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Still more on second-and-ten

Posted by Doug on January 31, 2007

As promised yesterday (also see Monday's post), here is some data on the results of second-and-10 plays. The number in each slot is the percentage of all plays in that category that gained the specified amount of yardage. E.g. 9.0% of all second-and-ten rushing plays after a first-and-10 pass went for negative yardage.

Second-and-10 running plays


AfterRun AfterPass
=====================================
Negative yardage 8.0 9.0
0, 1, or 2 yards 24.9 32.0
3, 4, or 5 yards 29.4 30.2
6 or 7 yards 11.4 10.4
8 or 9 yards 11.4 8.1
10 or more yards 14.9 10.3

Second-and-10 passing plays


AfterRun AfterPass
=====================================
Negative yardage 6.6 6.7
0, 1, or 2 yards 38.6 39.0
3, 4, or 5 yards 9.7 10.0
6 or 7 yards 10.5 9.0
8 or 9 yards 8.0 8.3
10 or more yards 26.7 26.9

On passing plays (the second table), the two columns are essentially the same. So second-and-10 passing plays are equally successful regardless of whether the first down play was a run or a pass. But the first table shows that second-and-10 rushes are less successful following a first-and-10 pass play.

Does this mean anything? I'm not sure. If you line up these same columns in a different way, you get this:

After a first-down run


Run Pass
==================================
Negative yardage 8.0 6.6
0, 1, or 2 yards 24.9 38.6
3, 4, or 5 yards 29.4 9.7
6 or 7 yards 11.4 10.5
8 or 9 yards 11.4 8.0
10 or more yards 14.9 26.7

You could stare at this chart for awile and debate whether the pass plays or the run plays were more effective in this situation. The pass plays get you the first down more often, but they also leave you in 3rd-and-long more often. The fact that it's debateable is, in my opinion, evidence that teams are generally using roughly the right run/pass mixture in this situation.

Now look at this chart.

After a first-down pass


Run Pass
==================================
Negative yardage 9.0 6.7
0, 1, or 2 yards 32.0 39.0
3, 4, or 5 yards 30.2 10.0
6 or 7 yards 10.4 9.0
8 or 9 yards 8.1 8.3
10 or more yards 10.3 26.9

Clearly passing is more effective than running on second-and-10 following a first-and-10 pass, which indicates that teams could benefit from passing more. I'm not convinced that there are sufficient long term benefits to throwing all these changeups to justify the decreased effectiveness on the current drive. I am not suggesting that teams should stop running on second-and-10; I'm merely suggesting that they could possibly pick up more first downs if they ran more like 30% of the time rather than 55% of the time.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 31st, 2007 at 5:09 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.