Ranking the Cowboys’ Offense With One Key Stat
At DMN, I proposed that we begin to rank offenses using one stat no one discusses:
There are all sorts of ways to judge the effectiveness of an offense. Traditionally, the NFL ranks offenses based on either total points or total yards, but that can be problematic. The most obvious issue is that it can punish teams who run the ball often. While I’m no proponent of a high-frequency running game, teams that run the ball a lot naturally won’t score as many points or rack up as many yards because, in keeping the ball on the ground, they shorten the game. If the Seahawks score 27 points per game in 2013, for example, it could be superior to 30 points per game for a team like the Saints.
Another way to measure offensive efficiency is by tracking yards per play. That’s a better metric than a bulk stat, but it it’s still not perfect, again punishing teams that run the ball often. It also fails to account for game situations; if a team faces an abnormal number of short-yardage plays, for example, their yards per play will naturally be lower, but it isn’t their fault.
That’s why I believe ‘points per drive’ (PPD) to be one of the most accurate ways to assess offenses. Measured by Football Outsiders, PPD controls for most offensive systems and game situations. The goal of any offense is to maximize efficiency on any given drive, not necessarily score the most overall points. Teams that pass the ball a lot will naturally have more drives and subsequently more points, but they’ll also allow more points on defense as well. PPD corrects for that.
Read on for the PPD rankings.