In both 2010 and 2011, the 4 Super Bowl participants all finished in the top 5 in explosive pass offense: Pit (#4) vs. GB (#5) in 2010 and NE (#1) vs. NYG (#3) in 2011.
As we all know, the NFL has turned into a passing league. In his brief tenure, Rodger Goodell has tried to manipulate and change the rules to increase the scoring, and thus increase excitement and interest in the NFL. He has often cloaked some of the reasoning in safety but make no mistake, there are a number of safety rules which could be passed which would absolutely hinder the scoring and fan interest in the game. Instead of looking in that direction, Goodell pushed for rules which would protect the Quarterback and Receivers and allow them to run freely before and immediately after the catch, with strong penalties for any defender who impedes progress at any point or tackles incorrectly.
Smart, savvy coaches and quarterbacks immediately recognized the opportunity and we’ve seen a clear line in the sand drawn which separates good and bad teams: explosive pass plays.
These are plays that generate at least 20 yards. They change field position completely if not immediately produce points on the scoreboard. And 2010 and 2011 have been clear lessons in the directions teams need to head if they want success under Goodell’s league rule, as all 4 Super Bowl participants finished in the top 5 in explosive pass offense.
In 2011, the top 5 ranked explosive pass offenses all went to the playoffs and 2 of the 5 went to the Super Bowl, and all finished at atop their division. The bottom 5 explosive pass offenses all finished dead last in their divisions and all had 11+ losses.
In 2011, here were the top 5 Explosive Pass Offenses, along w/ the position they finished in their division and overall record:
1. NE (#1, 13-3) made playoffs, went to Super Bowl
2. GB (#1, 15-1) made playoffs
3. NYG (#1, 9-7) made playoffs, won Super Bowl
4. Det (#2, 10-6) made playoffs
5. NO (#1, 13-3) made playoffs
As you can see, all teams finished #1 in their division, the only team that finished worse than #1 in their division was Det, but they only finished #2 in the NFC North because GB finished #1 and they, too, are on this list. All 5 teams made the playoffs, both SB teams made the list as well.
Now look at the bottom 5 Explosive Pass Offenses of 2011 (position in their division, overall record):
28. TB (#4, 4-12)
29. STL (#4, 2-14)
30. Cle (#4, 4-12)
30. Ind (#4, 2-14)
32. Jax (#3, 5-11)
All teams finished dead last in their division except Jax, who couldn’t finish last because Ind finished last, and Ind is on the list as well.
Improvements in explosive passing offense helped a number of teams:
In 2010, Det was #23 and finished w/ a 6-10 record. In 2011 they ranked #4 and finished w/ a 10-6 record.
In 2010, NO was #13 and finished w/ a 11-5 record. In 2011 they ranked #5 and finished w/ a 13-3 record.
In 2010, Car was #32 and finished w/ a 2-14 record. In 2011 they ranked #8 and finished w/ a 6-10 record.
In 2010, Ari was #27 and finished w/ a 5-11 record. In 2011 they ranked #10 and finished w/ a 8-8 record.
There are also a number of teams who did much better in 2010 than they did in 2011 and it directly attributed to their unsuccessful 2011 season:
In 2010, Phi was #2 and finished w/ a 10-6 record. In 2011 they ranked #9 and finished w/ a 8-8 record.
In 2010, NYJ was #15 and finished w/ a 11-5 record. In 2011 they ranked #26 and finished w/ a 8-8 record.
It’s no secret that getting explosive in the pass offense is a new trend in the NFL which equates to success, and it started in 2010 where both SB teams (GB and Pit) also did well in that area (both ranking in the top 5). I think it will continue w/ the new rules and with offensive minded coaches and very good quarterbacks playing to the new rules.
The teams who struggled in explosive pass offense last year must address this issue in the NFL draft or Free Agency this year. And as we saw with the Jets and Eagles, even teams who were moderately successful in explosive pass offense this year must continue to build their team to take advantage of the rules.
Teams who are not explosive are generally not successful, and each of the last 2 seasons (since the most extreme rules changes were implemented) all Super Bowl participants finished the season ranked in the top 5 for explosive pass offense.