Further firing the fourth-and-one beast anymore are statistical-based studies such as those by University of California economics professor David Romer and Brian Burke, a onetime Navy fighter pilot and founder of Advanced NFL Stats. Without a degree in statistics -- and a lot of patience, understanding and the ability to digest a ton of high-level metrics and philosophical rationale -- it's daunting stuff to fully present the "advanced analytics" theories of the two men. But reduced to their simplest forms, the upshot is this: Both argue that NFL coaches should be far more aggressive on most fourth-down calls, not just fourth-and-one plays.
"We never thought of ourselves as a [poor] short-yardage team," said former Atlanta center Todd McClure, who retired in the offseason. "But maybe subconsciously, that stuff gets in your head. The [failures] certainly stick with you for a while." (CLICK CONTINUE STORY, BELOW, FOR THE BRADY SIDEBAR STORY)
Scott Kacsmar is an Assistant Editor at Football Outsiders. You can send any questions or comments to Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow him on Twitter at @CaptainComeback. Research for this study was compiled from Pro-Football-Reference, official NFL game books and Pro Football Focus.