A Troubling Defensive Stat

Last week while I was watching the Buccanners have their way with the Bills defense, driving down the field to quickly respond to Logan Thomas’ TD, I knew that regardless of the outcome of the game I wanted to take a closer look at one specific defensive stat.  I was interested in exploring how many times the Bills defense has allowed the opposing team to score on the drive right after the offense scores.  Here is what I found:

Overall, after the Bills offense scores a TD or a FG, the defense is allowing points on the very next drive 55% of the time.  That is, 55% of the time the Bills effort to score gets negated by points from the opponent on the very next drive.  That is not good.

Out of that 55%, exactly half (27.5%) of the time the Bills allow their opponent to follow up their score with a TD, and the other half of the time the Bills allow their opponent to follow up their score with a FG.  That’s not good either.  Worst of all, this situation has occurred in every game this year.  Some games it did not hurt them with respect to winning the game, but in their losses, this stat is a big deal.  In the Carolina game, the Bills cut the lead to 6-3, but then surrendered another FG to the Panthers on the next drive, making the game out of reach.  In the Cincinnati game, the Bills were coming off of back-to-back turnovers and took a 13-10 lead with a FG until they gave up a TD on the next drive.

I believe that the drive right after an offense scores is very important for momentum and the overall flow of the game.  Consider other sports: many hockey coaches have claimed that the few minutes after your score a goal are the most dangerous moments for a hockey team.  When a team is scored on, they are going to increase their intensity in the following moments, looking to punch back and offer some form of payback, that’s just human nature.  If a hockey team is able to whether the storm and the strong push-back from their opponent right after a goal, they are that much closer to winning the game.  The same thing can be said for tennis.  Breaking an opponent’s serve means nothing if you can’t hold your own serve after that.

I noticed this was a common occurrence for the Bills, but I didn’t expect the rate to be 55%.  For as great as they have been on defense so far this season, over half of the time the defense allows the opponent to march down the field and undo any progress or advantage that the offense had just created.  This is an area that the defense can improve on, and I hope that McDermott and his staff have noticed this pattern and have been working with the players to correct it.

Follow me on Twitter: @m_lafave

3 thoughts on “A Troubling Defensive Stat

  1. That is a great point Michael. I started noticing last year when ever we scored the other team immediately came down the field on a long drive and scored. It is very hard to build a lead or momentum that way. I was hoping our team this year with our “new defense” would be better in this area, but as you write in your article it is something they really need to work and focus on.


  2. Although I can agree that this stat is troubling, the offense needs to not go 3 and out or just be better overall. The Bills defense giving up the FG to make it 9-3 certainly didn’t make the game out of reach. The offense just struggled to do anything. Then, in the Bengals game, the defense came up with back-to-back turnovers and offense couldn’t come away with more points. Yes the D needs to be better, but I believe the offense also struggles more so in those situations.


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