Every single offense in the NFL is striving for the same thing: efficiency.
Using expected pointed added (EPA – the expected number of points the offense should expect to score on the next scoring play given the down, distance and field position), we present to you the ranking of all 32 offenses by EPA per play through Week 6.
32. Miami Dolphins
While they haven’t openly admitted it, it’s tank season in Miami. The issues in this offense that have them ranked last in the NFL in EPA per play range all over at essentially every position. After trading away their top offensive linemen, Laremy Tunsil to the Houston Texans for an absolute draft haul, it should be to no surprise that the Dolphins' offensive line ranks dead last in both pass-blocking and run-blocking. Quarterback Josh Rosen doesn’t seem to be the answer either, as his 47.1 passing grade ranks dead last among quarterbacks with at least 100 dropbacks. Oh, and for all the “Josh Rosen hasn’t gotten a fair chance” responses to this – Rosen’s clean pocket passing grade of 66.2 ranks 30th among 32 qualifying quarterbacks. Buckle up Miami and enjoy the ride – it’ll pay off in the end with Tua Tagovailoa or Joe Burrow.
31. New York Jets
Excitement was surrounding the Jets entering the season with 2018 second overall pick Sam Darnold coming off a great four-game stretch to close out his rookie season (PFF’s highest-graded quarterback at 87.7 from Weeks 14-17 in 2018) and a fresh head coach in Adam Gase. The Jets lost a nail-biter in Week 1 to a solid Buffalo defense then we find out Darnold comes down with mono, sending the entire Jets fanbase into contamination from any decent football with Luke Falk under center. In his three games as the Jets’ starter, Falk posted a 42.2 overall grade (would rank last if qualified), sending the entire offense into a state of oblivion. However, Darnold is now back – mono free – and posted the 10th-best grade from a quarterback in Week 6. The Jets' offense can only go up from here.
No one is really sure what the quarterback situation is in Washington. In each of the last three weeks, we have seen them have three different starters (Dwayne Haskins in Week 4, Colt McCoy in Week 5 and Case Keenum in Week 6), and all three have posted a PFF grade in the 40s in 2019. With that said, though, Washington has been bailed out in some part by rookie wide receiver Terry McLaurin, who currently ranks among the top-five wide receivers in PFF grade at 83.3 and has produced 11 plays of 15-plus yards. Consequently, whoever ends up under center for Washington on Sundays will at least have one of the league’s best deep threats at their disposal in McLaurin.
29. Cleveland Browns
Perhaps the most disappointing offense thus far in 2019 has been that of the Cleveland Browns. After the firing of Hue Jackson and Todd Haley midseason in 2018, the Browns' offense looked as good as we have ever seen with Freddie Kitchens calling the shots and Baker Mayfield ranking among the eight best quarterbacks in PFF grade. In that same timespan, Cleveland ranked fifth in EPA/play. With the addition of elite wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (90.0 grade in 2018 with the Giants), we fully expected Cleveland to be a top offense in 2019. That has been far from the case. Through six weeks, Mayfield has more turnover-worthy plays (8) than big-time throws (7). Not to mention, he has also had six interceptions that were not turnover-worthy plays and were just the result of bad luck.
28. Tennessee Titans
After seeing enough of Marcus Mariota’s poor play against Denver in Week 6 (37.2 passing grade), head coach Mike Vrabel opted to bench the 2015 second overall pick for Ryan Tannehill, who put up the third-worst season from a passing perspective PFF has ever seen (since 2006) in 2018 at 42.4. That’s about as bad as it gets.
T-26. New York Giants
Media outlets were quick to deem sixth overall pick Daniel Jones as “Danny Dimes” after his first career start in Week 2 against the Buccaneers that resulted in a come from behind win. Jones, however, has been rather underwhelming in his rookie campaign with a 59.5 overall grade (25th) and 7.9% turnover-worthy play rate (31st). While running back is a very replaceable position, the Giants' offense has certainly seen an effect of not having running back Saquon Barkley on the field. In Weeks 1 and 2 when Barkley was healthy, the Giants had the league-best EPA per rush. From Weeks 3-6, the Giants ranked 28th in EPA per rush.
