The Stats That Don’t Lie - Week 8: A kick to the testicles

One trick almost all stats guys have in their bag is sample size.

If you cherry pick your sample size to your desires, you can make the numbers say almost anything.

For example, if a team loses 59-14, you can always focus on that one game and make a wickedly-good argument that the loser of that game was perhaps the worst team in history.

Now that the Broncos have finished 8 weeks of play, these tricks become less useful.  8 games turns into 81 drives, 316 passes, and 185 rushes. 

In short, it’s getting harder to hide.

With this in mind, I present to you this week’s Stats That Don’t Lie, which aren’t really bad.  They’re just drawn that way.

Broncos Offense - Through 8 Weeks

Team Yards / Game Yards / Play Rushing Yards / Game Rushing Yards / Play Passing Yards / Game Passing Yards / Play Interception Rate Sacks / Pass Attempt
DEN 363.5 5.57 67.3 2.91 296.3 7.5 1.58% 6.65%
NFL 335.4 5.3 112.4 4.16 223 6.55 3.04% 6.42%
Differences 28.1 0.27 -45.1 -1.25 73.3 0.95 -1.46% 0.23%
Rank 10 9 32 32 4 3 3 17
Team First Downs / Game Punt Return Avg Kickoff Return Avg 3rd Down Pct Red Zone Pct Goal to Go% Avg Time of Possession Points / Game
DEN 19.9 9.6 24.2 36.61% 41.38% 75.00% 29:23:00 19.3
NFL 18.9 9.6 23.2 38.09% 50.57% 70.03% 30:00:00 21.5
Differences 1 0 1 -1.48% -9.19% 4.97% -2.06% -2.2
Rank 12 17 13 22 26 9 21 22

Those running stats are like a kick to the testicles—it hurts real bad, and probably will for some time, but with some rest and ice, it might get better. 

On the positive side of the ledger, the interception rate is fantastic and the sack rate is average, which means it’s better than you are led to believe (remember, it’s not total sacks that matter, but how many sacks you give up as a percentage of total snaps).  I can’t complain about the punt and kickoff returns, which could be better.  But they could be a whole lot worse. 

The Broncos are ranked 22nd and 26th in 3rd-down and red-zone efficiency, respectively - which I don’t have to tell you, isn’t what the doctor ordered. 

 

Broncos Defense - Through 8 Weeks

Team Yards / Game Yards / Play Rushing Yards / Game Rushing Yards / Play Passing Yards / Game Passing Yards / Play Interception Rate Sacks / Pass Attempt
DEN 359 5.76 154.6 4.6 204.4 7.4 2.26% 4.07%
NFL 335.4 5.3 112.4 4.16 223 6.55 3.04% 6.42%
Differences 23.6 0.46 42.2 0.44 -18.6 0.85 -0.78% -2.35%
Rank 24 28 31 26 7 29 24 29
Team First Downs / Game Punt Return Avg Kickoff Return Avg 3rd Down Pct 4th Down Pct Red Zone Pct Goal to Go% Points / Game
DEN 19.5 10.8 26.4 42.42% 50.00% 69.57% 80.00% 27.9
NFL 18.9 9.6 23.2 38.09% 48.87% 50.57% 70.03% 21.5
Differences 0.6 1.2 3.2 4.33% 1.13% 19% 9.97% 6.4
Rank 23 23 26 28 14 30 25 29

If the running game is a kick to the testicles, let’s call the Broncos’ inability to stop the run and their lack of sacks a boot right up the ass. The Broncos are ranked 26th in rushing yards allowed per play; they are 29th in sack rate.  This means there are 3 teams who pressure the quarterback less—Cincinnati, Minnesota, and Tampa Bay.  Two of these teams aren’t sniffing the playoffs.  The third mistakenly believes itself the best team in the NFC. 

As bad as the Broncos are offensively on 3rd downs and in the red zone, notice that the defense is doing everything they can to match this futility.  Two teams are actually worse than the Broncos’ defense in the red zone.  I think they play in the lingerie league, however.

 

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

There are those who would make the following argument (hell, let’s say I’m one of them):
1) Poorly-coached teams are those that are undisciplined.
2) Undisciplined Teams commit a lot of penalties, fumble the ball a ton, and demonstrate poor special-teams play.
3) If your team does all of these things, they are poorly coached.

Well, Josh McDaniels haters, here is some red meat for you:

Team Penalties Yards/Game Fumbles/Game Starting Field Position
DEN 66.8 2.1 26.58
NFL 54.1 1.48 30.07 (NFL Median)
Differences -12.70 -0.62 -3.49
Rank 26 29 32

Notice that I didn’t include turnovers in general.  That’s because turnovers, it can be argued, involve luck—a tipped interception, a bouncing fumble recovery.  What doesn’t involve luck (generally) is dumping the ball on the ground in the first place. 

The Broncos—at least through 8 weeks—demonstrate a propensity for penalties, fumbles, and are the most lenient when it comes to giving their opposition a short field.

I’ll let you decide if it’s a reflection on Josh McDaniels. 

 

A Non-Traditional Stat That Hits You Like Steve Atwater

Normally, I end with some non-traditional stats, but who wants to pile on this week?  Me, that’s who.

According to our friend Brian Burke at Advanced NFL Stats, Laurence Maroney ranks 3rd worst, Correll Buckhalter ranks 4th worst, and Knowshon Moreno ranks 6th worst in the NFL in running back Success Rate.  This is the percentage of plays in which a team experiences a positive expected points value while that player is in the game.  For the record, here is where the three stand:

Maroney: 25.5%
Buckhalter: 25.8%
Moreno: 30.5%
Peyton Hillis?  He’s at 44%.

At least you can comfort yourself in the fact that these running stats have a smaller sample size.

(Note: I’ve written extensively about why Hillis wasn’t a fit in Denver, so get the joke)


If you like to see The Dude slack off 24/7, you can always find him on Facebook and Twitter. Or you can email him at: tjthedudejohnson@gmail.com.  He assumes you are following It’s All Over, Fat Man! on Facebook and Twitter, but if you are not, that’s nihilistic.

I’m glad we had this talk.  Now, vaya con Dios, Brah.

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