America, You Concern Me

November 14, 2011 – 2:32 am by Hickey

When Mike Smith decided to go for fourth-and-inches from his own 29 in overtime against the Saints on Sunday, I figured that there weren’t a lot of people outside of Mike Smith who were thinking “That’s a good idea.”

But according to an ESPN.com poll on Sunday night, some 43 percent of people DID agree with Smith’s decision.

Huh? I knew there would be some people who agreed with the gamble, but I was more expecting to see Reagan-Mondale type numbers.

Think of it in terms of cost-benefit analysis.

Best-case scenario, the Falcons get a first down at their own 30. Great. You’re still 40 yards out of field goal range. You may have just picked up that first down to do nothing more than end up punting the ball four plays later.

If this game was some sort of crazy shootout, I could see being concerned about putting the ball back in Drew Brees’ hands in any circumstance. But the Falcons’ defense had forced the Saints into a three-and-out on the first possession of overtime, so it is not as if they were getting pushed all over the field.

On the other hand, if you don’t convert, you’ve just handed the game to New Orleans. I know Brees has led plenty of scoring drives from his own 29, but I’m guessing his percentage of failure starting on the opposing 29 is pretty low.

Basically, Smith placed a $100 bet that had a chance of a $10 payoff. What’s the point?

Bill Belichick tried a similar maneuver at Indianapolis a couple years back and had it fail just as miserably. Sure, I understand the theory that your team doesn’t deserve to win if it can’t gain 3 inches. But your players also deserve better than for you to hand the game to the opponent on a silver platter. And I can’t imagine I’d be very happy if I was an Atlanta defensive player who just saw my coach say “Eh, screw it, we’re not gonna stop ‘em. Let’s go for it.”

But what do I know? I’m only part of the 57 percent.

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  1. 3 Responses to “America, You Concern Me”

  2. Your number estimates like a $10 payoff are way off. You should have read ESPN’s statistical analysis of the gamble before you posted this.

    By J-Lo on Nov 15, 2011

  3. I think people burying their faces in statistical analysis when common sense is needed is part of the problem here.

    You come up short, you lose. You get it, you’re still at least 2-3 more first downs away from having any chance at scoring. You punt it, you slightly increase your chance of losing but at least you aren’t guaranteeing it.

    By Hickey on Nov 15, 2011

  4. Hickey, Don’t be fooled by the rocks she got, she’s still Jenny from the block, used to have a little, now she has a lot, no matter where she goes she knows where she came from!

    By BKM on Nov 17, 2011

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