Trying to quantify the best offense in the NFL isn't an easy thing to do. There are so many variables that can be used to make "Team A" appear to be the best. Everything has to be considered from overall balance, scoring and yards all the way to efficiency. But there's only one team that can be chosen as having the best offense in the NFL, and that team is the New England Patriots.
What initially started out to be a pretty difficult decision because of the number of potent offenses in the NFL right now, became pretty easy once everything was taken into consideration. Even with the departure of Wes Welker, the injury to Rob Gronkowski and the departure of Aaron Hernandez, until the Patriots and Tom Brady show they can't move the ball and score points without these guys, they're still at the top.
There are three reasons the Patriots were chosen as having the best offense in the NFL. Each of those will be explained below.
1. Scoring and yards
The goal of an offense is to move the football and score points. So what better way to determine the best offense in the NFL than to see which teams had the most yards and who scored the most points. Upon further examination, that team was the same—the New England Patriots.
|1||New England||34.8||1||New England||427.9|
The team that moves the ball the most and scores the most points should be considered the best. Two of the teams in the top four in each of these categories as well, the Denver Broncos and New Orleans Saints, could have strong cases made for them as having the best offense. But they're still looking up at the Patriots any way you look at it.
Granted this was based on last year's numbers and the personnel is different, specifically talking about Wes Welker moving from the Patriots to the Broncos. But he's not the only personnel move that's different.
The Broncos have questions at center and we don't know what Montee Ball will bring to the table in comparison to what Willis McGahee brought last year. The same can be said for Danny Amendola in New England and what the status of Rob Gronkowski's injury will be moving forward.
The bottom line is that until it's proven on the field, the team at the top spot has to remain at the top spot.
That leads us to our next category which helped determine the Patriots at the top spot.
The New England Patriots may have had the highest scoring offense while also picking up the most yards, but they didn't have the top rushing or passing offense individually. The Patriots passing game led by Tom Brady averaged 291.4 yards per game, which ranked fourth in the NFL. The rushing attack led by Steven Ridley averaged 136.5 yards per game, which ranked seventh.
There is balance on the offense that's not put in terms of play-calling and ratio of pass attempts to rushing attempts, but of different areas of your team picking up yards. Brady threw for over 4,800 yards and Ridley ran for more than 1,200.
Here's a quick look at the top four passing offense's last year and they're top rusher.
|Top 4 Passing offense's||Rushing Rank||Top Rusher||Rushing Yards|
|1. New Orleans Saints||25th||Mark Ingram||602|
|2. Detroit Lions||23rd||Mikel Leshoure||798|
|3. Dallas Cowboys||31st||DeMarco Murray||663|
|4. New England Patriots||7th||Stevan Ridley||1,263|
Most people know about Tom Brady and the Patriot's ability to throw the football, but they also showed last year an ability to run the football with Stevan Ridley.
That balance is undoubtedly what helped them lead the league in both yards and points.
Another one of the biggest determining factors of the Patriots having the best offense is that they led the NFL in giveaway/takeaway ratio (25) last season. They also tied for second in the NFL in fewest turnovers with 16, trailing only the Washington Redskins (14).
|Best give-away/take-away ratio in 2012|
|1||New England Patriots||+25|
|4||New York Giants||+14|
|5||Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks||+13|
Simply put, when your offense is consistently moving the ball on the ground and through the air and not turning it over, it's efficient. The Patriots moved the ball better than anyone else, protected the ball as well as anyone else (besides Redskins), and scored more points than anyone else.
That's how you end up with the top-ranked offense in the NFL.
Here's one play from the preseason from the Patriots that will look awfully familiar, despite new personnel.
The Patriots are sitting with a third-and-five against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Patriots have zero tight ends on the field. The Bucs are showing blitz but will fall back into Cover-2 man. Danny Amendola is lined up in the slot at the top of the screen.
The two linebackers near the line of scrimmage immediately shadow their coverage responsibilities, which would be the two running backs out of the back field. You can see Danny Amendola fighting off press coverage as he comes towards the middle of the field.
Once Amendola gets to the middle of the field Brady has his eyes locked on him. You can see Amendola breaking down his feet and where he's about to go. This route looks very similar to what Welker ran so successfully for years in New England.
The Patriots offensive line does a fantastic job of giving Brady a clean pocket where he can calmly step into his throw.
Brady perfectly leads Amendola on this third-down play. You'll notice that the completion was still five yards from being a first down, but the accurate throw and quickness of Amendola gets up the field for the first down on third and long.
There are a handful of teams that you could make cases for heading into the 2013-14 season as having the best offense in the NFL. The Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers, Washington Redskins or a handful of others.
While these teams made changes to their offense and personnel just as the Patriots have going into next season, until they step on the field and play together as a unit in the regular season, we won't know how good they are.
That's why the Patriots still hold the top spot as having the best offense in the NFL.