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The Demise of our Pass Defense in the Play-Offs

  • buck
  • Veteran
  • Posts: 11,483
Last year, in the 2012 regular season, our pass defense was the 4th rated pass defense in the league.

In the 2011 regular season our pass defense was the 17th rated pass defense in the league. That is a substantial improvement.

Even though the ranking of our pass defense improved substantially not all was positive; we had 9 fewer interceptions and 4 fewer sacks. The passer rating of opposing quarterbacks went up from 73 to 78. But, despite these shortcomings, our pass defense improved markedly.

We had minor, perhaps insignificant, gains in yards allowed, yards per game, average per reception, and touchdown. The percentage of plays that produced 1st downs went down by 1.4% from 32.8% to 31.4%.

In other aspects of pass defense, the team made significant advances.

In 2011, we gave up 60 big passing plays. In 2012, we gave up 35 big passing plays.
The number of passing plays of 20+ yards that we gave up went from 48 to 38.
The number of passing plays of 40+ yards dropped from 12 to 7.
In total, we gave up 15 fewer big passing plays in 2012; a 41.7% drop.
The number of passing plays that went for 1ST downs decreased from 190 to 178 (-12).

In 2011, we gave up 3.75 big passing plays per game; in 2012, 2.19.

The gains in our passing defense disappeared in our three play-off games.

In three games, we gave up 17 big passing plays; 14 of 20+ yards and 3 of 40+ yards.
In the play-offs, we gave 5.67 big passing plays per game.

The percentage of passing plays that went for first downs increased from 31.4 % to 39.5%.
The passer rating of opposition quarterbacks increased from 78 to 109.5.
Passing yards allowed per game increased from 200.2 per game to 306 per game.
Completion percentage increased from 59.4% to 68.4%.
Yards gained per pass attempt increased from 6.1 to 8.2.

The Atlanta and Baltimore play-off games complicate the task of understanding the discrepancy between our regular season pass defense and our play-off past defense. In the first half of both the Atlanta and the Baltimore game, our pass defense got its clock cleaned, but not in the second half.

In the first half of the Atlanta game, Matt Ryan competed 18 of 24 passes for 271 yards and 3 scores. He completed 75% of his passes and had a passer rating of 151.2. In the second half, he completed 12 of 18 passes for 125 yards and no scores. By the end of the game, his passer rating had dropped to 114.8.

In the Baltimore game, Joe Flacco completed 13 of 20 passes, for 192 yards and 3 scores in the first half. He completed 65% of his passes and had a passer rating of 135.8. In the second half, he completed 9 of 13 passes for only 95 yards and no scores. By the end of the game, his passer rating fell to 124.2.

From the get go, it clearly appears that if our first half pass defense against Atlanta Baltimore had been close to as successful as our second pass half defense against them, we would have won the conference championship and the Super Bowl going away.

I keep asking myself what the'ell happened.

If I were more intelligent, I might be able to answer that question, but I am not.

I cannot come up with any rational answer. Without a doubt there is people out there are both more intelligent than I, and understand the game better than I do.

The only definite conclusion that I have been to reach is that the blame for the demise our pass defense cannot be placed on the debilities of the individuals in our defensive backfield. Goldson, Whitner, Rogers, Brown, and Culliver played in the regular season and the post season. They played in the first half and the second half of both the Atlanta and the Baltimore game. They were a constant and the results changed.

I would appreciate your thoughts.
[ Edited by buck on Apr 4, 2013 at 3:46 PM ]
Here's what happened:

Justin Smith was injured.
Aldon Smith was injured.

Depth is needed.
  • buck
  • Veteran
  • Posts: 11,483
Originally posted by Beeker:
Here's what happened:

Justin Smith was injured.
Aldon Smith was injured.

Depth is needed.

Seems a bit simplistic.

That might explain some of the difference between the regular season and the play-offs, but it does not explain the critical difference of the pass defense in the first and second halves of the Atlanta and Baltimore games.

They were injured in both halves of the Baltimore and Atlanta games, and the pass defense went from piss poor in the first half to decent in the second half of each of those games.

If anything, you would expect the effectiveness of the past defense to decrease, not increase, in the second halves as the accumulated stress on those injuries increased with playing time.

Yes, we do need more depth.
[ Edited by buck on Apr 4, 2013 at 3:19 PM ]
Originally posted by Beeker:
Here's what happened:

Justin Smith was injured.
Aldon Smith was injured.

Depth is needed.

