So instead let’s have a look at how things are going in the glorious AFC North.
Category Archives: Statistics and Analysis
photo via Steelers.com
I hope you all realize I’m not claiming to be the Stephen Hawkings of football. Au contraire. Not even about the AFC North. But after four games it’s worth taking a look at where we are and seeing if we can find some trends.
As I’m quite sure everyone reading this is aware, the Steelers are currently in sole possession of the divisional crown—for the nonce. But it’s still a long way to January. So let’s look at the other teams and what potential threats might lurk. Because as we all know, when it’s AFC North Football anything can happen.
I’m going to try not to be too stats-nerdy with this. For one thing, stats only tell you what has happened, in a completely un-nuanced way. The interpretation of them can result in very diverse potential scenarios. So I’ll give some numbers just to keep myself honest, and commit myself to what I think they are telling us. I will update them at various points throughout the rest of the season.
Photo via Steelers.com
This post was not only inspired but requested by Steeler Fever after I published the following in a post last week:
- Mike Tomlin overall regular season record prior to 2017: 103 – 57
- Record against opponents who made the playoffs: 27 – 29
- Record against non-playoff-achieving opponents: 77 – 27
- Record against teams with a winning record: 46 – 36
- Record against teams with a losing record: 57 – 21
- Record against teams who finished with a better record that the Steelers: 17 – 18
- Record against teams who finished with the same record as the Steelers: 9 – 11
- Record against teams who finished with a worse record than the Steelers: 78 – 27
- Record against teams who finished with a 4-12 or worse record: 24 – 6*
Fever asked me to make it a separate post so he could use it to vanquish the nay-sayers, or words to that effect. So I agreed to do so, but with considerable amplification, since I had put the above together rather hastily, and since other ways of looking at the data had occurred to me.
I entered everything into a spread sheet, which I should have done in the first place, made a separate category for 8-8 teams, which I also should have done in the first place, looked at the numbers from various different angles, and saw some really interesting stuff, at least if you like numbers. So here goes: Read more
As you can probably ascertain, I’m inaugurating a new series in which we** examine what we believe to be key elements in the team’s hope of playing next year in February. I’ve chosen Mike Munchak to start for various reasons, but mainly because it seems pretty clear that a healthy Ben Roethlisberger is going to be one of the primary components in making it to Minneapolis. And an awesome offensive line is one of the primary components of a healthy Ben Roethlisberger.
I have already written about Mike Munchak, but it has been almost two years. And that article, although it did go into the improvement in the o-line during Munchak’s tenure, was really more a comparison of his and Keith Butler’s coaching styles. This time I’m going to focus on Munchak. Read more
by Ivan Cole
In their review of the Steelers victory over the New York Giants, Post-Gazette reporters Ed Bouchette and Gerry Dulac noted that the last 33 seconds of the Dallas game is the difference between the Steelers’ current circumstances and being 8-4 and considered in the driver’s seat for a league title.
Those 33 seconds also, less importantly, stand as the reason that Pittsburgh doesn’t have a spotless third quarter of their 2016 season. The point being made here is how seemingly small factors, rather than just the big ones, can turn a season for better or worse. Those 33 seconds, all other variables remaining constant, are the difference between anticipatory speculation concerning playoff seedings and January football and the current reality of the December Playoffs where any, and perhaps all contests carry the weight of elimination. Read more
As I write this I still haven’t watched Sunday’s game. I’m hoping I will be able to do so on my computer at home, once I get there. But from everything I’ve read so far it seems that Ben was pretty dreadful for most of the game.
Every since I’ve begun following the Steelers I’ve heard about Ben’s propensity to suck when coming back from an injury. The record would seem to support this, as the team is 2-6 when he does, and I suppose it’s possible those two games were only won by an amazing defensive effort or some such. So let’s take a look.
“For some context on the Steelers injuries in 2015, Pittsburgh placed 25 players on injured reserve from May 2015 through the Super Bowl. Only the Giants and Ravens had more. The Steelers recorded 124 instances where a player appeared on an injury report, which isn’t all that bad (24th league wide), but when the Steelers lost players, they lost Pro Bowlers (Maurkice Pouncey, Le’Veon Bell, etc).”
Thus reads a recent tweet by Jeremy Fowler of ESPN. (It refused to embed, or else I would have done so.)
Although it was stoutly denied by all parties who should know, in retrospect it seems pretty clear the Steelers went through a gradual rebuilding process that began around 2012 and may or may not be over, depending on how you look at it.
There are lots of different ways to do this, naturally. A lot of people thought the Steelers should just clean house. Clear out the older players (presumably except for Ben), take the pain in a couple of massive doses, and voila, you’re back to the Super Bowl!
The Steelers owners and coaching staff aren’t big fans of losing games, and also don’t appear to be fans of wholesale purging of players. Instead they chose the gradual road. They managed to get through the process (or most of it—I think there is a reasonable argument that the defensive backfield is the last stage in the rebuild) without ever having a losing season.
During this time we have seen several example of teams who did it differently. We will look at what they did and how successful it was, and eventually compare the various outcomes to how the Steelers went about their own process.
The first is the Carolina Panthers, who just went to the Super Bowl. In 2010 they were the worst team in the league.
If you were paying attention at all in 2015 you know what I’m talking about. As NFL writer Kevin Patra reported last May:
The NFL has been tinkering with the PAT in hopes of making it a more difficult and therefore entertaining play for spectators. The latest change might be just the first step of further adjustments in years to come.
It appears to have worked extremely well.
I confess I was pretty skeptical when they announced the change. After all, this took it from a 19-yard kick to a 32-yard kick, a distance that equates to a high degree of accuracy among NFL kickers. No biggie, right?
Well, it appears it is a biggie, because a large number of extra points were missed in the 2015 season, something that hadn’t been seen for years. But furthermore, kicker accuracy overall was down, and at least a few kickers were attributing this to the mental stress of the longer PAT.
In Part 1 I speculated upon the quarterback position for the Panthers, the Broncos and the Steelers. In Part 2a I looked at several games between two of the three teams to see how their offense fared against common opponents. In this post I will compare the one opponent all three teams played in 2015—the Indianapolis Colts.
The Colts are not the ideal team for such a comparison. After playing quite poorly for weeks, being out with an injury, and eventually being pulled and IR’d, quarterback Andrew Luck was primarily replaced by the rather veteran Matt Hasselbeck, although he too was injured at the end of the season.