Slow First Gear


There is an old football saying that defenses start faster than offenses. Since Mike McCarthy has taken over as HC in 2006, that impression has held true every year, with 2009 being no different. The poor performance of the team, despite the win, has left many fans uneasy about the team. Lets take a look at how the team has performed week 1 and the yearly averages since McCarthy has taken over as head coach:

2006:

Week 1 – Home against Chicago, final score 0-26
Pass Offense – 16/30, 186 yd, 0 TD, 1 Int, 5.0 YPA
Run Offense – 23 att, 103 yd, 4.6 YPA, 0 TD
3rd Down Efficiency – 1/11, 9%
Sacks – 3
Pass Defense – 19/27, 258 yd, 1 TD, 1 Int, 9.0 YPA
Run Defense – 36 att, 109 yd, 3.0 YPA, 0 TD
3rd Down Efficiency – 4/14, 28%
Sacks – 1

2006 Game Averages – 18.8-22.9
Pass Offense – 22/39, 237.2 yd, 1.1 TD, 1.1 Int, 6.0 YPA
Run Offense – 26.9 att, 103.9 yd, 3.9 YPA, .6 TD
3rd Down Efficiency – 5.9/15, 39%
Sacks – 1.5
Pass Defense – 18/32, 206.8 yd, 1.6 TD, 1.4 Int, 6.2 YPA
Run Defense – 28 att, 114.1 yd, 4.1 YPA, .8 TD
3rd Down Efficiency – 4.4/13.4, 33%
Sacks – 2.9

The team got off to a very slow start week 1, being blown out by the Bears at home.

2007:

Week 1 – Home against Philadelphia, final score 16-13
Pass Offense – 23/42, 206 yd, 0 TD, 1 Int, 3.7 YPA
Run Offense – 17 att, 46 yd, 2.7 YPA, 0 TD
3rd Down Efficiency – 6/18, 33%
Sacks – 4
Pass Defense – 15/33, 184 yd, 1 TD, 1 Int, 5.3 YPA
Run Defense – 29 att, 103 yd, 3.6 YPA, 0 TD
3rd Down Efficiency – 8/18, 44%
Sacks – 1

2007 Game Averages – 27.2-18.2
Pass Offense – 24/36, 270.9 yd, 1.9 TD, 0.9 Int, 7.5 YPA
Run Offense – 24.2 att, 99.8 yd, 4.1 YPA, 0.8 TD
3rd Down Efficiency – 5.4/12.6, 43%
Sacks – 1.2
Pass Defense – 18/33, 210.4 yd, 1.4 TD, 1.2 Int, 6.3 YPA
Run Defense – 27 att, 102.9 yd, 3.9 YPA, 0.4 TD
3rd Down Efficiency – 4.3/13.1, 33%
Sacks – 2.3

In 2007 again, the offense got off to a very slow start, especially the passing offense. In 2007 the team appeared to have a lot of difficulty getting anything going early on, at least week one.

2008:

Week 1 – Home against Minnesota, final score 24-19
Pass Offense – 18/22, 178 yd, 1 TD, 0 Int, 8.1 YPA
Run Offense – 27 att, 139 yd, 5.1 YPA, 1 TD
3rd Down Efficiency – 4/10, 40%
Sacks – 0
Pass Defense – 16/35, 178 yd, 1 TD, 1 Int, 4.7 YPA
Run Defense – 33 att, 187 yd, 5.7 YPA, 1 TD
3rd Down Efficiency – 7/16, 43%
Sacks – 1

2008 Game Averages – 26.2-23.8
Pass Offense – 21/34, 238.3 yd, 1.8 TD, 0.8 Int, 7.0 YPA
Run Offense – 27.3 att, 112.8 yd, 4.1 YPA, 0.7 TD
3rd Down Efficiency – 6.2/14, 44%
Sacks – 2.1
Pass Defense – 18/32, 202.8 yd, 1.8 TD, 1.8 Int, 6.3 YPA
Run Defense – 28.6 att, 131.6 yd, 4.6 YPA, 1.3 TD
3rd Down Efficiency – 5.0/13.1, 38%
Sacks – 1.7

In 2008 the offense started out very conservative week 1, however unlike previous years it was very efficient at what it did.

Analysis

To get a better handle on all these stats, I’m going to condense the average performance into a single game. The net difference in each stat category between the week 1 performance and yearly average will be averaged over the 3 years, to give us a better idea of how we’ve performed and what the difference is from an average game in that season.

Average Week 1 performance deviation yearly average (2006 to 2008):
Score: -10.7 – -2.3
Pass Offense: -3.3/-5.0, -58.8 yd, -1.3 TD, -0.3 Int, -1.2 YPA
Run Offense: -3.8 att, -9.5 yd, -0.4 TD
3rd Down Efficiency: -2.2/-0.9 -14.7%
Sacks: 0.7
Pass Defense: -1.3/-0.7, 0 yd, -0.6 TD, -0.5 Int, 0.1 YPA
Run Defense: 4.8 att, 16.8 yd, -0.5 TD
3rd Down Efficiency: 1.8/2.8 3.7%
Sacks: -1.3

When you look at it there is no offensive category that has performed better on average than the yearly average. This all adds up to an offense that typically scores more than 10 fewer points week 1 than an average game.

But what about the defense. It seems they give up more points on average, but the yard totals stay roughly similar. The 3rd down efficiency tends to improve a little bit, and the team is poor at getting to the QB week 1. Thinking about it though, if offenses are behind, you would expect the defense to overperform it’s typical yearly averages. But this has not been the case. With Bob Sanders as DC, our defense has started slow as well, improving yearly early in the season.

Defensively the past performance has very little bearing on the current group. With a different coach and different form of defense, it is difficult to draw any conclusions from the perfomance of the past.

What is clearly shown however is that GB’s offense traditionally starts in a fairly substantial rut, week 1 wins tend to be close, ugly games. When you look at week 2 data, the opposite is shown, an indication that the slow start tends to be isolated to week one, week 2 you can generally expect the team to perform at typical regular season efficiency.

In other words, don’t be too concerned about the offense.

When looking at the red flags that I raised previously about the performance of our defense in preseason, many concerns turned out to be nothing more than worries, especially the alarming 3rd down performance. The only point of concern that seems to have carried over into the regular season are some big play passing issues, which isn’t overly alarming in the grand scheme of things.

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