With the first quarter of the 2010 season officially in the books, I decided to pour over all of the Saints stats through the first four games. What follows in this post is any interesting fact or figure about this years team, both good and bad, that I found interesting or worth sharing.
As always, this is meant to stir up conversation and debate and with any luck, perhaps enlighten you some. Your thoughts and comments are obviously welcomed below.
- Jahri Evans is the most penalized player on the team this year and is credited with stalling two Saints drives. Is that part of his new contract?
- Roman Harper's two pass interference penalties have cost the team 54 yards, the most of any Saints player this season.
- Malcolm Jenkins led the team in total number of penalties last season. This year he has yet to be penalized and has seen significantly more playing time as a starter. He's actually a good boy.
Quantifying the Offense
Earlier this week head coach Sean Payton admitted the Saints haven't been able to move down the field with as many big plays this season as they were last year...
"We haven't had as many chunks at this time as we had a year ago,'' Payton said. "Is that because we're just getting softer zones? We probably are getting a little bit more. They probably are off a little bit more and we're probably being a little more patient as we study our offense. That forces you to then complete it for six or seven and run the ball. It's not going to happen as quickly and yet we'll never stop attempting to get the ball down the field to various personnel."
That sounds about right. I looked into the numbers just to make sure the coach wasn't lying. He's not. Last year Brees threw 98 deep passes for an average gain of 16.94 yards. This year he's on pace to only throw 64 deep passes for an average gain of only 14.76 yards. So the Saints aren't gaining as much but aren't trying as often either. By the way, for the past two years the Saints have gained more yardage on deep balls thrown to the right side of the field more than any other direction. Not surprising really, given that Brees is a right-handed quarterback.
Offensive averages are down across the board. This season the team is averaging 6.7 yards per passing play when last year they averaged 8.0 yards. Just in case you were wondering about the running game, the Saints averaged 4.5 yards per rush last season; this year it's only 3.1 yards per rush. And here's one last fun fact for you: The Saints currently average 4.3 yards per rush when running off the left side of the line (Left End, Bushrod, Nicks, Goodwin). But they average only 2.2 yards per rush on the right side (Evans, Stinchcomb, Right End).
None of this is actually bad news, per se. It just means that instead of being the best, this offense is just mediocre. They're human just like everyone else. In fact, the Saints average yard per play is only .01 yard below the entire league average. It doesn't get much more ordinary than that.
- Jeremy Shockey is on pace to finish the year with 80 catches. That would be a career high, his current high being 74 catches his rookie season in 2002.
- Sedrick Ellis will notch 12 sacks and 52 tackles at the rate he's going. Those would be La'Roi Glover-type numbers and we all know he's on our CSC all-time Saints team.
- Pierre Thomas is on schedule for 184 total carries and 68 receptions this season equaling a total of 252 touches. All would be career highs. For those curious, that's 66 more touches than last year, his most ever in a season.
- If you thought he was good last year, you should be loving Thomas Morstead this season. He is averaging 5.5 more net yards per punt this season compared to last.
- Alex Brown has played in 131 consecutive NFL games, the most among active defensive ends in the league.
Down to Business
- Drew Brees is at his best on 2nd down. He averages over two yards more per passing play on 2nd down than any other down.
- The Saints have only run the ball once on 3rd down with more than two yards to go.
- Ironically, the Saints are more successful converting 3rd down when they need 6-10 yards than when they need just 3-5 yards.
Playing the Percentages
- Drew Brees has the highest completion percentage in the league and is the only quarterback currently completing more than 70%.
- The Saints are converting 73% of their 3rd and short offensive plays (1-2 yards).
- So far this season Devery Henderson has only caught 59% of the passes thrown his way (13 catches/22 targets). That's the lowest on the team. Pierre Thomas has caught 100% of passes thrown to him (17/17).
- 100% = Sean Payton's video replay challenge percentage!