AFC Team Outlooks: 2006 Regular Season NFL Run/Pass Ratio Significance
Baltimore 52 % Pass to 48% Run
2006: Baltimore was very balanced last year in their offense, as their record pointed out. With a second straight disappointing year from Jamal Lewis, they went to the pass more often. McNair spread the wealth and was productive throwing to Mark Clayton, Derrick Mason, and Todd Heap.
2007: I see that Baltimore will stop the passing trend, as they added RB Willis McGahee to bolster their run attack. They should improve considerably on their 3.4 average, and use the play action very well. Look for Baltimore to stay balanced, this time favoring the run more than the pass with the acquisition of McGahee.
Buffalo was close to Even (431 plays pass to 420 plays run)
2006: Buffalo showed a lack consistency both running and passing. The offensive line was poor and their QB play was erratic. The shaky performance in 2006 placed atop as one of the worst offenses in the league. The only plays that worked really took place all in Week 11 at Houston, when Lee Evans and J.P. Losman hooked up for two 83-yard touchdown bombs. This offense was just as entertaining as a live spelling bee on ESPN.
2007: Buffalo will go to the pass more this year because they have a rookie starting in the backfield. Marshawn Lynch will improve the Bills run game but he cannot be counted on early in the year, and especially not against a tough AFC schedule, playing good defenses like the Patriots and New York Jets twice. I see Lee Evans having another monster year connecting with Losman for more touchdown strikes. Other than Evans and Lynch, Buffalo is in a tough spot with no other true playmakers.
Cincinnati 55% Pass 45% to Run
2006: Cincinnati gave the keys to the offense for Carson Palmer to drive. They called on the pass a lot despite having a solid, all-pro RB in Rudi Johnson. But with Houshmmandzadeh and Chad Johnson on the receiving end of Palmer’s passes, it’s a good choice to lead your offense with a passing attack armed with those top guns to throw to. The gameplan did not work as well, falling short of the playoffs.
2007: Cincinnati will have to run more to reach the playoffs this year. I expect them to become more of a rushing team, as they added Auburn’s RB Kenny Irons to the mix of Rudi Johnson and Chris Perry. They will power it out a bit more; expect more passes like last season, as they have a franchise superstar gem in Palmer. They also have an envious luxury in two all-pro performers at WR.
Cleveland 58% Pass 42 Run
2006: Cleveland was all over the place last season like a baby’s mess at the dinner table. They left out the run plays early and often. Understandably, because they were down in so many games after the first quarter of play. Cleveland’s rushing attack shop was closed in the beginning of last year and permantly went out of business like a small pizza shop trying to compete next to Domino’s. They knew it all along and placed a less than 85 yards a game sign in front of the shop, which needed a major fixing. Passing was on an off like a flickering light switch at a cheap motel.
2007: Cleveland should improve the running game with a better offensive line this year. Insert Jamal Lewis for Reuben Droughns and you have more productivity. I see the run to pass ratio getting more balanced out, but not enough as they will rely on the pass when down late in games. They should consider winning the time of possession if they want a more effective offense.
Denver 52% Pass 48% to Run
2006: Denver was successful with the Bell(s) in the backfield last year. They ran the ball close to 31 times a game for around 2,200 yards total, with an average of 4.4 yards per carry. They replaced Plummer with Jay Cutler and did not miss rhythm making the change. The Broncos were better off running more times than the passing, as they missed out on the playoffs.
2007: With Travis Henry added at RB, expect Denver to reverse the ratio around this season. They need to use the play-action pass with a mobile Cutler and agile offensive line. Expect them to rank in the Top 10 running again and to mix it up going to the TE’s more over the middle.
Houston 53% Pass to 47% Run
2006: Houston’s ride with David Carr went as far as a biker traveling downtown on a flat tire. The experiment did not pan out and they only took a few small, baby steps around the block. Try using a bike with training wheels in a race against the ten-speed mountain bikes, that’s how Houston felt with Carr under the center versus the rest of the league on Sundays. They give him no help at all outside of Andre Johnson and they struggled mightily.
2007: The city of Houston is waiting for a winning direction on Offense, for the first time since the days of the Run â€˜n’ Shoot Oilers of Warren Moon. Expect more lackluster times in Houston this season. With new QB Matt Schaub they will pass more despite adding Ahman Green. The team will go shotgun more with the line being below average.
Indy 56% Pass 44 Run
2006: The Super Bowl Champs made all the right moves on offense last year. You cannot question the play calling of QB Peyton Manning and offensive coordinator Tom Moore. They ran the offense to perfection, using more audibles than ever. They passed more than customers at the salad bar at a buffet with steak and lobster. The run game was led by departured Dominic Rhodes and rookie standout LSU’s Joseph Addai provided more than expected.
