GRETZ: Rating Defense-Part 1
Feb 18, 2008, 2:53:55 AM by Bob Gretz
The Chiefs defense was improved in the 2007 season.
And, you may not believe how much.
For the fourth straight season we have compiled our post-season ranking of NFL defenses. It’s based on eight important statistical categories, involving everything from touchdowns allowed, sacks and takeaways, to yards given up and specialty units like 3rd down and the red zone.
The Super Bowl runner-up New England Patriots ended up No. 1 in our rankings of NFL defenses for the recently completed regular season.
There was a tie for the second best defense between Green Bay and …
That’s right, the Chiefs came out as one of the three best defenses in the NFL for the ‘07 season. Our defensive rankings show that Gunther Cunningham’s unit finished behind only the Patriots and tied with the Packers when it came to defensive production.
Don’t believe it? Here’s how it works.
The defenses are ranked on their regular season play with eight statistical categories that reflect the overall play of a unit: the league rankings for touchdowns allowed, sacks per passing plays, takeaways, total yards allowed, rushing yards allowed, passing yards allowed, third down defense and red zone defense.
Each category has 528 points (1 through 32), for a total of 4,224 points in the rankings. Ties are split by the number of teams with the same total. For instance, two teams tied for 12th in takeaways each get 12.5 points (12 + 13 = 25 ~ 2 = 12.5.) If three teams tied at 20th in third down defense each gets 21 points (20+21+22=63 ~ 3 = 21.)
The lower the point total, the better the defense. In the 2006 season, the top ranked defense was the Baltimore Ravens. In eight categories, they were either first or second in the league in seven, finishing sixth in passing yards allowed. They finished well ahead of New England and Chicago.
This past season, the Patriots finished as the top-ranked defense, finishing in the league’s top 10 in seven of the eight categories. The missed only in red zone defense. Ultimately, their scores of 2-8.5-9.5-4-10-6-4-27 equaled 71 total points in the defensive rankings.
One of the areas where the Chiefs defense excelled was in red zone defense, where they finished second. Even better than that, they were also the NFL’s best third down defense and they were third in sacks and tied for third in touchdowns allowed.
The Chiefs were so good on third down, red zone; sacks and points allowed that they were able to overcome their lack of takeaways and their poor performance in stopping the run.
Overall, the Chiefs scores of 3-3.5-29-13-28-5-1-2 equaled 84.5 points, the same total as the Packers produced.
The importance of defense again comes through in the rankings, as all dozen teams that made the playoffs finished in the top half of the league, including eight of the top 11 spots. Only the Chiefs, Philadelphia and Baltimore crashed the top 10 and did not make the post-season.
The Chiefs defense has crawled out of a huge hole. In Cunningham’s first season back as the defensive coordinator, the Chiefs were the 31st ranked defense in the league. They’ve made progress since, moving up to a tie for 18th in 2005, 16th in the 2006 season and then the jump to a tie for second this past season.
Here are the rankings: