Inside 3rd Down Run vs. Pass Success - NFL 2009 Offense

Previously we've taken a look at how the Colts did on both Offense and Defense on 3rd Downs in 2009, but just how well do they stack up against the rest of the league.  Today, we'll look at the offensive side of the ball.

Overall, the League Averages look like this:

Short (1-3) Medium (4-7) Long (8+) Run Pass Total
Run Pass Total Run Pass Total Run Pass Total
65.4% 54.0% 59.6% 25.8% 41.9% 40.2% 9.6% 25.4% 23.7% 47.9% 36.5% 39.0%

A couple things jumped out at me:

  • No anomalies at all:  Short Yardage numbers are better than Medium Yardage, and Medium Yardage numbers are better than Long Yardage.
  • Running the ball had a better conversion percentage than Passing, but that makes some sense.  Roughly 64% of all runs on 3rd down were 3 yards or less.  How many passes were from 3 yards or less?  18%.  You have now all passed Some Stats Can be Misleading 101.
  • Overall, 39.0% of 3rd Downs were converted in the NFL in 2009.  We'll look later at how that compares to other seasons between '01 and '08.

After the jump I'll give a Team by Team breakdown of all 3rd Down stats, and show you how awesome the Colts are at converting 3rd downs...

Here's the breakdown from 2009:

