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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Is the Defense really any better?

by Mark Quarderer

This is probably a weird time to say this, considering they just had a pretty good game against the Steelers, but I continue to hear this drum beat of "Bates.....Bates....Bates.....Bates....." and people believe he's been like this major miracle worker.

Let's look at some facts. Halfway through the season we're on pace to have fewer sacks than last year and although we'll have a few more takeaways we're still second worst in the NFC in that regard.

We're giving up almost 20 ppg which means we'd give up 320 for the season which would be an improvement over last year's 380.

We've held 1 team to 14 or less. Last year, we held 7 opponents to 14 or less.
We've held 3 teams to 17 or less. Last year, we held 8 to 17 or less.
We've held 5 to 21 or less. Last year, we held 10 to that mark or less.

We're clearly better at stopping the run, and we've done a lot better at limiting long plays. But we are not going to hold 7 teams to 14 or less this year.

The guys at footballoutsiders.com rate our defense towards the bottom of the league and I just don't see any empirical evidence that this defense is dramatically improved over last years. We gave up 30+ points 5 times last year, twice to the Vikings, once to Philly, once to Tennessee (with the help of 6 turnovers) and once to Indianapolis. In other words, only high powered offenses got to 30 on us unless we helped them with multiple turnovers.

This year, we surrendered 32 to a mediocre offense (Carolina).

Again, my eyes tell me we're better, but I'm just not seeing the numbers to support what my eyes are seeing and that makes me think that maybe we aren't as improved as we think......that maybe we just haven't faced a lot of good offenses yet this year

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