Ranking Every NFL Team’s Offense Heading Into 2020

It’s official; there will be no preseason this year in the NFL. This move was certainly made as a precautionary measure to limit the spread of COVID-19, but, on the bright side, training camps appear to be set to go on as planned, and with baseball returning, there’s hope that the NFL season can take place in 2020. With there being no preseason games, teams’ rosters would appear to be more set in stone than normal, and with there being just over a month before the anticipated start of the regular season, now would appear to be a good time to take a look at each team’s offensive outlook heading into the season.

In order to rank each offense, I used past Pro Football Focus grades to project future grades for each team’s players, and weighted their overall grade in key areas (quarterback, receiver) based on findings from a previous study conducted at this website. Meanwhile, offensive play-callers were placed into one of four tiers (one being the highest, four being the lowest) with regards to how they’ve been able elevate a team’s offensive production in the past, and from there, a multiplier was given their overall offensive talent grade.

Without further adieu, let’s rank every offense in the NFL! We’ll start with the worst offense, and will work our way to the top from there. In addition to their overall rank, each team will also be given a play-caller tier grade, as well as ranking for their passing and rushing offenses.

*Stats via Pro Football Focus

*NOTE: These are rankings generated from a model I created, rather than my own rankings. My model is looking for the mean outcome of each offense, rather than focusing on their ceilings or floors. 

#32: Denver Broncos

drewlock
Photo Cred: Predominantly Orange

Passing Offense: 32nd

Rushing Offense: 7th

Play-Caller Tier Rank: 3 (Neutral)

Ever since Peyton Manning retired following a Super Bowl 50 championship, the Broncos have been scrambling to find their next franchise quarterback, and so far, they’ve come up empty. Their latest project is Drew Lock, a former second-round pick out of Missouri who was a very polarizing prospect heading into the draft; he has incredible raw talent, but has never been able to showcase that talent in the way of production. Now, many will point to the five starts he made last season, in which the team went 4-1, as a sign of optimism for the future. Yet, per Pro Football Focus’ grading, he was a well-below-average quarterback, and it’s certainly worth noting that he wasn’t exactly facing premier defenses (Texans, Raiders, Lions, and Chiefs).

On the bright side, general manager John Elway has done what he can to put Lock in a position to succeed. In addition to young tight end Noah Fant and emerging receiver Courtland Sutton, he drafted receivers Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler in the first two rounds of the past draft, and while he also made sure to shore up the offensive line. Heck even the team’s rushing offense appears to be in good hands, though that has to do more with their offensive line than the running back duo of Phillip Lindsay and Melvin Gordon.

New offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur was able to manufacture respectable offenses with the Giants, and he’ll once again have his hands full in Denver. Although the team’s receiving corps has a bright future, it’s tough to rely on two rookie starters, while Fant was generally unproductive as a rookie. Even if those players do reach their ceilings, however, it’ll all come down to Lock, and when it comes to his accuracy and decision-making, I’m skeptical of his ability to lead a successful offense. It’s not the worst offense of recent memory, but due to the uncertainty at quarterback, it’s the one I have the least hope for heading into the 2020 season.

#31: Buffalo Bills

billsallenbrown
Photo Cred: Rochester

Passing Offense: 28th

Rushing Offense: 21st

Play-Caller Tier Rank: 3 (Neutral)

On paper, the Bills have a very similar offense to the Broncos. After trading for star receiver Stefon Diggs, they have one of the top receiving corps in the NFL, and although their offensive line isn’t spectacular, it’s at least average, which is all it needs to be.

Unfortunately, Josh Allen appears to be holding back this offense. The 24-year-old ranked as the league’s worst quarterback in terms of negative play rate last season, had more turnover-worthy plays than big-time throws, and also was one of the least accurate quarterbacks in the NFL. Entering his third season, there are no signs of a breakout, and I were Buffalo, I would’ve been much more aggressive adding a quality backup quarterback.

With an average quarterback, the Bills could possibly have a top-fifteen, or even a top-ten offense. Nevertheless, Allen significantly hinders their ability to score enough points, and facing a tougher schedule this season, that should prove to be problematic. General manager Brandon Beane has done an excellent job building this roster, but he may learn the hard way that, in the end, it’s the quarterback that defines the team; his miss in the draft may cost a very talented roster from reaching its potential.

#30: New York Jets

darnoldgase
Photo Cred: newyorkjets.com

Passing Offense: 29th

Rushing Offense: 19th

Play-Caller Tier Rank: 3 (Neutral)

Similarly to Josh Allen, Sam Darnold is heading to a make-or-break third season with the Jets, as he’s yet to display the consistency needed to be a franchise quarterback. On the bright side, he’s been about an average quarterback from a clean pocket, while he generates far more big plays than Allen. Still, turnovers remain a problem for him, and unlike Allen, he doesn’t quite have the same amount of help.

New York added a lot of depth with their offensive line, but, unfortunately, none of the players they signed are “sure things”. There’s certainly a world that they’re adequate in both pass protection and in the run game, though, at the same time, relying on a rookie left tackle (Mekhi Becton) who is seen as a developmental player isn’t ideal. Plus, although Breshad Perriman was a savvy addition to their receiving corps, Jamison Crowder is fine from the slot, and Chris Herndon is one of the better young tight ends, they lack a true #1 receiver. Sure, Le’Veon Bell adds some pass-catching prowess from the backfield, but that isn’t exactly moving the needle.

I’m not sure head coach Adam Gase is as poor of a play-caller as public perception would indicate, but he hasn’t been able to elevate talent in the past, and the Jets don’t have enough of it. I’m more hopeful Darnold can become a capable starter than Allen, yet that isn’t saying a lot; this team is plagued with uncertainty, and without the upside to justify it.

#29: Jacksonville Jaguars

minshewchark
Photo Cred: ESPN.com

Passing Offense: 27th

Rushing Offense: 26th

Play-Caller Tier Rank: 3 (Neutral)

Sticking with young quarterbacks who are under a lot of pressure this season, Gardner Minshew, as a former sixth-round pick, is on a much shorter leash than Allen or Darnold. Consequently, despite the fact that he was quietly the most productive rookie quarterback last season, he still doesn’t appear likely to be the team’s franchise quarterback; they’re likely to have a top pick in next year’s draft. To be fair, Minshew didn’t grade out tremendously in any metric, especially the stable ones, as he did his best work on third downs and when facing pressure- production in those situations are more subject to change year-to-year.

Making matters more difficult for Minshew, Jacksonville didn’t exactly invest in supporting talent for him. Outside of DJ Chark Jr., the receiving corps looks poised to be one of the worst in the NFL, while weak spots on the offensive line may prove to be troublesome. If rookie receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. can emerge as a dynamic weapon for them, perhaps they can be somewhat explosive. Nevertheless, I’m not expecting that to be the case right away, and, as a result, I’m expecting Minshew to regress this season.

Hopefully, Chark Jr. and Shenault Jr. can anchor a receiving corps for next year’s first-round quarterback, whether it be Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields. As far as Minshew is concerned, however, it appears he’s being put in a position to fail, and, overall, this may the offense with the lowest ceiling in the NFL.

#28: Chicago Bears

allenrobinson
Photo Cred: NBC Sports

Passing Offense: 30th

Rushing Offense: 31st

Play-Caller Tier Rank: 2 (Above Average)

Just two years ago, the Bears won 12 games, but that was due to an elite defense and a relatively easy schedule, which aren’t sustainable ways of winning. Hence, they relied on their offense more last season, and as expected, that didn’t go well.

