Week 3 Monday Musings

    Yeah it's not Monday.
    In this week's edition of Monday Musings I'd like to look at Jake Maier's debut, Saskatchewan going for it on 3rd down & the end of the Winnipeg / Toronto game. 
    To start, Jake Maier led the Calgary Stampeders to a surprise win over Montreal. Maier actually put up a decent stat-line after a nightmare start, and ended with the 7th best QB debut since 2010. Of course, a huge part of Maier's night was the 83 yard pass to Josh Huff, who made a great break on the ball & run after catch. While it maybe was not the prettiest play by Maier, I would way rather have a QB who is not afraid to chuck it down the field. 

    I found that Calgary actually made the game more difficult for Maier. They called 15 first down rushes, and amassed 3.8 yards per. Only 4 of these rushes came while leading, so it was not a case of them trying to run the clock out.
    While it may seem counterintuitive, I think there is a real case to be made for not "protecting" your rookie QB by calling first down rushes. Maier was thrust into high-leverage 2nd downs, where an incompletion or throw short of the sticks meant a punt. As well, Maier was solid on the 16 first down passes, with 50% of them going for a new set of downs, which is very impressive, even for a non first-time starting QB.
    Saskatchewan might just be a sneaky analytics team. They've gone for it on five third downs, after filtering out third-and-ones (easy call to QB sneak). First, a look at what teams have done on third down in 2021. 
    For the most part, teams are punting or taking field goals. QB sneaks are occurring on 3rd and 1. Nothing is really too surprising here. 
    Next, I'd like to look where teams are opting to either punt, kick a field goal, or go for it. 
    As expected, 3rd and 1 is dominated by teams going for it. There are a couple of (in my opinion) indefensible punts, coming near the 55 yard line. A few teams have become more aggressive, expanding their horizons to go for it on 3rd and 2, but likely not near the rate they should. As well, you can see the areas where safeties are conceded, none more surprising than Montreal, on their own 12, taking a safety to go down 7. 

    Go for 2 down 14?

    On Saturday, Winnipeg scored to take the deficit from 14 points to 8 points (before the convert). There was 2:27 left on the clock and they trotted out their kicker (who hadn't been kicking well!) to kick the extra point and make it a 7 point game. I would have much preferred Winnipeg to go for 2, purely as a mathematical advantage. Going for 2 in this situation makes it possible to win the game in regulation, as opposed to kicking two extra points, and taking the game to overtime.

    Let's assume Winnipeg gets 2 point conversions at a rate of 56% (league average).
    Let's also assume Winnipeg hits PATs at a rate of 89% (league average).
    Lastly, let's also also assume Winnipeg wins 50% of the games that go to OT.

    There are 4 possible scenarios in a situation like this.
    1) Wpg gets the 2 point convert & kicks the PAT to go ahead by 1. 49.8% (0.56 * 0.89)
    2) Wpg gets the 2 point convert & misses the PAT, and thus are tied. 6.1% (0.56 * 0.11)
    3) Wpg misses the 2 point convert but gets the 2nd 2 point convert, and thus are tied. 24.6% (0.44 * 0.56)
    4) Wpg misses the 2 point convert twice, and loses. 19.4% (0.44 * 0.44)

    Here, Winnipeg wins in regulation 49.8% of the time, loses in regulation 19.4% of the time, and goes to overtime 30.7% of the time. Therefore, they win the game 65.15% of the time if they choose this strategy. Let's look at the strategy they chose.

    1) Wpg makes the PAT & makes the PAT, and thus are tied. 79.2% (0.89 * 0.89)
    2) Wpg makes the PAT & misses the 2nd PAT, and loses. 9.8% (0.89 * 0.11)
    3) Wpg misses the PAT & makes the 2 point convert, and thus are tied. 6.2% (0.11 * 0.56)
    4) Wpg misses the PAT & misses the 2 point convert, and loses. 4.8% (0.11 * 0.44)

    In this case, Winnipeg wins in regulation 0% of the time, loses in regulation 14.6% of the time, and goes to overtime 85.4% of time. Therefore, they win the game 42.7% of the time, a stark drop-off from the 65% if they had chosen the first strategy. 

    ROS Predictions

    Let's now look at the rest-of-season predictions. Leading the way are the 3-0 Saskatchewan Roughriders, with a whole mess of teams in-behind. I'm still far higher than market on the Elks, which may be worrying given their current spat with covid. The East is still a toss-up, with all of the teams still vying for those three playoff spots.