View Full Version : The Importance of First Down

10-17-2013, 09:10 PM
Great read by one of the guys over at MHR.

Just how important is first down in the greater scheme of the game? According to this, more than I thought.

We were standing out on the blacktop outside our classrooms while we waited for our students to arrive. The conversation naturally turned to football. One of the group -- and I swear it wasn't me -- was marveling over the fact that the Broncos (http://www.sbnation.com/nfl/teams/denver-broncos) have scored 82 more points than the next highest scoring team. This led us into a discussion of NFL offenses in general and what we use to "evaluate" how good or bad they are.

The NFL insists on using the total yards amassed by an offense as the measuring stick. This can be deceptive since a team can amass a lot of yards without putting points on the board. Case in point, the 2008 Broncos were listed as the 2nd ranked offense in the NFL (based on yards) but were 16th in points. They went 8-8-0 and missed the playoffs.

One member of our group suggested that we should use points scored. The issue with that one, it was pointed out, is that "points scored" also includes defensive and special teams scores and so can skew the picture of the offense. Case in point, the 2013 Broncos have put 265 points on the board. However, 21 of those points have come from a kick return, a punt return and a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown. Thus, their offensive points are only 244.

Unable to reach a consensus, we turned to the high school football coach in the group and asked him what measure he uses. He replied that he looks at multiple measures when assessing the effectiveness of an offense, but the first one he checks is "The number of yards a team gains on first down."