By this point in the season, and really since before it began, we all know there are several holes on this team. And with multiple losses after a strong October, they stick out more than usual. We all know what they are so this won't be stating anything new, but as I was looking at the general stats to this point, two do stand out more than others. Are they the only reasons for the losing, no. Like I said, there are multiple holes on both sides of the ball. Not to mention numbers tell you little about coaching, and I think some more creative play calling would help to a degree for the time being. Either way, these two lists illustrate two of the biggest issues with the team.
Hartline: 53 for 790
Bess: 48 for 586
Fasano: 26 for 200
Bush: 23 for 194
Thomas: 12 for 119
Those are our top 5 receivers on the season so far. You can see a number of issues clearly from it. Obviously, the main thing, as we all know, is the fact that our offense is Hartline and Bess. Out of our 2238 passing yards, they account for 1378 of them. That's 62%. Out of the 187 completions, they account for 101 of them or 54%. Just look at the gap between Bess and Fasano, the next closest receiver. Hard to surprise a defense when they know that two guys make up your offense. The next one that can be pointed out, and I know Kevin made a post about this, is Bush's stats. 10 games in and Bush only has 23 catches for 194 yards. That's 2 catches a game. That's not even 20 yards a game through the air for a player that makes defenders look silly. I like that we have given Bush an opportunity to be a running back for a change. And he has produced some nice highlights doing it. But at the end of the day, he's most dangerous in space. 2 catches for someone like him just isn't enough, especially with the inability to run it lately. And finally, the last issue that jumps out clearly, and yet another one we've complained about all year. Notice the top 5 receivers on the team, 2 WRs, 1 TE and 2 HBs. Behind them comes another TE in Clay. Even our FB has more catches than a 3rd WR. So many people complain that we don't have a "number one" receiver, but that isn't the issue. The issue is a lack of a 3rd and 4th WR. Teams know they have to cover Hartline and Bess. They know to keep an eye on Reggie when he's on the field. They know Fasano is the safety blanket. And they know there is no one else. We don't need one dominant WR, as nice as it would be. We just need at least 4 productive WRs. A defense can't cover everyone no matter how good they are. If you have multiple options, someone is going to be open on any given play.
The other set of stats comes from the defense and is a little more specific.
Wake: 9.5 sacks
Starks. 4.5 sacks
Vernon, Misi: 2.5 sacks
Our leaders in sacks. I don't think it needs any explanation. We all know that Wake IS our pass rush. He has 5 sacks on the next closest defender, 7 or more over the rest. He has made 35% of our sacks and 40% of the sacks from the front seven. And much like our passing game, Wake and Starks account for 52% of the sack total. And 58% of the front seven sacks. Again, no one else is stepping up. Teams know to focus on Wake. To his credit, he's still producing. He is a beast after all. But when the attention is on one player, someone else should be able to step up. Instead, we have to rely on all out blitzes to generate pressure. Our secondary isn't the strongest unit, that is a given. But how do you help a secondary? You rush the passer. Make him uncomfortable. If a QB has all day to throw, a receiver will get open eventually no matter how strong the secondary. But if he only has so much time to make a decision before he's getting hit, the corners don't have to stick with their man as long. Remember when we use to give New England more problems than anyone? Why was that? Because we were in Brady's face all day long. We were knocking him to the ground on every play. Remember a few years back when they took him out of the game because they were afraid we were going to hurt him? That's what we need back. A relentless pass rush, preferably from our front seven alone. Even better if we could get it from the front 4. The less guys you have to send after the QB= more guys in coverage and less spaces for him to throw.
Those are just the two main ones. Like I said, there are more issues. We've turned the ball over too many times. We haven't created enough turnovers to counter this. We're only converting 33% of our third downs. Not enough touchdowns, or points in general. We could look at penalty yards of late. Anything. One more stat that I noticed was the fact that Dansby leads the team right now in tackles, followed by Burnett. How many years in the past has Bell, our safety, been the leading tackler? You want your LBs to lead the team. Generally if the safety has more tackles, that means you're giving up to many big plays, whether it be a big pass or long run.