Best and Worst Week 6 Halftime Adjustments By EPA

Football is a game of two halves. In the first, you largely follow a pre-designed gameplan, but that frequently goes out the window at halftime as teams are forced to adjust — and subsequently predict their opponent’s adjustments. Using Expected Points Added (EPA), a statistic that measures how many points each individual offensive play is worth, we can see which coaches made the best adjustments in Week 6, and even break that down by Run/Pass.

Best Adjustments

Minnesota Vikings: +32.77 Total EPA increase (+5.85 Run, +26.92 Pass)

Despite having one of the largest halftime increases of the entire 2020 season, the Vikings certainly don’t want to be here. With a horrific first half of -18.87 EPA, including three interceptions and only 28 rushing yards en route to a three-score deficit, the Vikings were almost guaranteed to improve in the second half. However, they deserve credit for the fight they showed offensively, even if the defense remained leaky, coming out of the tunnel with a long TD drive and later putting together two more long (and, more importantly, quick) scoring drives.

Philadelphia Eagles: +32.16 Total EPA increase (+16.12 Run, +16.05 Pass)

Similar to the Vikings, the Eagles got smacked in the first half. With EPA’s worst half of any team in Week 6 with -19.17, the Eagles couldn’t get going on the ground or through the air, losing almost a point per rush play and half a point per pass play. Only one drive went over three plays, and it ended on downs. The Vikings comparison stops there, however, as the defense only allowed one touchdown after halftime, allowing the drastic offensive improvement to mount a three-score comeback that just fell short with a missed two-point conversion. Although the run game remained inconsistent, with RB Miles Sanders’ 118-yard outing disguised by 76- and 24- yard runs, the passing game stepped up and Carson Wentz was able to scramble when the secondary locked down. Doug Pederson deserves a lot of credit for his on-the-fly adjustments that nearly upset the MVP with an injury-plagued team.

Worst Adjustments

San Francisco 49ers: -26.65 Total EPA decrease (-4.46 Run, -22.19 Pass)

The 49ers can take solace in a win here on the back of a strong first-half performance, but they’ll certainly be worried about letting the Rams back into the game with four straight punts after halftime and only a field goal to their name. Despite working behind a hobbled Jimmy Garoppolo, the 49ers were able to mix up their typical rollout offense to amass +17.29 Pass EPA in the first half, even if the run game had a negligible -0.08 EPA. In the second half, this pass game fell off a cliff and the run game couldn’t compensate. Jimmy G had only six second-half completions for 53 yards on 12 attempts, while the idea of running out the clock failed on 2.7 yards per attempt. Sure, they got the win, but Sean McVay won’t be sleeping easy after this one.

Denver Broncos: –15.9 Total EPA decrease (-7.37 Run, -8.53 Pass)

Unlike the teams above, the Broncos didn’t have an extreme first half. Despite working from short fields and moving the ball at will, they consistently stalled in plus territory and had to settle for field goal after field goal after field goal (four in the first half, six total). Against a clearly out-of-sync Patriots offense, the Broncos could have put this game away with a touchdown at nearly any point. However, Drew Lock and the offense did their best to out-implode the Patriots, with multiple quick three-and-outs and back-to-back interceptions. Finishing with -7.99 Total EPA, the Broncos got shut down in the second half and shouldn’t feel good at all about this win.

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