The Game Ball Thread: Wk. 2 @ Pittsburgh

lexrageorge

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 31, 2007
15,634
It was the later punts I was referring to, and using the result of a one-off play is a terrible way to judge a decision-process when you have mounds of data that can inform you. Particularly when that result is obviously an outlier.

If those later punts had been an atypical Bill move in reaction to the game situation I wouldn't mind so much, but they're not. They're quite typical of a coach who has been very much on the conservative end of the scale in recent years.
Agree that Belichick in general has become more conservative on 4th down plays; it was noted several times last season.

However, these 2 plays do not necessarily reflect that. The first one was a 4th-and-9 from Pats territory; that is a punting a play, and I really cannot criticize them for not audibling to a fake. Reiss noted that Bailey did change the direction of the punt based on the free release of Schroeder. The calculus on the later punt is a bit more nuanced; it's probably 50/50 whether the team should go for it there. However, the raw numbers ignore how poorly the Steelers were playing on offense against the Pats defense.
 

Saints Rest

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Gamethread-ish post here but here goes anyway:

I just wanted to say I really like "game ball" threads rather than "goat" threads following Patriots' games. You know?
I've wanted to change to an Up/Down format for both wins and losses since there are usually players who played well in losses and ones who played badly in wins.
 
Agree that Belichick in general has become more conservative on 4th down plays; it was noted several times last season.

However, these 2 plays do not necessarily reflect that. The first one was a 4th-and-9 from Pats territory; that is a punting a play, and I really cannot criticize them for not audibling to a fake. Reiss noted that Bailey did change the direction of the punt based on the free release of Schroeder. The calculus on the later punt is a bit more nuanced; it's probably 50/50 whether the team should go for it there. However, the raw numbers ignore how poorly the Steelers were playing on offense against the Pats defense.
In addition to the 4th and 9 - I agree that's a punt situation - the Pats punted at (these were the two I was referring to)

10:58 4Q 4th and 5 from the PIT 40 (I think across the league teams go for this more than they don't these days)
8:11 4Q 4th and 2 from the PIT 42 (I think most teams go for this)

Plus

6:33 2Q 4th and 2 from NE 42 (most, probably almost all teams punt here, though analytics would say go for it)

The models tend to suggest go for it on all of these - particularly on the one at 8:11. In the opponents half the models will often tell you to go for it even on 4th and long. What was even more disappointing for me on that one was that they were 3rd and 2, threw an incomplete (to double-covered Jonnu) and then punted. Aaaargh.

It didn't come back to bite them this time, but this looks to me like non-optimal strategy and it's a persistent thing with Bill. I take the points made about PIT struggling to move the ball but that works both ways - it also means they're less likely to do anything with it if you hand it over on the 40 yard line.

Anyway, I'll shut up now.

Balls to Gunner, the defense (who've played pretty well in both games now) and whoever edits the game to remove all the ads so quickly on the NFL gamepass, it makes a world of difference to my viewing pleasure.
 

lexrageorge

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 31, 2007
15,634
In addition to the 4th and 9 - I agree that's a punt situation - the Pats punted at (these were the two I was referring to)

10:58 4Q 4th and 5 from the PIT 40 (I think across the league teams go for this more than they don't these days)
8:11 4Q 4th and 2 from the PIT 42 (I think most teams go for this)

Plus

6:33 2Q 4th and 2 from NE 42 (most, probably almost all teams punt here, though analytics would say go for it)

The models tend to suggest go for it on all of these - particularly on the one at 8:11. In the opponents half the models will often tell you to go for it even on 4th and long. What was even more disappointing for me on that one was that they were 3rd and 2, threw an incomplete (to double-covered Jonnu) and then punted. Aaaargh.

It didn't come back to bite them this time, but this looks to me like non-optimal strategy and it's a persistent thing with Bill. I take the points made about PIT struggling to move the ball but that works both ways - it also means they're less likely to do anything with it if you hand it over on the 40 yard line.

Anyway, I'll shut up now.

Balls to Gunner, the defense (who've played pretty well in both games now) and whoever edits the game to remove all the ads so quickly on the NFL gamepass, it makes a world of difference to my viewing pleasure.
Breaking these down a bit:

1: 6:33 in 2nd quarter, 4th-and-2 from Pats 40. Agree that nearly all teams punt here, and I'm not at all convinced the analytics that say this is a "slam dunk" go for it are correct. Also, the Pats offense had already been called for 2 penalties in that series, so there may have been a non-analytical benefit to take the ball out of the offense's hands at that point.

