APBA Football Innovations – Offensive Indexes

I read so many things on the boards about Offensive Indexes for the football game, I thought I would throw my “two cents” into the ring.  And, we’ll start with a little history lesson.  When I started playing the game back in the mid-60’s, we did not have the array of statistical data that we have today.  Back then, you had to wait until Street & Smith’s Pro Football Annual hit the stands and you might get the leaders for the NFL and the AFL in the different statistical categories, but it was typically limited to passing, rushing, receiving, returning and kicking.  Heck, sacks weren’t even an official stat yet!  And we certainly didn’t get statistics on playing time for non-skilled players.

Not only that, but the NFL and AFL card sets were 30 players on a team!  Think about that . . . an offense, a defense, a couple of kickers and a whopping total of 6 substitutes!  So, when you placed your starters in their respective positions and then calculated the offensive index for each team, it was pretty simple.

Today, things are much different . . . and, I believe a new approach to offensive indexes in the APBA Football game is required.  Why?  Because, no one plays every down.  When I watch the Steelers play, I see T.J. Watt, even if he’s healthy enough to play in the game, sit out a number of plays.  You’ll be watching TV and you will see him on the sideline catching his breath.  Would that EVER happen in an APBA game?  Maybe if he’s injured . . . but, what coach, in their right mind, would ever take a “5” rated player out of the game, even for one play?

Not only that . . . but, who wants to go through the recalculation of indexes every time you sub out a player.  So, for most of us, we put the best players in at the beginning of a game and that’s what we base our index on.

What complicates this even further is if you use the “Finder” system to determine who gets credited with a sack or an interception.  And that’s because, in an effort to achieve statistical accuracy, every player who recorded a sack or a pick has to be considered to be on the field of play for EVERY down!  Think about it.  A reserve defensive lineman who actually had a sack in the regular NFL season has the chance to get one based on the “Finder” system.  But, that would mean that he must have been on the field in order to do so . . . and, let’s say that, if he were on the field and he replaced someone rated “3” that the reduction in team points that should have been calculated may have impacted that sack on the boards into an incompletion – not a sack!

But, who is going to go through this level of detail, where this “1” rated defensive tackle plays four downs in one game, for example?  I don’t know anyone who will go to those lengths to achieve that level or accuracy.

But, today, with all the advancement in statistical compilations, we can actually pull up, on websites like Pro Football Reference, the actual number of snaps that each player had during the regular season.  So, why not take that number and calculate what percentage of all the plays each player participated in, multiply that percentage by each of his numerical V-Ratings (for pass and run), total those numbers and divide them by 11 (to reflect every position on both sides of the ball) and come up with one number that would give us each team’s Offensive and Defensive points.

This way you have point totals that are no longer just a reflection of the starters . . . but of all the players in the card-set prorated by their actual playing time!  So, comparing the offensive totals of one team to the defensive totals of the other team gives you a more accurate reflection of what the offensive index ought to be.  Forget about injuries or substitutions.  This number has already taken those two things into consideration.

So, I have created a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that does this specific calculation.  And, as an example, I have attached the results for the current 2019 version of the Baltimore Ravens and the Cincinnati Bengals, where I reviewed and included all the carded players who participated in a play from scrimmage for each team.  A look at the numbers is fascinating.

Baltimore Indexes

Cincinnati Indexes

Baltimore comes out with a weighted offensive point total of 39 for passing plays and 41 for running plays.  When you compare this to the Bengals weighted defensive totals of 29 for both passes and runs, the Ravens get a +10 advantage on passing plays and a +12 on rushing plays.

Conversely, Cincinnati’s offense clocks in, ironically, at 29 points again for both passes and runs, while Baltimore’s defense tallies 39 for both passes and runs . . . so the Bengals would have an Offensive Index for both runs and passes based on a difference of -10.  And, that seems reasonable to me given their respective records in 2019 – Baltimore was 14-2 while Cincy was 2-14.

This concept now allows the game company’s Defensive Play calling cards to be easily integrated into your game playing experience, as it also does for the Finder system.  Essentially, you won’t know who is on the field for each play – but that’s actually great because you certainly won’t have to recalculate points for substitutions . . . . which most of us will never do anyway!

And, honestly?  This system may be more equitable and fair as well.  Take Baltimore’s two “5” rated defensive starters – Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey.  Humphrey played 962 snaps during the Ravens’ 2019 season while Peters only played 577 snaps.  Therefore, Humphrey’s “5” rating should carry more weight than Peters’ . . . and, under this system, it does!

One additional note of interest has to do with Baltimore’s Patrick Ricard . . . because he played both offense and defense for them: 342 snaps on offense and 2 on defense – but all his efforts are accounted for in the formula.

So, my plan is to publish on this site each team’s totals when the new cards come out in June, but, in the meantime, I would love to hear any feedback you would care to share with me on this innovation.  And, if anyone would like this spreadsheet to play around with it, please shoot me an email (ray@raydunlap.com) and I will be happy to send it to you.

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