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What are the NFL's most consistently great and consistently bad offenses?

The 2019 49ers demonstrated how quickly a team is capable of going from worst to first in today’s NFL, even without the benefit of upper-echelon QB play. Of course, their path to the Super Bowl was prefaced by matchups against the Vikings and Packers — two teams that have consistently found themselves playing into January over the past half decade.

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We can hope to identify the next rags-to-riches squad, although it’ll be a bit easier to identify which teams have managed to function among the league’s top squads year-in and year-out. Today we’ll take a look at the offensive side of the ball, specifically, to pinpoint the league’s most and least consistent offenses in:

  • Run blocking
  • Pass blocking
  • Receiving
  • Rushing
  • Passing  

Some resources that have been completed already and relate to this study:

Without further ado: the most consistently great and consistently poor team performances over the past half decade.

Run blocking

An offense’s ability to control the line of scrimmage involves a variety of factors. Obviously, the big uglies up front make the most impact, although history tells us that having a dual-threat QB can also greatly enhance a team’s rushing attack.

The following metrics will help us determine an offense’s run-blocking ability:

  • PFF run block grade rank
  • Yards before contact per rush rank

The following chart denotes every team’s average rank in these categories from 2015-2019.

Team Avg Run Block Grade Rank Avg YBC Rank
Eagles 3.2 20.4
Falcons 4.6 12.4
Cowboys 6.2 12
Patriots 7 18.4
Titans 10 18.4
Saints 10 19.2
Bears 10.6 13.4
Steelers 10.8 22.8
Broncos 11.4 16.6
Raiders 12.2 20.6
Ravens 12.8 13.4
Colts 14.2 18
49ers 14.4 10.6
Bills 14.8 7.6
Cardinals 16.8 16.6
Chiefs 17 6
Washington 17.4 22.4
Buccaneers 17.4 23.8
Rams 17.6 15.4
Packers 18.6 8.2
Vikings 18.6 17.2
Lions 18.6 24.2
Giants 19.4 18.2
Jaguars 20.4 11.6
Browns 22 15.6
Panthers 22.8 7.4
Seahawks 23.2 12.2
Bengals 24.2 20.2
Chargers 25.8 21.4
Texans 26 15.6
Jets 28.6 23.4
Dolphins 30.8 24.8

A few takeaways:

  • The Eagles, Falcons, Cowboys, Patriots, Saints and Titans are the league’s only offenses to average a top-10 rank in run blocking grade over the past five seasons.
  • The impact of a dual-threat QB and/or plus-scheme is clear when we look at the top offenses in yards before contact. Specifically, the Chiefs, Panthers, Bills, Packers and 49ers stand out as the league’s best offenses in consistently opening up gaping holes for their backs.
  • Overall, the top four offenses in team-wide yards before contact per rush since 2015 have been: 2016 Bills (2.75), 2019 Cardinals (2.66), 2019 Ravens (2.48) and the 2015 Bills (2.45). This is good news for the Chargers’ chances at boasting a top-tier run game with Tyrod Taylor under center.
  • Washington joins the Steelers, Jets, Buccaneers, Lions and Dolphins as the league’s consistently worst offenses in yards before contact per rush. Poor Le’Veon Bell.
  • The Dolphins, Jets, Texans, Chargers, Bengals, Seahawks, Panthers, Browns and Jaguars are the only nine offenses to boast an average run-blocking grade outside of the top-20 offenses.
  • The Rams were a top-five offense in run-block grade and yards before contact per rush in 2017-2018, but fell outside the top-25 in both categories in 2019. They curiously declined to add any sort of real competition to the group ahead of 2020.

Next we’ll check out the league’s recent history of pass protection goodness.

Pass blocking

Pressure and sacks tend to be more of a reflection on the team’s QB than the offensive line. Still, PFF pass-blocking grades account for this, and we can get a better idea of how much of the issue is the QB’s fault based on his average time to throw and pressure rate.

