At this point it seems like beating a dead horse to tell you all that the Carolina Panthers‘ defense in 2011 was abysmal. That being said, while perusing Football Outsiders’ drive statistics from last season it was startling to see just how much the defense let the offense down. Obviously I, like many knew that the injured group we trotted out on D didn’t really have any business suiting up in an NFL game; they became a rag-tag group of unproven rookies, UDFA’s and cuts from other teams. The return of Jon Beason and co. should really clear up a lot of the issues the Panthers had, but I still felt it necessary to show you the drop-off.
The DSR metric listed is a ‘drive success rate’ and measures how many drives resulted in a first down, or a score. Basically it helps measure a field position or scoring gain vs. a three and out.
35.11 yards per drive (6th in the NFL)
2.26 pts per drive (5th in the NFL) Note: This dispels the notion that a prime problem the Panthers had on offense was scoring.
.269 TDs per drive (4th in the NFL) Note: This dispels the notion that Cam and Chud couldn’t get the ball into the end zone enough.
.377 punts per drive (8th in the NFL)
.131 TOs per drive (18th in the NFL)
.097 INTs per drive (24th in the NFL)
.034 Fumbles per drive (10th in the NFL)
27.83 Starting LoS average (18th in the NFL)
.729 DSR (5th in the NFL)
Okay, so basically we see that Cam needs to turn the ball over less (as shown by the INT rate) and the special teams need to step up (judging from the LoS starting average). These things we already knew, but what I found interesting is just how well the Panthers moved and scored the football. It’s impossible not to be isolationist about your own team on Sunday, and I remember the perception for much of the season being that the Panthers left too many points on the field through a perceived inability to score TDs. These metrics dispel that.
Here is where those same numbers become really shocking. Football Outsiders have measured these drive stats up against the drives allowed by the defense to give us an overall net gain.
Net drive gain
-1.76 yards per drive (21st in the NFL)
– 0.20 pts per drive (21st in the NFL)
-0.12 TDs per drive (20th in the NFL)
0.60 punts per drive (28th in the NFL)
-.003 TOs per drive (17th in the NFL)
0.12 INTs per drive (17th in the NFL)
-0.14 Fumbles per drive (10th in the NFL)
-0.34 Starting LoS average (17th in the NFL)
-.007 DSR (16th in the NFL)
Look at the negatives in all those key areas. It didn’t matter how dynamic Cam was on offense, or how great Chud’s plays were- the Panthers still averaged less yards than they allowed, and less TDs than they allowed. The defense couldn’t force teams to punt, and didn’t generate enough turnovers.
Jon Beason will help fix some of these problems, but it’s an awfully big hole that the Panthers need to dig themselves out of in 2012.