With UNFNole reminding us that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have hit the midway point in the year (already?), it seems like now would be a good time to assess the defensive side of the ball. Having built our reputation as a defensive team in the late 90's and early 00's, the defense will always receive a fair amount of attention here. The system is relatively the same, at least out of base sets, andwe will seem to work with the same mentality, bend but don't break.
As we look at the defense, we'll combine your favorite stats and my favorite stats and try to figure out just what we're looking at. And if Coach Morris is reading this, sorry coach, I'm a loser.
Letsstart out with overall defense first and look at some general metrics.
Overall Defense - Traditional
Yards Per Game: 360.5 (24th)
Points Per Game: 23.8 (T-25th)
Well, I don't think you have to be a rocket scientist to see we still aren't very good on the defensive side. We are doing some things better than last year (more on this later), but still are in the bottom half of the league. My first inclination is that we're 5-3 despite a subpar showing on the defensive side. Pretty impressive, right? Wrong, which leads to my second thought. One of two things has to happen. Either we get better on the defensive side and live upto our 5-3 record, or we will trend down to our statistical levels and end up a bit worse. Take your pick. I prefer option 1
Overall Defense - Advanced (Where negative is good)
Defensive DVOA: 9.7% (25th)
If you want to feel better about this stat, realize that the New England Patriots, fresh off the butt kicking by the Cleveland Browns are ranked below us and have a better record. I don't consider our records and rankings to continue in the same fashion if nothing changes.
Pass Defense - Traditional
Yards Allowed Per Game: 213.5 (12th)
Completion % allowed: 58.7% (10th)
Opposing QB Rating: 76.3 (9th)
Total Sacks: 6 (32nd)
If you ignore that last stat, our pass defense is pretty good. We aren't allowing a ton of yards, a HUGE change from 2009 and opposing QB rating is in a range that will keep us in most games. The downside is, we aren't getting to the quarterback, at all. Should we start getting there, I imagine our rankings will improve, otherwise we may be in some trouble.
Pass Defense - Advanced
Passing DVOA: 4.8% (15th)
When adjusted for situation and opponent, you can see our ranking suffers a bit, and you should expect that given these names. Jimmy Clausen, Matt Moore, Jake Delhomme, Carson Palmer, Max Hall, Derek Anderson. Those are some of the quarterbacks we faced, so we had that in our favor.
Run Defense - Traditional
Yards Per Game: 147.0 (30th)
Yards Per Carry: 5.0 (31st)
Hmm..... Seems we haven't improved at all against the run. This is the most disappointing thing to me. We will not be a high caliber team if we can't stop the run. We saw it in the Atlanta game, we'll see it all year. We put ourselves in bad positions when we can't stop the run.
Run Defense - Advanced
Rushing DVOA: 14.5% (31st)
Falls right in line with every other metric we've looked at. This is disturbing.
I hadn't planned on doing this, but seeing those ugly numbers, I looked at our defensive line to see what we could figure out. If you don't want to see some ugly numbers, turn away now.
Adjusted Line Yards (ALY): 4.89 (31st)
Power Success: 71 (26th)
2nd Level: 1.56 (31st)
Open Field: 1.09 (29th)
Well, to no surprise, it's our DL that is killing us in the run game. We know this, so do our opponents. Given that we're 5-3 while being terrible against the run is a testament to our team. I'd love to sit here and celebrate the 5-3 record and project future success, but as we start getting into crunch time, I see these numbers as a liability. We have to improve up front. As we found out last week, we can't ask Freeman and company to carry the team. The defense needs to step up, particularly the line.
This week against the Panthers with Clausen in and Moore, Williams, and Stewart (assumption) all being out, this should be a good time for our DLto find their way into the backfield.