We’ll thus be breaking down the league’s top pass-blocking units based on the following two factors:

  • PFF pass block grade rank
  • Difference in rank between pressures allowed per dropback and average time to throw

The following chart denotes every team’s average rank in these categories from 2015-2019. A low average pass block grade indicates that the team has consistently graded out favorably in pass protection. A higher “Avg Diff in TTT and Pressure %” number also indicates the presence of a great offensive front, while a low negative figure in this category means that we should assign more blame to that team’s signal-caller.

Team Avg Pass Block Grade Avg Diff in TTT and Pressure %
Packers 3.2 19.4
Bills 13.6 16.8
Cowboys 12 14.2
Titans 9.6 10
Chiefs 13.4 7.6
Browns 8.6 7.2
Eagles 11.4 7.2
Ravens 9.6 7
Buccaneers 18.2 6
Bears 15.4 5.6
Jaguars 21.4 2.4
Raiders 10.8 2
Texans 19.2 2
Steelers 3.6 1.6
Seahawks 28 1.2
Panthers 12.8 1
Falcons 13.8 0.8
Saints 6 0.2
Washington 18.2 0.2
Colts 16.4 -2.4
Lions 17 -4.8
Vikings 25.2 -4.8
Broncos 22 -5.6
Rams 18.6 -7.2
Patriots 15 -7.8
49ers 18.8 -8
Jets 20.8 -9.4
Bengals 20.8 -9.8
Giants 23 -10
Dolphins 24 -13
Cardinals 26.4 -16.6
Chargers 29.4 -23

A few takeaways:

  • It’s no surprise to see the Packers, Steelers and Saints atop the list.
  • The 2019 Browns marked the first time the team boasted a below-average pass protection grade over the past five years.
  • The Ravens, Titans, Raiders, Eagles and Cowboys also stand out as offenses that have consistently provided superior pass-protection ability in recent history.
  • 10 teams have posted an average pass-protection rank outside of the league’s top-20 groups since 2015: Bengals, Jets, Jaguars, Broncos, Giants, Dolphins, Vikings, Cardinals, Seahawks and Cardinals.
  • Among that group, the Jaguars and Seahawks are the only two instances in which the QB should hold more of the blame.
  • Of course, Russell Wilson’s tendency to hold onto the ball also brings the potential for plenty of big plays.

  • The Packers, Bills, Cowboys and Titans stand out as the top four offenses in which we should assign most of the blame from pressure to the QB.
  • The Giants, Dolphins, Cardinals and particularly the Chargers are the league’s best examples of putrid offensive fronts that haven’t given their signal-caller a chance to succeed in recent seasons.

Next we’ll check out the league’s recent history of receiving prowess.

Receiving

Receivers are a bit of a product of their scheme, QB and individual ability. It can be a bit difficult to judge who is truly the better WR because of all of this. Hence the reason why fantasy twitter morphs into a Randy Moss vs. Jerry Rice GOAT debate once every few months.

Anyway, we’ll use the following three team-wide metrics to denote which teams have consistently boasted the best receiving groups:

  • PFF receiving grade rank
  • Drop rate rank
  • Yards per route run rank
Row Labels Avg Rec Grade Rank Avg DP Rank Avg YPRR Rank
Buccaneers 4.8 10.6 11
Falcons 5 15.4 6.4
Saints 6.6 9 4
Chargers 8.4 19 5.6
Vikings 9.2 6 14.6
Seahawks 9.6 10.2 11.8
Lions 11.2 14.4 15.8
Patriots 11.4 21.4 6.6
Chiefs 13.2 18 11
Steelers 14.4 12.2 10.2
Titans 14.4 9 16
Panthers 14.8 19.6 19.2
Cowboys 15.2 14.8 14.2
Rams 15.8 14.6 15.6
Redskins 16 12 14.4
Texans 16 11.8 21.2
Dolphins 18 15.4 18.4
49ers 18.4 23.4 17.2
Bengals 18.4 17.2 17.2
Cardinals 18.8 15 19.4
Giants 19.6 19.4 16.6
Bears 20.6 17.4 19.6
Raiders 20.6 24.2 14.6
Broncos 21 18 22
Jaguars 21.8 19 22.2
Ravens 21.8 12.4 23.6
Eagles 22 22.4 17.4
Packers 22.6 16.2 24.4
Colts 22.8 21.6 23
Jets 23.6 23.4 23.2
Browns 24.2 22.4 23.6
Bills 26.2 22.4 26.6