Similarly to Josh Allen and Sam Darnold, Mitch Trubisky showed little promise in the first two years as the team’s quarterbacks, and in his third season, he didn’t make the jump that many anticipated he’d make. As a result, the Bears acquired Nick Foles, and although he’s an upgrade over Trubisky, he’s a volatile player that needs a lot of help around him. Yet, I’m not sure he’s getting that in Chicago. Allen Robinson is a true impact #1 receiver, but what do they have besides him? Anthony Miller has failed to progress, the tight end options aren’t inspiring, and the offensive line will have work to do to get back to average. Heck, even their rushing offense, on paper, appears to be one of the worst in the NFL.

There isn’t much talent present on the Bears roster, but at least they have a solid play-caller in Matt Nagy, who was able to lead a competent offense in spite of Trubisky the past two seasons. Assuming Foles is the starter, he has experience playing in this west-coast scheme from his time with the Eagles and Chiefs, and if he ends up on the right side  of his wide range of outcomes, perhaps the Bears can be better than this ranking. Still, this organization as a whole appears to be in a rough spot right now, and it’s hard to maintain optimism for them moving forward.

#27: Miami Dolphins

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Photo Cred: DraftKings

Passing Offense: 25th

Rushing Offense: 30th

Play-Caller Tier Rank: 3 (Neutral)

At the beginning of last season, the Dolphins were a complete mess. They were so uncompetitive, to the point that they were accused of tanking, but turned it around to win five games last season. Nevertheless, they still don’t have a lot of talent, and since most of their big acquisitions were on the defensive side of the ball, their outlook doesn’t look much better heading into 2020.

The importance of an offensive line is generally overstated, but you need to still be capable, and Miami’s unit last season was a complete liability. Erick Flowers, first-round project Austin Jackson, and second-round pick Robert Hunt were brought in, yet do any of them aspire a lot of confidence? With how poor their offensive line still is, you’d expect they would’ve invested more in receivers who could gain instant separation, but that’s not what Devante Parker and Preston Williams bring to the table- they are contested-catch specialists, and there’s a lot of redundancy with their receiving corps. Then, there’s the matter at quarterback. Ryan Fitzpatrick has been a productive quarterback over the past two seasons, though he’s been rather volatile throughout his career, and if he goes through any sort of rough patch, I’m guessing the team will move quickly to replace him with 5th overall pick Tua Tagovailoa. The former Alabama quarterback appears to be finally healthy and has the accuracy/polish necessary to succeed at the next level. At the same time, it’ll be tough for him to succeed with a below-average supporting cast, and with a tough schedule early, Miami would be smart to not bring him in too soon.

There’s a chance that the Dolphins will have the best quarterback play in their division, which is something to keep an eye on. Nevertheless, between their offensive line and perimeter weapons, there isn’t much for those two quarterbacks to work with. I’m surprised that they didn’t add more offensive talent this offseason, and with a new offensive coordinator in Chad Galley taking over, it’ll be interesting to see what the vision of this offense is moving forward. As for 2020, things probably won’t be much better.

#26: New England Patriots

edelmanmcdaniels
Photo Cred: Boston.com

Passing Offense: 31st

Rushing Offense: 11th

Play-Caller Tier Rank: 2 (Above Average)

Had these rankings been done at the beginning of June, then the Patriots would’ve ranked dead last in these rankings after parting ways with franchise icon Tom Brady. However, rather than embark on a full-on tanking effort, as some suggested they would, they took a flyer on former MVP Cam Newton. There are still plenty of questions regarding Newton, and the offense as a whole, but right now, they’re the offense I have the most hope for in the AFC East.

Is Newton healthy? That’s the major question here, as he’s dealt with shoulder and foot injuries- there’s a reason he didn’t sign until the end of June. Nevertheless, all indications are that he’ll be ready for training camp, and if that’s true, I have no doubts that he’ll beat out former fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham for the starting job. Once he does that, New England shouldn’t expect him to an MVP candidate, but he’s earned a passing grade of 67.7 or higher in each season of his career, outside of his rookie year- he’s certainly competent. Now, he won’t have much to work with, as outside of Julian Edelman, the receiving corps lacks any sort of impact talent, which puts a lot of pressure on the offensive line. Still, if Newton is healthy, he can be a dynamic option on designed quarterback runs, which can perhaps help them manufacture offensive production.

Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has consistently been on of the better play-callers in the NFL, so I’m confident he’ll adapt to build an offense to Newton’s strengths. Obviously, you’d hope to have more playmakers to add some sort of explosiveness to this offense, but Newton adds intriguing upside to this offense, and when you add in the structure they have, I’m guessing they won’t be terrible. As a result, they should certainly be considered the favorites to win the AFC East.

#25: Washington Football Team

haskinsmclaurin
Photo Cred: NBC Sports

Passing Offense: 26th

Rushing Offense: 22nd

Play-Caller Tier Rank: 3 (Neutral)

There were a lot of rough moments for the Washington Football Team last season, particularly on offense. Yet, as the season progressed, they showed some encouraging signs of hope for the future, and with a new coaching staff in place, this feels like an offense that’ll go one of two ways in 2020.

Although he’s generally not as well-regarded as other young quarterbacks, Dwayne Haskins may have been the best first-round rookie quarterback last season; he did an excellent job limiting negative plays and showcased an ability to play out of structure. Furthermore, once he became the team’s full-time starter, he graded out as a top-ten quarterback at Pro Football Focus, so there’s no reason why he can’t became a reliable mid-tier quarterback this season. Nevertheless, mid-tier quarterbacks need talent around them in order to succeed, and Haskins doesn’t have that. Terry McLaurin emerged as one of the top young receivers in football last season, but after him, Steven Sims Jr. and fourth-round rookie Antonio Gandy-Golden appear to be Washington’s next-best receivers, which certainly isn’t what you’d hope for. The offensive line is satisfactory, yet if receivers aren’t able to get open, Haskins could take a lot of sacks this season.

Coming from the Panthers, new offensive coordinator Scott Turner can be expected to bring an offense that relies on misdirection, as well as the quick passing game. Yet, I’m not sure Washington has the dynamic talent needed for an offense like that to work, especially since Carolina likes to utilize the middle of the field- Washington may have the worst tight end situation in the NFL. Thus, I’m expecting there to be some growing pains, which could hurt Haskins’ future standing with the team- they may be in position to land a premier quarterback in next year’s draft. Nevertheless, assuming Haskins makes a typical second-year progression, he and McLaurin could theoretically provide some stability for this offense moving forward; see, it’s not all hopeless for the Washington Football Team!

#24: Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Chargers v Los Angeles Rams
Photo Cred: Bolt Beat

Passing Offense: 21st

Rushing Offense: 20th

Play-Caller Tier Rank: 3 (Neutral)

For the first time since 2006, the Chargers will go into a season with a different starting quarterback than Phillip Rivers. Will it be veteran Tyrod Taylor or Justin Herbert? That remains to be seen, though for me, the decision appears to obvious; they should roll with Taylor. Although the former Bills quarterback isn’t perfect, he’s an effective game-manager that is a factor in the running game and limits turnovers, while Herbert is more of a developmental project. I wouldn’t expect him to be super effective throwing the ball down the field, but he’s certainly capable of leading a more efficient offense than Herbert.

The fact that Taylor isn’t a natural deep passer is very interesting, as the Chargers have generally been a downfield passing offense. Nevertheless, receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams bring a lot to the table, while tight end Hunter Henry and running back Austin Ekeler are also likely to make a noticeable impact. Yet, with Taylor and Herbert each having a tendency to hold onto the ball too long, the offensive line is in a rough spot, especially since tackle Bryan Bulaga appears to be their only above-average player up front; the running game won’t be very productive either.

