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Some Context on the Defense

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by Metaphors, Dec 2, 2010.

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  1. Metaphors

    Metaphors In the Starting Line-Up

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    Since the bye week, the Pats have faced 4 top teams with offenses at or near top 10 quality...BAL, SD, PIT and IND. For those games, if you look at the opposing drives in the context of the game score:

    Pats up by 1 score
    12 drives: 1 TD, 4 turnovers, 5 punts
    Average drive: 6 plays, 27 yards, 2 first downs

    Pats tied
    9 drives: 2 FGs, 1 turnover, 6 punts
    Average drive: 6 plays, 24 yards, 1 first down

    Pats down by 1 score
    8 drives: 1 TD, 1 FG, 1 turnover, 5 punts
    Average drive: 5 plays, 25 yards, 1 first down

    Or to aggregate all the drives except those with a 2-score lead for the Pats:

    29 drives: 2 TDs, 3 FGs, 6 turnovers, 16 punts
    Average drive: 6 plays, 26 yards, 1 first down

    Now the drives where the Pats have more than an 8 point lead:

    17 drives: 9 TDs, 2 FGs, 2 turnovers, 2 punts
    Average drive: 7 plays, 54 yards, 3 first downs

    Now there are 2 observations you can make here:

    1) Wow, the Pats have been protecting a nice lead a lot. To give some context, over the same time period (6 games with only GB being a playoff team) the Jets had a 2-score lead for only 4 drives in the Texans game and 6 drives in the Bengals game.

    2) Wow, the results are pretty different between defending a 2-score lead and any other situation. Even though the average drive is only 1 more play, the results are double the yards with over a 50% chance of getting into the end zone.

    I have no intention of resurrecting the "Prevent Defense" thread, so please refrain. My point is that against top teams, at home and on the road, the Pats defense has done remarkably well when the score is close. When the Pats start to pull away and the opposing offense has a sense of urgency and no desire to punt, the defense has had problems.

    By lumping these two situations together, especially considering how often the Pats defense has been defending a solid lead, it kind of muddies the picture. The Pats absolutely have to do better when protecting a lead. But if they can build on the success they have had in other game situations, I'm thinking they have a reasonable chance for success looking forward.
     
  2. KontradictioN

    KontradictioN Do you even lift? PatsFans.com Supporter

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    And alas, the difference between this year's defense and last year's "top five" defense. This year's defense has shown the ability to slow down, and stop, some of the better offenses in the league... especially in crunch time. Last year's "top five" defense had a huge problem with doing that.

    Thanks for posting this.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2010
  3. Sicilian

    Sicilian Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

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    I think what's happening is this young defense has learned how to play a softer scheme without also playing with less intensity. When they switch into coverages and plays that are designed to fall back a bit, they subconsciously are playing without an edge. Ideally what you want in those situations is to make the big play impossible, but also make them work hard for the yards underneath. This defense just hasn't learned how to do that yet.
     
  4. robertweathers

    robertweathers Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    I completely buy into this and have felt this way for a while about this defense. You numbers IMO prove this out.
     
  5. robertweathers

    robertweathers Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    Bru has always said that playing with "controlled agression" is one of the hardest things for a young defensive player to master. You may have a point in your assessment.
     
  6. borg

    borg In the Starting Line-Up

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    I suppose when the scores are close, opponents try a balanced offense approach. But when the Pats get a significant lead, the opponents go to the pass and LIGHT UP this D. If I'm Rex, I'm passing vs the Pats and not lettin up until the game is over. Any pass rush will be exhausted, and the CBs will be entrenched in their soft zone with 25 yd deep safety coverage. Add in the depth issues at corner, and I would keep firing away at this group.
     
  7. robertweathers

    robertweathers Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    Seeing that in his last 6 games, Sanchez has averaged 36 passes a game and picked off once every 27 times, and a 55% comp., i'm ok with that actually.

    Bring it!!
     
  8. Metaphors

    Metaphors In the Starting Line-Up

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    Indy doesn't even pretend to run the ball and SD is pass-first as well. The Steelers and Ravens are more balanced but still look to their QBs pretty heavily. There is just no evidence that a team coming out slinging the ball exclusively (particularly with a 55% passer) will have any kind of success against the Pats defense. This is just reinforcing a narrative the sounds good but doesn't hold up under scrutiny.
     
