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2019 NFL Regular Season Thread

Discussion in 'Sports Talk' started by Timsup2nothin, Sep 2, 2019.

  1. caketastydelish

    caketastydelish By any means necessary

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    The Rams are a very hot team right now, because they've finally gotten their together. The Cowboys would be extremely lucky to beat them.
     
  2. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Veteran of 1000 psycic wars

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    And yet here we are.

    Meanwhile, the Cheatriots are so habitual that they got caught (yet again) cheating...in anticipation of their showdown with...

    wait for it

    The Bengals.
     
  3. caketastydelish

    caketastydelish By any means necessary

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    Where's your source for that? In any event I don't see why the Giants would even want to win this game (haven't watched it). They're already pretty much guaranteed to not make the playoffs, but winning pointless could hurt their chances of drafting Chase Young (best player in the draft plus a position of need and better prospect than Nick Bosa).

    The Bengals have the top draft pick but they need a quarterback.
     
  4. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Veteran of 1000 psycic wars

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    They were reporting it frequently during MNF. I haven't checked on line, but there's no way that it isn't on ESPN.com.
     
  5. caketastydelish

    caketastydelish By any means necessary

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    I will add to this that if they felt the need cheat in order to be able to beat the Bengals in the first place, that means the team is REALLY not in good shape.

    edit: I found a source myself, thanks.
     
  6. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Veteran of 1000 psycic wars

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    They didn't need to cheat to beat the Bengals, they just need to cheat week in week out because that's just what they do.
     
  7. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    Happy the Eagles won, but NFC East reeks of one and done regardless of who makes it. That was ugly football most of the game. Still hope my team gets rid of Dallas, then Dallas somehow keeps their coach or Jones replaces him with another puppet rather than someone like Rivera.

    Note that the Eagles are one of the handful of teams that do use analytics for 4th down decisions. It's interesting how just a few pro teams using them has changed the perception on it. Used to be 4th down attempt failing "risks your job", nowadays it's more like a signal of how "old school" a coach is or isn't. 2 attempts in this game alone. Averaging 50% rate is more than enough to justify attempting them!
     
  8. Sommerswerd

    Sommerswerd I never yielded

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    Another consideration from the coach's perspective when it comes to going for it on 4th down is morale. Some might refer to it as "momentum", which I regard as mostly voodoo, but conversely, the team/player's morale is very real and can have a dramatic impact on how the players perform.

    The way I've seen this play out time and time again, is when a coach makes the decision to go for it on 4th down, and is unsuccessful, the other team gets a huge morale boost. The defensive sideline goes crazy, the players are all fired up, the coaches are fired up, the fans are celebrating and there is an overall feeling that they've "won". The offense comes out energized and determined not to "waste" the turnover that the defense has given them, and the coach going on offense feels much more free to playcall aggressively because of the favorable field position and the sense that he's been given an extra/"free" possession.

    On the other side, the failing team is deflated and dejected, there are recriminations, finger-pointing, and second-guessing going on, both on the sidelines and in the stands, and those negative, hopeless feelings take a little time to wear off, and can carry over into the ensuing plays. With a punt, there is none of that... all the excitement of the 3rd down stop has died down, they receive the punt and the offense comes out, business as usual. There isn't remotely the same frenzy and excitement on the offensive side, nor the despair and dejection on the defensive side. A punt essentially lets things reset so that your players can settle down and refocus.

    Now of course I've never coached an NFL team, and I recognize at that level, analytics become much more important. I also recognize that adult, professional players are, or at least should be, less susceptible to the dramatic swings of emotion and morale shifts that are so prevalent in younger players... but then Myles Garrett clocks Mason Rudolph in the head with his helmet, and I'm reminded that people are people, regardless of age. Emotions and morale play a huge role in sports. So while the probability of success is a very important factor, there are other factors a coach is considering that may not necessarily be statistically quantifiable.
     
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  9. rah

    rah Deity Supporter

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    Yeah, nothing worse than holding them on a tough 3rd down and rejoicing only to have them make it on 4th.
     
