Thursday, December 13

1st and 10, do it again

I've had enough of people complaining when the Browns (or any team) throw to a receiver short of the first down line on a 3rd down play and it results in a punt. "Why do they always do that? I can't understand it." goes a typical whine. Why? I'll tell you why:

1) Many armchair football analysts may not realize this, but once a player catches a forward pass, he can advance the ball until tackled or pushed out of bounds. So, you see, throwing a 4-yard pass on 3rd-and-5 is not simply giving up - the idea is that the receiver will gain that extra yard with his legs. This is not a difficult concept, especially on a team like the Browns with strong pass-catching gentlemen like Winslow, Lewis, and Jurevicius. What's amusing to me is no one ever gives any credit in situations where a pass short of the 1st down marker is in fact advanced past the line for a new set of downs. This happens all the time, yet the short pass rarely earns praise; only complaints when this approach fails are ever heard. People at my Browns Backers club get annoyed when I point these things out and provide examples of successful short-pass conversions, but no one wants to hear facts on gameday.

2) It's not a simple matter of simply having a receiver go to the requisite yardage, stand there, and receive a first down pass. The defensive players all know it's 3rd down and they know how many yards the offense needs to convert, so they tend to hang around that line in an effort to force 4th down. People need to understand this - for every throw completed short of the marker that you see, there was indeed a terrific chance for Derek Anderson to throw the pass that you wanted, the one that would have gotten the first down...except that it would have been intercepted.

Are there instances where throwing short of the first down line is not the best decision? Of course. I'm just arguing that it is not necessarily the wrong move - it frequently works via receivers earning yards after the catch, and good defenses tend to force such throws by playing near the first down line. Next time your team comes up just short on a 3rd down pass play, keep these things in mind before reflexively decrying your coaching staff's lack of strategy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

yes and one of the best of all time at "y.a.c." was jerry rice who routinely caught 2 and 3 yard passes on 3rd and long only to turn many of them into, not only a first down but 65 yard scores. i don't see why anyone would get upset at that. the 2 or 3 yard pass is a very high percentage pass. it's up to the receiver then to get the remaining "y.a.c.".