Reading and Thinking Football

Football, including books thereon and idiosyncratic thinking thereabout

Run-Pass Balance

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Everybody knows Jeff Fisher is a run-first, run-second, run-third, and possibly run-fourth coach. How much has this really been true? For grins, I decided to go ahead and run the Titans’ run-pass balance numbers to see where they stood in the NFL each year going back to Jeff Fisher’s first full season as head coach, 1995. Results:

1995 1.19 10 1.35
1996 1.05 4 1.26
1997 .84 1 1.25
1998 1.20 11 1.23
1999 1.20 9 1.33
2000 .89 1 1.28
2001 1.19 11 1.27
2002 1.02 3 1.33
2003 1.08 8 1.21
2004 1.51 27 1.22
2005 1.57 27 1.23
2006 1.01 7 1.21
2007 .91 1 1.30

–Yes, Fisher has been a run-first coach. Ranking first in the NFL 3 times in 13 years is testament to that. Even with 2004 and 2005, the Titans’ average rank in terms of run frequency is 9th. Without 2004 and 2005, it’s 6th.
–The NFL really has weird fluctuations from year to year in terms of the precise average of run-pass balance. Why were there 1.33 passes per run in 2002 and 1.21 in 2003? I don’t know of rule changes that would create this change. Even the 3-year and 5-year running averages show wide variations, between 1.22 and 1.29 and 1.23 to 1.29, respectively.
–One thing I haven’t addressed yet is NFL teams run when they win, not win when they run. On this alone, the Titans would expect to run more often when they’re good and less often when they lose. Makes sense-2004 and 2005 were their worst years in this time span, and the years they passed the most. 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, and 2007 were the playoff years, and their average ranking then was 4 1/2.
–Overall, the Titans still threw the ball more than they ran it. For the whole era, it’s 1.13 pass plays per run (weighting each year equally). Even without 2004 and 2005, it’s 1.05 pass plays per run (same).

Consider this just a rough first cut at answering this question. I’ll probably revisit this issue in the coming days, though I have a couple other things to do, like updating the pass chart, more UFR, more links, and more reading. Next book review will very likely be K.C. Joyner’s Blindsided, followed by Paper Lion.


Written by Tom Gower

August 4, 2008 at 03:56

Posted in Uncategorized

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