T-26. Pittsburgh Steelers
Since franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger went down in Week 2, 68.6% of the Steelers’ pass yards have come after the catch. That’s the highest by over 7.2%. In other words, offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner has resulted to a safe offense, living and dying by short passes and the run game. Pittsburgh’s 58 pass attempts behind the line of scrimmage are the most in the league by seven. Not to mention, they have two turnover-worthy plays on those passes while the rest of the NFL combined has one.
Injuries have plagued the Bengals' offense in early 2019. Nonetheless, Cincinnati has suffered from losing one of the league’s best wide receivers in A.J. Green and 2019 first-round pick Jonah Williams. Without Green, Cincinnati’s receiving unit has caught just 85.2% of their catchable targets (30th among offenses). The Bengals' offensive line has been a liability at times this year, and that includes one of the worst pass-block performances PFF has ever seen in Week 4 against the Steelers. Ultimately, what you want from a franchise QB is for them to bring out the best in others, and with Andy Dalton – he hasn’t shown to do that. His 59.7 overall grade this year is on pace to be the worst of his career. Consequently, the Bengals could be a prime candidate to take a quarterback early in this year’s draft.
24. Buffalo Bills
The Bills may be 4-1, but this isn’t because of their offense – it’s due to their rather weak schedule and top-three defense. Second-year quarterback Josh Allen’s inaccuracies still remain a concern, as he ranks 25th in passing grade at 60.3, 28th in turnover-worthy play rate, 30th in big-time throw rate and 28th in accurate pass rate.
23. Los Angeles Rams
This may be a surprise to some, but the Sean McVay-led Rams are among the bottom 10 offenses in the NFL. Quarterback Jared Goff has produced 12 turnover-worthy plays (the second-most) and ranks among the five worst quarterbacks in negatively graded pass rate. Goff spending 43.3% of his dropbacks under pressure doesn’t help matters, either. This once highly touted Rams offensive line currently ranks 31st in PFF pass-blocking grade and 27th in run-blocking grade.
22. Chicago Bears
Whether it’s Mitchell Trubisky or Chase Daniel under center, Chicago’s offensive production is still at the bottom of the barrel. Both Trubisky and Daniel combined have thrown 50% of their targets 10-plus yards downfield as uncatchable, ranking 31st just barely ahead your tanking Dolphins. Chicago’s rushing game has been underwhelming as well despite having two of the more elusive running backs in Tarik Cohen and David Montgomery. As a whole, Chicago’s running game against a stacked box has been arguably the worst in the league. Only 9% of their carries have resulted in a first down or touchdown (worst by over 5%), and the team has averaged 2.2 yards per carry (30th) against stacked boxes this season.
21. Denver Broncos
The addition of Joe Flacco to the Broncos has made a marginal difference, improving their EPA per pass from 25th to 21st from 2018 to 2019. He ranks eighth among qualifying signal-callers in clean-pocket passing grade through Week 6, but his play under pressure is a different story. He ranks in the bottom 10 in passing grade when under pressure at 39.3.
While Kyle Allen has by no means been great with a 62.3 passing grade (23rd), his offense has been more proficient than what we saw when Cam Newton was on the field. A lot their most productive plays feature running back Christian McCaffrey in the passing game. McCaffrey’s 92.1 receiving grade is the second-best among running backs, and Carolina’s EPA per pass on running back targets is the best by a mile. On the rushing end, Carolina’s EPA per rush ranks 20th among all offenses.
A lot was expected of Bruce Arians’ first season in Tampa Bay with the volatile Jameis Winston. So far, we have seen the same exact Jameis. Through six weeks, Winston has 18 turnover-worthy plays – that’s the most by six. With that being said, he has been the seventh highest-graded quarterback on throws 10-plus yards and the lowest-graded on throws nine yards or less.
Sixth-round rookie Gardner Minshew II has taken the league by storm and quickly became everyone’s favorite quarterback with his mustache, jorts and solid passing performance. After suffering through years of short passing play from Blake Bortles, Jacksonville has a deep passing savant in Minshew who ranks seventh in the deep passing grade. Minshew has had a hefty number of fumbles (seven) that set the Jags’ offense back in some instances, but his passing performance thus far has them up 11 spots in EPA per pass play from 2018 to 2019.
