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Striving for Average: A Different Look at the 2014 New Orleans Saints Pass Defense

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A look at how the 2014 New Orleans Saints pass defense performed when compared to opposing QB's season averages.

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

One only had to watch a game, or look at the final season numbers to know that our pass defense was bad. Season stats can be a bit misleading, however. If "team A" played weaker offenses than "team B," but finished with similar season stats, it still would not be quite fair to declare team A’s defense as good as team B’s. One way to get a more objective view is to compare how a particular offense performed against the defense, to how well that offense did on a per game basis. That is exactly what we are going to look at today.

I have compiled the stats that opposing quarterbacks put up against the Saints, as well as their season averages. To make the per game numbers on this list directly comparable, I’ve only include quarterbacks who started every game they played (which came to 10 QBs over 12 games). The categories up for comparison are: yards, touchdowns, interceptions, completion percentage, and passer rating.

Week 1: Matt Ryan

Category Y/G TD/G INT/G Comp % Passer Rating
Vs Saints 448 3 0 72.1 128.8
Season Avg 293.4 1.75 .875 66.1 93.9

Result: The Saints performed below par on all 5 categories; Saints lose.

Week 4: Tony Romo

Category
Y/G
TD/G
INT/G
Comp %
Passer Rating
Vs Saints
262
3
0
75.9
137.4
Season Avg
247
2.27
.6
69.9
113.2

Result: The Saints performed below par on all 5 categories; Saints lose.

Week 7: Matt Stafford

Category
Y/G
TD/G
INT/G
Comp %
Passer Rating
Vs Saints
299
2
2
67.5
85.3
Season Avg
266.1
1.375
.75
60.3
85.7

Result: The Saints performed below par on 3 of 5 categories; Saints lose.

Week 8: Aaron Rodgers

Category
Y/G
TD/G
INT/G
Comp %
Passer Rating
Vs Saints
418
1
2
71.8
93.7
Season Avg
273.8
2.375
.312
65.6
112.2


Result: The Saints performed above par on 3 of 5 categories; Saints win.

Week 9: Cam Newton

Category
Y/G
TD/G
INT/G
Comp %
Passer Rating
Vs Saints
151
0
1
35.7
39.4
Season Avg
223.4
1.286
.857
58.5
82.1




Result: The Saints performed above par on all 5 categories; Saints win.


Week 10: Colin Kaepernick

Category
Y/G
TD/G
INT/G
Comp %
Passer Rating
Vs Saints
210
1
0
43.8
76.3
Season Avg
210.6
1.188
.625
60.5
86.4




Result: The Saints perform above par on 4 of 5 categories; Saints lose.


Week 11: Andy Dalton

Category
Y/G
TD/G
INT/G
Comp %
Passer Rating
Vs Saints
220
3
0
72.7
143.9
Season Avg
212.4
1.188
1.063
64.2
83.5


Result: The Saints perform below par on all 5 categories; Saints lose.


Week 12: Joe Flacco

Category
Y/G
TD/G
INT/G
Comp %
Passer Rating
Vs Saints
243
1
0
75
120.7
Season Avg
249.1
1.688
.75
62.1
91.0




Result: The Saints perform below par on 3 of 5 categories; Saints lose.

Week 13: Ben Roethlisberger

Category
Y/G
TD/G
INT/G
Comp %
Passer Rating
Vs Saints
435
2
2
55.2
76.4
Season Avg
309.5
2
.563
67.1
103.3


Result: The Saints perform above par on 3 of 5 categories; Saints win.


Week 14: Cam Newton

Category
Y/G
TD/G
INT/G
Comp %
Passer Rating
Vs Saints
226
3
0
63.6
114.0
Season Avg
223.4
1.286
.857
58.5
82.1


Result: The Saints perform below par on all 5 categories; Saints lose.


Week 15: Jay Cutler

Category
Y/G
TD/G
INT/G
Comp %
Passer Rating
Vs Saints
194
2
3
54.8
55.8
Season Avg
254.1
1.867
1.2
66
88.6


Result: The Saints perform above par on 4 of 5 categories; Saints win.


Week 16: Matt Ryan

Category
Y/G
TD/G
INT/G
Comp %
Passer Rating
Vs Saints
322
1
0
75
106.5
Season Avg
293.4
1.75
.875
66.1
93.9


Result: The Saints perform below par on 4 of 5 categories; Saints lose.

That’s 12 games, 5 categories per game, for a total of 60 categories. The Saints finished above par on 25 categories and below par on 34, with one category an even push. Game for game, the Saints had 7 games where they performed below par on the majority of categories, and 5 games where they finished above par. The Saints were 0-7 in games where they finished below par, but 4-1 in games where they finished above par.

Looking at the numbers, the Saints were clearly sub-par in regards to pass defense, compared to the respective averages of the opposing quarterbacks. Looking at the individual games, it is pretty evident that if the Saints pass defense was even slightly above average, the Saints as a whole were a much better team.  You don't really hear teams striving to be average, but if the Saints pass defense was just that, the team would have been celebrating in the post season.