Training Camp Turnarounds – Top 11 NFL Total Offense upgrades

5 Worst Total Offense

Seattle Seahawks (7-9), Cleveland Browns (4-12), Indianapolis Colts (2-14), St. Louis Rams (2-14), Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11)

These NFL clubs have the distinction of being the bottom 5 in Total Offense (Yards) for the 2011 NFL Season.  Heading into NFL Training Camps for the coming year there’s hope and precedent to reverse their fortunes on the field by reversing their downward trends on the offensive side of the ball.

The Football Educator has repeatedly stressed the critical importance of the passing game with the predictivity of winning in professional football, specifically in Pass Efficiency (Net Yards Per Attempt) and Pass Success Rate that rank #1 and #2 on a list of 12 statistical predictors.

Top Total Offense Upturns

So I examined the top Total Offense upturns in NFL history and found the following.  The overall group improved by an average of 3.45 wins.  The 1999 St. Louis Rams road their turnaround as the “Greatest Show on Turf” to 9 more victories and a Super Bowl Championship, yet the 1975 Buffalo Bills fell back a game and actually out of the playoffs.  Some clubs reacted positively to coaching changes and new offensive philosophies; others were catapulted by the addition of new players at quarterback or wide receiver.

This post isn’t about Passing Efficiency per se, clubs on this list made significant improvements in the category and found success.  Not to oversimplify nor overstate the obvious regarding an improved offense, but careful consideration should be given to the continued development of quarterbacks, receivers and offensive tackles in the 2012 NFL Training Camps to ensure upgrades in the stats that count most towards winning.

#26 1986 (4-11-1) – #6 1987 (7-8) St. Louis Cardinals – Gene Stallings re-emphasized an upbeat passing attack with Neil Lomax under center.  The Cardinals improved Pass Efficiency 4.7 to 5.9, winning 3 more games as a result.

#26 1982 (3-6) – #6 1983 (8-8) Chicago Bears – Rookie WR Willie Gault took the NFL by storm and had a career season right out the shoot, giving QB Jim McMahon a legit deep threat, and improving Pass Efficiency from 5.1 to 6.2.

#27 1978 (2-14) – #6 1979 (2-14) San Francisco 49ers – Bill Walsh and Joe Montana showed up in 1979 and things didn’t look like they would change all that much.  Steve DeBerg ran the West Coast Offense in year 1 and Pass Efficiency improved 4.1 to 5.9.  The wins would stack up later.

#31 2009 (5-11) – #10 2010 (8-8) Oakland Raiders – Jamarcus Russell really never got off the ground and could be considered one of the all-time busts at the position.  Veteran Jason Campbell took over and Darren McFadden posted 1157 yards rushing.  Pass Efficiency improved 4.8 to 5.9 and with it so did the Raider offense.

#23 1974 (9-5) – #1 1975 (8-6) Buffalo Bills – The anomaly to the equations is Buffalo coming off a playoff season, improving to #1 in Total Offense, upping Pass Efficiency from 5.3 to 6.6 and dropping out of the postseason.  The Bills defense fell from #5 to #24 and yet Lou Saban’s club was only 1 win off pace.

#24 1972 (2-11-1) – #2 1973 (5-8-1) Philadelphia Eagles – Head Coach Mike McCormack put the Eagles at the top of the League in Pass Attempts and improved Efficiency 4.8 to 5.8.  Defensive struggles stifled what should have been a much more marked resurgence.

#31 2006 (4-12) – #8 2007 (10-6) Cleveland Browns – QB Derek Anderson improved Efficiency through the air [5.1 to 6.6] and spelled doom for Charlie Frye as the starter.  The Browns would enjoy their 2nd best season in two decades, yet still miss the playoffs. Romeo Crennel’s defense ranked 30th.

#26 1971 (6-8) – #2 1972 (7-7) New York Jets – After a season cut short by injury, “Broadway Joe” Namath returned with a vengeance.  Pass Efficiency improved 4.6 to 7.6.  Rich Caster, Eddie Bell and Don Maynard led the receivers instead of RB John Riggins from the previous season.

#32 2010 (2-14) – #7 2011 (6-10) Carolina Panthers – Rookie QB Cam Newton lived up to the 2011 NFL Training Camp hype.  The Panthers improved Pass Efficiency 4.3 to 6.9, and went from dead last in Total Offense to a Top 10 unit in just one season.

#28 1995 (4-12) – #2 1996 (9-7) Jacksonville Jaguars – Mark Brunell and the Jags captured the playoffs in only their 2nd season, improving Pass Efficiency from 5.1 to 6.8, and settling with Brunell as the starter.  Jacksonville came to Denver and upset the Broncos after winning on the road at Buffalo in the Wildcard round.

#27 1998 (4-12) – #1 (13-3) St. Louis Rams – The greatest turnaround in Total Offense paralleled the greatest turnaround in history as the Rams captured a Super Bowl Championship with Kurt Warner and Mike Martz executing an electrifying scheme that improved Pass Efficiency from 4.1 to 7.7, and led the League in scoring.

Who has the best chance of the Bottom 5 from 2011 to make this list?

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