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# A Grand Experiment (Connecting the Gas Line)

Last week, I offered up the start of an experiment that I will be running throughout the 2010 NFL season. It grew out of a long running dissatisfaction that I've had with the fact that the NFL chooses to rate offenses and defenses based solely on the basis of yardage. The top offense is the one that gains the most yards while the top defense is the one that gives up the fewest yards.

This to me has been an inadequate measure of an offense or defense, and -- in my humble opinion -- tends to skew our view of the 32 offenses and defenses. The most dramatic example of this in recent years was the 2008 Denver Broncos offense, which was ranked 2nd in the NFL -- because of the yards it piled up -- but which only ranked 16th in the league in putting points on the board.

I felt that there had to be a better measure and decided to start examining an idea that I had seen in other places: the measuring of offenses and defenses in terms of yards per point. After the jump, I will give a little fuller description of how I am interpreting this concept, along with some basic assumptions that I am making for the purpose of this experiment.

For those who might have missed the opening article in this series: I will be following the progress each week of the the 32 offenses and 32 defenses in the NFL with an eye towards looking at the concept of yards per point. The idea here is very simple.  Offensive Yards Per Point (OYPP) = the number of yards the offense has amassed divided by the number of points the team has scored. Defensive Yards Per Point (DYPP) = the number of yards the defense has surrendered divided by the number of points the team has given up. With OYPP, a small number is good -- it means the offense did not have to travel very far for each point scored and/or that the offense was able to score on drives. While with DYPP,  a large number is good -- it means that the opposing team's offense had to travel a longer distance to put each point on the board. As we will see in a short while, teams tend to fare better when their OYPP is lower than their DYPP.  That seems like a rather obvious statement, does it not? Yet, it is very true.

I would like to take a moment and lay before you some assumptions that I am making in building this approach to analyzing offenses and defenses:

1)The primary purpose of the offense is to put points on the board.
It may be argued that, at times, an offense will choose to engage in the process of "burning time off the clock," in order to protect a lead, and therefore, the purpose of the offense has changed. I would choose to disagree. I cannot imagine that any NFL coach calls plays for his offense in which he anticipates the offense in which he does not want the offense to score -- with the possible exception of kneeling down to end a half or game. It strikes me as strange to suggest that a coach would tell his offense, in essence, "Go out and run some plays, but whatever you do, don't score."

2)The primary purpose of the defense is to limit the number of points the opposing team puts on the board.
This one seems self-explanatory. Plain and simple, the defense's purpose is to keep the other team from scoring.

3)The primary purpose of the special teams unit is two-fold: (a)to shorten the field for the offense, and (b)lengthen the field for the opponent's offense.
In essence, it is the job of the special teams to make the job of their own offense and defense easier. Great returns shorten the field for the offense. Great coverage down the field lengthens the field for the opposition. For this reason, the special teams' contribution to the game will be rolled into the OYPP and DYPP.

4)There will be no single system of offensive and defensive evaluation that will appeal to every fan.
This is a work in progress. I will be tracking it throughout the 2010 season, as well as occasionally referring the OYPP and DYPP from previous years.

In my first post on Yards Per Point, I chose to only look at the OYPP of Week 1. This was a mistake. It provided far too little data, and ignored the role of the DYPP in the results. Even adding in the DYPP from Week 1 would have provided too small a sample to begin thinking about establishing a baseline for understanding how winning teams, .500 teams, and losing teams are functioning. This being the case, I went back at looked at the OYPP and DYPP for each team over the last five years. The five year span -- from 2005 to 2009 -- was chosen for two basic reasons: (1)It was a manageable period of time, and (2)It covered the last time the Broncos played in the post season.

Since many people do not like to wade through multiple charts of data, I am going to present some observations about the data first, and then provide the charts from which those observations were drawn -- for those who would like to examine them and draw their own conclusions. I will be giving some general observations, talking about how the OYPP and DYPP from 2005-2009 applies to the Broncos.

2005 Teams with Winning Records

1)Seventeen teams posted a winning record during this season.
2)The OYPP of those seventeen teams ranged from 12.7 to 16.3, with an average of 14.4.
3)The DYPP of those seventeen teams ranged from 22.3 to 15.0, with an average of 17.2.
4)Fourteen of the seventeen teams had OYPP that were shorter than their DYPP -- in other words, their offense had to travel a shorter distance for each point than their opponents.

2005 Teams with .500 Records

1)One team posted a .500 record during this season.
2)Its OYPP was 14.9.
3)Its DYPP was 15.2.
4)It had to travel further than the average of the winning record teams for each point, and its opponents had to travel a shorter distance than the average of the winning record teams.

2005 Teams with Losing Records

1)Fourteen teams posted losing records during this season.
2)The OYPP of these teams was 15.0 to 21.4, with an average of 17.1.
3)The DYPP of these teams was 16.8 to 12.1, with an average of 13.9.
4)None of the fourteen teams had an OYPP that was shorter than their DYPP.

