Ravens Need to Rush More on 3rd/4th and Short.

When down by 11 in the 3rd quarter against the Bengals, the Ravens faced a 3rd down and 2 during a crucial drive that could put the game back within a score. They proceeded to attempt 2 passes for 1 yard, and turn the ball over to the Bengals. In doing so, they committed one of the most common tactical blunders that play callers make.

Since the start of the 2015 season, offenses have passed the ball on 3rd or 4th and 2 more than twice as often as they rushed it. The Ravens have been guilty of this as well: they have attempted 49 passes and only 26 rushes or 3rd or 4th and 2 since their last playoff appearance. This imbalance is something that you would expect if passing has been more effective than rushing. This, however, has not been the case.

Alex Collins.PNG
Alex Collins has been too effective to not be used in short yardage situations.

NFL offenses, since the start of the 2015 season, have converted 53.2% of 3rd or 4th and 2 attempts when passing, and 58.5% of such attempts when rushing. For the Ravens, the gap is much larger: their pass conversion rate of 40.8% is dead last, while their rush conversion rate of 61.5% has been well above the league average. Given that they had 2 tries to convert the first down, the math works out to a 20.2% advantage for rushing twice as opposed to passing twice.

The NFL is considered a passing league, and for good reason. Offenses are better off passing in the vast majority of situations. When you only need a couple yards however, rushing is the better bet, and is a strategy that the Ravens would do well to adopt.

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