Review: San Diego Chargers on 4th down against the Oakland Raiders

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

How does the New York Times 4th Down Bot rate Mike McCoy's performance on Sunday?

The Chargers beat the Raiders, but could Mike McCoy still improve his 4th down decision making? Let's find out. As always, data is provided by the New York Times 4th Down Bot and the Advanced NFL Stats 4th Down Calculator.

Chargers 0, Raiders 0 - 2:45 left in 1st quarter - 4th and 8 from OAK 9

NYT 4th Down Bot Says: Kick a field goal

Mike McCoy's Decision: Kick a field goal

Good call here, as 4th and 8 from the 9 yard line doesn't leave the percentages in favor of getting points.

Chargers 10, Raiders 10 - 12:59 left in 3rd quarter - 4th and 2 from SD 37

NYT 4th Down Bot Says: Go for it

Mike McCoy's Decision: Punt the ball

None of the options are particularly good here, as both punting and going for it have a net negative yield of expected points. Going for it shows a better value by about 0.4 expected points. Punting here may not be the optimal decision against most teams. Against the Raiders, conservative decision making can be forgiven a bit, in my opinion. The Raiders will beat themselves when given the chance.

Chargers 17, Raiders 10 - 1:00 left in 3rd quarter - 4th and 3 from OAK 30

NYT 4th Down Bot Says: Go for it

Mike McCoy's Decision: Kick a field goal

The 4th Down Bot disagrees with Mike McCoy again here, as going for it yields 0.5 points better than kicking a 48 yard field goal. This time I also disagree with the conservative call. A 40 yard field goal is not the same as a 48 yard field goal, despite the fact that they get grouped together often in people's minds. A 40 yard field goal is made 77% of the time on average, where a 48 yard field is only made 62% of the time. The chances of making a first down are nearly that of making the field goal, which clearly suggests that going for it is the better option.

Chargers 20, Raiders 10 - 14:55 left in 4th quarter - 4th and 7 from OAK 10

NYT 4th Down Bot Says: Kick a field goal

Mike McCoy's Decision: Kick a field goal

This situation is nearly identical to the Chargers first 4th down of the game. Again, kicking the field goal is the correct decision.

Chargers 23, Raiders 13 - 6:28 left in 4th quarter - 4th and 4 from OAK 15

NYT 4th Down Bot Says: Too close to call

Mike McCoy's Decision: Kick a field goal

Going by win percentage, there is not much of a difference between kicking and going for it in this situation, with things slightly in favor of going for it. Neither decision makes much of an impact on the Chargers chances of winning. That being said, I like kicking it here and forcing the Raiders to score two touchdowns.

Final Take

A bit of a rougher outing this time around, as the 4th Down Bot disagreed with 2 of the 5 times Mike McCoy had to make a 4th down decision. I am personally fine with McCoy punting it on 4th and 2 from his own 37 yard line against the Raiders, who were more than happy to shoot themselves in the foot. If the Chargers make the playoffs, perhaps not quite as much. Still, the time to get good processes going is now, rather than if/when the Chargers are in the playoffs, and each decision could possibly cost you the season.

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