By Justin Henry
Cold Hard Football Facts' Dr. Death (@jrhwriting)
Death is the hooded elephant in the room of the nervous optimist. Man hopes to prolong the inevitable with decisions sprouting from nutrition, sexuality, stress, and general caution.
Health nuts fall under cardiac arrest during running jaunts, while their chain-smoking grandfather feasts on hot turkey sandwiches and buttered mashed potatoes until he croaks at 103.
Pro football teams succumb to the Grim Reaper when they play inefficient football, as measured by the vital sign called Scoreability.
Death collects when it chooses to. We're all on his list somewhere.
In the National Football League, preseason is the rocking of the cradle. For 20 teams, the time between Thanksgiving and New Year's signals the rolling of the hearse.
As Cold Hard Football Facts' presiding mortician, its' "Undrafted Undertaker," Dr. Death provides a soothing closure for those left behind, the bewildered and disenchanted fans.
As the chill of November begets the frost of December, the cadaverum pile up in my distemperate morgue.
It's upon the good doctor to examine the departed, thoroughly and with no stone unturned. Having done this, we can explain the early expiration of 20 teams with shattered dreams.
With my coroner's report in mind, teams cleanse their lifeless bodies of crippling diseases through February and March (through 2011, this process was sometimes called, 'Releasing Dhani Jones'), before being reincarnated for another crack at immortality.
The question remains: once reincarnated, does that entity make more of the same mistakes?
One need only gander at the Scoreability metric here at the Cold Hard Crematorium, and they will find a factor that separates a bad season and an early death from a great season and a long life into the postseason.
Scoreability is a simple equation: divide a team's yards of offense by points scored. The lower the number, the more efficiently you score. Turnovers, bad penalties, poor red-zone production and special teams gaffes can all conspire to kill a team's efficiency and force it to work too hard for points. Scoreability measures all these factors and spits out the result in an easy-to-understand number: Yards Per Point Scored.
The equation is also a fair measurement of how often a team scores touchdowns, as opposed to settling for the consolation prize of a field goal.
Eleven of last year's 12 playoff teams finished among the top 15 in Scoreability, with New England heading the charge with a hugely efficient 12.29 Yards Per Point Scored. That means they score a touchdown (extra point included) every 86.04 yards gained.
The four non-playoff teams to fill out the finer 15 were the Bears, Giants, Saints, and Chargers, who were all at least still alive during the waning weeks.
The only 2012 playoff qualifier to do poorly in this category was Indianapolis, at 16.24 Yards Per Point Scored. That means they score a full touchdown every 113.68 yards gained. Indy, Houston (100.17), and San Francisco (102.06) were the only playoff teams to need more than 100 yards to produce the equivalent of that touchdown.
But the point is there: on the whole, scoring efficiency is a necessity for the playoff traveler, no matter how many points you actually score. It is also a reputable wayto anticipate who we'll be embalming in between Christmas shopping trips.
Last year's five worst teams in Scoreability included those with the four worst records, and a near-playoff team whose defense propped up its offense as if it were Bernie Lomax (a personal friend of ours).
Going down the list, from fifth worst to the catacombs, were the Rams (17.61), Jaguars (18.78), Raiders (18.98), Eagles (20.23), and Chiefs (24.21). The Chiefs needed to crank out a daunting 169.47 yards of offense to score the equivalent of a touchdown and extra point.
Needless to say, Kansas City was Dr. Death's first project a year ago. Clark Hunt sent 'em here in one of his dad's old suitcases. He likes to save money that way.
Let's take a look-see at how these five inefficient 2012 Scoreability bottom feeders performed in Week 1. Might have to prep the slab for some of these franchises early this autumn.
St. Louis beat Arizona, 27-24 (13.56 Yards Per Point Scored; 9th)
St. Louis and Arizona are division rivals in transitional phases, with the Rams needing to bolster their offense behind the disappointing Sam Bradford.
The former top draft pick played admirably, throwing for two touchdown passes (new tight end Jared Cook was his primary benefactor, hauling in both scores on 141 yards). Trying to do the same against a mad Falcons defense in Week Two will be a bit more daunting.
Kansas City beat Jacksonville, 28-2 (10.39 Yards Per Point Scored; 3rd)
Andy Reid's presence on the Chiefs sideline looks like an early boon. Combining his West Coast style with Alex Smith's comfort for the short pass (12 of Smith's 21 completions were to those with job descriptions of running back) was good for 21 of the 28 points scored.
Jacksonville lost to Kansas City, 28-2 (89.0 Yards Per Point Scored; 32nd)
Gus Bradley's new project would have been shut out if not for a punt block-turned-safety. Both their 178 yards of offense, and 2 points scored, were the lowest of Week 1.
Oakland lost to Indianapolis, 21-17 (21.88 Yards Per Point Scored; 28th)
Bumps were to be expected with Terrelle Pryor as signal caller. Frankly, bumps have been expected ten years running for the Silver and Black. Truthfully, Pryor played an admirable hybrid game, and nearly bested Andrew Luck in his own sport: fourth-quarter comebacks.
The only things truly hurtful to Oakland's YPPS performance were a pair of Pryor interceptions, including the Antoine Bethea dagger which ended the afternoon. That's all it took to squander 372 yards of offense, including 329 from both Pryor's hand and feet.
Philadelphia beat Washington, 33-27 (13.42 Yards Per Point Scored; 7th)
The Eagles were to the red zone last year what corporate mergers might be to employee morale: a disaster on paper and in practice. Monday night started the same way, when Michael Vick's brilliant drive was wasted on a bizarre fumble return by DeAngelo Hall.
After that, Chip Kelly's up-tempo offense stymied Washington's cramping defense, and hauled in 31 straight points (33 when you factor in the tag-down safety). Such efficiency has been lacking among talented, albeit undisciplined, players in Philly for quite some time.
The importance of Scoreabilty is fairly dramatic when put in terms of touchdowns. here's a look at the yards of offense it took for each team to score a touchdown and extra point in Week 1.
- Kansas City: 72.73 yards per touchdown
- Philadelphia: 93.94 yards per touchdown
- St. Louis: 94.92 yards per touchdown
- Oakland: 153.16 yards per touchdown
- Jacksonville: 623.00 yards per touchdown
It may be just one game, but at this rate, the Jaguars' autopsy will coincide with Halloween. If you're the trendy type, may we suggest a zombie Blaine Gabbert costume this year? A Catwoman wig, tattered jersey, and some make-up oughta do it.