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Analyzing the offense

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Ring 6

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correct, the game management results in too many third downs where running is not an option
also, don't forget the Pats have I'd sat at least 4 or 5 touchdowns late in games after they've been down double digits late. This skews that points scored #...
a more exacting analysis would be the first half #s, because that's where the crazy super captain conservative crap has screwed the club
They scored virtually zero garbage time points.

Again it’s not super conservative, it’s nuanced. The run/pass ratio on first down is almost identical to 2017. They run more on 2nd which makes sense that you would throw more with Tom Brady than with a rookie. The real issue is that they are throwing short instead of intermediate a few times more times a game.
It usually isn’t an issue but in right games against good teams it can short circuit a drive or 2 making it harder to win.
It’s not a fatal flaw, it’s a tweak.
 

Ring 6

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Personally feel like the modern NFL rewards an offense that tries to be explosive much more than one that tries to be efficient. So many DPI flags, holding calls that grant automatic 1st downs, etc. Of course you've gotta be able to protect long enough to let those plays develop, which feels like it has not been a strength this year.
There is more upside to pushing the ball down the field but there is more downside too. There really aren’t any teams that consistently push the ball down the field and don’t try mostly to move the sticks.
The most 20+ pass plays in the league is only 4.5 a game and the most 40+ is 18
FYI the patriots are 10th most in 20+ pass plays and tied for 16th in 40+
 

palialka

On the Roster
Awesome deep dive into the offense by Ring 6…way more work than I’d ever put in on a message board lol!

My dumbified version of our current offense is that the coaching staff has spoon fed the offense to our rookie QB this season…too conservative overall for my taste but I understand the logic behind it.

BB has been able to do that because of our stable of excellent RBs who we’ve probably overly relied upon (my opinion).

So here we are…it’ll be interesting to see if we open up the playbook for the playoffs…I’m not counting on it but I hope they do.
 

MrBigglesWorth

Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
2017 Pats were 2nd in points scored 458. 1st in yards6307 yards 4418 passing 1889 Rushing. TD's 32 Passing Rushing 16. 2021 6th in PF 15th in yards. 3857 passing 14th 2151 Rushing 8th
2017 Average Starting yardline 28 2021 Average starting yardline 32
2017 Pats first downs 339 2021 Pats first downs 287
2017 Pats Turnover pct 6.9% 2021 Pats turnover pct 12.6%


Here is a weird note. On defense 2017 the pats were 5th in points against and 29th in yards against 2021 2nd in points and 4th in yards against.
Geez and people gripe about this defense this year?
They beat up on alot of bad teams. They knocked zack Wilson out of the game .sam darnold... Baker Mayfield
 

One-If-By-Sea

In the Starting Line-Up
There is more upside to pushing the ball down the field but there is more downside too. There really aren’t any teams that consistently push the ball down the field and don’t try mostly to move the sticks.
The most 20+ pass plays in the league is only 4.5 a game and the most 40+ is 18
FYI the patriots are 10th most in 20+ pass plays and tied for 16th in 40+

Thanks for the work Ring6.

Because it is subtle and nuanced, curiously I think it is more frustrating. I liken it to watching Cam last year - you knew those two big chunk plays needed to make the series end in a TD were not going to happen. I also agree that the Pats for some reason beat up on bad teams (which they should) but tighten up with good teams.

I am not sure it is conservative signal calling, it very may well be Mac checking down too frequently. As the game and opponent get bigger, Mac checks down more. I think Kurt Warner's main comment supports the hypothesis it is Mac, not the game plan. Warner pointed out that Mac rushes his check downs without confirming the defense at times, which implies Mac is rushing (a little panicky), when he needs to extend the play to make a play. I will say Mac's pocket presence has been better the last few weeks.

But to argue the other side, the Pats run more on 2nd down than in 2017, so maybe it is conservative play calling too. Probably a bit of both. Tomorrow with the weather, I doubt we will see the Pats "open it up" so gird your loins for a frustrating, conservative offensive game plan.
 

Ring 6

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Thanks for the work Ring6.

