THIRD down is the biggest dividing line between a terrible offense and high powered one. However, before all the yardage, and the score rankings, an offense needs to be able to consistently sustain drives. This is why many will say that 3rd down is the most important down.
That’s wrong. The most important down is 2nd down. For instance, I’m sure we can all agree that 3rd and 10 is a far different situation than 3rd and 1. If the offense can’t convert on 3rd down, the distance to go, will play a huge role in whether the offense “goes for it”on 4th down.
On 3rd and 10 the defense generally knows that a pass is coming, and they plan accordingly. On 3rd and 1? Well on 3rd and 1 it could be anything. The play-book is wide open, and the offense is less predictable. That steals confidence from the defense.
This is why 2nd down is the most important. It’s true, 3rd down is generally the ‘make or break’ down. However, converting before a 3rd down, or setting up shorter 3rd downs, drives up an offense’s confidence, while breaking a defense’s.
The point of 1st down is for running to set up the pass, or taking a gamble on a big play. When that dust settles, however it settles, the 2nd down which follows needs to be a down where our Eagles are thinking “Convert NOW!”
Sound silly? Hey, have you ever seen the Eagles face a 3rd and 8, only to have a receiver “take what the defense gives”, run a 7 yard route, make the catch, and be immediately tackled? Oh you have? How did you react? Oh yeah? Well me too. But if that same thing happens on 2nd and 8, we’re clapping.
What we don’t get on 1st, we need to chase aggressively on 2nd, with the idea of not seeing a 3rd. This way when we do see a 3rd down, most of them should be easily converted, or helpful in setting up a 4th down conversion.