Some Football Outsiders D stats from 2007

Discussion in ' - Patriots Fan Forum' started by ctpatsfan77, Jul 29, 2008.

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  1. ctpatsfan77

    ctpatsfan77 Supporter Supporter

    #3 Jersey

    Just figured I'd throw these out. Note that these are all per drive statistics.

    Yards allowed per drive: 26.43 (8th best)
    Points allowed per drive: 1.42 (3)
    TDs allowed: 17.3% (12)
    Drives ending with punts: 43.4% (10)
    with turnovers: 16.8% (7)
    with INTs: 11.0% (5)
    with FUMs: 5.8% (14)
    Starting LOS for opponent drives: 26.95 (2)
  2. BelichickFan

    BelichickFan B.O. = Fugazi Supporter

    #12 Jersey

    Our defense was alright last year. One problem with the stats, though, is other offenses were so out of their element with the huge leads we often had it was tough to judge by stats alone. I think last year was a case where the stats make the defense look a little better than it really was.
  3. TeamPats

    TeamPats On the Game Day Roster

    This stat surprises me the most, with all our kickoffs due to scores on offense, I am shocked there is a team that trumped our starting LOS average for opponent drives...

    Hey ctpatsfan77...where in Fairfield County are you from?
  4. captain stone

    captain stone Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

    No Jersey Selected

    I agree. A better breakdown would be those rankings during the first halves of games, when the outcomes were somewhat more in doubt.
  5. cstjohn17

    cstjohn17 Supporter Supporter

    #54 Jersey

    It just goes to show you that the defense was damn good last year and they played their best football in the postseason when it mattered.

    The first two stats are very interesting:
    - Yards allowed per drive: 26.43 (8th best)
    - Points allowed per drive: 1.42 (3)

    Definately shows the Bend but don't break approach that BB favors. Let the other team move the ball get a couple of first downs. Eventaully the opponents offense willl make a mistake (Holding , offside) or the Patriots will make a play (sack, stuff a 1st down run). Pretty soon the opponent is in 3rd and long and the drive stalls without any points.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2008
  6. Metaphors

    Metaphors In the Starting Line-Up

    But what happens if the opponents mistake (say, holding for instance) doesn't get called or the Pats just miss making a big play (say, a dropped interception or a sack with the QB almost in the grasp)? Oh yeah, I guess we know what happens...

    "Bend but don't break" is generally good for TV ratings but it relies on aspects (penalty calls, opposing QB mistakes, etc.) that are beyond the Pats control. In general, that philosophy is a good match for the high-powered offense the Pats can unleash. However, I would like to see a more aggressive approach on defense (and special teams for that matter) to be game-changers...especially when the offense has an off day.

    I've said before, I would rather take some chances and potentially give up a quick touchdown and let the Pats offense have 58 minutes to get the points back...than let a putrid offense run a 4-corners scheme for 10 minutes and shorten the game.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2008
  7. lamafist

    lamafist Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job

    I don't think it necessarily demonstrates a "bend but don't break" defense. The discrepancy between yards allowed and points allowed can be attributed to the Pats #2 ranking in average starting LOS for opponents' drives. Poor starting field position greatly affects a teams' likeliness to score, while simultaneously allowing them to rack up long yard totals without scoring.

    It's just a numbers thing,
  8. cstjohn17

    cstjohn17 Supporter Supporter

    #54 Jersey

    The approach is still solid, it just comes down to making plays. Harrison, Samuel and Merriweather dropped easy interceptions. Green missed a sack, they almost stopped the Giants on a 4th and 2... and then Tyree catches it off his helmet.

    The one play they loaded up for a blitz didn't exactly work out so well, Hobbs is still looking for Burress. Everyone likes the aggressive style because of the ESPN style highlights, I wouldn't change the approach too much. I would spend more time teaching the secondary to catch the ball though.

    If the Patriots make one more play the defense gives up 10 points in the Superbowl and we are talking about one of the greatest teams ever.
  9. Metaphors

    Metaphors In the Starting Line-Up

    I agree the last drive was a fluke. My issue is with the opening drive. Consider:

    • Eli goes 5-7 for 38 yards (a sickly 5.4 ypa)
    • Jacobs and Bradshaw combined for 25 yards on 8 carries (an anemic 3.1 ypc)
    • They convert 3rd-5, 3rd-6, 3rd-1, 3rd-7
    • They consume a life-sucking 10 minutes off the game

    People point to the fact that only 3 points were surrendered. I point to the fact that the Giants D went from defending a 60 minute game (which nobody to that point could pull off) to a 50 minute game (which the Colts and others managed quite nicely).