After taking over as the team’s offensive coordinator, Shane Steichen did a tremendous job leading a productive offense. That’s too far of a sample size for me to completely buy into his abilities, and when you take into account that their quarterback situation has very little upside, it’s hard for me to see them not being a bottom-ten offense.

#23: New York Giants

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Photo Cred: Arizona Sports

Passing Offense: 22nd

Rushing Offense: 15th

Play-Caller Tier Rank: 3 (Neutral)

The Giants were expected to draft Dwayne Haskins in 2019, yet, instead, they selected a different signal-caller- Daniel Jones. Coming out Duke, Jones certainly wasn’t as highly-regarded as Haskins, as some evaluators didn’t even believe he was a first-round-caliber prospect. Overall, his rookie season was a mixed bag. The 23-year-old showed the ability to produce chunk plays down the field, and even was a factor in the rushing game. Yet, the negatives (interceptions, fumbles) outweighed the positives for the most part, which is worth noting; limiting negative plays is far more stable than consistently producing positive plays. His volatility could lead to an elite season out of no where, but there’s also a chance he completely falls flat in his second season.

Unlike Washington, New York has done a respectable job supporting their young quarterback. While they lack a true #1 receiver, Golden Tate, Sterling Shepard, and Darius Slayton are all capable of making a noticeable impact, while tight end Evan Engram is a tremendous weapon after the catch. Due to injuries last season, those four players rarely played as a cohesive unit last season, so if they stay healthy this season, Jones could be in a better spot to succeed; running back Saquon Barkley also will make an impact. As for the offensive line, the run-blocking is a concern, so Barkley will once again have his hands full trying to find success on the ground. Nevertheless, the addition of first-round rookie tackle Andrew Thomas solidifies their pass-blocking abilities, so it’s really in Jones’ hands to limit his pressure rate by getting rid of the ball quicker.

Coming from Dallas, I expect Jason Garrett to establish a run-first mindset as the offensive coordinator of the Giants, which could hinder this offense. Yet, he led some very productive offenses with the Cowboys, so perhaps he can help hide some of Jones’ decision-making flaws. This is certainly a boom-or-bust offense, and how they perform will ultimately dictate their fate this season.

#22: Arizona Cardinals

kliffkyler
Photo Cred: Wall Street Journal

Passing Offense: 24th

Rushing Offense: 29th

Play-Caller Tier Rank: 2 (Above Average)

The Cardinals in the bottom ten? Based on the hype they’ve received this offseason, this ranking for them may come as a shock. However, although their upside is tremendous, we’d be fooling ourselves to call them a premier unit- they’re very unproven. It all starts at quarterback. Although Kyler Murray was a fantastic prospect coming out of Oklahoma and was a #1 overall pick, his rookie season wasn’t great, which I believe is a topic not discussed enough. Of the 35 qualifying quarterbacks, Murray ranked last in passing grade from a clean pocket and 34th in positive play rate. Sure, he was fine in terms of limiting negatives, but grade from a clean pocket is generally a stable metric, so although he should be able to improve the rate of positive plays, I’m less optimistic in him becoming a superstar than I was a year ago.

You can’t say the Cardinals aren’t doing what they can to help Murray, though. Obviously, having star receiver DeAndre Hopkins practically being handed them for free helps, and he provides Murray with the sure-handed intermediate target that he needed. Now, he isn’t someone that is generally explosive or a consistent separator, so it’ll take time for him to get accumulated with Murray and be used properly in this offense, yet at the end of the day, he’s an elite receiver- he’ll make a sizable impact. As for the rest of Murray’s receiving options, Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald are solid slot receivers, and if former second-round pick Andy Isabella can emerge as a dynamic deep threat, then they’ll have a deep receiving corps. If not, they may have wished they added another impact receiver to go along with Hopkins.

Head coach Kliff Kingsbury struggled at first to adjust to NFL defenses, but he was able to eventually get accumulated- he ran far less 10 personal and more traditional 11 personnel sets. His spread-out offensive scheme does wonders for the offensive line, as it’s predicated on Murray getting the ball out quickly in the passing game, as well as the opposing defensive line having to spread out in the rushing game. Thus, I feel confident in him being considered an above-average play-caller, yet some of Murray’s shortcomings in his rookie season concern me. If he ascends into the player everyone thinks he’ll be, then this offense could be an above-average unit, but I think the buzz around this team just based on the Hopkins trade is becoming a little excessive.

#21: Cincinnati Bengals

LSU v Alabama
Photo Cred: Bengals Wire

Passing Offense: 19th

Rushing Offense: 25th

Play-Caller Tier Rank: 3 (Neutral)

Last season, the Bengals offense, and the team in general, was really tough to watch. However, there’s reason to believe they’ll be able to make a noticeable improvement this season, and it all starts with this year’s #1 overall pick, Joe Burrow. After having one of the greatest college seasons of recent memory, the 23-year-old enters the NFL as an extremely polished quarterback- his accuracy, decision-making, and pocket presence are all tremendous. Thus, I’m anticipating that he’ll be able to transition somewhat smoothly (at least better than Murray) to the NFL, and even him being 75% of his college self would be significantly better than what the Bengals dealt with last season.

Also adding optimism for Cincinnati is their exciting receiving corps. Last season, Tyler Boyd was their top target, and although he’s an effective slot receiver, he’s best as a complementary player. Now, he’ll be able to be used in that role again. It can’t be overstated how huge it is for veteran receiver AJ Green to be back on the franchise tag after missing all of last season due to an ankle injury, as he gives Burrow a reliable #1 receiver that any young quarterback needs. However, that’s not all the team did, as they also drafted Tee Higgins with the first pick in the second round, and after earning a receiving grade over 90 at Clemson, he had no business falling that far in the draft. Sure, the offensive line still isn’t in great shape, especially on the interior, but former first-round pick Jonah Williams will be back after missing the entirety of his rookie season due to a shoulder injury, and I think their shortcomings affect the rushing game more than the passing offense. At the end of the day, Burrow will need to limit pressure by making quick decisions, and with this receiving corps, he should be able to showcase that ability.

Similarly to the Cardinals, I believe that this Bengals offense has a ceiling that is far higher than this ranking. You never want to book on a rookie performing immediately, as we saw with some of this past year’s rookie quarterbacks, but Burrow is definitely supported. At the very least, his development won’t be hindered in any way, and this will be a great opportunity for the organization to assess head coach Zac Taylor’s play-calling ability- he didn’t stand a chance last year.

#20: Carolina Panthers

djmoorecmac
Photo Cred: panthers.com

Passing Offense: 23rd

Rushing Offense: 14th

Play-Caller Tier Rank: 2 (Above Average)

Next year’s Panthers team will look far different than it has in the past, and it all starts under center. This organization is clearly in a transitionary phase with a new regime taking over, and, as a result, they decided to part ways with long-time quarterback Cam Newton. In his place will be Teddy Bridgewater, who is at least a similar-caliber player to Newton. The 27-year-old is generally seen as a conservative player, but he did become more aggressive as he progressed in his five starts with the Saints last season; he earned a 72.1 passing grade or higher in each of his last four starts, and also increased his average depth of target. He certainly won’t be a world-beater, but he’s a tier-4 quarterback (low-level mid-tier quarterback) who can lead an effective offense that has the playmakers in place.

