Watching the Texans game last weekend, I was hoping that Matt Leinart would take the offensive baton from Matt Schaub and lead one of the NFL’s top offenses without missing a beat. That didn’t happen. You can look at Leinart’s 110 quarterback rating and say I’m off my rocker (yet again!), but I look at other stats to justify my original concerns about Matt 2.0, and discount his performance against the Jags.
It was Samuel Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain) who is credited with saying, “there are lies, dam lies, and statistics.” Watching the Texans-Jaguars game with a neighbor of mine who is from Germany, he asked me why we American sports fans are so obsessed with stats. In Germany he said, they just care who wins and loses. If I were in Denver, I’d site Tim Tebow as the example of why stats matter to American sports fans, but here in Houston, I’ll use last Sunday’s 20-13 win against Jacksonville.
While Matt 1.0 (a.k.a. Matt Schaub) may not throw the prettiest pass, or have the strongest arm, and certainly he is not an “elite” quarterback. Schaub is a very effective quarterback, and he made the Texans offense very effective. With Schaub at the controls the Texans averaged 396 yards per game offensively. They managed only 215 against the Jags without him. With Matt 1.0 the Texans averaged 27.3 points a game. Without him 20 (albeit a very small sample size to compare).
I’ve got some other stats that bring into focus the difficulty the Texans face without Matt Schaub at quarterback. Stats I consider concerning. Number of drives per game and average points per drive. Never heard of these stats before? I don’t care.
To be successful in the NFL you need to win the turnover, and the third down battles. The Texans were the only team in the NFL in the Top five in both offensive and defensive third down conversions. (I say were, because the Texans offense dropped from 4th to 8th after last weeks’ game.) The Texans are second in the NFL in defensive third down conversion rate, and lead the AFC in turnover margin. Get your defense off the field, give your offense the ball, let them convert on third downs and you’ve got a winning formula. The Texans have used the formula to go 8-3.
However, when the offense cannot convert and “keep the chains moving” the opposition gets more opportunities, and like whacking a piñata sooner or later that things gonna bust. Prior to last week’s game, the Texans averaged twelve possessions a game both offensively and defensively. (see chart) The Texans have averaged 2.29 points per drive offensively, and have yielded just 1.17 points per drive defensively. Against the Jags anemic offense the defense gave up less than a point a drive, but offensively they averaged half the offensive production they had with Schaub behind center.
Going 2-15 on third down may be enough against Jacksonville, but will it be enough against Atlanta, Cincinnati or more importantly, against any playoff team.
|Game||No. of Drives p/Game||Score||Ave. Pts. p/Drive|