A few takeaways:

  • The Buccaneers, Falcons, Saints, Chargers, Vikings and Seahawks stand out as the top-graded receiving rooms in the league over the past five years.
  • This makes sense considering all six teams have fielded multiple talented pass-game options over the course of the past half decade.
  • The Lions, Patriots, Chiefs and Steelers also stand out as teams that have boasted quality receiving rooms in recent years.
  • The 11 offenses with an average receiving grade outside of the top-20 since 2015: Bears, Raiders, Broncos, Jaguars, Ravens, Eagles, Packers, Colts, Jets, Browns and Bills.
  • The Jets, Raiders, Eagles, Browns, Bills and Colts are the only teams to also rank outside of the top-20 offenses in average drop rate rank.
  • The Vikings, Titans and Saints have continuously utilized sure-handed receivers. They’re the league’s only three offenses with an average drop rate rank below 10.
  • The Texans, Broncos, Jaguars, Colts, Jets, Browns, Ravens, Packers and Bills represent the league’s least-efficient passing games in terms of team-wide yards per route run over the past five seasons.
  • The Saints, Chargers, Falcons and Patriots are the only offenses with average yards per route run ranks inside of the top-10 offenses.
  • This is both a positive view for each team’s receivers, as well as a compliment to what the respective QBs and coaching staffs have been able to accomplish.
  • Moral of the story: Draft Calvin Ridley in fantasy leagues of all shapes and sizes entering 2020.

Next we’ll check out the league’s recent history of rushing ability.

Rushing

RB production is perhaps the poster child of statistics that are heavily influenced by teammates. It’s close to impossible for any mere mortal to pick up yards without 1) A solid offensive line, and 2) A decent enough QB to prevent defenses from stacking the box.

We’ll thus determine the league’s top offenses in terms of RB production with the following three metrics:

  • PFF rushing grade rank
  • Yards after contact per attempt rank
  • Miss forced tackles per attempt rank
Team Avg Run Grade Rank Avg YCO Rank Avg MTF Rank
Packers 7 14.2 20.2
Ravens 9.2 19.2 10.4
Seahawks 10 11.4 9.8
Cowboys 10.6 5.4 20.4
Chiefs 11 16.4 13.6
Dolphins 11 8.2 8.8
Bills 11.8 16.8 13.4
Titans 12.8 11.6 8.2
Saints 13.2 9.4 10.8
Steelers 13.2 12.6 18.8
Rams 14 16.4 16.6
Browns 14.6 7.2 9.4
Vikings 14.6 17.8 13.4
Bengals 15 19.6 23.2
Chargers 15.4 20.8 14.4
Broncos 17 17 18.8
Raiders 17 11 7.8
Patriots 17.4 21.6 15.8
49ers 18 18.4 12.6
Colts 18.2 20.6 22.2
Texans 18.4 19.4 25
Jets 18.6 18.6 18.4
Falcons 19 23.6 19.8
Panthers 19 17.8 11
Buccaneers 20.4 19.6 16.2
Cardinals 20.8 22.8 24.4
Giants 20.8 14.8 22
Bears 21 20.8 21.2
Washington 21.6 16.2 17
Jaguars 23.6 20 18.6
Lions 24.6 22 26.2
Eagles 27.2 16.8 19.6

A few takeaways:

  • The Packers, Ravens, Seahawks, Cowboys and Chiefs represent the league’s top-five rushing offenses in terms of PFF rushing grades over the past five seasons.
  • The Bills, Titans, Saints, Steelers and Rams also stand out as teams that have typically not had much trouble running the ball. 
  • Give Zeke some credit: Nobody has boasted a higher average rank in yards after contact per attempt than the Cowboys since 2015.
  • The Browns, Dolphins and Saints are the next three best offenses in average yards after contact per attempt.
  • The Browns can thank Nick Chubb for their inclusion on this list.

