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.