Why is Offense Down in 2022?

AEW Champion

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I do my best to watch as many games, or at least parts of games, as possible every year. After watching another Sunday where games seemed low scoring, as least early in the games, I couldn’t help but have the feeling that offense is really bad in the NFL right now.

I checked a few league-wide numbers and they bear out that my suspicion is correct: Offense is down a tick in 2022. Teams are averaging 21.7 points per game, tied for lowest since 2017 and worst since 2009 (21.5). That’s down from 23.0 ppg in 2021 and 24.8 ppg in 2020.

All TDs scored per team per game are down, too. Those are at 2.41 per game, down from 2.61 (2021) and 2.88 (2020), lowest since 2.39 in 2017.

Receiving TDs are the primary culprit. Those are at 1.38 per team per game, lowest since 1.26 in 2008. Receiving TDs were 1.54 in 2021 and 1.70 in 2020.

Given the protection of QBs by referees and the supposed 2022 officiating emphasis on calling illegal contact, it would be easy to assume offense should be up. So why is it down?

I don’t have the answers to that, but my thoughts are:

1. My first thought was that when you have longtime quality QBs like Drew Brees, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger retire over the past couple of years, it’s hard to replace them. Maybe. Indeed, the Saints, Colts and Steelers have looked rough on offense for the most part. But at the same time, the league has some young second-year and third-year QBs who are good or turning the corner: Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa, Zach Wilson, arguably Mac Jones and Trevor Lawrence. So I don’t think that’s it.

2. Is it because more teams are using “placeholder” QBs? There seems to be an uptick in teams settling for placeholder QBs or guys on a second or third chance. I would include Jameis Winston, Carson Wentz, Jared Goff, Baker Mayfield, Geno Smith, Marcus Mariota, Mitch Trubisky and Jacoby Brissett in this group. Of this group, Geno has surprisingly played well, the Lions offense has been potent, and even the Falcons offense has been in the 20s every week except 15 at Tampa. But the Saints offense hasn’t been good and Jameis has been out; Wentz and the Washington offense have been a disaster; same with Baker and the Panthers; Trubisky already got replaced; and Brissett has been more down than up. I think these placeholder guys are part of the issue.

3. Juggernaut QBs declining or handcuffed by other issues: Tom Brady has turned into a mediocre QB (15th QBR) and the Tampa line has been hit by free agency and injuries. Matt Stafford’s line is a disaster, they can’t run the ball, he’s chipping in a bunch of INTs, and the Rams seem one WR short. Aaron Rodgers’ line missed Jenkins and Bakhtiari for awhile and losing Davante Adams really hurt the Packers. Russell Wilson doesn’t exactly belong in this group, but he has been flat-out bad in a new system in Denver.

4. O line hurt: The Packers started the season without both tackles (they’re back now) but the line got whipped by the Jets. The 49ers have been missing Trent Williams and then Mike McGlinchey went down yesterday. The Chargers lost Rashawn Slater for the year. The Cowboys lost Tyron Smith until at least December. Ronnie Stanley finally just came back for the Ravens. Those are just a few off the top of my head. It just seems like an inordinate amount of high-quality linemen have missed time.

5. Bad O line play: Maybe it’s just my imagination, but it seems like there’s been a lot of poor play by O-lines around the league. The Bengals line has underwhelmed; same with the Packers. The Steelers and Bears lines have been bad. Wentz is getting killed in Washington. Evan Neal has been getting whipped for NYG. The Rams line has been awful.

6. QBs missing time: There’s also been a lot of QBs who have missed time already: Mac Jones, Tua, Jameis, Baker, Dak Prescott, Deshaun Watson (suspension), Zach Wilson, Trey Lance. That’s a quarter of the league where their presumed #1 QB has missed some or almost all of their teams’ games so far.

7. Bad coaching. A lot of offensive coaches / playcallers have taken heat already, most notably Nathaniel Hackett. But Zac Taylor, Kevin Stefanski and Luke Getsy are among others not in good favor with their fanbases for substandard calls.

I think it’s some combination of all of the above bolded reasons. But hopefully a lot of this gets cleaned up soon. Because for every Bills or Chiefs or Chargers offense, there’s a brutal Bears or Commanders or Rams or Saints or Panthers offense to go along with it.

It’s true, it’s true. Trust me …
 
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Stirred not Shaken

Well-known member
Too much passing when teams get near the goal line. Put in a full back and play smash mouth football. Teams have 3rd and long between the 30 and 40 yd. line throw short and kick long fgs. instead of going for 1st downs. Maybe eliminate the fg. kicker.
 

Mr. Slippery

Well-known member
My best guess is most 1st-teamers are playing so little in the preseason that they're a little behind on reps vs. where they would normally be early in the season.

2nd guess would be the QB play. There aren't that many consistently good QBs in the league. Some people don't like how much protection the QBs are afforded under the current rules, but be careful what you wish for. The product would be significantly more unwatchable if more teams have to trot their #2 or #3 QB out there. Additionally, play-calling is a lot more conservative when the back-up QB is on the field.
 

tom 48

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It has everything to do with first stringers not getting any game action in the joke of a preseason. More injuries, lack of timing, no familiarity with each other, all add up.
 

AEW Champion

Well-known member
It has everything to do with first stringers not getting any game action in the joke of a preseason. More injuries, lack of timing, no familiarity with each other, all add up.
I don’t think we can blame the continued poor play of offenses like Tampa, the Bears, Broncos, Steelers, Commanders, Packers, Rams, etc on preseason at this point.

Maybe the first couple games, but not now. And it’s not like players sitting in the preseason is an entirely new phenomenon.

It’s true, it’s true. Trust me …
 

tom 48

Well-known member
I don’t think we can blame the continued poor play of offenses like Tampa, the Bears, Broncos, Steelers, Commanders, Packers, Rams, etc on preseason at this point.

Maybe the first couple games, but not now. And it’s not like players sitting in the preseason is an entirely new phenomenon.

It’s true, it’s true. Trust me …
Oh, I think even now , the effects of no preseason is telling. Just look at the number of injuries that have occurred. I know they happen every year, but there seem to be more since the "pre-season" strategy is not to play the starters. Of course, the Browns lack of communication is NOT a result of no preseason; it's poor coaching and players with no heart to play the game.

Now that last part's true...............
 

JElder

Well-known member
Defenses are playing cover 2,4,and 6 and taking away the big plays. I kind of compare it to the shift that was employed in MLB. I think we will start to see teams implement the use of a FB and start running the ball much more. If you can run the ball you will get teams out of those packages. The NFL like other sports is cyclical and we may be moving back to the old days 3 down backs and FB's.
 

tom 48

Well-known member
Defenses are playing cover 2,4,and 6 and taking away the big plays. I kind of compare it to the shift that was employed in MLB. I think we will start to see teams implement the use of a FB and start running the ball much more. If you can run the ball you will get teams out of those packages. The NFL like other sports is cyclical and we may be moving back to the old days 3 down backs and FB's.
But if you're Stefanski, with the best set of running backs in the NFL, you give Chubb 12 touches and have the qb throw 40 times, utilizing the absolute weakest part of the offense.
 

cjb5656

Well-known member
My best guess is most 1st-teamers are playing so little in the preseason that they're a little behind on reps vs. where they would normally be early in the season.

2nd guess would be the QB play. There aren't that many consistently good QBs in the league. Some people don't like how much protection the QBs are afforded under the current rules, but be careful what you wish for. The product would be significantly more unwatchable if more teams have to trot their #2 or #3 QB out there. Additionally, play-calling is a lot more conservative when the back-up QB is on the field.
This.
 

AEW Champion

Well-known member
Just wondering and too lazy to look…has there even been even one 45-43 type game yet?
The Seahawks’ and Lions’ putrid defenses have been the only ones yielding those types of games for the most part. Lions lost 38-35 at home to Philly Week 1. Lions lost 48-45 at home to Seattle in Week 4, and then Seattle turned around and lost 39-32 in New Orleans the next week.

The Dolphins’ huge comeback at Baltimore in Week 2 ended up 42-38.

It’s true, it’s true. Trust me …
 

Stirred not Shaken

Well-known member
My best guess is most 1st-teamers are playing so little in the preseason that they're a little behind on reps vs. where they would normally be early in the season.

2nd guess would be the QB play. There aren't that many consistently good QBs in the league. Some people don't like how much protection the QBs are afforded under the current rules, but be careful what you wish for. The product would be significantly more unwatchable if more teams have to trot their #2 or #3 QB out there. Additionally, play-calling is a lot more conservative when the back-up QB is on the field.
Agree with that part (highlighted) not the rest. Why is it that QB's like Joe Montana, Bradshaw, Kenny Anderson others rarely ever got seriously injured? Answer because QB's use to stay in the pocket and not run with the football.
 

Stirred not Shaken

Well-known member
Maybe defenses are better against the pass this year and the league has forgotten how to scheme a good running offense
Too many of these brainiacs acting as HC's want to throw the football instead of sticking with the run game. I can understand that if a team has a stud QB, but not too many do.
 

Mr. Slippery

Well-known member
I don’t think we can blame the continued poor play of offenses like Tampa, the Bears, Broncos, Steelers, Commanders, Packers, Rams, etc on preseason at this point.

Maybe the first couple games, but not now. And it’s not like players sitting in the preseason is an entirely new phenomenon.

It’s true, it’s true. Trust me …
I can agree with that, but after 6 weeks, the first few weeks still account for such a large share of the overall scoring averages.
 

Mr. Slippery

Well-known member
Agree with that part (highlighted) not the rest. Why is it that QB's like Joe Montana, Bradshaw, Kenny Anderson others rarely ever got seriously injured? Answer because QB's use to stay in the pocket and not run with the football.
I'm not going back to look too long here, but I'm betting they also didn't pass the ball nearly as much as teams do now. About 20 years ago, it was rare for a QB to pass for over 4000 yards in a season. That's closer to average now.

Montana attempted over 500 passes in the regular season only 2x in his career and exceeded 400 regular season attempts only 4 other times during his career. Montana was sacked only 313 times in the regular season during his entire 15-year career (16, but missed 1 season due to injury). Russell Wilson has already exceeded 500 attempts 4x and exceeded 400 attempts another 5 times. He's also been sacked 447 times in his nearly 10.5 year career. I picked Wilson because he didn't play in a pass-happy offense like Brees, Brady, or Manning have.

I agree with the running part though, too. We haven't even talked about rushing attempts. However, we know what happened to a QB like Steve Young who would tuck and run a lot more than most of the other QBs of his era. Montana ran the ball 457 times in his career. Wilson has run it 867 and counting.

Also, those QBs of 30+ years ago weren't being rushed by too many 300+ pound defensive linemen who are disproportionally fast for their size. Force = Mass x acceleration. Add it all up, and you got QBs put in harm's way on more plays (part of why they're paid so handsomely), and even with the rules to protect the QB that exist today, the hits they're taking carry a lot more force than the hits QBs of 30+ years ago took regularly.

Pro Football Reference is a fine site.

 
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AEW Champion

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Agree with that part (highlighted) not the rest. Why is it that QB's like Joe Montana, Bradshaw, Kenny Anderson others rarely ever got seriously injured? Answer because QB's use to stay in the pocket and not run with the football.
Most of the significant QB injuries occur in the pocket.

It’s true, it’s true. Trust me …
 

Stirred not Shaken

Well-known member
I'm not going back to look, but I'm betting they also didn't pass the ball nearly as much as teams do now. About 20 years ago, it was rare for a QB to pass for over 4000 yards in a season. That's closer to average now.

Montana attempted over 500 passes in the regular season only 2x on his career and exceeded 400 regular season attempts only 4 other times during his career. Montana was sacked only 313 times in the regular season during his entire 15-year career (16, but missed 1 season due to injury). Wilson has already exceeded 500 attempts 4x and exceeded 400 attempts another 5 times. He's also been sacked 447 times in his nearly 10.5 year career. I picked Wilson because he didn't play in a pass-happy offense like Brees, Brady, or Manning have.

I agree with the running part though, too. We haven't even talked about rushing attempts. However, we know what happened to a QB like Steve Young who would tuck and run a lot more than most of the other QBs of his era. Montana ran the ball 457 times in his career. Wilson has run it 867 and counting.

Also, those QBs of 30+ years ago weren't being rushed by too many 300+ pound defensive linemen who are disproportionally fast for their size. Force = Mass x acceleration. Add it all up, and you got QBs put in harm's way on more plays (part of why they're paid so handsomely), and even with the rules to protect the QB that exist today, the hits they're taking carry a lot more force than the hits QBs of 30+ years ago took regularly.

Pro Football Reference is a fine site.

Players are bigger today but the hits were much more vicious:
Go to the 2: 50 mark where Ken Anderson almost gets his head rip off. I agree with all the passing, more chances to get injured.
Teams want better QB play they should have their QB's watch Anderson, forgot how good he was.
 

lasalle9802

Well-known member
I think the defensive end position has many more top athletes than in the past. Combine that with bad o line play, may be the answer.
 

Mr. Slippery

Well-known member
I think the defensive end position has many more top athletes than in the past. Combine that with bad o line play, may be the answer.
The name of the game on defense is get to the QB, and if the offense breaks a long run here and there, so be it, cuz many offenses' 1st instinct nowadays is to throw it. As Browns fans can probably tell you, many of these young play-calling head coaches aren't wise enough to change their thinking and run the ball more to exploit defensive linemen who are selling out to rush the passer.
 
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Thavoice

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Maybe defenses are better against the pass this year and the league has forgotten how to scheme a good running offense
That is another part of it. Defenses are putting more of a premiun of an edge rusher, and more of a shell defense to make teams drive the field and not hit the big plays.
The name of the game on defense is get to the QB, and if the offense breaks a long run here and there, so be it, cuz many offenses' 1st instinct nowadays is to throw it.. As Browns fans can probably tell you, many of these young play-calling head coaches aren't wise enough to change their thinking and run the ball more to exploit defensive linemen who are selling out to rush the passer.
Absolutely. Also........with QBs getting these huge, guaranteed deals I expect teams will be unable to keep talent around them. Rodgers lost Adams, Mahomey lost Hill, and fully expect when more of these big time contracts eat up more of the cap room that we see more talent moving on to get paid.

We were in the golden age after the rookie salary cap was implemented. Think Luck's class was the first one to deal with it. The top pick the year before Luck got more of a SIGNING BONUS than Luck's full contract. That allowed teams to fill up their roster with more talent instead of giving so much to one player. We saw the model of teams hitting it big while their QBs were on their rookie deals. Now, with the hude deals and making insane guarantees (thanks to the idiot browns for giving a quarter of a billion dollars guaranteed to a provtugger) those stupid rookie deals are becoming replaced by insane QB deals.


More defenses see whats going on...more they can adjust. Teams play more DB's on every down. How do you mitigate that? Running the ball. Moving fwd we may seem more premiums put on running it, which will slow down the scoring which is what defenses want.
 

Stirred not Shaken

Well-known member
Chiefs didn't have any problems scoring points yesterday vs 49ers. Third time this year the Chiefs have gone over 40 pts. in a game. Good QB, good oline, and a good offensive mind leads to a good offense. Colleges are producing too many dual threat QB's and not pro style QB's. Very difficult to find another Mahomes who is an excellent passing QB but also can run. I wonder if a Brady or a Ken Anderson type would even get drafted today.
 
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