Whose Offenses Might Benefit from the Lockout?

by Jason Epstein

With the NFL lockout showing no signs of lifting, coaches are left to wonder how much time they will have to teach the offensive playbook before the regular season begins. Football Outsiders senior analyst Mike Tanier contends that most teams who employed more basic offenses last year (i.e., greater reliance on designed running plays, less on trick plays, “funky formations,” and screens) ought to have an easier time recovering from the work stoppage.

Taking advantage of a 2010 play-by-play database, Tanier analyzed all 32 teams’ offensive plays and came up with a “Simplicity Score” for each one — the higher the score, the easier-to-absorb the offense.

The top five Simplicity Score teams who did not make coaching changes during the offseason are the Buccaneers, Jets, Ravens, Chargers, and Jaguars.

Regarding San Diego’s rating, Tanier points out:

Not all of the teams on this list are run oriented. The Chargers are among the most effective passing teams in the league, but there is not a lot of junk in Norv Turner’s system. The Chargers ran just four trick plays and 34 screen passes. Norv Turner’s scheme is somewhat old-fashioned, which should help players pick it up faster.

Who ended up with the lowest Simplicity Score?

Sudden shifts from empty backfields to jumbo T-formations made the Packers hard to defend last year, but the crazy personnel groupings and formation shifts cannot be easy to master on a tight deadline.

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