This week, Arjun Menon posted a couple of charts that highlight how effective the Lions offense has been this year under offensive coordinator Ben Johnson. Menon was part of a 2023 Big Data Bowl honorable mention team, has done analytics work for the New York Jets, and regularly posts and appears on podcasts talking about football data. The first, and most straightforward post, that most fans will intuitively understand, is the chart showing how often teams go three-and-out on offensive drives.
Offensive 3 and out rate this season pic.twitter.com/RrJFzAgKv9— Arjun Menon (@arjunmenon100) December 26, 2023
The Lions, with their third-ranked rushing offense averaging 4.7 yards per carry through 16 games, have the league’s lowest rate of going three-and-out. The first eight teams on the right hand side of that chart are all in the playoff mix, so this is definitely good company to be in. The next pair of charts have to do with looking at preparation/starting games well and adjusting throughout the game.
Offensive efficiency on scripted (x-axis) and non-scripted (y-axis) plays this season. pic.twitter.com/x1EC0bk0zK— Arjun Menon (@arjunmenon100) December 29, 2023
Menon plots the expected points added for scripted (first 15 offensive plays of the game) and non-scripted (everything else they run in the game) plays for each team. The distinction has to do with whether or not the plays are very early in the game where the team sets up specific sequences from the game plan to probe out what the opponent will do in this particular game to respond. To read the chart, the left-right X-axis is how good the team is in the early scripted part (farther right is better) and the up-down Y-axis is how good the team is later in the game (higher is better). So the upper right quadrant is the best and the lower left quadrant is the worst.
What do the Lions look like here? They are in the upper right, a bit to the right of the zero-line for scripted, and pretty far up on the non-scripted. This is great! The design of the offense is good, and Ben Johnson is reading what his opponent is doing really well. Someone in the thread asked about turnovers that mess with the scripting, so Menon posted that too:
turnovers filtered out here pic.twitter.com/9mTYK3gr8C— Arjun Menon (@arjunmenon100) December 30, 2023
When we focus specifically on the planning and play calling by removing the negative EPA swings from possession-changing plays, this looks even better. Johnson’s scripted plays turn out to be really excellent setting aside the on-field variability.
Now, on to the rest of your weekend Notes:
- Fox2’s Dan Miller sat down for a quick interview with offensive coordinator Ben Johnson. You can watch the video of the almost five-minute interview in a web player on the station’s site.
- Fans everywhere love the Detroit Lions, even outside the United States! According to the NFL’s UK social media account, fans in the United Kingdom voted the opening night prime-time win by the Lions at Arrowhead over the Chiefs as the Game of the Year:
2023 Game of the Year Winner!— NFL UK (@NFLUK) December 29, 2023
UK fans have voted the @Lions upset of reigning Super Bowl champion @Chiefs on opening night of the season as 2023 Game of the Year Winner! #OnePride pic.twitter.com/Y64f0j54WU
- Former Saginaw Valley State UDFA Trevor Nowaske, who was waived on Thursday, did not clear waivers: the linebacker was claimed by the Arizona Cardinals. Readers may recall that Nowaske was briefly added to the 53-man roster back in November because the Lions believed another team was attempting to poach him off their practice squad. Chase Lucas, the other player waived on Thursday, cleared waivers.
- Really fantastic video posted to Instagram (hat tip to Lions PR and Enter Sports Management for the link) of Lions wide receiver Kalif Raymond and his wife Julia doing a toy drive event on December 18th.
- Joe Kania and our own Erik Schlitt have their Lions-Cowboys preview episode of the Detroit Lions Breakdown podcast up. You can listen to the entire hour and 43 minutes in a web player on their site or on many of your favorite podcast outlets.
- MLive’s Kyle Meinke and Ben Raven have a mailbag episode of their Dungeon of Doom podcast up that delves into the greatness of head coach Dan Campbell. You can listen to the entire 53-minute audio in a web player on Spotify.
- The Athletic’s Nick Baumgardner and Colton Pouncy welcomed former co-host Chris Burke to the show for the NFC North championship recap episode of their podcast One of These Years. You can listen to the entire 63-minute audio in a web player on Spotify.
- WXYZ’s Jeanna Trotman sat down for a quick interview with rookie Jameson Williams to “reflect on (his) journey with (the) team.” You can watch the full three-minute clip in an embedded player on the station’s website.
- Ken Brown and Mike O’Hara with WJR 760 have the Week 17 preview episode of their podcast up. You can listen to the 24-minute audio on the station’s simplecast site in an embedded player.
- The Lions will be wearing all-white uniforms tonight against the Cowboys. It’s a good look for big road games: this is what they wore in their Week 1 victory over the Chiefs.
- You know that thing about how Amon-Ra St. Brown keeps tabs on the list of wide receivers taken ahead of him in the draft?
- The Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett wrote about St. Brown’s self-motivation (subscription required), and pointed out something he has in his locker: