Monday, August 21, 2017

Monday Morning Sentimonies: How Far Have We Come?

Despite the fact that our position at the basement of the west division has not changed, most people will agree that the Riders are a better team than last. I wouldn’t have thought it would be possible to worse than the 2016 Riders but the Hamilton Ti-Cats have proved otherwise. Anyway, I thought I would take the opportunity over the Riders’ bye week to dig into exactly how much better the 2017 Riders are after 7 games than the 2016 Riders were.

Below is a comparison of the stats after 7 games between 2016 and 2017.

  2016 2017 Difference % Change
Wins 1 3 +2  
Points 138 197 +59 +43%
Offensive TDs 10 20 +10 +100%
Passing Yards 2057 2228 +171 +8%
Rushing Yards 463 514 +51 +11%
Sacks allowed 17 16 -1 -6%
Turnovers 15 9 -6 -40%
Points allowed 233 172 -61 -26%
Passing Yds allowed 2213 2041 -172 -8%
Rushing Yds allowed 643 678 +35 +5%
Sacks 10 15 +5 +50%
Turnovers 10 12 +2 +20%
Special Teams
Punt Return Avg 7.9 11.1 +3 +41%
Opponent Punt Ret Avg 12.8 9.4 -3 -27%
Kickoff return avg 19.5 25.5 +6 +31%
Opponent Kickoff Ret Avg 24.7 20.6 -4 -17%
Net punt avg 32.8 35.7 +3 +9%
Penalties 61 50 -11 -18%
Players Dressed 65 60 -5 -8%

The first thing that jumps out is that there is improvement in every category but 1. Some of the increases are dramatic and some are incremental but its improvement pretty much across the board. Let’s take a closer look at each category.

What stands out here is that we are actually scoring points (almost exclusively at home but that’s another topic for another day). Scoring is up 43% and we have doubled… I repeat doubled… the number of times our offense has crossed the goal line. We have also drastically decreased turnovers. The offseason focus on upgrading our O-line and receivers seems to be working.

Again, scoring is what jumps off the page here. We are allowing 26% less points that last season. Don’t get me wrong are defense still has its deficiencies (particularly in pass defense) but they are a far cry from the utter garbage we fielded last year. This may be in part to a decrease in a statistical category I didn’t track above “players converted to defensive starter from god knows what they were before”. Seems playing actual defenders has its advantages.

Special Teams
This is the one that really caught my eye. I had a general sense just from watching the games that we are playing pretty solid on special teams but I didn’t realize how much better. Our kick and punt returns are significantly better and our coverage teams are allowing smaller returns… particularly on punts.

Overall we are seeing a more disciplined team as penalties are down… as are fines (at least since the actual season started).

I think some of this improvement is a product of the last category in my table there. Unlike last year where our game roster was a constant carousel of players on and off, on route to dressing a record 100 players, this year there is a lot more stability overall. Key is the stability we are getting along the O-line and in the secondary.

Ultimately the only statistical category that matters is winning and we are still clearly the 5th best team in the West division in that regard until we prove otherwise. So while I’m hopeful, I’m not yet on the “the Riders have turned the corner” bandwagon yet. That said, I do think it’s important we take a step back and appreciate that we seem to be headed in the right direction following one of the biggest tear downs and rebuilds in recent memory. But also keep in mind that when your starting point is rock bottom, a few big steps forwards doesn’t immediately put you back on the top.


Anonymous said...

It's nice to see some positive results & we shouldn't dismiss this trend. My concern is how they fare compared to the rest of the West.I think, should they finish last, they won't be 10 points out of 4th like last year. But the other teams have improved a lot. The 4th place Esks in 2016 may be the most improved. It's hard not to notice the sheer volume of young talent stepping up in the face of losing not only starters, but stars - my early favourite for next year already. Winnipeg appears to be capable of taking the next step. If anything BC, with problems in the trenches, is weaker than most expected & most vulnerable. Calgary looks great again but I think Messam, despite a strong start, looks slower & they have an aging defensive backfield outside of CB. Next year they may drop back. The Rider rebuild was to bring in a lot of fresh young talent. That didn't pan out last year so we had an injection of veterans this year. Ironically in most starting positions, we are older than the starters on the aforementioned Esks, & contrary to popular opinion we are not the youngest club in the CFL. Our current starters on OL average over 30. We still have work to do & no one else out West is standing still. Outside of QB, next year I believe we have to get a dominant presence @ DT. But there is progress. We are about to find out how much. We have to show up big in Edm. If we can't beat them now with all their starting DB's likely out, no Sewell, Sherritt, Bowman, Zylstra, Hazelton, White, Van, then when? This should be an easy win with the big test being Wpg.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your work on the stats

Agree lets see how we breakdown against the West

D from YEG