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Week One

September 10, 2001 by Steel Phantom

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Fortunately, I had some pressing business Sunday and that prevented me from giving full attention to this game.� I had it on while I was working but generally viewed this contest as a jagged sequence of replays rather than the inexorable butt kicking that must actually have taken place.� I did tape the game to watch later but that won�t happen.� I�d sooner tape over View re-runs than review this debacle.


There are two facts worth noting; the first is that the damaged Jag vets, in no order being Boselli, Smith, McCardell, Weigart and Brady deserve a lot of credit.� Those men came out and played very solid, tough football.� That is what we�d like to see here but for at least this week, multi-millionaire motivational expert Bill Cowher came up a little short.� From all appearances, the Stillers were entirely unready; you know I kind of expect a barf-fest when the Stillers have the ball and, when KVO and K�Bell went out early, I did expect the D-side to struggle.� What I did not expect, and cannot accept, is that the Stillers got beat-up and dominated on both sides of the ball.� The Jags are a finesse team (or so it said) and the Stillers a hard-nosed crew of big hitters.� Well, yesterday, it was finesse 6, hard cases zip as Stiller after Stiller limped off.� Losing a game is one thing; getting out-hit and beaten down is another.��


Master Spy Mike Mularkey�s new offense remains a closely held secret.� You saw the game and have read the commentaries; consider these league-wide week one statistics:


Of 14 games played Sunday, the teams with an edge in gross passing yards per attempt (YPA before sacks) were 13-0; Seattle/Cleveland was a push:� This category considers play-calling, execution, RAC without respect to completion %, pass protection, total passing yards or attempts.� It is a measure of efficiency and intent.� Sunday, the Stillers averaged 4.89 yards per attempt; (4) teams did worse.� Those were: Dallas, Chicago and Washington.Check it out:


Jags (7.60) over Stillers (4.89)

49ers (8.38) over Falcons (5.50)

Panthers (10.14) over Vikings (6.20)

Colts (10.50) over NYJ (6.42)

Bengals (7.55) over Pats (6.34)

Saints (7.00) over Bills (5.71)

Bucs (5.57) over Boys (1.79)

Ravens (8.73) over Bears (3.53)

Pack (9.29) over Lions (7.01)

Bolts (7.16) over Skins (3.72)

Raiders (7.41) over Chiefs (6.00)

Rams (7.33) over Eagles (6.50)

Fins (11.25) over Titans (5.70)

Browns (5.33) lost to S�Hawks (5.23)


The Brown anomaly is insignificant.� It is worth noting that (5) teams (Lions, Eagles, Jets Pats and Chiefs) had yard-attempt figures higher than the lowest winners (T�Bay and S�Hawks).� Sacks figure in here: Batch went down (7) times reducing the Lions net YPA to 5.94; McNabb went down (5) times reducing the Eagles net YPA to 5.77; Bledsoe went down (4) times reducing the Pats net YPA to 5.89.�� In sum, an YPA below 6.00 is ineffective; the Stillers 4.89 is feeble and, if by design, feeble-minded.


Of 14 games played Sunday, the teams with the TOP advantage were 10-4.� The Stillers bucked the trend; they had the advantage 31:10 to 28:50 but lost anyway.� This statistic is somewhat misleading since the Jags controlled the 2nd quarter (when the game was decided) and, pretty much, turtled thereafter.� For what its worth though, the Stillers joined with the Jets, Bills and Bears in �controlling the clock� in losing efforts.� It is worth noting that both the Jets and Bills ran fewer plays than did their opponents; that is not true for the Stillers and Bears.


Of 14 games played Sunday, the teams that ran the most plays went 11-3. ��Again, the Stillers bucked the trend running (68) plays to the Jags (56).� Minnesota ran more plays than the Panthers (though Carolina had almost 7:00 more TOP); however, the Vikings turned it over (5) times.� The Bears ran had a 9:24 TOP advantage over the Ravens but got nothing done.�


Of 14 games played Sunday, the teams with the most rushing attempts were 12-2.� The Stillers had (1) fewer attempt than the Jags; teams that rushed more than their opponents but still lost were Atlanta (to SF) and the Bills (to the Saints).�


Of 14 games played Sunday, the teams with the most passing attempts were 5-9.� The Stillers had (37) attempts, the Jags (26); the list of teams that tried to catch up through the air and failed is lengthy:� Tennessee, Minnesota and Philly are the contenders, KC and Detroit are future opponents, and the others don�t matter.


Of 14 games played Sunday, teams managing a takeaway to turnover remainder of� +2 were 4-0:� +/- 1 is insignificant.� The Vikings turned it over (5) times and lost to Carolina (+3); the Saints were also +3 against the Bills (3 to 0).� The Pack was +2 (3 to1) against the Lions; the Skin and Bolts both turned it over (4) times (each +/-0) as did the Stillers (-4).


O-side summary: YPA looks like the prime indicator for winning and the Stillers 4.89 won�t cut it.� Off the first week, the Stillers preferred grind-it-out, control the clock philosophy did generally prove out.� Teams that ran it more than their opponents were 12-2; teams that controlled the clock were 10-4.� The Stillers did one but not the other; whatever, this team will not win consistently unless or until it can average around 6.50 YPA.� The Stillers meek passing game was further handicapped with turnovers.� (4) can kill and (4) with no takeaways is surely a losing proposition.�


D-side:� The defense had no positive impact on this game.� After sitting for 7:10 while the offense rolled to their only score; this unit came out to yield a TD in a 5 play, 2:40 drive.� After that, the offense went 3 and out and the Jags blocked a punt.� Not good but no excuse for the D to give only token resistance as the Jags drove 50 yards in just 3:45.�� This group looked exhausted then; since they hadn�t played much, there is no excuse.��� Beyond that:


(28) teams played Sunday, (24) forced at least (1) turnover.� The Stiller D-side had none; they joined the Bills, 49ers and Bengals in this category.� The Bills lost; the 49ers won a scrum against Atlanta and the Bengals did do some business with (4) sacks.


(28) teams played Sunday, (17) had more than (1) sack:� The Bears and Titans had none; (8) teams other than the Stillers had (1).�� In aggregate, these (11) were 5-6.


(28) teams played Sunday, all but (2) had a sack + takeaway� count exceeding (1):� The Bills and Stillers were the exceptions; both teams got annihilated.


D-side summary:� Pressure yields sacks and takeaways; with an offense that resembles a Toro at the Brickyard, the Stillers need the D-side to dominate and score. A 3-man rush won�t cut it; beyond that, the Stillers need a better TE match-up than Jason Simmons.� TE have been open against this team all summer and so long as Coach Lewis matches a 5�-8� defender on a 6�-4� or so receiver that won�t change.� Spike doesn�t win those kinds of match-ups but most professionals do.

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