Will the Trend Be A Mirage On Sunday?

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 10, 2009 – 2:13 pm

As I continue digging for information and statistics regarding Sunday’s Vikings-Bengals matchup, I uncovered an interesting trend – Cincinnati runs the ball 59.9% of the time on 1st down. Only the NY Jets have a heavier run % on 1st down.

Considering the Bengals are 2nd in the league in rushing attempts this season, it probably comes as no surprise that the Bengals play selection on 1st down is so lopsided. But there are a few factors in this weekend’s game that make the Bengals 1st down-tendency intriguing.

This whole bit got me thinking even more this morning after I concluded my weekly segment on Paul Allen’s 9-noon show on KFAN. He brought up some interesting points, such as the fact that LB Jasper Brinkley will be filling in for the injured E.J. Henderson at middle LB. Perhaps, as PA suggested, the Bengals will elect to challenge Brinkley by throwing down the middle of the field on 1st down rather than challenge him by running at him. Brinkley is a physical player whom head coach Brad Childress described as one of the hardest hitting players coming out of last year’s draft.

In addition to that, the Bengals will have to contend with the Williams Wall on Sunday. That alone is enough to cause some teams to adjust their play-calling tendencies to favor the pass.

With all of that said, there’s one more statistic to use in arguing that Cincinnati will pass more on 1st down this week. When the Bengals have passed on 1st down this season, they’ve gained 4+ yards 55.8% of the time, which is 9th best in the NFL.

The flip side to this discussion is that teams have established who they are and how they operate by this point in the season. In the Bengals case, they’re a 9-3 team that boasts the league’s 6th-ranked rushing offense. Why would they change how they operate? And that’s an argument I’ll listen to, especially considering I respect immensely the opinions of the people who brought that argument to my attention.

But I’m on the other side of this one. I will be surprised if the Bengals run the ball on 60% or more of their 1st downs through the first 3 quarters on Sunday.

What do you think?

Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 1 Comment »

One Response to “Will the Trend Be A Mirage On Sunday?”

  1. By CA Norwegian on Dec 10, 2009 | Reply

    The statistic is probably for all quarters, not just the first 3, so doesn’t that throw the question off? Consider the burning off the clock 1st downs. They have a good running core, and the turf and the noise makes the running away from home the best bet. Let us hope they are playing catch up, and throwing more, OK? And we should not try to throw down the field into coverage, when there are dump offs available. I would like to see Adrian and Chester get more dump offs, when they drop so many as the Cards did.

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