Yesterday, I showed that Seahawks deliberately tried to slow the game down in 2012. Clearly that led to less stats: less pass attempts, less yards, less points, but it also led to less of those things by their opponents as well.
The problem with this is that it screws up the convention measures of how good an offense is: total yards, passing yards, etc. For example, the Seahawks were near the bottom of the NFL in passing yards, even though they were actually the 3rd best in terms of yards per passing attempt. Clearly they weren’t a bad passing team, they just chose not to throw the ball very often.
Ultimately though, the point of running offensive plays in football in to score points. After finding out that the Seahawks were slowing the game down and trying to run less plays overall, it made me question what that meant in terms of the team’s ability to score points.
The first thing I did was calculate efficiently every team was at turning their time of possession into points:
|1||New England Patriots||53.31|
|2||New Orleans Saints||60.36|
|4||New York Giants||65.27|
|5||Green Bay Packers||67.47|
|12||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||74.82|
|13||San Francisco 49ers||76.82|
|22||San Diego Chargers||86.72|
|25||St. Louis Rams||95.63|
|29||New York Jets||103.97|
|32||Kansas City Chiefs||138.01|
Remember that the Seahawks were 31st in seconds per play. Being all the way up at 10th in seconds per point was a rather surprising result. The Seahawks went out of their way to slow the game down, and yet they were fairly quick at scoring points compared to most of the NFL.
Clearly, the Seahawks offense was very efficient, but I wanted to know just how efficient the Seahawks were. To figure that out, I had to remove time from the equation. I decided to calculate plays per point, which would normalize the previous calculations.
|1||New England Patriots||2.138|
|2||New York Giants||2.256|
|5||New Orleans Saints||2.315|
|7||Green Bay Packers||2.406|
|9||San Francisco 49ers||2.441|
|10||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||2.591|
|18||San Diego Chargers||2.823|
|25||St. Louis Rams||3.351|
|28||New York Jets||3.680|
|32||Kansas City Chiefs||4.810|
Doing it this way removed the game-pace issue. The Seahawks scored less points than other teams because they slowed the game down and thus rans fewer plays. Instead, by looking at how efficient the Seahawks were at turning the plays they did run into point, they were rather impressive.
I have to admit that I found this result surprising. I was expecting that the more “pass-happy” teams to dominate in terms of scoring efficiency. Isn’t that the mantra of the NFL right now: passing league? Have to pass to score? etc.?
Instead you have the Seahawks and Redskins, the two teams that ran the ball the most, near the top of both lists. Clearly there is more going on here.
Don’t worry though, I’m close to the answer. You’re just going to have to keep reading over the next few days. This is article is already long enough.