In Carolina, Bridgewater will have playmakers to work with. The attention goes to Christian McCaffrey, who is by far the best running back in the NFL and is an outlier in terms of the value he provides in terms of Wins Above Replacement (WAR). Yet, the true top threat of this offense is receiver DJ Moore, who has a chance to emerge as a star. The 23-year-old has earned receiving grades of 73.7 and 80.2, respectively, in each of his first two seasons, and with his ability to dominate after the catch, he’s a big play waiting to happen. However, he’s not the only piece to this receiving corps, as Robby Anderson is a talented vertical threat, and Curtis Samuel has demonstrated the ability to make plays after the catch when given a chance. Meanwhile, the offensive line is spectacular, but after they traded for tackle Russell Okung, Bridgewater will be protected adequately, though the run-blocking isn’t great.

There’s clearly talent on this offense to elevate Bridgewater, though, in my opinion, the unit’s overall productivity may came down to new offensive coordinator Joe Brady. Calling plays at LSU, Brady led the most dynamic offense in the country, and will run an offense predicated on principles from traditional spread offenses, as well as Sean Payton’s offense in New Orleans. That last part is notable, since Bridgewater performed well with the Saints, and after projecting Brady’s likely tendencies, I concluded that he’ll likely be an above-average play-caller. Is that premature? Possibly, but he appears set to run an effective modern offense, and the same can’t be said for a lot of play-callers. 2020 figures to be a rough season for the Panthers, but they certainly won’t be a terrible team, and with a very competent offense, they may be able to pull off a couple of upsets.

#19: Tennessee Titans

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Photo Cred: musiccitymiracles.com

Passing Offense: 20th

Rushing Offense: 3rd

Play-Caller Tier Rank: 3 (Neutral)

Based on the success they experienced last season offensively, I’m guessing that this ranking for the Titans is rather controversial. However, they had a lot working their way in their second-half surge last season, and I’m not sure they can replicate it. As expected, it all comes down to their quarterback. Ryan Tannehill earned the highest grade from Pro Football Focus last season, and with how well he performed from a clean pocket, there certainly were sustainable aspects of his performance. Yet, this was the same quarterback who earned the worst grade the previous year, so most likely, he’s probably in the 14-18 range when it comes to ranking quarterbacks. That wouldn’t be a letdown, but considering he was such a huge part of Tennessee’s revived offense, it would certainly mean regression.

All is fine, though, right? After all, they still have running back Derrick Henry, who carried this offense, based on public perception. Yet, that couldn’t be further from the case (why couldn’t Henry perform with Marcus Mariota?), and since rushing production is far more unstable year-to-year, Tennessee shouldn’t try to rely on him, especially after losing right tackle Jack Conklin in free agency. I do like the weapons Tannehill has, nevertheless, as AJ Brown is a playmaker with the ball in his hands, Corey Davis and Adam Humphries complement him well, and tight end Jonnu Smith broke onto the scene last season. Additionally, the offensive line is fine, though if they start rookie right tackle Isaiah Wilson, the right side of the offensive line could become a liability.

Arthur Smith was lauded as a genius during the Titans’ hot streak last season, but, in my opinion, it was the team’s talent, led by Tannehill, that was the real reason behind their improvement. Smith’s reliance on play-action is nice, but with less favorable play scripts, I’m not sure how he’ll adapt, considering that he was one of the more run-heavy play-callers in 2019. If he can’t elevate the offense, and Tannehill is closer to the 20th-best quarterback than the best, then the regression for this unit could massive, and thus, Titans fans should brace themselves for a tougher slate this season.

#18: Pittsburgh Steelers

benjuju
Photo Cred: 247 Sports

Passing Offense: 13th

Rushing Offense: 24th

Play-Caller Tier Rank: 3 (Neutral)

Whereas the Titans will likely regress in a negative way this season, the Steelers should do the opposite offensively. That’s what getting Ben Roethlisberger back under center will do for you, especially after they trotted out Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges last season. Now, Roethlisberger is coming off a severe elbow injury, and it’s unclear what type of shape he’s in at 38-years-old; he also was coming off a down season before he got injured. Yet, even in that 2018 season, he earned a 75.2 passing grade in an offense that forced him to drop back a lot, so even his days of being a top-tier quarterback are done he’s certainly an above-average signal-caller until further notice.

Antonio Brown is no longer in Pittsburgh, and due to Roethlisberger’s injury, we couldn’t get a good read on Pittsburgh’s new-look receiving corps. It’s a very young group of players, so, as expected, they have a wide range of possible outcomes. Juju Smith-Schuster probably isn’t a true #1 receiver, but he’s a high-end #2 option, while Diontae Johnson is a very popular breakout candidate heading into his second season. Then, there’s deep threat James Washington and second-round Chase Claypool, who bring different skillsets to the table, and could provide a spark to the offense is used properly. Heck, the addition of tight end Eric Ebron even gives Roethlisberger a reliable target over the middle of the field- the Steelers certainly have a lot of depth when it comes to their offensive weaponry. Additionally, Roethlisberger will be protected well by his offensive line, especially since he generally has had a low pressure rate throughout his career, though they aren’t going to bring a lot of the table in terms of run blocking.

In 2019, offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner ran the ball a lot on early downs, but that may have due to his lack of trust in his quarterbacks- Pittsburgh was one of the most pass-heavy teams in the NFL in 2018. I’m guessing they’ll be somewhat in the middle this season, as their personnel would indicate that they’re looking to run a ball-control offense predicated on the quick passing game. Thus, they’ll probably be a mid-tier offense that lacks explosion, but that would be a significant improvement from last year.

#17: Minnesota Vikings

cousinsthielen
Photo Cred: Business Insider

Passing Offense: 17th

Rushing Offense: 13th

Play-Caller Tier Rank: 3 (Neutral)

When the Vikings signed Kirk Cousins, they did so believing he’d be the player that could lead them to a Super Bowl championship. That hasn’t happened yet, but so far, Cousins has been as productive as they could’ve hoped for. The 31-year-old is coming off of a season in which he ranked fourth in clean pocket grade, negative play rate, and adjusted completion rate, and although he’s not asked to drop back 40+ times a game, he’s perfect for the offense he’s being asked to run.

Where Cousins could stand to improve is with his rate of positively-graded plays, but that has a lot to do with a quarterback’s supporting cast. Unfortunately, Minnesota traded away elite receiver Stefon Diggs, and although they have Adam Thielen still, they’ll be asking a lot from rookie Justin Jefferson- there is very little receiver depth behind him, so those two will be their starters in an offense that runs mostly two-receiver sets. Tight ends Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith Jr. will be able to make some sort of contribution to the passing game, yet when this team is trailing, I’m not sure they have enough perimeter talent- the team’s pass protection issues could also be exposed if they have to pass more.

Last season, the Vikings were able to run the ball often, as Dalvin Cook and the rushing offense was very explosive. They’ll almost certainly regress in that area, however, and with former offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski now in Cleveland, I’m not sure how they’ll be able to adapt. Similarly to the Titans, running play-action is great, but what will they do in less-favorable game scripts? They have a very high floor offensively, yet I don’t think they’ll be able to outperform this ranking.

