Only The Truth

Secondary Points Are Exciting, Unpredictable

04/11/2013 09:24

Few plays in football are as exciting as fumbles, interceptions, kicks or punts returned for touchdowns. Safeties are even more rare than these non-offensive touchdowns, which brings another level of excitement to them as well, despite being only worth 2 points and possession of the football.


In 2012, 947 secondary points (or non-offensive points) were scored for an average of 55.7 points per week. 


Here is a breakdown of all the scoring for 2012:


Unit Scoring Total Pts Pts/Wk % Total Pts
Offense 10,613 624.3 91.8
Defense 662 38.9 5.7
Special Teams 285 16.8 2.5
Total 11,560 680.0 * * *


As you can see above, secondary points are common enough to make a difference, but they are still such a small part of scoring for most teams. They often come in bunches, which means most teams will play the majority of their games without any secondary scoring. This leaves it up to the offense to carry the load for each game, which is understandable.


The average team scored 1.9 secondary points per game, or about 2 touchdowns every 7 games. Unfortunately for some teams, too many games were dependent on an unpredictable source for points.


In 2012, Chicago led the NFL in secondary points with 4.3 PPG, with 61 of their 68 secondary points scored coming on the defensive side on only 7 from the special teams. However, Chicago's offense only managed to score 19.1 PPG, 21st in the NFL. Even more troubling, Chicago ranked 2nd in the NFL with 18.2% of its points coming from the DEF/ST. Only San Diego had a higher precentage with 18.6% of its total points coming from the DEF/ST.


While San Diego struggled for much of the season, Chicago began the season 7-1 and looked to be one of the best teams in the NFL with a suffocating defense. Unfortunately, what got them there was unsustainable.


Record Off Pts PPG SP PPG
7-1 181 22.6 55 6.9
3-5 125 15.6 13 1.6


Chicago averaged a touchdown per game through the first half of the regular season, but once the Bears stopped forcing turnovers and scoring them at such a high rate, the offense failed to generate enough offense to compensate for the loss of over 5 points per game coming from the DEF/ST.


While having a great defense is good, the lack of offense stymied the Bears' season just like it did to Arizona and St. Louis. All three teams were good, and sometimes great, on defense, but failed to consistently score points on offense.


Going forward, the Bears' need to find a way to score more than 19.1 PPG on offense, regardless of how much scoring the defense might bring. In comparison, the Denver Broncos scored 60 secondary points (3rd), but that was only 12.5 % of their total points scored (6th). The Denver offense averaged 26.3 PPG, a full touchdown ahead of the Chicago Bears.


As has been the case for many years, Chicago continues to invest in the defense while neglecting or poorly drafting offensive talent. If they are going to make a serious push to be a threat in the playoffs, they will need a more reliable source for points.

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Luke Clementson