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

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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

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

1New England Patriots53.312New Orleans Saints60.363Denver Broncos62.404New York Giants65.275Green Bay Packers67.476Washington Redskins68.707Baltimore Ravens69.158Atlanta Falcons70.729Minnesota Vikings72.78

10

Seattle Seahawks

74.17

11Cincinnati Bengals74.7212Tampa Bay Buccaneers74.8213San Francisco 49ers76.8214Houston Texans77.9215Dallas Cowboys79.1916Carolina Panthers80.2717Tennessee Titans80.5318Chicago Bears81.4119Indianapolis Colts82.7320Detroit Lions82.8021Buffalo Bills84.2322San Diego Chargers86.7223Cleveland Browns89.7524Pittsburgh Steelers91.9525St. Louis Rams95.6326Miami Dolphins96.6727Oakland Raiders97.6628Philadelphia Eagles101.9429New York Jets103.9730Jacksonville Jaguars105.6031Arizona Cardinals112.5832Kansas City Chiefs138.01

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

1New England Patriots2.1382New York Giants2.2563Denver Broncos2.2664Washington Redskins2.2805New Orleans Saints2.315

6

Seattle Seahawks

2.364

7Green Bay Packers2.4068Atlanta Falcons2.4379San Francisco 49ers2.44110Tampa Bay Buccaneers2.59111Cincinnati Bengals2.59812Baltimore Ravens2.61813Houston Texans2.62014Minnesota Vikings2.64115Chicago Bears2.66416Carolina Panthers2.76817Dallas Cowboys2.79018San Diego Chargers2.82319Buffalo Bills2.85820Tennessee Titans2.90021Pittsburgh Steelers3.04522Indianapolis Colts3.10623Detroit Lions3.11824Cleveland Browns3.30525St. Louis Rams3.35126Miami Dolphins3.40627Oakland Raiders3.55928New York Jets3.68029Philadelphia Eagles3.85430Jacksonville Jaguars3.89831Arizona Cardinals4.07232Kansas City Chiefs4.810

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.