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Evidence Against Kubiak's Bad Playcalling

A common criticism leveled at Gary Kubiak is that he has his share of misadventures in playcalling. For instance, a certain halfback pass by a certain Chris B., no, that's too obvious, C. Brown. No, don't try to remember it, your head will hurt. However, I was a bit curious that for a coach who insists he's really hell bent on establishing the run, Kubiak didn't run too often on first down. Which, actually, is the smart overall play according to Brian Burke of Advanced NFL Stats.

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Right now, we can't say what the optimum 1st down run-pass ratio should be. But we can say with high confidence that offenses would be better off passing more often. Because 1st down is widely known as a running down, play-action fakes are very effective, and I would guess that's primarily where the pass gets its advantage. As teams pass more often on 1st down, the effectiveness of play-action will suffer. But meanwhile, as defenses are forced to defend more against the pass, runs will become more successful.

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Kubiak's Texans ran the ball on first down just 45% of the time last year, the fourth lowest percentage in the NFL. And that isn't a statistical fluke based on a bad running offense either, as the Texans passed on first down 46% of the time on first down in 2008, also good for fourth lowest in the NFL. They were up to 48% in 2007, so we'll have to see if this changes now that Kyle Shanahan is no longer coordinating the offense. Rick Dennison's offense ran 55% of the time on first down last year. Of course, he also utilized a passing offense based on Kyle Orton. 

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