An Examination of the Saints 2009 Pre-Season Stats

Because I've been feeling pretty positive about this years pre-season and what it could mean for the regular season, I decided to closely examine this years pre-season stats thus far, look for anything interesting and compare it to figures from years past to try and gleen information. Below are the numbers I thought were most interesting. I know it's pre-season but what else do we have to look at? This post is meant to generate conversation so after reading this, make sure to join the discussion. 


Notable Rankings

The following is a list of pre-season statistical categories and the Saints 2009 NFL rank in those categories so far. 

Category Rank
Points Scored 1st
Points per Game 2nd
Point Differential per Game 3rd
Offensive Yards per Game 5th
Offensive Yards per Play 4th
Offensive Passing Yards per Play 3rd
Offensive Interception Rate 1st
Defensive Interception Rate 4th
 Rushing Yards Allowed per Game 8th
 Passing Yards Allowed per Game 32nd

 

Below is a look at how the 2009 pre-season so far is stacking up to pre-seasons of the recent past. Since the Saints have only played two games and stats from previous years are based on four games, we're only looking at categories that are based on averages not quantities.

 

Offense

The Saints are averaging more yards per play so far than they ever did in recent history. 

Year Avg. Gain Per Play
2009 6.2
2008 5.2
2007 5.1
2006 5.8
2005 4.6
2004 4.5
2003 4.2
2002 4.6
2001 4.9

 

The rushing game is as good as it has ever been this pre-season. In fact, the only year it was equally as good was in 2006. That's gotta be good news. 

Year Avg. Gain Per Rush
2009 4.5
2008 3.7
2007 4.1
2006 4.5
2005 4.1
2004 3.3
2003 3.6
2002 4.0
2001 3.4

 

This one is interesting. The Saints are currently hovering at the high twenty-six minute mark in the time of possession department, significantly lower than most recent years. The only other pre-seasons the Saints were anywhere near their current time of possession were the 2006 and 2000 seasons. 

Year Time of Possession
2009 26:54
2008 29:19
2007 32:01
2006 26:04
2005 33:51
2004 29:16
2003 29:08
2002 29:25
2001 32:38
2000 26:35

 

Since 2004 the Saints have gradually improved their 3rd Down Conversion Percentage. The trend continues this pre-season at a recent all-time high. 

Year 3rd Down Conv. %
2009 45.45%
2008 42.31%
2007 40.91%
2006 37.25%
2005 36.76%
2004 27.78%
2003 44.26%
2002 37.25%
2001 36.67%

 

 

Defense

Here is a look at how the defense has been doing on third downs against opponents. Surprising?

Year 3rd Down Conv. %
2009 48.28%
2008 40.74%
2007 40.91%
2006 41.82%
2005 31.91%
2004 27.12%
2003 33.33%
2002 38.98%
2001 38.00%

 

And this is what teams have been doing against the Saints pass defense. An improvement over last year, but not much. 

Year Completion %
2009 67.57%
2008 72.17%
2007 57.34%
2006 59.62%
2005 61.95%
2004 49.61%
2003 64.00%
2002 50.00%
2001 49.49%

 

Okay, so I did include two quantifiable stats but they are good. The Saints defense has already, in two games, made nearly as many interceptions this pre-season than as they ever have in the six years prior. 

Year Interceptions
2009 4
2008 2
2007 5
2006 2
2005 2
2004 1
2003 1

 

We all knew this one already but it's just so damn glaring. 

Year Takeaways
2009 +4
2008 0
2007 -2
2006 -7
2005 0
2004 -3
2003 -2

 

 

Special Teams

Here's another glaring difference. Is the punting really that bad or is one bad kick really skewing this years figure?

Year Gross Punting Average
2009 37.6
2008 46.8
2007 46.2
2006 46.7
2005 43.4
2004 42.5
2003 42.9
2002 46.0
2001 44.3

 

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