Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

13 Oct 2009

Week 5 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

New Orleans holds onto the top spot in the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings through their bye week, with Philadelphia's dominant victory over Tampa Bay putting them right behind at number two. Philadelphia and Baltimore are both high up in the ratings, sitting among the undefeated teams despite having at least one loss apiece. On the other side of the ratings, the two worst teams in DVOA are actually not winless teams, but rather Detroit (31st at 1-4) and Oakland (32nd at 1-4). The Raiders disaster has us close to breaking out another one of those "best or worst 10 teams through Week X" tables each week. Right now, the Raiders qualify as the sixth-worst offense of the DVOA Era through Week 5 and the fifth-worst team overall.

Perhaps more interesting than a team at the top or the bottom is a team in the middle. We're all by now raining accolades upon New Orleans, Denver, and Cincinnati as 2009's surprise teams, but according to DVOA, one of those teams is not like the others. No, it isn't just that Cincinnati actually has a loss. Despite being one fluke play away from 5-0, the Bengals actually have a negative DVOA, 18th overall at -2.6%. Why is DVOA so down on the Bengals? It isn't schedule -- in fact, DVOA grades Cincinnati with the sixth-toughest schedule in the NFL so far. It's more about how the Bengals are winning: close. Three of the Bengals' wins have come by just a field goal, the other by a touchdown. They needed all of overtime to narrowly beat the Browns, which adds a whole extra quarter of mediocre play into their DVOA rating. The Bengals are also riding some excellent fumble luck (they've recovered six of eight fumbles, not counting special teams).

What about those other surprise teams, New Orleans and Denver? Last week I went and looked at other teams that had dramatically turned around their defenses between one season and the first few games of the next season. This week, I want to try to look into the most commonly cited reason for the turnarounds: the changes at defensive coordinator. Yes, both teams brought in new talent this offseason, but the biggest additions were Gregg Williams in New Orleans and Mike Nolan. These coordinators have done an amazing job of scheming, helping turn previously mediocre talent into a fearsome force (two fearsome forces, in fact). How unusual is this? Do teams that hire previously successful defensive coordinators generally have this much improvement? Should we have seen this coming, and, more important, is this a blueprint other teams need to follow in the future?

I went looking for trends by looking at every team since 1995 that had a defensive DVOA above 0% (i.e. worse than average) the previous season. You know these teams will improve, on average, because of regression to the mean. But how did teams with new coordinators, in particular experienced coordinators, differ from the larger group of teams coming off bad defensive years? The answer: They didn't.

  • All defenses above 0% improved by an average of -5.5% DVOA.
  • All defenses above 0% that hired a new coordinator improved by an average of -5.5% DVOA.
  • All defenses above 0% that hired a new coordinator with previous coordinator experience improved by an average of -5.3% DVOA.
  • All defenses above 0% that hired a new coordinator who previously was coordinator of a defense with a top 10 DVOA improved by an average of -4.0% DVOA.

Obviously, there are a ton of other factors at play here when it comes to every single one of these defenses, but the teams that hired well-known, previously successful coordinators don't stand out at all. In fact, they actually average a smaller improvement than other bad defenses, although this is likely just random variation and not some problem with hiring experienced coordinators.

This point is further driven home when we see that the new coordinators who did the most to turn their defenses around were generally not well-known names with successful pasts. Unless they completely collapse, the Broncos will end the season as one of only seven teams since 1995 to improve their defensive DVOA by more than 20 percentage points after hiring a new defensive coordinator. Only two of the previous six, however, brought in a new coordinator with an established record of success:

