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Interesting Article: Football Outsiders Aggressiveness Index


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http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stat-analysis/2015/aggressiveness-index-2014

Football Outsiders introduced the concept of Aggressiveness Index back in Pro Football Prospectus 2006. The goal was to find a way to rank coaches based on their tendencies on fourth downs in a manner that was easy to understand but accounted for the different rates at which the average coach will choose to "go for it" in different situations. Although no NFL coach is as aggressive as the data suggests he should be, we discovered there is quite a wide range of fourth-down tendencies among coaches.

Aggressiveness Index numbers center around 1.0 and generally describe how much more (or less) likely each coach is to go for it on fourth down compared to his peers; for example, a coach with 1.20 AI is roughly 20 percent more likely to go for it than an average coach in equivalent situations. The Aggressiveness Index excludes obvious catch-up situations: third quarter, trailing by 15 or more points; fourth quarter, trailing by nine or more points; and in the last five minutes of the game, trailing by any amount. AI was expanded two years ago to include plays when the offense is on its own side of the field, excluding those obvious catch-up situations. A slightly newer version of AI we are using now also adjusts to judge coaches on all fourth-and-short opportunities, even when the play doesn't actually record as fourth-and-short because of one of those bogus delay of game penalties that moves the punter back five yards.

Not going to post the full article, because it's massive, and has a few tables. Concerning Smith, his 2009 season was one of the most aggressive seasons by a coach they've recorded. On the other hand, after the 2011 play-off loss, Mike Smith became one of the most conservative coaches of the past 25 years. In fact, 2012 and 2014 were some of the most conservatively called offenses they've recorded.

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It's because in 08-09 we were dictating to teams because we were dial up the run and opposing teams had to respect that.Hence why I believe our coaches could be more aggressive in what they called.

Turner was having a field day those 1st 2 years and it showed in his carries 350 + a season if I'm not mistaken an you can bet 99% of those were run.

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Smith was a conservative coach in general, but he did call the 4th downs correctly early in his stint here. I thought it was a weird combo, his note taking, anti-penalty, low aggressiveness in general tone, combined with a high go for it rate on 4th down. I think he was trying to moneyball football by set of downs.

I liked the 4th down part.

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http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stat-analysis/2015/aggressiveness-index-2014

Not going to post the full article, because it's massive, and has a few tables. Concerning Smith, his 2009 season was one of the most aggressive seasons by a coach they've recorded. On the other hand, after the 2011 play-off loss, Mike Smith became one of the most conservative coaches of the past 25 years. In fact, 2012 and 2014 were some of the most conservatively called offenses they've recorded.

Wow. I don't normally put a lot of stock in some of their rankings/advanced metrics but this definitely makes a lot of sense.
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Smith was a conservative coach in general, but he did call the 4th downs correctly early in his stint here. I thought it was a weird combo, his note taking, anti-penalty, low aggressiveness in general tone, combined with a high go for it rate on 4th down. I think he was trying to moneyball football by set of downs.

I liked the 4th down part.

My cell just wigged and my quote is now its own post in quote form below. lol

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Of course he was. He stated numerous times about it being in the offenses favor to go for it on 4th down statistically.

We just stopped being able to get push. Our Oline fell to crap, our RB got old, and an aspect many folks often forget is we had the best FB in the league with Ovie.

Agreed. I was saying I think he had it right on 4th down. But playing the rest of the game based on money balling for first downs I think hurt the intensity of the team. First downs in football aren't as definitive as hits in baseball, and you lose a lot of impact plays, explosive plays, etc., if you're always trying to keep ahead of the sticks, and always scared of making a mistake.

But his 4th down calls, in the first few years, were on point.

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Agreed. I was saying I think he had it right on 4th down. But playing the rest of the game based on money balling for first downs I think hurt the intensity of the team. First downs in football aren't as definitive as hits in baseball, and you lose a lot of impact plays, explosive plays, etc., if you're always trying to keep ahead of the sticks, and always scared of making a mistake.

But his 4th down calls, in the first few years, were on point.

I think this is a fair point. We always seemed to be scheming for incremental gains. 6 yards. 7 yards. 4 yards. 18 yards. 5 yards. Lots of comebacks and flat routes. Lots of outs. When we wanted to "explosive play" we had to dial it up and take a shot. That creates too many situations where you're putting a ton of leverage on those shot plays.

The more explosive offenses in the league (GB/New Orleans for most of the last decade) have done a great job of giving their QBs options. They've got viable concepts for every level of the field on a higher % of plays. This forces the defense to defend the big play AND the middle of the field AND the short game.

At no point did it seem our team wanted to do that. They were confident taking what the defense gives them and counting on explosive plays coming almost solely from our guys grinding them out. It has been effective but I think it has a lot to do with why we've seen so many off-balance drives stalling.

Here's to hoping Shanahan takes a more consistently attacking approach.

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The problem with Smith was he coached scared. His "aggressive" playcalls were made out of fear. He went for it on 4th down because he was scared of the other team's QB. It was never to put his foot on the throat of a lesser team.

