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Some Clarification is in Order - Off-Season Stats: Breaking Down The Season

Last season we had a huge number of story-lines:

- Kyle Orton's and the defense's struggles early in the season
- Tim Tebow taking the reins and going on an incredible streak
- The rise of Von Miller
- Losing to the released Orton and the Chiefs to finish the season
- Beating the Steelers in the playoffs

That's just a few of the things that happened last season, some good, some bad, lots of memories, but lost in there are what transpired as the team transitioned throughout the season, we are going to look at the changes our team went through, both offensively and defensively. There is a lot to look at so with little introduction, let's get into this.

Method and Introduction:

To begin we will be looking at a number of topics as we break down the season. I broke down the season into three groups. The first group is weeks 1 though 5, the reasoning for this is clear. The next group is weeks 7 through 12. These are grouped together since they represent the team when it was playing at it's highest level in terms of wins and was the period where we saw the rise of the team. The last group is weeks 13 through 17, these are grouped together because at this point things were changing, teams had begun figuring out the Option and the decline began. Now there is more to these groupings, but I've just listed the basics for the sake of space, but there was considerable work put into the organization of these groups.

Now that we've got that covered, let's look at what we'll examine each group, on both sides of the ball:

*How it will be displayed in the table will be in parenthesis*

- Record
- Points per game (PPG)
- Yards per game (YPG)
- Passing yards per game (PYPG)
- Rushing yards per game (RYPG)
- 3rd down conversion percentage (3rd Down %)
- Time of Possession (TOP)
- Turnovers per game (TO/G)
- Penalties per game (Pen./G)

And for each of these groups I will also be looking at something key about this season, 3 and outs. Here's what these tables will hold:

- Offensive/Defense 3 and outs (Offense/Defense)
- Total drives during that group (Drives)
- Average 3 and outs per game (Per Game)
- The percentage of 3rd and outs of the total drives (% of Drives)

We'll be looking at a few other topics, but we'll discuss those when we get there. I know this sounds confusing but once you see the tables it will make sense.


First 3rd of the Season

Team Under Orton (Weeks 1-5)
PPG YPG PYPG RYPG 3rd Down % TOP TO/G Pen./G Record
Offense 20.25 311 224 87 45.1% 29:20 2.4 2.75 1-4
Defense 27.8 378 275 103 43.3% 1.4 2.5

First 3rd: Weeks 1-5 (3 and Outs)
Offense Drives Per Game % of Drives Defense Drives Per Game % of Drives
13 57 2.6 22.0% 11 60 2.2 18.3%

Second 3rd of the Season

Team Under Tebow (Weeks 7-12)
PPG YPG PYPG RYPG 3rd Down % TOP TO/G Pen./G Record
Offense 19.3 320 112 208 25.9% 29:31 0.8 4.3 5-1
Defense 20 329 217 118 27.5% 1 3.5

Second 3rd: Weeks 7-12 (3 and Outs)
Offense Drives Per Game % of Drives Defense Drives Per Game % of Drives
31 75 5.2 41.3% 23 80 3.8 28.8%

Final 3rd of the Season

Team Under Tebow (Weeks 13-17)
PPG YPG PYPG RYPG 3rd Down % TOP TO/G Pen./G Record
Offense 17.6 325 150 175 27.5% 27:11 2.4 2.75 2-3
Defense 26 363 224 139 29.0% 1 3.2

Final 3rd: Weeks 13-17 (3 and Outs)
Offense Drives Per Game % of Drives Defense Drives Per Game % of Drives
22 65 4.4 33.8% 9 66 1.8 13.6%


- The offense under Orton was easily the best this season. It had the best points per game, 3rd down conversion rate, and had near the best in yards per game. What killed that stretch that caused the 1-4 record was offensive turnovers and terrible defense.

- The defense was on fire during the 2nd grouping. The offense saw some drop off, but it wasn't significant and with fewer offensive turnovers, the team went on that win streak. We also saw a rise in penalties, most on Clady and Tebow.

