Peyton Manning on how to manage downs

I won’t try to directly quote Peyton. I will just give the jist of what he said about the subject of downs on last nights telecast. Here’s a quick summary version:

  • Don’t play to get to a “manageable” 3rd down. 3rd downs SUCK! The defense is fired up, the line has their ears pinned back and the coaches like to throw something exotic at you. 3rd downs are converted on 1st and 2nd by avoiding 3rd down. He basically described “staying ahead of the chains” as getting another first down on 1st down or 2nd down. If its 3rd down you are not ahead of the chains, because you failed to convert on 1st or 2nd down. It was a different way to look at things for me. When he gave his perspective I realized I’ve always been a “play for a manageable 3rd down” kind of guy. If you are constantly fighting to convert in 2 downs instead of 3 it changes some playcalling decisions and increases the sense of urgency.

  • 3rd down is not the time to run to the sticks. That’s for 1st and 2nd down. Coaches like to say “run to the sticks” on 3rd down but the sticks are exactly what the defense is trying to keep you from getting to. On 3rd down Peyton said he liked to hit routes 20 yards downfield (or 10 yards past the sticks) to get away from the teeth of the defense and take advantage of defenders who aren’t thinking beyond the sticks.

It was interesting so I thought I’d share for anyone who didn’t see it.


Really liked it, man. Good way of thinking.

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Glad you posted this info.

I was thinking about how the Lions were a little too predictable on 3rd during the game… often aiming for the sticks. The 49ers are a tough defense to try that against.

Here is a play on 3rd and 2 at the 18 yard line.
The 49ers have 10 guys within 5 yards of LOS.

Goff releases the throw… and the 49ers have 5 guys sitting at the sticks. Hock was tackled 1 yard short of a 1st down.

I certainly hope there is some adjustment on the play calling as the season moves along.

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Well Campbell is showing that 4th down is the new 3rd down so really the Lions are trying to get 10 in the equivalent of 2nd down…

Going for it 5 times on 4th down! You got balls my friend and I like it.


The analytics say that coaches should go for it WAY more than they do on 4th. This is actually smart, especially when your D is so bad that it doesn’t matter from where the opposition’s O starts.


If not for the turf monster on J williams first one, they go 3/5 on 4th down and that’s a good place to be.

I don’t think he trusts the kicker so anything over a 40 yard kick and less than 4th and 5 is probably a go for it situation right now.

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hoping the kicker is a young dude that can improve. I’m thinking right here, right now, in this moment, you are absolutely right. We dont’ trust him.

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Cool perspective - I like it. Thanks Wes.

Pat McAfee on how awesome the Manning telecast was:


If they keep doing this telecast I bet someone is going to start posting the 2 types of coverage of the same plays and how different they sounded on each. To catch anyone up who didn’t watch the game or catch the play Pat is talking about in the clip, there was a play where Derek Carr audibled at the line but the play didn’t work so he just threw the ball out of bounds. Pat was saying that on the main telecast they probably said something basic like “good coverage by the Ravens. Nowhere to go with the ball so Carr smartly throws it away” and they would go on to the next play.

But the Manning telecast was different. They were telling you what Carr was seeing while he was seeing it, and then talked about how the defense audibled when Carr audibled. Then they gave the insight that the Raiders called 2 plays in the huddle…1 was a zone beater and 1 was a man beater. The zone beater was the 1st call and Carr could “kill, kill, kill” the play to switch it to the man beater if the Ravens were in man. The Ravens lined up in man. Carr “killed” the 1st play to switch to the man beater, but then the Ravens changed to another coverage that the man beater didn’t work against. Then Eli gave the additional insight that against the Ravens you need to have your man beater as your 1st play and kill to the zone beater, not the other way around because that’s what happens.

They were perfectly describing it in real time.


Main takeaways…

  1. I’m gonna have fun watching.
  2. I’m gonna get smarter watching.
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I really enjoyed watching the Manning boys breakdown the game because they were focused on football and what was actually happening in the game. Russel Wilson was calling out defenses as well in the 4th Q and overtime. So much better than the traditional game coverage talking about players wives and promoting political ideologies.

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The best way to convert a 3rd down is to never have one.

GIF by Identity

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