Thursday, February 12, 2009

Season in Review: Sacks (2008)

Everyone knows that the Steelers' defense had a terrific season during 2008, but just how great a season it was becomes more and more clear as we dive into the numbers. Today it is the total number of sacks by the defense and the improvement, year-on-year, is stunning.

Overall the Steelers were #2 in sacks (Dallas led the league with 59), and just looking at the number of sacks by the defense, year-by-year, the nature of just how special this season's defensive effort was jumps out:

After a slight setback (i.e. the 2007 season) the pass rush continued what had been a steady climb into the upper echelon of the league's defenses.

As if that wasn't there is this ~ the number of sacks increased dramatically despite the fact that the total number of passing plays by opponents fell from the previous season (2007: 536 pass attempts by opponents, 2008: 533 pass attempts). As a result the ratio of sacks per pass attempts more than two percent:

What we see both in the raw numbers and the percentage of sacks to pass attempts is that the Steelers are bucking the trend within the NFL ~ while the league average for sacks and the percentage of sacks to pass attempts falls the Steelers are improving; and in 2008 they improved dramatically.

Having said all of that we just have to wonder if, as fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers, did we fully appreciate how great that 2001 defense was?