http://www.nfl.com/news/story/7610861 wrote: (The following is a copy of a memorandum sent by Troy Aikman to the NFL's Competition Committee to change the way offenses and defenses are rated.)
(Aug. 24, 2004) -- Dear Competition Committee:
I am writing to request that you consider changing the way the NFL keeps track of the top offenses and defenses in its statistics.
Currently, the offensive and defensive team rankings are based on total yards. For instance, the Minnesota Vikings led the NFL in total offense last season. That's based purely on the fact that they had more yards than anybody else. However, they did not lead the league in points scored, first downs, rushing yards, passing yards or third-down efficiency.
The No. 1 defense is based on a team having allowed fewer yards than anyone else. In 2000, the Baltimore Ravens set an NFL record for fewest points allowed in a 16-game season (165) and won the Super Bowl with what many consider one of the best defenses in league history. But the top-ranked defense that year, based on fewest yards allowed, belonged to the Tennessee Titans.
You can see why I don't agree with the system that is currently in place.
The ranking system should be like the passer ratings for quarterbacks. Whoever wins the passing title has won that title based on a system in which several factors are calculated into every pass you attempt: Yards per completion, yards per attempt, touchdown ratio and interception ratio.
I think they should do the same thing for total offense and total defense. The categories for both would be as follows:
Yards per play
Whoever came up with the equation for the passer rating should be able to take all this data and come up with a formula to determine the top-ranked units. That way, when we talk about a team being the "No. 1 offense," we're talking about a group that is truly efficient and impressive.
Because when it's just a matter of yardage, the passing teams are always going to rank higher. The Colts ranked third in total offense last year, but all that meant was that they had a ton of passing yards. The Colts led the NFL in passing yards, but they ranked 19th in rushing.
Changing the way we measure these statistics would not only be for the fans' benefit. In fact, it's more for the benefit of assistant coaches around the league. A lot of coaches get jobs based on what their units do statistically. There are a lot of offensive coordinators around the league that really want to throw the ball around, because it's more appealing -- it looks better and gets them noticed a little bit more.
I've talked to coaches about this and I have yet to hear any of them say, "I don't agree with you." Those that I have spoken with think it makes sense. Because then the No. 1 team is No. 1 for a good reason.
I understand no formula is perfect. If a quarterback plays great while driving his team down the field, but his team runs the ball into the end zone, and then he throws a few interceptions, his rating is hurt. If a quarterback wisely throws the ball away to avoid a sack, it hurts his rating. There are always things you can point to and say it's not a true barometer. But this idea is a better one that what's currently in place.
The passer rating was implemented in 1973. Obviously, somebody thought it was worthwhile to do. It's a way that you can judge quarterbacks and get a fairly decent idea as to how well they're performing. You should be able to do the same thing with team offense and team defense.
Thank you for considering this idea. I'd be happy to discuss it further at the next Competition Committee meeting.
I've like the idea. I've always thought the current system was a little... lacking.