Denver in 2005
1)Denver posted a 13-3 record.
2)The Broncos' OYPP was 14.6, which was slightly worse than the average for teams with winning records.
3)Denver's DYPP was 19.4, which was over 2 yards per point better than the average for teams with winning records.
4)The Broncos lost to Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship game.
5)The Steelers' OYPP was 13.2, or 1.4 yards per point better than Denver's.
6)Pittsburgh's DYPP was 17.6, or 1.8 yards per point worse than the Broncos'.
7)When you match Offenses to Defenses, Denver came out with a 16.1 rating and Pittsburgh with a 16.3 rating.
8)While the edge was with Denver, it was a very narrow margin and ultimately four turnovers (2 interceptions and 2 fumbles) doomed Denver's chances.

2006 Teams with WInning Records

1)Twelve teams posted winning records during this season.
2)The OYPP of these teams ranged from 11.9 to 15.5, with an average of 14.3.
3)The DYPP of these teams ranged from 21.0 to 14.8 with an average of 17.0.
4)All twelve teams had OYPPs that were shorter than their DYPPs.

2006 Teams with .500 Records

1)Eight teams posted a .500 record during this season.
2)The OYPP of these teams ranged from 14.6 to 18.2, with an average of 15.9.
3)The DYPP of these teams ranged from 21.0 to 14.8, with an average of 15.3.
4)Three of the eight teams had OYPPs that were shorter than their DYPP.

2006 Teams with Losing Records

1)Twelve teams posted a losing record during this season.
2)The OYPP of these teams ranged from 14.2 to 23.4, with an average of 17.7.
3)The DYPP of these teams ranged from 16.3 to 13.7, with an average of 15.0.
4)One out of the twelve had an OYPP that was better than its DYPP.

Denver in 2006
1)Denver posted a 9-7 record.
2)The Broncos' OYPP was 15.5, which was 1.2 yards worse than the average for teams with winning records.
3)Denver's DYPP was 17.1, which was slightly better than the average for teams with winning records.

2007 Teams with Winning Records

1)Thirteen teams posted a winning record during this season.
2)The OYPP of these teams ranged from 11.2 to 16.6, with an average of 13.9.
3)The DYPP of these teams ranged from 18.0 to 13.9, with an average of 16.2.
4)Ten of the thirteen teams had OYPPs that were shorter than their DYPP.

2007 Teams with .500 Records

1)Four teams posted a .500 record during this season.
2)The OYPP of these teams ranged from 13.6 to 17.1, with an average of 14.9.
3)The DYPP of these teams ranged from 17.4 to 13.2, with an average of 15.4.
4)Two of these four teams had an OYPP that was shorter than their DYPP.

2007 Teams with Losing Records

1)15 teams posted losing records during this season.
2)The OYPP of these teams ranged from 14.0 to 19.6, with an average of 16.9.
3)The DYPP of these teams ranged from 16.4 to 12.5, with an average of 14.3
4)One out of the fifteen teams had an OYPP that was shorter than its DYPP.

Denver in 2007
1)Denver posted a 7-9 record.
2)The Broncos' OYPP was 17.3, which was 3.4 yards per point worse than the average for teams with winning records, 2.4 yards worse than the average for .500 teams and 0.4 yards worse than the average for teams with losing records.
3)Denver's DYPP was 13.1, which was 3.1 yards worse than the average for teams with winning records, 2.3 yards worse than the average for .500 teams, and 1.2 yards worse than the average for teams with losing records.

2008 Teams with Winning Records

1)Sixteen teams posted a winning record during this season.
2)The OYPP of these teams ranged from 12.6 to 16.0, with an average of 14.0.
3)The DYPP of these teams ranged from 20.1 to 12.5, with an average of 15.8.
4)Fourteen of the sixteen teams had OYPPs that were shorter than their DYPP.

2008 Teams with .500 Records

1)Five teams posted a .500 record during this season.
2)The OYPP of these teams ranged from 12.7 to 19.3, with an average of 16.0.
3)The DYPP of these teams ranged from 16.1 to 13.4, with an average of 14.5
4)One out of the five teams had a better OYPP than DYPP.

2008 Teams with Losing Records

1)Eleven teams posted losing records during this season.
2)The OYPP of these teams ranged from 13.5 to 19.8, with an average of 16.4.
3)The DYPP of these teams ranged from 16.3 to 12.5, with an average of 14.4.
4)One out of the eleven had a better OYPP than DYPP.

