Sean Payton’s Conservativeness
Once upon a time, Sean Payton was one of the most aggressive head coaches in the NFL. Now? Not so much.
According to Ben Baldwin of the Athletic on Twitter, Payton lost New Orleans the most amount of win-probability points on fourth downs this season:
Rather than spice it up come playoff time, Payton continued down this trajectory against the Bears.
First off, at Chicago’s 38-yard line, he punted on fourth and four. This is simply inexcusable. In 2020, field position battles aren’t very important- offenses are able to gain all lost yardage back in a few players.
Meanwhile, at the beginning of a playoff game, what you should be trying to do is get out to an early lead by scoring points. Punting when you are so far into your opponent’s territory makes no sense.
Then, on a fourth and two, Payton decided to kick a 50-yard field goal.
The optics of this also are rather confusing. Is it easier to imagine your team, which is built to convert in these situations, getting two hards, or a kicker making a 50-yard field goal? The odds are certainly in favor of going for it:
Payton also made another conservative fourth-down call as well:
Against the Bears, being conservative won’t come back to bite you. These are very small advantages, after all.
However, these win-probability points add up and could be the difference in an extra close battle. Should Payton continue to be conservative against better teams, primarily the Bucs, I’d be worried about it coming back to cost them.