NFL 2017: Converting & Moving the Chains on Offense
Converting on 3rd and 4th down opporunitiees extends drives while keeping your opponent's offense off the field. Excelling in these situations is a critical factor in winning games.
Excelling on third down extends drives and keeps your opponent off the field, which can be an important factor in winning games.
Last season, six playoff teams converted at least 40 percent of their third-down attempts -- Green Bay (46.7%), New England (45.8%), Detroit (42.6%), Dallas (42.3%), Atlanta (42.1%) and Pittsburgh (41.1%).
Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb understands the importance of converting.
"We talk about it continuously," says Cobb. "Being able to break a tackle and picking up a first down is important. We try and do that consistently throughout games."
Converting on third down extends drives ultimately leading towards the end zone. Last season, nine of the top 10 offensive scoring teams converted at least 40 percent of third downs. The Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots, who met in Super Bowl LI, both converted at least 40 percent of third downs last season.
Most Offensive Points Scored in 2016
|Team||Points on Offense||3rd Down Pct|
|*Playoff team (Source: NFL)|
"We know that coach Harbaugh's mindset is that we're going to go for it. Not only down in the red zone, but in the middle of the field. We're going to go for it on fourth down and try to get as many points as we can." -Ravens QB Joe Flacco
In fourth-and-one situations, the offense or defense must not only overpower its opponent but also outsmart it in order to retain or gain possession. It is an art that must be studied for mastery.
Three teams were perfect on fourth-and-one conversions in 2016 (minimum five attempts) -- Dallas, Cleveland and Carolina. Three teams with perfect fourth-and-one conversion rates (minimum five attempts) are tied for the most in a single season in NFL history (2005).
Highest Conversion Rate on 4th-And-1 In 2016 (Min. 5 Att)
Perfect Fourth-And-One Since 2005 (Min. 5 Att)
A stop on fourth-and-one for a defense is as important as forcing a turnover. While the offense needs to convert to prolong its drive hoping to control the clock and find the end zone, the defense can hand the ball over to its offense with field position by stifling an offense.
Thirteen teams stopped at least half of their opponents' fourth-and-one attempts, including seven playoff teams -- Houston, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Miami, New York Giants and Oakland.
Lowest Opponents' 4-and-1 Conversion Rate, 2016
|* Playoff team (Source: NFL)|
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