Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A statistical look at pre-1952 NFL

The A11 Football League is taking professional football back to its roots, using an old-school rule for modern athletes.

The A11FL will not use the modern uniform numbering restrictions on offense, meaning all 11 players in the offensive huddle could have eligible-receiver numbers, if a coach so chooses. It is an innovation that will give A11FL offensive coordinators unlimited possibilities.

In 1952, the NFL began the process of changing to what now is the modern jersey numbering system. Prior to 1952, NFL offenses were putting up better numbers year after year – thanks in large part to an improving league-wise passing game, but without the offensive genius or the high caliber of athletes of today.

  • The average points per game, per team in the NFL was just 7.6 in 1926, but up to 23.2 by 1948.
  • NFL average offensive yards per game, per team was just 165.1 in 1932, but as high as 325.4 in 1948. All of the 14 season averages higher than that in NFL history have come since 1981.
  • The per game, per team amount of plays was 44.6 in 1932, but had soared to 68.2 by 1949 – and that total still is the highest in league history.
  • Over time, other offensive numbers also went up drastically with the pre-1952 offensive uniform numbering rules (first downs, 8.8 in 1935 to 17.9 in 1951; yards per play, 3.6 in 1935 to 5.3 in 1947; and offensive touchdowns, 1.0 in 1932 to 2.9 in 1948).

All of these statistical landmarks also were achieved at a time when many, if not most, NFL players were playing two ways, and sometimes three ways. Hall of Fame quarterback Sammy Baugh also was a punter and a defensive back. Early in his Hall of Fame career, fullback Marion Motley also played linebacker. And Bronko Nagurski, yet another Hall of Famer, was a fullback/linebacker, as well.

Now imagine how good the A11FL will be with today’s stronger, faster and more athletic players playing a more wide open game reminiscent of the early days of professional football!

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