#16: Houston Texans

watsonbob
Photo Cred: Bleacher Report

Passing Offense: 7th

Rushing Offense: 32nd

Play-Caller Tier Rank: 3 (Neutral)

What will the Texans offense look like next year? That’s the million-dollar question after they traded star receiver DeAndre Hopkins in a questionable trade, to say the least. Off all the non-quarterbacks in the league, Hopkins would rank near the top of the list in terms of his ability to make a major difference, and how Houston re-arranges their receiving corps will go a long way towards determine their fate in 2020. Well, to that end, it certainly seems like they’re taking a complete-180 in terms of what they’re looking for in a receiver. Hopkins is more of an intermediate target, and without him in the fold, the Texans appear to be coveting as much speed as possible. Not only will Will Fuller V likely assume the role as the team’s top receiver, but they also traded for Brandin Cooks. Those two, along with Kenny Still, have very similar route trees working down the field, so it’ll be interesting to see how they’ll be incorporated. Most likely, Houston will focus on generating explosive passes with slot receiver Randall Cobb serving as their sure-handed target in the short passing game, which could certainly work out, though they’re at risk of being too redundant/predictable.

On the other hand, the Texans may be catering the ideal offense for quarterback Deshaun Watson. His accuracy numbers on deep passes has been exceptional, and with his playmaking ability, why can’t they be big-play-oriented offense? If Houston really wants to help Watson, though, they’ll focus on him cutting down his time to throw numbers. Most of his mistakes have come when he holds onto the ball too long, and in the quick passing game, it’d be beneficial for him to utilize the dynamic playmaking ability of his top two receivers- it’d also do wonders for his protection.

Head coach Bill O’Brien has been rightfully criticized for trading Hopkins, as he certainly should be. However, he’s not a poor coach, and if he properly shapes this offense to benefit Watson, then the talented quarterback could have his best season yet. However, I’m skeptical that he’ll actually utilize the quick-passing game, especially since they’re likely to be in a lot of shootouts, and, thus, this may remain a very inconsistent offense in 2020.

#15: Philadelphia Eagles

wentzpederson
Photo Cred: Eagles Wire-USAToday.com

Passing Offense: 10th

Rushing Offense: 17th

Play-Caller Tier Rank: 3 (Neutral)

In 2017, the Eagles had one of the most high-powered offenses in the NFL. However, since then, they’ve certainly regressed, and in 2020, I’m expecting that decline to be much more sharp. Now, there’s no doubt that Philadelphia dealt with poor injury luck, as their top receivers (Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson) missed a lot of time last season. Yet, neither are at their peak anyways, so unless rookie receiver Jalen Reagor makes a quick transition to the NFL, this offense will once again go through the tight end duo of Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. That’s what concerns me about this offense more than the offensive line, as although they’ll be without guard Brandon Brooks and will be relying on young tackle Andre Dillard, I’m very confident they’ll still be an above-average unit.

Carson Wentz is seen as a dynamic top-ten quarterback, but should he be? Even in 2017, his overall Pro Football Focus grade didn’t match up with his statistics, and he relied a lot on third-down success, which is very unstable year-to-year. Thus, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he hasn’t been able to get back to that level of production. He’s coming off of a season in which he ranked just 19th in clean pocket grade and on-target percentage, while he also finished 21st and 22nd in negative play rate and turnover worthy play rate, respectively. If you looked at these statistics without knowing who the player was, you’d classify him as a mid-tier quarterback, and that’s exactly what Wentz is.

Mid-tier quarterbacks need to be elevated by their offensive play-caller, and head coach Doug Pederson isn’t helping matters. His reliance on early-down runs and lack of creativity has become apparent, and without top-tier playmaking talent, it’s likely that this Eagles offense finishes as a middle-of-the-pack unit in 2020. With the way their defense is shaping up, that certainly wouldn’t cut it in a deep NFC.

#14: Detroit Lions

staffordgolladay
Photo Cred: MLive.com

Passing Offense: 9th

Rushing Offense: 18th

Play-Caller Tier Rank: 3 (Neutral)

The Lions may have only won 3 games last season, yet that win total is as deceiving as it gets. Not only did they struggle in one-score games, but they were a competitive team with a high-powered offense before Matthew Stafford got injured, and with him back healthy, they’ll look to pick up right where they left off. Quietly, Stafford ranked second from a clean pocket and led the league in big time throw percentage, which is certainly exciting when projecting their success in 2020. Now, he also struggled with accuracy and negative plays, but this offense is at his best when he’s taking chances down the field, and that’s exactly what he did last season. Although he won’t be the second-best quarterback again, placing him as a fringe top-ten quarterback makes a lot of sense.

Stafford’s deep-ball prowess isn’t the only reason why this offense was built around the vertical passing game; their group of playmakers may be the most underrated in the NFL. The receiver duo of Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. do an extensive amount of damage working down the field, and you could do a lot worse for a slot receiver than Danny Amendola. Should former first-round pick TJ Hockenson develop into the all-around tight end that many expect him to, this passing offense could be scary, as they’ll be able to attack all levels of the field. Furthermore, I’m a little worried about the right side of the offensive line, but the left side of the offensive line is in really solid shape.

Between Stafford’s accuracy issues, the right side of the offensive line, and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s run-heavy tendencies, this isn’t a perfect offense. Nevertheless, they’re built to produce chunk plays with ease, and with all the weapons Stafford will be able to throw to, they’ll be a lot of fun to watch. The Lions are certainly a smart sleeper pick to win their division this season, and it all starts with an offense that not only has tremendous upside, but a high-enough floor.

#13: Atlanta Falcons

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Photo Cred: Falcons Wire-USAToday.com

Passing Offense: 8th

Rushing Offense: 10th

Play-Caller Tier Rank: 3 (Neutral)

As per usual, the Falcons project to have a very flashy offense in 2020, which will likely remain the case as long as Matt Ryan is at the helm. Though he regressed to a 75.2 overall grade and struggled to produce positive plays last season, he still was a top-ten quarterback in clean pocket grade and negative play rate, which are far more stable metrics. His pressure rate rose significantly, though, and considering how efficient and accurate he is when making quick decisions, he’d be best off getting back to what he does best. Regardless, he’ll probably be a top-ten quarterback this season.

Helping matters for Ryan is the fantastic receiver duo of Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, which is quite the tandem of players to work with. However, the issue for Atlanta has always been their lack of depth, and that’s still an issue in 2020. Tight end Hayden Hurst should be able to replace Austin Hooper’s production, but their current #3 receiver is Laquon Treadwell, and if they plan on utilizing 11 personnel, that’s certainly worrisome; could you imagine if Jones or Ridley misses time due to an injury. Plus, the offensive line had its issues last season, to the point it hindered the passing offense. Well, considering that the same five players are returning in 2020, they better hope for some improvement- I’m guessing running back Todd Gurley won’t move the needle like public media outlets seem to think he will, even if he’s healthy.

As long as the Falcons have the trio of Ryan, Jones, and Ridley, they’ll be an above-average offense. Nevertheless, they still haven’t improved their offensive depth, and if anything goes wrong, they’re going to pay the price for it. Had they drafted receiver CeeDee Lamb in the first round, this offense would certainly rank in the top ten, but instead, they’ll look to run it back with practically the same players they had in 2019.

#12: Los Angeles Rams

goffmcvay
Photo Cred: ocregister.com

Passing Offense: 11th

Rushing Offense: 27th

Play-Caller Tier Rank: 2 (Above Average)

Coming off a season in which they had one of the most productive offenses of recent memory, expectations were sky-high for the Rams heading into last season. Instead of replicating that success, Los Angeles faced some serious adversity, and their failure to adapt was the story of a disappointing season. For them to get back on track in 2020, it all starts with quarterback Jared Goff. Yet, I’m pretty sure what he saw from the former first overall pick is what he’ll get moving forward. Based on his three-year stint as the team’s full-time starter, his 2019 grade (72.4) was right around where it was in 2017, making his 2018 season appear to be the#1 true outlier. He ranked 23rd from a clean pocket, 27th in turnover worthy play rate, and also lacked accuracy and pocket presence; it wasn’t like he was making up for it in the way of big plays.