Team Short (1 - 3) Medium (4 - 7) Long (8+)
Run Pass Run Pass Run Pass
Conv Att Pct Conv Att Pct Conv Att Pct Conv Att Pct Conv Att Pct Conv Att Pct
49ers 15 22 0.682 12 24 0.500 2 5 0.400 23 61 0.377 0 11 0.000 15 96 0.156
Bears 22 36 0.611 24 38 0.632 1 4 0.250 21 57 0.368 0 8 0.000 18 79 0.228
Bengals 25 35 0.714 16 36 0.444 0 7 0.000 26 64 0.406 0 6 0.000 28 84 0.333
Bills 14 25 0.560 9 27 0.333 2 8 0.250 18 47 0.383 0 3 0.000 11 91 0.121
Broncos 19 33 0.576 18 36 0.500 1 7 0.143 24 61 0.393 1 4 0.250 15 74 0.203
Browns 18 33 0.545 10 22 0.455 7 18 0.389 19 63 0.302 3 15 0.200 18 83 0.217
Buccaneers 13 21 0.619 14 28 0.500 0 7 0.000 26 69 0.377 1 8 0.125 18 85 0.212
Cardinals 11 22 0.500 20 33 0.606 0 2 0.000 19 56 0.339 0 4 0.000 20 74 0.270
Chargers 15 24 0.625 21 34 0.618 3 10 0.300 23 47 0.489 1 9 0.111 25 68 0.368
Chiefs 15 24 0.625 11 35 0.314 2 11 0.182 17 51 0.333 1 12 0.083 18 96 0.188
Colts 17 27 0.630 19 35 0.543 0 1 0.000 37 64 0.578 0 6 0.000 22 60 0.367
Cowboys 19 27 0.704 17 27 0.630 2 7 0.286 15 46 0.326 0 8 0.000 29 87 0.333
Dolphins 32 39 0.821 30 40 0.750 1 10 0.100 42 78 0.538 3 14 0.214 14 67 0.209
Eagles 21 30 0.700 11 25 0.440 1 7 0.143 22 63 0.349 0 8 0.000 20 74 0.270
Falcons 16 25 0.640 24 38 0.632 0 2 0.000 23 64 0.359 1 6 0.167 27 81 0.333
Giants 20 33 0.606 13 22 0.591 0 3 0.000 38 74 0.514 0 6 0.000 21 74 0.284
Jaguars 34 46 0.739 14 22 0.636 3 10 0.300 24 61 0.393 0 3 0.000 28 86 0.326
Jets 24 35 0.686 15 29 0.517 6 17 0.353 25 69 0.362 2 16 0.125 17 69 0.246
Lions 14 22 0.636 14 34 0.412 2 5 0.400 33 78 0.423 0 5 0.000 21 90 0.233
Packers 12 19 0.632 28 40 0.700 0 2 0.000 36 66 0.545 1 7 0.143 26 85 0.306
Panthers 25 39 0.641 11 23 0.478 9 16 0.563 17 51 0.333 7 25 0.280 13 66 0.197
Patriots 26 38 0.684 18 30 0.600 0 7 0.000 29 73 0.397 1 7 0.143 16 51 0.314
Raiders 19 26 0.731 14 32 0.438 1 5 0.200 12 60 0.200 1 10 0.100 17 81 0.210
Rams 15 27 0.556 11 27 0.407 1 2 0.500 30 65 0.462 1 12 0.083 16 94 0.170
Ravens 22 31 0.710 13 24 0.542 3 9 0.333 28 60 0.467 0 7 0.000 25 85 0.294
Redskins 14 24 0.583 25 34 0.735 0 4 0.000 27 61 0.443 0 9 0.000 22 85 0.259
Saints 24 35 0.686 12 28 0.429 5 9 0.556 35 62 0.565 0 13 0.000 14 52 0.269
Seahawks 20 34 0.588 12 29 0.414 0 2 0.000 23 62 0.371 1 13 0.077 21 87 0.241
Steelers 15 25 0.600 18 29 0.621 1 1 1.000 30 78 0.385 1 6 0.167 15 64 0.234
Texans 22 33 0.667 14 27 0.519 1 7 0.143 31 63 0.492 0 13 0.000 15 61 0.246
Titans 19 25 0.760 14 28 0.500 3 16 0.188 32 61 0.525 3 14 0.214 19 71 0.268
Vikings 22 32 0.688 20 31 0.645 1 4 0.250 32 64 0.500 0 14 0.000 26 79 0.329
Total 619 947 0.654 522 967 0.540 58 225 0.258 837 1999 0.419 29 302 0.096 630 2479 0.254
Team Short (1 - 3) Medium (4-7) Long (8+) Run Pass Total
Conv Att Pct Conv Att Pct Conv Att Pct Conv Att Pct Conv Att Pct Conv Att Pct
49ers 27 46 0.587 25 66 0.379 15 107 0.140 17 38 0.447 50 181 0.276 67 219 0.306
Bears 46 74 0.622 22 61 0.361 18 87 0.207 23 48 0.479 63 174 0.362 86 222 0.387
Bengals 41 71 0.577 26 71 0.366 28 90 0.311 25 48 0.521 70 184 0.380 95 232 0.409
Bills 23 52 0.442 20 55 0.364 11 94 0.117 16 36 0.444 38 165 0.230 54 201 0.269
Broncos 37 69 0.536 25 68 0.368 16 78 0.205 21 44 0.477 57 171 0.333 78 215 0.363
Browns 28 55 0.509 26 81 0.321 21 98 0.214 28 66 0.424 47 168 0.280 75 234 0.321
Buccaneers 27 49 0.551 26 76 0.342 19 93 0.204 14 36 0.389 58 182 0.319 72 218 0.330
Cardinals 31 55 0.564 19 58 0.328 20 78 0.256 11 28 0.393 59 163 0.362 70 191 0.366
Chargers 36 58 0.621 26 57 0.456 26 77 0.338 19 43 0.442 69 149 0.463 88 192 0.458
Chiefs 26 59 0.441 19 62 0.306 19 108 0.176 18 47 0.383 46 182 0.253 64 229 0.279
Colts 36 62 0.581 37 65 0.569 22 66 0.333 17 34 0.500 78 159 0.491 95 193 0.492
Cowboys 36 54 0.667 17 53 0.321 29 95 0.305 21 42 0.500 61 160 0.381 82 202 0.406
Dolphins 62 79 0.785 43 88 0.489 17 81 0.210 36 63 0.571 86 185 0.465 122 248 0.492
Eagles 32 55 0.582 23 70 0.329 20 82 0.244 22 45 0.489 53 162 0.327 75 207 0.362
Falcons 40 63 0.635 23 66 0.348 28 87 0.322 17 33 0.515 74 183 0.404 91 216 0.421
Giants 33 55 0.600 38 77 0.494 21 80 0.263 20 42 0.476 72 170 0.424 92 212 0.434
Jaguars 48 68 0.706 27 71 0.380 28 89 0.315 37 59 0.627 66 169 0.391 103 228 0.452
Jets 39 64 0.609 31 86 0.360 19 85 0.224 32 68 0.471 57 167 0.341 89 235 0.379
Lions 28 56 0.500 35 83 0.422 21 95 0.221 16 32 0.500 68 202 0.337 84 234 0.359
Packers 40 59 0.678 36 68 0.529 27 92 0.293 13 28 0.464 90 191 0.471 103 219 0.470
Panthers 36 62 0.581 26 67 0.388 20 91 0.220 41 80 0.513 41 140 0.293 82 220 0.373
Patriots 44 68 0.647 29 80 0.363 17 58 0.293 27 52 0.519 63 154 0.409 90 206 0.437
Raiders 33 58 0.569 13 65 0.200 18 91 0.198 21 41 0.512 43 173 0.249 64 214 0.299
Rams 26 54 0.481 31 67 0.463 17 106 0.160 17 41 0.415 57 186 0.306 74 227 0.326
Ravens 35 55 0.636 31 69 0.449 25 92 0.272 25 47 0.532 66 169 0.391 91 216 0.421
Redskins 39 58 0.672 27 65 0.415 22 94 0.234 14 37 0.378 74 180 0.411 88 217 0.406
Saints 36 63 0.571 40 71 0.563 14 65 0.215 29 57 0.509 61 142 0.430 90 199 0.452
Seahawks 32 63 0.508 23 64 0.359 22 100 0.220 21 49 0.429 56 178 0.315 77 227 0.339
Steelers 33 54 0.611 31 79 0.392 16 70 0.229 17 32 0.531 63 171 0.368 80 203 0.394
Texans 36 60 0.600 32 70 0.457 15 74 0.203 23 53 0.434 60 151 0.397 83 204 0.407
Titans 33 53 0.623 35 77 0.455 22 85 0.259 25 55 0.455 65 160 0.406 90 215 0.419
Vikings 42 63 0.667 33 68 0.485 26 93 0.280 23 50 0.460 78 174 0.448 101 224 0.451
Total 1141 1914 0.596 895 2224 0.402 659 2781 0.237 706 1474 0.479 1989 5445 0.365 2695 6919 0.390