Because it is subtle and nuanced, curiously I think it is more frustrating. I liken it to watching Cam last year - you knew those two big chunk plays needed to make the series end in a TD were not going to happen. I also agree that the Pats for some reason beat up on bad teams (which they should) but tighten up with good teams.

I am not sure it is conservative signal calling, it very may well be Mac checking down too frequently. As the game and opponent get bigger, Mac checks down more. I think Kurt Warner's main comment supports the hypothesis it is Mac, not the game plan. Warner pointed out that Mac rushes his check downs without confirming the defense at times, which implies Mac is rushing (a little panicky), when he needs to extend the play to make a play. I will say Mac's pocket presence has been better the last few weeks.

But to argue the other side, the Pats run more on 2nd down than in 2017, so maybe it is conservative play calling too. Probably a bit of both. Tomorrow with the weather, I doubt we will see the Pats "open it up" so gird your loins for a frustrating, conservative game.
So here is my feeling which comes from watching every patriot snap for over 25 years.
Yes as the game gets bigger we run more and check down more in neutral run/pass situations ( like 2nd and 6) to prioritize staying ahead of the chains. But we did it with Brady too. And that changed and in my memory it changed in 2014. Instead of playing a big game controlling down and distance, we pushed the ball up the field. Think about the offense in the post season from 05-14 compared to the regular season. 2012, 2006, 2013, 2010 come to mind. We lost those games putting up decent offense but stalling on 3rd downs because we lived to get to 3rd down.
I would bet a lot of money that there is a huge correlation between the best, highest scoring offenses in the NFL and there rate of making 1st downs on 2nd down.
But it’s subtle. It’s once or twice a half calling okay action on 2nd and short instead of a run. It’s 2-3 times a half throwing the 8-12 yard route instead of checking down.
It’s telling Jones to not fear the sack and hang in to let the receiver get open. It’s keeping the back or TE in for more protection a few times a game and not giving him
a check down to throw to.
I felt like I may have seen that shift in Mac last week. I’ve felt all season that they gave him more each week. I think the last piece is have confidence to let the route develop and he did that in the second half last week. The question is whether it was desperation.
Make those changes and this team can put up 27+ against anyone.
Im ready for a fun run here because I think this team is really ready to put it all together.
 

Hyped

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Comments:

1.) Nice analysis, @Ring 6

2.) It syncs up to what I have also seen this year...all 17 games.

3.) I think it has a lot to do with the margin of error we have on offense. We need to be efficient on that side of the ball to complement the defense and our suddenly shaky special teams units.

4.) I was kinda thinking of doing a similar analysis of our defense for 1st/2nd downs. The eye test tells me that our D has seen more 3rd and shorts than any other team in the NFL, IMO. And that makes me wonder if we can't be better on 1st/2nd down...especially when the other team is moving the ball 5+ yards on 1st/2nd down constantly...like week 16 vs. the Bills and some other times this year.
 

Ring 6

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Comments:

1.) Nice analysis, @Ring 6

2.) It syncs up to what I have also seen this year...all 17 games.

3.) I think it has a lot to do with the margin of error we have on offense. We need to be efficient on that side of the ball to complement the defense and our suddenly shaky special teams units.

4.) I was kinda thinking of doing a similar analysis of our defense for 1st/2nd downs. The eye test tells me that our D has seen more 3rd and shorts than any other team in the NFL, IMO. And that makes me wonder if we can't be better on 1st/2nd down...especially when the other team is moving the ball 5+ yards on 1st/2nd down constantly...like week 16 vs. the Bills and some other times this year.
While I was doing this I thighs it would be interesting to do the same on defense.
A little info regarding your point, the defense was #5 in stopping 3rd down conversion.
They faced 211 of them
62 were 1-3 to go
51.were 4-6
43 were 7-9
55 were 10+

To compare I randomly picked the raiders the other wc with the same record and they were
63
57
55
55
So I don’t think we faced a higher amount of 3rd and Shiite them typical
 

Ring 6

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Comments:

1.) Nice analysis, @Ring 6

2.) It syncs up to what I have also seen this year...all 17 games.

