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I had a suspicion while watching the Colorado game, that despite Maynard’s 50% completion percentage, I thought Cal was doing well on 3rd downs. Specifically, I thought Maynard and the passing offense did quite well for itself.
I then looked up the 3rd down conversions for the Bears, and saw 7 for 13 (53.8%). That’s pretty darn good. In fact, it would put them in the Top 10 in the nation in any given year. It’s most certainly better than the 34.9% the Bears averaged last year.
Naturally, you can’t compare one game’s performance, and compare it to an average over the course of a season.
But I did want to take a closer look, specifically how Maynard and the passing offense performed on passing downs. So I’ve taken out the instances in which the Bears rushed on 3rd downs (once to Sofele and once to CJA which went for a TD).
The results were surprising.
[Edit: It's like TouchedtheAxein82 is a brotha from anotha motha. He was thinking the same thing and just happened to prepare a video with all of Cal's third down attempts. You can see the good, bad, and comical.]
Check out the breakdown of each attempt after the jump.
Here’s the breakdown by quarter.
3rd-4 (Cal 36 yardline) Pass incomplete to Marvin Jones, dropped pass.
This would have been an easy first down, and Jones took his eyes off the ball as he was already contemplating spin moving his defender. You can't place this one on Maynard at all.
3rd-9 (Cal 23 yardline) Pass complete to Keenan Allen for 20 yards to the CAL43, 1ST DOWN CAL
Nice strike with plenty of zip. Put it nice and high where only Allen could get it.
3rd-5 (Cal 24 yardline) Pass incomplete to Keenan Allen, PENALTY CU pass interference 10 yards to the CAL34, 1ST DOWN CAL
Allen was double covered, but unbelievably enough I think Allen has a decent chance to catch that. Either way the Bears roll on.
3rd-3 (CU 49 yardline) Pass incomplete to 1-Jones, Marvin PENALTY CU pass interference 15 yards to the CU34, 1ST DOWN CAL
Marvin Jones - not a great pass, but got it into space enough to draw pass interference. But again, Jones was tightly covered and I’m not sure that pass should have been thrown.
3rd-Goal (CU 2 yardline) Pass complete to Nico Dumont for 2 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
Just a perfect pass out to the flat to the fullback. It is worth noting that Spencer Hagan was wide the hell open on top, but a score is a score is a score.
3rd-17 (CU 22 yardline) Pass incomplete to Marvin Jones.
Marvin Jones - Incomplete - Galas was late snapping the ball and Maynard was seen clapping for the snap frantically, which may have thrown off his rhythm. Either way, Maynard missed Jones badly on an overthrown post route in the endzone.
3rd-7 (Cal 41 yardline) Pass complete to Keenan Allen for 37 yards to the CU22, 1ST DOWN CAL
Maynard found himself rolling to his left to avoid heavy pressure and found Allen curling across the field. Absolutely zips it in there and shows his ability throwing on the run.
3rd-12 ( (Cal 24 yardline) Pass incomplete to Anthony Miller, dropped pass.
Although this was a drop, Miller likely would have not have converted for a 1st down, had he caught the ball. He was still about 6 yards away from a 1st. So even though it was a dropped pass, I’m counting it as an incompletion for the purpose of analyzing 3rd down efficiency.
3rd-10 (Cal 40 yardline) Sacked for loss of 8 yards to the CAL32, sack.
The pocket collapsed within three seconds so although you could argue a coverage sack, that was mainly due to Maynard's futile ability to buy time. Galas got bullrushed on the delayed blitz by the linebacker which nearly toppled Maynard over.
3rd-3 (Cal 40 yardline) Pass complete to Michael Calvin for 5 yards to the CAL45, 1ST DOWN CAL
Nice safe route and the pass was on the money.
3rd-10 (Cal 45 yardline) Pass complete to Michael Calvin for 27 yards to the CU28, 1ST DOWN CAL
Huge, huge gain and huge conversion. What the stat sheet won't tell you is that Maynard took an absolute shot the play prior. He just got KTFO. And looking at his face the following before the snap, he looked pissed. Pissed enough to throw the ball on a line right into Calvin's hands on a deep out. One of the most impressive throws of the day.
3rd-10 (Cal 29 yardline) Pass incomplete to Michael Calvin, incomplete
Maynard was flushed out of the pocket and threw it 3 feet in front of the feet of the closest defender. Nothing available, and just threw it really within a general vicinity.
Of the 12 third down attempts, 7 were converted successfully. Two were completed by pass interference penalties and one was a touchdown.
Of the 5 unsuccessful attempts, two were dropped passes, though only would have been a surefire conversion had it been caught.
Of the other three unsuccessful attempts, one was a sack, and two were inaccurate passes on hurried attempts, with no real chance of being converted.
If you include the penalties, and factor the drops appropriately (you give Maynard the Jones’ drop, but still count Miller’s drop against him), you see that Maynard and the passing offense would have been 8 of 12 on third down.
Discount the penalties altogether, and that number is still a respectable 6 for 10 on third.
In fact, if Jones had caught the ball on Cal’s first drive, the Bears would have converted their first 5 third downs in passing situations.
Also, discounting the first drive (Jones’ drop), all of Cal’s failed third down conversions occurred no shorter than 3rd and 7, with the longest being 3rd and 17.
So what does this all say? Cal had a fantastic day on third down, and a lot of it depended on Cal receivers ability to get open as well as the Bears’ protection in those downs.
However, no matter how you swing it, you can’t deny Maynard’s coolness under pressure in those passing situations. Also, you can't disregard the coaching staff's faith in putting the ball in Maynard's hands in 3rd and long situations. We're seeing far few draw plays, and bubble screens. They're letting him go out and fling it, and more often than not, the team is converting. Bottom line, Maynard converted some huge 3rd downs in some absolutely critical situations.
What this bodes for the future I can’t say. There are far too many factors to make any overarching conclusions, but I did think Maynard’s performance on 3rd down was worth noting given his unimpressive final stat sheet of 18 for 35 passing. Again, nothing is ever that straightforward.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
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