Washington Post: 'Manageable Third Downs'


This week's article at the Post looks at how third down conversion rates can mislead coaches into poor strategic approaches.


Offenses are better off thinking of their three downs (and fourth when the situation requires) as isolated opportunities for ten-yard conversions rather than stepping stones toward what coaches call a “manageable third down.” The best third down situation isn’t third and 1 or even third and inches. It’s converting on first or second down, before ever reaching third down. Rather than seeking a short third down situation, offenses should be avoiding third downs whenever possible.

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2 Responses to “Washington Post: 'Manageable Third Downs'”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Great article Brian;
    But doesn't this insight also provide more evidence that
    teams should go on fourth down more often?
    Is one of the main reasons defenses can neutralize a pass on 3rd and ten because they are assuming that the offensive team will punt if unsuccessful? If an offensive team demonstrated that they would go on forth down wouldn't defensive teams have to play 3rd downs differently? Or, more like it is in 1st or 2nd down? Therefore, my conclusion is a further and unrecognized? Benefit of going for forth down situations would lead to more conversions on third down?
    Your thoughts?

  2. Brian Burke says:

    Very true. A 4-down mindset would result in a lot more running. It's very hard to stop a team from gaining 10 yds on 4 run plays. The CFL is an interesting contrapositive. They only have 3 downsw.ch results in lots more passing. The more downs you have, the more you'd want to run.

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