3rd Down S-O-S (Short-Of-Sticks) Template

Ideally when faced with 3rd down, a quarterback should help the receiver (and offense) by throwing the ball beyond the “sticks”, or the 1st down yardage marker. By throwing it short of the sticks, the QB is asking the receiver to bail him out by running with the ball to gain the first down following the reception. Hence the acronym “S-O-S” – the QB is in distress and can’t complete a pass beyond the sticks, so he throws it Short-Of-Sticks.

Blue lines below indicate the yards in air (YIA) a 3rd down pass travels. If a red line continues beyond the blue, it indicates the distance remaining to obtain the first down. Some QBs, like Alex Smith, have a lot of red on their plot, signifying frequent passing short of sticks on 3rd down. Others are more aggressive and have far less red visible.

Air Yardage Template

A key element in football that significantly help teams win games is their ability to produce big plays offensively. Every yard line holds a different value and being able to cross over many in one, single play is extremely valuable. Often, big plays by some offenses come from smaller plays which are then exploited by the ball carrier. The below analysis looks at pass completions which travel 20+ yards in the air prior to the reception, to really study how much the quarterback and pass execution is contributing to the big play, rather than relying too much on yards after the catch (YAC).