Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

06 Aug 2014

Ron Burgundy vs. The No-Huddle Offense

We get asked a lot about the No-Huddle Offense. And it causes me all sorts of problems.

This starts with the fact that I have to decide if No-Huddle Offense should be capitalized or not, and whether there should be a hyphen in between the words "no" and "huddle," which is technically correct but looks weird.

More importantly, our numbers on the No-Huddle Offense are completely untrustworthy. We can write about it (Rivers wrote a nice thing last year, for example) but we are always going to be stuck with the fact that the numbers are incomplete.

People ask about the No Huddle because it's more and more popular, and it is successful. Last year, we have 12.2 percent of all plays marked as No Huddle, compared to just 6.6 percent in 2012. Some of that is the Chip Kelly effect, since 67.7 percent of Eagles plays are marked No Huddle, but even without the Eagles the percentage was up to 10.3 percent last year. Leaguewide, DVOA in the No Huddle was 9.7%. Even removing Philadelphia and Denver, two great offenses that use it more than anyone else, the league had 1.4% DVOA in No Huddle and -2.3% DVOA otherwise.

Except, here's the problem: These numbers are incomplete. The league allows official scorers to mark No Huddle, but it doesn't require it, and there is no official definition of when a play should or should not be marked no Huddle. So some plays that might be marked No Huddle in one city will not be marked that way in another city. Worst of all, no plays whatsoever are marked No Huddle by three official scorers: Cincinnati, San Diego, and New Orleans.

Our man in San Diego has a particular problem staying classy when it comes to the No Huddle. Last year, the Chargers were recorded with 153 plays in the No Huddle on the road, and ZERO at home. At least the Bengals were only marked with 46 No Huddle plays on the road, and New Orleans with only 16. It's not quite as obvious that those scorers refuse to mark it. (They do, it just isn't as obvious.) This problem of course then has ramifications for other teams. Denver was marked with 378 No Huddle plays at home and at least 17 in six different road games, but eight in New England and zero in San Diego.

With other teams, you see weird splits. The official scorer for the Rams marked No Huddle plays, but only a handful and only for Rams opponents. However, the Rams did have 46 No Huddle plays on the road. Baltimore was marked with 293 at home and 117 on the road. When the Ravens were on defense, there were 82 at home and 47 on the road. You get the same thing with Green Bay. Combine offense and defense, and you had 253 No Huddle plays in Green Bay home games but only 70 in Green Bay road games.

The next question is, why don't we just fix this in the game charting to get a more accurate count? Again, we would have to decide on the definition. Meanwhile, on TV broadcasts you can't always tell that a team is going No Huddle, while on the all-22 film you can't see at all because the film cuts in right before any motion and then the snap.

Thus, the explanation for my frustration about the No Huddle.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 06 Aug 2014

2 comments, Last at 07 Aug 2014, 2:19am by Jerry

Comments

1
by nat :: Wed, 08/06/2014 - 4:34pm

Regarding Denver at New England: It was an awful weather day, with starting temps at 22 and winds at 22 mph resulting in single digit or lower wind chills. Manning was having trouble with the conditions all game.

It could very well be that Denver did a no-huddle just eight times. From the play-by-play, it looks like just one of those no-huddle plays was a success: a 3 yard run on second-and-two. Why would they try more?

Did you see any other signs of the New England scorekeeper under reporting no-huddles? Or should we just assume that eight is accurate?

2
by Jerry :: Thu, 08/07/2014 - 2:19am

It's useful to be reminded that a lot of what we'd like to see statistically is still a work in progress.