FalconsIn2012 Posted July 20, 2020 Share Posted July 20, 2020 RANKING NFL OFFENSES BY ANALYTICS USAGE To be clear, these are purely metrics a coach (mostly) has complete control over regardless if his roster is good or bad and have nothing to do with what the general manager or ownership is doing. However, they are correlated for the most part. Here are the 10 metrics I’m primarily evaluating for my analytics usage rankings. Explanations of each metric and why they’re important can be found in the corresponding links: 4th Down Aggressiveness (rbsdm.com) Pass Rate on Early Downs (rbsdm.com) Pass Rate While Trailing (@HaydenWinks) Play-Action Rate (PFF.com) Downfield Pass Rate (@HaydenWinks) Middle of the Field Pass Rate (@HaydenWinks) Pre-Snap Motion Percentage (SportsInfoSolutions) Outside Run Rate (@HaydenWinks) Shotgun Run Rate (@HaydenWinks) Offensive Pace (FootballOutsiders.com) I have to point out one more thing before we get to the rankings. There is a massive difference between an offense actually using analytics versus just having a scheme that's correlated with analytics. The Ravens actually use analytics, but other teams in the top-10 don't. They just happen to have a scheme that lines up with consensus viewpoints from the analytics community. The reality is, coaches and in-game decision makers on both sides of the ball don't actually use analytics anywhere near enough. Hopefully that changes. Okay, now let's have some fun: Tier 1: You Love To See It 1. Ravens (HC John Harbaugh) 4th Down Aggressiveness: 1st Pass Rate on Early Downs: 32nd Pass Rate While Trailing: 25th Play-Action Rate: 1st Downfield Pass Rate: 17th Middle of the Field Pass Rate: 1st Pre-Snap Motion Percentage: 3rd Outside Run Rate: 29th Shotgun Run Rate: 1st Offensive Pace: 27th Only a couple of teams can somewhat justify their 2019 rushing rates, particularly on early downs (1st or 2nd down). The Ravens can because they were one of three offenses to post a positive expected points added average on rush attempts (+0.08). That’s right, 29 other offenses lost expected points by rushing the ball. Certainly makes you think… The primary reason for Baltimore’s rushing success is Lamar Jackson’s athleticism and the offensive line talent, of course, but the offensive scheme under Harbaugh and OC Greg Roman set things up beautifully. They get opposing linebackers’ feet planted with run-options and pre-snap motion (3rd), plus routinely let Jackson work off play action (1st) and send their receivers towards the middle of the field (3rd). All concepts and designs that are backed by analytics. To top things off, Harbaugh actually listened to his analytics staff when making 4th-down decisions (1st in aggressiveness), which led to more chances for touchdowns instead of opting for field goals or playing for field position. With the coaching staff and offense returning (minus OG Marshal Yanda and TE Hayden Hurst), I’m expecting the Ravens to remain a very efficient team in 2020, even if Lamar’s 9.0% passing touchdown is bound to regress. 2. Chiefs (HC Andy Reid) 4th Down Aggressiveness: 7th Pass Rate on Early Downs: 1st Pass Rate While Trailing: 25th Play-Action Rate: 2nd Downfield Pass Rate: 6th Middle of the Field Pass Rate: 27th Pre-Snap Motion Percentage: 5th Outside Run Rate: 4th Shotgun Run Rate: 4th Offensive Pace: 6th The Chiefs were top-seven in eight of the 10 analytics-based metrics we are looking at in this column, and we really should ignore “Pass Rate While Trailing” because the Chiefs only trailed on 21% of their second-half offensive snaps last season, the second-lowest rate in the NFL. The Chiefs rushing scheme -- outside run rate (4th), shotgun run rate (4th) -- is quietly one of the best in the league, and they use it with up-tempo (6th) and only run when it’s necessary. Probably because they have the best player in the league at quarterback, Kansas City passed the ball on 67% of their 1st and 2nd down plays last season, which was 5% better than the second-place Dolphins and 9% better than the third-place Saints. Tack on their usage of pre-snap motion (5th) and play action (2nd), and we have a true analytics offensive juggernaut. This beast isn’t cooling down for as long as Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid are involved. Tier 2: Quite Nerdy 3. Patriots (HC Bill Belichick) 4th Down Aggressiveness: 22nd Pass Rate on Early Downs: 13th Pass Rate While Trailing: 21st Play-Action Rate: 15th Downfield Pass Rate: 28th Middle of the Field Pass Rate: 19th Pre-Snap Motion Percentage: 2nd Outside Run Rate: 13th Shotgun Run Rate: 29th Offensive Pace: 1st Nobody is better than Belichick at exploiting market inefficiencies in free agency (Cam Newton), during the draft (trading back), and within the rulebook (pick plays). Belichick is also the GOAT at changing his offensive and defensive game plans to take advantage of his opponent’s weaknesses and team’s strengths. A lot of these things are analytics-based but aren’t being accounted for in the 10 metrics I’m using in this column. A few of these metrics do stick out, though. Even with a depleted receiving depth chart last season, Belichick opted for league-high offensive pace and a ton of pre-snap motion (2nd), two things that help mask underwhelming offensive talent. If there’s one thing Belichick can be critiqued on, it was his fourth-down decision making (22nd). With that said, I bet if his offense was better and defense wasn’t so dominant, he’d be more aggressive. 