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Johnny's Stat Sheet Week 6: The Real McCoy Would Have Run Away

That is it.  I have done it.  That is easily the cheesiest/worst title I could have imagined.  (For those who do not know, Real McCoy is a German band that had two big songs, one being "Run Away")  Anyway, back to football talk...Ben Roethlisberger is back slangin' and bangin' (Ben's lawyer politely asked me to remove the second verb) and James Harrison is out to take your head off your body, but not injure you.  The Steelers finally became a team with every face of the game: passing, running, defense, and special teams.  Four wins and one loss and sole possession of the #1 spot in the AFC North , what more could you ask for?

Stat of the week: Zero.  That is the amount of times I have heard someone say Ben Roethlisberger should not be the QB of this team after he threw 3 touchdowns on Sunday.


Week 6 Ranks

Category Stat Week 6 Rank Week 4 Rank Trend
Points Per Game 12 1st
1st --
Total Yards Per Game 296.8 6th 6th --
Yards Per Play 4.7 4th T-4th --
Rush Yards Per Game 63.8 1st 1st --
Yards Per Rush Attempt 2.7 1st 1st --
Rush TDs Allowed 2 T-4th T-2nd
Pass Yards Per Game 233.0 24th 19th
Yards Per Pass Attempt 5.8
T-21st T-8th
Passing TDs Allowed 3
T-1st T-2nd
Sacks 16
T-8th T-7th
QB Rating Against 73.2 7th 6th
Turnover Ratio +9 2nd 2nd --

Well, there is definitely a lot of good things about our defense.  However, the pass defense is definitely becoming a concern for me.  A lot of that can be attributed to the large chunk of the opponent's offense coming late in the fourth quarter.  In the Browns and Titans game it was excusable, because the game had been decided.  However, in the Ravens and Falcons game, the lack of a pass defense was very alarming.  I really cannot quantify if it is based on the scheme, effort, or fatigue.  Whatever it is, I would like to see some adjustments to improve it sooner than later.  I hope Tomlin/LeBeau do not sit on it like they did with the ST last year.

A good note about the pass defense is that it is intercepting the ball on 4.3% of pass attempts (T-5th). That is almost double 2009's number of 2.2% (T-25th).  Additionally, the defense is giving up touchdowns on only 1.6% of pass attempts (2nd), compared to 4.0% in 2009 (15th).  Lastly, our sack rate is about equivalent to what it was last year at 7.9%.

I do not know what to say about the rush defense.  They have been essentially perfect.  This is the lowest amount of rush yards given up per game since the 2006 Vikings defense or it is the 22nd best performance in the NFL SB era.  I think the numbers are very impressive considering what the Titans and Falcons have been able to do since playing the Steelers.  Additionally, through 5 games in the history of the NFL, the Steelers allowed 2.73 yards per rush average ranks 19th all time (SB era).  I thought the points allowed were historically impressive, but it was not as good as I thought it would be.  Our 2007 defense only allowed 47 points through 5 games.



Week 6 Ranks

Category Stat Week 6 Rank Week 4 Rank Trend
Points Per Game 22.8
10th 12th
Total Yards Per Game 291.2 28th 29th
Yards Per Play 5.3 13th T-18th
Time of Possession
30:49 14th 17th
3rd Down Completion % 33 27th 29th
Rush Yards Per Game 131.0 9th T-7th
Rush Yards Per Attempt 4.1 T-14th T-11th
Rush TDs
T-8th T-4th
Pass Yards Per Game
160.2 28th 31st
Yards Per Pass Attempt
8.0 T-2nd T-9th
Passing TDs
6 T-23rd T-27th
Sacks Allowed
T-8th T-18th
QB Rating
86.3 12th 20th
Point Differential

Just a quick note: I added point differential to the table.  I do not have last week's numbers, but I will update them from now on.  Pretty interesting that we are doing that well in point differential despite our struggling offense in the first 4 games.  All it took was dominant defense.

What a difference Ben Roethlisberger's presence made.  If it was not obvious enough on Sunday, this should make it pretty clear: Ben makes us a better team.  Clearly, because we improved in every passing category after his return.  Most notably, our season passing touchdown total doubled in one game.

