OK, a question for all the (american) football geeks on this board.
It seems to me that hard football analysis is in the stone age in some ways, equivalent to pre-Bill James baseball.
There’s all kinds of analyses that I’d like to see. But here’s the one that frustrates me the most…
When people say “Team X has a great offense”, they generally refer to one of two things - scoring offense, or yardage offense.
But that’s really simplistic. A team that heaves the ball deep all the time will score more, simply because their average possession time will be shorte, Incomplete passes eat up no time, so some quick 3 and outs, and also some quick strike touchdowns, but no long drives. Shorter possessions means they’ll also get MORE possessions in a 60 minute football game. So much of their increased scoring may be a simple result of the extra possessions they get. But their defense will also have to defend more possessions.
Even worse, scoring offense stats include points score by the defense and returns teams.
What should really matter in evaluating an offense (or defense) is average points scored (or yielded) per possession. A team that scores a touchdown 60% of the time on offense is a great great offense, whether they take 2 minutes or 7 minutes a drive to grind it out.
Ideally, this stat would be modified in various appropriate ways - adjust for the average field position they start with (i.e. an offense paired with a defense that nabs a lot of takeaways or that has a great special teams return average may start off in great field position more often). You might also adjust in some way for end-of-half/game possessions (i.e. if you get the ball back 30 seconds before the end of the half, you shouldn’t be ‘charged’ a full possession). Finally, the stat would be adjusted for points yielded via turnover (if you throw an INT that is returned for a TD, you’re credited with -7 points), and probably even for net field position changes (driving from your own 1 to the opps 1, even if you don’t score, is a much more positive result than 3 and out).
So, is there any site/book that does this kind of geeky analysis? I’ve seen fotball outsiders and like it, but it tends to be focused on game situation analysis, not adjusted team comparisons.