Is offense more important than defense?

Is offense more important than defense?
May 6, 2013, 9:45 am
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The Redskins had one of the top offenses in the NFL last year. They led the league is rushing and yards per offensive play and they were fourth in points scored. Meanwhile, the Washington defense was 22nd in points allowed 28th in yards given up, and dismal 30th in passing yards.

In last week’s draft, however, they devoted nearly as many assets to the offense as they did to the defense. They did take a cornerback with their first selection but they followed with two offensive picks, taking players who are capable of taking the ball to the house any time they get their hands on it. In all, four draftees play defense, three play offense. If you consider the fact that the Redskins’ first-round pick was part of the trade for the rights to Robert Griffin III, they spent their draft picks equally on both sides of the ball.

Why not throw all of your resources, or at least more of them, into building up the weaker area of the team? Because having a good offense is more important than having a good defense.

Say again?

Yes, the old adage that defense wins championships, which has been taking hits left and right as teams with high-powered offenses and suspect defenses have been contending for and winning the Super Bowl, takes another blow in this post on FootballPerspective.com.

The post is not the easiest read as one might expect from an article carrying the tag “Statgeekery”. But the bottom line is that the quality of a team’s offense is more responsible for the points it scores in a game than is the quality of the opponent’s defense. Offense is responsible for 60 percent of the points scored while defense is responsible for 40 percent.

The article also notes that there is a 25 percent bigger gap between the best offense and the worst offense than there is between the best and worst defenses. In other words, a very good defense is not that much better than an average defense. A top offense is considerably more effective than one in the middle of the pack.

Since the impact of offense is greater than that of defense, it makes sense to limit what you invest in defense. The way to build a real advantage over the rest of the league is to invest in offense.

We saw the Redskins confirm the concept of the importance of offense when they dealt for Griffin last year. They spent three first-round picks and a second on Griffin and it is inconceivable that the Redskins or any team would spend that much on a defensive player or even multiple defenders.

The Bucs gave up a first and fourth for Darrelle Revis. The analogy is not exact since Revis’ trade value was somewhat diminished as he is 27, coming off of an ACL injury, and was given a $16 million per year contract. But let’s say that on draft day in 2007 that you knew that Revis would be as good as he has been. You still would not give up multiple firsts and a second to draft him.  

This doesn’t mean that defense doesn’t matter or that the Redskins should abandon any effort to upgrade that side of the ball. It’s still 40 percent of the game and that is a substantial amount.

But you can’t let your offense slip in an effort to build up the defense or you’ll be treading water in the W-L column. Even when the offense is a relative strength, adding weapons to it will pay off.