    Side note...the 10 minute drive time could have been worse! If Eli didn't get greedy and go to Burress for the touchdown, the Giants could have gotten another 1st down. That could easily have led to almost 3 more minutes of clock time. In fact with an ill-timed holding penalty on the Pats, the Giants could possibly ran out the 1st quarter with a single drive (not likely but just the possibility makes me ill).

    Add in the effectiveness of Feeley, Boller and Eli (part 1) during the regular season and this drive was an extreme symtom of an underlying issue. When Steve Martin single-handedly kept the Pats from defending their title in 2002, Belichick made sure the NT position would never be that weak again. When the offense couldn't get a game-killing 1st down in the 2006 AFCC game, Belichick put together a unit and attitude that could finish games (sometimes in the 1st half).

    That leads me to believe that the status quo for this defense is not acceptable. New faces. New coach. New wrinkles. Never again letting your offense touch the ball for the 1st time 20 minutes after the opening kick.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2008
  10. cstjohn17

    cstjohn17 Supporter Supporter

    #54 Jersey

    That first drive sucked, but the Giants made some plays as well. The Patriots took the ball and scored a TD on their opening drive, so the end result was 7-3 Patriots.

    The Giants had the ball 10 minutes to start but the TOP for the whole game was even, so for the rest of the game the Patriots held the ball 30 minutes to the Giants 20. The defense only gave up 10 more first downs after the opening drive, they put themself in an excellent position to win but couldn't make a play when they needed it. The NFL is about playmakers making plays.
  11. bradmahn

    bradmahn In the Starting Line-Up

    I think you're missing his point (and forgive me, Metaphors, if I am as well).

    He isn't saying the "bend-but-don't-break" defense is necessarily a problem (as it isn't, it can be great in not allowing points, the most important defensive statistic), but for this Patriots team, it is counterproductive because you are not giving the ball to an offense that seems to be able to score at will.

    I agree in that I would love to see a more aggressive defense (not necessarily more blitzing, but more exotic pass rush schemes that are harder to "defend" and lead to more hurried throws, which can allow for a more aggressive, less cushioned coverage scheme as well).

    As with anything you have to weigh the advantages against the risks, and in this case it is Brady & Co. v. the chance of the opposition making a big play. With a strong enough defense, I think the odds favor Brady and the offense.
  12. Metaphors

    Metaphors In the Starting Line-Up

    No offense intended, but those are all excuses. The entire complexion of the game had changed after the 1st drive. Your points don't take into account the fact that humans are playing the game. The Super Bowl is a game of amazing emotion. The Giants used the first drive to settle down (particularly Eli) and build up their confidence.

    The Giants D probably got a little stale, but the coaches saw 16% of the game disappear without using up any of the energy of their pass rush. As I've said before, pass rushers start to decline after 50 snaps are are useless after 60. The Pats last TD drive (snaps 54-65) was almost child's play against the same Giants defense that owned the Pats in quarters 2 and 3. The Giants shot their wad in those quarters knowing that the Pats likely wouldn't be running 70+ plays in the time remaining.

    The Pats were equally affected. The Pats offense had to be dying on the sidelines and who knows how that affected their execution. The first drive was a TD but it was hardly a thing of beauty. I won't even venture to guess how that drive affected the Pats defense when it came to closing out the game...and giving up 2 4th quarter TD drives of 80+ yards.

    There are any number of "Yeah but..." that you can throw out there (Asante drop, fumbles not recovered, missed stop on 4th and 1, Tyree catch, etc.) but that is loser talk. I'm assuming that the Pats will take a different approach and figure out a way to get off the damn field against mediocre QBs and protect Brady against good (but fairly predictable) defensive pressure schemes.
  13. Metaphors

    Metaphors In the Starting Line-Up

    Close. What I'm saying is that "bend-but-don't-break" defenses have a fatal flaw. While they do keep good offenses from doing a lot of damage on the scoreboard (as you mention), they also keep mediocre offenses in the game if their QBs can be patient and efficient (Feeley, Boller and Eli). Which leads to your point about them being able to play keep-away from the Pats offense.

    Totally agree.
  14. cstjohn17

    cstjohn17 Supporter Supporter

    #54 Jersey

    I hate the excuses too, could of, would have, etc.... my point was that the defense was in position to win, multiple positions to win they just didn't get it done.