  9. Patspsycho

    Patspsycho Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    It nails exactly on the head of the nail the issues concerning the defense, which is largely a matter of youth (lacking consistency, sustained focus, and the mental toughness to close out opponents). It is scary to envision what will happen once they evolve beyond that stage, which they show they are capable of doing.
     
  10. Oswlek

    Oswlek Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

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    To add a bit more to the analysis, the average game has ~10 possessions each. (In the case of these 4 games it averages to 9, but bumping it up conservatively pushes projected points allowed higher) Even accounting for a 2pt conversion on every TD, NE averaged allowing on .6 points/drive. That is essentially a 6 ppg average during the periods of the game when NE is not ahead by 8+ points.

    Now, I'll take it further by looking at the games since the bye. I've excluded the games earlier than that because I think we can all agree that the defense is different now than it was the first four games. I also excluded the Cleveland game because that seemed like a classic letdown game to me, and I don't believe it has much predictive value. Additionally, I added in any missed field goals, since the defense technically allowed a successful drive and was saved by special teams.

    One other change from above is that I've altered the "ahead" to be defined as "up by at least 14 points". For my money, 10 points, while being more than one score, is still not enough seperation to assume anything is being done differently.

    Here are the results.

    Close or behind

    Drives - 52

    Points allowed - 88

    Turnovers forced - 9

    Points per drive - 1.7

    Ahead

    Drives - 15

    Points allowed - 54

    Turnovers forced - 2

    Points per drive - 3.6

    So, if you go by my 10 drive per game assumption, the defense paces 17 points allowed and 2 turnovers a game when not ahead by 2+ touchdowns. In big lead situations, NE paces 36 ppg and 1.4 TO.

    I'm not sure what all of this means, but it certainly illuminates that the defense appears capable when depended upon.

    FTR, if you add Cleveland in the first set of numbers changes to 19.7 ppg and 1.6 TO. But even that would be good 8th in the league.
     
  11. robertweathers

    robertweathers Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    Nice analysis. They play well in 4WD and let people pass them by in cruise control.
     
  12. Brettlax3434

    Brettlax3434 Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    Wow great post. I have felt this way about us all year; well, at least since the Ravens game. It seems like the defense makes big stops when we need them.
     
  13. KontradictioN

    KontradictioN Do you even lift? PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Basically what you're saying is that, as bad as it is for our hearts, it's better for our defense to compete in close games?
     
  14. AzPatsFan

    AzPatsFan Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

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    This is a great proof of the Belichick belief in "Bend but don't Break" Defense. Belichick is enlisting the opponent's Offense in burning the clock.
     
  15. robertweathers

    robertweathers Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    As warped as that logic is- Yes
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2010
  16. Elijah

    Elijah PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Whoa, nice post! I'm going to look at this defense from a different perspective now...

    I wonder how TheGangGreen would feel if I posted this there.
     
  17. Deus Irae

    Deus Irae PatsFans.com Retired Jersey Club PatsFans.com Supporter

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    To put the context in some context:

    1.) Flacco 27 for 35, 285 and 2 TDs

    2.) Rivers 34 for 50, 336 and 1/1 TD/Int

    It wasn't the Patriots defense stopping the Chargers, for the most part. It was the Chargers offense making boneheaded plays (rookie leaving ball after what would have been a college "down", but is not one in the NFL: Chargers players standing by after a backward pass and just allowing the Patriots to pick it up).
     
  18. kurtinelson

    kurtinelson In the Starting Line-Up

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    Great job Metaphors and Oswlek on your posts.

    The prevent has certainly skewed the Pats defensive numbers, but the Defense's 3rd down conversion rate is still troubling to me.
     
  19. robertweathers

    robertweathers Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    Its the ole rope-a-dope. :D
     
  20. Patspsycho

    Patspsycho Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    Excellent point, although it could be worded better. Threw me for a bit before I realized what you meant; I don't think it was a matter of "learning"- probably more of an acquired bad habit.
     
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