Johnny's Stat Sheet Week 4: Ngata Chance

Let me start by saying big props to Mike Tomlin, Bruce Arians, and Dick LeBeau for leading this team to 3-1 without Ben Roethlisberger.  The majority of people had this team chalked up as 2-2 or worse with an uphill battle when Ben got back.  However, some solid and smart coaching got them through with 3 wins and put them in great position to fight for the division title.  However, the season is only a fourth over and we have a lot more work to do.  The week 6 game against the Browns does not look as easily as it did before the season, does it?  The Browns should have beat the Ravens, but beat the Bengals (although the Bungles should have won that one).

Stat of the week: According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the loss to the Ravens was the 3rd time the Steelers have given up a game winning touchdown in the last minute of the 4th quarter in the last two seasons.  Over the previous 37 seasons, the Steelers have only had that happen 3 other times.

Defense

Week 4 Ranks

Category Stat Week 4 Rank Week 3 Rank Trend
Points Per Game 12.5 1st
1st --
Total Yards Per Game 289.0 5th 6th
Yards Per Play 4.5 T-4th 1st
Rush Yards Per Game 62.2 1st 3rd
Yards Per Rush Attempt 2.6 1st T-3rd
Rush TDs Allowed 1 T-2nd T-2nd --
Pass Yards Per Game 226.8 19th 17th
Yards Per Pass Attempt 6.4
T-8th 7th
Passing TDs Allowed 2
T-2nd T-1st
Sacks 11
T-7th T-4th
QB Rating Against 71.6 6th 5th
Turnover Ratio +7 2nd T-1st

The defense is now back to the best defense against the run.  The Bears finally got a dose of reality and gave up 189 yards on the ground to the Giants.  Anyway, Since 2004 the Steelers have finished in the top 3 of rushing defense every year.  No other team can boast that accomplishment.  If we can continue to hold teams below 14 points, I like our chances of winning when Ben is back.  Last year, we were giving up 20.2 points per game, which made the offense's job a lot more difficult.  If Ben can improve our 3rd down completion percentage, prevent drives from stalling, and get some points on the board I feel confident with our defense limiting other teams.

One thing that bugs me is the defense giving up a lot of points and yards late in games.  Keep in mind, a lot of these numbers were in games that were already decided, but it is still worth note.  The Steelers defense has surrendered 50 points so far this year and 25 of those, 50%, have been in the 4th quarter.  Additionally, the defense has yielded 1156 yards to their opponents and 372, 32.3%, have come in the 4th quarter.  I think the cushion that our DBs are giving up is really hurting us late in games, especially when the pass rush is not getting to the QB.  I would like to see LeBeau switch something up the next time we find our defense in that type of situation.  I think being unpredictable on defense goes a long way.

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Offense

Week 4 Ranks

Category Stat Week 4 Rank Week 3 Rank Trend
Points Per Game 21.5
12th T-8th
Total Yards Per Game 269.5 29th 26th
Yards Per Play 5.1 T-18th T-16th
Time of Possession
30:32 17th 16th
3rd Down Completion % 29 29th 30th
Rush Yards Per Game 133.5 T-7th 3rd
Rush Yards Per Attempt 4.3 T-11th 6th
Rush TDs
4
T-4th T-10th
Pass Yards Per Game
136.0 31st T-31st --
Yards Per Pass Attempt
7.5 T-9th T-8th
Passing TDs
3 T-27th T-21st
Sacks Allowed
9
T-18th T-19th
QB Rating
77.5 20th 17th

We are garbage on 3rd downs.  It has been a mix of bad play calling, poor execution, and insurmountable 3rd down and longs that has put us in the dump.  We went 4 for 11 (36.4%) on 3rd down against the Ravens with the yardages being 5, 3, 8, 10, 7, 3, 9, 4, 5, 10, 10 respectively.  One of these was a designed run, we all know which one that was, and one was a pass turned Batch 4 yard scramble on 3rd and 10.  When will BA try a delay on 3rd and 3-5?  When is the next Halley's Comet?  Anyway, I expect to see a lot of green arrows when Ben returns.

