It's not just that teams are going for it more than ever. Those in charge have found a clever new way to defend their thinking.
Six weeks into the NFL season, we’re propelling toward another record-breaking year in terms of fourth-down conversion attempts. This is nothing necessarily new, as numbers have been on the rise every year since 2014. Adding an extra week to the season will shatter many records, but this is true on a per-game basis as well.
For some added context, here are the year-by-year totals since 2010, along with attempts per team per game, which accounts for the fact that four teams had byes last week.
The reasons for this are twofold. The first is that it’s obviously good business. Sometimes it takes a decade of whacking coaches over the head with the analytics (and it’s now been 12 years since Bill Belichick famously went for it in his own end late in a big game against the Colts) before the sensibility starts to set in. The second is that coaches have found a brilliant way to recast the decision from a public-facing perspective, making it far more tolerable to the lay football fan and, thus, easier for coaches to call.