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SteelTorch
12-11-2009, 09:57 PM
This is straight from CHFF. I've highlighted the important parts for yinz. Basically, they're attributing most of our problems to our defense, and I find myself agreeing (to a point). Mind you, CHFF measures stats in a different way than most other football teams. But I think this is a very interesting take on our defense.


http://www.coldhardfootballfacts.com/Articles/11_3020_Nobody_falls_off_the_wagon_like_the_Pittsb urgh_Steelers.html


Nobody falls off the wagon like the Pittsburgh Steelers
Cold, Hard Football Facts for December 11, 2009

By Kerry J. Byrne
Cold, Hard Football Facts 1867 conestoga wagon invitational champion

With all due respect to Chris Berman, Jim Kelly and the 1991 vintage Buffalo Bills, nobody falls off the wagon like the Pittsburghh Steelers.

The 2006 defending champ Steelers fell off the wagon, thanks in large part to Ben Roethlisberger, who led by example when he fell off his motorcycle a few weeks before training camp. That team defended its title with an 8-8 record and a view of the playoffs from the comfort of their couches.

The 2009 defending champ Steelers are putting up even less of a fight, with a 6-7 record and a five-game losing streak after their 13-6 defeat Thursday night to arguably the worst Cleveland team in franchise history. It was a true disaster of a performance – at least in football terms – and it's now the organization's longest skid in six years.

The Steelers lost on a day when the opposing passer, Brady Quinn, completed just 6 of 19 passes for 90 yards. They lost thanks to a healthy dose of Josh Cribbs and Chris Jennings, who gashed Pittsburgh for 160 yards on the ground, not to mention the game’s only touchdown (Jennings).

The Steelers lost mostly, though, thanks to their own lethargy. At the risk of descending into sports-cliché tripe, Pittsburgh simply did not show up to play, moving at half speed in all facets of the game, especially on offense, where the entire team seemed to tank against one of the league’s worst defenses.

Big Ben? He took more sacks than a potato farmer (eight), holding on to the ball behind an offensive line that showed a complete lack of concern for the health and well-being of their battered franchise quarterback.

Hines Ward, who committed the locker-room faux pas of calling out his own quarterback two weeks ago, didn’t show up, either (4 catches, 21 yards). And the running game? Rashard Mendenhall took 16 handoffs but gained just 53 yards.

There’s no doubt that a malaise has descended over the organization. Hell, the Browns, Raiders and Chiefs this year are 3-1 vs. the Steelers. They're 6-27 vs. everybody else.

And the blame game, of course, is in full throat Friday morning. Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau are both the target for Steelers fan ire today, here and elsewhere.

But we decided to look, statistically, at what’s gone wrong with the defending champs. It turns out that, despite the offensive lethargy Thursday night, Pittsburgh’s problems this year are almost all on the defensive side of the football.

It's this unit that's performing well below the lofty standards it set during the Super Bowl run. The offense, meanwhile, is not good. But it's not a whole lot worse than it was last year.

Here’s how the 2009 Steelers stack up against the 2008 champion Steelers in our Quality Stats. The 2009 numbers, for the purposes of this article, have been updated to including the Thursday night loss. So the numbers will be slightly different than the data that currently appears in our Quality Stats pages (which are accurate through the end of Week 13 action).

Scoreability
2009 – 22nd (16.95 Yards Per Point Scored)
2008 – 15th (14.38 Yards Per Point Scored)

Conclusion: The 2008 Steelers scored more efficiently than the 2009 Steelers, but in neither year were they particular proficient in this indicator.

Bendability
2009 – 19th (15.67 Yards Per Point Allowed)
2008 – 4th (17.02 Yards Per Point Allowed)

Conclusion: Pittsburgh’s defensive efficiency has declined dramatically this year. But remember, Bendability is not just a defensive indicator. It measures how all parts of the team are working together. And, clearly, Pittsburgh’s various units are working together less effectively this year, making it easier for opponents to score points.

Passing Yards Per Attempt
2009 – 9th (6.93 YPA)
2008 – 20th (5.94 YPA)

Conclusion: You wouldn’t know it from Thursday night’s performance, but the 2009 Steelers actually pass the ball much more effectively than the champion Steelers of 2008.

