Thin line separates teams in offensive snaps

The Vikings finished 28th in offensive snaps and the top teams shouldn’t be a surprise.


There are many differences between NFL organizations and how they do their business of trying to win a championship, but one thing that binds them all is the uncanny similarity in the number of plays that each offense and defense run over the course of a season.

Without an Adrian Peterson-led ground game, the Vikings offense ranked 28th in the league in offensive snaps with 1,052. Any time you rank 28th in anything in the NFL, there is cause for concern, but when it comes to offensive snaps taken in 2014, the difference is just 50 snaps – one extra first down and three extra plays a game – between being in 28th place and tied for 12th. Things are that uniform across the board in the NFL.

Only one team had more than 1,200 snaps – Philadelphia with 1,208 – and only one team had less than 1,000 – Tennessee with 989.

The numbers seem to bear out that the teams with the most offensive plays didn’t come as a huge surprise, nor did the teams located in the bottom end of the spectrum.

Here is the full list:

1. Philadelphia 1,208
2. Indianapolis 1,190
3. Denver 1,161
4. New Orleans 1,158
5. New York Giants 1,156
6. New England 1,155
7. Miami 1.136
8. Pittsburgh 1,134
9. Houston 1,132
10. Carolina 1,128
11. Detroit 1,111
12. Atlanta 1,102
13. New York Jets 1,100
14. Washington 1,095
15. Baltimore 1,094
16. Seattle 1,093
t17. Cincinnati 1,090
t17. Chicago 1,090
t19. Arizona 1,089
t19. San Diego 1,089
t21. Buffalo 1,086
t21. San Francisco 1,086
23. Dallas 1,082
24. Cleveland 1,078
25. Green Bay 1,072
26. Oakland 1,060
27. Jacksonville 1,055
28. Minnesota 1,052
29. St. Louis 1,037
30. Kansas City 1,033
31. Tampa Bay 1,028
32. Tennessee 989

The difference is minimal between almost all of the teams in the league in terms of the number of times a quarterback lines up and the team runs a play it hopes will strike pay dirt. It is such a miniscule difference that the margin between No. 12 Atlanta and No. 24 Cleveland is just 24 snaps – a difference of 1.5 snaps per game.

Many numbers in the NFL tend to skew greatly from top to bottom and even in the middle. Giveaway/takeaway ratio is among them. So are points, third-down conversions and yards per play. Some teams thrive consistently. Some teams struggle consistently.

But what these numbers tend to prove is that, regardless of how good or bad an offense may look on paper, when all is said and done, they’re all going to be pretty close in terms of the number of plays they run and the number of opportunities they have to put points on the board.

Are the Vikings a better team with better prospects in 2015 than the Jaguars and Raiders? No doubt about it, but the other two teams ran more plays than the Vikings in 2015 and were chasing down Green Bay in December to pass the Packers. Nobody is criticizing Green Bay’s offense for a lack of plays run.

The simple fact of the matter is that, when the regular season commences in a little less than two months, all 32 teams in the NFL are going to run between 1,000 and 1,200 plays. The difference between most teams will be negligible – literally one or two plays a game. Some will be on the high end. Some will be on the low side. But they’re all going to take snaps at approximately the same level.

It’s what they do with those 1,000 to 1,200 snaps that will determine who rises and who falls in 2015.

THURSDAY NOTES
  • There had been some talk that Harrison Smith might be in line to sign a long-term contract before he hit the final season of his contract, which, thanks to a fifth-year option exercised by the Vikings earlier this year, won’t be until 2016. Apparently there won’t be a signing announcement coming at the start of training camp. ESPN reports that the Vikings won’t talk contract with Smith until after this season.

  • NFL.com listed the second-year players that appear poised for a breakout season and Minnesota fans are hoping they’re accurate because two of the top three are Vikings. Anthony Barr checked in at No. 3 and Teddy Bridgewater landed the top spot, giving both the Vikings offense and defense reason to be optimistic that big things are on the horizon in 2015.


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