2007: Indy will not change much in their attack. They added two Ohio State wideouts, Anthony Gonzalez and Roy Hall in this year’s draft. The pass game will only go up and the talented WR’s that were added will only help to make the Colts the most feared squad offensively.
Jacksonville 53% Run to 47% Pass
2006: Jacksonville ran more than a track star, the “Coach Carter” basketball team, and a punished football player for running the wrong play, all in one. It was a beauty to watch as they ran for over 2,500 yards, rushing 32 times a game, with an astounding average of five yards a carry. Rookie RB Maurice Drew blew up with an outstanding year and Fred Taylor ran over/by defenders en route to a strong season. This combination was so good and a joy to watch, that many forgot about QB Byron Leftwich’s injury-plagued year.
2007: Though they did not make it to the playoffs last year, don’t expect Jacksonville to change their playbook with a “Brian Westbrook” type RB in Drew. They will continue to run it up the gut to make way for the play-action pass. Jacksonville’s inconsistent passing game will give Head Coach Jack Del Rio no option to go to the run game even more this season. 60% running the football would be a success in Jags town.
New York Jets EVEN (491 run plays to 488 pass plays)
2006: The New York Jets offense was just as predictable as a New York Knicks debacle in the Garden. It was sure when they were running and passing the ball, though they managed to be the NFL’s most balanced team numbers-wise, running and the throwing the ball to a playoff game. Chad Pennington had a healthy season completing passes at the 64% mark.
2007: New York will run the ball more obviously, as they traded for RB Thomas Jones, to go along with Leon Washington. I do not see the Jets changing much in the conservative approach. They will need to spice it up a bit in order to go father in the playoffs this year.
Oakland 55% Pass to 45% Run
2006: Oakland’s offense last season was more laughable than a Mr. T Saturday Nite Live funhouse skit. This episode aired and came out with an unappetizing grand total of five touchdowns and whoever the QB was, got sacked an amazing 72 times. It got more laughs then that of a 1980s late comedy hour with Eddie Murphy.
2007: Expect Oakland to run more to protect rookie LSU QB JaMarcus Russell from having to be put on his back more than 70 times this year. They should get a healthy LaMont Jordan and the addition of RB Dominic Rhodes will only help. I say the Raiders will still air it out 55 to 60% of the time again with new Head Coach Lane Kiffin.
Pittsburgh 53% Pass to 47% Run
2006: Pittsburgh shockingly turned from their smash mouth ways of running the football 35 times a game, to passing more often with QB Ben Roethlisberger last season. Even though RB Willie Parker had a tremendous, eye-opening year, rushing for close to 1,500 yards on the ground behind Guard Alan Faneca and friends. The Steelers threw 23 interceptions and got sacked a total of 49 times.
2007: Expect Pittsburgh to come back down to earth and run the ball 55-60% of the time. “Fast Willie” Parker is too good like a Rolls Royce, to park in the garage on a hot, summer day. You have to use more of Parker and let him run by defenses for long gains. I also see that Roethlisberger will rebound with 25 touchdowns to 15 picks.
San Diego 53% Run to 47% Pass
2006: What can you say when your RB breaks the TD record, as LaDainian Tomlinson did last season. He could be the best player in the National Football League and he hasn’t even reached his best level of play yet. The “super” Chargers rushed for over 160 yards a game and their passing game was consistently accurate with Phillip Rivers.
2007: Expect more of the same from San Diego’s future Hall of Famer Tomlinson. I see them running the ball a little bit less even though they will not want to, as defenses will stack up with more and more eight-man fronts against this #1 scoring NFL offense. Look for Tomlinson to catch more passes and Gates to get to reach his usual double-digit touchdown mark.
Tennessee 51% Run to 49% Pass
2006: This Tennessee Titan offense was a running machine featuring rookie phenomenon QB Vince Young, averaging 4.7 yards per rush as a team. Tennessee rushed for 15 touchdowns, to along with an impressive 138 yards a game running with the pigskin. They were fifth in the league in total carries. The pass game was another story, it was like night and day compared to the run game, throwing 19 picks and completing just over 50% of their passes thrown.
2007: The Tennessee offense added no one worthwhile to catch passes from star Vince Young. There is no one to take the pressure of his shoulders this year as 1,000 yard rusher Travis Henry bolted to Denver. Look for the Titans to certainly become the next Atlanta east. Running the ball close to a 60% rate and relying on Young to do work scrambling. The RB-by-committee will be led by rookie Chris Henry or LeDale White, which is not a strength for a team that needs to run the ball a lot, seeing that the pass game is still lethargic.