All season long I've been keeping track of some specific stats for our Broncos team. The reason is simple: I want to have some sort of continual measurement of our team game by game as the season progresses. There's no reason to fear stats, nor is there reason to take them as the gospel. They tell part of the story and paint a portion of the overall picture. Some of them can be put into context of the entire league, and others are too tedious for me to track all 32 teams.
What I have tracked are drives/results, our directional running game, offensive playcalling and averages on 1st/2nd/3rd down, 1st/2nd/3rd down defense plays and averages, 3rd down offense and defense, Redzone offense and defense, Peyton Manning, reception distribution, and overall team rankings. I will do a total of 4 of these throughout the year, breaking the regular season into quarters.
Let's start with some stats that track plays. First on the docket is how our Running game has fared so far to the left, center, and right of the field. Each game is included as well as the overall totals for the first four games of the year.
Our Running game has been spread pretty evenly to each side of the defense. We have had the most success rushing to the middle of the line as well to the right. Both offer more than 4.5 yards per attempt. For whatever reason, our rush attack has been extremely poor running to the left (except against the Raiders). Next up, let's take a look at playcalling and averages on both sides of the ball
The Run/Pass ratio on 1st down has been pretty even at 6/5. On 2nd down we find a ratio of 5-3 in favor of the pass, and on 3rd down the pass is dominant at 3/1. We see a good effort from the running game on both downs as it has averaged more than 4.0 yards per carry. Passing is consistent across the board with 2nd down having the highest averages and overall yards. Overall we have called 109 rushing plays and 142 passing plays which is about a 43/57 split. Pretty even, edging towards a passing advantage of 3/2.
Now, if you are looking at this----I apologize if you expected a personnel breakdown. It is basically what opposing offenses have done against us. We see an even split on first down, a bit more pass oriented selection on 2nd down, and a 4/1 split in favor of the pass on 3rd down. What this is telling me, is that our defense is making 3rd down less manageable by being consistent on 1st and 2nd down. More specifically, outside of the Houston game we are playing lights out against the run on 1st down. Passing averages are even, but if an opposing passer is consistently facing 3rd and long (8+), it doesn't matter if they are completing passes for 7.5 yards a pop, which brings me to our next stat....defensive stops on 3rd down.
3rd Down Defense
Now I break these up by distance with the columns reading left to right 3rd and short (1-3 yards), 3rd and medium (4-7) yards, 3rd and long (8+ yards). Our defense has faced 20 3rd and shorts, 15 3rd and mediums, and 24 3rd and longs. In fact 3rd and longs account for 40% of our opponents 3rd downs. This is a huge number as these can be expected to be converted 25-30 percent of the time or about 1/4.....with the terrible Pittsburgh game we are allowing offenses to convert 35% of the time. Notice though how good we have been on 3rd and short allowing our opponents to convert 40% (or 8/20). This matchup is to an offenses' favor in that a good offense will convert these 60% of the time and more. Way ahead of the curve here. On 3rd and medium, we are allowing about 47% which is a tad higher than what a good offense will do (40-42%). Let's take a look at the offense.
3rd Down Offense
I've been referencing a good offense and perhaps you wonder what my measuring stick has been. Well it was the Colts offense the last five years of Peyton Manning's career there. Those offenses converted 3rd and shorts at about 67%, 3rd and mediums from 45-55%, and 3rd and longs at 30-35%. Here we see that the trend has more or less continued. We are 13/19 (68%) on 3rd and short, 9/18 (50%) from 3rd and medium, and 5/17 (29%) from 3rd and long. We have had to face 7 less 3rd and longs than our counterparts thus far. We're almost there my friends, stay with me!
With drives, I have simply counted them up per game on offense and defense and gotten some percentages that will give us an idea how successful we have been. I don't count kneeldowns before the half or at the end of the game as drives because their purpose is different.
It is important to note a few things. First, we have scored on 19/41 drives (46%). Out of those scoring drives, 63% or almost 2/3rds have gone for TD's. Our three and outs have improved remarkably over last season with 1 out of every 5 drives resulting in one. Our turnovers are a bit high, but the Falcon game has much to do with that.
On defense, a third of our opponents drives result in a three and out. They have also scored on 39% of their drives with TD's comprising 47% of them.
Outside of one turnover riddled game, our offense for the most part is doing it's job. Our defense has allowed more scoring opportunities as we will see, but allowing more FG's than TD's is always a plus. The two units together if the trends continue should see some great complimentary football between the two.
The Redzone, Offense/Defense
Remember we have a few criteria for Redzone success: 1) When your offense gets there are they converting almost all (92% and more) of their opportunities? 2) Are most of those scores (67%) TD's? Here we see offensively that our team has had 12 opportunities, scored on all 12, and converted 9/12 (75%) into TD's. We are playing fantastic offense in the redzone!
Defensively we have allowed opposing teams one more opportunity than our offense in the redzone (13), and have not created a turnover. However we are holding them to FG's almost half the time giving up a TD 54% of the time. If we can cut back a bit on opportunities we should see a larger discrepency in point differential than already exists (114-83 +31).
Next up is Peyton Manning, and I'll be real quick with this:
99/153 (64.7%), 1162 yards, (7.6 YPA), 8TD/3INT, 96.9 Rating He has played extremely well outside of a handful of bad quarters. If you want to see a detailed look at his quarter by quarter performance and each game, go back and read my week 4 recap. He also distributes the ball well and has hit 11 different receivers on the year with 6 having 7 or more receptions. In fact here is the breakdown by position group:
Everybody gets some love. The combo of Thomas, Decker, and Stokley have gotten the lions share of balls thrown their way. Make no mistake though, Peyton uses his backs and TE's effectively as both check down options and threats over the middle and down the seam. With that, I've saved the best for last.
Team Rankings, Offense and Defense, 2011/2012
The goal every year is to improve your football team. Some have to improve on one side of the ball, some on both. We were one of the ones that wanted to improve on both sides of the ball and we have absolutely done that with the showing so far. We are better in every major defensive category and rank 8th overall in yards, 14th overall in passing, 10th overall in rushing, and 10th overall in points per game. We are on the cusp of being a top 10 defense across the board. As you can see every category has seen improvement over last year.
Offensively, we are almost there as well. We rank 12th in overall yards, 8th in passing, 14th in rushing, and 7th in points. The only drop off here is in the running game, but I don't see how you can rationalize gaining 125 yards in passing with Peyton Manning and losing 55 yards on the ground with Tim Tebow for a net gain about 70 overall PLUS a gain of 7 points more per game as a bad thing! And no I didn't count the defensive points as in my chart. #18 was brought in here for a purpose and we can see the early positive results aleady.
Overall I'm excited at the progress of our team early in the season. We have had ups and downs, but despite those both the offense and defense have made great strides towards becoming top 10 complimentary units. I'm looking forward to NE and seeing how we now match up with a team that blew us out of the water twice last year. GO BRONCOS!!!