Some thoughts (so you don't have to wade through all these numbers):

  • The Colts were very close to average on 3rd and short, even though anecdotal evidence will always tell you otherwise.  However, the Colts were best in the league at Medium Yardage, and 2nd best in the league at Long Yardage (damn Chargers).
  • Would you have guessed the Colts were tied for 11th in Running the Ball on 3rd Down? Well, here's another lesson in deceiving stats:  The Colts only ran the ball 7 times from 4 yards or longer (including just once between 4 and 7 yards), while the average for the other 31 teams was 16.7. And remember, we already know that Short Yardage had more conversions than longer yardage. 
  • The Colts were best in the league in Passing on 3rd Down, beating out the Packers and Dolphins (?!?).  Not really surprised there.
  • Some playoff teams were pretty bad at 3rd and Medium Passing.  In fact, the Colts (and Chargers) and a better Percentage Passing the ball on 3rd and Long than the Cowboys, Cardinals, Eagles, and Jets were Passing the ball on 3rd and Medium.  In fact, the Cowboys were actually better at Passing on 3rd and Long then they were at 3rd and Medium.
  • The Dolphins were crazy good at 3rd and Short, converting 78.5%.  And no, those weren't all against the Colts defense.  It does make that game look a little better, once you have a season's worth of data.
  • The Jaguars were really good at Short Yardage, and Running the Ball on 3rd Down.  One pick away from Maurice Jones-Drew.  Son of a ...

Coming up next are the Defensive numbers from 2009.  It won't be quite as rosy as the Offense for the Colts.

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