This. A very large part of our success in pass defense this last year was our pass rush and ability to just rush 4 men leaving more in the backfield to defend receivers part of the reason our run defense had fallen a small amount. Our 4 man rush was very successful getting to the qb this year and not always for a sack we were praised for our abilities to get in the qbs face and disrupt his vision leaving him throwing to the last known location of his receiver, as well as cutting down the receivers time to get open. This greatfully benefitted our pass defense and our abiliy to keep coverage tight. The big issue with Justin and aldon being injured gave qbs alot more time to let there receivers get open, and this wasnt only in the post season. It started against the Pats after Justins injury Brady had much more time to let his receivers and tes get open that they walked all over our secondary almost leading to a comeback, same happened the next week against Seattle. If you look at the weekly stats for our defense against the pass it started to fall right after the pats game not just the post season.
Now between halfs im not totally sure other then a change of game plan. We went in with one then had to adjust because i dont think we thought the Falcons or the Ravens would come at us the way they did.
  • buck
  • Veteran
  • Posts: 11,483
Originally posted by LoneWolf:
This. A very large part of our success in pass defense this last year was our pass rush and ability to just rush 4 men leaving more in the backfield to defend receivers part of the reason our run defense had fallen a small amount. Our 4 man rush was very successful getting to the qb this year and not always for a sack we were praised for our abilities to get in the qbs face and disrupt his vision leaving him throwing to the last known location of his receiver, as well as cutting down the receivers time to get open. This greatfully benefitted our pass defense and our abiliy to keep coverage tight. The big issue with Justin and aldon being injured gave qbs alot more time to let there receivers get open, and this wasnt only in the post season. It started against the Pats after Justins injury Brady had much more time to let his receivers and tes get open that they walked all over our secondary almost leading to a comeback, same happened the next week against Seattle. If you look at the weekly stats for our defense against the pass it started to fall right after the pats game not just the post season.

see post #3. True, but not sufficient.

Whoops. missed your comments about the differences between halves.

It really is complicated.
[ Edited by buck on Apr 4, 2013 at 3:25 PM ]
I dont think we expected both teams to come out as one dimensional as they did i think we had a game plan to try to force them into being one dimensional, and by them coming out guns blazing they actually caught us of guard.
  • buck
  • Veteran
  • Posts: 11,483
Originally posted by LoneWolf:
I dont think we expected both teams to come out as one dimensional as they did i think we had a game plan to try to force them into being one dimensional, and by them coming out guns blazing they actually caught us of guard.

I tend to agree, but I am not positive. If I remember the games correctly, both Atlanta and Baltimore stayed with the run even though the run produced next to nothing for them.
Originally posted by buck:
Seems a bit simplistic.

That might explain some of the difference between the regular season and the play-offs, but it does not explain the critical difference of the pass defense in the first and second halves of the Atlanta and Baltimore games.

They were injured in both halves of the Baltimore and Atlanta games, and the pass defense went from piss poor in the first half to decent in the second half of each of those games.

If anything, you would expect the effectiveness of the past defense to decrease, not increase, in the second halves as the accumulated stress on those injuries increased with playing time.

Yes, we do need more depth.

Not disagreeing with you as to simplistic. It really is, and for the most part, what Lone said in his posts expounded on what I said, too. Second half adjustments - I don't think there is a team better than the 49ers in the NFL at making the adjustments. And it isn't just secondary adjustments, either - it has a lot to do with the LB's, too.
How about we actually blitz more than twice a game.
Originally posted by DrGonzo00:
How about we actually blitz more than twice a game.

I'm all for that.
Originally posted by LoneWolf:
Now between halfs im not totally sure other then a change of game plan. We went in with one then had to adjust because i dont think we thought the Falcons or the Ravens would come at us the way they did.



I think the difference in halfs is due to the fact that we have great coaches and smart veteran players than can make adjustments to what the opponent is doing. I think we play smarter in the second half, not necessarily better.
  • buck
  • Veteran
  • Posts: 11,483
Originally posted by blm7754:
I think the difference in halfs is due to the fact that we have great coaches and smart veteran players than can make adjustments to what the opponent is doing. I think we play smarter in the second half, not necessarily better.

Not sure, I understand the distinction that you are making.

I agree good adjustments were made. The results were better in the second half of those two games.

If we played smarter and the results were better, how does playing smarter not equal playing better.

What is the difference between playing smarter and playing better.
ERMERHGERRDD!!

PASHHRESHSUKD!!
I have not compared the 2 years but it seemed like teams were able to run better on us in 2012 so they might have been passing less and improving the overall pass D.