Back in the month of May, Woody Paige of the Denver Post & ESPN wrote a column saying that the Broncos should start Tim Tebow over Kyle Orton. Paige stated that Tebow has the potential to be a 'star' and that Orton most certainly did not.
I emailed Paige and told him that Orton played very well as the starting QB with the Bears in 2008 ( that was my opinion based on actually watching the games he played in). That the reason they missed the playoffs that season was because of the defense, not the offense. Starting Tebow over Orton made no sense. Woody replied back to me by basically saying that I didn't know what I was talking about.
(I emailed Paige back again just a few days ago. After four games Kyle Orton led the NFL in passing. Now after five games he's ranked second overall and has more passing yardage than both Manning's, Brees, Romo and Aaron Rodgers, among others. His overall passing stats are right up there with Peyton Manning's so far in 2010. I guess starting Orton over Tebow doesn't look so bad right now.)
The Bears made the playoffs in 2005 and reached the Super Bowl in 2006. Their defense was ranked #1 and #3 (points allowed) in those two seasons.
In the following three season after that SB appearance in 2006, they missed the playoffs each season, going 7-9, 9-7, and 7-9. Under .500 at 23 - 25.
They also slipped in team defense from 1st and 3rd to 16th, 16th and 22nd in 2007 - 2009.
It's hard to make the playoffs when your defense goes from top 5 to the bottom half. It can be done . . . but it's a lot more difficult (especially without a QB named Peyton, Warner or Brees).
The 49ers are currently ranked 27th in defense, giving up an average of 26 points per game (last season they gave up 18 points per game). They are giving up a TD more than the league average so far in 2010, which is 20 points per game.
Thus, if you subtract six points from the opposition in each game they've played so far, they would've beaten the Saints, Falcons and Eagles and would now be 3-2 , if they had an average defense. That's an oversimplification to be sure but still; they were ranked 4th overall last season and are now currently ranked 27th in points allowed.
It's hard to understand that dropoff. Same basic players and coaches. They are average or below average in most defensive statistical catagories so far in 2010.
The other four teams in the top five in defense last season (Jets, Cowboys, Ravens and Patriots) are currently ranked 4th, 10th, 6th and 15th. No other team in the top five has come close to the dropoff experienced by the 49ers defense in 2010.
This constant obsession with the Quarterback kills me. Yes, he's extremely important. But still. Kyle Orton is currently ranked #2 overall in the the NFL in passing yardage (and this is a guy many considered to be mediocre at best, a journeyman at worst). And yet the Broncos are only 2-3. Perhaps that anomaly has something to do with the fact that their defense is currently ranked 26th, only one spot ahead of the 49ers. The Chargers are #1 in passing with Philip Rivers. Like Denver they are also 2-3. Their defense is ranked #20.
I always look at the defense. When they said that Jay Cutler never made the playoffs in Denver, I took a look. They were 7-9 in 2007 and 8-8 in 2008 with Cutler under center and missed the playoffs both seasons. They were also ranked 28th and 30th in defense back then (13th and 3rd in passing offense). Almost dead last in team defense. Last year in Chicago Cutler and the Bears were 7-9. They were ranked 22nd in defense.
So far this season they are 4-1 and ranked 7th in team defense.
It's truly amazing how much better a team's record usually gets when they play better defense.
It's a team game. The 49ers passing offense is ranked 11th. Their rushing offense is ranked 28th. As mentioned, their defense is ranked 27th.
* It would really help this team if they could run the ball a little better, to take some pressure off the QB.
* It would really help this team if the offense could cut down on some of their turnovers (They currently have 15 turnovers. The league average is less than 9).
* It would really help this team if the defense could take the ball away more (They currently have 5 takeaways. Again, the league average is almost 9).
* Sack/Pressure the QB more often (They currently have 10 sacks - exactly the league average).
* Stop the opposition's game ending drives more often.
A modest level of improvement in these three catagories would help make a big difference.
For all the endless chatter about Alex Smith, better defense and rushing would go a long way towards far better football in SF.