The New England Patriots and Bill Belichick have been chastised and questioned repeatedly about the call to go for it on 4th & 2 on their own 28 yard line against the Colts in week 14 and their continued offensive attack on 4th and short the following weeks. Although the first call against the Colts did not work out in the Patriots favor, I will back Belichick's decision 100%. Many things have been said about the call, and I don't agree with all the negative's people have brought up when it comes to going for it on 4th down.
Not Trusting Your Defense
The first point brought to our attention was that going for it on 4th down is sending a message to your defense that you do not trust them. From a defensive players standpoint, it is actually the exact opposite. If I were going to be backed up at my own 28 yard line instead of giving a team 75 yards to travel after a punt, I would think that my coach feels we can stop the other team no matter how far they have to go. If we were to convert the 4th down, which is of course the main objective, we wouldn't have to worry about that anyway.
Changing The Game
Since the New England Patriots went for it against the Colts on that now infamous 4th & 2 call, teams in the NFL have also jumped on board. We've seen more teams like the Dolphins, Saints and even Colts, going for it on 4th & short themselves. This hasn't stemmed from the NFL, as they are the copycat league, but has been being used even at the high school level. Coach Kevin Kelley from Pulaski Academy in Arkansas never punt's, his motto is to go for it on 4th down. Not only does Kelley always go for it on 4th down, he also has no special teams. There are no kickers on the roster at all. Kelley plays the percentages. Kelley onside kicks the ball with a 1 in 4 chance of recovery and goes for 2 after every score, giving his team a bigger margin of victory every game.
In 2009, the New England Patriots have converted 50% of their 4th down attempts (4 for 8). The NFL percentage of 4th down conversions in 2009 is 51.9% (249 for 479). The league leader is the New York Giants 77.8% (14 for 18) and the Kansas city Chiefs have the most attempts, 14 for 28 with a league average, 50% conversion rate. With a 50% average 4th down conversion rate, the odds are in the offenses favor to go for it on 4th down, especially when the game is close.
The league is beginning to change and more teams are going for it on 4th down, giving themselves more chances to call the right plays on 2nd and 3rd down for the opportunity to keep moving the chains and give their team a better chance to win. Tell us what you think about going for it on 4th down in the comments section below.
Thanks to compujeramey for the picture of the 4th down marker.