Earlier this morning on 94 WIP, Doug Pederson provided some insight into his decision to go for it on 4th and 8 near the end of the second half. He said he receives a lot of analytical information from upstairs, in the moment. He continued, “When you look at the situation and the win probability” the information seems to support being aggressive. Exactly what information is Pederson referring to? Well, his reference to “win probability” tells us a lot.
Win probability is a calculation that takes into account a lot of factors to approximate the chances a team has of winning at any point in the game. For example, Pro Football Reference’s model includes factors like Vegas’ line (to approximate average margin of victory), time remaining, score differential, field position, down, and distance. More info on their formula can be found here.
Fortunately, PFR also has a win probability calculator so we can see the type of information Pederson was receiving just prior to his decision.
With 2:43 remaining in the second half, on the New York Giants 43 yard line, fourth down, eight yards to go, leading by seven.
The Eagles have an 85.2% win probability. (Link to calculator result: http://pfref.com/tiny/5ur6H)
Option 1: Punt good
If Donnie Jones offered a decent punt, the Eagles could have given the Giants the ball an their own ten yard line with about 2:30 remaining in the half.
The Eagles maintain an 85.2% win probability. (http://pfref.com/tiny/GRLNC)
Option 2: Punt bad
Donnie Jones over-kicks for a touch back (possible, if not likely, given the short field), giving the Giants the ball at their own 20 yard line.
The Eagles win probability drops to 82.8%. (http://pfref.com/tiny/jJoyC)
Option 3: Go for it and get the first
Doug makes a brilliant call and Carson Wentz makes a brilliant play to get the first.
The Eagles win probability increases to 90.9%. (http://pfref.com/tiny/99Spg)
Option 4: Turn ball over on downs
Obviously, this is what happened. Wentz was sacked for a six yard loss, giving the Giants the ball on their own 49 yard line with 2:30 seconds left in the half.
The Eagles win probability decreases to 78.4% (http://pfref.com/tiny/8gkoL)
Doug’s decision was probably made by comparing the cost of not converting the fourth down (78.4% win probability) and a likely touch back via punt (82.8%) versus the benefit of converting the fourth down (90.9%). In his mind, the risk was worth the reward.
For the record, I thought the decision to go for it prior to the Giants’ time out was good. After the time out, with the Giants more prepared, I would have punted. Ultimately, it didn’t matter because JAKE ELLIOTT HAPPENED.
What do you think? Did Doug Pederson make the right call? Vote in the poll below (click here if you can’t see it).
Did Doug Pederson make the right call to go for a first down on 4th-and-8 from the Giants’ 43-yard line?
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