After reading how if the “haters” want BA fired, then they should also demand Lebeau’s head because the defense played worse this year, I decided to do some simple stat crunching in order to compare apples to apples and see who the good, bad and ugly really was.
I looked at offensive and defensive production in terms of points scored versus points allowed since that ultimately decides the game. I also did the same thing with the average “points for” and “points against” for each Steeler opponent. I removed all points from interception returns, fumble returns and special team scores so that I could compare just offensive and defensive production.
This is what I found:
The first interesting thing I noted is that when taking into consideration only offensive scoring, the Steelers win/loss record is 10-5-1 for the season.
In comparing how the Steelers O and D performed against the average O and D performance of each opponent, the units fell out as follows over the sixteen game season:
Performance......... Off........ Def
Well Above Avg.... 2........... 5
Above Avg........... 5........... 4
Average.............. 4........... 3
Below Avg........... 2........... 2
Well Below Avg..... 3........... 2
Note- Metrics used: Average is within two points of opponent’s mean points for or against, above or below average is within 10 points of opponent avg, and well above or well below average is greater than ten points from the mean.
Now lets look at each game comparing offensive and defensive production only
Titans game (W 13-10)
PIT O 13.... Avg points scored against Titans 24.7
PIT D 10.... Avg points scored by Titans 20.4
Steelers defense saves the day versus woeful effort by the offense. Win because of the Defense.
Chicago game (L 17-14)
PIT O 14.... Avg points scored against Bears 23.5
PIT D 17.... Avg points scored by Bears 18.9
The D holds their own but Steelers lose due to well below avg performance by the O. Loss hangs on Offense.
Cincinnati game (L 23-20)
PIT O 20.... Avg points scored against Bungals 17.4
PIT D 17.... Avg points scored by Bungals 17.4
Both the D and O held their own, but the O gave up an INT for a TD to lose the game. Loss hangs on Offense.
San Diego game (W 38-2
PIT O 38.... Avg points scored against SD 19.1
PIT D 21.... Avg points scored by SD 26.1
Both squads performed well (the O really kicked butt). Both sides earn the win.
Detroit game (W 28-20)
PIT O 28.... Avg points scored against Detroit 29.0
PIT D 13.... Avg points scored by Detroit 14.9
Both squads played about average but the O gave up 7 on an INT for a TD to make the game closer than it should have been. Both sides earn the win.
Cleveland game (W 27-14)
PIT O 27.... Avg points scored against Browns 21.8
PIT D 07.... Avg points scored by Browns 15.3
Both squads performed above average and both earn the win.
Minnesota (W 27-17)
PIT O 13.... Avg points scored against Vikings 17.7
PIT D 14.... Avg points scored by Vikings 28.1
D played well above average and O played below average. The D saved the day with two fumble recoveries for TDs. Win because of the Defense.
Denver (W 28-10)
PIT O 21.... Avg points scored against Broncs 18.1
PIT D 03.... Avg points scored by Broncs 18.8
D played well above average and the O played above average. Both earned the win.
Cincinnati (L 18-12)
PIT O 12.... Avg points scored against Bungles 17.4
PIT D 12.... Avg points scored by Bungles 17.4
O performed below average and D performed above average. The Offense and Special Teams earned this loss.
Kansas City (L24-27)
PIT O 24.... Avg points scored against KC 24.3
PIT D 20.... Avg points scored by KC 16.9
The O played average and the D played below average. Loss is pinned on the D and ST.
Baltimore (L 20-17)
PIT O 17.... Avg points scored against Ravens 15.4
PIT D 20.... Avg points scored by Ravens 30.3
While the D delivered a slightly above average performance, the average play of the O costs the game.
Raiders (L 27-24)
PIT O 24.... Avg points scored against Raiders 23.1
PIT D 27.... Avg points scored by Raiders 12.3
The O played average and the D played well below average. D responsible for the loss.
Cleveland (L 13-6)
PIT O 06.... Avg points scored against Browns 21.8
PIT D 13.... Avg points scored by Browns 15.3
The D performed above average and the O performed well below average. The O is responsible for this embarrassing loss.
Green Bay (W37-36)
PIT O 37.... Avg points scored against GB 17.3
PIT D 36.... Avg points scored by GB 26.9
O performed well above average and the D played well below average. O saved the day.
PIT O 23.... Avg points scored against Ravens 15.4
PIT D 20.... Avg points scored by Ravens 30.3
Both O and D performed above average. That and a little luck wins this one.
Miami (W 30-24)
PIT O 30.... Avg points scored against Dolphins 23.3
PIT D 24.... Avg points scored by Dolphins 20.9
O delivers above average performance and D is below average. O earns the win.
Looking at the Steeler’s nine wins, the D and O earned five wins as a team, and each earned two wins despite the poor performance of the other.
Looking at the Steelers seven losses, the D was directly responsible for two of them and the O was responsible for five.
In general, the D performed better than the O, and did it minus two star defensive players (Polamalu and Smith). If the Offense lost two of their brightest stars for the season, how good would have they been then?
Finally, I looked at scoring per Qtr:
...............1st Qtr...2nd Qtr...3rd Qtr...4th Qtr... OT
Offense......81.........119........61.........83.. ........3 347
Defense.....39..........61.........47.........121. ........6 274
The D was obviously poor in the 4th qtr. Other than that, they performed well.
The D has its worst year in awhile and it still had better stats than the O.
Understanding that the game is a lot more complicated than what is presented, the stats do provide a way to compare results of the two units.