Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

21 Dec 2009

Short yardage situations and Defense vs Offense

So lately, I've noticed that it's become much easier to pass the ball. On 3rd or 4th & short, I've noticed that passing has become more effective than running just from what I observed in games. It makes sense. All it takes is one blocker whiffing a block for the RB to be caught in the backfield. Meanwhile (when passing), all it takes is one defender being a step slow due to the play action for a receiver to get open for the easy completion. Anyone know the exact stats on 3rd and 4th & 2 or shorter for this year?

Another issue is offense vs defense. Just looking at the teams with good offenses vs teams with good defense, it seems to me like offense has become significantly more important. Historically, passing efficiency (yards per pass attempt) have translated to the most wins. This year, it's worse than ever. It seems to me like defenses, no matter how great, need to rely on the opposing offense having an off day or else they'll get torched. Perfect example would be the GB (2nd ranked D) vs Pit game (10th ranked D). They had a combined almost 1000 yards. Where's the defense?

Another issue is 2 minute defense. Look at the NYJ vs Atl this week. The Falcons were held to 3 all game, then all of a sudden drove down the field and scored the TD. Defenses seem powerless in these situations (last 2 SB's). These comebacks aren't even any fun to watch anymore because they happen in about 1/4th of the games every week. I feel like shooting myself anytime ESPN analysts proclaim a QB "clutch" for coming back. Dude, even Jamarcus Russell had like two of them this year.

Am I over exaggerating or making bad observations? I know most people love high scoring games so my whining may sound stupid. But I enjoy balance. Anyone else notice these trends. Is it an effect of rule changes favoring the offense, or just better athletes playing offense?

Posted by: Niners on 21 Dec 2009

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