The Raven’s offense in 2013 gets the majority of the blame for the team’s 8-8 finish, but is it a fair assessment? We can point to the mediocre statistics, the poor third down conversion rate, and the anemic rushing numbers for what amounted to many stalled drives over the course of the season. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the unit just didn’t live up to expectations last season.
But we wondered, just how bad was the offense last year? Was it substantially worse than previous years, and how did it compare to the rest of the NFL? For the answers, we looked to Football Outsider’s excellent Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) system. DVOA takes every single play the team runs over the course of a season and compares it to the league average. There is perhaps no more in depth statistical analysis out there.
The offensive efficiency ratings, which use the DVOA system to rank teams, are also weighted based on a variety of factors including the gradual rise in importance of games played later in the season. Rushing and passing ratings are calculated separately, and a total offensive rating is given as well.
Using these ratings, we find that the Ravens finished 30th in total offense in 2013. Only two teams – the Giants and Jaguars – finished with a worse rating. Both the passing offense (29th) and the rushing offense (30th) were equally at fault. The Ravens did have the 13th hardest schedule, so at least a small percentage of blame can go there.
What’s even more astounding is that in 2012, the Ravens finished 7th in total offense, and 13th in both 2011 and 2010. Helping those rankings was a rushing attack that ranked 7th in the league. The passing offense actually ranked 8th in 2010 but fell to 14th in 2011.
Looking at these numbers, it would be easy to assume that the rushing offense and the offensive line are the culprits behind last year’s poor performance. The o-line simply couldn’t open holes for anybody to run through, and they did a poor job in pass protection.
A tough schedule deserves part of the blame, but you will never hear a team use that as an excuse for poor play. While the Ravens had the 13th easiest schedule in 2012, Super Bowl teams don’t usually face cream puffs on their way to a championship. And the Ravens certainly did not in 2012.
Looking at the numbers, it appears that last season was the one big blemish this offense has had since Joe Flacco took the helm at quarterback. It also appears that it wasn’t his fault. So we will chalk last year’s failure up as the exception to the rule. A new scheme, revamped offensive line, talented pass catchers, and deeper-than-ever running back group should catapult the Ravens back into the top half of the league offensively in 2013.