Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Can the Tarvaris Revolution Continue?

Last year, a 4-3 Vikings team with playoff aspirations went into San Francisco, and, against a defense that was allowing an average of 33.6 points per game, managed one field goal in a 9-3 loss. After an offseason spending spree, the 49ers defense has improved, but only from league worst to below average (23.8 ppg-24th overall).

Here's the thing-despite focusing on improving their pass defense in the offenseby signing corner Nate Clements to a whopping 8 year, $80 million contract and safety Michael Lewis and drafted LB Patrick Willis and DE Ray McDonald in the first and third round, the Niners defense has not only failed to improve, it's gotten worse. Last year, their defense was 28th in opposing passer rating and 25th in Negative Pass Play Percentage (NPP). Quarterbacks posted a 90.9 QB Rating against them and were only able to cause a Negative Pass Play (an interception or a sack) 8.7% of the time, or a little less than 3 times a game, despite opponents running an average of 32.4 pass plays a game.

This year, even with improved personnel, the Niners have allowed opposing quarterbacks to post a 91.9 QB rating while only causing a negative pass play 7.9% of the time, which equates to about 2.6 of the 33.9 pass plays opponents have passed against them.

To put those statistics in context, consider that Peyton Manning has a 92.5 QB rating and that the Giants have the best NPP, with 12.79%, or 4.25 times out of 33.2 attempts. Here are the Vikings' last three opponents' opposing QB rating and NPP:


Opposing QB Rating

Negative Pass Play Percentage

Tarvaris’ QB Rating


74.1 (6th)

10.58% (7th)



84.6 (18th)

12.79% (1st)



93.0 (29th)

9.05% (18th)


To put it bluntly, this will be one of the worst passing defenses Tarvaris will see all year. And it's not like he'll have to carry the load either, as the Vikings should be able to run against them as well (the Niners are allowing an average of 3.8 YPC). Then again, Brad Johnson and Chester Taylor shouldn't have had any problems against them last year.

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