Without Drew Brees, the Saints' offense is clearly not the same, but Teddy Bridgewater has done enough to keep the Saints marching to a 5-1 record. Sean Payton was wary of throwing the ball downfield with Bridgewater at the start but has been open to it over the last few weeks, and the results have been great. On throws of 10-plus yards, the Saints' offense ranks fifth in EPA per play. Once Brees, who has never finished a season in the PFF era with a grade rank below sixth, is able to come back, this Saints' offense will be taken back to a scary level (ranked second in EPA per pass in 2018 behind only the Chiefs).
The Chargers have certainly disappointed this season with a 2-4 record to start, but the main issues primarily lie on the defensive side of the ball. Veteran quarterback Philip Rivers has been solid ranking 11th in PFF grade among quarterbacks. On throws of 19 yards or less specifically, Rivers and the Chargers rank fifth in EPA per pass. However, on throws further downfield (20-plus yards), they rank just 24th in EPA per pass. When it comes to rushing, the Chargers rank 31st in EPA per play. Melvin Gordon may help a smidge in rushing efficiency, but it won’t add anything to the win column.
Despite what the box scores says, quarterback Carson Wentz has been lights out in 2019 with an elite 90.6 overall grade (second only to Russell Wilson). The bigger issue with the Eagles' offense is in their receiving unit that is underperforming. Wentz has dealt with 17 drops thus far, which is the most any quarterback has had this season. In addition, this receiving unit that is littered with talent has been horrendous in contested-catch situations, hauling in just 33.3% of their contested targets (27th). If Philly’s receiving unit can clean up their act, Wentz and head coach Doug Pederson can lead this offense to an even better ranking.
Tom Brady currently ranks fifth in PFF passing grade at 80.4 and ranks ninth in EPA per pass. When Brady does get the opportunity to launch it 20-plus yards, he’s still as sharp as ever with the third-highest EPA per pass and fourth-lowest rate of uncatchable passes. The big flaw within this Pats’ offense has to do with their inherent rushing that has resulted in far too many unsuccessful attempts. In instances where the ball carrier is contacted at or behind the line of scrimmage (75 of them to be precise), the Patriots rank 31st in EPA per rush and 28th in yards per carry at 0.9.
13. Seattle Seahawks
Through the first six weeks, the Seahawks have the top quarterback in Russell Wilson and that is no debate. He is the highest-graded quarterback at 90.7, and he ranks first in big-time throw rate at 9.0% (1.5% higher than second) and first in turnover-worthy play rate at 1.1%. When you have a quarterback this good and running game that ranks 29th in EPA per rush, you (Pete Carroll and Brian Schottenheimer) need to throw the damn ball.
12. Detroit Lions
We have seen the Lions' offense take a complete 180 from 2018 in regards to their entire passing attack. Last year, Matt Stafford ranked last in average depth of target at 7.1. In 2019, Stafford currently has the highest average depth of target at 11.9 (second is at 11.2). Consequently, Detroit went from 20th in EPA per pass play in 2018 to eighth so far in 2019. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, the deep ball pays dividends – especially when you have two of the top 20 wide receivers in PFF grade (Marvin Jones Jr. at 20th and Kenny Golladay at 8th).
Aaron Rodgers is off to yet another fiery start, ranking sixth in PFF grade at 82.8 and second in turnover-worthy play rate at 1.4% through Week 6. One of the primary things holding the Packers' offense back is their lackluster receiving unit that has caught 86.8% of their catchable targets (28th). Rodgers' go-to receiver Davante Adams, who currently has the second-highest receiving grade at 89.4, needs to come back sooner rather than later or else things could get ugly.
As one of the league’s most beautiful coaching minds, Kyle Shanahan is making us all believers in San Francisco. Shanahan has an unprecedented offense in regard to his pre-snap movements and personnel package he trots out there. Compared to the league average, Shanahan’s usage of two running back packages is astronomically high and so is their efficiency with the second-highest EPA per play on those plays. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo passing out of these sets has been highly effective, as well. He has recorded an 11.8 yards per attempt average, a 136.4 passer rating and 82.9% adjusted completion percentage with a 10.0 ADOT on such throws.
