Statistically Speaking: A Look at the Decade's Offense (Pt.1)

Note: I've decided to bring up some articles from the archive, just because of their relevance. - Richard Hill

There has been plenty of worthwhile conversation this past week due to our ungraceful, and early, playoff exit. There has been talk about Brady being past his prime, Moss not being worth his baggage, how our Pass-Happy offense is losing us games and more. However, how deserving is this talk? I can't give an answer. However, looking at the key stats, (just the numbers) from NFL.com, of the factors we have believed to be the main problem, I can offer some insight into what issues needs to be pushed further. I compiled straight statistics from the past decade (2000-2009) to see where we've gone- and what's been going right.

Scanning this blog in this past week, I've compiled a list of reasons, according to posters, as to why the Patriots are no longer an Elite team.

I've come up with:

Poor Offensive and Defensive performance on 3rd downs

Lack of a premier sacker

Weak Secondary

Lack of a strong RB

Too much focus upon Moss and Welker

Not a balanced enough attack

Poor Rush and Pass defense

Weak Rush Offense (this season)

Using these proposed reasons, I have compiled a list of stats from the Patriots teams of this past Decade. After I recorded the basic stats I believe directly relate to the above issues, I ranked each team in respect to the other seasons. I came up with 26 stats and, creatively, labeled them Stats A-Z.

Let's look Offensively first.

More after the jump.

The statistics I believe relate to the offensive issues are:

First Down +/-

Stat A

Year

First Down +/-

Rank

2000

-43

10

2001

-11

8

2002

-11

8

2003

1

7

2004

54

5

2005

28

6

2006

66

4

2007

114

1

2008

88

2

2009

84

3

Looking at these numbers, it would appear that we are still winning the first down battle during the season. I thought the First Down +/- was important because when you get the first downs, you 1) move the chains, 2) run the clock and 3) win the game. We have been on a slow incline in our first down increase. That's a great sign because we have a young defense.

 

Offensive 3rd Down Conversion Rate

Stat B

Year

Offensive 3rd Down Conversion Rate

Rank

2000

35.04%

      10

2001

41.18%

       8

2002

42.73%

       5

2003

37.00%

       9

2004

45.15%

       2

2005

42.08%

       7

2006

42.48%

       6

2007

48.17%

       1

2008

43.24%

       4

2009

43.69%

       3

It was also disappointing to see us hand the ball off to the up-back in crunch time this season. However, we still had the 3rd best 3rd down conversion rate of the decade (Behind the 16-0 season and the 2004 Super Bowl season and ahead of Cassel's 2008 team). Apart from our 2007 anomaly, our 3rd down Conversion Rate with Brady AND Cassel has been fairly consistent.

 

Offensive 4th Down Conversion Rate

Stat Y

Year

4th Down Conversion O

Rank

2000

50.00%

                 6

2001

41.18%

                 9

2002

45.00%

                 7

2003

42.86%

                 8

2004

40.00%

               10

2005

76.47%

                 3

2006

80.00%

                 1

2007

71.43%

                 4

2008

77.27%

                 2

2009

50.00%

                 5

4th and 2. It doesn't matter how you feel about that subject, our 4th down conversion rate has definitely decreased over the year. We haven't even been attempting them more, with out 4th down attempts floating between the 15-20 range this decade. That said, our worst year of conversion, in 2004, we won the Super Bowl. Same with our second worst and third worst. What does that say? Perhaps we might be going for the jugular too much- we haven't NEEDED to try the 4th downs like we did earlier in the decade. Maybe the fact that we go for the throat so much ends up biting us in the butt?

 

RBs with 500+ Yards (to show a strong tandem, or 1 strong elite back)

Stat J

Year

RBs with 500+ Yards

Rank

2000

1

4

2001

1

4

2002

1

4

2003

2

1

2004

1

4

2005

1

4

2006

2

1

2007

1

4

2008

2

1

2009

1

4

We've either had 1 or 2 backs with 500+ yards. It stands to be said that the first two years we had 2 backs with 500+ yards, we made the AFCG game, and won the Super Bowl the first time. The third time we had to shift our offense for Cassel. I don't think we can blame our lack of multiple rushing producers for our lack of post season success, however I do believe that the next fact shows where we dropped off this year.

 

Players with 70+ carries (to see how we did switching from Tandem to Backs by Committee)

Stat K

Year

RBs with 70+ Carries

Rank

2000

2

2

2001

1

7

2002

1

7

2003

2

2

2004

1

7

2005

1

7

2006

2

2

2007

2

2

2008

5

1

2009

2

2

Apart from Cassel's year, when we had BJGE step up in the middle of the season for injuries and Cassel himself pulled out 70 runs (lets see Wonder Tom do that!), we have only had 1 or 2 backs with 70+ carries. I chose 70 as a number because it means the back gets at least 4-5 carries a game. It might not be a lot, but its enough to be having an impact every game. In the past 4 seasons, we've had 2+ backs carry 70+ times. Only in 2006 (Corey Dillon + Laurence Maroney) and 2008 (Sammy Morris + Kevin Faulk) did we have multiple backs run for 500+ yards.  Yes, we have been getting more overall yardage on the ground. However, our individual backs need to step up and perform more. The quality of our stable needs to increase.

 

WRs with 800+ Yards (to show how our top receivers play)

Stat L

Year

WRs with 800+ Yards

Rank

2000

2

1

2001

1

7

2002

2

1

2003

1

7

2004

2

1

2005

1

7

2006

0

10

2007

2

1

2008

2

1

2009

2

1

Oh 2006...with Senor Caldwell as our #1, we failed to notch an 800+ yard receiver. Take what you want from this, our top receivers are doing their job. Hate Randy if you want, he's still putting up the best receiving this team has seen. Also note, however, that only in 2004 did we win a Super Bowl with 2+ receivers catching 800+ yards. This is more of a stat I looked at to see if having 2 top receivers is detrimental. I don't see the harm.

 

WRs with 30+ receptions (to see how we perform when we spread the ball)

Stat M

Year

WRs with 30+ Receptions

Rank

2000

3

8

2001

3

8

2002

5

2

2003

5

2

2004

4

4

2005

3

8

2006

4

4

2007

6

1

2008

4

4

2009

4

4

There isn't a real visible correlation between spreading the ball passing and end of season success. We've made it to the Super Bowl with 3, 4, 5 and 6 receivers catching 30+ passes. However, in addition to spreading the ball, the Patriots have had success when a strong running game accompanies the passing game (duh). Utilizing an aerial attack is great, but it can be stopped when it matters if you don't have a strong running game for the rest of the time. Our running game needs more juice.

 

Article continues here!

 

 

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