Packing the Stats: Third Quarter Struggles
In my very first “Packing the Stats” feature, I broke down the 2010 Green Bay Packers’ scoring by quarter in an attempt to research the claim that they were slow starters. Among a number of conclusions that I drew was the discovery that the team performed best in the third quarter. Not only were they scoring well, but they were also limiting the point totals of their opponent.
As I look through the stats this year, however, it’s quite the opposite. The third quarter for the 2012 Green Bay Packers is their worst by far, especially considering it is the only quarter in which the Packers have been outscored by their opponent. In fact, the Packers have only had a higher third quarter score than their opponent in two out of ten games so far.
Before we go any further, though, let’s take a look at the raw data. I’ve also included a chart to help illustrate the overall scoring data by quarter:
The Green Bay Packers, perhaps surprisingly, do the best overall in the first and fourth quarters of play. Their defense does a nice job keeping the points down at the beginning of games, where they only allow and average of 1.9 points in the first quarter. Unfortunately, they allow on average a steady 6.0 to 6.6 points in each subsequent quarter of play.
The offense, meanwhile, scores the majority of their points in the second and fourth quarters. In fact, the Packers have only gone scoreless three out of twenty times in those quarters of play. Perhaps indicative of their struggles, they’ve put up the most points (9.1 average) in the fourth quarter, where they’ve probably needed them the most.
If you compare this data to the 2010 season, the margins are definitely closer. The third quarter problems become even more magnified when you also note that the 2010 Packers, at least in those first twelve games, maintained a higher average than their opponents across the board. Thus, having a negative difference in point total becomes a little worrisome.
Now, as further analysis, I thought it might be prudent to look at the opening drives of each half of play. I was curious to see if this might have anything to do with who got the ball first, as well as how each team fared on their first drive. Below you will find a chart that notes which team earned the first possession of the game, as well as whether each team scored on their respective first possessions in each half:
I’m not at all surprised that the Green Bay Packers have received the first possession in only two of their ten games. Mike McCarthy generally likes to defer on the coin toss, and Aaron Rodgers has noted before their desire to “double down” at the end of the first half and then at the beginning of the second.
Unfortunately, of those eight times the Packers have received the second half kickoff, they have only scored three times on that opening drive. This actually makes the third quarter problems a little dimmer, since you’d think the Packers would be able to take advantage of that first possession.
Overall, this data is a bit of a double-edged sword for the team. They are clearly not finding a rhythm on any of their opening drives, whether it be the first half or the second. In fact, they’ve only scored on one of their first possessions across all ten games. Fixing this problem alone could make a huge difference in both the scoring and the game momentum.
The other side of the coin, though, is that none of their opponents have scored on opening first half drives. They’ve also seemed to clamp down in the second half, where the Indianapolis Colts were the last team to score against the Packers on their first drive.
I’ll open up the floor from here. I’m curious to know what you see in the data and what explanations you feel are appropriate for the scoring trends. And, of course, do you think the Packers can improve on this third quarter weakness?——————Follow @ChadToporski