In watching the Bears preseason game against the Redskins, I was impressed with the Bears’ new weapons on offense. Brandon Marshall had a couple catches for 61 yards, and Michael Bush looked really good running the football, finding the end zone twice. If you look at the 2011 NFL team stats page, you’ll see that the Bears had the 24th ranked offense last year. Obviously, injuries to Jay Cutler and Matt Forte at the end of the season played a role in that, but their lack of good skill position players outside of Forte factored in heavily as well.
Three of the NFC East teams had some turnover among their skill position players this offseason. The Redskins added Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan, while letting Jabar Gaffney walk in free agency. The Giants lost Jake Ballard for the season to a torn ACL, and then lost him for good to the Patriots when they injured/waived him. Needing help at TE, they signed Martellus Bennett away from Dallas. They also said goodbye to Brandon Jacobs and Mario Manningham, while replacing them with a couple of promising rookie draft picks in David Wilson and Reuben Randle. The Cowboys, meanwhile, lost a lot of production when the Jaguars overpaid Laurent Robinson in free agency. Only the Eagles’ skill players stayed exactly the same.
I thought it would be interesting to look at the top 2 RBs, top 4 WRs, and top 2 TEs for all 32 teams to see where the NFC East teams would rank yardage wise in comparison to the rest of the league, post-offseason roster shuffle. The Bears, as mentioned above, were the 24th ranked offense last year, but if you take the production of their new skill position players’ 2011 production, they’re 6th. Michael Bush likely won’t get the number of carries he got last year playing behind Matt Forte, so that skews the numbers, but I found the drastic difference interesting.
I should note that there were a few other anomalies. For example, the Patriots would have a high number anyway, but it became astronomical when you factor in that they have 2 WRs, Deion Branch and Jabar Gaffney, that were starters last year, but will be 3rd and 4th WRs this year. And then of course there are other factors that skew the numbers either way, like players returning from injury (see Jamaal Charles of the Chiefs), or rookies that are expected to be significant contributors to their teams this year, with the aforementioned David Wilson and Reuben Randle being possible examples. Rookies like Wilson and Randle obviously contributed zero yards last year, so they would of course skew the numbers negatively in replacing players like Jacobs (699 yards from scrimmage last season) and Manningham (523).
Still, for the most part, while not perfect by any stretch (and I’m sure there are plenty more holes to be poked here), this data is a decent indicator of which teams have good, proven talent in place at the skill positions, and who may not, post roster shuffle. The results:
|Team||2011 total offense||Re-shuffled|