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The 4th Down Bot Vs. 2018: Part One

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How did the Chargers fare in the most pivotal down in football last year?

If you missed the Prologue, you can read about the Rebirth of the 4th Down Bot HERE. For everyone else, we’re going to jump right in to the data to see how the LA Chargers did against the odds in 2018.

First, let’s call the 4th Down Bot (ver 2.0) back over here so that we can look at the chart:

The difference between Bot 1.0 and Bot 2.0 is a more aggressive push in the final minutes of each half. In all other matters, the above chart is identical for both models

This monster of pigskin and steel is bent on one ultimate goal: to maximize the gridiron’s most pivotal down. While that sounds nice and dandy, the Bot’s methods are uncompromising and ruthlessly efficient.

The good news is that modern football is aligning more and more with the Bot’s point of view, so clashes should be limited as more and more teams begin to utilize analytics to a greater degree.

The first iteration of the 4th Down Bot did not take into account the game clock. The Professor fixed this with the second iteration, but those changes really only apply to the final 3 minutes and 45 seconds of each half. In short—the 4th Down Bot has research and historical data that proves that aggressive playcalling on 4th Down can pay off more often than not.

Did Anthony Lynn take note?


2018: Part One - Weeks 1-4

Now let’s compare these stats with previous seasons!

2018:

  • Week 1: 4/7 (57.1%)
  • Week 2: 3/6 (50.0%)
  • Week 3: 6/6 (100.0%)* A 1/6 correction noted between bot 1.0 and 2.0!
  • Week 4: 6/8 (75.0%)

2018 1st Quarter season stats: 19/27 (70.3%) agreement

2017:

  • Week 1: 5/8 (62.5%)
  • Week 2: 5/5 (100.0%)
  • Week 3: 4/6 (66.6%)
  • Week 4: 5/7 (71.4%)

2017 1st Quarter season stats: 19/26 (73.0%) agreement

And to further the comparison and contrast, we’re throwing in the last year before Anthony Lynn:

2016:

  • Week 1: 5/8 (62.5%)
  • Week 2: 5/5 (100.0%)
  • Week 3: 4/6 (66.6%)
  • Week 4: 5/7 (71.4%)

2016 1st Quarter season stats: 19/26 (73.0%) agreement


Are you surprised by these results?

As a numbers guy, I immediately am incredibly surprised that the amount of agreed plays was absolutely identical for the previous three years. That is, in and of itself, a statistical anomaly. There being only one more 4th down play attempted in 2018 versus the previous two years is also astounding (and very nice for quality comparison!).

Many think of Anthony Lynn as an aggressive coach: a loose cannon that could ‘go for two’ at any point. This exercise is ill-equipped to prove or disprove that notion. Instead, it illustrates whether or not coaches were more or less likely to follow good statistics for their 4th down calls.

You might be tempted to think that, based on these results, Mike McCoy was unfairly vilified for his playcalling. I’ll leave you with this final roundup:

2016 - 4th down calls within own field side (weeks 1-4): 16 of 26

2017 - 4th down calls within own field side (weeks 1-4): 16 of 26

2018 - 4th down calls within own field side (weeks 1-4): 14 of 27

My interpretation of these numbers is that Anthony Lynn is actually learning from his experiences. While the first quarter of 2018 indicates that he slightly took his foot off of the gas on 4th down compared to 2017, he’s still on the right side of the odds (the league average was 62.4% agreement in 2018).

What’s more, the times that Lynn did not agree with the bot was when he decided he’d rather have points on the board or pin the other team rather deep and trust his defense.

NEXT WEEK: Lynn Vs. the 4th Down Bot - 2nd Quarter 2018 (Weeks 5-9)

-Jason “My Numbers are Dayed” Michaels