American football is all about offense and defense. Except that unlike association football, there are plays in which the offensive and defensive roles are swapped with regularity and there are set plays in which each teams gets its chance to score. It’s quite simple really, the offense tries to take the ball towards it’s opponent’s end to score points while the defense’s job is to try and stop them.
In this first of a two-part series, we will look at the top stats on offense from the first season of EFLI, also highlighting the significance of each of these stats.
In American football, the team in possession of the ball is on offense and it’s job is to reach the end zone of their opponent in order to open up scoring opportunities. The 11 players in the team are broadly broken up into 2 groups -
1. The Offensive Linemen who basically protect the other advancing players from opposition tackles and interference
2. The Backs and Receivers whose job it is to make use of the protection employed by their Linemen to advance the ball and score. This can be done either by passing the ball or running with it.
The offensive unit in each team is generally split into the “backs”, the “ends” and the “linemen”. The picture above would serve as a good reference point for understanding the positions.
As mentioned above, there are two ways in which the offensive team can advance the ball, and one of them is by passing. The forward pass is a distinguishing feature when it comes to American football as compared to rugby, where the forward pass is illegal. Generally, it is the Quarter Back who handles the throwing/passing duties on offense and the ball can be received only by the ends i.e. the Wide Receivers or Tight Ends or sometimes the Quarter Back can just give it to the Running Back who will run with the ball. The yards thrown by the Quarter Back are generally indicative of a team’s overall passing ability and for the first season of EFLI, these were the best passers, indicated by the total number of yards that their passes were able to cover.
Jitendra Shetty (492 yards) was the starting Quarter Back of the high-powered Bangalore Warhawks offense. He had a tough beginning, but eventually got his act together to emerge one of the best Quarter Backs from the first season. He had a good collection of players to throw it to as well – the MVP of the first season in Roshan Lobo and one of the best Wide Receivers in Navaneeth Shanta.
Mayank “Brady” Sharma (436 yards), as he’s called, was instrumental in guiding Delhi to the finals in the first season. He bears the nickname ‘Brady’ as he models his game after Tom Brady’s and it really is no surprise that he features second on this list.
Ronit Banda (431 yards), now with the Hyderabad Skykings, was the starting Quarter Back for the Kolkata Vipers, who ended up losing all their games. Despite that, Ronit impressed everyone with his skill, emerging third on the list with maximum passing yards. He played Wide Receiver in high school back in North America, and you would assume that that experience has helped him in figuring out where to throw the right passes for his receivers.
Dinesh Kumar (404 yards) was one of the stars of the Pune Marathas team that took the championship trophy. He was widely known as the Michael Vick of the EFLI with his dual-threat from both passing and rushing. And being a former rugby player helped Dinesh assimilate himself easily in the first season.
The art of receiving refers to the process by which a forward player collects the forward pass thrown from behind the scrimmage line (usually by the Quarter Back). The player then moves forward with the ball in hand towards either gaining position scoring a touchdown. The yards which the receiving player accumulates after having collected the ball are noted down as ‘Receiving Yards’ and are credited to the player. It is generally the Wide Receivers and Tight Ends that receive the forward pass thrown by the Quarter Back.
The run starts behind the line of scrimmage
In EFLI season 1, the following players had the top receiving yards against their names:
Navaneeth “Chamber” Shanta (202 yards) emerged with the Best Wide Receiver award from the first season of EFLI. Opposition teams found it tough to contain this guy, all the more so as Bangalore also had one of the best Running Backs in Roshan Lobo. Roshan’s presence meant it eventually ended up diverting the attention of defenses towards him allowing Navaneeth and the others more space.
Anant “Fabio” Verma (198 yards) was the best receiver on the Delhi Defenders team. As mentioned earlier, Delhi also had a heavy duty Quarter Back in Mayank “Brady” Sharma who was making the passes. The combination of these two worked well for Delhi and helped Anant come in second in receiving yards.
Nitin “Megatron” Deshmukh (188 yards) is a physically imposing beast at 6’4? and 245 lbs, and has the ability to overpower just about most defenders. He was known as the Calvin Johnson of the EFLI in its first season, ‘Megatron’ managed to finish third in receiving yards.
The ‘rush’ is used to define actions both on the offensive as well as defensive ends. When it comes to offense, when a team chooses to gain yards or advance the ball by running with it instead of passing it, that is called a rush. Usually, it is the running back who orchestrates this rush as he collects the ball from the Quarter Back and slaloms his way past the defense to gain a good offensive position for his team. However, the Quarter Back himself and the wide receivers can also rush with the ball. The yards gained under this play are credited as ‘rushing yards’.
The following players had the top rushing yards in EFLI season 1:
Roshan Lobo (454 yards) of the Bangalore Warhawks, unsurprisingly, covered the most yards while rushing. It was not for nothing that he took home both the Best Running Back award as well as the league MVP trophy. Not just did Roshan finish first in total rushing yards, he was first by a mile, way ahead of second placed Tharaka Wijesuriya, who with 295 yards, was a whole 160 yards shy of Roshan in first place. Roshan, in his very first game, had 6 carries for 111 yards and 1 reception for 9 yards and 1 Touch Down.
Ramachandran Rahul (291 yards) of the Pune Marathas began the EFLI with a bang as he had at least 50 rushing yards and 1 Touch Down in each of his first two games. Pune had a great team with Dinesh Kumar at Quarter Back, who used both the pass and rush to good effect, and the Marathas were a threat to every defense as they could choose to rush with either Rahul or even Dinesh, who was pretty accomplished in that domain.
Sandeep Kumar (161 yards), along with Amit Lochab, Mayank Sharma and Anant Verma formed a lethal quartet for the Delhi Defenders. The Defenders were a well stocked team last season and Sandeep Kumar, at Running Back, had the responsibility of undertaking the majority of the carries. He too, like the others, made a bright start covering 50 rushing yards from his first two games.
Ronit Banda (153 yards) was not only good at passing the ball, but often undertook the rush himself. Ronit runs track when he’s not playing American football, so it was no surprise that he figured amongst the top rushers from the first season. Likewise too Dinesh Kumar of the Pune Marathas.
That was a look at the offensive stats from the first season of EFLI. In the next article, we will have a look at the defensive stats.
Stats Courtesy: www.efli.com