Measuring the efficiency of the Trestman offense

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman has preached efficiency since he arrived in Chicago in January. Minimizing mistakes; turnovers, sacks and penalties are key to achieving efficient football. So how efficient has Trestman's offense been nearly halfway through the season?

It of course makes sense to be efficient with the football; turnovers kill any chance you have of scoring and hands that opportunity to the opponent. The West Coast Offense aims to work efficiently by using short, "high percentage throws" i.e. passes that are likely to be completed. The routes are ideally not highly contested like many deep routes (where there could be more defenders).

All this is aimed at streamlining plays to maximize chances of putting points on the board while hopefully lowering the chances of turnovers.

Now this season has seen the Bears jump in the rankings, from middling to upper-echelon. The offense currently ranks 10th in yards per game, second in points per game and have the second fewest penalties against them.

Now those stats are all well and good but how can the overall efficiency of the offense be measured?

To find out I decided to apply a theory that was new to me but after some Googling I found has been around a while, especially in the college ranks: the twelve percent rule.

The theory is quite simple, turnovers, sacks, penalties and drops should only account for 12% of your offensive plays.

I decided to crunch the numbers for the Bears so far this year and show what they have have been the previous two years under Mike Tice and Mike Martz respectively to try and see if the offense is really more efficient under Trestman than it has been in the past.

For the data, I used pro-football-reference.com to find number of plays, turnovers and sacks and I used sportingcharts.com to find penalty data from the past three years as well as drop stats. Also, if you'd like to look at more penalty breakdowns (percentages, pre-snap, etc.) I recommend NFLpenalties.com.

So, the 2013 Bears offense: They've run 424 plays, had 11 turnovers, 11 sacks, 12 drops and 17 penalties. Crunching the numbers that means that precisely 12.03 percent of their offensive plays have been "mistakes" or "negative plays."

Using some rough extrapolation this means the Bears are on pace for 969 plays, 25 turnovers, 25 sacks, 27 drops and 39 penalties which should, over 16 games, equate to just 11.97 percent of their offensive plays being "negative." That's pretty darn efficient.

For comparison's sake, let's look at the last two offenses:

In 2012, under Mike Tice, the Bears ran 999 plays, had 24 turnovers, 44 sacks, 29 drops and 67 penalties which works out to 16.41 percent "negative" plays.

In 2011, the last year under Mike Martz, the Bears ran 978 plays, had 29 turnovers, 49 sacks, 28 drops and 75 penalties (second most in the league) for 18.50 percent "negative" plays.

The numbers would back up Trestman's belief in running a more efficient offense. The turnovers and drops haven't been significantly lower than before, but the penalties and sacks have been tidied up and it's clearly making a difference.

Now for more comparison, I crunched the numbers on some of the other top offenses so far this season.

The Broncos, for example, the leaders of the NFL in most offensive categories, have run 581 plays they have 17 turnovers, 11 sacks, 19 drops and 31 penalties, accounting for 13.43 percent of their total plays.

The Bears next two opponents have the second third ranked offenses, the Packers and Lions, respectively. The Packers numbers are: 473 plays, nine turnovers, 17 sacks, seven drops and 30 penalties to comprise 13.32 percent of their offense.

The Lions numbers crunch out as follows: 556 plays, 12 turnovers, 10 sacks, 25 drops and 26 penalties to make up 13.13 percent of their offense.

Make of it what you would like but clearly the Bears offense is operating more efficiently than some of the top units in the league and while the offense is only one-third of the game and the defense is the bigger problem for the Bears right now and quite possibly moving forward.

However, it is good to know that Trestman practices what he preaches and it's encouraging going forward to know that the offense should operate efficiently, meaning the Bears should be in most of the games they play.

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