Many of you told me how much you enjoyed the statistical break down I did of 2010 defenses just before the Super Bowl (Part 1 and Part 2). My premise, in case you missed them, was that ranking defenses and offenses by yards per game is pointless and misleading. It completely ignores important factors that contribute to an offense or defense being good. For example, an offense might have inflated yards numbers if their defense turns the ball over often or it might have deflated numbers if their special teams constantly gives them short fields. Does that make those offenses better or worse? No, not necessarily.
If you want a simple answer I would suggest at looking at yards per play instead. At least that number is not dependent on the amount of drives a team has or the field position they are given. Anyway, this post is not going to stop there, because I want to know which offense is the most well-rounded operating machine. Just looking at yards is shortsighted because it ignores points, ball protection, points, 3rd down conversions, and many other key components of a successful offense. Therefore, I plan on dissecting NFL offenses to hopefully get a picture of which teams had successful offensive seasons.
First of all, let me start off by explaining a difference from the last analysis I did on defense. This time, I will be using an "normalized" adjusted linear ranking system instead of a flat integer linear ranking. In other words, instead of ranking teams just 1, 2, 3...and so on based on where they fall I have adjusted the numbers to correspond more appropriately to how they fall in each statistical category. For instance, let's say there are 4 teams in the league and they average in yards per game at 400, 350, 345, 300. Instead, of ranking them 1, 2, 3, 4 I adjust the rankings to more appropriately fit their Y/G numbers. They would then finish at 1, 2.5, 2.65, and 4, which more appropriately correlates to their Y/G. The system I used is designed to always give the best team a 1, the worst team a 32, and then scaling the rest of the teams to fall suitably along that domain. If you are lost with this idea I can explain it more in the comments, just ask me.
First, let's start with yards per game for a reference and curiosity's sake:
|Team||Y/G||Y/G Adj Rk||PY/G||PY/G Adj Rk||RY/G||RY/G Adj Rk|
|San Diego Chargers||395.56||1||282.44||2.2||113.13||21.44|
|New York Giants||380.31||4.45||242.81||10.67||137.5||11.68|
|New Orleans Saints||372.5||6.21||277.56||3.24||94.94||28.72|
|New England Patriots||363.75||8.19||240.44||11.18||123.31||17.36|
|Green Bay Packers||358.13||9.46||257.75||7.48||100.38||26.55|
|New York Jets||351||11.07||202.63||19.27||148.38||7.33|
|Kansas City Chiefs||349.69||11.37||185.5||22.93||164.19||1|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||335.13||14.66||210.06||17.68||125.06||16.66|
|San Francisco 49ers||313.31||19.59||209.75||17.74||103.56||25.27|
|St. Louis Rams||302.88||21.95||204.25||18.92||98.63||27.25|
The Charger's finished first overall in yards per game, just as they did in total defense. It appears that they have a really good pass offense, but a lousy rush offense. That is probably due to the departure of LaDainian Tomlinson and the fact that the Chargers pass a lot more than they run. One glaring thing I can see from this table is that it is almost impossible to have your pass and rush game both be ranked highly. There are a few exceptions, like the Eagles, but for the most part there just is not enough time in the game to rack up lots of yards in both categories.
Anyway, the Steelers finished at about average in both aspects of offense and just about in the top 3rd overall. Those numbers are better than they appear when you consider the Steelers only averaged 270 yards per game in the first four weeks of the season. Actually, more impressively is that they finished so high in the passing rankings when they only averaged 137 yards per game in those same 4 weeks. Last note, the Panthers offense is just really, really bad. I believe that will remain a running theme for these tables.
Next up, we have a table of yards per attempt and points per game. These numbers, begin to give us a much more accurate depiction of how offenses in the league stand. Some people say that points per game is the only thing that matters, but I should remind you that points can be scored on defense and special teams as well. Also, good STs and defensive efforts determine where the offense will start with the ball. Therefore, points per game helps, but it is not the determining factor of the quality of an offense.
|Team||Pts/G||Pts/G Adj Rk||Y/P||Y/P Adj Rk||PY/A||PY/A Adj Rk||RY/A||RY/A Adj Rk|
The Chargers remain at the top again, based solely on their pass games absurd yards per pass attempt number. If you sort the table by the "P Y/A Adj Rk" you can see that the second closest team ranks nearly 6 spots behind them. Even though their rush offense is so bad, it is rendered insignificant by their tremendous pass offense. Something that amazes me, is how terrible the Falcons and Bears have done in these rankings. Looking at this, it does not surprise me that the Packers blew out the Falcons.
The Steelers ranking is similar to the Chargers in that their good passing number hides a poor rushing number. I am actually surprised that our yards per rush is that miserable, because I thought we had a great year in that department. I suppose when you consider how much the offensive line struggled with injury you might expect that kind of ranking. Just like if you have a fever the only cure is more cowbell, if you have a yards per rush problem, the only cure is more Isaac Redman.
To be continued...