Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Season in Review: Points Allowed

We took an extended look at the offense last week, and now it's time to turn our laser-like gaze on a defensive unit that took some knocks on the field in the final month of the season, and has absorbed some proverbial knocks from fans and media since the season concluded.

Inasmuch as the game, at its most basic level, is about scoring points let's start off with a couple of simple questions: How many points did the Steelers allow in 2007? And how does that compare with the rest of the National Football League?

Here's a look at the five best teams in average points allowed for the period 2000-2007:

TeamAverage Points Allowed
Tampa Bay276.25
New England287.88

Having established that that the Steelers have one of the finest scoring defenses in the NFL (something which we all knew, at least intuitively) here's a look at the Steelers' points against relative to the average number of points allowed by all the NFL's teams (click on the image for a better look):

As can be clearly seen the NFL average for points allowed has consistently hovered just below the 350 point mark, and other than a couple of seasons (i.e. 2002 and 2003 -- the final seasons that Tim Lewis served as defensive coordinator before Dik LeBeau returned in 2004) the Steelers have been much better than average. Further, 2007 represented a significant improvement over 2006 (315 points v. 269 points).

Additionally, the Steelers are one of 11 teams not to give up 400 points in any of the eight seasons at which we looked (the others are Baltimore, Chicago, Green Bay, Jacksonville, New England, New York Giants, New York Jets, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, and Washington)

Finally, and just for fun, here are the five (ok, six) teams who are the worst at allowing points during this same time period:

TeamAverage Points Allowed
Cincinnati & Atlanta368.25
San Francisco381.00
St. Louis390.75

So it seems that Clancy Pendergast -- the defensive coordiantor for Ken Whisenhunt's Arizona Cardinals -- has his work cut out for himself, doesn't it? And how did the Cardinals do this first season under Mr. Pendergast, you ask?

They gave up 399 points.

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