Missed 4th Downs Should Count As Turnovers

November 22, 2015

Statistics have evolved greatly over the century-plus of college and professional football. The professional and college games have added in new statistical categories to measure player and team performance over time as they have been needed to adapt to changes in the game.

Some examples are that the Passer Rating/Quarterback Rating was introduced in 1973 as a more accurate way of measuring a quarterback’s performance against that of their peers’. As is obvious now, yards, attempts, completions, touchdowns, and interceptions are not enough to determine which quarterback had the best game or season, so a stat was made to incorporate all of those attributes. The individual player tally for sacks were not kept as an official NFL statistic until 1982. It was once stated that Deacon Jones once had seventeen sacks in one game. Of course, we don’t know this for sure, but it would be interesting if this could be tallied retroactively.

One number that should be added to the basic “Team Stats” sheet should be “Missed/Unconverted 4th Down Attempts”. Last week, I was watching the Buffalo Bills play the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on Thursday Night Football. The Bills defense forced four turnovers in the game, and also stopped the Jets twice on fourth down in the fourth quarter. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the same as collecting six turnovers. A missed fourth-down conversion is every bit as damaging to a team’s chances of winning as a turnover, especially if it’s in the red zone.  Those two 4th down stops were pivotal to Buffalo’s 22-17 victory on Thursday Night Football.

As far as I’m concerned, a missed 4th down conversion is representative of the offense involuntarily giving up possession to the opponent – just like a turnover. A punt is voluntary, a missed conversion is not. Adding missed conversions in as a main stat would give the reader/viewer a much better indication of the story and course of a game.


Google Question: Dan Marino’s Achilles Tendon

December 9, 2012

Once again, in a never-ending effort to keep up with my readers, I will answer a question that someone Googled to find this site:

In what game did Dan Marino’s Achilles tendon rupture?

Short answer:  1993 season, Week 6 @ Cleveland, the Dolphins won 24-14.

The Dolphins were coming off winning the AFC East and making an AFC Championship game appearance (they were defeated 29-10 at home by Buffalo), and were expected to make a Super Bowl run in 1993.  The Bills were getting older, the Jets and Patriots were rebuilding, and the Colts were oh so miserable.  The 1993 season was unique in that it was the only season in the modern NFL where each team had two bye weeks during the season.  The Dolphins had theirs in week three of that year, and were fortunate to have their other bye week after Dan Marino got injured at Cleveland.

Marino was obviously out for the season, and was replaced by a combination of Scott Mitchell and Steve DeBerg.  They actually did a pretty good job filling in for a while, winning five of their next six including Thanksgiving day against the Cowboys (courtesy of Leon Lett), placing them firmly in first place in the AFC East with a 9-2 record.

Then the bottom fell out.

The Dolphins lost their last five games of the season which included a brutal three-game stretch against the Giants, Steelers, and Bills.  The Dolphins finished the year 9-7 and missed the playoffs entirely.  Miami was plagued by turnovers, especially fumbles, during that stretch, and their team wasn’t good enough to overcome the turnover problem.  Their last game of the season ended up being the first big win of the career of Drew Bledsoe, who let the Patriots to a 33-27 overtime win against the Dolphins in the last week of the season.

Marino returned to lead the Dolphins to the playoffs in 1994, but eventually lost to the San Diego Chargers 22-21 in the Divisional round after taking a 21-6 lead in the second half.  San Diego would end up losing Super Bowl XXIX to the San Francisco 49ers, 49-26.


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