Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A tale of two halves

I’m just as sick as anyone that the Cards, who are a top 5 team, aren’t likely to make the playoffs. And yes, I think tons of things happened outside our control to put us in this situation, including the Philly game.

But if we put the onus of control back on us, I think there is a pattern to our season that we had full control over.

Split the season into two halves: the first 7 ending at the home Seattle game and the last 8 beginning with the Atlanta game. One caveat stat is that the teams in the first half were a lot stronger than in the second, so that should temper the stats a bit.
(Percentage of opponents who won 7 or more games: 1st half: 86% 2nd half: 50% )

But the rest of the stats give us an insight to the changes BA made from the 1st half of the season to the 2nd.

What was our winning percentage?
1st half: 43%
2nd half: 86%

How many times did we rush the ball over 90 yards?
1st half: 2
2nd half: 7

What was our percentage of run plays?
1st half: 37%
2nd half: 49%

What was our time of possession?
1st half: 28 minutes per game
2nd half: 32 minutes per game

How many interceptions did CP throw?
1st half: 13
2nd half: 8

What was CPs average QB rating?
1st half: 69
2nd half: 99

After 3 years of watching Ken avoid running the ball I was mortified to watch BA do the same thing in the first 7 games. My stomach hurt as I thought, “here we go again”.

And then came the Atlanta game. It’s quite obvious that was our turning point of the season. It was the first time we actually committed to running the ball early in the game and continued throughout. From that game on we ran the ball almost half the time, which in this age of the game is remarkable. We started to watch CP carry much less of the burden and therefore become more efficient with his passes. We saw Ellington find an increased role while continuing to pound Mendy between the Ts. We watched our scrubby Oline find life with a dramatic increase in run blocking (something all Oline guys preach about). As a result we saw our D get less and less time on the field. And we saw us win 7 of 8.

I have no doubt that our great 2nd half is primarily due to BA balancing our offense out. However, he deserves as much credit for the positives of the 2nd half as he does blame for the negatives of the 1st. Of course, the controversial question would be, “What if he had made those changes week 1 and not week 8?” I certainly don’t know the answer to that, but I’d bet we’d have one more win. That being said I, for one, am just happy to have a HC who isn’t so arrogant he won’t adjust. I wish it had been sooner, but better late than never.

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