Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Total vs. Average, Part II

Last Friday, I suggested that teams with great running games don't typically have good passing games and that teams with great passing games don't typically have good running games, despite the commonly held belief that good passing opens up the ground game and good running opens up the passing game. To some extent, this is true, but if, say, Adrian Peterson has a great season in 2008, very little of that will likely be attributable to the improved Vikings' pass offense. After all, with a horrible passing offense in 2007, the team still ran for 2,634 yards and averaged 5.3 yards per carry. Bernard Berrian can't make that any better, can he?

My thoughts than went to the notion that a good rushing team might have good passing rate stats while a good passing team might have good rushing rate stats. In other words, high rushing totals begets high average yards per passing attempt, while high passing totals begets high average yards per rush. This is because a team that's good in one aspect of offense won't rack up big numbers in the other aspect but when they do use it, they might catch the opponents off-guard and have fair success.

I tried out my theory against team stats for 2007 and here's what I came up with:



Arizona Cardinals5302910
Atlanta Falcons18202621
Baltimore Ravens23171629
Buffalo Bills30181522
Carolina Panthers29151431
Chicago Bears15323023
Cincinnati Bengals728247
Cleveland Browns1261012
Dallas Cowboys410172
Denver Broncos13598
Detroit Lions9193115
Green Bay Packers212213
Houston Texans1124226
Indianapolis Colts622184
Jacksonville Jaguars17325
Kansas City Chiefs20313227
Miami Dolphins24162330
Minnesota Vikings281119
New England Patriots114131
New Orleans Saints3292814
New York Giants214426
New York Jets25231924
Oakland Raiders3113625
Philadelphia Eagles102817
Pittsburgh Steelers22739
San Diego Chargers268718
San Francisco 49ers32112732
Seattle Seahawks8262013
St. Louis Rams19252528
Tampa Bay Buccaneers1691111
Tennessee Titans2721520
Washington Redskins14271216

This chart probably needs a little explanation. (Gee, ya think?) The categories, across the top, are team passing yards (discounting sacks), team yards per rush, team rushing yards, and team average yards per pass attempt. The numbers are each team's rank in that particular category.

The colors are meant to show the correlation between the two (potentially) like categories. For the total pass/rush avg. combo, red indicates the team was in the top half (1-16) in league rank for 2007. Orange signifies bottom half (17-32). For the total rush/pass avg. combo, green is top half, blue is bottom half. In theory, like colors should be next to each other in the chart: red-red and orange-orange in the left half and green-green/blue-blue in the right half.

At a glance, the matches seem iffy at best. Here's the breakdown:

Red-red: 7
Orange-orange: 7
Mix: 18

Green-Green: 7
Blue-Blue: 7
Mix: 18

Well, that's rather disappointing. All the trouble of a color-coded chart, and that's what I end up with? Maybe it's just that, for the teams that were best in rushing or passing, that success came because of the ineptness of the other side of the ball -- that certainly was the case with the Vikings -- and nothing was going to bring that part of the team "up to speed."

Still, it's worth noting that the concept that one part of the offense being very good will have a profound effect on the other is probably still overexaggerated. Of the top 12 rushing teams last year, only Philadelphia -- at #10 -- had a top-10 passing attack. Similarly, of the top 10 passing teams, it was Philly again that was the only team with a top-10 rushing game (#8), and they were only barely in the top 10. The New England Patriots, for all their offensive fireworks and big leads, only ranked #13 overall in rushing (and #14 in yards per carry).

So if you're thinking Tarvaris Jackson makes a great sleeper pick in fantasy football this year, don't hold your breath. If he does improvem it will be because of his continued maturity and experience and the addition of Bernard Berrian. It won't be because Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor are making it significantly easier to pass. And I'm sure as heck not drafting Laurence Maroney in the first round again this year...

1 comment:

Peter said...

The positive thing is that your analysis provides an argument for Vikings fans confronted with: "Taravaris Jackson sucks. Minnesota has the best running game in the league and he STILL couldn't find much success."