by Matt Meiselman
Matt has been helping me crunch some 4th down numbers this off-season. He is a senior at the University of Maryland studying broadcast journalism. He's originally from New Jersey, but loves New York sports. Matt aspires to work in sports media and has a passion for sports statistics. -BB
In last year's article on this subject, Brian talked about how coaches aren’t just saving wins if they’re more aggressive; they are simultaneously forfeiting wins by being too meek. In 2011, the average team forfeited .65 wins for the year on 4th down decisions alone. The NFL has started to become more risk-friendly instead of risk-averse, and you’d expect that with more innovative minds in the game, like Bill Belicheck and Jim Harbaugh, the league would be trending towards more optimum game management. This was not the case in 2012.
During the 2012 season, the average team forfeited .73 wins, a significant increase from the year before. The average win probability forfeited per opportunity also rose, jumping from 1.6% of a win to 1.9% of a win. Below are the calculations for each team:
|Team||WP Forfeited||Opp.||WP F. per Opp.|
The Browns forfeited the most wins in 2012, after finishing 6th in 2011. New president Alec Scheiner has said he will take more chances, and the team could surely use the boost. Cleveland, along with Philadelphia and Oakland, were bad teams that made themselves worse as well. The Eagles actually led the league in WP forfeited per opportunity, at 2.9%. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Packers and Seahawks limited their 4th down mistakes, but they still forfeited about half of an expected win for the year.
The NFL continues to suffer from extreme market inefficiency in terms of in-game coaching strategies. The head coaches are complacent because everyone is doing it wrong, and there’s no apparent reason to make a change. Collectively, NFL teams cost themselves almost 24 wins in 2012, and fans should not expect much deviation from the norm anytime soon.