Gruden’s squad of grinders in Oakland find themselves ninth in EPA per play through Week 6. Rookie Josh Jacobs has been dangerous after contact with 0.26 broken tackles per attempt and 3.6 yards after contact per attempt (both rank in top 10). While a first-round investment in a running back isn’t the best decision, Jacobs is one of PFF’s highest-graded rookies and solidified his future as Oakland’s premiere back. In regard to PFF passing grade, quarterback Derek Carr ranks sixth at 79.4. Gruden’s west coast offense has resulted in Carr having the second-lowest average depth of target at 6.0. However, that doesn’t mean he can’t throw it downfield. Carr’s 92.7 passing grade on throws 10-plus yards ranks third only behind Aaron Rodgers and Carson Wentz.
With the selection of one player in the 2019 draft, the Cardinals went from 32nd to eighth in EPA per play. First overall pick Kyler Murray has stood out through the air and on the ground, and his multi-facet play is precisely the reason why the Cardinals own the eighth-best offense. Murray has improved his passing performance week-by-week, and his last two have been his best. Over the last two weeks, Murray ranks fifth in PFF passing grade at 83.2 and has produced six big-time throws and zero turnover-worthy plays. When taking off and running, Murray has picked up nine runs of 10 or more yards and recorded an 83.5 rushing grade on the year (second-best for a quarterback).
After putting up two absurd performances from a passing perspective in Weeks 5 and 6, quarterback Kirk Cousins overcame the drama in Minnesota to put the Vikings' seventh in our rankings. Over the last two weeks, Minnesota has ranked first in EPA per pass at 0.607 while Cousins had seven big-time throws and zero turnover-worthy plays. Cousins and the Vikings passing attack has produced the best results when running play-action, ranking sixth in EPA per play and third in passing grade at 90.6.
Despite not having Andrew Luck as their signal-caller, head coach Frank Reich has brought his team of misfits together to comprise one of the NFL’s most efficient offenses. Running behind the NFL’s second-best run-blocking unit in regard to PFF grade, the Colts rank third in EPA per rush attempt. The heir to Luck, Jacoby Brissett, has produced very few big-time throws, but this is due to having a conservative passing offense with a 7.2 average depth of target. Brissett and the Colts have been effective on these short throws, though, ranking third in accuracy percentage and fourth in passer rating generated at 105.8
It’s time to hit the panic button on the Atlanta Falcons after their 1-5 start to the year. These struggles, however, aren’t coming from the offense. Led by Matt Ryan, the Falcons' pass offense ranks fifth in expected points added per pass. Ryan has limited throwing uncatchable passes downfield to comprise the fourth-best adjusted completion percentage on throws 10-plus yards at 64.4%. Ryan’s eight turnover-worthy plays on these throws, though, are the most in the NFL. Nonetheless, if he can avoid those costly turnovers downfield, this offense can creep towards number one.
Second-year quarterback Deshaun Watson has been the heart and soul of this Texans offense. Watson has been a big playmaking threat both passing and running with the second-highest big-time throw rate at 7.5% and ranking fifth in EPA per play on his rushes. The running backs in Houston have done their part, as well. Houston has two running backs in the top 15 in PFF rushing grade (Carols Hyde at 15th and Duke Johnson Jr. 11th). On running back carries, the Texans have the second-highest EPA per play.
Led by dual threat quarterback Lamar Jackson, the Ravens’ rushing attack has put together 33 runs of 10 or more yards and have combined for 46 broken tackles. Thus, it should be no surprise the Ravens are far and away the most efficient rushing attack in regard to EPA per rush. Jackson’s accuracy has come back down to earth after his superb two weeks to open up the season; however, he still has brought the Ravens' passing offense up from 19th in 2018 to seventh in 2019.
It’s amazing what a good play-caller can do for an offense as a whole, and the Dallas Cowboys are prime example of that. After ranking 22nd in passing offense under former offensive coordinator Scott Linehan in 2018, the Cowboys jump up to second in that same category under analytics supporter Kellen Moore. Not to mention, the Cowboys are also one of five offenses to generate positive EPA per play on rushing attempts thus far in 2019. Whether it’s Prescott dropping back to pass or Tony Pollard receiving the handoff, the Cowboys' offense has shown to be one of the most improved and one of the best of 2019.
To no surprise, the Andy Reid system in Kansas City is the top offense in the NFL and undoubtedly the best passing attack. Patrick Mahomes may not be at the top of his game to start the season with five turnover-worthy plays and a 76.1 passing grade, but his ability to create outside of structure is unmatched. On plays where Mahomes’ first read isn’t there and he is forced to his next, the Chiefs rank first in EPA per pass.