Defensive Passer Rating
2009 – 13th (82.5)
2008 – 2nd (63.4)

Conclusion: Now we’re getting somewhere. The 2008 Steelers possessed a shutdown pass defense last year. They’re nearly 20 points worse this year – that’s a major, major statistical difference.

Remember, too, that the Super Bowl champion 2008 Steelers surrendered just 5.37 yards per pass attempt on defense, easily the lowest number in the league last year and a number that compared favorably to the greatest of the Steel Curtain defenses. This year’s team surrenders 6.7 yards per pass attempt – a notable statistical decline.

The 2008 Steelers also surrendered just 12 TDs passes against 20 INTs. The 2009 Steelers are not even close to those numbers: 15 TD passes allowed through 13 games, with just 8 INT.

Offensive Hog Index
2009 – 20th overall – 16th (4.2 YPA), 24th (10.7% NPP), 17th (38.1% third downs)
2008 – 28th overall – 29th (3.68 YPA), 28th (11.5% NPP), 14th (41.1% third downs)

Conclusion: As bad as Pittsburgh’s Offensive Hogs looked Thursday night, the unit as a whole has actually been more productive than the 2008 crew. As we noted last year, it was something of a miracle that the Steelers won the Super Bowl despite being handicapped by one of the worst offensive lines in the league – a crew that couldn’t open up running lanes and couldn’t protect the passer, but still earned rings thanks to their shutdown defense and playmaking QB. Hell, if they had any pride they would have turned down the Super Bowl prize money. So, despite the problems this year, the unit is actually an improvement over the one last year.

Defensive Hog Index
2009 – 10th overall – 4th (3.7 YPA), 11th (9.5% NPP), 21th (39.8% third downs)
2008 – 1st overall – 1st (3.29 YPA), 1st (12.2% NPP), 1st (31.4% third downs)

Conclusion: Pittsburgh won last year thanks largely to the most dominating Defensive Hogs the league had produced in many, many years. The 2008 Steelers were No. 1 last year in every indicator that comprises our Defensive Hog Index, and it was one of their Defensive Hogs, James Harrison, who was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year and who made the biggest play of the season in the Super Bowl, returning a Kurt Warner INT 100 yards for a touchdown.

The unit is decent this year, but in no way dominating. Their ability to get after the passer and force sacks and INTs has dropped off noticeably, and the unit is not nearly as effective on third downs. Opposing teams can keep drives alive against Pittsburgh much more often than they did last year.

The Cleveland loss was indicative of the decline of the Defensive Hogs: The Browns ripped Pittsburgh for 171 rushing yards on 37 attempts (4.6 YPA) and suffered just one negative pass play (a sack for a loss of six).

The blame game will continue in Pittsburgh, fueled by the ugly Thursday night loss to a pathetic Cleveland rival. The chat boards are already filled with venom aimed at both coordinators.

But from our vantage point – if we step beyond the immediate example of Thursday night’s offense-less loss – the answer is obvious: the Steelers have not played championship-caliber defense this year. Hell, if you give up 27 points to both the Chiefs and the Raiders, you got problems. It was the biggest offensive explosion of the year by either of these sad-sack teams.

And the offense, meanwhile, which was not good enough to win on its own last year, is not good enough to win on its own this year, either.

SteelTorch
12-15-2009, 05:11 PM
*Bump*

You know, It's amazing how many people are throwing out theories left and right to explain our struggles but still ignore some of the most obvious reasons. :nono

Jom112
12-15-2009, 05:35 PM
2008: Great defense + Average offense = Super Bowl Title

2009: Above average defense + Average offense = Missed playoffs

That about the gist of it?

ikestops85
12-15-2009, 05:41 PM
2008: Great defense + Average offense = Super Bowl Title

2009: Above average defense + Average offense = Missed playoffs

That about the gist of it?

Yep!!

Flasteel
12-15-2009, 05:49 PM
*Bump*

You know, It's amazing how many people are throwing out theories left and right to explain our struggles but still ignore some of the most obvious reasons. :nono

These indices and rankings pretty much back up the perceptions I have about what's wrong with this team. Unfortunately they can probably jibe with just about any theory...no matter how off the mark.

Some would argue that the falloff in defensive productivity is [wrongly] the result of the league "catching up" to the 3-4. I look at it as a simple lack of talent in the secondary. Last year they were protected by a fierce pass rush and the constant presence of Polamalu. This year Troy is obviously out and we seem to have a lot of vanilla in our blitz packages. Pretty amazing when you think about the inside pass rush ability we gained with Timmons.