2: 4:06 in 3rd quarter, 4th-and-9 from Pats 43. Clear punting situation.

3: 10:58 in 4th quarter, 4th-and-5 from Steelers 40. Agree that teams have become more aggressive in similar situations. At the same time, pinning the Steelers deep has benefits, and the analytics are divided here.

4: 8:11 in 4th quarter, 4th-and-2 from Steelers 42. Obviously, you were not around when the Pats went for it on 4th-and-2 in Indy, and the board had thought Bill had totally lost it. To be fair, I did not agree with punting here at the time, but I will give Bill credit given the context. Trubisky had thrown for 155 yards at this point in the game and looked bad doing it. Chances seemed very high that the Pats would get the ball back with the lead, or at the very worst a tie score.

It will be interesting to see what happens going forward.
 

cournoyer

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 11, 2012
487
Enfield, Connecticut
Breaking these down a bit:

1: 6:33 in 2nd quarter, 4th-and-2 from Pats 40. Agree that nearly all teams punt here, and I'm not at all convinced the analytics that say this is a "slam dunk" go for it are correct. Also, the Pats offense had already been called for 2 penalties in that series, so there may have been a non-analytical benefit to take the ball out of the offense's hands at that point.

2: 4:06 in 3rd quarter, 4th-and-9 from Pats 43. Clear punting situation.

3: 10:58 in 4th quarter, 4th-and-5 from Steelers 40. Agree that teams have become more aggressive in similar situations. At the same time, pinning the Steelers deep has benefits, and the analytics are divided here.

4: 8:11 in 4th quarter, 4th-and-2 from Steelers 42. Obviously, you were not around when the Pats went for it on 4th-and-2 in Indy, and the board had thought Bill had totally lost it. To be fair, I did not agree with punting here at the time, but I will give Bill credit given the context. Trubisky had thrown for 155 yards at this point in the game and looked bad doing it. Chances seemed very high that the Pats would get the ball back with the lead, or at the very worst a tie score.

It will be interesting to see what happens going forward.
My only real gripe in this game was your #4. In that situation they should have ran the ball on 3rd and 2 and went from there. I was beside myself when they threw the incompletion. I didn't really have a problem with the punt afterwards (I could have went either way) but that 3rd and 2 playcall really annoyed me at that stage of the game. Of course, all is well that ends well so what do I know. Pretty fun grind of a game and Baltimore on Sunday will certainly be an interesting matchup.
 

tims4wins

PN23's replacement
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
31,866
Hingham, MA
My only real gripe in this game was your #4. In that situation they should have ran the ball on 3rd and 2 and went from there. I was beside myself when they threw the incompletion. I didn't really have a problem with the punt afterwards (I could have went either way) but that 3rd and 2 playcall really annoyed me at that stage of the game. Of course, all is well that ends well so what do I know. Pretty fun grind of a game and Baltimore on Sunday will certainly be an interesting matchup.
Meyers was wide open for a first down there IIRC, Mac just processed too quickly and forced it to Jonnu.
 

cournoyer

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 11, 2012
487
Enfield, Connecticut
Meyers was wide open for a first down there IIRC, Mac just processed too quickly and forced it to Jonnu.
True, he was. Maybe there was something they saw in the defense at that stage which is possible. To me it felt like two runs in that situation would have gathered a strong percentage chance of a first with their success on the ground to that point. I didn't even mind the punt from there if they got stuffed so I guess it's just a percentage play. Mac was decent throwing for short yardage Sunday also.
 

tims4wins

PN23's replacement
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
31,866
Hingham, MA
True, he was. Maybe there was something they saw in the defense at that stage which is possible. To me it felt like two runs in that situation would have gathered a strong percentage chance of a first with their success on the ground to that point. I didn't even mind the punt from there if they got stuffed so I guess it's just a percentage play. Mac was decent throwing for short yardage Sunday also.
I do agree when they initially lined up for the play, I was thinking run twice if necessary. When the play failed I was upset, but it was obviously they had an easy conversion if they executed better.
 

Saints Rest

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
True, he was. Maybe there was something they saw in the defense at that stage which is possible. To me it felt like two runs in that situation would have gathered a strong percentage chance of a first with their success on the ground to that point. I didn't even mind the punt from there if they got stuffed so I guess it's just a percentage play. Mac was decent throwing for short yardage Sunday also.
I wonder if MP is more of an analytic play-caller, relying more on percentages and less on a feel for the game as it is playing out, and relying more on percentages. Basically the opposite of BB not calling a time-out abasing Seattle pre-Butler INT, where later Bill explained that looking across, it just didn't feel like a timeout was the right play.