30 Nov 2005
When I was a kid, I always used to enjoy Dick Vermeil and Brent Musberger on college football broadcasts. (Musberger would occasionally ask Vermeil if he thought he'd ever return to coaching, and Vermeil insisted he wouldn't.) But one thing I didn't like was how Vermeil always talked about how the team that runs more almost always wins the game. I started looking at box scores, and found that he was right, but I also started to notice that teams usually started running more after they had already taken the lead. What I really wanted was a statistic that showed whether teams establish the run because that's the way to win, or whether teams establish the run after they're already ahead to milk the clock.
Much later, Dick Vermeil became a head coach again and I became a writer at Football Outsiders, where we examine such ideas. Turns out, establishing the run isn't the way teams build leads.
So this article tells us that teams usually lose when they give up sacks, lose the time of possession battle or allow a 100-yard rusher, but it doesn't tell us whether those are the things bad teams do, or whether bad teams fall behind a lot and have to pass in a futile effort to catch up, which leads to those things.
38 comments, Last at 01 Dec 2005, 5:40pm by Smeghead