1

November

Packing the Stats: Balanced Offense Performing with Increased Efficiency

Packing the StatsThere’s no doubt that Green Bay Packers fans have experienced a rough start to the 2013 season. Among losing games to the San Francisco 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals, the Packers have been without a number of key players due to injuries. But, in spite of this, we’re finally starting to see this team come together and work with efficiency.

It hasn’t been an easy transition, though. We’ve been used to a high-flying offense that made big plays down the field and racked up quick points, and it has taken some getting used to a more balanced offensive attack. Yet this newfound balance has paid major dividends.

Here is a look at some basic statistical categories for the Packers offense this season compared to their overall results from the last two years (from TeamRankings.com):

Statistical Category 2013 2012 2011
Points per Game 30.3 27.1 34.1
Yards per Game 438.9 357.2 404.1
Points per Play 0.448 0.419 0.547
Red Zone Scoring % (TD) 50.00% 68.52% 65.22%
Yards per Play 6.5 5.5 6.5
First Downs per Game 23.0 21.2 22.2
First Down per Play 0.340 0.327 0.357
Average Time of Possession 31:57 30:06 30:28
Third Down Conversion % 46.39% 41.00% 48.50%
Rushing Attempts per Game 29.6 26.7 24.6
Rushing Yards per Game 141.4 104.6 100.3
Rushing First Downs per Game 7.6 5.1 5.7
Yards per Rush Attempt 4.8 3.9 4.1
Rushing Play % 43.76% 41.20% 39.43%
Rushing First Down % 32.92% 23.88% 25.66%
Pass Completion % 67.07% 67.14% 67.34%
Passing Yards per Game 297.4 252.6 303.8
Yards per Pass Attempt 8.4 7.2 8.7
Passing First Downs per Game 13.3 13.4 14.4
Passing First Down % 57.76% 63.25% 64.81%
Average Team Passer Rating 108.0 107.1 119.4
Passing Play % 56.24% 58.80% 60.57%
QB Sacked % 6.39% 8.03% 7.01%

 

I think it’s interesting to not only look at the overall improvements from last season (which are striking), but also to look at how this offense has changed from the high-scoring juggernaut of 2011. For example, the overall performance indicators for 2013 are generally better than 2012, but not quite as good as 2011. Categories like Points per Game, Yards per Game, and Points per Play clearly show this. However, notice that the Yards per Play statistic is the same in 2013 as 2011, and the number of First Downs per Game is slightly higher than both years.

18

July

Packing the Stats: Measuring Success in the NFL, Part 2: Offense

Welcome to Part 2 in the “Indicators of Success” series, in which I look at how strongly certain statistical categories correlate to the success of an NFL team. In the first part, we looked at defensive statistics, but as I concluded in that piece, we were only looking at one side of the coin. Today we’ll examine how well the offensive statistics compare to a team’s success, again using information from the 2011 season.

(Note: Look here for Part 1 on the defense)

Here is the raw data I collected from TeamRankings.com:

Raw offensive statistics for the 2011 season. Click on the image to open a larger resolution.

As I explained in my first post, the teams are ranked according to their 2012 NFL Draft order. While not a perfect ranking, it does take into account the number of wins each team had in addition to their success throughout the playoffs.

I used the same statistical categories as I did in Part 1 with the defense, but this time as applied to the team’s offense:

  • Yards per Game (Yds/G)
  • Points per Game (Pts/G)
  • Red Zone Scoring Percentage, TD only (RZ%)
  • Average Time of Possession (Avg ToP)
  • 3rd Down Conversion Percentage (3rd Conv%)
  • 1st Downs per Play (1st Dn/P)
  • Giveaways / Turnovers per Game (TO/G)

As before, I’ll present you with a graph of each statistical category, followed by some brief analysis. Have a look:

 

Yards per Game, 2011

In the defensive statistics, the opponent yards per game was pretty much flat-lined. Here, however, we can see a very (very) slight downward slope. The three teams with the highest number of yards per game ranked in the top six, while the four teams with the lowest number ranked in the bottom 7.

 

Points per Game, 2011

As could be expected, we see a pretty high correlation here between points scored per game and overall success. The more points you score, after all, the more games you will win. There is a very clear downward slope, with the four highest scoring teams in the top ten and the seven lowest scoring teams in the bottom eleven.

 

Red Zone Scoring % (TD only), 2011

16

July

Packing the Stats: Measuring Success in the NFL, Part 1: Defense

Recently, fellow writer Michael Dulka wrote a post on the Green Bay Packers defense and how signs of improvement should give us hope for 2012.  A couple of comments were made discussing the relevance of the “Yards per Game” statistic that has so stigmatized last season’s defensive unit. Specifically, commenter “Sven” had this to say:

. . . Or could it be that we are using the wrong kind of ruler to measure the Packers defense. touchdowns and turn-overs are what count more than yards. Ultimately winning is what counts, and they did that in spades . . .

It raises a valid and long-standing debate about what statistics really matter when it comes to indicating a team’s success or failure. Inevitably, pundits and fans alike will find the statistics that best suit their viewpoint. In the case of the Packers last season, pessimists pointed at the yards they gave up, while optimists grounded their arguments on the number of turnovers they generated.

So what statistic(s) really encapsulates a team’s success? Well, in an effort to shed some light on the subject, I went over to TeamRankings.com and compiled some information. Here’s the raw data I collected:

Raw defensive statistics for the 2011 season. Click on the image to open a larger resolution.

Let me explain my approach to start. In trying to get an accurate portrayal of how well each team did in 2011, I ranked them according to their 2012 NFL Draft order. This takes into account the number of wins each team had, plus their success throughout the playoffs. It’s not perfect, but it’s about as close as we’re going to get. (For example, the Broncos are ranked ahead of the Steelers, but I think that more so indicates how lousy Pittsburgh performed in the playoffs than their overall success across the season.)

This is also just one year’s worth of information, so it is admittedly limited in scope.

Next, I hand-picked seven statistical categories that I thought might be relevant to how well each team performed:

  • Opponent Yards per Game (Yds/G)
  • Opponent Points per Game (Pts/G)
  • Opponent Red Zone Scoring Percentage, TD only (RZ%)
  • Opponent Average Time of Possession (Avg ToP)
  • Opponent 3rd Down Conversion Percentage (3rd Conv%)
  • Opponent 1st Downs per Play (1st Dn/P)
  • Takeaways / Turnovers per Game (TO/G)
22

February

Packers Stock Report: 2011 End of Season Full Roster Edition

Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers stock fell a bit during the playoff loss to the Giants, but it remains high heading into next season.

The Giants beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl and there will be no more meaningful football games for the next six months. That’s six months to reflect on how a team that lost twice to the Redskins during the regular season could go on to knock off the mighty Packers in the playoffs and keep rolling all the way to the Lombardi Trophy.

Depressing.

It’s hard to find a silver lining, but if you’re searching for one, take a few minutes and look over the Packers roster. It’s pretty good. Go ahead and cross off some of the players you think won’t be around next season, and it’s still pretty good. This team is going to contend again next season, and probably for the next couple of seasons after that. At least Packers fans have something to look forward to.

We’ve spent the last couple of weeks at AllGBP.com evaluating and grading every player on the Packers roster. Those report cards are done now, and it’s time to put this season in the rearview mirror.

To get started, I put together a full roster stock report based on each player’s status heading into next season. To categorize each player, I used my own opinion mixed with how I think the Packers view that player.

For example, Donald Driver played well in the playoff loss. If the Packers beat the Giants and hosted the NFC Championship, I’d probably list Driver as rising in that week’s stock report. But since the Packers season is over, and I don’t think Ted Thompson brings Driver back, I put Driver in the falling category.

You get the idea, so without further delay, here we go:

Rising

QB Aaron Rodgers
Finding motivation is never a problem for Rodgers, but the Packers early playoff exit should give the MVP even more incentive to come out fired up in 2012.

LB Desmond Bishop
Watching Bishop motor his way through games was one of the few enjoyable aspects of this season’s defense.

T Bryan Bulaga
Bulaga took a step forward in 2011 and might take a giant step sideways to play left tackle next season.

WR/KR Randall Cobb
Thanks to Cobb, kick and punt returns became fun again.

31

August

Thomas Hobbes: My Initial Packers 53-man Roster Prediction

I’m sure I’m going to be looking at this next week and wondering what the hell I was thinking, but below is my prediction for the starting 53 of the 2011 Green Bay Packers.

I tried to follow a couple of rules when making the roster:

  1. Drafted players almost always make the 53; only 6 drafted players (about one a year) have failed to make the roster during Thompson tenure.  This years draft had a lot of picks so I’m guessing Thompsons cuts two, Ricky Elmore and Lawrence Guy so I tried to keep everyone else.
  2. I tried to replace players with similar roles, for instance I think Caleb Schlauderaff plays very similar to Jason Spitz which is why I chose him over some of the other linemen.  Schlauderaff might not be the best player right now, but he has potential and the Packers have already shown that they like that kind of player (since they kept Spitz for 5 years), not to mention that he was drafted (see rule 1).
  3. I also tried to keep players as an insurance policy against 2012 free agency.  Again Schlauderaff adds some depth behind Josh Sitton should the Packers somehow end up being unable to keep him.

OFFENSE-27:

Quarterback -3: Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn, Graham Harrell

No question that the Packers can’t get away with stashing Harrell on the practice squad, he’s played decent enough to be the backup quarterback on some teams (and maybe even the starter at San Francisco).  Also the Packers need insurance against Matt Flynn next year so the Packers will have to keep 3 quarterbacks on their roster this year.

Running Back -4: Ryan Grant, James Starks, Alex Green, John Kuhn

Nothing really ground breaking here, though I would probably put Ryan Taylor as the backup fullback.  Quinn Johnson in my opinion was never that bruising blocker that he was supposed to become and his forte really doesn’t mesh that well with the forte of the Packers.

Wide Receiver -6: Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Randall Cobb, Chastin West

Really the only question is if the Packers are going to keep 6 wide receivers and it might very well come down to that.  In my opinion Chastin West stays over Tori Gurley; the Packers have never been that big on tall wide receivers (outside of Jordy Nelson everyone is around 6 feet) and while blocking punts is a great skill, blocking punts on one of the worst special teams in the league during practice probably won’t translate well to real games.