The Football Outsiders Almanac 2009, which looks at the game through a statistical lens, is now available.
I asked Doug Farrar, who researched and wrote the Patriots section of the Almanac, to share five factors that fans should remember when thinking about this year’s team.
Each day, I’ll post one of his thoughts:
As we pointed out previously, pass pressure killed the middle zones of the defense. When the Pats hurried opposing passers, they gave up a league-leading 7.3 yards after catch, and a Defensive DVOA [Defense-Adjusted Value over Average] worse than all teams except New Orleans and Detroit. Conversely, New England led the NFL with 6.2 average yards after catch, more than half a yard better than the Saints, who finished second. This had a lot to do with the one area Cassel found exceedingly difficult all year – the long bomb to Randy Moss. To compensate, the Pats led the league in receiver and tight end screens, using the plays 30 percent more than any team. This should even out with Brady’s return – New England was a YAC team before, but not to such an extreme degree.
(The training camp preview positional snapshots will continue on Monday.)