Friday, July 24, 2009

Saints Nation: How much do sacks and interceptions play into a team's success?

Gregg Williams' defenses have always been applauded for being aggressive. Williams is known for devising schemes that confuse the opposition and force it into mistakes. The mindset of his "throwing the kitchen sink at them" philosophy fits what the Saints need perfectly. Whether it's the quarterback holding on to the ball too long, missing a read, or the ball carrier being blindsided by a hit - the name of the game is increasing the totals for sacks and interceptions. Let's take a look at the Saints teams since 2000. Their record, their defensive rank, their INT total, and their sack total.

2000: 10-6, 8th total defense, 21 INT's, 64 sacks
2001: 7-9, 16th total defense, 15 INT's, 53 sacks
2002: 9-7, 27th total defense, 20 INT's, 39 sacks
2003: 8-8, 18th total defense, 14 INT's, 32 sacks
2004: 8-8, 32nd total defense, 13 INT's, 37 sacks
2005: 3-13, 14th total defense, 10 INT's, 25 sacks
2006: 10-6, 11th defense, 11 INT's, 38 sacks
2007: 7-9, 26th defense, 13 INT's, 32 sacks
2008: 8-8, 23rd defense, 15 INT's, 28 sacks

So here's the basic rundown... 2000/2001 are throwaways compared to the other seasons because new rules were implemented in 2002 and beyond to protect the quarterback which yielded less sacks leaguewide. But let's look at, since 2000, the average outputs.

in 3 WINNING seasons the Saints average: the 15th ranked defense, 17.3 Picks, and 47 sacks per season (38.5 sacks per season if you take out the inflated 2000 sack number).

In 3 8-8 season the Saints average: the 24th ranked defense, 14 Picks, and 32.3 sacks per season.

in 3 LOSING seasons the Saints average: the 19th ranked defense, 12.7 Picks, and 36.7 sacks (though if you scratch the 53 sacks in 2001 prior to the rule changes the sack average drops to 28.5 per season).

The idea is that while the defenses were actually worse in yardage yielded on the 8-8 teams, the teams were overall better and they posted more sacks and interceptions. The winning teams also had FAR MORE interceptions and sacks. The alarming statistic the losing teams showed was the very low number of interceptions per year. Admittedly what this number crunch doesn't show is how the offenses performed each season, but for the sake of this argument I think it's a safe assumption that the performance of the Saints' offenses from 2000 to 2009 have all been pretty good.

So let's hope the reputation Gregg Williams has made for himself as a guy who turns defenses into mayhem creators rings true. Based on the numbers: more sacks and INT's means more wins. We'll see if his language can translate in New Orleans.

Roster Update: The Saints released fullback Darian Barnes, freeing up a spot for a soon to be signed rookie. Barnes was kind enough to recently have a Q&A with Saints Nation, which you can read HERE. We wish him luck this season in finding a team that needs him and hope he can land elsewhere quickly. He served the Saints well in spot duty last year.