I recently read an article by Pat Kirwan which discussed which team has had the "greatest" offense of all time. You can read that article here. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Kirwan, he has been involved with the NFL in one way or another for the last forty-one years. He was a scout for both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1983-86) and the Phoenix Cardinals (1989). He worked his way up through the coaching ranks of the New York Jets (1989-97) from being an assistant defensive coach to being named the team's Director of Player Administration. He has worked as a senior analyst for both the NFL and CBS Sports. He has authored a number of books about football.
In his article, Kirwan proposed using six criteria for evaluating an offense:
1)Offensive Scores (Passing TDs/Rushing TDs/FGs)
2)Offensive Yards (Passing Yds/Rushing Yds)
6)Offensive Ranks (Overall/Passing/Rushing Ranks in NFL)
Given that Denver's offense has set multiple franchise and league records this season, I thought it might be fun to take a look at how the 2013 offense compared to other great Broncos' offenses, using Kirwan's criteria.
Now, I did set two parameters for this comparison:
1)Only offenses since the 1970 merger of the league were considered.
2)The offense had to have the passing game, the running game (or both) ranked in the Top-5 for the league for that season
There were sixteen offenses (including the 2013 one) that met these two criteria: 1972, 1973, 1974, 1987, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2012 and 2013.
Three of these (1972, 1973, 1974) were crafted by head coach John Ralston and offense coordinator Max Coley then implemented by quarterback Charlie Johnson. One (1987) was put in place by head coach Dan Reeves and offensive coordinator Mike Shanahan and executed by quarterback John Elway. Head coach Wade Phillips and offensive coordinator Jim Fassel put together one offense for Elway (1993). Next is the association of head coach Mike Shanahan and offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak which produced eight of the sixteen offenses -- four for Elway (1995, 1996, 1997, 1998); two for quarterback Brian Griese (2000, 2002) and two for Jake Plummer (2004, 2005). Shanahan produced a ninth offense along with offensive coordinator Rick Dennison for quarterback Jay Cutler (2008). Head coach John Fox, offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and quarterback Peyton Manning produced one of the sixteen in 2012 while Fox and Manning along with offensive coordinator Adam Gase produced the sixteenth in 2013.
The method of comparision was very simple. I took Kirwan's six criteria:
Then tabulated the statistics for each of the sixteen offenses. I ranked each team in each criteria from 1 to 16. A first place finish in a criteria earned a team one point, a second place two points, etc. I totaled the points. The team with the lowest total would be considered the best offense. Here is a summary of the scoring (first place team in each category is shown in bold):
The Top-5 offenses from this group ended up being (in order): 2013, 1998, 2000, 2012 and 1997.
It certainly came as no surprise that the 2013 offense ended up with the best overall rating, given the fact that it held the top position in half the categories. Nor does it come as much of a surprise that the 2012 season along with the two Super Bowl-winning seasons (1997, 1998) were also in the Top 5 of the group.
One thing that did come as a surprise was that Brian Griese's (a quarterback who has been nearly reviled in some Broncos fan circles) 2000 offense was the third best of the group while Jay Cutler's (a quarterback who used to be pointed to as being an offensive success) 2008 offense ended up in the 10th spot.
For those of you who like to see the numbers behind the summaries they are posted below. I added the head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterback, just for fun.
|Head Coach||John Ralston||Ralston||Ralston|
|Off. Coordinator||Max Coley||Coley||Coley|
|Scores||56 (19/17/20)||60 (22/16/22)||49 (18/20/11)|
|Yards||4472 (2634/1838)||4473 (2519/1954)||4485 (2328/2157)|
|Turnovers||34 (23/11)||29 (20/9)||30 (17/13)|
|Head Coach||Dan Reeves||Wade Phillips||Mike Shanahan|
|Off. Coordinator||Mike Shanahan||Jim Fassel||Gary Kubiak|
|Scores||60 (24/18/18)||66 (27/13/26)||72 (27/14/31)|
|Yards||5624 (3654/1970)||5461 (3768/1693)||6040 (4045/1995)|
|Turnovers||36 (19/17)||28 (10/18)||30 (14/16)|
|Scores||67 (26/20/21)||71 (27/18/26)||81 (32/26/23)|
|Yards||5791 (3429/2362)||5872 (3494/2378)||6092 (3624/2468)|
|Turnovers||32 (17/15)||21 (11/10)||20 (14/6)|
|Quarterback||Brian Griese||Griese||Jake Plummer|
|Scores||67 (28/21/18)||68 (21/21/26)||69 (27/13/29)|
|Yards||6554 (4243/2311)||6090 (3824/2266)||6332 (3999/2333)|
|Turnovers||25 (12/13)||27 (20/7)||29 (20/9)|
|Head Coach||Shanahan||Shanahan||John Fox|
|Off. Coordinator||Kubiak||Rick Dennison||Mike McCoy|
|Quarterback||Plummer||Jay Cutler||Peyton Manning|
|Scores||67 (18/25/24)||65 (25/15/25)||75 (37/12/26)|
|Yards||5766 (3227/2539)||6333 (4471/1862)||6366 (4534/1832)|
|Turnovers||16 (7/9)||30 (18/12)||28 (11/14)|
|Off. Coordinator||Adam Gase|
|First Downs||26 (10/16)|
What do you think, is the 2013 offense the best since the 1970 merger? I believe so.