Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Dolphins vs Seahawks: playcalling by down

For most of this season I've been complaining about how the Dolphins have called plays. My eyeball test was telling me that they were running the ball way too much on 1st down, which was having the effect of not gaining many yards (even good running teams gain less per rush than bad passing teams gain per pass), thus making it harder to make a first down on 2nd and 3rd down. Not wanting to rely just on my eyeballs, I kept track of the playcalling vs Seattle. Here is the rundown:

1st down: 18 runs 10 passes

2nd down: 6 runs 11 passes

3rd down: 3 runs 7 passes

You can see the big disparity on 1st down, which obviously has a direct effect on what you do on the next two downs. We ran the ball better against Seattle than we have since the first week or two of the season. But even then, we are in the bottom half of the league in yards gained per rush. So on average, when we run the ball on 1st down we are leaving Tannehill with about 7 yards to gain on the next two downs.

I don't have the up to date data for 3rd down stats. But Football Perspective several weeks ago, the Dolphins were top 5 in the league in most yards to go on 3rd down. I don't see any reason up to this past weekend that should have changed much. Against Seattle we only needed about 5.3 yards per 3rd down. As I said, that's a direct result of what happened on 1st down.

If we can run the ball as well as we did against Seattle going forward I wouldn't mind the excessive running on 1st down so much. Even then I think we should be throwing the ball more often, if anything just to change the predictability of the offense and maybe make it a bit easier on Tannehill.


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