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View Full Version : Starting field position cost us in Denver?


tony hipchest
10-25-2007, 07:06 PM
everyone has blamed the offense, defense, coaching, and execution. lets take a look at how field position and special teams contribute.

(some great research and statistical analysis):

http://www.nfl.com/news/story?id=09000d5d80397c13&template=without-video&confirm=true

There are many factors that contribute to winning and losing every week. Which team has the better quarterback, who wins the turnover battle, a critical call by an official or a missed field goal can all determine the outcome of a game.

One often overlooked issue, though, is field position. In Week 7, the teams that had better starting position were 11-3. Through the first six weeks of the season the three teams with the best starting field position were a combined 15-1 while the three with the worst starting field position were only 4-12. A stat this telling would make even the most casual football fan sit up and take notice.

[see link for chart]

Football is often called a game of inches, but as the aforementioned statistics indicate, it is also a game of field position. The numbers don't lie. Defensive-minded head coaches always play the field position game.

Heading into last weekend, only three teams had a differential in starting field position of six yards or more -- that is, their averager starting position was six yards better than their opponents' average start. Those teams are the Steelers (6.9 yards), the Patriots (6.4 yards), and the Colts (6.0 yards). Isn't it interesting that all three head coaches come from the defensive side of the ball?

Both the Colts and Patriots easily won the field position battle again this week. The Patriots had a 13-yard difference and the Colts hit their 6-yard differential right on the nose. The Steelers' starting position in Denver slipped significantly from the 32.9-yard line to 27-yard line and they lost the game by a field goal.

The worst three teams heading into Week 7 were the Broncos, Saints and Bengals. As pointed out above, Denver made huge strides in this area during its victory. The Bengals started on a field two yards shorter than their previous five-game average and also won. The Saints, also victorious Sunday, were accustomed to opponents starting way out at the 34-yard line but the Falcons were three yard behind that at the 31.

Following Week 7's results, the worst team in the NFL when it comes to where their opponent starts a drive is now the Miami Dolphins. They entered Week 7 with opponents playing on a field 65 yards long. The Patriots played them on a field 69 yards long but the Dolphins offense played on a field 82 yards long. They didn't have a chance.
im not sure if this article is a fancy way to say the team that wins the turnover battle usually wins. im also not sure how a kick return for a td is scored in this data. i assume a returned td would = starting at the opponents 0 yard line. :hunch:

slippy
10-25-2007, 08:34 PM
nice anecdotal evidence. usually the best teams are good all around; the best teams also have a + turnover ratio and limited injuries.

you can't take one aspect and make it all important. football teams are a delicate web of many variables (too many to count). the colts, previous to last year, are a good example. they seemed to have it all for many years in a row, only to see one strand of the web unravel each year in the playoffs, causing their defeat.

i've seen enough of rossum! one TD and 20 for no gain gets an F in my ledger. although at least he hangs onto the ball, unlike last year's returners.

tony hipchest
10-25-2007, 08:43 PM
i've seen enough of rossum! one TD and 20 for no gain gets an F in my ledger. although at least he hangs onto the ball, unlike last year's returners.
and that, in itself is a huge difference in the starting field position last year vs this year. helps contribute to a 4-2 turn around from 2-4. it seems to be tomlins opening philosophy that its not as much about the yards you gain on ST as opposed to the ones you lose.

Preacher
10-25-2007, 09:00 PM
and that, in itself is a huge difference in the starting field position last year vs this year. helps contribute to a 4-2 turn around from 2-4. it seems to be tomlins opening philosophy that its not as much about the yards you gain on ST as opposed to the ones you lose.

Anyone ever wonder if the issue was really Rossum... or if the issue was the fact that our players still don't know how to block and create lanes for Rossum and comp. to run in?

NV STEELERS 723
10-25-2007, 09:21 PM
Anyone ever wonder if the issue was really Rossum... or if the issue was the fact that our players still don't know how to block and create lanes for Rossum and comp. to run in?