Ben was also a cure for our 3rd down woes.  The Steelers had their best game this year in this category, going 7 for 14 (50.0%) on 3rd down  Tampa Bay was our second best game and we went 4 for 9 (44.4%).  Bruce Arians called 3 runs and 11 passes on 3rd downs.  The yardages were as follows 1r, 4p, 1r, 13p, 10p, 10r, 18p, 8p, 8p, 6p ,12p, 7p, 3p, 6p.  (r=run, p=pass, bold=converted, italic=turnover).  Looks like some poor management of 1st and 2nd down as the game wore on.  Ben thrives on crunch time though, so he generally does good when we need a big conversion.  At the halfway point I plan on doing an accumulative breakdown of our third down conversions.  Big props to Emmanuel Sanders for being the target on two big 3rd down conversions.  One of them helped sustain a drive that led to a touchdown.


Field Position


Steelers: 11
Browns: 10

Average Starting Field Position

Steelers: Own 33
Browns: Own 25

Average Starting Field Position for Season

Steelers: 33.2 (56 total drives + 1 KR)
Opponent: 29.5 (59 total drives)
Differential: +3.7

According to footballoutsides, who does their drive start calculation a bit different (returns do not count), the Steelers are ranked 4th in the league with a starting field position of 32.84 (#1 Titans 34.01) . Also, they are ranked 14th in defensive starting field position with 29.07 (#1 Chiefs 25.45).  Our differential ranks 5th in the league at +3.77 (#1 Jets 8.06).


Numbers that Matter

Special Teams

To anyone who watched the 2009 Steelers, it is rather obvious how important special teams can be.  Generally, ST goes unnoticed because they only see the field about 10 times a game (give or take a few for high or low scoring).  Also, if they are doing their job, they generally do not stand out (at least on coverage units).

Last year, the return unit finished 26th in return yard average (24.3) and gave up 4 return touchdowns.  That was easily the worst kickoff unit the Steelers have ever had as no unit ever gave up that many yards and TDs in B&G.  In fact, to find the last team to give up 4 return touchdowns you would have to go all the way back to 1998.  This year, things have gotten a lot better.  The Steelers are the 8th best KO team giving up 21.3 yards per return and 0 touchdowns through 5 games

Moreover, we have been pretty good in our own returns.  We are currently ranked 6th with a 27.7 yard average and 1 touchdown.  Last year, we were 8th with a 24.0 yard return average and 0 touchdowns.  However, it is not all great.  Our punt return average is awful.  We are averaging 5.2 yards per punt return; good for 31st in the league.  There is no doubt that Antwaan Randle El is spent as a returned in the NFL.  He is making me a little bit nervous back there as he has almost muffed two fair catches in the last 2 games.


Quick Slants

  • I hated on Daniel Sepulveda last week, and he came back and had a tremendous week.  6 punts and 4 of them were downed within the 20, 2 within the 10, 1 within the 5.  He may have gotten a lucky bounce here or there, but Reggie Hodges, the Browns punter, was getting lucky all day.  Nice game robopunter.
  • The Steelers and Lions are tied for 1st in the league with 15 takeaways.
  • The Steelers offense gains an average of 25.75 yards per drive (26th) and 1.80 points per drive (13th).  We are 8th in turnovers per drive.
  • The defense is allowing 25.30 yards per drive (6th) and 0.88 pts per drive (1st).  Additionally, we are allowing the least touchdowns per drive and forcing the most turnovers per drive.
  • Breaking down the OL in relation to running.  The Steelers have rushed the ball 158 times this season for 655 yards and a 4.1 average and 5 TDs.  They have 19 runs over 10 yards, 8 to the left, 3 up the middle, and 8 to the right.  And they have 16 rushes for negative yards, 9 left, 2 center, 5 right.  On situations where we needed short yards (3rd/4th and short or short and goal) the Steelers have an 86% success rate on the left side of the line, 75% success rate in the center, and 0% success rate on the right.
  • Tackles by position: 9% of the Steelers tackles have come from the DL (lowest in the NFL).  51% have come from the LBs (highest in the league).  22% has come from the CBs and the remaining 18% from the Safeties.
  • Advanced NFL Stats does a lot of their numbers based around "Win Probability Added".  In other words, at any point or after any play, what percent chance does each team have of winning the game.  They calculate what each player adds to a teams chance of winning (i.e. getting an interception increases your teams chance of winning).  Anyway, Lawrence Timmons tops every LB in the league with a 1.23 WPA and James Harrison is not to far behind in 6th with a 0.87 WPA.  Timmons WPA is second best in the NFL for defensive players, just behind Laron Landry.  These are not the end all be all, because they only quantify physical stats, but it is pretty interesting.  Side note: William Gay has the 13th best WPA for CBs with a 0.52.