4. Rams (HC Sean McVay) 4th Down Aggressiveness: 26th Pass Rate on Early Downs: 4th Pass Rate While Trailing: 1st Play-Action Rate: 3rd Downfield Pass Rate: 19th Middle of the Field Pass Rate: 20th Pre-Snap Motion Percentage: 13th Outside Run Rate: 15th Shotgun Run Rate: 32nd Offensive Pace: 2nd McVay and the Rams are a candidate to climb into Tier 1 next season if they become way more aggressive with their fourth-down decision making (26th). It’s the primary blimp on McVay’s in-game analytical profile, and it’s the one that’s easiest to fix overnight. Outside of that, McVay runs one of the few under-center offenses that I like, largely because they are up-tempo (2nd) and utilize play action (3rd) and pre-snap motion (13th). McVay also adjusts his pass rate to reflect his team’s in-game winning percentage, jumping up all the way to an 84% pass rate (1st) when the Rams have a 25% or lower chance of winning. If his offensive line wasn’t so bad and if Jared Goffwasn’t so affected by pressure, we’d likely see McVay utilize more deep passes (19th), too. I’m still in on McVay as one of the top offensive minds in the game. With that said, I believe the Rams have some work to do with their salary cap and drafting strategies. 5. Saints (HC Sean Payton) 4th Down Aggressiveness: 6th Pass Rate on Early Downs: 3rd Pass Rate While Trailing: 2nd Play-Action Rate: 28th Downfield Pass Rate: 32nd Middle of the Field Pass Rate: 26th Pre-Snap Motion Percentage: 19th Outside Run Rate: 22nd Shotgun Run Rate: 28th Offensive Pace: 22nd In a perfect world, the Saints would pass the ball downfield more often (32nd), but I think Payton has strong reasons for his low-target passing offense, primarily Drew Brees’ declining arm strength, Michael Thomas’ insane catch rate on underneath passes, and the offense’s lack of field stretching receivers. The only real criticisms are the Saints’ 28th-ranked offense in play-action rate and the fact that they sub out Brees for Taysom Hill way more than they should. Otherwise, Payton continues to call a fantastic offense in New Orleans, one that’s aggressive on 4th downs (6th) and is super pass-heavy (3rd on early downs, 2nd when trailing) when it’s needed. Payton paired with arguably the best offensive line in the NFL is enough to bet on Brees maintaining relatively high efficiency even as he heads into his age-41 season. 14. 49ers (HC Kyle Shanahan) 4th Down Aggressiveness: 24th Pass Rate on Early Downs: 23rd Pass Rate While Trailing: 16th Play-Action Rate: 4th Downfield Pass Rate: 31st Middle of the Field Pass Rate: 6th Pre-Snap Motion Percentage: 1st Outside Run Rate: 14th Shotgun Run Rate: 27th Offensive Pace: 20th Shanahan’s offense is a tough one to rank because it’s far more run-heavy than the numbers would like (23rd in pass rate on early downs), but he’s so creative with his blocking and pre-snap motion usage (1st) that it’s led to rock-solid results. The 49ers were 5th in expected points added per rush (-0.05), although they were still more efficient on their dropbacks (+0.16). A couple of reasons for that is Shanahan’s fourth-highest usage of play action passes and high rate of passes thrown over the middle of the field (6th). I also like how Shanahan increases his pass rate when the 49ers are losing (16th), a strategy that’s not being implemented soon enough into games in my opinion. Tier 4: Behind The Curve 18. Lions (OC Darrell Bevell) 4th Down Aggressiveness: 28th Pass Rate on Early Downs: 26th Pass Rate While Trailing: 9th Play-Action Rate: 19th Downfield Pass Rate: 7th Middle of the Field Pass Rate: 10th Pre-Snap Motion Percentage: 15th Outside Run Rate: 10th Shotgun Run Rate: 18th Offensive Pace: 10th There’s a divide with this 18th overall ranking. If I was only ranking head coaches, Matt Patricia would rank near the bottom. He’s awful with fourth down decision making (28th) and his pencil in the ear isn’t fooling me into thinking he’s some brainiac. Luckily, Patricia has an aggressive offensive coordinator in Darrell Bevell, who loved to sling the ball downfield (7th) particularly when he had Matthew Stafford in the starting lineup. Assuming Stafford’s back is fine, the Lions should continue to stress defenses with an aerial attack, one that finished above average in middle of the field pass rate (10th) and offensive pace (10th). Hopefully the addition of D’Andre Swift doesn’t take the ball out of Stafford’s hand on early downs more than it already was through 10 weeks last season when the Lions were 20th in early-down pass rate. 19. Falcons (HC Dan Quinn) 4th Down Aggressiveness: 19th Pass Rate on Early Downs: 15th Pass Rate While Trailing: 3rd Play-Action Rate: 24th Downfield Pass Rate: 25th Middle of the Field Pass Rate: 13th Pre-Snap Motion Percentage: 18th Outside Run Rate: 23rd Shotgun Run Rate: 24th Offensive Pace: 8th Going into this, I figured the Falcons would’ve ranked higher because they passed so often in 2019, but that was more out of necessity and not by choice. Atlanta only ranked 15th on pass rate on early downs, plus ranked below average in play action rate (24th) and downfield pass rate (25th). Despite having a top-10 quarterback and a strong receiver duo, the passing offense was 13th in expected points added per dropback. That’s a sign that the scheme isn’t firing on all cylinders. The rushing offense was far worse, though. For Todd Gurley to rebound, the Falcons need to ramp up their outside run (23rd) and shotgun run (24th) rates. Quinn can also be more aggressive on fourth downs (19th). https://www.rotoworld.com/node/189871 Knight of God 1 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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