Goff is as much a mid-tier quarterback as it gets, so he needs to helped by a premier supporting cast. Unfortunately, the Rams made zero moves to boost their offensive line, and if they play as poorly as they did last year, there’s no way for Goff to even stand a chance. On the bright side, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp are quite the receiver tandem, and the same is true for the duo of tight ends Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett. Essentially, if Rams rely on the quick-passing game and the offensive line holds up, they’ll be a great offense. However, that’s as big of an “if” as there is.

Head coach Sean McVay’s failure to innovate and adjust to other teams beating him with traditional “quarters” defenses was quite worrisome, and until he does, I can’t place him with the top play-callers in the sport. Meanwhile, Goff needs to be boosted significantly by the players around, but due to the team’s cap situation, the offensive line remains in shambles, and even the team’s receiving depth is thinner after trading Brandin Cooks. There’s reason to believe that they can once again be a top-notch offense in 2020, but my money is on them being like the Falcons- flashy, but not efficient or productive enough.

#11: Las Vegas Raiders

derekcarrdarrenwaller
Photo Cred: Raiders Beat

Passing Offense: 16th

Rushing Offense: 6th

Play-Caller Tier Rank: 2 (Above Average)

When looking at the top offenses in terms of yards/play, all the usual suspects appeared on it last season. Then, there are the Las Vegas Raiders, who may have had the most subtle top-ten offense I’ve ever seen. Nevertheless, on paper, this looks like an offense without a glaring flaw. With the 12th overall pick in the draft, it was the worst-kept secret that they’d take a receiver, as a lack of receiving talent was a problem for them last season. Many didn’t expect it to be Henry Ruggs III, but he gives the team a vertical playmaker that they’ll lacked, while Tyrell Williams and Hunter Renfrow are decent complementary option. At the end of the day, though, the team’s top playmaker is tight end Darren Waller, who is coming off an incredible season, and is one of the few tight ends capable of being a focal point of an offense.

There’s enough talent for quarterback Derek Carr to thrive, but the question is, does he want to do his part? The 29-year-old is one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the NFL, and also limits the amount of mistakes he makes. Yet, he had the third-lowest average depth of target last season, which is strange considering that he has the vertical-passing talent to take shots down the field. Here’s hoping that he becomes more aggressive in 2019, especially now that the team has invested in a talented backup quarterback in Marcus Mariota- as things stand, he’s about the 15th best quarterback.

With a strong offensive line, Carr will be have the protection necessary to be more aggressive, and the addition of Ruggs III should also help with that. Meanwhile, although a strong rushing attack isn’t needed to use play-action, it’s still a common belief among many, so it’ll also be critical for head coach Jon Gruden to use that success as a chance to put Carr in an even better position to succeed. While his team-building methods may be flawed, Gruden has remained one of the better play-callers in the sport, as evidenced by the team’s success in scripted plays last season. Therefore, Carr, as a mid-tier quarterback, should be boosted up by his head coach and a decent support cast, and thus, I’m expecting similar offensive production to last season.

#10: Seattle Seahawks

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks
Photo Cred: NBC Sports

Passing Offense: 4th

Rushing Offense: 12th

Play-Caller Tier Rank: 4 (Below Average)

When you have a generational quarterback, you should be one of the top offenses in the NFL. Yet, the Seahawks’ conservative philosophies don’t appear to be changing anytime soon, and that’ll continue to prevent them from reaching their full potential. As a defensive-minded head coach, Pete Carroll continues to adopt a run-first offensive strategy, which puts a tremendous amount on pressure on Russell Wilson to “save them” in unfavorable third-down situations. To his credit, the 31-year-old has managed to overcome that adversity, and there wasn’t any metric that he didn’t rank as at least a top-ten quarterback in. His ability to produce chunk plays without putting the ball in harm’s way is impressive, and there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s a top-two quarterback capable of carrying a team (look at last season).

In terms of talent, it’s not all barren for the Seahawks, as receivers Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf are a great duo when it comes to winning down the field- they mesh perfectly with Wilson’s strengths. Nevertheless, there’s a massive drop-off after those two with regards to a third option in the passing game. Unless Will Dissly can stay healthy, their tight-end room consists of a lot of different options, but no clear-cut starter, while Phillip Dorsett currently projects as their third receiver. Seattle also has a bottom-ten offensive line, though unless Wilson gets rid of the ball quicker, I’m sure improving there would make as much as a difference as them acquiring more playmaking depth.

If the Seahawks modernized their play-calling at all, the presence Wilson would likely make them a top-five offense. However, it feels as though this team is doing everything in their power to prevent him from succeeding, and until they come to realization with the fact that they aren’t built to win like they did during their “Legion of Boom” days, the ceiling of this offense will be limited.

#9: Indianapolis Colts

reichrivers
Photo Cred: ESPN.com

Passing Offense: 15th

Rushing Offense: 2nd

Play-Caller Tier Rank: 2 (Above Average)

Whereas the Seahawks’ strengths are with their quarterback and receiver tandem, the opposite is true for the Colts. They’re not weak in those two areas by any means, but it’s the depth and overall competency/stability of this offense that vaults them to this #9 ranking, which would be a major step-up from last season. The main reason for that is a huge upgrade at quarterback, as although Phillip Rivers regressed mightily last season, he’s still a much better option that Jacoby Brissett. Generally, when I see a quarterback struggle in stable areas, I’m quick to dismiss them. However, head coach Frank Reich has generally done an admirable job getting his quarterbacks to get the ball out quickly and make quick decisions, and if that’s the case, Rivers could be a perfect fit- a lot of his turnovers came with him trying to “carry” the Chargers last season. Plus, his high-end level of play, which came as recently as 2019, would give the Colts the type of upside they simply did not have last season.

One area where a change of scenery will really benefit Rivers is the dramatic improvement in his pass protection. Obviously, quarterbacks control their pressure rate for the most part, but the Chargers offensive line was a liability last season, per most metrics.  Just him simply having confidence behind his new offensive line, which Pro Football Focus recently ranked as the #1 unit in the NFL, should help him tremendously. Plus, although the receiving corps in Indianapolis doesn’t look as strong as what he had to work with in Los Angeles, there’s some upside to be found in what appears to be a relatively deep group of playmakers. Even at 30-years-old, TY Hilton is still a top-20 receiver, and he’ll give Rivers a reliable target, especially if he can get back to his 2018 form. Additionally, the Colts drafted Michael Pittman Jr., a big-body receiver who could’ve been drafted in the first round, and he should start immediately for them; Paris Campbell is a run-after-catch specialist, and Zach Pascal is coming off of a productive season. Heck, Jack Doyle is a pretty reliable tight end, and Nyhiem Hines is a threat as a receiver out of the backfield.

The Colts aren’t filled with stars, but they have a pretty deep group of playmakers that all have some level of upside, and have so much stability with their offensive line and play-calling. Frank Reich is a perfect fit for Rivers, and if he goes back to leading a pass-heavy offense, which he did in 2018, I could see this offense living up to this ranking.

