In September, Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter expressed an aversion to rolling the dice on fourth down during a season-opening win over the Saints, explaining that going for it and failing becomes the recipe for getting fired. For Koetter, that was the exception.
According to the NFL, Koetter has the highest rate of going for it on fourth down for all coaches from 2008 through Week 12 of the 2018 season. Koetter and Eagles coach Doug Pederson are the only two who are north of 60 percent.
At the other end of the spectrum are former Colts and Lions coach Jim Caldwell and former Titans and Rams coach Jeff Fisher. The full chart is here.
As Pederson recently explained it to PFT, he constantly thinks about fourth-down scenarios, engaging in the analysis even when watching college games on TV.
“I think what you’re seeing is a mix of gut feeling, a little analytics, and trusting the players,” Pederson said.
It would be a mistake to ignore the numbers, but it also would be a mistake to rely only on the numbers. Plenty of factors go into the decision, and each decision is made quickly in real time. The more scenarios a coach has considered, the greater the chance that a quick and confident will be made every time.