  10. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    Even this doesn't look at the evaluation fairly, for two reasons:
    1. The analytics capture this data to at least some extent because the analytics care about whether the team wins first and foremost. They're using other data to inform predictions of victory to the best of our ability. There are enough data points of 4th down attempts to have solid confidence that 4th down attempts lead to more wins rather than fewer on average. Insofar as team morale has an impact on victory, it must at least be partially captured if we observe ~1 more expected win per year with optimal 4th down decision making!
    2. Quoted is not similarly representing the effects of a *successful* conversion of morale on both teams, which are also very significant. If you go for it on 4th down and successfully convert, a likely winded defense that was hoping to get off the field is now faced with at least 3 more downs absent an offensive mistake. If the previous play was anything to go by, possibly 4. Offense also has a renewed opportunity to score, and you can see this in the body language of offensive players after a successful conversion.
     
  11. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Veteran of 1000 psycic wars

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    @Sommerswerd this is the flip side of your analysis. You looked at the morale effects of going for it and not making it. When you go for it and make it the defense is emotionally crushed. It's almost as bad as a third down stop, getting to the sidelines and coolers, and finding out before your butt even hits the bench that your special teams blew it on the punt and you have to get right back out there. The dejected "WTF do we have to do to stop these guys?" is inescapable. Meanwhile the offense is like "take THAT!" and charged with "if we get stopped now that whole risk will be wasted."
     
  12. Sommerswerd

    Sommerswerd I never yielded

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    That is the other side of the coin, but yes that is also true.
    Correct of course, which is also part of the consideration when deciding whether to go for it or not. My fault for not including that in my long winded post, because it certainly is the counterpoint of the equation.​
     
  13. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Veteran of 1000 psycic wars

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    I figured you were just leaving me space. We're like Laurel and Hardy or the Smothers Brothers.
     
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  14. Sommerswerd

    Sommerswerd I never yielded

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    Also true... see my above to @Timsup2nothin and @rah. But again, one of my points is that as the players become more and more advanced, the analytics and percentages become more important and nuanced in their application. Indeed, once you reach the NFL level, the players are so good at their craft and so rich and also adults, such that as a coaching staff much of what you have to offer them is the analytics, rather than the "how to get in a proper 3-point stance" and "how to receive a handoff without fumbling" that a youth coach is teaching. But that personal element is still there, at all ages/levels.

    A youth coach is sculpting, while an NFL coach is polishing and/or wiping off rust/bird-poop. An NFL coaching staff is dealing with numerous players who are often richer and more famous than they are so the dynamic is very different than with grade school or even college kids. But the emotional element is still there and in making the decision, they have to weigh whether the morale boost of making it is worth the morale crushing of not making it... for each of the individual players. It may be that across the NFL, there is a better chance statistically of making it on 4th down in a given down-and-distance situation, but if the coach knows that going for it, make it or not, will make 2 of his key offensive players pissed for the rest of the quarter that they didn't get the ball in that situation, and the offense has been sputtering so they aren't likely to score on this drive regardless, he might elect to punt anyway in spite of the statistics.

    I guess I could analogize to poker. You don't always play out a hand that is statistically superior, if you detect something that makes you suspect that your statistically superior hand is actually going to get your bank broken if you don't fold. So I don't disagree with, or even dispute your statistics showing that going for it is statistically better option than it currently gets credit for. I'm just saying that the league-wide statistics are not the only thing to consider when making the decision.
     
  15. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    When you do this, you are using detected information to alter the anticipated outcomes of each decision. Sometimes this detected information is pretty reliable (opponent accidentally showed his hand to be better as an extreme example).

    If you're making other considerations, the things considered must similarly constrain anticipation. It's not enough to just guess that "maybe X or Y matters". You might well have players on your team that get pissed off when you ignore analytics these days, because they want to win and you're knowingly reducing their chances. You might not know for sure whether those players are more upset by "not getting the ball in that situation" or by having "no chance to get the ball whatsoever".

    If a coach/decision maker is being optimal, the things they're considering need to "pay rent" in constraining anticipated outcomes. Also note that players are a lot happier winning than losing, on average. So absent reliable evidence otherwise it's questionable to justify decisionmaking that will result in ~1 fewer win per year on average in the name of keeping player morale higher. We need a lot more than "stats don't tell the whole story" as justification if we're going to make an otherwise statistically bad decision! The sensible approach to that is that the burden of evidence needs to be met to support punting...not the other way around!

