UPDATED TO INCLUDE 2010-PRESENT
After reading a few threads where there were some debates going on about our offensive production this year, I realized that I didn't really like any of the current methods for determining offensive success.
To me, an offense's primary job is always to get the ball in the end zone. Secondary is getting points at all, in the form of setting up a field goal try. But looking solely at points scored didn't satisfy me, because there was no qualifier there for how close we were getting to scoring on drives where we didn't come away with anything. Was our offense good, but just not quite good enough? We were dismal most of the time, with a few lucky drives a game? Somewhere in between?
To get a better idea, I went back and looked at every drive our offense had over the past two seasons, as well as the games this season. I charted the starting position for the offense, how many yards were gained, and what the result of the drive was - either a punt, field goal attempt, touchdown, turnover or other (turnover on downs or end of half/game). I also gathered what I was really interested in, which was the percentage of yards-to-go that our offense gained on every drive. If getting to the end zone is the goal, I wanted to see how good the Redskins offense was at driving towards that goal, and how we've improved this season. Here's what I came up with, after charting all the drives from 2010 through last week against Dallas:
Starting Field Position
2010: own 28.4
2011: own 28.4
2012: own 26.5
Average Percentage of Yards-to-Go Gained
Percentage of Drives Ending in Scoring Opportunity
2012: 42.4 %
Percentage of Drives Ending in Touchdowns
Percentage of Drives Ending in Turnover
Some notes...I included all field goal attempts as "scoring tries", as to not punish the offense for a special teams failure. It was, however, disheartening to see how many of our drives ended in missed or blocked field goals. It was also disheartening to tab over to the "turnover" column to add an X so many more times than tabbing over to the "touchdown" column. There were only three times this season (2011) that we scored touchdowns on back-to-back drives.
UPDATE FOR 2012: This changed a tremendous amount. So far this year we've had 50 drives ending in scoring opportunities (TDs, FGs, or FG tries) with only 11 drives ending in turnovers. We've had seven times already this season that we've scored TDs on back-to-back drives.
The biggest improvement is obviously in touchdowns and turnovers. There's been an absolutely remarkable difference in those two items between the past two years and this year so far. I have my own theories on why that is, but it really is incredible. I can't wait to see how we finish this season off. Mike, Kyle and RGIII really seem to have something special going on here on offense.