Thursday, January 8, 2009

Defense Stats; Nat'l "Champs"

BCS Fed-Ex Whatever game was pretty good tonight -- but I'm on of those guys who loves watching great defenses. Give me a 9-6 slugfest any day!

I'm going to first repost a comment by 5BakerStreet on the last blog post (read the other great comments there too!). He did a lot of great computing for this, and it deserves a top billing:

Its been a while since I've posted and with the National collegiate championship game coming up featuring two QB's, now seems like the time to post. Along with Stafford, many, many Lions fans think we should draft a quarterback with that first pick.

I'm here to tell you, supported by statistics that in no way should we draft a QB with that pick, and we should draft defense, defense, and more defense this year.Using Yahoo Play-by-Play online statistics of the Lions season I've crunched the numbers and arrived at whats posted below.

They are skewed because of special teams points or Orlovsky running out the back of the endzone, etc., but otherwise they are reasonably accurate to the point of discussion.This may get long and detailed, so if you are already bored, you might as well move on.

The defense was on the field for a total of 168 opponents drives this year, 81 at Ford Field, 87 during away games.

For the year, the Lions gave up 517 points, they scored 261.

The Lions gave up 28 TD passes for the year, 14 at home and 14 away. 16.7% of the time the Lions defense took the field they gave up a TD pass.

The Lions conceded 31 TD runs this year, 16 at home, 15 away. For the year, every time the Lions defense took the field they gave up a running TD 18.5% of the time.

The Lions had 23 FGs against them this year, 14 at home, 9 away. Thats 13.7% of the time the Lions defense took the field they gave up a FG.

Of the 168 times the Lions defense took the field they gave up a passing or running TD or held, giving up a FG. {caps for emphasis only} FOLKS 48.8% OF THE TIME THE LIONS DEFENSE TOOK THE FIELD THEY GAVE UP POINTS.

Conversely, and realizing that the numbers are skewed just a tad, the Lions stopped opponents that same 48.8%. The stops breakdown this way.

54 punts, 1 missed FG, 9 times the opponents had the ball last and took a knee to end the game, 9 fumble recoveries, 4 interceptions, 2 fourth down conversion attempts stopped, 1 safety, and 2 blocked field goals.

So in a nutshell, one out of every two times an opponent had possession of the brick, they put points on the board.

And to me DEFENSE, defense, and more defense is the way we ought to go this year. I don't care what positional order the guys are drafted just so long as their defensive guys. We have a serviceable offense that can be addressed next year and if we can reduce that 1 out of 2 times an opponent scores to 1 out of 3 or 1 out of 4, then we are going to begin winning games.

Go Lions!


Great Stuff! And it really drives home the point. Taking his stats a touch further, if the defense gets to stopping 3 in 4 drives, even the offense doesn't capitalize on it, you will have cut points against by half --- which would be 259 against versus 261 for. In other words, just a 50% increase in efficiency by the Lions Defense (from 2/4 stops to 3/4 stops) makes Detroit roughly an 8-8 team, statistically.

If they re-sign DanO they have a QB who is, as far as I could see from the game tonight, a better overall passer under pressure and much better at progressing through his reads quickly than the supposedly pro-ready Bradford. I saw a guy tonight in Bradford (and Stafford was even worse) who couldn't make it through his progressions in the college game, from the shotgun, with all day to throw. Keep DanO, see what Stanton has, and draft a guy next year if you need to.

Best players I saw on the field tonight: Tim Tebow, Brandon Spikes, Major Wright, and the OK RB Brown. I also thought both Olines were excellent, giving plenty of time to their QB's and opening up running lanes. Neither offense was able to get above this as dropped passes plagued both teams. I will say, the knock on Tebow is his accuracy in passing -- either he was having an off night (meaning accurate is unusual) or he is overlooked because they run so many option plays.

Honestly, I think if he's a guy who is there next year (gut says he doesn't come out early) and the Lions have a QB need go for it. But this year??

Remember, the talking heads gush about and fall in love with the top couple QB's EVERY YEAR. They compare them to guys like Montana, or a "young Favre" -- but ignore how they stack up against prior classes. They throw out how they have a cannon arm (so did Jeff George) or intangibles (So did Ryan Leaf).

