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Running the Numbers: Importance of Passing | The DC Times

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Running the Numbers: Importance of Passing

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Jonathan Bales

I just published an article at the team site detailing the importance of a strong passing game in the NFL. The stats I collected were some of the most stunning I’ve analyzed this year. To give you a preview, check out some of these numbers:

  • When the Cowboys pass the ball over 57% of the time in a game, they have a .276 winning percentage over the last four seasons.
  • When they pass the ball under 57% of the time, they have a winning percentage of .743 over that time.

Looks like pretty good evidence that running the football is important huh? Not so fast.

  • The team actually wins over 63% of games when they pass the ball over 57% of the time in the first three quarters.
  • They have a .419 winning percentage when they pass the ball under 57% of the time in the first three quarters.

For the past three years, you’ve heard me argue the importance of rushing (at least in terms of attempts) is minimal. Numbers like these back me up. Teams pass the football effectively to get a lead, then run it to milk away the clock. Yes, running the football can have effects that show up in passing statistics, but it is running efficiently, not in abundance, that matters.

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9 Responses to Running the Numbers: Importance of Passing

  1. Brett says:

    Can’t wait to read what the ignorant mob has to say about this one!

  2. Tim Truemper says:

    Great use of the data.

  3. Brett–It itsn’t good! I think I’m still a “moran” and I “sux.”

    Thanks Tim.

  4. moses says:

    good point.

    However, there was one outlier in all of this. The Broncos won with minimal passing. They got into the playoffs and actually beat the Steelers.

    Even in the game against the Steelers, they used the run to setup the pass. Sure it was a pass that won the game but it was because the Steeler D jumped on the run and got burned.

    However, today’s game is geared toward the pass. Until defenses figure out how to stop the receivers and deal with the new rules it will continue to be a passing league.

  5. Moses–I’d say the Broncos were one of the luckiest teams I’ve ever seen. Good defense led by Von Miller (who legitimately could have been Defensive MVP), but that offense was atrocious. They really won in spite of a horrible passing game. Still, I get the point that some benefits of rushing are reflected in passing stats, and it is surely true.

  6. craig kocay says:

    I love reading the comments after your posts.

    “Who ever wrote this article…you sux! The philly game can be tied into cuz the dallas defense was horrible! If we get a top 5 defense…then a running game is totally relevant…it is irelavant when your defense sux! Geez I can tell ypuve never played ball in your life!”

    This almost made me cry.

  7. Haha Craig, I actually just sent a bunch of the comments to some of my friends to peruse…they are hilarious. I’m not sure if other writers get down when people talk about them like that but I LOVE it. I’d 100% take those comments over praise.

  8. craig kocay says:

    Hah. It is hard to believe that they are real.

    Now if I see that you posted the article there, I skip straight to the comments before even reading your intro. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy your reads over there, but the comments are pure gold.

  9. Hahaha that’s classic. I really, really like the mean ones.

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