Second-and-short is one of the best situations to throw downfield in football: It can produce a big play, but if the pass is incomplete, the offense still has a good opportunity to pick up the first down on third-and-short. But only one team is taking advantage of those situations.
That team is the Packers, who are the only team in the NFL that passes more than they run on second-and-short, and who average 14.2 yards on second-and-short, according to the Wall Street Journal. (Those stats exclude goal-line situations.)
No team is remotely close to as successful in those situations: The Packers are gaining twice as many yards on second-and-short as the next-best team.
The Packers have two different passes of 50 yards or longer on second-and-short this season; the rest of the NFL combined has one pass of 50 yards or longer on second-and-short this season.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers loves throwing deep downfield in situations where a bad play won’t be costly. We’ve previously noted that Rodgers takes advantage of free plays like no other quarterback, and second-and-short is another situation where Rodgers sees that a risk-reward analysis tilts heavily toward taking a risk by throwing deep.
Most teams on second-and-short usually run up the middle to pick up the first down. A wiser move would be throwing long, and saving those runs up the middle for third-and-short. It’s surprising that the rest of the NFL hasn’t caught on to what the Packers are doing.