Panthers Were Top 10 in Play-Action Effectiveness

Lance King

Football Outsider's analyzed the play action pass by team for both offense and defense and the Panthers fared well on both sides of the ball.

On offense the Panthers were 4th in the league in differential between play action pass effectiveness versus non-play action.

FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS: Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis | 2012 Play-Action, Offense
Looking at the top four teams, you see a trend: young, athletic quarterbacks who can beat defenses with their legs. Robert Griffin took over and completely transformed the Redskins’ offense, allowing Mike Shanahan to double his play-action frequency largely due to read-options.

The same holds true for Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers, who saw their total jump from 20 percent to 33 percent. Russell Wilson‘s presence had a similar effect in Seattle, creating a nearly 60 percent increase in play-action use. The only outlier appears to be Christian Ponder, who is athletic but not on the same tier as that group. But with the rushing threat that Adrian Peterson presents in Minnesota, it’s no surprise to see the Vikings near the top of the list.

Offense PA% Yds/Play
with PA
DVOA
with PA
Yds/Pass with PA
(Actual passes only)
DVOA with PA
(Actual passes only)
Yds/Play
no PA
DVOA
no PA
Yds/Play
Dif.
DVOA
Dif.
WAS 42% 10.1 66.7% 10.5 72.1% 5.5 5.0% 4.6 61.6%
SEA 35% 8.2 47.7% 8.6 48.6% 6.4 36.5% 1.8 11.2%
MIN 35% 6.0 12.9% 6.2 12.4% 5.4 0.6% 0.6 12.3%
CAR 33% 8.9 40.0% 8.9 38.4% 6.2 10.4% 2.7 29.6%

Defenses can expect this to continue in 2013 as Panthers OC Mike Shula is certain to take advantage of the Panthers multitude of players that can run the rock, including QB Cam Newton. Will they maintain a 33% rate of play action to non-play action? That number will probably drop a little as the Panthers run less read option but I still expect to see it at a 20-30% clip.

On defense the Panthers surprisingly ranked 9th in defending play action differential:

FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS: Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis | 2012 Play-Action, Defense
Below is the play-action data from 2012 for all teams, in descending order starting with teams that had the biggest DVOA difference between play-action and regular passes. The columns in green represent performance with play-action on actual passes only, with sacks, scrambles and intentional grounding removed.

Defense PA% Yds/Play

with PA
DVOA

with PA
Yds/Pass with PA

(Actual passes only)
DVOA with PA

(Actual passes only)
Yds/Play

no PA
DVOA

no PA
Yds/Play

Dif.
DVOA

Dif.
BUF 20% 6.5 -11.2% 6.4 -13.9% 6.4 23.6% 0.0 -34.9%
DET 20% 6.2 -3.9% 6.1 -6.2% 6.8 23.2% -0.6 -27.0%
KC 20% 8.7 4.6% 8.9 4.0% 6.9 30.9% 1.8 -26.4%
ATL 22% 6.8 -20.1% 6.9 -21.1% 6.7 5.7% 0.1 -25.8%
MIN 21% 6.2 2.2% 6.3 1.5% 6.3 21.5% 0.0 -19.2%
WAS 21% 6.6 -6.8% 6.6 -7.3% 6.8 8.1% -0.2 -14.9%
GB 19% 7.8 -10.4% 7.8 -13.7% 5.5 -3.0% 2.2 -7.4%
PIT 23% 6.0 -0.2% 6.0 -0.5% 5.5 6.3% 0.5 -6.5%
CAR 23% 7.4 -0.2% 7.6 0.0% 5.7 1.2% 1.7 -1.4%

I'm thinking this is at least partially the Luke Kuechly factor. I'm not going to say he never bit on play action but even when he did he was quick enough to adjust and limit the gain on the short passes.

This number should only improve in 2013 with the addition of Star and Short up front creating mismatrches across the front line.

More from Cat Scratch Reader:

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