Review: San Diego Chargers on 4th down against the Kansas City Chiefs

Stan Liu-USA TODAY Sports

The Chargers faced plenty of 4th downs this past Sunday. How well did Mike McCoy (with special bonus appearance by Eric Weddle) handle them?

The San Diego Chargers squeaked out a win against the Kansas City Chiefs backup players to make the playoffs. Head coach Mike McCoy faced a large number of 4th down situations this game. How did his decisions compare to analysis done on 4th down situations? Let's take a look with the help of the New York Times 4th Down Bot and the Advanced NFL Statistics 4th Down Calculator.

Chargers 14, Chiefs 14 - 7:10 left in 2nd quarter - 4th and 6 from SD 36

NYT 4th Down Bot Says: Punt the ball

Mike McCoy's Decision: Punt the ball

The numbers show there isn't a huge decision between punting and going for it, but punting is the correct decision here.

Chargers 14, Chiefs 21 - 0:40 left in 2nd quarter - 4th and 6 from SD 22

NYT 4th Down Bot Says: Punt the ball

Mike McCoy's Decision: Punt the ball

Facing the same distance even deeper within their own territory, punting is even more clearly the correct decision here.

Chargers 14, Chiefs 21 - 13:40 left in 3rd quarter - 4th and 3 from SD 30

NYT 4th Down Bot Says: Too close to call

Mike McCoy's Decision: Punt the ball

The numbers slightly favor going for it, but not by a whole lot. Another 10 yards down the field, might be a different story. Punting in this situation is just fine.

Chargers 14, Chiefs 21 - 9:55 left in 3rd quarter - 4th and 3 from SD 28

NYT 4th Down Bot Says: Too close to call

Mike McCoy's Decision: Punt the ball

Almost the exact same situation as the last 4th down, punting again is still a decent decision here.

Chargers 14, Chiefs 24 - 4:37 left in 3rd quarter - 4th and 4 from SD 39

NYT 4th Down Bot Says: Too close to call

Mike McCoy's Decision: Punt the ball

The extra yard balances out the better field position to keep the decision to go for it or punt virtually a tie. Punting is still a good option here.

Chargers 21, Chiefs 24 - 3:24 left in 4th quarter - 4th and Goal from KC 4

NYT 4th Down Bot Says: Go for it

Mike McCoy's Decision: Kick the field goal

This one is a tough one all around. Kick the field goal and hope your defense can stop the other team, or go for the win outright? Teams going for it succeed about 42% of the time and win about 45% of the time in this situation. A field goal from this distance succeeds about 98% of the time, and teams going for the field goal win about 42% of the time.

It is a tough call. These numbers don't take into account the specific game, of course. For instance, the fact that the Chargers have one of the worst defenses in the NFL (and had been playing like it all game) would point toward going for it. The defense couldn't be trusted to keep the Chiefs from marching down the field and kicking a game-winning field goal. This turned out to be the case, with the Chargers season only saved by the 41 yard attempt being missed.

Chargers 24, Chiefs 24 - 12:58 left in overtime - 4th and 2 from SD 28

NYT 4th Down Bot Says: Too close to call

Mike McCoy's Decision: Punt

Eric Weddle's Decision: SCREW THAT, WE'RE GONNA WIN!

The 4th down measurements break down a bit for the first drive of overtime, as there aren't enough data points yet to make conclusions under the new rules. That being said, the measurements available suggest this is a close call. Assuming sudden death rules, punting and going for it both show a 41% chance of winning. With the Chiefs getting a possession in the case of a field goal, we can probably assume that the chances are a bit lower than that when going for it, making punting it the slightly better option.

Eric Weddle took a ballsy chance choosing to go with the fake punt, and was bailed out when his helmet came off. All in all, a crazy play near the end of a crazy game.

Chargers 24, Chiefs 24 - 5:35 left in overtime - 4th and 5 from KC 18

NYT 4th Down Bot Says: Kick the field goal

Mike McCoy's Decision: Kick the field goal

The NYT 4th down bot says on its page that "It's complicated" due to the new overtime rules, but the percentages are so heavy toward the FG that the new rules shouldn't make much of a difference. Teams in this situation win 91% of the time when kicking against 69% of the time when going for it. Take the points and hope your defense doesn't allow a touchdown.

Conclusion

All in all it was a pretty decent week for McCoy. Most of the decisions turned out to be so close that taking the conservative option was not a bad call at all. I believe the Chargers should have gone for it on the 4th and goal near the end of regulation, but it is close by the numbers. The Eric Weddle fake punt was so awesome and crazy that it is impossible to treat it with any kind of rationality still.

The Chargers face the Bengals next week in the Wildcard Round of the playoffs. The Bengals have a tough defense, and the Chargers will likely face some tough 4th down decisions.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join Bolts From The Blue

You must be a member of Bolts From The Blue to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bolts From The Blue. You should read them.

Join Bolts From The Blue

You must be a member of Bolts From The Blue to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bolts From The Blue. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker