Playbook Confidential: Summarizing 2011

More running from "11"? Ok, BFTB, whatever you say!

It's time to kickoff the off-season edition of Playbook Confidential, where we'll take a look back at different aspects of Norv Turner's playcalls and results from 2011 (with an eye on what 2012 might look like, depending on free agency). Dts317- has already gotten the ball rolling with his excellent success rates analysis. As the off-season progresses I'll try to slice the data from last season in some interesting ways. Today I'm going to try to summarize the season as a whole (similar to this bye week post), and look at some themes from wins vs losses. (an explanation of our personnel group numbering is here)

The Chargers ran a total of 1077 meaningful offensive plays in 2011. They had an overall run/pass balance of 38%/62%; which was near identical to the bye week run/pass balance. This is a great example of Norv running his execution based offense as opposed to changing things based on the opponent. If we break the run/pass balance down by down in wins vs losses, we can see that Norv was vastly more deliberate with the run on 1st down in wins. Part of this can be blamed on holding a lead, but even in the first halves of wins, the offense sported a 50/50 split on 1st down. Establishing the run game early, and achieving manageable 2nd and 3rd downs is key to winning for this offense. 2nd down broke down surprisingly identically between wins and losses.

Wins Wins
Losses Losses
Run Pass Run Pass
1st Down 61% 39% 39% 61%
2nd Down 36% 64% 36% 64%
3rd Down 22% 78% 13% 87%
Overall 44% 56% 32% 68%

In line with masters of the obvious (running more in wins), if we turn our eyes to the running backs, we can see that more Mathews playing time is also an IWIN button for Norv. When the community is moaning about the details of Mike Tolbert's cap busting deal with another team, I may be in the comments pointing to this little gem.

RB Playing Time Wins Losses
Ryan Mathews 49% 45%
Mike Tolbert 39% 49%

If we take a step away from the BFTB log, and characterize the offenses statistical ranking, we can see that the passing game was elite in 2011, while the running game was slightly above average. The only offenses with better overall DVOAs this year were the super-elite Green Bay, New Orleans, New England, and an on-the-rise Carolina. For all our moaning about predictability and lack of creativity, the San Diego offense, wielding a far below average Philip Rivers campaign, is still elite. (All VOA, DVOA, YAR and DYAR statistical values are developed, calculated and reported by Football Outsiders. Their explanation can be found here.)

Yards/Gm Rank DVOA Rank
Run 117 #16 5.60% #12
Pass 277 #6 34.10% #6
Overall 393 #6 17.70% #5

Turning our attention to personnel use in wins and losses, we see more creativity and variation in wins. Losses are primarily the "11" and "12" show, while every single other personnel group shows higher use in wins. It's probably fair to point out that a few of the losses were during incredible offensive line instability, which lent itself to a reduced playbook, but this data still makes a compelling argument for more personnel variation.

Personnel Wins Losses
11 27% 34%
12 35% 42%
13 4% 1%
20 2% 0%
21 19% 12%
22 11% 9%
23 2% 1%

Our last nugget for the off-season reboot of Playbook Confidential is an extra spin on Dts317-'s success rates analysis. I asked Dts317- to break down Personnel group success for running plays and passing plays. Looking at the results, we see a rather flat distribution of ~50% success on from the three major passing groups. We also see the most running success from BFTB's favorite running group, "11". "11" is a great running group because of it's extremely heavy use as a passing group (271 passes to only 50 runs). Part of its success running is because of how little it is used, but I'd still like to see shotgun and "11" running used more this coming year. Strangely, the super run-obvious "23" and "22" groupings were also really successful executing the running game. In general, a large volume of runs came from varied groups, while passing plays came from a very tight core trio of groups. I can't thank Dts317- enough for his own article and his help on this one.

Personnel Passing Success

Personnel Success Fail Total Success Rate
10 1 0 1 100%
13 5 3 8 63%
11 140 131 271 52%
21 40 38 78 51%
12 131 128 259 51%
22 9 10 19 47%
20 2 4 6 33%
23 0 3 3 0%
Overall 328 317 645 51%

Personnel Running Success

Personnel Success Fail Total Success Rate
20 2 0 2 100%
11 30 20 50 60%
23 8 6 14 57%
22 43 42 85 51%
21 41 45 86 48%
12 59 82 141 42%
13 7 12 19 37%
Overall 190 207 397 48%

Please hit up the comments if there is anything you'd like examined this off season. I'm planning to drill into more detail on various downs, calls with Mathews vs Tolbert, playcall sequences (ie what happens on 2nd down after an incomplete pass on 1st down vs after a dud run on 1st down), and I'm still on a mission to unlock the secret code to tendencies for run/pass calls out of "12" and "21".

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