In another thread, I asked you guys to help me define and describe NFL pro style offense. In this thread, I’m seeking your guys help again on a somewhat similar topic. I’ve been having football discussions about the styles of play that do well in playoffs versus those that do not. Normally, I would describe the former as teams that have an identity based on really good, physical defenses and run game, while I’d describe the latter by saying they are characterized by high-scoring, aggressive pass-centric offenses. (In the rest of the discussion, I’m going to use “D/R” to indicate the teams based on strong defense and run games and “P” for aggressive pass-centric offensive teams.) To make this more clear, I give specific examples. D/R teams would be 2013 Seahawks, 2015 Broncos, and almost all the Super Bowl winners in the 80s and 90s. The P teams would be 2007 Patriots, Greatest Show on Turf Rams, Run-and-shoot Oilers, Air Coryell Chargers, Marino’s Dolphins. I would also include Colts with Manning, Saints with Brees, Rodgers with Green Bay, and Roethlisberger in the last few years with the Steelers.
Let me pause to ask: Do you guys have fairly good idea of what I’m talking about? I ask because I know a group of people who do not. The descriptions above are not adequate–and to be fair to them, I don’t think my descriptions are all that great. If you guys do understand what I mean, I suspect this is the case because we’ve been talking about this a long time. At the same time, I think we (may) understand each other because we grew up watching football from the 70s. I have a sense that people who only grew up watching football after this point and only for a few years will have a hard time understanding the type of styles I describe above as well as how they differ from each other. Also, I think the problem is even greater for those who primarily view the game through a statistics and analytics lens.
What I want to do in this thread is provide descriptions that these people will understand and allow them to clearly appreciate the critical differences between the two approaches. They may not end up agreeing with me, but at least the two types of teams I have in mind will be clear
I have two possible ways of proceeding. One way involves identifying certain principles and characteristics that distinguish the types of teams. For example, I might describe the run-based approach versus a pass-based approach….Actually, I’ve used terms like these, including “run-first” and “pass-first,” but others don’t understand these concepts in the same way I do–so I’m going to have to end up explaining what these mean, because I tend to think one needs to understand them to understand the differences. Or maybe I can by-pass explaining these terms and move on to something else. Maybe I can just describe the common traits and characteristics of both approaches?
The other way involves looking for statistics that distinguish one type of team from the other. Maybe each style has some statistics that link them together, and also serves a key way to distinguish the two. Honestly, I’m a little skeptical about this aproach, and I wouldn’t know where to begin. Perhaps it might be as simple as the team that lands in top 3 in defense and running would be better than team who is top 3 in passing and scoring? Or maybe the statistics would be more elaborate. For example, I would look at the number of possessions where the offense runs a lot of plays and time off the clock. A part of me feels like the teams that do this well have a distinct advantage over teams that do not–even though the latter is terrific at scoring. (Essentially, this deals with ball control versus scoring.) Or maybe we could look at the number of snaps each team’s defense plays–specifically snap comparison at the half and at the end of the games. My guess is that, by half time, the teams who played far less snaps and time on the field on defense and far more snaps and time on the field on offense, will have better chance of winning. By the end of the game, if these teams never reach the 65 snap count (which is supposedly a defensive breaking point) while their opponent does, I think that’s a big deal.
I’ll try to organize and put down more of my thoughts, but let me know if you guys have any suggestions.