Biggest Defensive Improvement with New Coordinator, 1995-2008
Year Team DEF DVOA
Y-1
Rank DEF DVOA Rank DEF DVOA
Change
Coordinator Previous Best Defense
1998 OAK 10.6% 29 -19.4% 3 -30.0% W.Shaw 1995 Rams (11th in DVOA)
2001 STL 13.5% 27 -16.3% 5 -29.8% L.Smith First-time coordinator
2001 CLE 8.2% 25 -17.0% 3 -25.2% F.Fazio 1996 Vikings (17th in DVOA)
1999 PHI 5.6% 25 -17.7% 4 -23.3% J.Johnson 1996 Colts (24th in DVOA)
2004 WAS 7.2% 24 -14.8% 4 -22.0% G.Williams 2000 Titans (led league in DVOA)
1996 NE 11.4% 29 -9.2% 11 -20.6% B.Belichick Giants teams of pre-DVOA Era

Willie Shaw oversaw an average-level defense for the Rams during their first two seasons in St. Louis. Jon Gruden brought him in to turn around the Raiders defense in 1998, and the results were shocking. Even more shocking was the move that Gruden made after just one more season, firing Shaw because of a personality dispute. Shaw then resurfaced as defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings in 2002. This Sports Illustrated article shows the high expectations that came along with Shaw, the belief that his attacking style would turn around the Vikings defense like it did the Raiders defense four years earlier. Sound like what people were saying about Williams and Nolan a few weeks ago? Well, the Vikings were 30th in defensive DVOA that season and Shaw was fired after one year.

Foge Fazio was the guy who replaced Tony Dungy in Minnesota when Dungy got the head coaching job in Tampa Bay, and he ran a very league-average defense for four seasons. He coached the Washington linebackers in 2000, but it wasn't a huge story when Butch Davis brought him in to Cleveland in 2001. The unheralded Fazio turned around a defense still just two years removed from expansion, ranking third and seventh in DVOA over two seasons, and then retired.

Jim Johnson got his first NFL coordinator job in Indianapolis under Lindy Infante when Vince Tobin left to become head coach in Arizona. (He had previously been a coordinator in the USFL and in the college ranks.) He had two really uninspiring years where the Colts finished 24th and 25th in DVOA. This was not a name that brought a ton of excitement to Philadelphia when Andy Reid hired him to run the Eagles defense in 1999. Of course, a decade of awesomeness followed.

On the flipside, some guys who coordinated amazing defenses for one team were terrible in later jobs. Ted Cottrell was well-respected in Buffalo, inconsistent in New York, and horrible in Minnesota. John Marshall was coordinator for the best defense in the league with the 1997 49ers, but couldn't do much with the Panthers. How did the attacking, blitzing style do for the Jim Haslett Rams? And while Gregg Williams turned around the Redskins and is currently running the surprising Saints defense, he was also expected to do big things with Jacksonville last year. That team was 24th in defensive DVOA.

No matter what has happened in the past, Gregg Williams and Mike Nolan have done outstanding jobs this season. Other teams just shouldn't get the idea that hiring a new coordinator is going to serve as some sort of magic pill to turn around a porous defense. And maybe -- despite all the negative things we wrote in FOA 2009 -- the talent on those two defenses was also better than we thought.

* * * * *

Team stats pages and playoff odds are all now updated. Premium database should be updated later this evening.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through five weeks of 2009, measured by our proprietary Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) system that breaks down every single play and compares a team's performance to the league average based on situation in order to determine value over average. (Explained further here.)

OFFENSE and DEFENSE DVOA are adjusted to consider all fumbles, kept or lost, as equal value. SPECIAL TEAMS VOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver) and week of season. Because it is early in the season, opponent adjustments are currently at 50 percent strength.

As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE.

DAVE is a formula which combines our preseason projection with current DVOA to get a more accurate forecast of how a team will play the rest of the season. Right now, the preseason projection makes up 27 percent of DAVE (40 percent for teams that have only played four games).