I've said a bunch of times that he was really neither "aggressive" nor "conservative" so much as he confused the brakes and the gas. He'd go for it at the most ridiculous times, against all odds, and then he'd get conservative when we had all the momentum on our side and decide to play it safe. The game last season where we took our marbles into the locker room and ended up losing (was it Detroit?) is an example of the latter. Going for it against the Saints in OT backed up on our own end of the field is an example of the former.

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Agreed. I was saying I think he had it right on 4th down. But playing the rest of the game based on money balling for first downs I think hurt the intensity of the team. First downs in football aren't as definitive as hits in baseball, and you lose a lot of impact plays, explosive plays, etc., if you're always trying to keep ahead of the sticks, and always scared of making a mistake.

But his 4th down calls, in the first few years, were on point.

Oh yeah, I agree.

I loved the way it was pre Giants playoff debacle. That was the beginning of the end as far as our ability to actually convert.

I certainly agree that football doesn't work like baseball where you can pretty much always be successful by betting on stats. I think the main reason is in the NFL your worse team/player is no where near as far away talent wise from the best. In baseball and even basketball 1 player can literally win by themselves. While in the NFL as much as some like to think they can that is just absolutely not true. Its naive and juvenile to think it is.

The NFl absotively is one of the only of the professional sports where luck plays a huge role as well. Even guys like Belicheck, Landry,and Lombardi all admit to it freely. By being that way the money ball idea just falls apart.

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Oh yeah, I agree.

I loved the way it was pre Giants playoff debacle. That was the beginning of the end as far as our ability to actually convert.

I certainly agree that football doesn't work like baseball where you can pretty much always be successful by betting on stats. I think the main reason is in the NFL your worse team/player is no where near as far away talent wise from the best. In baseball and even basketball 1 player can literally win by themselves. While in the NFL as much as some like to think they can that is just absolutely not true. Its naive and juvenile to think it is.

The NFl absotively is one of the only of the professional sports where luck plays a huge role as well. Even guys like Belicheck, Landry,and Lombardi all admit to it freely. By being that way the money ball idea just falls apart.

I disagree with this conclusion. If anything, it makes a data-focused approach MORE important.

I think there's a ton of misunderstanding about "moneyball" in the NFL. Analytics has never been about giving you all the answers for every situation. It's more about presenting more information that is more useful. And using that data to identify weaknesses in your surroundings....whether it be your opponent or the FA market or whatever.

If you can't control luck, you've gotta make as many optimal decisions as you can.

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I disagree with this conclusion. If anything, it makes a data-focused approach MORE important.

I think there's a ton of misunderstanding about "moneyball" in the NFL. Analytics has never been about giving you all the answers for every situation. It's more about presenting more information that is more useful. And using that data to identify weaknesses in your surroundings....whether it be your opponent or the FA market or whatever.

If you can't control luck, you've gotta make as many optimal decisions as you can.

If we are talking about betting then I agree. If we are talking about coaching and decision making I absolutely do not.

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And just to throw fuel on a fire by kicking off a heated debate...

Our aggressiveness index went down the same year we changed OC's, from Mike Mularkey to Dirk Koetter. Was it Mike Smith and the changing of OC's was just a coincidence? Or was it Dirk Koetter and Mike Smith getting the blame since he was the HC?

Mike Smith gets a lot of the blame because he was the HC, and some of it deservedly so. In reality, I think it probably had more to do with Mike Smith trusting Mularkey's offense more than Koetter's to pick up a first down when we needed it. I remember Mike Smith trying to be aggressive and Koetter's offense failing to pick up a ton of 4th and shorts, to the point where I didn't want to see us go for them. Meanwhile, Mularkey had a pretty high success rate picking up 4th down conversions, if I recall correctly.

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It only covers going for it on fourth down ?

Football Outsiders introduced the concept of Aggressiveness Index back in Pro Football Prospectus 2006. The goal was to find a way to rank coaches based on their tendencies on fourth downs in a manner that was easy to understand but accounted for the different rates at which the average coach will choose to "go for it" in different situations. Although no NFL coach is as aggressive as the data suggests he should be, we discovered there is quite a wide range of fourth-down tendencies among coaches.

Aggressiveness Index numbers center around 1.0 and generally describe how much more (or less) likely each coach is to go for it on fourth down compared to his peers; for example, a coach with 1.20 AI is roughly 20 percent more likely to go for it than an average coach in equivalent situations. The Aggressiveness Index excludes obvious catch-up situations: third quarter, trailing by 15 or more points; fourth quarter, trailing by nine or more points; and in the last five minutes of the game, trailing by any amount. AI was expanded two years ago to include plays when the offense is on its own side of the field, excluding those obvious catch-up situations. A slightly newer version of AI we are using now also adjusts to judge coaches on all fourth-and-short opportunities, even when the play doesn't actually record as fourth-and-short because of one of those bogus delay of game penalties that moves the punter back five yards.

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