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Thread: Insider article 12-13-06

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    Default Insider article 12-13-06

    http://insider.espn.go.com/nfl/insid...lid%3dtab3pos2


    IF someone is willing...


    There is an old line that says if you don't like the weather now, wait 15 minutes and it will change. That seems to be the best way to describe this NFL season as well. If you think you have a handle on a team, wait a couple of Sundays and that will change. I would like to focus on some units that have dramatically improved or faltered as the season has progressed.

    Indianapolis offense

    Most pundits are pointing to the Colts' run defense as the reason this team has lost three of its last four games, but the Indianapolis offense isn't exactly holding its own. This unit has scored fewer than 20 points in four of the last five games.
    The first reason this group is struggling is because Peyton Manning is taking a much more conservative approach in his passing game over the past few weeks. I tracked the Colts' pass depth distribution, starting with the Buffalo game in Week 10 through the first half of Sunday's game at Jacksonville. I excluded the second half of the game against the Jaguars, because the Colts were in comeback mode after falling behind 31-10 early in the third quarter. Here are the percentages of each type of pass for that period:
    Don't ask Marvin Harrison what he did during the bye week. "Batman never told where the Bat Cave is," he explained.

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    Jimmy did what Jimmy did Bball's Avatar
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    Default Re: Insider article 12-13-06

    I'm curious what that is going to say and wonder if it takes into account the ints that Manning has thrown. If you're giving the ball away you're limiting your time of possession to be probing the opposing defense.

    I think the offense needs to be somewhat conservative and not try and do anything the defense isn't giving them. We have to keep OUR defense off the field as much as possible.

    -Bball
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    "A player who makes a team great is more valuable than a great player. Losing yourself in the group, for the good of the group, thatís teamwork."

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    Member Frank Slade's Avatar
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    Default Re: Insider article 12-13-06

    There is an old line that says if you don't like the weather now, wait 15 minutes and it will change. That seems to be the best way to describe this NFL season as well. If you think you have a handle on a team, wait a couple of Sundays and that will change. I would like to focus on some units that have dramatically improved or faltered as the season has progressed.

    Indianapolis offense

    Most pundits are pointing to the Colts' run defense as the reason this team has lost three of its last four games, but the Indianapolis offense isn't exactly holding its own. This unit has scored fewer than 20 points in four of the last five games.


    The first reason this group is struggling is because Peyton Manning is taking a much more conservative approach in his passing game over the past few weeks. I tracked the Colts' pass depth distribution, starting with the Buffalo game in Week 10 through the first half of Sunday's game at Jacksonville. I excluded the second half of the game against the Jaguars, because the Colts were in comeback mode after falling behind 31-10 early in the third quarter. Here are the percentages of each type of pass for that period:
    Short: 62.6
    Medium: 18.4
    Deep: 12.9
    Compare those figures with the percentages for this season and the previous two seasons:
    Peyton Manning
    Depth200420052006
    Short 58.8 55.6 52.9
    Medium 22.7 23.8 25.4
    Deep 15.1 13.9 15.9



    So why is Manning becoming more conservative? Simply put, he doesn't have as many vertical receiving options. To illustrate what I mean, here are the metrics this year for the No. 3 receivers, Dallas Clark and Brandon Stokley:

    Wide Receivers
    PlayerAttCompYdsTDINTPenP-YdsYPA
    Clark 50 26 311 4 3 0 0 6.2
    Stokely 12 8 85 1 0 1 21 8.8
    Total 62 34 396 5 3 1 21 6.7



    To put the 6.7 YPA total in perspective, when Manning posted his league-leading 9.2 YPA in 2004, Stokley averaged 9.6 yards per attempt on 124 passes. When Stokley's YPA dropped to 8.3 on 69 passes in 2005, Manning's YPA dropped to 8.3. Stokley has been out for most of this season, and that is a large reason why Manning's YPA has dropped to 7.9 this year.

    Clark may have been a mediocre No. 3 wide receiver, but things have gotten worse since his injury in the Philadelphia game a couple of weeks ago. The Colts have had to move TE Bryan Fletcher to the No. 3 spot.
    Consequently, the tight end position has been eliminated from the passing game. Also, Fletcher is not as good as Clark as a No. 3 receiver. Even if the Colts are able to find a way around this weakness in the next few weeks, it is certainly something they will want to address in free agency next season.

    Denver defense

    Early in the season, this defense looked like it had a chance to be listed as one of the greatest in NFL history. It had allowed seven or fewer points in five of the first six games and was on a pace potentially to break the record for fewest points allowed in a 16-game season. Since then, this unit has allowed more than 27 points per game, and it has given up 34 or more points in three of these games.


    So what are the reasons for this group's downfall? It really is a combination of two things. Early on, the Broncos were facing some really weak offenses. A list of their early opponents included:

    A. St. Louis, before Scott Linehan's offensive system took hold.
    B. Kansas City in Damon Huard's first game as the Chiefs' starting QB.
    C. Baltimore, Cleveland and Oakland -- three of the worst offenses in the league.

    This defense was dominating weak teams and became somewhat overrated. The Broncos faced a much tougher set of offenses after that, including two matchups against San Diego and games against Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and Seattle, and that's when their true talent level started to show through.