    The Giants had all the confidence in the world after week 17 when their offense abused the Patriots defense. Like I said, the first drive sucked but I don't understand your argument. You said the Giants were exhausted at the end of the game because of their plan to relentlessly pass rush. Yet you want the Patriots to be more aggressive from the onset, wouldn't this tire the Patriots defense?

    The Patriots had a good pass rush on the final drive, Thomas was living in the backfield. Part of their strategy is to have the big boys (Seymour, Wilfork, Warren) beat up the opponents offensive line, at the end of the game the offensive lines get tired of fighting these monsters. See the Indy game in 2007 as a classic example.

    Maybe some adjustments should have been made, but the Giants only had 3 points at the half so I think BB likely liked the way the game was going. The Patriots were leading and would get the ball to start the half and the defense held the Giants to a FG.

    I can't remember the original question and appreciate the back and forth but in the end I don't see BB changing the defensive scheme or play calling very much. Adding a player like Mayo should be a huge aid on 3rd downs, hopefully it helps.
  15. lamafist

    lamafist Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job

    There seems to be a number of misconceptions rampant in this thread about what makes a defense a "bend but don't break," and what can and can't be done about it.

    "Bend but don't break" is a phenomenological term, something that describes the OUTCOME of a defensive scheme, not its actual strategy and scheme. It can only apply to defenses in the past tense -- it's something that a defense happens to be, and not an object of design. The proof of this is that although there are defenses that show a tendency to "bend but not break" within the course of a season, there is no consistency in which teams or which coaches defenses display this trait from year to year.

    In other words, whether a defense is bend but don't break is the product of the equation that is "coaching + personnel" and not a factor in it -- the same coaching strategies will produce a bend but don't break defense with one group of players, and not with a different group. An attacking defense is as likely to produce a "bend but don't break" season as a "read and react" defense. Ultimately, what coaches like BB worry about is not whether their defense is "bend but don't break," but how to maximize the abilities of the particular players he has to work with in that particular game of that particular season.

    It's absurd to think that the Giants' 10 minute drive happened because the Patriots' D wasn't trying to get off the field. The Pats' D didn't give up a single easy first down the entire series. In fact, they forced the Giants to make a 3rd down conversion in EVERY series of that drive. Of the 5 3rd downs the Pats forced, only ONE of them was 3rd and less than 5. Does that sound like a defense that's ok with letting the opposition move down the field? No, it most emphatically does not.

    Furthermore, this is entirely in keeping with the Pats' defense's play over the course of the season. The Pats' defense neither bent nor broke during the 1st quarters of games. Any statistical resemblance the Pats' defense bore to a "bend but don't break" defense was the result of a) an offense that seldom gave opponents good field position and b) being up by large sums during the majority of their games.
  16. Metaphors

    Metaphors In the Starting Line-Up

    I think we are generally on the same page except for:

    I actually think Belichick would be livid about the way the game was going. The Giants were down 4 but seemed to have equal or greater control of the flow and tempo of the game. The Pats took that back in the 4th quarter but the football gods weren't with the Pats on the last Giant's drive.

    The script was the same as the Eagles, Ravens, Colts and Giants games in the regular season. All of those games were in serious doubt in the 4th quarter and the Pats made the plays to pull them out. 16-0 is hard to knock, but there were some heart-stopping moments.

    I don't anticipate the Pats becoming a blitz-happy team. Far from it actually. The Pats have enough quality rush people in the front 7 that they should be able to bring pressure from multiple locations without blitzing much and without slamming the same guys into 600 lbs of double teams for 60 plays. I'm actually thinking of more aggressive play from the secondary and coverage linebackers. Use combo man/zone coverage schemes to get the QB out of his comfort zone. If he guesses the right coverage, maybe you get beat deep occasionally. If he guesses wrong or hesitates, his day should turn bad really fast.

    Editorial comment: I still have nightmares about noodle-armed QBs completing slant passes with Asante and Gay running one step any changes at all will help me sleep better.

    Maybe the personnel changes will be enough to make a significant difference come playoff time. Maybe Capers will help transition to a more aggressive style. Gives us something to look forward to in the preseason games.
  17. cstjohn17

    cstjohn17 Supporter Supporter

    #54 Jersey

    Well that is certainly a mouthful.