To save people some time, please use the following format for all complaints: <team> is clearly ranked <too high/too low> because <reason unrelated to DVOA>. <subjective ranking system> is way better than this. <unrelated team-supporting or -denigrating comment, preferably with poor spelling and/or chat-acceptable spelling>


TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
LAST
WEEK
TOTAL
DAVE
RANK W-L OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
1 NO 59.3% 1 32.7% 4 4-0 33.0% 2 -28.8% 2 -2.5% 20
2 PHI 56.9% 2 36.0% 3 3-1 22.8% 6 -30.6% 1 3.5% 8
3 NYG 45.3% 5 37.2% 2 5-0 21.7% 8 -26.9% 3 -3.2% 23
4 IND 42.2% 4 40.4% 1 5-0 36.5% 1 -7.4% 8 -1.7% 16
5 MIN 34.4% 6 30.2% 5 5-0 16.8% 12 -8.9% 7 8.7% 3
6 BAL 32.1% 3 27.7% 6 3-2 22.4% 7 -11.2% 5 -1.5% 15
7 DEN 31.8% 7 16.9% 8 5-0 17.2% 11 -20.1% 4 -5.6% 29
8 GB 19.9% 8 9.4% 13 2-2 19.4% 10 -4.6% 10 -4.1% 27
9 NE 15.7% 10 18.7% 7 3-2 25.4% 5 9.0% 19 -0.6% 13
10 ATL 13.9% 14 1.7% 16 3-1 20.4% 9 8.3% 18 1.8% 10
11 DAL 13.5% 12 9.8% 11 3-2 27.9% 3 13.3% 25 -1.1% 14
12 PIT 12.6% 13 15.1% 9 3-2 26.0% 4 10.8% 21 -2.6% 21
13 NYJ 8.4% 11 1.2% 17 3-2 -5.5% 20 -7.0% 9 6.9% 4
14 SEA 8.2% 21 9.2% 14 2-3 3.4% 17 -3.6% 12 1.2% 11
15 JAC 6.8% 9 9.7% 12 2-3 15.8% 13 12.2% 24 3.2% 9
16 CHI 2.7% 16 10.7% 10 3-1 -13.2% 25 -4.0% 11 11.9% 1
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
LAST
WEEK
TOTAL
DAVE
RANK W-L OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
17 MIA 2.1% 17 -3.7% 19 2-3 11.8% 14 8.0% 17 -1.7% 17
18 CIN -2.6% 19 -3.4% 18 4-1 5.9% 15 -0.3% 14 -8.9% 32
19 WAS -3.5% 20 -4.6% 20 2-3 -7.2% 21 -3.4% 13 0.2% 12
20 HOU -9.1% 18 -8.9% 21 2-3 2.0% 18 17.1% 27 6.0% 5
21 SF -9.8% 15 -13.1% 22 3-2 -16.0% 26 -9.1% 6 -2.9% 22
22 ARI -10.6% 22 -14.2% 23 2-2 -1.5% 19 2.6% 16 -6.5% 30
23 SD -13.1% 23 7.3% 15 2-2 5.2% 16 23.3% 29 5.0% 6
24 BUF -21.8% 24 -23.5% 27 1-4 -17.8% 27 0.7% 15 -3.3% 24
25 CLE -26.3% 27 -21.8% 26 1-4 -21.4% 30 15.2% 26 10.4% 2
26 KC -28.1% 26 -21.0% 25 0-5 -12.5% 24 19.8% 28 4.2% 7
27 TEN -28.1% 25 -15.6% 24 0-5 -8.7% 22 12.1% 23 -7.4% 31
28 TB -43.3% 28 -34.8% 29 0-5 -11.1% 23 30.1% 32 -2.1% 18
29 CAR -44.2% 32 -25.9% 28 1-3 -30.0% 31 10.2% 20 -4.0% 26
30 STL -50.0% 31 -37.8% 30 0-5 -21.2% 29 25.3% 30 -3.5% 25
31 DET -51.5% 30 -39.8% 31 1-4 -18.1% 28 28.3% 31 -5.1% 28
32 OAK -60.3% 29 -47.5% 32 1-4 -45.8% 32 12.0% 22 -2.5% 19