    "Never punt" is also wrong of course. You eventually hit break points based on down/distance/time remaining/score/relative strength of offenses/defenses where punting becomes the odds-on play. Going for it is typically the odds-on play on 4th and short, but it is more volatile. So if you're up by 9+ with very little time left it's correct to punt/kick FG even on 4th and 1. 4th and 10+ starts getting so unlikely to convert that you're more likely to benefit from the punt yardage etc.
     
  16. Sommerswerd

    Sommerswerd I never yielded

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    A coach's opinion on how the morale and performance of his individual players will be affected by a decision he makes is detected information. You seem to be conflating this with "guessing".

    Again, I am not challenging the veracity of your statistics, but I am curious whether these calculations are league wide averages or based on particular teams, coaches or players. So what I mean is are the Patriots AND the Bengals making it over 50% of the time when they go for it on 4th down? Is it the same career-wise for Pat Shurmur and Bill Belichick? Does Carson Wentz have the same success percentage as Lamar Jackson? Because even those nuances would play a role in the decision making would it not?

    Also, are we potentially dealing with correlation rather than causation? Is it possible that the better teams are the ones who tend to go for it, which in turs skews the results in favor of going for it... as opposed to going for it making the team better?
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2019
  17. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    League wide averages. That said, a team like the Bungles is both less likely to convert a 4th down attempt *and* less likely to stop a team after punting.

    So it's not clear that being better/worse odds on the attempt is meaningful unless you have really warped/skewed teams (like the 2000 Ravens example earlier).

    Even if you strip that away and just look at nearly any team's 4th down conversion % given a distance vs their defensive performance individually, unless they are an extreme outlier they will consistently have better performance attempting the 4th down conversion on 4th and short. Keep in mind the statistical analysis weights more factors than people typically consider:

    • Conversion can succeed or be stopped
    • Punt could gain large amount of yardage (>50), get ~30-40, be shanked, get blocked, or get returned for a touchdown. Some of these are worse than failed conversions, which weights in the 4th attempt's favor slightly. This is not an automatic, free play!
    • Opposing offense can score regardless of punt, so from a pure defensive perspective you need your average odds of a stop over those (average) punt yards to be better than your odds of converting the attempt. Otherwise attempting the 4th down is already better, strictly as a defensive playcall. For teams with good offense and bad defense, think of this as a reverse example of the 2000 Ravens.
    • However, if you convert you also have a chance to score yourself.
    • Own defense will sometimes stop the opposing offense regardless of failed 4th down attempt, so we care about the differential between this and their success rate at greater distance, can't just assume opposing offense will score in this case.
    It ultimately boils down to "real conversion rate" * "expected points for your offense on conversion", evaluated against the expected points value of the yardage gained by the punt vs failed attempt. In most 4th and short situations this favors attempting 4th down, but not all.

    Also obviously as games progress punting becomes increasingly more favorable as you're winning by more + have less time remaining, and increasingly less favorable even at longer yardages if you're losing. It's non-trivial to just straight up calculate this on the spot with an accurate evaluation of team performance potential that day...but broadly speaking most teams' track records suggest they should be going for it in the vast majority of 4th and short situations.

    Clear as mud :p?
     
  18. KMRblue1027

    KMRblue1027 The Crown!

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    I think the biggest thing isn't even math so much as a change of thought. Teams have slowly realized that starting from say the 35 isn't actually that big of a difference then then 18 so punting on your opponents side of the field on short downs just doesn't seem worth it in the average case. You don't gain enough to give up the ball for free. It's a psychological factor that teams just don't think it's a big deal anymore, much like strikeouts used to be the single worse thing to do in baseball. Sure analytics are what drew that conclusion in the 1st place but in practice it's more teams just shifting perception. Missing out on 4th and short is now one of those shrug we'll get the ball back anyway.
     
  19. KMRblue1027

    KMRblue1027 The Crown!

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  20. caketastydelish

    caketastydelish By any means necessary

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    I hope the NFL doesn't believe their "explanation" and/or accept a bribe.
     

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