2021 NFL Offensive Identities

*Updated from a series in Spring

“They want to establish the run”.
“They are a team that lives and dies by the pass”
“You know one thing when you play the _______, you are going to get blitzed”

^ These and many other “points” you probably hear from so-called experts on the TV/Radio/Podcast all the time, but have you ever asked: What does this team REALLY DO? That is, have you ever come to the conclusion that the so-called “talking heads” need to sensationalize situations, and because of that you are left wondering the side of the “bargument” you’re arguing, or the bet you want to place is based on reality vs. conjecture?

Essentially, as a College Football Coach, I wanted to provide you an objective look into “what a team does” from the same lens a coach would look through when preparing to face/scouting an opponent. Rather than relying on cherry-picking the occasional tidbit of solid info you get from Tony Romo, see this series as a concrete STARTING POINT in, objectively, knowing what kind of team each is, or better yet, what their 2021 NFL Offensive Identity was.

House cleaning:
1. All data ONLY considers moments in game where the difference in score is 16 points
2. Unless specified, does NOT include 4th downs or the 4th quarter
3. And this is the MOST important of all: all data presented is factually “what happened LAST YEAR”, which does not necessarily mean it will happen this year (this is especially true if a team has changed coordinators on the side of the ball in question)

*This is to hone in on the predictive nature of what a team really wants to do (vs. their reactive nature which tends to air its head on 4th down and quart. And for the score, there’s very little we can tell about a team (predicitvely) when score difference is more than 3 scores (16 points ).

Given the volume we broke up the Offensive Identity into 3 categories:

2021 NFL Offensive Identity

  • Pre Snap
  • Run Game
  • Pass Game

**All data is presented as a rank, relative to their peers (but you can see the full report here)…think of it this way, although the 49ers use 11 personnel 3rd least in the league, its STILL deployed at 45%, and still their most used grouping.

*Thanks to our friends at Sports Info Solutions for the data.

Pre Snap


-Personnel: note this is a roster designation, NOT formation
-4D Aggressiveness: NOT based on optimal decision making, BUT based on shear % going for it on 4th down in 1st 3 Q
-Neut. Pace: Neutral Game Pace – thanks to our friends at Football Outsiders
-PSM: Pre Snap Motion (including Jet)
-NH%: No Huddle percentage (again, first 3 quarters and downs, games within 16 points)
-SG%: Shotgun percentage (including Pistol, *Ravens)
-ED Pass: A much better way to judge “how much you pass”, as it stands for early down passing rate (think how basic passing counting stats are distorted by losing teams trying to “catch up”), also only first 3Q

Run Game


-Zone: % of runs that are zone (1=most zone heavy run team in the NFL), vs Gap/Power (Power, Iso, Sweep, Counter, etc.)
-Inside %: The number 1 team, runs the most inside, #32 the most outside
-QB DES: % of Runs that are QB Design runs (NOT Scrambles, those are not designed)

Pass Game


-RPO %: Run/Pass Option % as a % of Total dropbacks (NOTE this does not include “traditional play-action”)
-PA Rate: Play Action %, NOT including RPO. Hence, if you want ALL “run action, then pass” rate, add the two together
-RO%: Designed Rollout/Sprint out rate (not scrambles)
-<10, 10-19 and >20 represent depth of passing intended rate, as a % of total thrown passes

As an example, the Chargers have a HC, OC and QB that will be the same this season. I would VERY quickly identify their offense as a team:

-That skews from 11 with additional TEs (8th most 12, 13th most 13 personnels)
-Likes to move quickly between snaps, and doesn’t use much “window dressing”
-That will run their QB on occasion, but it fairly balanced in the run game
-Has a high RPO rate, and will try to move their QB
-Rarely challenges the deep part of the field passing the ball, and relies on WR YAC ability to have successful drives

Next week, we will continue on the defensive side of the ball.

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