. ScipioCowboy

    ScipioCowboy More than meets the eye. Zone Supporter

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    I love lamp.
    Common Sense likes this.
  10. theSHOW

    theSHOW Well-Known Member

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    Great looking post. Argue away, science & emotion act as a team. I like the idea of controlling the clock and TOP. The opponent has a shorter field and will be off the field sooner whether they score or not. Our team wears down the opponents defense while ours rests. Seems reasonable to rev up the chance equation and pick our spots to be aggressive.

    Lets get some input on going for the 2 point conversion after an opening score. You miss and you lead 6-0 which is like hitting two field goals. You convert the 2 point score and you put the other team in a bind. Go up 8-0. How about going for 2 every touchdown?

    look down

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