I submitted this question to Cecil but was rebuffed with the suggestion that I post it here as someone may be able to offer an answer. Here goes:
Every football fan knows the scenario: your favorite team is up by 7 points or less late in the fourth quarter. Instead of playing the game out with the same defensive strategy, your team’s coaching staff elects for the dreaded “prevent defense” where they rush fewer players and drop more into pass coverage in order to stop a huge passing play. Invariably the opposing team goes the length of the field in three or four plays, scores a touchdown, and your team loses, leaving all fans moaning about how the only thing the prevent defense prevents is a win.
My question: is there any hard statistical evidence that proves the prevent defense works more often than it fails? Is this a situation where fickle fans only remember this strategy when it fails and quickly forget it when it succeeds? Or is this some flawed piece of conventional football wisdom that is followed more through tradition rather than through any data that suggests it’s the statistically
sound way to hold a slender lead?
I’ve charged a friend of mine who does market research to study every televised college and professional football game since 1990 and get back to me with a definitive answer. He hasn’t gotten on board with the project with the enthusiasm I had hoped, so I’m turning to you. Please help.