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Johnny_S(tatistics) Week 13: A Failure to Finish

I am going to try to make this a weekly statistical post.  Bear (or bare if you like being in the buff) with me as I work on the layout.

2009 has been a particularly devastating year on any Steeler fan's heart.  High expectations and under performing are generally two ingredients when baking disaster.  To me, we have all the makings of a good team, but for some reason we fail to put it all together on Sundays.  For a while it was bad play in the 4th quarter, then it was special teams for a while, and here we are back to poor 4th quarter play.  Personally, that has made this year extremely hard to digest.  How can a defense play so well for the first 3 and then absolutely fall apart late in games?  I think it is a combination of poor execution, lack of hustle, and uninspiring defensive play calling, however that is an argument I'm not going to dive into.

"We will unleash hell in December," exclaimed Mike Tomlin.  Little did we know this hell would be the complete and utter disappointment we would feel after another huge upset in our opponent's favor.  Tomlin has always been able to talk the talk, but this year he ain't walking the walk.  It's time to shut up and play football.

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Defense

Ranks

19.3 points per game (8th)
297.3 yards per game (5th)
4.9 yards per play (T-5th)
77.8 rush yards per game (1st)
3.6 yards per rush (T-2nd)
3 rush TDs allowed (T-1st)
219.6 pass yards per game (17th)
5.7 yards per pass attempt (T-8th)
15 passing TDs allowed (T-12th)
38 sacks (2nd)
8 interceptions (T-24th)
12 forced fumbles (T-7th)

Without having watched any games this year you would conclude that this defense is very good defense.  The only glaring weakness is their inability to force turnovers, particularly through interceptions.  That has caused the Steelers to be ranked 24th in Giveaway/Takeaway difference at  -6.  That is disastrous for any team that actually wants to win games. Take a look at the teams behind us in turnover ratio: Browns, Lions, Redskins, Buccanneers, Raiders, Titans, Panthers, Rams.  That is not company I would invite over to my house if I was having a "Winners Party".  Additionally, the pass defense looks weak, but appears average in ranking.  Just by looking above, you'd still expect a team with that defense to win.  Anyway, let's dig deeper into despair the statistics.

Yardage

According to the game drive logs, the Steelers have given up a total of 3,498 yards this year.  2,106 of those have come in the first 3 quarters of the games, leaving an astounding 1,392 yards that have come in the 4th quarter or OT (225 yards total in OT).  That means that nearly 40% of the total yards gained on us have been earned after the 3rd quarter whistle.  I will now pause for a  brief moment to allow you all to recover your jaws from the floor.  Okay good.  Breaking those numbers down, we can see that we allow 175.5 yards in the first 3 quarters and 108.3 yards in the 4th.  That means in the first 3 quarters we are allowing 58.5 yards per quarter as compared to nearly double that in the 4th.  You cannot expect to win many games with those numbers, especially when you are a team that generally plays close games.

Points

Moving on, the "defense" has surrendered a total of 231 points in 2009.  126 in the first 3 quarters, which is 10.5 per game and 3.5 per quarter.  The remaining 105 points have been scored in the 4th or OT, which is 8.25 per game (quarter/OT).  That is bad, no doubt, but it is not completely indicative of the defense.  Consider we have allowed 4 KO return TDs and 3 offensive turnover return TDs.  Those are a lot of free points, but that point is a dead horse and I am not some weirdo that is going to beat it up.

Conclusion

Captain Obvious says, "When you give up a lot of yards and points int he 4th quarter, you are not going to win a lot of football games." 

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Offense

Ranks

22.7 points per game (15th)
374.8 yards per game (7th)
6.4 yards per play (T-4th)
33:20 Time of Possession (4th)
40% 3rd down completion % (T-15th)
116.8 rush yards per game (15th)
4.3 yards per rush (T-11th)
8 rush TDs (20th)
258.0 pass yards per game (10th)
7.3 yards per pass attempt (5th)
21 passing TDs (T-8th)
30 sacks allowed (23rd)
21 turnovers (T-14th)

Conclusion

The offense is holding on to the ball longer than the opponent and generating a lot of yards, however, for one reason or another, they are not bringing in the points.  Every team above us in yards per game is scoring at least 25 points a game (except Dallas 23.3).  I think this has to do a lot with poor play-calling in the RZ.  How many times can you recall this season where we went to Heath or a halfback within the 20?  Not a lot.  It appears every other team attempts at least one of those plays per RZ visit, yet we might try one per game.

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Stats That Make Me Queasy

  • William Gay has 64 tackles, the most for a CB in the NFL. If you did not already know, having a guy in the secondary with a lot of tackles is a bad thing.  This means his man is beating him and making a lot of catches.

  • The Kickoff coverage ST has given up 4 TDs (32nd), 1430 yards (28th), and 25.5 yards per return  (31st). Only one other team has given up 2 or more KO TDs (Jets), all the teams with more yards have faced more returns, and the team with more yards per return has faced significantly less returns (Panthers).

  • 1-5 when games are decided by 3 or less points.  Last year we always found a way to win close games, this year we are inventing new ways each week to lose them.

  • In the last two weeks Heath Miller has had 2 receptions and our running backs have had 3 receptions.  Ben, sometimes it is better to check down, and avoid sacks and awful interceptions.

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