Brees advocates going for it on fourth, going for two more

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Saints quarterback Drew Brees wants to spend more time on the field this season, and see his punter and kicker on the field less.

Asked today on the Dan Patrick Show if he believes the Saints should go for it on fourth down more often, and go for two after most touchdowns, Brees says he absolutely thinks they should.

“Personally, I feel like if we went for two, we could make it more than 50 percent of the time, and I think fourth down, depending on where you are on the field, if you’re in a manageable situation we could convert most fourth downs. So I’m all for it,” Brees said.

Most statisticians who have studied the matter agree with Brees on fourth downs: The analytics people say it’s clear that NFL coaches are too quick to punt and too hesitant to go for it.

As for going for two, last season across the league extra points were good 94.2 percent of the time, while two-point conversions were good 47.9 percent of the time. That means two-point conversions were actually a slightly better bet than extra points.

So the math is in favor of Brees, and of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who said yesterday that he wants to go for two after every touchdown. And most fans surely agree, as it’s always more fun to see teams go for it on fourth down or go for two than kick. The only question is whether any NFL coach will buy into that strategy. So far, NFL coaches have proven themselves to be more cautious than fans and quarterbacks might hope.

33 responses to “Brees advocates going for it on fourth, going for two more

  1. The argument about ‘going for 2’ isn’t completely sound. Coaches know a bit about the relative strengths of their offenses vs. the defenses they are facing. There’s no reason to think that there’s a constant conversion rate for all offenses against all defenses. (Indeed it’s clear that the analogous PAT and FG% rates vary from team to team.)

    So a good number of the teams avoiding 2-point conversion tries are probably doing so from a correct assessment that their individual conversion rate is less than 47% (possibly much less). It’s possible there are coaches kicking PATs in spite of higher conversion rates, but I would guess that on average, teams kicking would convert at a lower rate than those teams that have chosen to go for 2.

  2. Let him play out this year and walk next off season. Besides then he can run for office & get more air time then the NFL allows him.

  3. It’s the whole “bird in the hand versus two in the bush” scenario. The XP is virtually a guaranteed point. And if you’re a team with a good kicker, it’s even more of a lock. In the first half of a game give me the XP. I only go for two if the score dictates it.

  4. if you have a decent defense, top 15, then at the very least go for it on 4th and up to say 7 yards when you are inside the 50. it is so frustrating when teams are at say the opponents 40, they punt to hopefully get 30 yards of field position or better about 60% of the time, and only 20 yards or worse of position 40% of the time. meanwhile, even a decent team gets 6 yards per play on average.

  5. Any breakdown on which teams went for 2 more often?
    If not then these stats can be misleading.
    Teams with better short yardage offenses are going to have a better chance at making the conversion and will go for it more often.
    It is advantage to those teams just like playing with the kickoff rules was a penalty to the teams with the better kickoff return units.

    There are two sides to the coin and for every rule change that benefits someone another group gets screwed.

  6. The problem with going for it more on 4th down and short yardage is that coaches will opt to throw it, which makes the chances of converting it lower. ( See Seahaws v. Patriots Super Bowl)

  7. “crewchief15 says:
    Jun 15, 2016 1:35 PM
    Going for it on 4th down with the Defense that Saints had last year is NOT a good idea Mr. Brees…”

    Umm. Doesn’t that mean they should go for it more cause they need more points and when your D is that shoddy it doesn’t matter too much where the other team takes over from.

  8. Most coaches will take a delay penalty so they don’t look so stupid punting from the opponents 32-yard line.

  9. I am a season ticket holding Saints fan and I’m a huge fan of Brees. That said, if our defense even slightly resembles the one it’s been for the past 2 years…both the conversion and going for it on 4th down are very silly ideas.

  10. mackcarrington says:

    The problem with going for it more on 4th down and short yardage is that coaches will opt to throw it, which makes the chances of converting it lower. ( See Seahaws v. Patriots Super Bowl)
    —————-
    You might want to check those stats again for 2014-15 season – the 1yd TD pass was more successful (66TD on 108 tries – 61.1%) than the 1yd RUN (129TD on 223 tries and TWO fumbles – 57.8%).

    Plus, “Beast Mode” was a pitiful 1-for-5 (1 TD, 2 no gains, 2 losses of yards) that year on the goal line and a career 4-for-13.

  11. There is more to this issue than ‘expected points’. You also have to factor in the risk or variance. Punting on 4th down and kicking the PAT have less uncertainty in the outcome.

    It’s the same with investing – riskier investments have higher expected returns. However, depending on the individual you may not want to maximize your expected return, you may want to reduce some of your risk.

    If you only wanted to maximize the expected returns on investments then everyone should only invest in startups. 10% of the people would be rich, and everyone else would be bankrupt.

  12. To correlate this with a basketball perspective, the reasons the Golden State Warriors are so good and win so much is because they make 3s instead of 2s.

  13. The challenge with the 2 point conversion stat is that it seems better statistically by looking at the whole year’s data. However, that considers the law of averages. When you flip a coin you might still get heads 10 times in a row despite the 50% odds. A team could easily miss all 2 point conversions for 3 games in a row and and make all of them for the next 3.

  14. To correlate this with a basketball perspective, the reasons the Golden State Warriors are so good and win so much is because they make 3s instead of 2s.
    _________________________________

    Nonsense. The reason GS is so good is they have better players than everyone else.

  15. BigAlHeBDMan says:
    Jun 15, 2016 3:23 PM
    To correlate this with a basketball perspective, the reasons the Golden State Warriors are so good and win so much is because they make 3s instead of 2s.

    ———

    If the odds of getting a 2 point bucket was 94% no one would shoot 3’s. It only works because the percentages overwhelmingly favor shooting 3s. If you had a Shaq in his prime you still shoot twos.

  16. Drew is right. Great QBs like him, Brady, Rodgers, Romo, Newton, and Carr should have more opportunities to be aggressive.

  17. BroncosCheatedTheSalaryCap says:
    Jun 15, 2016 4:16 PM
    Drew is right. Great QBs like him, Brady, Rodgers, Romo, Newton, and Carr should have more opportunities to be aggressive.
    ————————-

    True. But what are Newton and Carr doing on a list of great QBs?

  18. Risk aversion only applies to money because you can buy more happiness with your first dollar than your last one.

    Points in a game, totally different. If 2 averages more, go for 2. You’ll win more games with the extra bonus than you’ll lose.

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