Today's NFL Offenses and What It Means To The Oakland Raiders

By Carlton Chin
NFL Draft
Debby Wong – USA TODAY Sports

In recent articles, I applied sports analytics such as “wins above average” and Monte Carlo analysis to preview Super Bowl XLVIII. We can use similar methods to continue our more detailed review of the Oakland Raiders2013 season report card. First, let’s take a closer look at today’s NFL game and modern offenses.

The passing attack has become a big part of today’s game. During the 2013 NFL regular season, passing made up 57 percent of the offensive plays and accounted for 68 percent of total yards. Still, teams cannot rely only on the pass or the run, even if your team has Peyton Manning or Adrian Peterson. Opposing defenses would eventually be able to stuff the run or attack a quarterback if offenses relied too heavily on either the run or pass. Concepts of game theory help teams to add variety and surprise and help to maximize a game plan’s expected results.

Below is a list of some of the historically great seasons by offensive stars along with the team’s record and offensive ranking in yardage. Even with great offensive years like Manning’s 2013 season or last year’s tremendous year by Peterson, their teams stayed relatively close to the league average pass-play selection of 57 percent.

  • NFL pass play selection = 57 percent, resulting in 68 percent of total yards.
  • 2013 Denver Broncos  (13-3 Record, Manning) = 59 percent passing plays for 74 percent of team’s total yardage.  Total yardage league rank: 1.
  • 2012 Minnesota Vikings (10-6, Peterson) = 50 percent passing plays for 51 percent of total yards. Yardage rank : 20.
  • 1981 San Diego Chargers (10-6, Dan Fouts) = 57 percent passing plays for 70 percent of total yards. Yardage rank: 1.
  • 1984 Los Angeles Rams (10-6, Eric Dickerson) = 40 percent passing plays for 43 percent of total yards. Yardage rank: 21.
  • 2007 New England Patriots (16-0, Tom Brady) = 57 percent passing plays for 72 percent of total yards. Yardage rank: 1.

This information is interesting, but what is the point? We were curious about the pass/run selection of teams with great passers or runners. In addition, the chart shows the team record and league rank in terms of total yardage.

Good offenses can be built around star players. Great teams often have balanced offenses so that opposing defenses cannot key in on the running back or quarterback. In addition, the numbers show that the passing game is increasingly important in today’s high octane NFL game.

What does this mean for the Raiders? Previously, we graded the Raiders’ passing game. A “wins above average” (WAA) approach graded the team’s receivers a B and the quarterbacks a C. The rest of the offense received the following grades:

  • Running backs:  B+. The 2013 Raiders had a decent running game. Unfortunately, as my fellow Rant Sports writer Gil Alcaraz IV states, both Darren McFadden and Rashad Jennings are headed to free agency. Happily for Raiders fans, however, both the Raiders’ running game — and passing game — are helped by the team’s offensive line.
  • Offensive line: A. Although many fans will complain that the Raiders’ offensive line does not warrant an A, the WAA approach highlights certain strengths of the team. The offensive line was one of the Raiders’ 2013 highlights. In particular, the offensive line contributed strongly to the output of the Raiders’ running backs. In addition, the line did a reasonable job of protecting the quarterbacks.

Based on the numbers, we can study the areas where the Raiders need the most help. With the No. 5 pick in the draft, it will be interesting to see what players are available and who can help the Raiders the most. More on this soon.

Carlton Chin is a portfolio manager, quant researcher, and sports analysis contributor at Rant Sports. Please follow him on Twitter @QuantFacts, “Like” him on Facebook, or add him to your Google network.

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