Written by Ben Jackson
Season 14 Passing Offense Power Rankings
As we approach Season 15, let’s take a look back at the top passing offenses in Season 14. We
will use a balanced approach which takes into account:
1. Pure Efficiency – yards per pass attempt
2. Lighting up the Scoreboard – touchdowns thrown
3. Avoiding Negative Plays – sacks and interceptions
This article seeks to rank on-field performance only. Without question, the performance of the quarterback is dependent on the players and scheme around him, to one degree or another. We won’t try to separate those factors right now. We won’t give bonuses for high volume or penalties for low volume. We won’t issue projections for Season 15 at this time either. We’re going to discuss the formula I used, so skip down to the rankings if that’s not your cup of tea.
The complete formula we will use is called Adjusted Net Yards per attempt, or ANY/A. This metric correlates strongly with scoring and winning; that’s why we have chosen it. “Adjusted” refers to giving a 20 yard bonus for each touchdown and a 45 yard penalty for each interception. “Net” means that each sack is treated as a pass attempt. Lost sack yardage is subtracted from passing yards and considered the same as a pass attempt. Put it all together and it looks like this:
= ANY/A (passing yards − sack yards lost) + (20 x TDs) − (45 x INTs) / (pass attempts + sacks)
This boils passing efficiency down to a single number. We will rank the top 10 passing teams in
Season 14 using this metric, then go back to the three factors outlined above to add nuance to
the discussion of each particular team. Efficiency will be noted as passing yards per attempt, and TD% touchdowns divided by pass attempts. For the negative rating, we’ll remove all terms from the ANY/A formula that penalize the passer for sacks or INTs. This is like assuming the passer took zero sacks and threw zero INTs. We’ll evaluate the formula with those terms removed, then subtract ANY/A. This will calculate how much the offensive performance was adversely affected by negative plays. A less negative number (closer to zero) is better.
10. Chicago Wildcats – QB ET King – ANY/A: 5.03
Raw stats: 317/447, 3189 yds, 22:23 TD:INT
Efficiency: 7.1 YPA (11th)
TD%: 4.92% (10th)
Negatives: -3.09 ANY/A (5th)
ET King did a nice job of avoiding negative plays, and led a balanced offensive attack in Chicago during a season which culminated in a playoff appearance.
9. New Orleans Pharaohs – QB Xander Gold – ANY/A: 5.37
Raw stats: 313/463, 3597 yds, 25:29 TD:INT
Efficiency: 7.8 YPA (6th)
TD%: 5.40% (6th)
Negatives: -3.48 (10th)
Xander Gold was the gunslinger who spearheaded the Pharaohs’ pass heavy attack. It was a high risk, high reward type of season, but few passers pushed the ball down the field better. New Orleans were the only team on this list to miss the playoffs.
8. Jacksonville Kings – QB Christian Christiansen – ANY/A: 5.60
Raw stats: 430/588, 4261 yds, 34:33 TD:INT
Efficiency: 7.2 YPA (10th)
TD%: 5.78% (4th)
Negatives: -2.80 ANY/A (3rd)
Nobody had greater volume in the passing game than CC and the Kings. Despite throwing the 5th most INTs, on a per snap basis, Jacksonville avoided negative plays just about as well as any team.
7. St. Louis Gladiators – QB Johnny Pichler – ANY/A: 5.83
Raw stats: 277/390, 2848 yds, 20:11 TD:INT
Efficiency: 7.3 YPA (9th)
TD%: 5.13% (7th)
Negatives: -2.50 ANY/A (2nd)
For a rookie QB, I’m not sure what more you can ask for from Pichler. Despite experiencing the highest sack rate, Pichler threw fewer INTs per dropback than any other passer. You tell me how that happens.
6. Queen City Corsairs – QB AJ Caswell – ANY/A: 5.84
Raw stats: 313/460, 3666 yds, 23:27 TD:INT
Efficiency: 8.0 YPA (5th)
TD%: 5.00% (9th)
Negatives: -3.13 ANY/A (6th)
Queen City struggled most in the red zone; as you might guess for a team that had their kicker break the all time record for field goal attempts and makes in a season. Apart from that, it was a solid season from the seasoned veteran Caswell.
5. Vancouver Legion – QB Tom Pepper – ANY/A: 5.86
Raw stats: 292/423, 3583 yds, 28:30 TD:INT
Efficiency: 8.5 YPA (3rd)
TD%: 6.62% (2nd)
Negatives: -3.93 ANY/A (15th)
Did anyone generate more explosive plays on offense than the Legion did in Season 14? It will be interesting to see whether the Vancouver coaching staff tries to tone down the aggressiveness of Captain Canada and place more emphasis on ball security, or simply let a top 5 QB do what he does best.
4. Baltimore Vultures – QB Mike Dazzo – ANY/A: 6.127
Raw stats: 351/458, 3410 yds, 25:21 TD:INT
Efficiency: 7.4 YPA (8th)
TD%: 5.46% (5th)
Negatives: -2.41 (1st)
Baltimore’s passing attack combined the highest completion percentage, 7th most attempts, and the fewest sacks. Plus, only three passers threw fewer interceptions than Mike Dazzo did. When a team is matriculating the ball down the field with that much consistency, it’s not necessary to take big risks to be successful. Don’t sleep on the fact that the Vultures had the best point differential during the regular season – 24 points better than any other team.
3. Mexico City Aztecs – QB Matt Willson – ANY/A: 6.131
Raw stats: 297/417, 3443 yds, 21:21 TD:INT
Efficiency: 8.3 YPA (4th)
TD%: 5.04% (8th)
Negatives: -3.13 ANY/A (7th)
Hall of Famer Matt “The Bronze Bomber” Willson turned in another fine season. He was one of
the best at completing passes downfield without an inordinate amount of risk. He is 2nd all time
in passing yards, just ahead of Mike Dazzo and just behind…
2. Sioux Falls Sparrows – QB Julian Tyree – ANY/A: 6.24
Raw stats: 215/292, 2564 yds, 18:19 TD:INT
Efficiency: 8.8 YPA (2nd)
TD%: 6.16% (3rd)
Negatives: -3.77 ANY/A (14th)
Sioux Falls may have had the least passing attempts in the league, but on a per snap basis, QB Julian Tyree takes the silver medal in our rankings. I would not have grouped him in the same profile as Tom Pepper, but statistically they are very similar. Both did a great job of making big plays and can be even better if they can cut down on some of the negative plays.
1. Atlanta Swarm – QB Marcus Dunhill – ANY/A: 7.27
Raw stats: 271/374, 3402 yds, 29:19 TD:INT
Efficiency: 9.1 YPA (1st)
TD%: 7.75% (1st)
Negatives: -3.38 ANY/A (9th)
It was a season for the ages for Marcus Dunhill and the Atlanta Swarm. It was a script Hollywood would have rejected. Who would believe it? He didn’t just edge out the top 3 passers in SFL history; he left them in the dust. Then, he scooped up all the hardware as an SFL champion and the Season 14 Most Valuable Player. Well done young man.
One great thing about football in general and the SFL in particular, is that many philosophies can be successful. Just in the top five passing offenses, there is great diversity. Atlanta, Sioux Falls and Vancouver were more aggressive, Baltimore was more steady and conservative, and Mexico City was somewhere in between. Which of these teams will stay in the top 10? Who will slide down or be newcomers on this list? How will the biggest rookie class in league history, combined with the sizzle of offseason free agency, shake up the scene?
Season 15 kicks off on July 17th at 7:30 PM EDT, as the Atlanta Swarm host the Baltimore Vultures.