Jan 13, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate (81) scores a touchdown past Atlanta Falcons free safety Thomas DeCoud (28) and Dunta Robinson (23) in the third quarter of the NFC divisional playoff game at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Despite The Very Slow Pace, The 2012 Seahawks Offense Was Among the Most Efficient At Scoring Points

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:

Rk Team sec/pt
1 New England Patriots 53.31
2 New Orleans Saints 60.36
3 Denver Broncos 62.40
4 New York Giants 65.27
5 Green Bay Packers 67.47
6 Washington Redskins 68.70
7 Baltimore Ravens 69.15
8 Atlanta Falcons 70.72
9 Minnesota Vikings 72.78
10 Seattle Seahawks 74.17
11 Cincinnati Bengals 74.72
12 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 74.82
13 San Francisco 49ers 76.82
14 Houston Texans 77.92
15 Dallas Cowboys 79.19
16 Carolina Panthers 80.27
17 Tennessee Titans 80.53
18 Chicago Bears 81.41
19 Indianapolis Colts 82.73
20 Detroit Lions 82.80
21 Buffalo Bills 84.23
22 San Diego Chargers 86.72
23 Cleveland Browns 89.75
24 Pittsburgh Steelers 91.95
25 St. Louis Rams 95.63
26 Miami Dolphins 96.67
27 Oakland Raiders 97.66
28 Philadelphia Eagles 101.94
29 New York Jets 103.97
30 Jacksonville Jaguars 105.60
31 Arizona Cardinals 112.58
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.

Rk Team plays/pt
1 New England Patriots 2.138
2 New York Giants 2.256
3 Denver Broncos 2.266
4 Washington Redskins 2.280
5 New Orleans Saints 2.315
6 Seattle Seahawks 2.364
7 Green Bay Packers 2.406
8 Atlanta Falcons 2.437
9 San Francisco 49ers 2.441
10 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2.591
11 Cincinnati Bengals 2.598
12 Baltimore Ravens 2.618
13 Houston Texans 2.620
14 Minnesota Vikings 2.641
15 Chicago Bears 2.664
16 Carolina Panthers 2.768
17 Dallas Cowboys 2.790
18 San Diego Chargers 2.823
19 Buffalo Bills 2.858
20 Tennessee Titans 2.900
21 Pittsburgh Steelers 3.045
22 Indianapolis Colts 3.106
23 Detroit Lions 3.118
24 Cleveland Browns 3.305
25 St. Louis Rams 3.351
26 Miami Dolphins 3.406
27 Oakland Raiders 3.559
28 New York Jets 3.680
29 Philadelphia Eagles 3.854
30 Jacksonville Jaguars 3.898
31 Arizona Cardinals 4.072
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.


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