  • ESTIMATED WINS uses a statistic known as "Forest Index" that emphasizes consistency as well as DVOA in the most important specific situations: red zone defense, first quarter offense, and performance in the second half when the score is close. It then projects a number of wins adjusted to a league-average schedule and a league-average rate of recovering fumbles. Teams that have had their bye week are projected as if they had played one game per week.
  • PAST SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents played this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative). It is not adjusted for which games are home or road.
  • FUTURE SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents still left to play this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative). It is not adjusted for which games are home or road.
  • VARIANCE measures the statistical variance of the team's weekly DVOA performance. Teams are ranked from most consistent (#1, lowest variance) to least consistent (#32, highest variance).




TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
ESTIM.
WINS
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VAR. RANK
1 NO 59.3% 4-0 62.4% 5.0 1 -1.6% 17 -11.3% 31 1.3% 2
2 PHI 56.9% 3-1 65.0% 3.4 7 -11.3% 26 6.9% 8 23.7% 30
3 NYG 45.3% 5-0 55.8% 3.9 4 -24.4% 31 17.7% 1 10.8% 19
4 IND 42.2% 5-0 47.1% 4.0 3 -4.3% 22 -3.0% 22 13.1% 21
5 MIN 34.4% 5-0 46.3% 4.1 2 -23.5% 30 1.3% 13 1.2% 1
6 BAL 32.1% 3-2 40.3% 3.6 6 -10.9% 25 1.4% 12 17.7% 27
7 DEN 31.8% 5-0 39.7% 3.7 5 -12.0% 27 3.9% 9 5.9% 10
8 GB 19.9% 2-2 23.2% 3.1 11 -3.1% 21 -8.1% 26 11.2% 20
9 NE 15.7% 3-2 12.6% 3.0 12 12.9% 7 -2.3% 20 4.5% 8
10 ATL 13.9% 3-1 25.0% 3.2 9 -7.3% 23 8.1% 6 7.4% 13
11 DAL 13.5% 3-2 14.8% 3.2 8 -7.7% 24 16.4% 3 4.7% 9
12 PIT 12.6% 3-2 23.9% 3.1 10 -18.6% 29 0.8% 14 2.9% 5
13 NYJ 8.4% 3-2 7.8% 2.9 14 8.0% 10 -10.3% 29 6.2% 11
14 SEA 8.2% 2-3 5.5% 2.4 17 -1.6% 18 -13.2% 32 15.1% 23
15 JAC 6.8% 2-3 1.6% 2.9 13 0.5% 15 -9.5% 28 30.1% 32
16 CHI 2.7% 3-1 12.5% 2.6 16 -2.2% 19 3.7% 10 10.1% 18
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
ESTIM.
WINS
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VAR. RANK
17 MIA 2.1% 2-3 2.3% 2.3 19 5.9% 12 -2.6% 21 20.0% 28
18 CIN -2.6% 4-1 -1.6% 2.6 15 14.0% 6 -8.9% 27 7.6% 14
19 WAS -3.5% 2-3 9.9% 2.4 18 -28.7% 32 17.2% 2 4.0% 7
20 HOU -9.1% 2-3 2.8% 2.3 20 -16.8% 28 0.4% 15 7.9% 15
21 SF -9.8% 3-2 -15.6% 2.1 22 -0.8% 16 -1.2% 19 13.6% 22
22 ARI -10.6% 2-2 -8.7% 2.0 23 6.0% 11 -10.4% 30 22.9% 29
23 SD -13.1% 2-2 -15.5% 2.2 21 -2.7% 20 0.2% 16 3.6% 6
24 BUF -21.8% 1-4 -24.6% 1.8 24 1.5% 14 -1.1% 18 17.1% 25
25 CLE -26.3% 1-4 -35.0% 1.5 25 14.8% 5 -6.3% 25 25.4% 31
26 KC -28.1% 0-5 -32.8% 1.2 27 17.5% 3 -5.3% 24 1.8% 3
27 TEN -28.1% 0-5 -34.8% 1.5 26 12.2% 8 -3.6% 23 8.6% 17
28 TB -43.3% 0-5 -46.7% 0.5 31 18.1% 2 10.2% 5 8.1% 16
29 CAR -44.2% 1-3 -52.0% 0.7 30 16.1% 4 10.9% 4 17.4% 26
30 STL -50.0% 0-5 -59.1% 0.7 29 9.8% 9 -0.1% 17 2.1% 4
31 DET -51.5% 1-4 -60.0% 0.9 28 21.1% 1 1.6% 11 7.2% 12
32 OAK -60.3% 1-4 -58.1% 0.4 32 5.3% 13 7.4% 7 16.0% 24