3.) I think it has a lot to do with the margin of error we have on offense. We need to be efficient on that side of the ball to complement the defense and our suddenly shaky special teams units.

4.) I was kinda thinking of doing a similar analysis of our defense for 1st/2nd downs. The eye test tells me that our D has seen more 3rd and shorts than any other team in the NFL, IMO. And that makes me wonder if we can't be better on 1st/2nd down...especially when the other team is moving the ball 5+ yards on 1st/2nd down constantly...like week 16 vs. the Bills and some other times this year.
Just found league average #
3rd down to go
1-3 63
4-6 54
7-9 43
10+ 58
So we faced a typical number of 3rd and short
 

One-If-By-Sea

In the Starting Line-Up
So here is my feeling which comes from watching every patriot snap for over 25 years.
Yes as the game gets bigger we run more and check down more in neutral run/pass situations ( like 2nd and 6) to prioritize staying ahead of the chains. But we did it with Brady too. And that changed and in my memory it changed in 2014. Instead of playing a big game controlling down and distance, we pushed the ball up the field. Think about the offense in the post season from 05-14 compared to the regular season. 2012, 2006, 2013, 2010 come to mind. We lost those games putting up decent offense but stalling on 3rd downs because we lived to get to 3rd down.
I would bet a lot of money that there is a huge correlation between the best, highest scoring offenses in the NFL and there rate of making 1st downs on 2nd down.
But it’s subtle. It’s once or twice a half calling okay action on 2nd and short instead of a run. It’s 2-3 times a half throwing the 8-12 yard route instead of checking down.
It’s telling Jones to not fear the sack and hang in to let the receiver get open. It’s keeping the back or TE in for more protection a few times a game and not giving him
a check down to throw to.
I felt like I may have seen that shift in Mac last week. I’ve felt all season that they gave him more each week. I think the last piece is have confidence to let the route develop and he did that in the second half last week. The question is whether it was desperation.
Make those changes and this team can put up 27+ against anyone.
Im ready for a fun run here because I think this team is really ready to put it all together.

Mac has gotten a lot better the last few games. We will see if he starts conservative again, or where he left off from the Miami game.
 

Ring 6

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Comments:

1.) Nice analysis, @Ring 6

2.) It syncs up to what I have also seen this year...all 17 games.

3.) I think it has a lot to do with the margin of error we have on offense. We need to be efficient on that side of the ball to complement the defense and our suddenly shaky special teams units.

4.) I was kinda thinking of doing a similar analysis of our defense for 1st/2nd downs. The eye test tells me that our D has seen more 3rd and shorts than any other team in the NFL, IMO. And that makes me wonder if we can't be better on 1st/2nd down...especially when the other team is moving the ball 5+ yards on 1st/2nd down constantly...like week 16 vs. the Bills and some other times this year.
As far as first and second down patriots defense had an average 2nd down of 2nd and 7.31 and 3rd of 3rd and 6.77.
League average is 2nd and 7.72 and 3rd and 6.92, so we are better than average on first and 2nds that DONT result in a first down.
The other factor is we allowed 83 1st downs on first down and 110 1st dorms in second dime while the league average was 96.5 on 1st and 117.2 on second, so the pat defense was well above average on 1st and second, having more than 1 per game fewer first downs allowed on 1st or 2nd AND allowing fewer yards on 1st and second downs that did not result in 1sts.

Patriot D allowed 5.39 yards average in 1st and 4.89 on second, league average 5.44 and 5.41.
 

FCB02062

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First Half pts 7, 7, 0 11 vs Miami, buffalo, Indianapolis, and Buffalo ..they scored a bunch vs Florida State - I mean Jacksonville....that's 25 pts in their last 4 vs competitive teams. that's the trend, not the 10th in the league ranking. That's a whopping 6.25 ppg in the first half
#s don't lie, trends don't lie, the offense is not productive
 

DropKickFlutie

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First Half pts 7, 7, 0 11 vs Miami, buffalo, Indianapolis, and Buffalo ..they scored a bunch vs Florida State - I mean Jacksonville....that's 25 pts in their last 4 vs competitive teams. that's the trend, not the 10th in the league ranking. That's a whopping 6.25 ppg in the first half
#s don't lie, trends don't lie, the offense is not productive

Unfortunately the OP wrote a ton of useless text with very little actionable insight. You can tell when one doesn't know how to analyze when it's just regurgitation of multiple meaningless numbers.

Aside from the completely aribtrary decision to compare it to 2017, here's one easy tip off that it's all gibberish: "2017 offense had 495 first down plays and only 201 3rd downs while the 2021 offense had 479 first down plays and 209 3rd downs". So... the 2021 team had 8 more 3rd down plays (in a 17-game season. Um, ok).

The 2021 Pats beat up on some bad teams in a big way. This skews everything. First thing would be to take out the beat downs of these horrendously bad teams, and also all the points the Patriots defense generated directly or indirectly.

This team just went 1-3 going into the playoffs, so maybe also stop claiming they're good in the red zone.....

.
 
Last edited:

mgteich

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No, no, no.
It’s not WAY TOO CONSERVATIVE.
With a rookie QB the offense is 6th in scoring, 2nd in % of possessions scored on, 11th in red zone, but first the last 14 games. You may not be able to find a more effective offense with a rookie QB.
The conservative nature though is subtle. It’s a handful of plays where Jones checks down instead of throwing 8-12 yards downfield. It’s being more aggressive on 2nd and 6 to try and make a big play and accept you may have 3rd and 6 instead of prioritizing gaining yards to be in better shape on 3rd.
Our QB is never going to be as good as we had in the 19 Brady years. Decision-making will not be nearly as good.

So, we need to see where improvements need to be made. OT and WR will be obvious areas of focus.

For me, this season was a tremendous success. We went from a weak team under Newton to a playoff team under Jones. And still, we need help on offense. I think the issue is personnel more than anything. Brady made players much, much better by his decision-making and release time.

To those who want Josh gone, I suspect that you will soon get your wish. And then, you will complain about the next, likely much worse, OC. Josh was a miracle worker with a rookie quarterback. Personally, I think Josh would have done as well, or almost as well, with several of other rookies. Management did great, getting our starting QB at 15 and then having him start the season and bring us to the playoffs. Obviously, that took 2020 cap planning, and the biggest off-season spend in the NFL.
========================
We are an OT, WR and a backup QB away from having a very solid offense.
========================
Personally, the major disappointment on offense was injuries.
 

mgteich

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Over the years, I have seen game plans that I felt held the offense back and others that made it much more effective. Looking at this year I think the overall philosophy has been leaning toward holding it back, clearly out of a goal of limiting mistakes and turnovers and playing complementary football. When you look over the season this team has been competitive against anyone, blow games open when things go well, but struggle in tight games especially vs good teams. I think the 2 are related.
The game plans that hold the offense back always seem to be games where the priority seems to be staying on schedule on down and distance, getting to 3rd and makable and avoiding poor down no distance situations, while the most effective approach pushes the ball down the field and gets chunk plays.

When you look at the season, offensively they are:
6th in scoring
17th in turnovers
2nd in % of drives resulting in points
10th in 3rd down conversions
11th in red zone TD % (but #1 since the 2/8 start in weeks 1-3
Balnaced, 8th in rushing, 14th in passing (probably would be more like 10 and 10 without the 3 pass game anomaly)
6 in time of possession

Statistically that looks like an offense that would be a 12-5, 13-4 team

Defensively
2 in points allowed
3 in takeaways
4 in yards
5 in 3rd down conv
2 in red zone
2 in % of drives allowing points

That looks like a defense that would be 14-3 or 15-2

Yet we are 10-7

I want to deep dive into the offense to see where the disconnect may be.

Cumualtive stats over a full season without situational context have little value other than a general overall impression.

Situationally gives a better look at what causes winning and losing.
In this case, the overall #s indicate the Patriots are a good team that plays close games against good teams but fall short more than it would seem they should.
I think the offensive approach of playing conservatively fits into that. You have to make a lot more plays to score, and to score TDs if you aren’t getting chunk plays, and against good teams you have less room for error with a non scoring drive or a turnover,

So here is a break down that I think shows this no other interesting facts. For comparison I used the 2017 offense which I think was good example of a good patriots offense that was more on the aggressive side.

