Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

24 Dec 2008

ESPN Numbers Crunching: Week 17

Our look at the week's matchups with FO stats goes up a bit early this week. This week we reveal the linebackers who do the best job of stopping receivers after the catch, find a surprising thing Detroit actually does well, and illustrate the complete collapse of the Arizona Cardinals since midseason.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 24 Dec 2008

3 comments, Last at 26 Dec 2008, 11:10am by zlionsfan


by emcee fleshy .S... :: Fri, 12/26/2008 - 3:31am

Detroit is an excellent running team on 3d down.

And if I recall correctly, disproportionately high 3d down success one year is an indicator that a team had more success than they really should have, and is likely to do worse the following year.

So, that should be interesting.

by coboney :: Fri, 12/26/2008 - 8:46am

That's right emcee Fleshy.

Also anyone else feeling bad for Shaun Rodgers? The guy is playing his best ball consistantly finally but he's stuck on yet another horrid team.

Also the Ravens have a high 3rd down passing offense there but subpar 1st and 2nd - so a letdown is possible there.

As for why the Cardnals don't use play action - maybe because their play action scares no one. Was it only 7 weeks ago or so we thought that Tim Hightower was going to bring a running game to Arizona ?

by zlionsfan :: Fri, 12/26/2008 - 11:10am

I blame sample size. That and the astonishment on the part of the opponents that the Lions would somehow have a third-and-short.

Also, I believe the trend is for overall third-down performance to adjust to overall performance, in which case the Lions should be quite far away from absolute suck next season. At -37.5% on third down and -15.9% overall, Detroit's offense likely won't be horrendous next season. Of course that would be a safe bet for a number of reasons. (Not even I would bet on them going 0-16 next season as well.)

Even if the trend applies to run/pass splits, whatever they lose in the ground game would likely be outweighed by gains in the passing game. I don't know what's more odd, that they're a terrible -60.4% passing on third down, or that Oakland is even worse (-76.3%).

I wonder how this would affect someone like Bradford deciding whether or not to declare for the draft. It's not an ideal situation right now, to be sure, but if Detroit magically finds a competent front office and prevents Ford Sr. from touching the team in any way, it's possible that eventually they'll be back to 2000 standards (mediocre) and that a decent QB could make them into a playoff contender. (28 starts, completion percentage in the high 60s ... not bad, but could have more experience.)

Or he could be another in a long line of poor Detroit QBs. And he's the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. And he could be playing for the defending BCS champions.

Then again, maybe it's better to leave on top ... but to land in Detroit?

Oh hell, we'll probably take another project anyway.