Monday, November 16, 2009

Obligatory post on Belichick's decision

When Bill Belichick decided to go for it on 4th and 2 last night, I thought it was pretty extreme, and not the right decision. And of course the reaction from almost all quarters after the game has been that it was a crazy decision.

But this morning the number cruncher people looked at it, and there's an awfully strong defense for Belichick's decision. Here are two of the analyses (AdvancedNFLStats and ZEUS) that are getting attention today.

Of course, there's plenty of question exactly which numbers are appropriate to use (i.e. do you look at how often the Patriots have converted on 4th down plays of under 3 yards just this year? Or do you average it out over the last five years? etc). But those two analyses suggest that Belichick was pretty clearly right no matter which of the reasonable numbers you use for your calculation.

Judy Battista has more (non-quantitative) general analysis on the decision.

This specific decision aside, there's certainly a wealth of literature showing that teams do not go for it on 4th down nearly as often as they should.


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