In Politics, and on Playing Fields, the Balanced Ground/Air Game Wins

In Politics, and on Playing Fields, the Balanced Ground/Air Game Wins

Tea Party candidates are losing races this year due in large part to reverting to something like Knute Rockne’s Single Wing Offense with no air support to try outscore the Chamber of Commerce’s air attack that looks like Peyton Manning’s offense.

The Establishment can only be beaten the same way Manning finally was–by one of the eight NFL teams who run the most–but still get 60% of their yards through the air. Candidate fundraising calls, polling, and TV must be added to the targeted ground games I have advocated for years (click here). 

To make the analogy, if you break the NFL teams into four groups based on what percent of their yards they gain rushing, you find that the eight teams who commit to get about 40% of their yards on the ground won a couple of more games a year than the rest. The Seahawks and 49ers rejected the pass-happy NFL with ground-oriented attacks the last few years. The Eagles then went for a college coach who could get most yards on the ground through quick running players, and the Chiefs and Jets committed to pounding the ball and finished way ahead of projections this year.

%rush Wins Att/G Avg Pts/G Int %int Pass Rat
Heavy Run 40% 9.7 30.5 4.5 24.1 12.9 2.6 86.5
Lean Run 35% 7.1 27.6 4.4 22.7 14.4 2.6 82.9
Lean Pass 29% 7.9 26.1 4.1 24.0 17.3 2.9 88.7
Heavy Pass 25% 7.4 24.2 3.7 22.8 18.3 2.9 86.0

While some would make the chicken-or-egg argument that there are more rushes when a team is ahead, the average per rush is also in descending order among these four groups–and if this were purely a matter of running the ball more you would expect the teams running at the end of wins to have lower per carry averages since they go up against eight men in the box in the final stretches of wins.

But what if all these coaches had gone one step further and decided this proved that passing was simply bad and gone back to the old Single Wing with four running backs lined up behind seven linemen to basically set up a run off right tackle on every play. Well, they’d go 0-16.

Believe it or not, that is pretty close to what has happened in too many Tea Party discussions. Even a mention of scheduling a few hours a day for a candidate to make fundraising calls to afford to produce and play TV, with a road map from a poll that shows which messages move how many voters in order to get 51%, is met with cynicism. “That sounds like a Crossroads plan,” or similar responses are made.

I led canvassers in the run up to the Georgia primaries and we were hitting 1,400+ doors every day. That is the part of campaigning I love and ironically I like run-based offenses like they play from Auburn to Seattle. But I also know that part of the campaign is futile if someone is not also counting how many fundraising calls a candidate is making each day, and if every TV commercial sent out to computers and iPhones (which makes TV possible for candidates with small budgets) is in line with a poll that was run.

If groups backing Tea Party candidates insist anything that the Chamber is doing (TV, polling, candidate fundraising) cannot be a major part of their candidate’s efforts, then the Chamber is going to run up the score in Republican primaries moving forward.

As for the actual breakdown of football teams, the actual team names are below: 

Heavy Run (40% yds) Above Ave. Run (35%) Lean Pass (29% run) Heavy Pass (25% run)
Buffalo Bills Green Bay Packers Arizona Cardinals Atlanta Falcons
Carolina Panthers Indianapolis Colts Chicago Bears Baltimore Ravens
Kansas City Chiefs New England Patriots Cincinnati Bengals Cleveland Browns
Minnesota Vikings Oakland Raiders Dallas Cowboys Denver Broncos
New York Jets St. Louis Rams Detroit Lions Jacksonville Jaguars
Philadelphia Eagles Tampa Bay Buccaneers Houston Texans New Orleans Saints
San Francisco 49ers Tennessee Titans Miami Dolphins New York Giants
Seattle Seahawks Washington Redskins San Diego Chargers Pittsburgh Steelers