    The other reason for the point increase can be summed up in two words: Darrent Williams. I hate to place the burden for a team's downfall on the shoulders of one player, but take a look at his metrics before and after Reggie Wayne torched him in Week 8:
    Darrent Williams/Reggie Wayne
    GamesAttCompYdsTDINTPenP-YdsYPA
    Before 31 16 152 0 0 0 0 4.9
    After 34 28 428 4 2 1 -10 12.3
    Total 65 44 580 4 2 1 -10 8.8



    Williams was playing at a Pro Bowl level before that game, but has fallen apart since. He's not the only reason Denver's playoff hopes are collapsing, but it is not easy to win with a starting cornerback who is allowing an 80 percent completion rate and more than 12 yards per attempt.

    San Diego defense

    It's hard to criticize a team on a seven-game winning streak, but the Chargers' defense has been suspect of late. It started the season giving up only 11 points per game in its first five games, but that total has risen to more than 25 points per game in their last eight contests. In only one of these eight games have the Chargers given up under 20 points, and they have given up 24 or more points five times.


    The Chargers' main problem has been stopping medium and deep passes.
    Chargers
    DepthAttCompYdsTDINTPenP-YdsYPA
    Short 229 159 1212 7 5 3 19 5.4
    Medium 75 41 647 4 3 3 41 9.2
    Deep 62 22 727 5 3 3 61 12.7
    Total 366 222 2586 16 11 9 121 7.4



    The medium and deep pass yards per attempt would likely place the Chargers in the bottom third of the league in that category at the end of the season.

    The odd thing about these figures is the Chargers' starting cornerbacks, Drayton Florence and Quentin Jammer, are having possibly the best seasons of their careers (6.5 YPA for Jammer, 6.4 for Florence). San Diego also has a very good set of pass rushers in Shawne Merriman, Shaun Phillips and Luis Castillo.

    The combination of those two factors should lead to a team's being very good at stopping the deep pass, yet the Chargers have given up at least one successful deep pass (completion or defensive penalty) in all but two of their games. They have also given up two or more successful deep passes in seven games, including four of their last five.
    Some of their recent coverage issues are probably due to Merriman and Castillo being out of the lineup but if the Chargers have any Achilles' heel heading into the playoffs, their vertical pass defense is it.
    Arizona offense

    It may be too little, too late for Dennis Green to save his job, but his offensive scheme finally seems to be taking hold. The Cardinals have scored 87 points in their last three games, a total that matches their best three-game scoring output during the Green era.


    The reason for this improvement is that the Cardinals have finally been able to keep an offensive line in place for more than a couple of weeks. Arizona has started the same front five for the past four weeks, the first time that has happened this season.

    The prime beneficiaries of this stability have been Edgerrin James and Matt Leinart. James posted his first two 100-yard rushing games during this stretch and Leinart's passing metrics over the past three games have been eye-popping:
    Matt Leinart
    DepthAttCompYdsTDINTPenP-YdsYPA
    Short 62 46 399 3 1 0 0 6.4
    Medium 21 15 242 0 1 0 0 11.5
    Deep 15 6 162 0 0 1 8 11.3
    Total 98 67 803 3 2 1 8 8.3


    There has been a lot of talk about how the Saints and Titans made out like bandits on draft day by getting Reggie Bush and Vince Young, but give Green and the Cardinals a ton of credit for drafting Leinart. If he can post numbers like this for an entire season, Leinart could leapfrog Bush and Young as the steal of the 2006 draft.

    Why Not Us ?


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    Member tdubb03's Avatar
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    Default Re: Insider article 12-13-06

    It looks to me like those stats he gave are directly the opposite of what he's saying.

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    Member Moses's Avatar
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    Default Re: Insider article 12-13-06

    Perhaps the reason Peyton is playing conservative is because teams are trying to limit him by playing their safeties and corners against the deep ball rather then the short one. And it looks like it's working.

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    Default Re: Insider article 12-13-06

    Quote Originally Posted by Moses View Post
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    Perhaps the reason Peyton is playing conservative is because teams are trying to limit him by playing their safeties and corners against the deep ball rather then the short one. And it looks like it's working.
    Welcome to last year...

    Like the article says, we miss Clark and Stokley catching passes in the middle...
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    You are my Lucifer D-BONE's Avatar
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    Default Re: Insider article 12-13-06

    Quote Originally Posted by Moses View Post
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    Perhaps the reason Peyton is playing conservative is because teams are trying to limit him by playing their safeties and corners against the deep ball rather then the short one. And it looks like it's working.
    I have to believe this is the bigger factor and then the lack of Clark and Stokley only exacerbates the situation. If you add in this so-called conservative, short yardage tendency to the defensive issues, particularly against the run, I think you've got the blueprint for how to successfully attack the Colts.

    It's no big secret to us. Teams like the Titans and Bills have employed it to their advantage. It all builds in to the idea of limiting our number of possessions by making our O have to work to get up and down the field before scoring (if we do indeed score).

    Plus the offense has the extreme pressure of the burden to put up 7 on every possession due to lower possessions and the D's inability to contain anyone. All this increases the potential for turnovers as the offense becomes more and more frustrated (particularly Manning) as the game wears on.

    In the bigger picture-say a multi-game trajectory-you also cannot underestimate the ongoing psychological impact on the offense watching the defense and special teams being constantly demoralized. That's not to lay the entire blame away from the offense. It's true they have not played well either, increasing penalties and the turnovers, etc..

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    Thanks Kesty! Pig Nash's Avatar
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    Default Re: Insider article 12-13-06

    What I've found watching Colts games is that when we do well offensively, the defense feeds into that. I think that the defense is at it's best when it can get a few three and outs because that way we don't have to score on every possession. and it does happen sometimes. We also needs some takeaways.

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