Review: San Diego Chargers on 4th down against the Cincinnati Bengals

Why score points when they have Andy Dalton? - Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Chargers pulled out an impressive victory against the Bengals on Sunday thanks to great pregame preparation. Did Mike McCoy do well with his in-game management?

The playoffs are when a head coach needs to be at his absolute sharpest (right Andy Reid?). How did Mike McCoy do with his 4th down decisions against the Bengals? Let's find out with help from the New York Times 4th Down Bot and the Advanced NFL Stats 4th Down Calculator.

Chargers 0, Bengals 0 - 11:57 left in 1st quarter - 4th and 11 from the SD 30

NYT 4th Down Bot Says: Punt the ball

Mike McCoy's Decision: Punt the ball

No question here, punting was absolutely the right decision here.

Chargers 7, Bengals 0 - 12:15 left in 2nd quarter - 4th and 2 from SD 13

NYT 4th Down Bot Says: Too close to call

Mike McCoy's Decision: Punt the ball

The numbers ever so slightly favor going for it, but a punt isn't bad at all here. The consequences of going for it and failing are catastrophic.

Chargers 7, Bengals 7 - 3:51 left in 2nd quarter - 4th and 1 from SD 34

NYT 4th Down Bot Says: Go for it

Mike McCoy's Decision: Punt the ball

The stats say to go for it here if there is a 54% chance or better of making it, which is definitely the case here. The offensive line has been pushing the defense around in the run game all day, this should have been an automatic go for it.

On average, going for the first down here will succeed 74% of the time. With the way the Chargers were playing at this time, it is easy to assumed their chances are even higher than that. Instead, Mike McCoy opts to go with the cowardly decision to punt the ball away.

Chargers 7, Bengals 7 - 1:27 left in 2nd quarter - 4th and 9 from SD 13

NYT 4th Down Bot Says: Punt the ball

Mike McCoy's Decision: Punt the ball

The decision to punt the ball is correct on 4th and 9 here. The decision to not attempt for anything better than 4th and 9 on the three previous plays is quite possibly one of the dumbest things Mike McCoy has done all season.

Chargers 14, Bengals 10 - 2:04 left in 3rd quarter - 4th and 3 from CIN 6

NYT 4th Down Bot Says: Go for it

Mike McCoy's Decision: Kick the field goal

Going for it will net about 0.5 more points on average than kicking the field goal here. Another good reason to go for it is to try to go up 2 scores, while a field goal still keeps you up only a touchdown.

Chargers 17, Bengals 10 - 14:20 left in 4th quarter - 4th and goal from CIN 5

NYT 4th Down Bot Says: Too close to call

Mike McCoy's Decision: Kick the field goal

The numbers are pretty even here, with only a 0.1 point advantage on going for it. Kicking the field goal to go up 2 scores isn't a bad option in this situation.

Chargers 20, Bengals 10 - 8:16 left in 4th quarter - 4th and 1 from CIN 40

4th Down Calculator Says: Go for it

Mike McCoy's Decision: Take a delay of game, then punt

The 4th Down Bot didn't officially review the 4th and 1 situation due to the Chargers intentionally taking a delay of game penalty. This was by far the worst decision of the game for Mike McCoy. Going for it nets an expected 1.64 points. Punting nets the team 0.04 points of field position, a difference in 1.6 points. In terms of win percentage, the Chargers would win 95% of the time if they opted to go for it, versus 94% when punting. This was a decision that could have cost the Chargers the game.

Chargers 20, Bengals 10 - 4:29 left in the 4th quarter - 4th and 3 from SD 48

NYT 4th Down Bot Says: Go for it

Mike McCoy's Decision: Punt the ball

By win percentage, the Chargers win the game 95% of the time when going for it here, versus 91% when opting to punt. McCoy should have gone for it here.

Conclusion

This was not Mike McCoy's best game when it comes to 4th down decision making. The two most clear-cut 4th down decisions occurred in the 4th quarter, and he got it wrong both times. McCoy faced 8 fourth down situations, and he made the non-optimal decision on half of them. And on another one, he made the right decision, but he made it after horrendous play-calling left him no other option. It is good to trust Mike Scifres and the defense. It is better for it to not be necessary.

The Chargers have their third meeting against the Broncos next week. Mike McCoy may need to be more aggressive to pull out the win.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

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,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

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