Stat checking Stamps offence

A colleague of mine recently tweeted the following:

As you can see, he graded the Stampeders offence as “so-so”. I took immediate umbrage with the assertion and Josh suggested I make my case.

There can only be so many Duron Carter articles, so I thought I would take a look at the stats package from the CFL after nine weeks in which each team, minus BC, has played seven games, and take a look at where the Stampeders sit in order to rank as “so-so”. I have added B.C.’s win this week over Edmonton into the stats discussed to put the teams on even footing.

First and foremost, the Stampeders sit second in the most important category; points scored. The team scores 29.4 points per game, behind only Winnipeg for a team total, but fall to third overall at 27.4 when discussing scoring drives by the offence. This is because the Stamps have two kick return touchdowns. Somehow, the Stampeders offence not getting the chance to score will diminish them in some people’s eyes downgrading them to “so-so”.

Edmonton sits second in this category generating two more points total. So the falloff from “good” to “so-so” is two total points in seven games.

The Calgaoffencense has scored more than 24 points in every game this season. Winnipeg has been kept under 20 points twice, Edmonton the same.

And yet, Winnipeg’s offense seems to set the pace for Mr. Smith while averaging fewer yards-per-play, fewer total yards, and have given the ball away via turnover nearly twice as often.

One area that needs fixing for the Stampeders, is the only area in which they find themselves outside the top half of the league offensively: red-zone percentage. The one blemish on their record. Of course, when you score TD’s of more than 30 yards, which the Stampeders have done in six of their seven games, it helps soothe the pain of a sub-20-yard field goal here or there. Calgary leads the loop with 27 “big plays” which are defined as 20-plus-yard rush, 30-plus-yard pass, or 30-plus-yard punt return. In that passing category, the Red & White average just under three of those a game, no one else is over two.

Calgary has had a very consistent offence when you look at scoring by quarter, as they have the second-highest totals in the first and fourth quarters and fourth best in both the second and third stanzas.

Calgary also looks downfield more than most. Averaging 12.1 passing yards per attempt, the Stamps QB’s trail only Hamilton (13.3) in this category and they sling it much further than the complete Bomber offence who is one of just three teams that average less than 10 yards per pass.

I feel like the one thing that Mr. Smith doesn’t account for is the Stampeders defence and what they mean to the offensive playbook. Shorthand, it means that Calgary is frequently playing with a lead. In fact, the offence has only taken the field while trailing for a grand total of 45:41 over the course of their first seven games.

In fact, during this 7-0 run to start the season, the Stamps have led at the end of 26 of the 28 quarters of football they have played. They trailed at the end of the second and third quarter against Hamilton week one, and have been leading at every quarter break since.

During that 45:41 of time trailing, 29:36 of it was during the week one game against Hamilton. This means that the Stampeders have trailed for 16:05 of the last six games combined. During that week one game, the Stamps took the field while down seven times. Against Ottawa, they left the field trailing three times regaining the lead on the fourth try.

Montreal and B.C. had leads that lasted exactly one drive each for the Stamps offence.

The Stampeders have won every game with a minimum two-score lead.

Any offensive coordinator worth his salt will tell you that you play differently when you are protecting a lead than you do when you are chasing one.

Dave Dickenson has often talked about his strategy behind going for two-point conversions suggesting that he is way more likely to go for two early rather than late, situation dependent of course. Dickenson considers the first half to be the “point collection” phase of the game. Get as many points as quickly as you can, then defend that lead and go with high percentage plays following that.

Calgary has executed this strategy to perfection this season, getting enough points to win, then calling off the dogs and ensuring victory.

Contrast every other team in the league, all of whom have three or more losses and have needed to have the foot on the gas full throttle for 60 minutes. Calgary doesn’t need last-minute heroics, huge drives to win games against a prevent defence, or anything more than the clock continuing to wind down as the team moves towards another inevitable victory.

That day will likely come soon as the Stampeders face off against Edmonton twice and, the “most complete team in the CFL” as per Mr. Smith in the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Calgary will certainly be tested on those days, but I imagine the old adages about poking a sleeping bear and the Grizzley disguised as the Stampeders offence continues to lumber along, feeding until full, without needing to unleash its full ferocity.

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