At #1 the Lions are going to need to think unconventional -- because it is going to take unconventional to get anywhere fast (meaning 2 - 3 seasons versus 5) with this team. I don't mean unconventional in the draft 3 WR in a row sense, but more of breaking with past "conventions" that aren't in line with the reality of today's NFL. I will do a full piece on this later
[notice I never seem to run out of Ifseason storylines... the thoughts just keep on coming!]

Go Lions!!! Go Chargers!!!


Isphet said...

Great stuff as always on this blog. This is my favorite Lions site on the net; because people talk more nuts & bolts than doom & gloom.

I think the Lions simply have to take the best defensive player that's declaring this year with their first pick. They also need to find at least two "front 7" defensive starters in the draft: one LB and one lineman. I'm inclined to say take the best MLB in the draft with the first pick because they need a super stud linebacker to be either the Mic or one of two ILBs if they switch to a 3-4. The Lions' D line starters really aren't that horrible, I think they could go a long way towards fixing it with a second round pick big fatty interior lineman run stuffer.

Also intriguing though: if Bradford, Stafford AND Sanchez all declare for the draft this year; it's possible at least one of those guys would be still available at the Lions' 20th pick. If that's the case, the Lions could possibly get both the best defensive player in the draft and a stud QB to either groom behind Kitna or possibly even start.

RIP said...

This too is my favorite Lion's site. With this if-season started, I have put more time than normal into thoughts of our needs, and this upcoming draft. I never in the past compiled a fantasy wish list. And really it is still too soon.
My thoughts are that way too as far as taking the best available defensive player. So with RIP's first selection, it is the CB Malcom Jenkins from Ohio State. If the FS from USC can be talked about as our 1st pick, why not a greater need pick in a CB.
With the second first rounder, B.J. Raji from Boston College. The best of the big DL who probably won't last past the first round.
Then is the second, pick KR/CB Victor Harris from Wake Forrest. Primary duty as a rookie is KR, and work as a nickle or dime back. If not available, go with CB Mike Mickens of Cincinati.
With the first pick in the 3rd round it is Darry Beckwith, MLB from LSU. And for the next 3rd, DT Terrance Taylor from UM. With size and athleticism, maybe better run stopper then anyone we have now. This would allow Redding to move back to DE.
In the 4th, WR/KR Mike Wallace.
In 5th, go with RG Anthony Parker from Tennesee, if still available, or RG Ray Feinga from BYU. 6A- RG Kriag Urbik from Wisc., and 6B OLB Anthony Heygood from Purdue.
Our biggest problem was defense, whether it was coaching, schemes, are present players. By going with run stopper with Baji and Taylor, our secondary can focus on being more balanced and cover the deep routes. Kick returners and cornerbacks are a big need due to lack of talent and execution.
This would plug holes and allow us to look for that franchise QB, LT, or MLB in next years draft.
What do you think guys?

CHIEFGER139 said...

I love what you just posted
hope you dont mind but I want to save it and use it often for future arguments on m-live and here when we argue over who we should draft-will help me choose my draft also-thanks for the work you did
want to copy it and send it to some of my lions buddies now!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for all the kind words. Sometime within the next week as time permits I want to do the same study on the Titans since they are one of Mayhew's "models" for team building. Then compare the Lions to the Titans.

Realize the stats posted were a seasonsl average, there were extremes such as the Lions 12-10 robbed by the refs phantom interferece call on Bodden loss, and the 42-7 loss to the Saints, when Brees was going for the record passing yards in a season. The only time the Lions stopped the Saints was when Brees to a knee at the end of the game.

And with the Titans defense being the model or one of the models, I think the Lions top choice for new coach is Schwartz, and if the Titans should happen to lose this weekend we may have our new coach in place prior to the SuperBowl.

Again thanks for the complements.

Go Lions

Anonymous said...


I think that by detfan posting Baker Street's comments we are all in agreement that "D" is the draft need.

I think that by shifting Cory Redding back you get size, which is what this defense needs right away. Then you have to go get a big 350 pound-run stuffing DT on the free agent market.