FIRST DOWN
Run/pass ratio. 55% run 45% pass
-we averaged 4.3 per rush and gained 38 first downs on 263 1st down rushes.
-we completed 68.6% of passes, and 68 of 144 completions and 210 attempts resulted in 1st downs
-so less than half of the completed passes gained a 1st down
-only allowed 6 sacks in 216 drop backs on 1st

COMPARED TO 2017
run/pass almost identical at 54/46
-rushing avg 4.6 1 fewer 1st on 4 more rushes
-68.2% but 81 1st downs on 148 completions
-11 sacks

2nd down (the key in my opinion prior to looking at numbers)
run/pass ratio 46/54
rush avg 4.6 but only 65 1st downs on 159 rushes
70.9% completion but only 53 1sts in 127 completions, 9 sacks

2017
35/65 run/pass
3.7 per rush 49 1sts in 127 att
69.2% 84 1st in 153 completes, 11 sacks

First interesting fact, 2017 made 133 1sts on 2nd down vs 118 in 2021 with an extra game.
2017 did throw more but also while completing a lower % had A much higher rate of converting a 1st; 55% of completions gained 1st downs vs 42 this year.

To go deeper, on 2nd and 7+ 2021
32/68 r/p
31 1st on 96 completes out of 134 attempts (71.6% complete but only 23% sufficient yards for a first)

2017
24/76 r/p
40 firsts on 102 completes and 148 (68.9 complete 27 1st)

2nd and <7
2021
65/35 r/p
22 first on 31 completes and 45 attempts (68.9; 49)


2017
50/50 r/p
44 1st on 51 completes and 73 attempts (69.9; 60)

This is a huge difference.
On 2nd and less than 7 in 2017 we threw 73 times and made 44 first downs and this years we only threw 44 times and made 22 first downs.
Compartively this year we are relying so much more on converting many 3rd downs,

IS FIRST DOWN TO BLAME?
No.
2021 % of 2nds with yards to go
1-3 17.9
4-6 23.6
7-9 23.6
10+ 34.8
avg yards to go 7.7

2017
1-3 17.8
4-6 24.8
7-9 22.0
10+ 35.4
avg yards to go 7.5

almost identical

while the 2017 offense produce 12 more 1st downs on first down than 2021, they were almost in identical situations on 2 nd down with very different amounts of success

3RD DOWN
This is where it gets very interesting
Because they converted 27 more 1st downs on first and second down, the 2017 offense had 495 first down plays and only 201 3rd downs while the 2021 offense had 479 first down plays and 209 3rd downs. 2021 actually has a higher 3rd down conversion rate (43.5 to 40.8). 57.9% of 2021s 3rd downs were 6 or less to go, while 53.3 % Of 2017s were (and 31% vs 29% were 3 or less) so that’s the apparent trade off but it’s negligible.

Overall the 2021 offense scored 4 more points than the 2017 offense, was 61.9% vs 60% in the red zone ( but had 7 fewer trips in one extra game) and scored on 48% of drives vs 49.4%. 2021 exactly the same number of offensive TDs as 2017.
And this is where cumulative stats are meaningless without context. The 2021 team scored 17 or less 6 times and lost 5 of them while the 2017 team scored less than 20 just once and won.
2021 won 3 their 3 highest scoring games by a total of 149-30 and 2017 by 114-70.

The other factor that can’t be overlooked is the 2017 team committed 12 turnovers and 2021 committed 23, and 16 were in losses. But those turnovers only led to the defense allowing 7 more points in one more game.

