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Doug Pederson should go for 2 more

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NFL: NFC Divisional Playoff-Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

In Week 5, the Eagles were down 14 points to the Vikings early in the fourth quarter. Wendell Smallwood caught a touchdown to trim the lead to 8, and then he scored on the 2 point conversion to make it a 6 point game. At the time, Doug Pederson’s decision to go for it surprised many. Fail to convert and the Eagles would have to try another conversion to “get back” the points. The math said he was right to go for it, converting the attempt greatly increased their chances of winning while missing it only slightly decreased them.

It shouldn’t have been surprising, for two reasons. One, Pederson embraces the calculated gamble, as evidenced by his high rate of fourth down attempts. The touchdown against the Vikings was the first (and so far only) time where the Eagles were down 14 and scored a touchdown. It seems a safe bet that if he’s in that situation again, he’ll go for it. And two, although it may not feel like it, over the three years he’s been a head coach, Doug Pederson leads the league in 2 point attempt rate.

2 Point Attempt Rate 2016-2018

Tm Plays XP 2PR 2PP 2PT Rate
Tm Plays XP 2PR 2PP 2PT Rate
PHI 131 110 12 9 21 16.03%
CLE 100 85 4 11 15 15.00%
TAM 126 108 4 14 18 14.29%
NYG 103 90 5 8 13 12.62%
PIT 143 125 1 17 18 12.59%
CAR 125 111 3 11 14 11.20%
DET 115 103 2 10 12 10.43%
OAK 112 101 1 10 11 9.82%
BAL 114 103 2 9 11 9.65%
JAX 106 96 2 8 10 9.43%
DEN 104 95 2 7 9 8.65%
GNB 129 118 3 8 11 8.53%
ARI 106 97 1 8 9 8.49%
MIN 119 109 3 7 10 8.40%
ATL 145 133 3 9 12 8.28%
SFO 101 93 3 5 8 7.92%
SDG 141 130 1 10 11 7.80%
BUF 107 99 3 5 8 7.48%
NOR 165 153 8 4 12 7.27%
IND 124 115 2 7 9 7.26%
WAS 111 104 2 5 7 6.31%
CHI 112 105 1 6 7 6.25%
SEA 132 124 0 8 8 6.06%
LAR 135 127 5 3 8 5.93%
HOU 107 101 1 5 6 5.61%
DAL 125 118 1 6 7 5.60%
TEN 111 105 1 5 6 5.41%
NYJ 93 88 2 3 5 5.38%
MIA 112 107 1 4 5 4.46%
KAN 153 147 2 4 6 3.92%
CIN 114 110 1 3 4 3.51%
NWE 151 146 0 5 5 3.31%

Pederson’s rate of going for it is even more impressive when you take out teams trying to play catch up and only look at 2 point attempts when a team is winning.

2 Point Attempt Rate While Leading 2016-2018

Tm Plays XP 2PR 2PP 2PT Rate
Tm Plays XP 2PR 2PP 2PT Rate
PHI 97 82 9 6 15 15.46%
PIT 108 97 0 11 11 10.19%
DET 74 67 1 6 7 9.46%
TAM 67 61 1 5 6 8.96%
BAL 84 77 1 6 7 8.33%
CAR 88 82 2 4 6 6.82%
CLE 45 42 2 1 3 6.67%
CHI 81 76 0 5 5 6.17%
ATL 114 107 1 6 7 6.14%
JAX 66 62 1 3 4 6.06%
NYG 71 67 1 3 4 5.63%
LAR 107 101 4 2 6 5.61%
GNB 83 79 2 2 4 4.82%
DEN 63 60 1 2 3 4.76%
TEN 71 68 1 2 3 4.23%
SEA 97 93 0 4 4 4.12%
NOR 123 118 3 2 5 4.07%
BUF 76 73 2 1 3 3.95%
WAS 79 76 2 1 3 3.80%
NWE 135 130 0 5 5 3.70%
IND 82 79 2 1 3 3.66%
ARI 63 61 0 2 2 3.17%
DAL 107 104 0 3 3 2.80%
OAK 73 71 0 2 2 2.74%
KAN 123 120 1 2 3 2.44%
MIN 86 84 2 0 2 2.33%
SFO 53 52 1 0 1 1.89%
NYJ 62 61 1 0 1 1.61%
HOU 75 74 0 1 1 1.33%
CIN 80 79 0 1 1 1.25%
LAC 97 96 0 1 1 1.03%
MIA 65 65 0 0 0 N/A

And he gets results, with a 71.4 conversion rate against a league average of 61.5%.

It’s interesting that while the rest of the league passes on 76.3% of conversion attempts, Pederson passes only 42.9% of the time, the 3rd lowest rate behind the Rams (37.5%) and Saints (33.3%).

With that kind of success, he should do it more, and earlier. Just 8 of his 21 attempts come before the 4th quarter. 10 attempts came when the Eagles had a two score lead or would be tied after a PAT, with an 11th attempt that ran up the score on the Cowboys on Thanksgiving in 2017.

Doug Pederson 2 Point Attempts While Leading or to Lead

Point Diff. 2PT Plays Rate
Point Diff. 2PT Plays Rate
-1 2 15 13.33%
1 1 1 100.00%
3 1 9 11.11%
6 1 19 5.26%
7 1 1 100.00%
8 1 4 25.00%
9 1 5 20.00%
11 1 3 33.33%
12 1 1 100.00%

Pederson is aggressive at attempting to extend leads as the game unfolds. But early on, he’s like any other coach. The Eagles have opened the scoring with a touchdown 14 times under Pederson, and he’s never gone for it in such a situation, and he’s never gone for 2 in the first quarter.

Pederson isn’t shy about keeping his foot on the gas with fourth down attempts. He should extend that to 2 point conversions on early touchdowns as well.