#8: Green Bay Packers

LaFleurrodgers
Photo Cred: Bleacher Report

Passing Offense: 5th

Rushing Offense: 8th

Play-Caller Tier Rank: 3 (Neutral)

Heading into the second year of the Matt LeFleur-Aaron Rodgers pairing, what should we expect? Many thought that a new play-caller would be beneficial for Rodgers, but instead, the 36-year-old had a disappointing season, ranking just 18th from a clean pocket, while also struggling to produce positive plays. However, that’s a far cry from the caliber of player he had been the previous two seasons, and when you consider that he started the year out tremendously, all hope shouldn’t be lost for a bounce-back. In fact, Rodgers still ranks in the top-five in mean passing grade for the past two seasons, and it wouldn’t be a shocker for him to be more comfortable in LeFleur’s system this season.

A major talking point with the Packers is their lack of receiver talent, and that’s true to a certain extent. They don’t really have a #2 receiver, though Allen Lazard showed promise last season, and unless second-year tight end Jace Sternberger breaks onto the scene, this offense will be centered around one key player. Nevertheless, we’d be foolish to forget how dominant that one player can be. Davante Adams’s route-running and release packages are off the charts, and in the four games he missed last season, his presence was greatly missed. If he can stay healthy, I’m confident in Rodgers’ ability to elevate the players around him enough, especially since the offensive line doesn’t appear to be a concern on paper.

I’m not ready to dismiss LeFleur yet, but the fact that the Packers ranked 9th in offense grade and just 16th in yards/play isn’t a great sign. There’s a chance that they became run-heavy, though they were third in early-down pass-frequency last season, so his strategy last season didn’t appear to be the issue. In the end, Adams’ health, as well as a bounce-back from Rodgers, will dictate the fate of this offense. This #7 ranking that my model has for them appears to be too high, though it’s certainly tempting to fade the chastising of this team heading into this season.

#7: Dallas Cowboys

dakcooper
Photo Cred: Dallas Morning News

Passing Offense: 12th

Rushing Offense: 4th

Play-Caller Tier Rank: 2 (Above Average)

The concept of the mid-tier quarterback is discussed often, and when it comes to contract negotiations, calculating the worth of one is very difficult. This is precisely the situation that the Cowboys find themselves in right now; they’re playing chicken in extension talks with Dak Prescott, and there’s no solution in sight. If Prescott is as productive in 2019, in which he was a top-ten quarterback from a clean pocket and in positively graded plays, then Dallas will look silly for waiting so long to sign him. However, the 26-year-old was coming off multiple seasons in which he was closer to average, so Dallas can’t be certain what version they’ll get in 2020. Most likely, Prescott is around the 12th-14th best quarterback; hence, the classification for him as a mid-tier quarterback.

Luckily for Prescott, he’ll be supported in a way that other quarterbacks similar to him (Jared Goff, Carson Wentz) won’t be. Dallas made sure to retain star receiver Amari Cooper, who has had a dramatic impact on this offense, and they round out their receiving corps with Michael Gallup and first-round pick CeeDee Lamb. Now, on paper, this group of playmakers, unless Lamb bursts onto the scene or Gallup continues to ascend, isn’t the unstoppable trio that some are making it out to be, but it’s safe to say Prescott will have a bevy of options to throw to. Tight end is a question mark, as Blake Jarwin is unproven, so, overall, this offense will really come down to the connection between Prescott and his receivers; the offensive line remains strong, though weaker than in past years.

Although new head coach Mike McCarthy will bring different wrinkles to the table, he’ll likely let offensive coordinator Kellen Moore continue to call plays, which would be a tremendous decision- Dallas lead the league in yards/play last season. Ultimately, Prescott is the deciding factor of this offense. If he’s as productive as he was last season, the Cowboys are going to be elite when it comes to scoring runs, though that’s not a small “if”.

#6: Baltimore Ravens

ravenslamar
Photo Cred: Ebony Bird

Passing Offense: 18th

Rushing Offense: 5th

Play-Caller Tier Rank: 1 (Elite)

Last season, the Ravens were a joy to watch; their offense was incredible, and quarterback Lamar Jackson won the MVP by a landslide. The question now is, how sustainable was their success? As with any offense, it starts with the quarterback. There’s no doubting that Jackson was an elite quarterback last season, yet he ranked 10th or worst in grade from a clean pocket, negative play rate, and on-target percentage; a lot of his production came from being the highest-graded quarterback under pressure, which is very unstable. Now, I’m not here to diminish Jackson’s abilities at all, as I see him as a top-five quarterback with the playmaking ability that should give defensive coordinators nightmares. Nevertheless, he’s likely to naturally regress last season (his touchdown rate of 9% was unsustainably high), and Baltimore will have to adjust to that.

The Ravens certainly don’t have your traditional offense, and it shows with their personnel. Outside of second-year receiver Marquise Brown, who is an explosive deep threat that needs to stay healthy, this is one of the weakest receiving corps in the league, as even Brown was rather inconsistent last season. Thus, a majority of the passing production comes from the tight ends, namely Mark Andrews, which restricts their offense to working over the middle of the field. In other words, their ability to be effective outside the numbers hasn’t been put to the test, and if it is this season, they could be in trouble. As for the offensive line, it’s still in solid shape, but the interior of the offensive line is a bit of a concern, which isn’t what you want for an offense that is built around the running game; at the very least, running backs Mark Ingram and JK Dobbins are quite the tandem.

How will the Ravens respond to more unfavorable game scripts? They spent the least time trailing of any team in the NFL last season, and as we saw when they were trailing, this offense certainly wasn’t built to erase deficits. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman should be able to tailor this offense to adapt to different responses from defenses this season, though there’s only so much he can do. At some point, they’ll have to be better in sustainable, more traditional aspects to continue to be a top-flight unit, and to overcome regression, it’ll need to happen this season.

#5: San Francisco 49ers

shanahankittle
Photo Cred: Fourth and Nine

Passing Offense: 14th

Rushing Offense: 16th

Play-Caller Tier Rank: 1 (Elite)

Speaking of offenses who relied on success in unstable areas last season, the 49ers benefitted greatly from an extremely explosive rushing attack, ranking 4th in yards/play last season. However, the ability to produce chunk plays on the ground is difficult to sustain, so San Francisco will need more from their passing game this season. In other words, the pressure is on Jimmy Garoppolo to play a larger role in 2020. The 28-year-old signal-caller was effective in this system last season, ranking 13th from a clean pocket and 5th in on-target percentage. However, he also didn’t produce many big-time throws, while he was prone to the occasional gaffe when throwing over the middle of the field. In this play-action-heavy offense, though, I believe he’s a perfect fit as a mid-tier quarterback, and he’s shown enough for me to believe he can handle a large role.

Similarly to the Ravens, the 49ers run a lot of two-receiver sets, and place their priorities in other areas. Their offense runs through tight end George Kittle, who may very well be the best player in the NFL, and considering how dynamic he is, it’d be foolish for him not to be the focal-point. Still, they let receiver Emmanuel Sanders leave this free agency, and as things stand, they don’t have someone who can get open on his own without being “schemed-up”. Deebo Samuel may be that player, but he’ll miss a decent amount of time with a foot injury, and outside of first-round pick Brandon Aiyuk, there isn’t much to get excited about regarding their playmakers. More than ever, this offense will be predicated on running the football, as well as letting the receivers make plays after the catch, though I wonder how they’ll fare in more unfavorable game scripts.

The 49ers have a lot in common with the Ravens, but what puts them ahead of Baltimore, per my model, is a more reliable passing offense. Had Samuel been healthy, then I wouldn’t be as concerned about the loss of Sanders, so they’ll need Aiyuk to step into a meaningful role immediately, while Kittle must stay healthy. Still, it’s impossible not to believe in head coach Kyle Shanahan, and although this isn’t an offense with a high ceiling, they feel like a lock to finish with at least a top-ten offense.

