NFL cuts to 53 & statistical trends to focus upon as a GM.

Class is in session.  Today’s lesson is about where to focus your attention in the coming cut downs after NFL Training Camps to a 53 man roster.  By now most of you have had the opportunity to see your favorite team play two NFL Preseason games and a majority of the playtime has been given to those aspiring young players looking to make their first club or to “grizzled” veterans looking to hang on and contribute in some form or fashion.

Think like an NFL General Manager

For the past year I’ve been writing about the various factors that play into efficiently putting together an NFL team from a professional football front office management perspective.  I’ve playfully taken shots at “Fantasy Football” and I know that Leagues across America are drafting their teams as I write this post.  But for just one instance, put yourself in the shoes of Jeff Ireland, or Jerry Reese, or Rod Graves, or Ruston Webster.  Think like a real GM and how you would go about apportioning the cap and cash of your owner, and putting the best 53 on the field each Sunday for the NFL Regular Season.

Advanced NFL Statistics

I’ve been a huge supporter of Brian Burke’s (Advanced NFL Statistics) research regarding those factors which correlate the most to WINNING in the NFL.  Turn the TV on every Sunday and you’ll hear the pundits, heck even those that played and coached, speak about the importance of “running the football” and “stopping the run”.  But serious students know that the NFL is not a stepped up version of the college game.  To win in the National Football League history has shown that you better be able to efficiently throw the football down the field.  No other stat correlates higher than Offensive Pass Efficiency (Net Yards per Pass Attempt).  It relates the highest to winning and is second highest in consistency across an entire season.

OPE is not happenstance, and its cousin Offensive Pass Success Rate sits a very close number 2.  To all of you that steadfastly cling to the notion that running the football is the key to winning in the NFL, its predictivity is a little over a third of the aforementioned stats.  Yes, you need to be able to run the football, and that’s said from the perspective of a former “Wishbone” fullback.  But more important is to run with a high success rate.  1st and 10, run for 4 yards.  3rd and two, run for three yards.  Superstar running backs are fun to watch, their play is at times indescribable.  But alone they won’t win you a championship.  The game has long since changed from the ‘70’s & ‘80’s.

How the best NFL teams rate

Your assignment is to focus on the historical statistical facts etched into League lore and come up with the best combination of 53 to balance out Burke’s equation so your team doesn’t finish in the Top 10 of the 2013 NFL Draft.  I get it’s a tough task, 10 GM’s across the National Football League are going to fail this project.  Most probably won’t know why.  You however may have even more knowledge than they do.  Listen and learn.

In 2011 the Top 10 Offensive Pass Efficiency (#1 predictor at .36) teams were as follows (*for playoffs);

*1 Green Bay Packers 8.3
*2 New England Patriots 7.9
*3 New Orleans Saints 7.8
*4 New York Giants 7.7
5 San Diego Chargers 7.2
6 Oakland Raiders 7.2
7 Philadelphia Eagles 7
*8 Pittsburgh Steelers 7
*9 Houston Texans 7
*10 Detroit Lions 6.9

The Top 10 Offensive Pass Success Rate (#2 predictor at .35) teams were;

*1 New Orleans Saints 57.1
*2 New England Patriots 56.9
*3 Green Bay Packers 55.3
4 San Diego Chargers 50.8
*5 New York Giants 50.7
*6 Detroit Lions 50.6
7 Dallas Cowboys 50.2
*8 Pittsburgh Steelers 48.6
*9 Atlanta Falcons 48.4
*10 Houston Texans 47.7

The Top 10 Offensive Run Success Rate (#3 predictor at .13) were;

1 Philadelphia Eagles 49.2
*2 New Orleans Saints 49.1
*3 New England Patriots 46.8
4 Carolina Panthers 46.5
5 Buffalo Bills 45.1
*6 Pittsburgh Steelerss 45
7 Minnesota Vikings 44.2
8 Arizona Cardinals 43.5
9 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 43.2
10 Washington Redskins 43.0

*Original post had erroneously listed Top 10 Defense – Apologies for confusion

So where do you put your money?  Where do you put your emphasis?  Recall another post from last season that took into account former General Electric CEO Jack Welch’s 20-70-10 approach to building an organization.  It’s exactly what I used in Denver to breakdown our financial plan to building the roster.

What positions would you put in your top 20% of cap/cash outlay?  Who would be amongst your 10 highest compensated players taking into account the above?  Your test starts NOW…
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