    I agree the defense is a product of the personnel. In 2007 they were very slow in the middle of the field Bruschi, Seau and even at Safety (Harrison & Sanders). They played a lot of off coverage with the CB directing the WRs to the Safety for help. Very little man:man, as a result they gave up a lot less big plays than the 2006 defense.

    Still with the aged conservative approach the defense averaged 16 PPG in the playoffs and 17 should have been enough to win the superbowl.

    I am tired, how many hours to the first pre-season game?
  18. Metaphors

    Metaphors In the Starting Line-Up

    This post was so well written, I almost hate to comment on it...but I disagree with almost every point you make.

    "Bend but don't break" is absolutely a strategy and not just a post-event observation. The Pats defense keeps everything in front of them and prevents the big play. The theory being that while you may get some yards, you won't be able to consistently get into the end zone enough to out-score the offense.

    Pittsburgh and Indy (to name a few) are not anything like that description. They use the defense as a weapon to create turnovers and change field position. If they don't keep the opposing team in tough down/distance or can't create consistent pressure, they are actually fairly easy to score upon.

    As for the Super Bowl opening drive, of course the Pats wanted to get off the field. "Bend-but-don't-break" doesn't mean you don't try to make plays. It meant that they were willing to give Eli under routes that could result in 1st downs, with the expectation that Eli wasn't good enough to convert them all and get into the end zone (they were right). The downside was 1/6th of the game vaporized before Brady took a snap.

    The other downside is that Eli (generally excitable and not a great decision-maker) was now comfortable and confident he could keep the Giants in the game. Same with Feeley. Same with Boller. A passive defense is fine if that results in a positive outcome for the team as a whole. Not so much if turns average-to-garbage QBs into Joe Montana...and turns games with overmatched teams into close 4th quarter contests.
  19. cstjohn17

    cstjohn17 Supporter Supporter

    #54 Jersey

    This is the part I disagree with the most, it is not like Eli played a great game. He was

    On the final drive he threw 3 balls that should have been picked, was stripped sacked once, maybe twice and heaved a hail Mary off his back leg. Hardly Joe Montana.
  20. lamafist

    lamafist Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job

    At this point, the theory you describe here has become essentially universal in the NFL. "Keep everything in front of you" and "prevent the big play" have become homilies for repeating to the media. As the NFL has become more and more of a passing league, with teams using more receivers more often and spreading the field horizontally, this is what defenses have had to do to adjust.

    No offense, but you really couldn't be more wrong in saying this about Indianapolis. The Colts (and Bucs) play the most pure Tampa-2 defenses in the league. This means 2 safeties deep, a speedy MLB playing halfway into the secondary, corners playing zone up front, LBs back off the line, and trying to get pressure with the front four only. If any defensive scheme can be called "bend but don't break," than this is it -- you can run at it or throw under it for a few yards at a time, but you can't get behind the deep safeties, and the smaller faster LBs will swarm to the ball carrier and prevent long runs. This defense was actually the first one designed to prevent what we now (mistakenly) call the west-coast offense.

    As for the Steelers, again, they, too, have long been known for keeping two safeties deep, this time as part of their zone-blitz schemes. This was changed up of late to take advantage of Troy Polamalu's skill playing up closer to the line, but considering that another Dungy Tampa-2 desciple is now in charge there, it's unlikely that they'll become too much of a gambling defense, either.

    I'm sorry, but you're just addressing the actual reality of that first drive. The Pats' defense' focus was (as usual at the beginning of games) to clamp down on the run and force longer 3rd downs so they could send pressure. This actually worked out well, all except the parts where Manning identified the blitzes on 3rd downs, found the guys in the holes left open by extra rushers, and was able to make the throws with guys in his face.

    During the entire drive, do you know how many passes Manning completed on 1st and 2nd downs? One. That's not something that happens on teams that are giving up the under routes. The Giants did their damage on 3rd downs, converting 3 third downs in obvious passing situations, all under pressure. This isn't a problem in scheme: any strategy that gets you five chances to end a drive is working: this was simply a problem of poor execution and tackling on 3rd downs.

    The fact that Eli didn't get as rattled as we'd hoped can't be blamed on the defense. They repeatedly got pressure. They clamped down on the rushing game and forced 3rd downs. Heck, for the most part, they got off the field pretty quickly: after converting 4 third downs on the opening drive, the Giants would convert 4 more the entire rest of the game. After an opening drive of almost 10 minutes, they didn't have another drive of five minutes for the rest of the game.
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