Denver in 2008
1)Denver went 8-8.
2)The Broncos' OYPP was 17.1, which was 3.1 yards worse than the average for teams with winning records, 1.1 yards worse than the average for .500 teams, and 0.7 yards worse than the average for teams with a losing record.
3)Denver's DYPP was 13.4, which 2.4 yards worse than the average for teams with winning records, 1.1 yards worse than the average for .500 teams, and 1 yard worse than the average for teams with losing records.

2009 Teams with Winning Records

1)Fifteen teams posted a winning record during this season.
2)The OYPP of these teams ranged from 12.7 to 17.7, with an average of 14.5.
3)The DYPP of these teams ranged from 20.2 to 12.2, with an average of 16.5.
4)Twelve of the fifteen teams had an OYPP that was shorter than their DYPP.

2009 Teams with .500 Records

1)Five teams posted a .500 record during this season.
2)The OYPP of these teams ranged from 14.1 to 16.8, with an average of 15.6.
3)The DYPP of these teams ranged from 18.6 to 12.2, with an average of 15.5.
4)One out of the five teams had a shorter OYPP than DYPP.

2009 Teams with Losing Records

1)Twelve teams posted losing records during this season.
2)The OYPP of these teams ranged from 15.0 to 25.5, with an average of 18.4.
3)The DYPP of these teams ranged from 16.7 to 12.7, with an average of 14.8
4)None of the twelve teams had a shorter OYPP than DYPP.

Denver in 2009
1)Denver went 8-8.
2)The Broncos' OYPP was 16.8, which was 2.3 yards worse than the average for teams with winning records, 1.2 yards worse than the average for .500 teams, and 1.6 yards better than the average for teams with losing records.
3)Denver's DYPP was 15.6, which was 0.9 yards worse than the average for teams with winning records, 0.1 yard better than the average for .500 teams, and 0.8 yard better than the average for teams with a losing record.

Some Final General Observations

1)Teams with winning records had OYPPs ranging from 13.9 to 14.5, or an average of 14.2.
2)Teams with winning records had DYPPs ranging from 17.2 to 15.8, or an average of 16.5.
3)Sixty-two out of the seventy-three (or 84.9%) teams that posted a winning record during the years 2005-2009, had an OYPP that was shorter than their DYPP.

Next week, we'll update the 2010 season using the OYPP and DYPP from the first three weeks.

An Addendum for Stats Geeks (The Data Tables That Gave Rise to the Points Above)

Please note: there is no significance to the order in which teams with the same record are listed.

 2009 2008 Team Record OYPP DYPP Team Record OYPP DYPP Indianapolis 14-2 14.0 17.7 Tennessee 13-3 13.4 20.1 New Orlean 13-3 12.7 16.8 NY Giants 12-4 13.3 15.9 San Diego 13-3 12.7 16.3 Carolina 12-4 13.5 16.1 Minnesota 12-4 12.9 15.7 Pittsburgh 12-4 14.4 17.0 Dallas 11-5 17.7 20.2 Indianapolis 12-4 14.2 16.7 Philadelphia 11-5 13.3 15.5 Atlanta 11-5 14.8 17.1 Green Bay 11-5 13.2 15.3 Miami 11-5 16.0 16.6 Arizona 10-6 14.2 17.0 New England 11-5 14.3 16.0 New England 10-6 14.9 18.0 Baltimore 11-5 13.5 17.1 Cincinnati 10-6 16.2 16.6 Minnesota 10-6 14.0 14.1 Atlanta 9-7 15.0 12.2 Philadelphia 9-6-1 13.5 15.2 NY Jets 9-7 14.8 17.1 Dallas 9-7 15.2 12.9 Baltimore 9-7 14.4 18.4 Chicago 9-7 12.6 15.3 Pittsburgh 9-7 16.1 15.1 Tampa Bay 9-7 15.1 15.2 Houston 9-7 15.8 15.6 Arizona 9-7 13.7 12.5 NY Giants 8-8 14.6 12.2 NY Jets 9-7 13.1 14.8 Carolina 8-8 16.8 16.4 Washington 8-8 19.3 15.6 San Francisco 8-8 15.9 14.6 New Orleans 8-8 14.2 13.8 Tennessee 8-8 15.9 14.6 Houston 8-8 16.7 13.7 Denver 8-8 16.8 15.6 San Diego 8-8 12.7 16.1 Chicago 7-9 15.2 14.4 Denver 8-8 17.1 13.4 Miami 7-9 15.0 14.3 San Francisco 7-9 14.7 13.7 Jacksonville 7-9 18.6 14.8 Buffalo 7-9 14.5 15.3 Buffalo 6-10 17.0 16.7 Green Bay 6-10 13.5 14.1 Seattle 5-11 18.1 14.6 Jacksonville 5-11 16.9 14.4 Cleveland 5-11 17.0 16.6 Oakland 5-11 16.6 14.9 Oakland 5-11 21.6 15.3 Cincinnati 4-11-1 19.2 14.3 Washington 4-12 18.8 15.2 Seattle 4-12 14.9 15.4 Kansas City 4-12 16.5 14.6 Cleveland 4-12 17.2 16.3 Tampa Bay 3-13 18.9 14.6 St. Louis 2-14 19.8 12.8 Detroit 2-14 18.3 12.7 Kansas City 2-14 17.0 14.3 St. Louis 1-15 25.5 13.7 Detroit 0-16 16.0 12.5

 2007 2006 Team Record OYPP DYPP Team Record OYPP DYPP New England 16-0 11.2 16.8 San Diego 14-2 11.9 15.9 Dallas 13-3 12.9 15.1 Chicago 13-3 12.2 18.5 Green Bay 13-3 13.6 17.2 Baltimore 13-3 14.4 21.0 Indianapolis 13-3 12.8 17.1 New England 12-4 13.9 19.9 Jacksonville 11-5 13.9 16.5 Indianapolis 12-4 14.2 14.8 San Diego 11-5 12.2 18.0 Philadelphia 10-6 15.3 16.0 NY Giants 10-6 14.2 13.9 New Orleans 10-6 15.2 15.3 Seattle 10-6 14.2 17.7 NY Jets 10-6 15.5 18.0 Pittsburgh 10-6 13.3 15.8 Dallas 9-7 13.6 14.8 Cleveland 10-6 14.0 15.0 Seattle 9-7 14.9 15.5 Tennessee 10-6 16.6 15.7 Denver 9-7 15.5 17.1 Washington 9-7 16.0 15.6 Kansas City 9-7 15.5 16.7 Tampa Bay 9-7 15.7 16.5 NY Giants 8-8 14.7 15.1 Philadelphia 8-8 17.1 16.6 Green Bay 8-8 18.1 14.0 Minnesota 8-8 14.7 17.4 Carolina 8-8 18.2 15.5 Arizona 8-8 13.6 13.2 St. Louis 8-8 15.7 14.1 Houston 8-8 14.1 14.3 Cincinnati 8-8 14.6 17.2 Detroit 7-9 14.9 13.6 Pittsburgh 8-8 16.2 15.2 Chicago 7-9 14.0 16.3 Tennessee 8-8 14.8 14.8 Carolina 7-9 17.1 15.0 Jacksonville 8-8 14.6 16.6 New Orleans 7-9 15.3 14.4 Atlanta 7-9 18.2 16.2 Buffalo 7-9 17.6 16.4 San Francisco 7-9 16.3 13.7 Cincinnati 7-9 14.7 14.5 Buffalo 7-9 14.2 17.0 Denver 7-9 17.3 13.1 Minnesota 6-10 17.5 14.7 San Francisco 5-11 17.3 15.2 Miami 6-10 19.1 16.3 Baltimore 5-11 17.6 12.6 Houston 6-10 16.7 14.8 Atlanta 4-12 18.6 13.7 Washington 5-11 17.1 15.1 NY Jets 4-12 17.6 15.0 Arizona 5-11 15.9 14.4 Oakland 4-12 16.7 13.7 Tampa Bay 4-12 20.5 14.9 Kansas City 4-12 19.6 15.3 Cleveland 4-12 17.8 15.5 St. Louis 3-13 18.1 12.5 Detroit 3-13 16.2 13.9 Miami 1-15 17.2 12.5 Oakland 2-14 23.4 13.7

 2005 Team Record OYPP DYPP Indianapolis 14-2 13.2 19.9 Seattle 13-3 13.1 18.7 Denver 13-3 14.6 19.4 Jacksonville 12-4 14.3 17.3 NY Giants 11-5 13.7 16.7 Chicago 11-5 15.8 22.3 Tampa Bay 11-5 15.7 16.2 Carolina 11-5 12.7 17.5 Cincinnati 11-5 13.6 15.5 Pittsburgh 11-5 13.2 17.6 Washington 10-6 14.7 16.3 New England 10-6 14.9 15.6 Kansas City 10-6 15.4 16.2 Dallas 9-7 16.0 15.6 Minnesota 9-7 15.1 15.0 Miami 9-7 16.3 16.0 San Diego 9-7 13.3 15.9 Atlanta 8-8 14.9 15.2 Philadelphia 6-10 16.5 13.4 St. Louis 6-10 15.3 13.1 Baltimore 6-10 17.7 15.2 Cleveland 6-10 19.6 16.8 Detroit 5-11 17.0 15.0 Arizona 5-11 17.9 12.2 Buffalo 5-11 15.2 15.0 Green Bay 4-12 17.2 13.6 San Francisco 4-12 15.0 14.6 NY Jets 4-12 16.5 13.9 Tennessee 4-12 17.1 12.1 Oakland 4-12 17.1 13.8 New Orleans 3-13 21.4 12.5 Houston 2-14 15.6 13.5