One of the most important part of a team’s offensive philosophy is whether it is run first or pass first?
Some teams like to establish the run to force the defense to drop extra defenders near the line of scrimmage. After that happens, they can attack the suddenly vulnerable deep part of the field through the air. These teams are becoming fewer and fewer in the days of spread passing offenses in the NFL.
Other teams like to throw first. They want to make big plays through the air and grab the lead and then turn to the run to bleed the clock and protect it.
Still other teams want to maintain balance and stay unpredictable.
To figure out each team’s philosophy, I like to view run-pass ratios in the first quarter of games. If you are looking to establish something heading into a game, the first quarter is where you establish it.
You can’t use run-pass ratios for the entire game to judge. Bad teams tend to be playing from behind and are more apt to throw. Good teams are more apt to run later in games when protecting a lead. To figure out the true offensive identity, we need to go earlier.
What is each team’s philosophy?
Pass to set up the run (throw over 55% of the time): 14 teams
Balanced (between 45% and 55% for both run and pass): 17 teams
Run to set up the pass (run over 55% of the time): 1 team
You can see it is clearly becoming a passing league. There is an old cliche in football about teams needing to run to set up the pass. That clearly is not the way the modern NFL works.
Most of the teams are looking for a balance, including the Jets who had close to a 50/50 split.