Dec 9, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (25) celebrates after a fumble recovery against the Arizona Cardinals in the third quarter at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks defeated the Cardinals 58-0. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

Seahawks Were Among The League's Best At Turning Drives Into Points

It’s time for the third installment of my look into the efficiency and overall quality of the 32 offensive units from 2012. We’ve already looked at the pace used by each offense and each team’s efficiency at turning plays into points. This time, we’ll be taking a look into how those factors effect the number of drives for each team, as well as the overall success rate of those drives.

Teams like Seattle and New England deliberately control the pace of games in order to assert as much influence as possible over the number of offensive possessions within a game. The very fast pace the Patriots use is designed to generate more possessions for their offense, while the slow pace of the Seahawks is intended to limit the number of possessions by the opposing team.

Based on the number of drives that each team had, the plan seemed to work for the Seahawks. It wasn’t quite as successful for the Patriots.


Rk Team Drives Rk Team plays/dr
1 Arizona Cardinals 207 1 Arizona Cardinals 4.92
2 Detroit Lions 196 2 Tennessee Titans 5.20
3 Houston Texans 194 3 Jacksonville Jaguars 5.20
4 Jacksonville Jaguars 191 4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 5.31
5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 190 5 Chicago Bears 5.31
6 New York Jets 189 6 Cleveland Browns 5.34
7 Chicago Bears 188 7 Buffalo Bills 5.34
8 Cleveland Browns 187 8 Cincinnati Bengals 5.46
9 Oakland Raiders 187 9 New York Jets 5.47
10 Cincinnati Bengals 186 10 Oakland Raiders 5.52
11 Baltimore Ravens 185 11 Pittsburgh Steelers 5.56
12 Buffalo Bills 184 12 Miami Dolphins 5.57
13 Pittsburgh Steelers 184 13 Kansas City Chiefs 5.61
14 Tennessee Titans 184 14 Houston Texans 5.62
15 New Orleans Saints 181 15 Seattle Seahawks 5.63
16 Kansas City Chiefs 181 16 Baltimore Ravens 5.63
17 New England Patriots 180 17 Washington Redskins 5.65
18 Green Bay Packers 180 18 Minnesota Vikings 5.66
19 Philadelphia Eagles 180 19 New York Giants 5.73
20 Denver Broncos 177 20 Carolina Panthers 5.78
21 Minnesota Vikings 177 21 San Diego Chargers 5.78
22 Washington Redskins 176 22 Green Bay Packers 5.79
23 Indianapolis Colts 176 23 St. Louis Rams 5.79
24 Miami Dolphins 176 24 Atlanta Falcons 5.87
25 Atlanta Falcons 174 25 New Orleans Saints 5.90
26 Seattle Seahawks 173 26 Detroit Lions 5.92
27 St. Louis Rams 173 27 San Francisco 49ers 5.98
28 Dallas Cowboys 172 28 Philadelphia Eagles 5.99
29 Carolina Panthers 171 29 Dallas Cowboys 6.10
30 San Diego Chargers 171 30 Denver Broncos 6.16
31 New York Giants 169 31 Indianapolis Colts 6.30
32 San Francisco 49ers 162 32 New England Patriots 6.62

In the second set of data you can see why the strategy worked better for Seattle. The Patriots ran more plays per drive than any other team in the league. More plays means more time, so even though the Patriots use the least amount of time per play, the more plays per drive on average meant they still ended up in the middle of the pack in terms of number of drives.

It should be noted that having a large number of drives isn’t necessarily a good thing. Most of the teams at the top of the list were genuinely bad offensive teams. It turns out the total number of drives correlates higher to the number of 3-and-outs, than to the pace at which teams operate. The pace does matter, just not as much other factors.

One way to separate those two variables is to look at the time for each drive, since that combines plays per drive with time per play.


Rk Team sec/drive Rk Team pts/drive
1 San Francisco 49ers 188 1 New England Patriots 3.09
2 San Diego Chargers 177 2 Denver Broncos 2.72
3 Seattle Seahawks 177 3 New Orleans Saints 2.55
4 Dallas Cowboys 173 4 New York Giants 2.54
5 Atlanta Falcons 170 5 Washington Redskins 2.48
6 Washington Redskins 170 6 San Francisco 49ers 2.45
7 Denver Broncos 170 7 Atlanta Falcons 2.41
8 Pittsburgh Steelers 168 8 Green Bay Packers 2.41
9 Indianapolis Colts 168 9 Seattle Seahawks 2.38
10 Carolina Panthers 168 10 Dallas Cowboys 2.19
11 Houston Texans 167 11 Baltimore Ravens 2.15
12 New York Giants 166 12 Houston Texans 2.14
13 St. Louis Rams 165 13 Minnesota Vikings 2.14
14 New England Patriots 165 14 Cincinnati Bengals 2.10
15 Chicago Bears 162 15 Carolina Panthers 2.09
16 Green Bay Packers 162 16 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2.05
17 Kansas City Chiefs 161 17 San Diego Chargers 2.05
18 Philadelphia Eagles 159 18 Indianapolis Colts 2.03
19 Miami Dolphins 158 19 Chicago Bears 1.99
20 Buffalo Bills 157 20 Detroit Lions 1.90
21 Detroit Lions 157 21 Buffalo Bills 1.87
22 Cincinnati Bengals 157 22 Pittsburgh Steelers 1.83
23 Minnesota Vikings 156 23 Tennessee Titans 1.79
24 New York Jets 155 24 St. Louis Rams 1.73
25 New Orleans Saints 154 25 Miami Dolphins 1.64
26 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 153 26 Cleveland Browns 1.61
27 Oakland Raiders 151 27 Philadelphia Eagles 1.56
28 Baltimore Ravens 149 28 Oakland Raiders 1.55
29 Cleveland Browns 145 29 New York Jets 1.49
30 Tennessee Titans 144 30 Jacksonville Jaguars 1.34
31 Jacksonville Jaguars 141 31 Arizona Cardinals 1.21
32 Arizona Cardinals 136 32 Kansas City Chiefs 1.17

As you can see, the Seahawks are back near the top of the list. They had the second slowest pace and were middle of the road on plays per drive. All together that means that the Seahawks did a good job of not giving the ball back to the other team.

Ultimately, any time I start looking at stats like this, I have to see how it relates to points. The second chart shows the points per drive for each team.  If you’ve been following this series, you shouldn’t be surprised to see the Seahawks offense near the top of the list.

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