Monday, December 31, 2012

Update on 49ers Fatigue

The Seahawks ran only 61 plays in Week 16, typical of a team that built a big lead and started running clock. And the comparison to this week isn't great as the 49ers faced an easy test against a first-time starting QB in Brian Hoyer.

Updating the stats for fatigue, and we see that the defense improved in almost all categories facing the hapless Cardinals offense. Yards/Carry against improved to below 4.00 for the first time in three weeks and Yards/Attempt fell for the first time in three weeks as well. Again, not much to see here, but I was glad that the defense showed up in a game that had serious playoff implications.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Fatigue and the Seahawks' big win over the 49ers

During the first half of the Seahawks-49ers tilt last Sunday night, I, like many San Francisco fans, was trying to figure out a reason. Not for the cute play calling that led to too many passes and mistakes. Not for the ridiculous FG-block-TD that turned a big lead into a laugher. I was trying to find excuses for the San Francisco defense. The front 7 seemed to hold the line well at the point of attack, but too many times the Seahawks were able to set the edge against the ends and outside linebackers, with devastating results, including the first Marshawn Lynch TD. Too many times, edge rushes lost lane discipline against Russell Wilson, allowing him to find creative passing angles after escaping the pocket. I understand this happening against a great Seattle offense eventually during a hard-fought 60 minute game. But during the first half!?!?!?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

49ers over Patriots: Down & Distance

Last week, we took a look at the down and distance chart for the Patriots big win over the Texans, and found that New England was very good at converting long first downs. But until their late comeback against this weeks 49ers, the Patriots seemed unable to sustain long drives. In fact, they kept many drives alive by going for it on 4th down, converting 5-6 such downs. Now I know that turnovers were a big part of this game, spotting the 49ers easy field position (you'll see that effect later). And you'll also remember that the Patriots erased a 28 point lead in the second half, mainly when the 49ers started playing a soft zone and allowed Brady to complete the short stuff that he likes. But the truth is the 49ers defense was outplaying Tom Brady's offense the majority of the time, and really had control of the game.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Dispelling Some Myths about the Patriots MNF Beat-down of the Texans

Following the Patriots demolition of the Houston Texans on MNF, I saw an interesting tweet giving a possible explanation for New England's success. It is easy to see that the Patriots were a very efficient 6-12 (50%) on 3rd down, a metric that is a good barometer of success. The Texans were a mediocre 4-14 (28.6%).

The stat that I saw tweeted was an attempt to explain the Patriots' success on 3rd down. The tweeter used the commonly-referenced yards-per-1st-down metric and concluded: the Patriots averaged 7.1 yards / 1st down, making 3rd down conversions manageable; hence a high conversion rate.

I think yards/per references are  valuable, but only when used in controlled circumstances. For example: 1st down could lead to a variety of results: if the Patriots threw for 30 yards on a 1st down play, that would certainly influence a number of things, including their yards/1st down metric. However, a 30-yard bomb would result in another 1st down without having a 3rd down in-between; therefore, this specific play has nothing to do with third down conversion success.