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Field Position

Drives

Steelers: 10
Ravens: 11

Starting Field Position

Steelers: Own 28
Ravens: Own 32

Average Starting Field Position for Season

Steelers: 33.3 (45 total drives + 1 KR)
Opponent: 30.4 (49 total drives)
Differential: +2.9

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Numbers that Matter

The Big Play

We have heard it a million times, or I have said it a million times, "our defense is built around limiting the big plays."   Last year, in my Week 15 Stat post, I talked about how poorly the Steelers had done in 2009 at limiting the big play compared to 2008.  Let's take a look at the breakdown of big plays since 2008:

Year 40+ Yards 30+ Yards 20+ Yards 15+ Yards

2008

3 8 19 62

2009

9 18 52 106

2010

2
3 10 21

 

Well that does not tell us much, so let's look at the per game averages:

Year 40+ Yards 30+ Yards 20+ Yards 15+ Yards

2008

0.1875 0.5 1.1875 3.875

2009

0.5625 1.125 3.25 6.625

2010

0.5
0.75 2.5 5.25

 

First, I think it is important to note that our defense in 2008 was just silly.  They only gave up 3 plays of 40 or more yards all year.  Secondly, the best way to prevent big plays is to have a good pass defense, because it is a lot easier to get big chunks of  yards on a pass than a run.  In 2008, we clearly had the best pass defense, but in 2009 and now 2010 we have struggled to stop teams in the air with the 16th and 20th ranked pass defenses respectively.  People clamor that the league has been heading toward a much more pass heavy league, but over the last 10 years the league has remained a steady 52-53% pass margin.  I believe it is the style of passing and the increased number of quality QBs that has changed.  Smarter QBs and more rules protecting the offense have made it easier to pass.  I wonder if LeBeau's system might be out of date.  He gives WRs cushions to prevent the big play and force a QB to be nearly perfect to gain first downs.  He believes that offenses will eventually make a mistake.  I wonder with the increased quality of QBs and the protection of offensive players if this system might be on the way out.  I have no idea, just trying to spark some discussion.

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Quick Slants

  • Rashard Mendenhall, through 4 games, is 2nd in the league in rushing yards (411).  He may be pretty 126 yards behind Arian Foster, but Mendy is working with an offense that has been pretty one-dimensional (Houston has 130 pass attempts (15th) this year to Pittsburgh's 81 (31st).  Teams have been able to stack the box and not worry about an Andre JohnsonMendenhall has had to do "harder" work, accumulating 235 of his yards after first contact, compared to just 152 for Foster.  Also, he has made 20 defenders miss a tackle (12 more than Foster), which is 2nd in the league (1 behind Adrian Peterson).  These are supposed to be quick, aren't they?
  • I just want Ben back behind center.
  • We are averaging about 20 pass attempts per game and 26 rush attempts per game.  I will not be surprised if we see Ben come out and throw 30 passes in his first game back.
  • Seeing Baltimore fans treat this week 4 game like a Superbowl and one of the best wins in their history really makes me glad we have a storied franchise.
  • Lawrence Timmons now has 48 total tackles, or 61.5% of his career high, 78, last year.  He has 33 solo tackles, only James Anderson has more (34).
  • Two games in a row with 0 sacks from our OLBsJames Harrison definitely made some plays, most notably his forced fumble.  However, LaMarr Woodley was rather quiet against what was predicted to be a favorable match-up for us.
  • 0 points off 2 turnovers, both in Ravens territory.  Moreover, we had 2 total yards on the drives after those turnovers.
  • Jeff Reed has missed 4 field goals in 4 games, as many as he missed all of last season.  He is tied for 22nd in the league for FG% (66.7).  Sam Koch had a 7 yard less average than Sepulveda, but put all 3 of his punts within the 20 to Danny's 1 for 5.
  • Punt average really means nothing to me.  Daniel Seuplveda is ranked 4th in the league in distance, but only has 2 punts within the 20 good for 28th in the league.
  • Cornerback stats: Ike Taylor: thrown at (TA) 10 times, 6 receptions, 60 Ct%, 10.5 YPC, 13 YAC, 1 interceptionBryant McFadden: TA 6 times, 5 receptions, 83.3 Ct%, 10.8 YPC, 8 YAC, 1 TD surrenderedWilliam Gay: TA 6 times, 4 receptions, 66.7 Ct%, 12.3 yards per completion, 21 YAC, 2 PDs in the endzone.  An all around awful performance by our secondary, which was made worse by our lack of a pass rush.  Big props to Big Play William Gay for stop a Ravens scoring drive on consecutive plays.
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