Andy Reid showed brains and guts with his early fourth down call

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Chiefs coach Andy Reid may have set the tone for the Chiefs’ entire season with a call in the first quarter of Thursday night’s win over the Texans that showed he’s getting even more aggressive about using his elite offense.

The Chiefs faced a fourth-and-1 at their own 34-yard line, and Reid made the decision to go for it. Keeping the offense on the field worked, as the Chiefs picked up the first down and then marched down the field and scored a touchdown on that drive. In hindsight, Reid obviously made the right call, but it shouldn’t be overlooked how unusual a call it was: Reid did something that no coach in the NFL did all last season.

In the entire 2019 NFL season, no team ever went for it on fourth down from inside its own 40-yard line in the first quarter of any game. What Reid did by keeping his offense on the field in the first quarter was far outside the norm.

But it was indisputably the right call. Statistical analysts have been pointing out for years that teams should go for it on fourth down more and punt less. Fourth-and-1, in particular, is a situation when it’s almost always better to go for it than to punt. Smart coaches are figuring this out. Eagles coach Doug Pederson got more aggressive on fourth downs during the 2017 season, and the Eagles ended up winning the Super Bowl. Ravens coach John Harbaugh said at the start of last season that he had studied the math and become convinced that he should go for it on fourth down more often, and the Ravens had the best record in the NFL in the regular season. And now Reid is showing that he understands the benefits of going for it more on fourth down: He went for it twice early in the Super Bowl, and then made that gutsy call on Thursday night.

It shouldn’t require guts to make the right call. But it does, because coaches are second-guessed when they go for it on fourth down and it doesn’t work out. The truth is, we ought to be second-guessing the coaches who punt instead of going for it. Going for it on fourth down is smart, and it’s helping smart coaches win.

28 responses to “Andy Reid showed brains and guts with his early fourth down call

  1. Hindsight is always 20 20 it was a bad call you get stopped there and they have the ball deep in your territory up 7 already with a chance to go up 10 or 14.

  2. Big Red got his ring….now the pressure is off and he doesn’t have to coach scared.
    Good for him!!!

  3. If you don’t make it from your own 34 yard line you give up major field position, probably 3 points and also a much better chance of giving up a touchdown. If you do make it you still have about 65 yards to go. Even if a team converted 60% of the time this still looks like a losing proposition.

  4. Keep in mind it’s a much easier decision with that offense. It’s not such an easy decision if your rolling out the Jags offense. Like an earlier commenter mentioned, there is no longer pressure on Reid. Now that he has a ring, it’s likely he’ll end up in Canton. He can really be creative now and it’s hard to second guess his resume.

  5. A high school coach started doing this about a decade ago and its finally trickled up to the smarter NFL coaches.

  6. 12jjc says:
    September 12, 2020 at 2:38 pm

    If you don’t make it from your own 34 yard line you give up major field position, probably 3 points and also a much better chance of giving up a touchdown. If you do make it you still have about 65 yards to go. Even if a team converted 60% of the time this still looks like a losing proposition.

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    Teams convert 4th and one from the middle of the field far more often than 60%.

  7. Belichick got destroyed for going for it against the Colts way back in 2009. Now the league is finally catching up to the man that’s always ahead of the curve.

  8. Numbers don’t tell the whole story. Going for it from your opponent’s 34 is different than from your own 34. Just like blitzing, going for 2 points instead of 1, and other risks. It’s also important to consider the score, the amount of time left, your opponent, and where your team is in the standings, and how many games are left in the season. Is your line dominating the trenches, or being dominated? There’s a time and a place. Last but not least, there’s your personnel to consider. Going for it with Brady or Mahomes is different than if your QB is Derek Carr or Blake Bortles. An experienced coach like Andy Reid doesn’t need to look at a stat that’s written on a piece of paper. He has a computer in his head that allows him to make a smart decision based on all these facts, and more.

  9. I do like going for it, especially with an offense like KC’s. But the math is based on a large sample size. In any single game, you could not make it a few times without changing the overall percentage much. So you then lose that game, like the Ravens did against the Titans last year in the playoffs.

  10. Not only does having the league’s most prolific offense help make that decision, but my guess is that he saw what became very evident to everyone as the game wore on. The Texans D just wasn’t up to the task.

  11. This required neither brains nor guts. They’re playing the Texans in game 1 of the season. A team they just demolished 9 months ago after falling behind 24-0. The Chiefs are better this year and the Texans worse. Kind of an easy call.

  12. If he doesn’t go for it, despite being fifth an all time wins and just coming off winning a SB, he’s dumb and gutless?

  13. I am not sure he knew what down it was he couldn’t see through his glasses or shield they were both fogged up. I think he just winged it

  14. With this offense, he can pretty much go for 4th down from wherever. This offense has the chance to be the best offense ever. Really at this point, the only thing slowing the Chiefs offense down is them having a bad game. This team could be just like the ’07 Patriots with that offense.

  15. Watch him do it in the playoffs, not make it, lose the game, PFT posts an article ridiculing him for the decision.

  16. In Philadelphia we remember back in 2004 when Andy converted a 4th & 26 in the playoffs. There’s ice cold cheese wiz in those veins!

  17. My team, the Broncos, are a division rival with the Chiefs. Try as I might, I just can’t hate the Chiefs these days (that is expressly reserved for the Raiders). With Andy, Mahomes, and their other talent, they are fascinating to watch. And when they stack touch touchdowns on their opponents, you just shake your head and smile. Congrats to all the Chief fans. You waited along time for this team, enjoy it!

  18. tedmurph says:
    September 12, 2020 at 3:38 pm
    Belichick got destroyed for going for it against the Colts way back in 2009. Now the league is finally catching up to the man that’s always ahead of the curve.
    ———————————
    The decision did not pan out to be sure. But given the situation it really was the right one with far better chance of success. The defense was totally gassed and no longer effective. On the other side Manning was in his prime and playing lights out. The cost of the decision is Manning got spotted about 50 yards, but there is little doubt he would have gotten those yards anyhow. It was basically that if the Colts got the ball back Manning would score, didn’t matter where they got it. So rolling the dice with Brady was very much the better odds.

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