#4: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

bradybucs
Photo Cred: Arizona Sports

Passing Offense: 3rd

Rushing Offense: 28th

Play-Caller Tier Rank: 3 (Neutral)

Based on yards/play and Pro Football Focus grade, the Bucs had a top-ten offense last season. That’s encouraging in it of itself, but it’s safe to say that they’ve only gotten better since. Based on grade from a clean pocket, Jameis Winston actually ranked higher than Tom Brady, but that would be misleading. Prior to last season, Brady had three straight seasons with a passing grade over 90, and describing his supporting cast in New England as poor would be a massive understatement. The 43-year-old’s ability to take care of the football will be extremely beneficial for a team that has had to deal with Winston’s volatility, while his ability to get rid of the football quickly will help his new offensive line.

In New England, Brady consistently was forced to hold onto the ball too long and force the ball into tight windows, as his receivers failed to get open. Now, he’ll be throwing to arguably the best group of weapons in the NFL. It’ll be interesting to see how he meshes with Mike Evans, more of a contested-catch specialist, but I have no doubts that he’ll have no problem throwing to Chris Godwin, one of the most complete receivers in the NFL. Both are top-ten receivers, and when you add in the tight end duo of Rob Gronkowski and OJ Howard, Brady almost has too many options in the passing game.

With a significantly-improved supporting cast, Brady should be better in 2020 than he was in 2019, and, thus, the Bucs offense has a chance to be special this season. Head coach Bruce Arians isn’t someone who tends to elevate the talent around him (same applies for offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich), but he may not need to- all the pieces are in place. Honestly, the only concern is for everyone to have enough time to adjust to one another in a shortened offseason.

#3: Cleveland Browns

bakerobj
Photo Cred: Pro Football Talk- NBC Sports

Passing Offense: 6th

Rushing Offense: 1st

Play-Caller Tier Rank: 2 (Above Average)

The Browns at #3??? That’s a question I’m sure the common reader will have, but my model clearly is all-in on their 2019 struggles being a fluke. If that’s going to be the case, it will all come down to Baker Mayfield. The former first-overall pick was an elite performer in college, and carried that production over to his rookie season. Then, all hell broke loose, and he ranked just 26th from a clean pocket last season. Notably, he was incredibly inaccurate, invited pressure, and struggled with negatively-graded plays, but that was all extremely out of character for him. Given his previous resume of success, I’m willing to somewhat classify last season as an outlier, though there is reason to be somewhat worried about him.

If Mayfield is more of a mid-tier quarterback than someone who can be relied upon significantly, then he’ll need to be boosted by the players around. That won’t be a problem this year. The receiver duo of Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry remains intact, and although Beckham Jr. and Mayfield struggled to get on the same page last season, the chemistry should naturally improve in their second year- Beckham Jr. also played last season with a sports hernia. Meanwhile, an offensive line that was an issue last season will now be on the league’s best after adding tackles Jedrick Wills (first round) and Jack Conklin (free agency), both in terms of pass protection and in the running game. Add in tight ends Austin Hooper and David Njoku, as well as running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, and it’s hard to find a flaw in this offense.

Helping matters further for the Browns is the hiring of Kevin Stefanski as head coach. The former Vikings offensive coordinator ranked as the fourth-best play-caller last season, per Pro Football Focus, and his success in scripted plays was near the top of the league. A lot of Mayfield’s flaws line up with Kirk Cousins’, so on paper, the Oklahoma product appears to be a perfect fit for Stefanski, who should be able to help him cut down on his turnovers. There’s a lot of promise with this offense, and, as a result, I’m all-in on buying into the Browns. That’s a scary proposition, but I don’t see any sort of flaw that defenses can expose.

#2: Kansas City Chiefs

APTOPIX AFC Championship Titans Chiefs Football
Photo Cred: The Denver Post

Passing Offense: 2nd

Rushing Offense: 23rd

Play-Caller Tier Rank: 1 (Elite)

Coming off of a Super Bowl championship, the Chiefs are riding high in the 2020 season, as they’ll return practically the same offense that led them to the championship. Even if they did lose some pieces, they’d still be in good shape, which us what happens when you have the best quarterback in the NFL. Patrick Mahomes certainly regressed from his elite 2018 MVP season, as he didn’t rank in the top ten in some stable metrics, but he also played with multiple injuries; we also can’t discount how incredible his 2018 season was. Between his ability to limit mistakes, dominate throwing down the field, and also not invite pressure, he’s as close to a flawless quarterback as there is in the NFL, and the $450 million contract the Chiefs gave him will be a bargain.

Mahomes probably could carry a subpar roster, but it’s safe to say he won’t have to do that in Kansas City. Tyreek Hill may not be the best receiver in the NFL, yet there’s no player that fits this offense better; the combination fo him and Hill is unstoppable. While he works down the field, tight end Travis Kelce gives Mahomes an elite receiving threat over the middle of the field, and although they don’t have a standout #2 receiver, Sammy Watkins and Mecole Hardman each fit this offense well; running backs Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Damien Williams will also catch their fair share of passes. Meanwhile, although the offensive line won’t create a lot of lanes in the rushing game, they’re an extremely athletic group that will protect Mahomes well.

Oh, and before we forget, the Chiefs also have the best play-caller in head coach Andy Reid, who has been ahead of the curve for a long time in terms of running a pass-heavy offense that utilizes a lot of play-action passes. Ideally, they’d have more depth in the receiving corps, and we’d know for sure what caused the slight regression in Mahomes production last season, but that’s just nitpicking at this point. They’ll be a premier offense in 2020, and that’s about all that has to be said.

#1: New Orleans Saints

breesmt13
Photo Cred: Sportsnaut

Passing Offense: 1st

Rushing Offense: 9th

Play-Caller Tier Rank: 1 (Elite)

For what feels like an eternity, the Saints have been so consistent offensively, that it’s almost boring to talk about them- we know exactly what to expect from them. That’s the result of constantly having an elite quarterback leading your offense, which is what Drew Brees continues to be until further notice. Now 41-years-old, Brees is still going strong, earning a Pro Football Focus grade over 91.2 in each of the past two seasons. Furthermore, he continues to be the best quarterback in terms of accuracy and limiting negative plays, and for all the talk that he no longer can produce chunk plays, he still ranked 10th in positively-graded plays last season. In this offense, which relies on precision with the quick-passing attack, there continues to be no better fit to run the system that him.

It’s safe to say that this offense ran through superstar receiver Michael Thomas last season, as he broke the all-time receptions record; the 26-year-old’s ability to be so efficient while handling such a large volume cannot be overstated. In 2020, though, it won’t be all on him. This offseason, New Orleans signed receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who not only is extremely productive, but is also a perfect fit for this timing-based offense with his ability to not commit negative plays, while tight end Jared Cook continues to be one of the best receiving tight ends as well. Add in what remains a fantastic offensive line, as well as a dynamic dual-threat running back in Alvin Kamara, and there are no longer any weaknesses with this offense.

A great deal has been made about Brees’ dealing arm strength, but he’s still accurate when working down the field, and in head coach Sean Payton’s offense, he just needs to continue to be a top-notch facilitator. Last season, the Saints lacked any sort of receiving depth outside of Thomas, but with Sanders on board, as well as Cook and Kamara hopefully healthy for the season, that won’t be a problem in 2020. Brees’ age is the only potential concern, but considering that he continues to produce at a high level, there isn’t any reason to refute my model’s projection of the Saints having the best offense in the NFL.

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