Summer for NFL analysts is a conflicting time.
While the lack of NFL news and activity is frustrating, the extra time allows for us to put the time and effort into digging deeper into numbers and film. Some of my favorite pieces have come during the offseason, such as the Colts' draft review and last year's examination of clutch quarterbacks.
I'll be doing a lot of different film and stat reviews throughout the offseason, and I welcome you to send me suggestions, either in the comments or on Twitter.
I'll be comparing quarterbacks in several different areas throughout the summer, including updating the third down numbers I looked at during the season.
But first, I'm going to look at something I could find little comparative statistical work on in my brief Google search: red zone performance. I won't limit this work to quarterbacks though, instead will take a look at both teams and individual performances at different positions.
So to start things off, I put together a quick chart of team performance in the red zone, sorted by touchdown percentage (Percent of trips to the red zone that ended in a touchdown).
Note: The "Scoring %" column takes into account missed field goals, counting them as scoring plays ("Total Scoring plays inc. FGAs). I figure if the offense gets the team in position for a field goal, but the attempt is blocked or missed, that's a fault of the special teams unit, not the offense, which is what we're trying to measure.
A few notes from the chart:
- The Colts' below-average performance in the redzone (18th overall) was exactly the reason why the team was able to pick up a ton of yards (4th in yards per drive), but were below average in points per drive (18th, ironically). The Colts were able to move the ball pretty well throughout the season, but the offense stalled quite often in the redzone. As I stated yesterday, I'd expect steep improvements with the new offensive scheme.
- Of the teams with first or second year quarterbacks, six finished ahead of Indianapolis (Redskins, Panthers, Seahawks, Bengals, Dolphins, and Minnesota), while just four had worse rates (Browns, 49ers, Jaguars, Titans).
- The 49ers' rate was surprisingly low, considering their success and Colin Kaepernick's hype. But it turns out that San Francisco was noticeably better in the red zone with Alex Smith as the starter (69%) than with Kaepernick (50%). But, once the playoffs started, the 49ers seemed to figure it out, scoring touchdowns in the red zone 64% of the time. It would be their undoing in the Super Bowl though, as they were forced to settle for field goals on three out of their five trips.
- The Giants were also surprisingly low, considering the fact that they were 7th in DVOA this season. Somebody who follows the Giants more closely than me will have to tell you why.
- The red zone chart is fairly consistent with offensive efficiency and DVOA as a whole, however, with 8 of the top ten teams in TD % also landing in the top ten of DVOA, and all ten staying in the top 15. Efficient teams score touchdowns in the redzone. It's a pretty simple concept, I suppose.
- Also, great quarterbacks score touchdowns in the red zone. We'll get more in-depth in this next week, but look at the teams that lead the pack: Rodgers, Brady, Brees. The field shortens and windows get smaller in the red zone, and quarterbacks have to be smart with the ball.
Well, that concludes the short introduction to the series. I'm looking forward to seeing some individual players' numbers next week.
Some positive change must have been made to the site. I don't get any more antivirus pop-up alerts, the fonts are nicer and the site works better on iPhone.
@codrutc There's a new mobile layout, and I changed the fonts a bit last night. Glad to hear you're not getting antivirus alerts too.
"The Colts' below-average performance in the redzone (18th overall) was exactly the reason why the team was able to pick up a ton of yards (4th in yards per drive), but were below average in points per drive (18th, ironically)."
According to PFR, I'm only seeing the Colts ranked 12th in yards per drive. Is your number perhaps adjusted for starting position? Because the Colts were 30th in that stat (average drive starting at their own 25.0).
Okay, I see where FO has the Colts ranked 4th in yards per drive but I still don't see how they got that number. Even if you discard take-a-knee drives as FO does, I only get an average of 32.95 yards/drive which should still put the Colts at 12th on their chart.
Grr, black box statistics...
@Kyle Rodriguez @squirrel Oh, FFS. Nevermind, I see the problem now. You're looking at the drive finder and I was looking at the season stats page. For some goddamned reason PFR's numbers are different on different pages. Which are yet still different from the numbers FO uses.
Football stats are such a mess.
The 49ers number makes sense to me. From my admittedly amateur eye, I though Kap struggled with tight throws and struggled with throwing to covered receivers. I think Scott Kacsmar ran something a while ago about how Kap was way more successful throwing before the end zone and having the receiver cross the goal line than throw in the end zone.
This was notable in teh Super Bowl, where he throw totally uncathable balls, panicking after getting hurried quickly.
Surprised the Broncos were as low as they were. Me thinks Welker may help that number go up.
While this is very impressive and I admire your work ethic... I do have one question.
Is Bjorn Werner going to be the next JJ Watt after seeing him running around in sweats during this first seession of OTAs?