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 13 Oct 2009

183 comments, Last at 16 Oct 2009, 11:40am by Bruce G.

Comments

2
by ammek :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 5:49pm

The only way to project the Denver defensive turnaround would have been to implement a separate coordinator adjustment called Shucks the Last One Was an Incompetent Klutz, better known by its acronym, SLOWIK.

Slowik is the exception to your rule, in that he has eight bad DVOA seasons (ok: five bad, one below average, two putrid) and no others. Perhaps 1993 — his first season in Chicago — will save him.

Seriously, the main argument against the likelihood of a better Bronco defense was that they had gone through so many coordinators in recent years, of whom Slowik was merely the latest and most inept. I would have expected the defense to improve to, say, the level it was at in 2006, simply because of SLOWIK. That it is a top five unit (so far) was, in my view, impossible to foresee.

9
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 6:05pm

Hmmpf, until you have fully accounted for the potential of a COTTRELL (Crikey, Our Ted is Terrible, Really, an Elephantine Loser that Loses), you haven't fully grasped the potential for coaching mishaps!

18
by tuluse :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 6:25pm

I'm loving the coaching acronyms.

I'm just glad the Bears got rid of SHEA (Sucking Heavily in Every Area).

27
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 7:32pm

The niners are still burdened by YORK, the Young Owner's Retard Kid

47
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 8:41pm

The Bucs were saddled with the Badly Approached Tampa-2 Eliminating System, BATES.

83
by ammek :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 4:00am

The Packers have already been through BATES, and be warned, the sequel is Bates Off Board, Saddled with Afterthought Now, Defense Enters Realm of Suckitude.

179
by BucNasty :: Thu, 10/15/2009 - 7:09pm

Under this system, we get Beaten Any Time the Enemy Slings it.

28
by acetone (not verified) :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 7:32pm

Gregg Williams:
#1 with 2000 Titans
#24 with 2008 JAX
#2 with 2009 NO

So hiring a new coordinator (experienced or not) is not enough in itself to guarantee a big turnaround, but if the previous coordinator was bad, as ammek writes above, then perhaps significant improvement *could* be expected. Perhaps a coordinator adjustment would show a different trend.

What about 2008 JAX, then? Could that be because Williams was replacing an already good coordinator, because the defense was already playing to their potential, i.e., it just didn't have the talent to do better than #24, or because there were a lot of injuries?

45
by sam :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 8:39pm

I don't think anybody in JAX thought the problem last year was scheme. The problem was (and still is) that their players cannot get to the QB.

--
sam! or the original sam from the old FO

81
by The Diesel (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 2:34am

2008 JAX can be explained quite simply if you look beyond the stats

Jack Del Rio used to be a defensive coordinator before earning a head coaching gig. Like most head coaches that used to be coordinators he still held on to much of the defensive play calling and coaching. Then Williams was brought in but his style and Rio's style clashed but Rio was the head coach and his style was implemented. When the defense underachieved Williams was made the scape goat and fired. The reason this year is pretty much the same as last year is because there were no upgrades in personnel and the coaching is pretty much the same.

