FanPost

Digging Deeper into the Box Score: Week 3

 

Sorry for the delay for what I’m sure is a highly anticipated version of Digging Deeper.  I got a case of the post-loss funk, plus I was fairly busy at work & home.  Anyhoo…  We all know this was just an ugly game all-around.  Special Teams was acceptable, with another good performance from Weems, but even Koenen had his rough spots – like the 29 yard punt that set up the Patriots with good field position for their first TD drive.  Let's see if there is any silver lining to that storm cloud that just passed through.

Offense

By my count, Turner had a 47% Success Rate against the Patriots, although his longest run was only 7 yards.  He seemed to have a little more room to run after the Wilfork injury, but he only got three of his fifteen carries in the second half.  The Patriots grinding out the clock, their growing lead, and the Falcons inability to pick up first downs worked together to limit Turner’s touches.  Overall this season he has a 49% Success Rate, good for #18 in the league.  His problem is his inability to break 10+ yard runs so far.

Matt Ryan’s numbers look decent, but he actually had a bit of an off day (for him).  He had pretty good success on first downs, but the problem was three different 3rd and 3’s, plus a 3rd and 4 that he was unable to convert into first downs.  The Patriots have the #22 Pass Defense (by VOA) even after Week 3, an area the team should have been able to exploit more.  On a positive note for him and the O-Line, he wasn’t sacked once.

Tony Gonzalez kept his streak alive of consecutive games with a catch (134 games in a row), but the Patriots were able to effectively take him out of the game (he only had 2 targets).  The Catch Rates of the other receivers look good, but the team wasn’t able to sustain their drives.  The one thing that is perplexing to me is how Mularkey is using Roddy White.  Every single one of his six targets were “short” (under 15 yards).  Jenkins, on the other hand, had three of his eight targets listed as “deep”, plus the one offensive pass interference penalty that called back the deep Touchdown.  It seems like they’re using Roddy like a 32-year-old possession receiver.  He’s a speedster, get him some shots deep!

Defense

When a defense takes care of first down, the other downs take care of themselves. The Jets held the Patriots to 3 yards or less on 18 first-down plays last week, forcing the Patriots’ offense to go from pass-heavy to pass-exclusive and allowing Jets Coach Rex Ryan to enjoy the jumbo sampler from his all-you-can-blitz buffet.  (Mike Tanier, Week 3 Matchups, NYTimes.com Fifth Down Blog)

The Falcons “held” the Pats to 3 yards or less on 14 first down plays, but that number is inflated.  The Patriots had 34 first down plays overall, because they converted for 28 new first downs (15 Passing, 10 Rushing, 3 by Penalty – NFL average so far this year is ~19 first downs per game).  They seemed to do a good job of slowing the Pats down when they were in their shotgun/spread formation, but they could do absolutely nothing to slow them in the 2+ TE formations.  Several players said the Patriots game plan surprised them.  Fine, they didn’t expect the run as much – but the Pats went back to it again and again, and they were never able to stop it.

We actually should’ve known this was going to be a bad game defensively very early.  Excluding incomplete passes (many of which were Brady’s or the WR’s fault), the Falcons had 4 successful plays (“Stops”) on defense in the first half.  FOUR.  Actually, by the numbers, the defense was better in the second half – just not in the big situations.  The team got a couple of red zone stops in the first half to force field goals, and weren’t able to stop key 3rd and 4th down conversions in the second half.

I found out that the Plays/Stops/Defeats are given 0.5 credited for an assisted tackle, so these will reflect that change in counting.  Next week I will give a cumulative revised total, and hopefully a look at the pass coverage so far (no promises on that, though).

Name

Plays

Stop Rate

Defeats

Curtis Lofton

16

16%

1.5

Mike Peterson

8

50%

2

Brian Williams

7.5

7%

0.5

Erik Coleman

6.5

23%

0.5

Stephen Nicholas

6

25%

0.5

Trey Lewis

5.5

18%

0

Thomas DeCoud

5

0%

0

Chris Houston

4.5

33%

0.5

Kroy Biermann

4.5

44%

0

Chauncey Davis

3.5

71%

0

Thomas Johnson

2.5

40%

0

Jamaal Anderson

2.5

20%

0

John Abraham

2

50%

0

Jonathan Babineaux

1.5

33%

0.5

Brent Grimes

1

0%

0

We can see real quick that while Lofton made a ton of tackles, most of them were cleaning up the trash downfield (his 1.5 Defeats is actually three different assisted tackles).  Trey Lewis made several tackles, but these numbers seem to indicate he was getting pushed around a bit.  I didn’t notice him much during the game, but these numbers say that Chauncey Davis put out a good effort.

I didn’t feel like Moss was killing us, but he made his catches really count – eight of his ten catches went for first downs, including two on 4th downs (plus the Pass Interference on Grimes).  They also moved him around effectively, as he was covered/tackled by: Houston, Williams, Coleman, DeCoud, Grimes, etc.  "Death by 1000 Paper-cuts" instead of a couple big bombs...  the final outcome was still the same.

Every single Special Teams tackle was listed as assisted, and here’s the guys that made the plays:  Finneran, Sidbury, Harris, Snelling, Weems (x2), and Nicholas (x2).

Here’s a disturbing stat for you:  the team is #24 in Yards Allowed.  “But wait”, you say.  “The team is tied for 9th in Points Allowed.  Isn’t that what really matters?”  Well, yes – and no.  That kind of performance is not sustainable.  They need to improve over the rest of the field, not rely on their Red Zone heroics to bail them out.

Reminder:

Successful Play – 45% of yardage needed on First Down, 60% of yardage needed on Second Down, 100% of yardage needed on Third or Fourth Down.

Stop Rate – Percentage of Plays stopping the offense short of a Successful Play.

Defeat – A Stop on Third or Fourth Down, and Interception, or a Play that results in a Fumble (whether the defense recovers or not – that means the defender who causes the Forced Fumble gets the Defeat, not the guy who comes up with a Fumble Recovery).

DVOA – Takes every single play during the NFL season and compares each one to a league-average baseline based on situation. DVOA measures not just yardage, but yardage towards a first down: five yards on third-and-4 are worth more than five yards on first-and-10 and much more than five yards on third-and-12. Red zone plays are worth more than other plays. Performance is also adjusted for the quality of the opponent. DVOA is a percentage, so a team with a DVOA of 10.0% is 10 percent better than the average team, and a quarterback with a DVOA of -20.0% is 20 percent worse than the average quarterback. Because DVOA measures scoring, defenses are better when they are negative.

Next week I’ll try to provide the numbers through Week 3.  I'll also provide some of the insight from the DVOA numbers, since the opponent adjustments should start to kick in.

<em>This FanPost was written by one of The Falcoholic's talented readers. It does not necessarily reflect the views of The Falcoholic.</em>

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