A “Noteable” Drop in 3rd Down Percentage

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This comes from Lori Nickel at the JS Online Packer Blog.

While many fans are questioning the Packers and the high penalties, and whether or not that’s a product of poor discipline or coaching, remember that the Packers were the second-most penalized team a year ago, too. Last year, the Packers and the playmakers were able to overcome the penalties. Perhaps more significant is that in 2007, the Packers converted 43% of their third downs. It’s down to 41% now, a noteable drop.

Two percentage points didn’t seem like a notable (not “noteable”) drop to me. So I looked it up. The Packers are 50 for 122 on third down conversion attempts. If they were 52 out of 122, their percentage would be 42.6. If they were 53 out of 122, their would be converting at a rate of 43.4%.

Any missed third downs hurt. But for someone looking to explain the difference between last year’s Packers and this year’s version, I’d respectfully submit that not converting three third downs is not it.

UPDATE: Great comment from Bucky.

Interesting stat about third downs: SI.com has passing splits for all quartbacks, including Aaron Rodgers. On third down, he is 59 for 88 (67%), for 778 yards, 10 TDs, and 2 picks. A passer rating of 123.2

And oh yeah, he’s been sacked 8 times.

This other quarterback I looked up was 57 of 82 (69.5%), for 575 yards, 2 TDs, and 6 picks, with a passer rating of 66.9.

I’m pretty happy with the guy we’ve got. I’d be even happier if we could keep guys on the other team off of him.

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7 Responses to “A “Noteable” Drop in 3rd Down Percentage”

  1. Aaron Says:

    The guys at Football Outsiders might disagree. I’ll try to find something online, but if you get the chance you should check out their Football Prospectus book. Drop in Third Down Conversion is one of the biggest contributors of offensive decline from season to season in the NFL.

  2. Ron La Canne Says:

    Let’s call that a 4.5% change Year-to-year. Not the problem. The accumulated impact of the penalties is 602 yards this season. Those yards result in lost first downs for GB, first downs for the opponents, TD’ s called back, and extra plays for the opponents. This is offset some by opponent penalties but the impact is monumentally tilted against GB.

    Add to that a defense rated 21st overall, and the real picture begins to focus. The run defense is 28th in yards per game and 30th in yards per carry. The pass defense is the unit holding this team together. They are rated 3rd in the NFL at 179.1 yards per game with 16 interceptions. Six of those for TD’s.

    The offense is rated 19th overall. 23rd on the run and 11th on the pass. 11 out of 32 is not terrible. Points per game the Packers are #7. They are 18th in points against.

    Chad Clifton keeps his fat butt anchored 1/2 second more and Rodgers throws the game winning TD to Jennings. Penalties are a big problem. Run defense is the biggest problem. Two weeks in a row now teams have run the ball the length of the field ending in a Green Bay loss. They must stop the run. (AJ for MLB)

    Maybe people (I’m being PC) who don’t understand the game shouldn’t try to analyze it.

  3. Donald's Designated Driver Says:

    Aaron: the question isn’t whether a drop in third down conversion percentage contributes to offensive decline. The question is whether a drop of 3 tries out of 122 is in anyway significant.

  4. Richard Says:

    Reflecting on the season and the personnel, does it really matter? Sure it would be nice if the Packers won the North and I expect them to. But who is this team going to beat in the playoffs? All 5 of their losses have come against winning teams.

  5. DaveK Says:

    Really, not converting on 3rd down decreases your chance of winning? No sh-t. Real analysis by a reporter would attempt to explain why 3rd down conversion percentage has dropped. Penalties? Lack of yardage on first down? Play calling? How often you convert on 3rd down probably has more to do with what you do on first down then the actually play on 3rd down. There is just a big difference on 3rd and 8 then 3rd and 2. As Philbin noted, they had a total of 15 of 55 plays result in negative yards or penalties on Sunday. That is over 25% of your plays going backwards. That puts you in a bunch of 3rd and long situations which is brutal for this offensive line.

  6. bucky Says:

    Intersting stat about third downs: SI.com has passing splits for all quartbacks, including Aaron Rodgers. On third down, he is 59 for 88 (67%), for 778 yards, 10 TDs, and 2 picks. A passer rating of 123.2

    And oh yeah, he’s been sacked 8 times.

    This other quartback I looked up was 57 of 82 (69.5%), for 575 yards, 2 TDs, and 6 picks, with a passer rating of 66.9.

    I’m pretty happy with the guy we’ve got. I’d be even happier if we could keep guys on the other team off of him.

  7. Aaron Says:

    Wow. Didn’t say I was defining Pie or anything. Just cited FO…

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