Seahawks Insider

Revisiting third down

Post by News Tribune Staff on Oct. 4, 2006 at 9:57 am with 12 Comments »
October 4, 2006 9:57 am

A team’s third-down success on offense often reflects more than just its ability to succeed on that down. Usually it’s a function of how well the team plays on first and second down, as those plays determine whether you’re trying to convert third-and-short or third-and-forever. Getting into third-and-long has been a problem for Seattle over the last two seasons, as we’ll explain below (the Seahawks have averaged third-and-9 or longer in three of four games this season).

Through four games, Seattle has converted 18 of 35 times on third-and-9 or shorter. This includes 10/16 on running plays and 8/19 on passing plays. The Seahawks have converted five of 21 times on third-and-10 or longer. This includes 1/4 running and 4/17 passing.

A story I wrote in late November 2005, after the Seahawks had won seven games in a row, shows that the current numbers actually reflect improvement over the third-and long pace set through 11 games last seasson. To that point in 2005, the Seahawks had converted 50-of-93 times (.537) on third-and-9 or shorter, but only 5-of-46 times (.109) on third-and-10 or longer.

So, the Seahawks have converted 5-of-21 times (.238) on third-and-10 or longer this season, compared to 5-of-46 (.109) last season. PROBLEM IS, at their current four-game pace, Seattle will have 58 such plays after 11 games, up from 46 last season. They had 51 for ALL of the 2004 season.

The chart below shows Seattle’s run/pass ratios by various third-down situations this season.


Stats, etc.
Leave a comment Comments → 12
  1. PapaHawk says:

    Do you think that since we have decided to check to a Mack Strong run on 3rd and long so many times, that the opponents are expecting it? So if we check to a different play out of the same formation, they would expect the run and we could freeze the linebackers with that call…therefore opening up some new opportunties for yardage? Shoot, I expect on third and 8 or more for us to run the Mack Strong Right play…I have to imagine that the Defense is also looking for that play as well, especially when Matt is checking off at the line.

  2. Ravenhawk says:

    LOL @ M.Strong runs …

    Under Holmgren we’ve led the entire league on run plays on 3rd & long a few times … The only one he’s tricking is himself.

    I think we just layed a blueprint on how NOT to run the ball .. against the Bears at least.

  3. Mack has carried nine times on third down, converting his first five (three on audibles), but only one of his last four (at least one audible).

    That includes:

    vs Arizona: 13-yard gain on third-and-6, audible
    vs. NYG: 9-yard gain on third-and-7, audible
    vs. NYG: 2-yard gain on third-and-1
    vs. NYG: 3-yard gain on third-and-1
    vs. NYG: 17-yard gain on third-and-8, audible
    vs. NYG: 2-yard gain on third-and-7, running out clock late
    vs. CHI: 1-yard gain on third-and-6, audible
    vs. CHI: 4-yard gain on third-and-2
    vs. CHI: 4-yard gain on third-and-10, might have been audible but I wasn’t charting that late in game

    I do think the Bears were ready for it.

  4. Interesting. I seem to remember that, in Football Outsider’s Pro Football Prospectus 2005 (published in summer of 2005), they predicted the Seahawks would vastly improve their W-L record in 2005. The reason was that, during 2004, the Seahawks failed to convert an abnormal number of third-down conversions. According to FO research, third-down conversions tend to “regress to the mean,” meaning that a team that abnormally under or over converts on third downs will tend to fall back to the NFL average in the following year. Hence, they predicted the Hawks would improve their third-down conversions in 2005, and this would improve the Hawks W-L record.

    I realize these numbers are for third and long, not third downs generally, but I have to worry a little that the Hawks will regress-to-the-mean on third-and-plus-ten for the rest of this season — and that won’t be good.

  5. very interseting Mike, I’ve got to admit that I am suprised we are better than last year.

    Do you have similar statistics for defense? I don’t like the nickel where Bryce slides in and JP lines up as an end – it doesn’t seem effective. Any numbers on it?

  6. A football season in a long season. I am sure we will see Matt check to a play action to Mac and go deep at some point when teams are stacking the line after an audible. Use it when you need it, but don’t show it too soon.

    In a game you set up the fourth quarter with plays in the first. Same thing goes for the season.

    BTW, Mike, great stats.

  7. formerathlete says:

    I think those are interesting statistics but the sample size is too small for this season. I am anxious to see what the comparisons are after 11 games this season.
    50% of the games this year seem a bit tough to use for data purposes because they were blowouts for most of the game(although we had a few of those in our first 11 last year, too).

  8. ThreeAndOut says:

    Interesting stats for our offense. I agree with scotch – it would be nice to see what the defensive stats are. Just watching the games it looks like we have a real problem on that side of the ball. It seems we do very well on 1st and 2nd down and then give up a 1st down on 3rd and long.

  9. How about going deep on third and long? That would be novel. How about just going deep in general? Other teams throw deep down the middle on us all the time, when was the last time we went deep on a play where this was the first option? (Last time I remember a deep middle ball was in the Washington playoff game last year to Stevens).

    I’d like to see a few more deep balls, like some 50 yarders. Other teams use this all the time, but we hardly even threaten it. Grossman through deep several times. How many times did we? Hasslebeck through that one deep ball to Jackson, but it was on the sideline.

  10. PapaHawk says:

    We went deep middle on the first offensive play of the game against the Giants, the pass was completed but the DB went up with DJack and stole the ball out from under him after he was down. Some would call it a simultaneous catch.
    I think that once our O-line proves to Holmgren that they can keep Matt from getting his head taken off, that more of these calls are likely. Also, I don’t know if that is a West Coast offense staple. I think the sideline deep ball must be, because they sure run it more often.

  11. XxXdragonXxX says:

    So….is Shaun healthy yet?

  12. PUMA80_ says:

    Yeah , noted DBs got alot more rushing stops than I like . That screams playaction and we hit a team that lives on playaction .

    Front 7 getting pass rush and stopping run so DBs can stay on station . Alot of completions completed after 5 seconds of freedom for Rex .

    Staple for WCO is short passes with TE and backs getting dump offs as well with big gains possible after catch . Unfortuantely a couple season ago to many receivers tried to run before securing ball so many drops .
    As for deep ball , in WCO it is usually always a clearing pattern to open the short routes but that guy is also a 3rd of usually 4 reads . ( 2 top reads , deep , and dump ) Issue on 3rd down deep is many times it is either a blitz situation or all defenders from 1st down marker back . In that reason many of the short passes can get DBs to press the line setting up deep ball of run . Matt is very good at getting ball out quick in under 3 seconds , but also note how many reads he can complete in 2.9 seconds , who can be open in 2.9 seconds and a deep shot in 2.9 seconds is surely a timing pattern . I do not think we have had a deep ball intercepted for quite some time .

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