Are Field Goals the Sacrifice Bunts of Football?

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by AAAintheBeltway, Aug 22, 2007.

  1. I never liked the sacrifice bunt. As Earl Weaver used to say, you only get 27 outs in a game, so you better not waste them. Instead of bunting a runner to second, I'd rather play for a big inning or a three run homer. That's what wins most games, not moving the runner over. Too many double plays will get a manager fired however, so most do the "smart" thing, although I doubt they can prove it is statistically.

    In football, NFL coaches feel a lot of pressure to "get something" out of every trip into or close to the red zone. So they almost always settle for the field goal on fourth down rather than trying to make a first down. I've seen stats that suggested strongly you are better off to go for it inside the 10 if you only have a yard or two. Even if you fail to convert, your opponent takes over in terrible field position, an important factor, particularly if it's early in the game.

    I think reasonable assumptions can be made that support going for it anytime inside the 30 if your probablity of converting is greater than 70%. For a decent offensive team, I'd think anything inside three yards would be in that range. I think most coachs and fans have trouble thinking in probabilities. The coaches are thinking CYA, and the fans are ready to criticize any decision that goes wrong. so there is pressure to do the safe thing.

    I was frustrated this past week in an exhibition game when Coach Gibbs didn't go for a 57 yard field goal in the first half of a scoreless game. After watching the kicker hit the top of the goal post arm on a 48 yarder in the first game, i thought he had a good shot of making it. After running some basic probablities, I decided that going for a low percentage field goal is always a terrible strategy, unless you have no choice, ie fourth down and no time left. Your opponents' enhanced chances of scoring with the great field position they will receive if you miss totally offsets the expected value of the kick. It's tempting to want to see the kicker take a whack at it, but unless he is within >70% range, it's probably a suboptimal idea.
  2. Lol, your trying to apply probability to football?
    Of course feild goals are dumb strategy, but it's still better than soccer, count your blessings i would say.

    Jmo, but i always thought -was it Jim kelly, buffalo bills? Was the best quarterback ever.

    Why? He was the ONLY one who played a hurry up offensive game, the way a game like gridiron should be played.

    You want to wait around for advertising breaks, or screw around with half baked plays that have no more chance of succeding than dumb luck, than just throwing the damn ball to someone, fine, but that's no sport, its an excuse for an industry.

    Were it not for add break's.....the deliberate, "slowing" of the game.......i reckon kelly's bills likely would have won the championship rings they deserved.

    Just an opinion.......but who really wants their sport, warped and "curve fitted" to a particular, un -spectator friendly industry standard.

    Edit-theres enough sub-optimal in sports broadcasting alone, to not be too concerned with game strategies.
  3. its too simplistic to say "field goals are a bad idea" or what have you. it all depends on the situation. if you have a great defense and shitty offense and the game is close, you'd be stupid to go for it on 4th and 2 on the 15. kick the FG and let your defense win the game.

    if the game is a shoot-out and both defenses suck, then go for the TD instead. it also depends on your kicker and weather conditions.

    there are many factors to consider.
  4. On a similar theme, I've always felt that the extra point after a touchdown is a waste of time. How many are actually missed over the course of a season? Either do away with it completely and award 7 pts for a touchdown (unless they decide to go for an extra 2 pts, in which case award 6pts), or make it more difficult by extending the distance to a point where there is a 50-50 chance of it being made. The only argument I can see for keeping the extra point as it is, is that it allows me to go to the refrigerator for another beer, or if in a bar go to the mens room to get rid of the last beer that I just drank.
  5. I'm not saying field goals are always a bad idea. I'm suggesting the decision is not as cut and dried as most coaches treat it as. The difference in getting a TD and settling for a FG is huge. You only get a few trips inside the red zone in most games, and the good teams tend to leave with TD's. For a coach, particularly one with a shaky hold on his job, it has to be tempting to put points on the board with the kick rather than risk not converting on fourth down. I understand that, but i think it leads to poor decision-making.

    Bascially, my back of the envelope noodling suggests that you should punt rather than go for a FG if the kicker is not within his >70% range. Once you get within the 30, then the odds begin to favor going for it on fourth down.

    Another thing I hate is when a coach faces that fourth and a long one from the opponent's 15 and calls a time out to, as they say "talk it over." What is there to talk over if you have prepared? You know the percentages, you should have a couple of your best plays ready to go and you make a decision. "Talking it over" only gives the defense time to get organized. To me it is an indication that the owner should be thinking about a new coach, one who can make a decision under pressure.
  6. Maverick74



    As a avid football enthusiast here, let me chime in here. Football is one of the greatest strategy games out there. Having said that, there are two very important concepts to keep in mind here when playing football. And they are field position and momentum. The best coaches know this. If you have a 4th and 1 on the 15 and you are in a one possession game, you have to kick. If you go for it and fail, it's not the points you lose, but the momentum!!!! Games are won and lost on momentum. There is no reason to risk the positive momentum that got you down to your opponents 15 only to give the defense the opportunity to stuff you, take away your momentum and drive down the field to win the game.

    Coaches fear the idea of turning the momentum over, this is why it almost always makes sense to go for 3 instead of the first down. This is also the reason why coaches don't attempt long field goals if its a long shot. Missing a field goal turns the momentum over to the other team and gives them great field position.

    Also, as to your example of going for it inside the 10, I have seen more games lost then I care to remember on teams that do just that. You realize you are letting the defense rise to the challenge and make a 4th down stand. There is probably not a greater momentum changer in the game then stopping a team inside the 10, especially inside the 5 on 4th down. Like I said, take the sure 3, keep the momentum, play good defense, and get the ball back.

    Granted a lot of these situations depend on the type of defense you have, your ability to score and the weather conditions.
  7. Maverick74


    You are missing the beauty behind the extra point. The extra point gives the special teams the opportunity to make a play and turn the game around. It has nothing to do with the extra point. It's not about the kicker, but your opponents special teams. If they can block the kick, they can turn the game on a dime. And don't kid yourself, there are a lot of blocked extra points every year in the NFL. And almost every one of them decided the game.
  8. Maverick74


    No! They call the timeout to see what defensive personnel are on the field. Once you see the coverage and who is on the field, you can call a better play. If they try to substitute in the last minute, the quarterback calls an audible and changes the play. It's all strategy! Damn, I love this game.
  9. There were 1130 PAT's attempts last year in the NFL, and only 10 were missed. Of that 10, I would suspect that most of them were due to either a botched snap, or the kicker slipping (as happened to NE kicker last year). Not quite what I would consider "a lot of blocked extra points". The result would probably be pretty much the same if the Defensive Special Teams decided to stay on the sidelines. As far as almost every one of them deciding the game, then that would mean that the majority of the games that those 10 were missed would have to have been lost by 1 pt (unless the blocked PAT was returned for a touchdown, or significant yardage). Without looking up the results of those games, I would say that it is unlikely that happened.
  10. Maverick74


    That's a lot of missed extra points. That's 2 every 3 weeks. Not very uncommon at all. And yes, most of them have a huge impact on the game under the assumption that a large majority of NFL games are one possession games save for New England beating Houston by 30 pts or something. And like I said before, even if the game is not decided by the missed PAT, it's a huge momentum changer.
    #10     Aug 24, 2007