- What's strange, and something we don't really pay attention too, was how similar the 1st and 3rd groups were. Turnovers returned, the defense struggled to compensate and the offense couldn't score points like the 1st group could. We saw that Clady and Tebow got their penalties under control, Tebow especially with trying to eliminate delay of game penalties.

- After rewatching the games and looking at this, it's clear a lot of the success, and struggles, can be tied to offensive turnovers. When the offense turned the ball over, the defense clearly struggled to match up. This is also tied to 3rd down conversions, which really went down as the season went on.

- When looking at the defense, during the 2nd group they ranked 4th in the league in creating 3 and outs with a 28.8% of all drives being 3 and outs. This was much better than either of the other groups.

- Overall the offense struggled under Tebow, but Tebow and the offense did enough to win the game, making key 4th quarter plays while the defense kept the games close. But this ended as Tebow started turning the ball over and the defense struggled against good teams.

A Few Key Comparisons:

Here are a few things to look at between Orton, Tebow and Manning (from 2010):

  • Accuracy if you take out drops, throwaways and spikes:
    - Orton: 68%
    - Tebow: 56%
    - Manning: 74.6%
  • Drop percentage of total attempts:
    - Orton: 5.8%
    - Tebow: 7.4%
    - Manning: 6.6%
  • Percentage of deep passes of total attempts:
    - Orton: 7.7%
    - Tebow: 23%
    - Manning: 13.5%
  • Deep completion percentage:
    - Orton: 41.7%
    - Tebow: 31.7%
    - Manning: 37.1%
  • Sack percentage of total dropbacks:
    - Orton: 5.4%
    - Tebow: 9.2%
    - Manning: 2.3%
  • Average length of a 3rd down:
    - Orton: 6.76 yards
    - Tebow: 7.57
    - Manning: 5.93

Overall we should see numbers just higher than what we saw from Orton. Fewer deep attempts than we saw with Tebow, and a better sack percentage than both. Since the deep game just isn't as important to Manning's style of offense, him being less accurate than Orton on the long ball isn't anything to note, mostly because he's so accurate overall.

Offensive Line

One of the topics that was important last season and will be even more important next season is the offensive line. There have been a lot of ideas tossed around about the offensive line, who did what well and so on. Well last season I tracked the offensive line's success game by game based on a number of metrics:

*I excluded sack percentage because there was such a massive change when Tebow started that there was such a strong correlation between who was QB and sack percentage I couldn't tie the line to sack percentage, so I didn't*

- Football Outsiders offensive line rankings which separate the skill positions from the line by watching film
- Pro Football Focus' Pass Blocking Efficiency which looked at sacks, pressures and hits that were the lines fault per drop back
- USA Today's Protection Index which logs only sacks and pressures on the offensive line while also looking at how long each sack took and other factors

Now we'll do this quickly, just comparing the ranking the offensive line got at the mid point in the season (week 8) and at the end of the season (week 17). This is not just the ranking for that week, instead it is cumulative up to that point.

  • Football Outsiders:
    - Week 8: 20th
    - Week 17: 18th
  • PFF Pass Blocking Efficiency:
    - Week 8: 26th
    - Week 17: 20th
  • Protection Index:
    - Week 8: 28th
    - Week 17: 26th

This shows that as the season went on the offensive line began to gel and improve as they spent time playing together. Cohesiveness is one of the biggest factors in offensive line success. One other thing to take into account is that while some of those may still seem poor or not a large amount of growth, take into account this: since this is cumulative that since the beginning of the season was so bad, it became very hard to top a certain ranking because of how bad they were early. If would be like if a RB only average 3 YPC the first half of the season, it would be very hard to top 5 YPC to end the season, even he ran at 5 YPC the second half of the season. With that improvement and another off-season to improve, and the arrival of Manning, the least sacked QB in the league, look for us to be fine in terms of the offensive line next season.

Wrapping Up Off-Season Stats

Hope this was educational, and for those who made it through these stat heavy posts that I've done recently, good job. We are pretty much done with those for the off-season. So coming up we have a look at what the term clutch means, similar to my study on what the "IT factor" was and we begin to break down what this offense will look like under Manning and which players will play what roles.