The Saints along with several other teams knew this and jumped at the opportunity to hire him. Since he's been with the Saints he has had complete control over the defense and the results are paying dividends.

89
by Sophandros :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 9:06am

It could be that Williams was more of a figurehead in JAX, because it's Del Rio's defense...

-------------
Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

116
by The Anti-Dave (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 12:33pm

As Sam said, the problem in Jax was that the players couldn't get to the QB. Williams was trying exotic blitzing schemes early on and didn't have the personnel to make it work. Most memorably, Kerry Collins hit a backbreaking huge gain on a screen pass in the face of a big blitz on 3rd and 15-ish on his first play of action in the season opener, ending the Jaguars' hopes of winning that one.

The defense improved somewhat when Del Rio got more involved around midseason and moved back to its old cover-2 setup, but fell to pieces in the last few games, particularly after Rashean Mathis was injured and the secondary came completely unglued in his absence.

34
by VarlosZ :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 7:46pm

The variable I'd like to to see addressed is the effect, over 2-3 years, of bringing in a new coordinator (on either side of the ball) who has previously been hired as a head coach (mid-season replacement type interim Head Coaches not included). Those guys almost always seem to excel, which makes sense as they must have been one of the best coordinators in the league in order to get the head coaching job in the first place.

117
by Bruce G. (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 1:03pm

Everyone (including FO) keeps hammering on Nolan being the big change in Denver. What about Dawkins? Doesn't having a pro bowl safety allow the corners to be more aggressive? And didn't McDaniels bring in other more talented veteran players on D? It's more than just Nolan but nobody is commenting on that....and trust me I'd take Dawkins on my team anyday, even at 35 he's better than all but 1 or 2 safeties in the league.

124
by DavidL :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 1:55pm

But he's not. I haven't seen him play with a horse on his helmet yet, but last year Dawkins continued his decline into the liability side on pass coverage. He's still a good blitzer and can shore up the run defense, but when the corners look for safety help on a pass play, he's not giving them an extra security blanket unless he found the Fountain of Knees over the summer.

125
by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 2:04pm

Hey, no one loves Dawk more than me, but he isn't the player he was even two years ago. He's a liability in coverage. Once teams figure that out, he'll be exploited - unless they figure out a way to hide him, like Jim Johnson did.

135
by Bruce G. (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 2:45pm

I respectfully disagree guys. In the Dallas/Denver game he saved the touchdown that would have tied the game when he tackled (Choice?) on a breakaway run late in the 4th. The Denver defense last year doesn't make that play. It's a simple fundamental, but sometimes that's all you need to bring about change as drastic as this if your defense is as awful as Denver's was. Fundamentals and making everyone around you better can make a big difference. And I wasn't just referring to Dawk, didn't McD bring in other vets too? My point was that this goes beyond Nolan but he seems to be getting all the credit....

146
by BroncosGuy (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 4:17pm

Yes, Dawkins is a much better tackler than the M & M boys playing safety last year (for that matter, you might be as well). But your original premise was that Dawkins allows the corners to be more aggressive, and that's just silly. Dawkins is a terrible pass defender and will not make up for anyone's error of aggression. Against the Patriots he had at least two plays where he was beaten so badly Brady had easy touchdowns, but he missed both throws. Those kinds of things will even out over time.

As to your theory that his tackling fundamentals are rubbing off, have you seen Andre Goodman tackle? Yikes.

The Broncos do have 8 new starters -- all of whom are new to the team -- and most or all are an upgrade over what they replaced. Also, Champ Bailey wasn't very healthy last year, and he has been so far this year, so that is another de facto upgrade. But "better" doesn't necessarily equal "really good", as last year's bar is a really easy threshold to exceed and the improved talent still reminds few of the 2000 Ravens. So Nolan is getting credit for the defense playing "really good" (so far) when talent alone does not seem to explain it.

