Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Season in Review: Passing Yards Allowed (2008)

Going in, we thought this one was a slum dunk. After all, the Steelers had the NFL's #1 pass defense; but once again we were surprised, at least a little bit, by what we found inside the numbers. As it turns out the 2008 pass defense was not as good as 2007's. Here is a look at how Steelers' defenses have performed (i.e. how many yards they have given up) over the past nine seasons:



Despite its #1 rating this past season the 2008 Steelers' pass defense was only second best amongst Steelers' defenses of the past nine seasons. However, on a more positive note the 2008 defense was the only defense in the league this past season to surrender fewer than 3,000 yards through the air. That is pretty amazing by itself, but what is even more shocking to us is that 2008 was the first time in the past nine seasons that only one team's defense surrendered fewer than 3,000 yards passing. Here is a graphical look at the trend league-wide over that period:

We are not sure what factors contributed to this low ~ changes in rules, improved passing attacks, declining defenses ~ but it certainly appears things are changing.

Finally, in the interest of completeness, here is a look at how the Steelers' pass defense has performed against the league average between 2000 and 2008 (inclusive):

While the rest of the league struggles the Pittsburgh defense continues to excel, which makes for a beautiful picture indeed!