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Contextualizing the value of offensive coordinators via EPA/play

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NFL: New York Jets at Buffalo Bills Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, the New York Jets and offensive coordinator Mike LeFleur agreed to ‘mutually’ part ways, ending LeFleur’s time with the organization.

While the new coordinator has yet to be determined, the decision to move on from LeFleur allows Jets fans to dream of a more effective offense either due to schematic changes or improved in-game playcalling on the part of the new coordinator. However, I think this begs the question of how much of an improvement is a reasonable expectation? As luck would have it, NFL analytics tweeter Tej Seth provided a timely answer.

Note: EPA is shorthand for estimated points added. For those unfamiliar with this term, I am going to paste a previous summary that I have provided.

At its root core, EPA intends to estimate how many more points are expected from a given drive after each play based on yards gained and the down and distance. Through compiling this play-to-play data, scores can be summed to provide estimates of the quality of various aspects of a team. For those interested in greater detail on the calculation and uses of this statistic, a useful resource can be found here

While I disagree with Tej Seth’s positioning of the Miami Dolphins as having ‘similar personnel’ after adding star wide receiver Tyreek Hill, I think his overall point and findings are a useful building block for our understanding of how a new offensive coordinator may benefit the Jets on an EPA per play basis. Specifically, a successful hire may generate between .08 and .17 additional EPA/play compared to the previous season.

To contextualize this value, the New York Giants offense had an EPA/play of .01 through December 18th which ranked 18th in the league, implying the offense is essentially both league average and a net neutral that generates few points. Using this as a point of reference, a gain of ~.08 via the addition would elevate the Giants offense to roughly equivalent to that of the Las Vegas Raiders, Cincinnati Bengals, or San Francisco 49ers, who have EPA/play estimates ranging from .09 to .10 and all ranked in the top 10 in EPA/play. Additionally, a gain of ~.17 EPA/play would position the Giants offense as roughly equivalent to that of the Dallas Cowboys, a top 3 offensive unit based on EPA/play.

In relation to the New York Jets, they recorded an an EPA/play of -0.17 in 2022 (ranked 31st in the league). Using this figure, an increase of ~.08 would turn the Jets offense into a unit resembling the Tennessee Titans (ranked 25th) whereas an increase of ~.17 would turn the Jets offense into a unit resembling the New York Giants (ranked 18th). In either of these cases, this would mark a significant improvement, as would any outcome that falls in between them.

But what do you think? Can the Jets have this kind of offensive improvement? If so, who is your pick to take over the reins of offensive coordinator and lead this unit into a renaissance?