My initial goal was to examine the Dolphins play calling and see if they did a good job going against their tendencies. But as I was looking patterns started showing up that really show how play calling can affect the game.
I only looked at first downs with 10 yards to go and considered a play a success if the pass gained 5 or more yards or the run gained 4 or more yards.
In the first half Miami had 8 1st and 10 attempts not including the last play of the half. Of the 8 plays 3 were pass and 5 were runs. They converted 6 out of 8 of those first downs. Here I saw a pretty well balanced team that was executing well on first down which in turn was helping them convert them into first down. The two they were not able to convert has a Chad Henne sack and Ricky Williams run stopped for no gain. The offense was not able to overcome either one.
In the second half they had 10 1st and 10 attempts and they had successful plays on only 4 of them. The passed 3 times in the third quarter and none in the forth quarter. Of those 3 pass attempt in the third quarter two were successful and two were converted into first downs. And up to this point they were doing a pretty good job moving the ball. But in the fourth quarter they changed their plan and became too predictable. They ran on every 1st down and not one was a successful play as a matter of fact only one was converted into another first down. The result from those 1st and 10 in the fourth quarter were –3, fumble, 1 and 0.
This philosophy of offense seems to me like the offenses equivalent of the prevent defense. It’s great if you have a big lead but when nursing a two score lead this can let the other team right back into the game.
Here is another interesting point from that game. Of all the successful first downs either run or pass (4yds run/5yds pass) Miami converted 8/9 for first downs. Of the failed ones Miami only converted 3/9 into first downs. Goes to show that 1st down is the most important down for sustaining drives.