The numbers spell out the problems but do not explain how they came to pass.

feltdizz
12-15-2009, 06:00 PM
*Bump*

You know, It's amazing how many people are throwing out theories left and right to explain our struggles but still ignore some of the most obvious reasons. :nono

These indices and rankings pretty much back up the perceptions I have about what's wrong with this team. Unfortunately they can probably jibe with just about any theory...no matter how off the mark.

Some would argue that the falloff in defensive productivity is [wrongly] the result of the league "catching up" to the 3-4. I look at it as a simple lack of talent in the secondary. Last year they were protected by a fierce pass rush and the constant presence of Polamalu. This year Troy is obviously out and we seem to have a lot of vanilla in our blitz packages. Pretty amazing when you think about the inside pass rush ability we gained with Timmons.

The numbers spell out the problems but do not explain how they came to pass.

If possible.. go back and watch the drive after Troy left in the Titans game and you will see why our DB's are struggling.

3 plays... damn near the same route... 85 yards.. in about 45 seconds..

I thought we were in prevent but I think without Troy our DB's lack of speed is glaring. Ike may be the fastest player on the team but he isn't the quickest. I think this is why he plays 15 yards off the ball.

Oviedo
12-15-2009, 06:46 PM
*Bump*

You know, It's amazing how many people are throwing out theories left and right to explain our struggles but still ignore some of the most obvious reasons. :nono

These indices and rankings pretty much back up the perceptions I have about what's wrong with this team. Unfortunately they can probably jibe with just about any theory...no matter how off the mark.

Some would argue that the falloff in defensive productivity is [wrongly] the result of the league "catching up" to the 3-4. I look at it as a simple lack of talent in the secondary. Last year they were protected by a fierce pass rush and the constant presence of Polamalu. This year Troy is obviously out and we seem to have a lot of vanilla in our blitz packages. Pretty amazing when you think about the inside pass rush ability we gained with Timmons.

The numbers spell out the problems but do not explain how they came to pass.

If possible.. go back and watch the drive after Troy left in the Titans game and you will see why our DB's are struggling.

3 plays... damn near the same route... 85 yards.. in about 45 seconds..

I thought we were in prevent but I think without Troy our DB's lack of speed is glaring. Ike may be the fastest player on the team but he isn't the quickest. I think this is why he plays 15 yards off the ball.

Ike, and Gay, play 15 yards off the ball because that is where LeBeau and his scheme tells them to play. They don't decide that on their own.

The scheme is designed to let them catch the ball short and tackle them when they get it. Unfortunately tackling by the DBs has been atrocious and therefore I willing to bet if someone had the stats for opponents yards after the catch we would see a huge jump this season.

I don't think this has anything to do with Troy blitzing. If you remember last year Troy probably was asked to blitz less than any year and he got to play DB which helped immensely. Timmons has actually brought a significant increase in sacks from the inside with 6 or 7. Harrison has dropped off because holding is almost never called. The lack of holding calls is also hurting because the opponents offense is rarely being put in long yardage situations after a 10 yard walk off.

Mister Pittsburgh
12-15-2009, 08:55 PM
I blame our defensive woes on a poor secondary, and our offenses lack of ever doing anything in the first half. I would guess if you take out the scoring drives, and look at the length of drives that end up in punts, they are remarkebly short per NFL standards. We go 3 and out all the freaking time. This puts our defense on the field more in the first half of games. When our O does get something going it is usually in the second half.

I think due to a shorter offseason full of excuses not to work out like appearances or what have you, the easiest camp in St Vincent history, the full week off of work in the bye, sitting out practices during the week, etc.......we aren't in shape. So our D gets tired in the first half where they do pretty well statistically, and when it comes time to close the game out because our offensive production always leaves the opposition within a TD of us, our D just can't do it. Our defensive line doesn't get its normal push, possibly due to no Aaron Smith. Our linebackers are tired. Our secondary flat out stinks without Troy. Throw in no discipline in tackling and being gap sound and it all adds up to a recipe for disaster.

Our defense is without arguably one of the best safeties in history, one of the best defensive ends in the league, and the replacement for McFadden blows. Farrior is older and can't cover the speedier RB. So there are some excuses, or answers, for why our defense has struggled this season.

