Monday, September 01, 2008

Preseason Rushing Success Rate

I posted the Success Rate table a couple weeks ago, and have updated it with the results of the two more recent games, but it's time for some more comprehensive thoughts on Success Rate.

One thing I didn't do is link to the article that explains what exactly success rate is. The basic problem is that raw yardage stats suck, because the point of getting yards in football is not to be able to get yards, but to reach the goal. The most proximate goal is to get another first down, or to improve your chances of getting a first down. A carry is a success if it results in a first down or an increased chance of getting a first down, and a failure if it's not. Now, in what I'm giving you, success rate is a binary calculation. A more nuanced view is appropriate, but I'm not going to replicate DVOA, or even just VOA.

I feel dumb posting the same thing twice, so I won't re-post the chart I linked above, but will make the following observations:
  • Unsurprisingly, running became harder as the preseason went on. The Titans ran the ball best against mostly the Rams scrubs Week 1, and worst against the Falcons starters Week 3.

  • One of the biggest concerns is the absence of big plays in the running game as the preseason went on. It's not in the table, but the Titans had 8 runs of 10+ yards against the Rams, 6 against the Raiders, then 0 against the Falcons and 1 against the Packers. Consistent success is valuable in part because it's hard to do, and the nice thing about big plays is they mean you don't have to have consistent success.

  • Contra the trend above, Chris Johnson's success rate went up each week. Note, though, that his YPC also went down each week. Maybe a good sign, maybe not.

  • Each Titans rush on 1st and <10 was a success in the preseason. On 1&10, the Titans overall had a 51.8% Success Rate.

  • One of the Titans' big problem areas was 2&long. On 2&4 or more, the Titans' success rate was only 19%. On 2&3 or less, it was 78%.

  • On 3&long(5+), the Titans threw the ball every time. The only exception was a give-up draw on 3&24 against the Rams. When they did run the ball on 3rd down, though, the Titans were successful-67% on 3&4 or less, 78% on 3&2 or 3&1.

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