What I think this illustrates is that overall the 2021 was every bit as good as the 2017 offense, but it was not nearly as consistent or as good against better teams. Underlying that is the conservative play calling. While the offense was unbelievably good overall, and the conservative approach is surely justified, what’s going on inside the numbers is that while we throw as much, and have an almost identical run/pass ratio, and similar completion percentages, we are relying more on short passes on first and second down (and throwing less on 2nd) so a much more methodical drive is necessary. It seems to work even better when we are in control of the game, but it caused the offense to struggle in close games against better teams.
The real question is whether Jones is being coached to do this or choosing to do it himself. The ultimate issue becomes (since the patriots are a high to low progression offense) the definition of open. Mac has to read his first progression and decide whether it’s open and throw or move on. That also includes the factor of how long you wait to decide as the route is coming open. It’s clear that his definition of open is conservative and he passes on the progressions more readily. To compete in the playoffs that is what has to change, and especially on 2nd down he needs to throw the ball up the field, to elevate this offense to be more successful against good teams, like it is against not as good teams.

Im sure there are other opinions to be formed from these numbers, and what we have seen, so hopefully this can create some discussion.
Thank you for the tremendous research. I suspect that some of this will be discussed for months.

I disagree with your conclusion. I don't think that 6th in scoring and 10th in passing and rushing is necessarily a 12 win team, especially when the team is average in turnovers. What were we in penalties? I think that the team needs to be much better in the passing game. That being said, we were close to having an offense good enough for a 12 win season this year. Better play by special teams and couple of defensive stops might have been enough.

My bottom line on top offense is that when we are down 3 and have the ball with 2 minutes to go, I expected to be favored to win.
=========================
When you look at the season, offensively they are:
6th in scoring
17th in turnovers
2nd in % of drives resulting in points
10th in 3rd down conversions
11th in red zone TD % (but #1 since the 2/8 start in weeks 1-3
Balnaced, 8th in rushing, 14th in passing (probably would be more like 10 and 10 without the 3 pass game anomaly)
6 in time of possession

Statistically that looks like an offense that would be a 12-5, 13-4 team
 

Hyped

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Just found league average #
3rd down to go
1-3 63
4-6 54
7-9 43
10+ 58
So we faced a typical number of 3rd and short
Thanks! Sure seemed like a whole lotta more in the last three losses sine Dec 6th an earlier in the year….

Just hoping we see 3rd and 6+ 4-5 times tmrw night…..
 

Clieb

Rookie
@Ring 6 - thanks for taking the time and interest to pull some comparisons together - it’s a really interesting baseline for discussion!

I agree a bit with others that this team is Jekyl and Hyde… when we’re good, we’re great and when we’re bad, we’re a different team. It’s tough to draw any meaningful inference from the aggregate numbers because we’re so up and down. I know it’s a ton of work, but I’d be curious to see if our tendencies are significantly different in our bad losses.

Also, as a “gameplan team” it’s tough to tell how much of our success/failure is due to the gameplan versus execution. The Buffalo game as an example. I’m sure we didn’t go into that game expecting to run 40 times, so we get a lot of run calls on 2nd/3rd down here. They were intentionally not being balanced… it’s an extreme example, but at least illustrates their willingness to deviate from their tendencies if they feel the game situation dictates it… I guess I wonder how often that happens and it’s just not obvious to us fans.

I guess I’m trying to rationalize what others have said- the team feels conservative… I think it comes through most in high leverage situations where they seemingly stick to their game plan when I think fans would like to see them take more shots. It’s weird- the third and long screen pass to Bolden either goes for 2 yds against good teams or 15 yds against bad ones, and I don’t know how to feel about it- is that just not having the players to execute a good call or is that a bad call that sometimes works against overmatched players.

Either way- I hope we do something different tomorrow night- I can feel BB seeing those arctic temps and saying- the ball will be cold, ball security is a big deal, so we need to focus on conservative plays and how the Bills turn it over. With TB we could do that for 3 quarters, then turn on the gas if we had to dig ourselves out- I’m not sure we have the horses to do that with this team.

Lastly- I just want to give a shout to Ring for putting something together for us to discuss. It’s easy to scroll through these forums and throw spears at other people’s work. No analysis is perfect- football is a really complicated game where no two situations are the same- it’s probably why we love it. It’s disappointing to see some responses on here- Don’t be a troll about it. If you simply can’t get past some of the flaws of what you’re seeing, pick up your own calculator and do some work of your own. Don’t mock someone for trying to spark some interesting conversation because you think their analysis isn’t perfect.
 

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