23 Dec 2008
The linked article focuses on the decline of the Bucs' run defense. Their offense was reasonably effective on Sunday before a fourth quarter meltdown. This massive decline in performance by Jeff Garcia, however, is not new. He has a DVOA of 27.3% in the first quarter, 17.5% in the second quarter, and 37.2% in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, his DVOA is an abysmal -23.8%.
It is unclear if this is meaningful or random variation, but I’d like to offer at least a hypothesis. As I say in the main AGS, Garcia excels by generally working underneath and then hitting big plays to Antonio Bryant. The Bucs are an old school west coast offense with their reliance on short passing.
When Garcia has to pass in the fourth quarter, he feels pressured to make plays down the field. The defense, meanwhile, plays more two-deep zone and takes away Bryant's big plays. As a result, Garcia forces passes and fails to maintain offense.
One indicator of this trend is Garcia receivers' yards after catch. Through three quarters, his receivers average more than five yards after a catch. In the fourth, that number drops to 3.8. The average yards the passes travel generally increases by quarter throughout the game from 6.68 to 6.73 to 7.60 to 7.73. it seems that in the fourth quarter, Garcia is throwing more down field to more stationary receivers, comebacks and outs rather than the slants he prefers.
4 comments, Last at 24 Dec 2008, 3:22pm by CuseFanInSoCal
The Giants and Ravens set a record in Super Bowl XXXV with 21 total punts. That record may well be in jeopardy. But in this battle of top defenses, Carolina's superior and more flexible offense gives the Panthers the edge.