Yea I agree too..you can't have lanes w/ out blocking... Ben or Brady can't pass w/out their O line...I think Rossum is fine... he's pretty fast ..our punt blocking really sucks though...I guess its something we just have to work on..

slippy
10-25-2007, 10:41 PM
good point NV.

i guess i'm unimpressed with the return team as a whole and not just rossum. again, at least he does not fumble.

steeler625
10-25-2007, 10:45 PM
Pretty good info, but there are many reason why we should have won that game.

Galax Steeler
10-26-2007, 04:53 AM
Pretty good info, but there are many reason why we should have won that game.

Agreed they were more than one reason we lost that game.

HometownGal
10-26-2007, 02:32 PM
good point NV.

i guess i'm unimpressed with the return team as a whole and not just rossum. again, at least he does not fumble.


My sentiments exactly. I can't say I am that disappointed in Rossum - he can only run where there's an open lane and there haven't been many of those in recent weeks.

rbryan
10-26-2007, 02:38 PM
good point NV.

i guess i'm unimpressed with the return team as a whole and not just rossum. again, at least he does not fumble.

We lost 2 or 3 games last year due to fumbles on k/o and punts. Rossum is doing just fine.

I guess people are forgetting that he already returned one for a TD

revefsreleets
10-26-2007, 04:57 PM
Actually, Rossum made a couple mistakes last week by not running up and making the fair catch. I remember remarking that one of those plays cost us 7 yards, which doesn't seem like much, but after seeing this article, I'm changing my tune a little bit.

I'll give Cowher credit here, because he always did say it was a game of inches. And Tomlin sent a whole lot of extra time on the ST this year, and outside of the PR for a TD, and Jeff Reed kicking farther, I haven't really seen much improvement.

Dino 6 Rings
10-26-2007, 05:24 PM
I agree, the problem isn't Rossum, its the blocking. And I think its part of the same problem we had last year. Its tough to concentrate on catching the ball when you know you are going to get killed cause the blocking isn't there. Rossum has made a career of catching punts, so he understands his duty. The other guys we've put back there, it wasn't their "nitch" or they were too inexperienced at this level to understand the speed (Reid) and got nervous. Rossum is actually saving us games by holding onto the punt. Will he miss a fair catch and let it bounce into the red zone once in a while...sure...will he fumble a fair catch in a big game and give the other team the ball in our territory at a key moment. Probably not.

tony hipchest
10-26-2007, 06:23 PM
Actually, Rossum made a couple mistakes last week by not running up and making the fair catch. I remember remarking that one of those plays cost us 7 yards, which doesn't seem like much, but after seeing this article, I'm changing my tune a little bit.

I'll give Cowher credit here, because he always did say it was a game of inches. And Tomlin sent a whole lot of extra time on the ST this year, and outside of the PR for a TD, and Jeff Reed kicking farther, I haven't really seen much improvement. thats what i found great about the article. the changes arent very appearant until you see that the steelers were leading the league in starting an average of 6.9 yards better than their opponents were averaging. of course this is dependent on opponens skill, and turnovers, and a better punter, much improved punt coverage, actually returning a kick off for a td, and only allowing 1 big return all season.

the genius of this article is that when all the blame is being placed on the defensive execution, or offensive play calling, even the invisible, minute things come into play.

that +6.9 yards of starting field position differential can be the difference of jeff reed missing that 65 (woulda been 57) yarder at the end of the half, or jason elam making the 48 yarder to win the game (woulda been 55 yds).

speaking of "the game of inches", kirwan and cowher watch the games together in the cbs studios every sunday. kirwan says the conversations are great, including marino, boomer, and shannon. i think cowher is becoming one of his prominent insider sources and inspiration for articles and radio conversation.



Heading into last weekend, only three teams had a differential in starting field position of six yards or more -- that is, their averager starting position was six yards better than their opponents' average start. Those teams are the Steelers (6.9 yards), the Patriots (6.4 yards), and the Colts (6.0 yards). Isn't it interesting that all three head coaches come from the defensive side of the ball?