I do not think you need to go spend $8 million dollars for an edge rusher. I think good edge rushers already exist on this team, and think it all comes down to scheme. With gap fill defenses

GAP FILL DEFENSES - such as the Tampa 2 will always stay true to their lane/fill commitment. What Tampa 2 style defenses do, is try delaying gooing through blitzing holes, dropping people back in zones, but they do not try flooding defensive people to one side or the other. This is consistent with the bend-don't-break, keep everything in front of you defenses.

STUNT DEFENSES - (NYG, TEN, PIT, DAL) What these defenses do is gamble by flooding one side or the other with blitzers. They can also flood the middle, or corners as well. This defense is a high-risk/high-reward type of defense with big time pass rushers and playmakers. This type of defense also gives up the big play.

With the shift in the NFC Norris to trap running games, it's amazing that our opponents averaged so much running against us, unless you look inside the schemes. Traps help the offense overload the running side with blockers by taking the back-side guard (or tackle) and pull him to lead the play by trap-blocking the next guy in the hole. When retaining gap-responsibility, you are slow to the ball, and are playing catch up throughout the play. The trap person is supposed to drop and create a pile in the hole. Our trap guys (because they are trying to "get up field" in a Tampa 2 are allowed to get up field and actually take themselves out of the play. Then, they have to fight back into the play because they drove right out of the point of attack in the hole.

That is why we saw so many of the Lions' linebackers getting blocked by "O" linemen. The DT or DE that was supposed to be trapped, got up field and took himself out of the play. Now, the offense is running downhill already, and have good success when linemen are only asked to block LB's or a safety.

For a mental picture, think of the Phily-Minn game last week. Even though it was a screen pass, it's kinda like a long pitch with a guard pulling. Instead of the guard pulling around center to the opposite side of the field, he pulled around tackle and end to block outside and did a really good job. There was no "big" guy for him to block, and he was isolated on a CB or safety. Those aren't good odds for Minnesota (who runs a varient of the Tampa 2) and then Westbrook breaks it.

NFC North teams (and even the East teams) all have the powerfully executing run games and have trap designed offenses.

This is a reason we need to get bigger and change our defensive scheme. This may also be a reason that Coletto was retained as the Lions' offense started understanding their offensive scheme (zone blocking) towards the end of the year. You look at Kevin Smith and how comfortable he started feeling, you may not see wholesale changes on the "O" line. Peterman and Ramirez may be the only two changes you may see. I won't be screaming my head off if nothing changes as the best thing you can do for your back is giving him comfort and security by keeping continuity in his system.

I also think that is why Orlovsky gets re-signed.

Todd said...

Great posts everyone!!! I'm just observing for now as we have great thoughts coming as always! As always enjoying the reading, and detfan love when you post often it gets everyones thoughts flowing and we get lots of constructive posts!! I'm going to knock on wood but following what Isphet said I'm really surprised we never have gotten any of the negative posters from Mlive surfacing over here. Must be the wise Chief guarding the gates between Mlive hell and DetFan1979 purgatory.

Go Lions!! Go Chargers!!

Joe Willy said...

nubs, very good comment! I agree the O-line started to solidify and Smith looked good. DanO should be the manO for next season though I don't think there's any chance you can go with Stanton so I have no idea what else you do since I don't want to draft a QB earlier than the 4th round. I just can't see Kitna coming back, especially if Coletto is still a coach.

Isphet said...

Great post Nubs. My only comment is that Dan O might get signed for more money elsewhere since he is an UFA. Also, Kitna's still on staff and his cap hit isn't all that high this year. From strictly a money standpoint, it makes more sense to keep Kitna around than Dan O.

Of course, Dan O. has a better upside and potential to grow, while Kitna might already have completely had it with the Lions' organization and he's on his last year or two.

Either way I think I'm ok; I just want to see one of them stay. Kitna's more of a band-aid, and Dan O. is more of a "he has a chance to be our franchise's QB for a while if he can turn the corner"

My guess is that they will try to keep Dan O. but limit how much they try to spend on him. If he goes, keep Kitna around and draft a QB in the middle rounds of the draft to groom for the future, and hope either the new QB or Stanton pans out for next year when Kitna's contract expires.

I'm in agreement that the offense isn't the problem. Is it good? no; it's not good enough. But it's a lot closer to being good enough than the defense.