Yeah, some of this is pretty obvious when it’s stated out like this. But the reason I think these findings are important is that so few offenses understand right now how they can get an edge by taking advantage of what defenses are expecting based on the game situation, or even just how the defense lines up. Recall this very good analysis from last January showing how far and away the most significant factor in rushing success is how many (or few) defenders are lined up in the box.
Yes, this finding is very intuitive – who’da thunk it? But so few teams have adapted their strategy and playcalling to account for this. One example – how many teams continue to bring in extra blockers to run the ball on 3rd and short, even though all that’s doing is tipping off the defense on how much more likely a run play is, and then putting them in a better position to stop it? Extend this to 1st and 10 – running is inefficient (and PA passing is particularly efficient) in this situation in part because defenses still prioritize stopping the run. And it’s understandable why they do – no defense wants to leave itself open to a steady diet of 6 yard gains on 1st and 10 – but if that’s what the defense is going to prioritize, take advantage of it. Lots of similar analysis showing that passing out of 2 tight end sets creates an edge… this is all still there for offenses to take advantage of.