What is the offenses excuse for being below middle of the league in scoring? They have everyone back. The line has played darn well (other than the Cleveland game). So what is their excuse? I think Bruce Arians offense is all or nothing. A 40 yard catch or an incompletion. Our offense is as about as fluid as a river of tar. We got too many weapons to be so innefective when it comes to scoring. Arians gotsta go!

SteelAbility
12-16-2009, 08:04 AM
Maybe our defensive problems having some to do with the loss of Smith and Polamalu. Just maybe? Ya think?

The article is decent. There are some things it does not take into account such as

a. The fact that the analysis of O and D cannot be totally divorced (if your D keeps getting 3 and out, your O is on the field more and the other D is tiring out) and

b. Strength of the opponents.


IMO, the loss of Smith and Polamalu is the problem. We've been blaming LeBeau a lot. His schemes are predicated on those guys' abilities and skills. A whole lot of possibilities get eliminated because of Smith's run-stuffing ability. A whole bunch of pass-and-catch underneath get eliminated because of Troy's closing speed. Hell, a whole bunch a crap gets eliminated because of Troy. You can't easily come up with an effective alternate scheme with little or no notice. Even with THAT, several "head not in the game" mistakes (namely dropped balls on both O and D) have really hurt us. The coaching has put us in position to win, but the coaches can't catch the ball for you too.

I do think we need some work in the arena of situational coaching, where players seem to have the mentality of making plays even when the situation doesn't warrant it (e.g. Burnett's body language indicating that he was thinking return after the catch in that easy INT drop against the Raiders).

JTP53609
12-16-2009, 08:36 AM
all you have to look at is turnovers, we dont get them but we give them up, that is why we are 6-7....(there were no turnovers in cleveland, we just played uninspired football, at least that is what it looked like when i sat on my couch)

steelblood
12-16-2009, 10:28 AM
2008: Great defense + Average offense = Super Bowl Title



Are you trying to convince yourself of something JOM?

Jom112
12-16-2009, 11:51 AM
2008: Great defense + Average offense = Super Bowl Title



Are you trying to convince yourself of something JOM?

:lol: :lol: :lol:

I wouldn't put our defense on that level. It's a really good defense that will be playing better once Peko and Crocker return but it's not on the level that the Steelers Defense was last season.

Our SB chances lie on the passing game becoming relevant again. Our running game, ST's and defense I think are there, one last piece to go. Apparently we are changing out our entire offensive game plan for the Chargers game this Sunday, so it should be interesting to see if it leads to anything. Also Marcus Purify (5th String WR) just got cut, so Jerome Simpson might be activated for the game. Maybe he'll be the deep threat we need...

NorthCoast
12-16-2009, 10:08 PM
The article pretty much says in words what I already showed in a few simple plots.

http://planetsteelers.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=9591&p=111259#p111259

The good thing about all of this is that it is happening at a point where we have plenty of time to review our strategy for the next draft. It is looking more and more like we need to go CB, DL, and SS in rd 1-3.

(I still think we need to pick up a stud OT as well.)

TallyStiller
12-16-2009, 10:10 PM
Anybody pay any attention to the third phase of the game here? Two missed 4th quarter FG's = defeat in Chicago. KO return TD's early vs. Cincy here and at KC = margins of defeat in both games. Even when opponents don't score on returns, they have been able to make up a lot of "hidden" yardage that explains how we can have statistical top ten offense AND defense and a 6 - 7 record.

Slapstick
12-17-2009, 05:03 PM
The defensive scheme has to change. I'm not necessarily saying that a switch to a 4-3 is what I'm looking for, but the defense needs to not be so Polamalu-centric. He made up for a LOT of mistakes, apparently. Also, it appears that the two minute defense does not work without him. Something needs to change.

BURGH86STEEL
12-17-2009, 07:02 PM
The defensive scheme has to change. I'm not necessarily saying that a switch to a 4-3 is what I'm looking for, but the defense needs to not be so Polamalu-centric. He made up for a LOT of mistakes, apparently. Also, it appears that the two minute defense does not work without him. Something needs to change.

I don't see how they can make the defense not be so Polamalu-centric. Maybe they should just cut Troy? When you have a great player it is hard to overcome that loss. I think the bottom line is that the players that are there now have to step up and make plays. There were opportunities available to them.