  • The Raiders, Titans, Dolphins, Browns and Seahawks stand out as the league’s best run games in consistently forcing missed tackles.
  • On the other hand, the Colts, Bengals, Cardinals, Texans and Lions simply haven’t had many RBs capable of consistently racking up broken tackles over the past five seasons.
  • The Bears, Patriots and Falcons join this group as teams that struggled to consistently pick up positive yardage after contact.
  • Overall, the Buccaneers, Giants, Cardinals, Bears, Washington, Jaguars, Lions and Eagles are the only offenses with an average run game rank outside of the league’s top-20 offenses since 2015.

Next we’ll check out the league’s recent history of chucking the rock.

Passing

The success of a team’s passing attack is more isolated to a single player than arguably any other facet in the NFL with the exception of kickers (but screw those half-breeds).

We’ll use the following three metrics to determine which passing games have consistently thrived in recent history:

  • PFF passing grade rank
  • Yards per attempt rank
  • Adjusted completion percentage rank
Team Avg Pass Grade Rank Avg YPA Rank Avg aComp Rank
Vikings 10.2 15.4 2.2
Patriots 10.8 9.8 9.2
Bears 11 19.6 20.8
Lions 11.8 15.4 15.2
Steelers 11.8 13.6 16.6
Bills 12 21 24.6
Giants 13 21 17.8
Jets 13 24.4 22.4
Cowboys 13.2 12.8 12.2
Raiders 14.8 18.4 10.6
Falcons 15 7.8 5.6
Colts 15.6 22.6 19.6
Washington 15.6 14.6 13.8
Dolphins 15.8 18.6 17.8
Ravens 16.8 25.6 15
Seahawks 16.8 6.4 7
Jaguars 17 21 21.8
Packers 17 22 16.2
Cardinals 17.2 19 23.8
Chargers 17.2 8.4 8.2
Panthers 17.2 19.4 24
Rams 17.8 17.4 21.6
Bengals 18 18.4 18.8
Texans 18 18.4 22.2
49ers 18.2 15.4 19.8
Browns 20.2 22.6 26
Chiefs 20.2 7 6.4
Saints 20.2 5.8 2
Eagles 20.6 20.6 13.8
Buccaneers 21.6 8 28
Broncos 23.4 23 22.2
Titans 25.4 12.8 20.6

A few takeaways:

  • The Vikings, Patriots, Bears (!!!), Lions and Steelers have been the top-five most-favorably graded passing games over the past five seasons. Note that the Bears have finished outside of the league’s top-24 passing games in back-to-back seasons and largely benefited from their run-first approach previously.
  • Average yards per attempt rank paints a prettier picture of the league’s most-efficient passing offenses in recent seasons. The Saints, Seahawks, Chiefs, Falcons, Buccaneers, Chargers and Patriots are the only teams to boast an average rank inside the top-10 offenses.
  • The Cowboys, Titans and Steelers are three additional offenses that have had stellar play under center more times than not.
  • Friends don’t let friends believe the notion that Dak Prescott is anything less than great.

  • The Saints, Vikings, Falcons, Chiefs, Seahawks, Chargers and Patriots have been the league’s top offenses in terms of adjusted completion rate. This makes sense: Each team has seen pristine QB play for the majority of the past half decade.
  • The Jets, Cardinals, Panthers, Bills, Browns and Buccaneers have been the league’s six least-accurate offenses in adjusted completion rate.
  • Nobody has consistently ranked near the bottom of the league in yards per attempt than the Colts, Browns, Broncos, Jets and Ravens over the past five seasons.
  • Overall, the Buccaneers, Broncos and Titans stand out as the league’s three worst offenses in consistently low PFF passing grades.

Complete Hartitz offseason series:

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