Shorter Drives Hurt the Defense
There are any number of reasons why a team might go uptempo, and a shorter drive in time does not mean a shorter drive in distance. For example, passing the ball may result in more yards per play and a longer distance in the drive itself, but passes use less time and are more likely to stop the clock.
The discrepancy in the Giants use of long drives vs. short drives nearly mirrors their use of pass vs. run: they entered the bye week with 59 percent of their plays being passes vs 41 percent rushes.
And while scoring fewer points on shorter drives harms the offense, it puts extra stress on the defense.
The Giants have allowed scores or score attempt in 29 of the subsequent drives following their 50 short drives, or 58 percent. But that number plummets to 38 percent for opposing team’s drives when the Giants hold onto the ball longer.
To use a few examples from before: In the Giants’ Week 3 blowout, the 49ers scored after six of the Giants seven shorter drives. To be fair, SF also scored after the one longer drive, but they scored or attempted to score on every drive outside their knees to end the game.
In Week 1, the Steelers scored after four of the six short drives the Giants put together, but only scored once following three of the Giants’ longer drives.
When we look at the Giants wins, we see more of the same. The Giants allowed five scores or score attempts following their 13 shorter drives as well as their 13 longer drives. But the point becomes emphasized when we look at their losses.
Following the 37 drives from the Giants which were quicker than the game’s average, opposing teams scored 24 times, or 65 percent. But following the 27 drives the Giants ate more clock, opposing teams only scored 10 times, or 37 percent.
The numbers back up the old idea that offenses are helping the team more by controlling possession and sustaining longer drives, which not only result in more points, as we’ve seen, but also by giving the defense a longer chance to recover.
Jason Garrett has been evening out his style in recent weeks. In the past three games, the Giants ran 10 fast drives vs 10 slow drives. But the Giants only scored in five of those fast drives, while opponents scored after seven of them.
The Giants scored in nine of those 10 longer possessions, though. And opponents only scored after four of them.
The numbers show that Garrett’s methodology is as important for the offense as it is for the defense. And if he wants to keep the Giants in the hunt for the playoffs, it’s better to keep his offensive possessions as even as he has in the past three weeks.