These past few years have yielded a lot of great memories that help me get through a lot of the down times. Two of the great moments in recent memory I have are the two six game winning streaks that took place during 2009 and 2011. Between these two streaks I have more memorable moments than all the time since 1998 combined. With the miraculous Brandon Stokley catch to beat the Bengals, to the overtime win against the Patriots, to the nail-biter against Chicago. These 12 games rank among my favorite since the Super Bowls.
With the streaks on my mind I wanted to just do some comparison work between the two to get a look at which had the better offense and defense or faced the tougher opponents. I had a lot of fun doing this research and after finishing I figured I'd share my findings with the people of Mile High Report.
Now before we jump I do want to make a few things clear. This isn't meant as a slight to one streak or another. Now I know some people may take it as I'm trying to put down the 2011 or 2009 streak, that's not my intention. Like comparing any two seasons or segment of games. I'm just laying out a few of the facts about the two streak. I'm not taking anything away from these two streaks, they provided immense entertainment despite being so different. With that being said, let's get to work.
What We Are Looking At:
So while this won't be a game by game breakdown, that would take far more space and time than would be beneficial. So I'll just be looking at the two teams as well as breaking down a few specifics. To start off lets break down these two teams position by position. Now this is based on rewatching the games as well as doing a side by side comparison. I also did a blind poll showing film and stats to people who couldn't name Broncos players. So while hardly perfect, it is fairly solid. So let's do this:
2009 versus 2011:
The first area is obviously the most likely to be hotly debated, the quarterback. Now every is pretty happy to be having Tebow as the QB for this team during that six game win streak and will find it hard to separate their feelings of the 2011 Orton from what he did in 2009. So obviously I couldn't trust myself or other biased Broncos fans so I went straight to the stats and video, took the names and audio away and presented them to a group of educated football fans who aren't familiar with Broncos players. I let them choose all the positions in terms of stats, but I felt that in this position if I excluded film it might leave some things out. Now this group of 47 people almost unanimously voted for one player. I'll let you make the decision:
|Y/A||Rate||Tot Yards||TD's||TD %||TO %|
|Y/A||Rate||Tot Yards||TD's||TD %||TO %|
The two QB's are similar, QB 1 has a slightly better yards per attempt and touchdown percentage while QB 2 takes rating, total yards per game and turn over percentage. Just looking at these it's leaning slightly towards QB 2, but we are leaving out one key figure, completion percentage. If we include that we are able to see the balance here. QB 1's completion percentage is... 48% while QB 2 has a completion percentage of 63.3%. So when you factor that in QB 2 is the clear winner. Now just to make it clear, I factored in running yards and touchdowns as well at fumbles so we are including both QB's strengths. It is clear that QB 2 was the better of the two. The quarterbacks, as the completion percentage probably showed, QB 1 is Tim Tebow and QB 2 is Kyle Orton.
Now a huge disclaimer, both QB's played well during this six game win streak, I'm not saying cut Tebow or that Orton is better now or that Tebow will fail forever, I'm merely pointing out Orton played fantastic football during the six game win streak in 2009. Both QB's played outstanding and both played a big role in why the teams won, but for the sake of the this study, when comparing these two streaks, 2009 takes the QB win and the blind film study agrees as well with 43 of the 47 saying that QB 2 was the better of the two.
Let's take a look at the teams as a whole:
So looking at this it's clear that the 2009 team was a better team. They had the better player at 12 positions compared to 8 from the 2011 team, 4 were a tie. One area the 2011 team was better at was in the front seven, taking 4 of 6 with 2009 only taking 1. Dawkins, Champ and Goodman are still a solid set of DB's but they were just better in 2009. Renaldo Hill, while never outstanding never played as badly as Moore and Carter did this season. One offense the biggest areas of improvement was at running back, where Moreno was a rookie who had a good season, McGahee just had a better season. Also Larsen was just learning how to play fullback in 2009 and has greatly improved since then. At wide receiver Marshall was easily better than Decker and while Gaffney had a very solid 2009 season, I'm giving the #2 wide receiver spot to DT because how well he did in his limited time, but his injuries could have easily lent itself to making that a tie. While the offensive line improved as the season went on, the 2009 squad was just better overall. As for special teams, 2009 Prater was more accurate but 2011 Prater made better kicks when he needed to so that's a tie. Colquitt was a borderline Pro Bowler and while Berger had a solid season, Colquitt had a better one. Royal's 2009 returning season was impressive and while he saw time returning in 2011, Quan Cosby got almost all the returns over the course of the season, and did solid, though not overly impressive.
But just looking at this position by position isn't showing the whole picture, we have to look at things like points per game, opponent strengths and such. So let's start to break this down. In this next section I'll look at a variety of metrics:
- Opponents record and whether the team made the playoffs
- Opponents SRS, a metric created by Pro Football Reference that takes into account a teams margin of victory, wins, opponents record to create a useful way to measure a teams success. Now there may be those who don't trust it, the team with the higher SRS wins 87% of games so it's a reliable way to measure a teams strengths.
- Each teams score and the margin of victory.
- Lastly there is the total, passing and rushing yards as well as turnovers for both the offense and defense.
Now that we've explained the table let's take a look:
|1||W||Cincinnati Bengals (PO)||10-6||.7||12||7||5||302||227||75||307||221||86||2|
|4||W||Dallas Cowboys (PO)||11-5||7.1||17||10||7||337||221||116||1.0||315||241||74||2|
|5||W||OT||New England Patriots (PO)||10-6||11.2||20||17||3||424||321||103||2.0||305||209||96||1|
|6||W||San Diego Chargers (PO)||13-3||6.6||34||23||11||328||227||101||311||238||73||1|
|10||W||Kansas City Chiefs||7-9||-8.9||17||10||7||313||69||244||258||124||134|
|11||W||New York Jets||8-8||5.2||17||13||4||229||104||125||1.0||318||235||83||2|
|12||W||OT||San Diego Chargers||8-8||1.1||16||13||3||349||141||208||344||159||185|
We can see that the 2009 team beat better teams, and while you can't choose who you play, the teams that were beaten in 2009 were a more impressive group. The 2009 group had four playoff teams, a higher SRS and a larger margin of victory. While the 2011 team scored about 1 more point per game the defense was far better. Overall the offenses were at a similar level, one more run heavy while the other was more pass heavy. Both had amazing ball security. The difference was the defense, with 2009 being better every area. Overall out of the 13 categories we measured statistically the 2009 team was better in 10.
Now I know some may take this the wrong way, but in my own opinion, as well as those that took place in my study, the 2009 six game win streak was more impressive and that team was a better team. Remember that the 2009 team could have made the playoffs as well, but since the 2009 AFC field was tougher and the Chargers easily won the division, it made it impossible to make it.
Now I hope that you who read this take this the way I intended, a comparison of the two streaks, but also a celebration of both streaks and teams. During both streaks the two QB's played the best football they played that season. Both didn't make mistakes, moved the ball and lead their teams. Both teams fielded great defenses and great special teams. These are two great teams, both streaks have many great memories and I'm grateful to have been able to witness both, I mean two six game win streak in three years isn't something to ignore for a team that has struggle as much as we have.