A look at some play-calling tendencies

September, 7, 2012
9/07/12
5:52
PM ET
All kinds of things factor into play-calling.

This week, STATS shared some interesting numbers on the propensity for teams to hand the ball off after a successful run play or to throw it after a successful pass play.

They looked at successful plays as first downs that gained 40 percent of the yards needed, second downs that gained 50 percent and third and fourth downs that earned a first down.

Here are some of their findings that tell us a bit about our teams:
  • The NFL average for repeating a run play when the prior run play was successful was 54.2 percent. The Houston Texans (74.1%), Chicago Bears (71.5%) and Denver Broncos (70.6%) were all 16-plus percentage points above the league average.
  • League average for repeating the prior play’s personnel package, assuming the prior play was successful, was 49.8 percent. The New England Patriots (73.8%) and Indianapolis Colts (71.7%), who led the league in this category, were much more likely to repeat personnel packages than the Chicago Bears (35.4%) and San Francisco 49ers (31.8%), who were the bottom two teams in this category.
  • The league average for repeating the prior play type (run or pass) regardless of the prior play’s result was 52 percent in 2011.
  • Which teams had the greatest likelihood of repeating the prior play type (run or pass), assuming the prior play type was a success? Jacksonville (61.1 percent) ranked third and Houston fourth (59.9). The league average was 52.6 percent.
  • Which teams had the greatest likelihood of repeating the prior play type (run or pass), assuming the prior play type was unsuccessful? Tennessee was third at 57.4 percent and the league average was 51.3 percent. (Certainly trying it again with Chris Johnson factored into this a great deal.)
  • Overall, New Orleans led the NFL in successful play percentage at 57.3 percent, while Jacksonville (44.1%) and St. Louis (40.0%) ranked last. The NFL average was 46.4 percent, and the playoff team average was 48.5 percent.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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