Everyone knows 3rd and 1 is a run down… teams run over 70% of the time. But what about 3rd and 2? It is only 1 more yard, so teams should still be running a lot… right?
To quote Lee Corso… Not so fast my friend.
There were 809 3rd and 2′s (between the 20′s) the last 2 years. The general conversion rate was just under 52%, (which I think is pretty low).
When teams ran the ball they converted at a 60% rate, but when they passed the ball they only converted at a 48% rate.
Here’s where it gets good… Teams chose to pass the ball 70% (567 passing plays called) of the time!!!!
That’s right, they only needed 2 yards and chose to pass 70% of the time, even though the average conversion rate is 12% less. That means teams took the better option only 30% of the time.
So then I thought… well maybe the avg gain by passing the ball was so much higher than running the ball, passing was still the better choice. Teams that passed had a YPA (adjusted for sacks) of around 5.5 and turned the ball over 24 times (a little over 4% of the time). Teams that ran the ball had a YPC of around 4.5 and turned the ball over 3 times (a little over 1% of the time). So you gain on average 1 yard more, but your turnover rate goes up by 3%.
Generally speaking, running on 3rd down is underutilized as far as play calling is concerned. But 3rd and 2 is the most egregious error I could find.
I don’t know why Bill Belichick got so upset over the Welker hit, as many stated Edelman did the same thing and I would argue had more intent to injure (if either had any, which I don’t think either did). Just thought it was weird that he would complain about a play that his WR committed 3 plays earlier.
Here is a quick look at the snag route combination. This is one of the most popular ones the Bills run, it is a quick pass with a quick and easy read.
First thing you do is determine if you have a 1-high or 2-high safety look or MOFO, MOFC. If there is 1-high your coverages are typically some type of cov1, cov3. If 2 high, then typically some type of cov2, cov4. Here you can see there is 1 safety in the middle of the field and the Jags are in cov3.
When against cov3, in the snag route combo the QB’s main read is the OLB. If the OLB sinks under the curl, the throw is to the RB, if the OLB widens then you look at the curl. In the rare case that the OLB widens and the CB who has deep 1/3 responsibility sits on the curl, the corner should be wide open. Basically you are playing 3 on 2.
Here you can see the play as EJ hits the final step of his drop back. The OLB looks like he is widening to cover the RB, which brings his read back to the curl. While the CB might be jumping the curl, but also sees the TE coming his way.
Here is the moment when Woods catches the ball. You can see the OLB w/ the RB, you see the CB dropping under the corner and the WR settling in between 3 defenders on the curl and making the catch. Snag is a great route combo vs cov3, but the reads must be made on time and the ball thrown w/ no hesitation or else the defense will catch up. Here the execution was perfect all the way around and the result was a TD.
Quick post on Thad throwing 4 verticals against the Dolphins.
He really does a great job here… Presnap he sees single high, this generally means cov 1 or cov 3. Far side CB is deep and outside shade of WR, most likely cov 3 (which it is)
3 defenders covering 4 guys going deep… Weakness is the seam and you have to fit it in there. Here is Thad throwing up the seam away from the rotated down SS into the open seam, just like you are supposed to. Great throw, gain of 20
I haven’t written about my love of Mike Pettine’s blitzes in a while, so that’s what I will do today. This is the 2nd to last play of the game for the Jags, they are down 7 w/ time running out. In other words, a must pass situation and permission for the Bills to throw some funky blitz at the Jags. I am using the word blitz here, but understand that it is only a 4-man rush, so these are technically “exchanges”. It’s just that the guys you think will be doing the rushing aren’t always the guys pass rushing.
One of the things the Bills like to do most on defense is fake which side they are bringing their pressure from. In the pictures you can see the Bills look like they are bringing pressure from Henne’s right, when in actuality the pressure is coming from the left.
You can see here that the coverage is sound, the Bills are only rushing 4 here. They are pretty much man to man here… except for on the middle receiver, in this case the TE Lewis. The Bills look to have a call where the MLB will take anything to the wide side of the field and Hughes will take anything to his side. Byrd is playing CF in case anyone needs help. Searcy looks like he is “green dogging” the RB, in other words, rushing if he stays into block and covering him if he releases (which he does right away).
The endzone view I think shows it best. The rushes by both Williams’s are important as they open the lane for Robey to sprint through. If the LG passes KW to the center he is there to pick up Robey. What I think happens is that they man block the Williams side and then the other half of the line slides to the right side in anticipation of pressure.
Which is why you end up having 4 guys blocking 2, with Mario 1 on 1 and Robey coming free. A nicely designed blitz if you ask me.
Here is what the coverage looked like… nicely done all the way around. I think Henne was looking at Lewis, but by the time he got past Kiko’s jam, Robey was there. This is why a pass rush is so important… even if a guy was going to get open or was open, if the QB doesn’t have time to see him then it doesn’t matter.