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I was a little late in getting out the week 1 Game Scripts, but hopefully these will come out every Wednesday or Thursday for the rest of the year.

The Cowboys, Eagles, and Chargers stood out as pass-heavy this week. Dak Prescott finished with 50 passes (plus two sacks), easily a career high and only the second time he’s thrown even 40 passes in a game. Ezekiel Elliott, meanwhile, set career lows with just 9 carries and 8 yards. Dallas was blown out by Denver, but still: a -11.5 Game Script usually yields more like a 68% pass ratio, not 79%.

Philadelphia was even more pass-happy: this game was close throughout, but Carson Wentz had 52 dropbacks (and 4 rushing attempts), while Philadelphia running backs had just 13 carries. LeGarrette Blount, after recording a team-high 14 carries in week 1, was on the field for just six snaps and had zero carries against the Chiefs. Wentz didn’t convert half of his dropbacks into completions, so it’s tough to see the explanation here for abandoning the ground game. Darren Sproles led the team with 10 carries, but it seems unlikely that he will ever get much more than that. So the either the Eagles will either become the most pass-happy team in the NFL or return to Blount or Wendell Smallwood for a larger role.

The Chargers led for much of the second half against Miami, only falling behind in the final minute. But that didn’t stop Philip Rivers from recording 40 dropbacks, compared to just 13 rushes for the Chargers running backs. Melvin Gordon rushed 9 times for 13 yards with a long of 11 yards, so he obviously was not getting much done. And Rivers completed over 75% of his passes and averaged over 10 yards per completion. In that context, it made a lot of sense. But that doesn’t change the fact that for a team with a Game Script of +1.8, passing on over 75% of their plays (excluding Rivers’ final run of the game to center the ball) is extraordinarily pass-happy.

TeamH/ROppBoxscorePFPAMarginGame ScriptPassRunP/R RatioOp_POp_ROpp_P/R Ratio

The Jets — after being very pass-happy a week ago — were very run-heavy in week two. New York had almost the exact same Game Script as Dallas, but passed on only 53% of all plays. The Jets opened the second half with second straight runs (granted, one was a quarterback scramble), so it will be interesting to monitor Gang Green’s pass identity the rest of the way.

Washington Washington went really run-heavy against the Rams: not only did starter Robert Kelley have 12 carries for 78 yards before getting hurt, but back Samaje Perine had 21 carries! Third-string back Chris Thompson had three carries for 77 yards and 2 TDs, while Kirk Cousins had an efficient but inspiring passing game. The last time the Redskins had 39+ carries or the rushing game picked up more yards than the team’s passing game RG3 was still the quarterback.

And finally, a word about Houston. With Deshaun Watson under center, we should probably get used to the Texans coming off as run-heavy. On Thursday night, Houston Watson had 27 pass attempts (including sacks), while the two running backs combined for 30 carries for 101 yards and Watson rushed 5 times for 67 yards. That included a 49-yard scramble for a touchdown, the biggest play of the game. This was close throughout, so expect a 50/50 from Houston (before you get to quarterback scrambles) whenever they can justify it.

  • Wolverine

    Until Monday, I never thought I would see a game where Matt Stafford would only attempt 21 passes (aside from injury). And it’s not like they built a big lead by completing a bunch of long bombs. It was mostly short stuff, and they only had a 1 score lead for most of the 2nd half. Reminded me of a Jeff Garcia game from the early aughts Steve Mariucci 49ers.: https://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/200112160sfo.htm or https://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/200110010nyj.htm (sorry to bring up bad memories Chase). Totally unlike what I’ve come to expect from the Stafford Lions.

  • evo34

    Hmm. Looking only at first-half plays on 1st and 2nd down (weeks 1 and 2 combined), the Chargers are 4th in the league in run/pass ratio (Jac, Was, Chi are the only ones higher). It does seem like Rivers starts calling his own plays in the second half (regardless of score), but I wouldn’t be so quick to label this year’s Chargers as pass-heavy yet. I think it’s a battle between the coaches and Rivers at this point.

  • Richie

    The Chargers were crazy. While leading in the second half, they ran 13 plays from scrimmage. They threw a pass on 11 of those plays. The 2 runs went for 3 and minus-1 yards, so they weren’t successful. But seems rough to give up on the run so easily.

    On the other hand, only 3 of Rivers’ passes were incomplete, so I guess the passing game was working like a running game for them. And one of those incompletions was on third and 13, so they pretty much had to pass anyway.