165
by Bruce G. (not verified) :: Thu, 10/15/2009 - 9:22am

Thank you Broncosguy, I just wanted some info. I had not seen those 2 patriot plays. I only used Dawkins as an example because I didn't know who else they picked up.

Still 8 guys new from last season kinda makes my point. That's almost an entirely new defense! How much of the difference is Nolan and how much of it was Shanahan worrying more about drafting 7th round running back finds over drafting defensive improvements? Could Nolan really have made last years squad better or is he the beneficiary of just having better players with this year's team. As you point out, they set the bar pretty low for improvement last season. Truth be told it's probably a little of both, for which Nolan is getting ALL of the credit. Doesn't McDaniels deserve a little credit too for recognizing the need and going out and getting what they needed?

172
by BroncosGuy (not verified) :: Thu, 10/15/2009 - 11:08am

Well, McDaniels seems to be in charge, so I guess he gets credit (and blame) for everything. In truth, I believe Nolan does have input into defensive personnel decisions, so he deserves at least some credit/blame on that front, as well. But the buck stops with McDaniels, so you're point is well taken.

Could Nolan have turned last year's personnel into a top-5 defense? Sure, right after he turns water to wine and raises Lazarus. But again, while the new guys are an upgrade, they aren't a bunch of stars. The three holdover starters (Bailey, Dumervil, Williams) remain the three best players on the defense (Dawkins, of course, was a star, but is on the downside of his career). Most people would not look at the roster and guess "4th-ranked" defense, so the coach gets some props.

There is another reason to hold off on canonizing Nolan. All this fuss is because of an outstanding DVOA five weeks into the season. Certainly this is good, and unexpected, news, but we can't assume this will be sustained throughout the season. I hope it is, but there is a lot of season to go.

176
by cjfarls :: Thu, 10/15/2009 - 2:12pm

I agree. This is not the 2000 Ravens personnel. But I think the new personnel has been a HUGE upgrade, mainly because of what the new guys are NOT.

Many of the bums on last year's DEF were likely more physically talented than some of the folks brought in this year. The difference is, the new guys (Dawkins, Hill, Goodman, et. al.) generally are positionally sound... e.g., they are where they are supposed to be. Compared to Nate Webster, Bly, and the M&M jokes of last year, this is an absolutely HUGE improvement. What it allows is for the physical talents (DJ, Doom, Champ, and even some backups like Woodyard) to take a few more chances, as they aren't constantly having to cover-up for the guy next to them.

Dawk may not be the fastest guy on the field, but when he has the over the top coverage, Champ is much more likely to feel comfortable that Dawk will be where he is supposed to be rather than M&M. Dawk may not be the fastest guy out there anymore, but he's smart and disciplined. The one thing folks have always said about Hill is that he is always in the right position. Plus, the whole team is good tacklers, so even when folks do break open and make a catch, we haven't seen the YAC and busted big plays that Webster, et. al. were so notorious for last year.

Phyisical liabilities/limitations can be mitigated by scheming such that folks are not asked to more than they're capable of... and to a large extent, Nolan should get credit for doing that...

So really its both in my mind... both much improved role-players allowing the best players to excel, and a scheme that plays to the various player's capabilities and strengths.

177
by cjfarls :: Thu, 10/15/2009 - 2:19pm

Oh, one more thing on Dawk in particular.

Last year in Philly he was largely playing in a cover-1, blitz heavy scheme where he had responsibility for the whole backfield... that type of responsibility really requires elite speed because he so much territory to cover. In such a scheme, its hardly surprising that a 35 year old may be a liability in coverage.

In Denver, my guess is he is often playing much more cover-2/3, or other schemes where he has a lot less ground to cover. If Nolan needs more speed, he can call on the young guys McBath, Bruton and Barrett (I think all of which are sub-4.5 40 guys). This doesn't mean there won't be occassions when the DEF gambles and leaves Dawk alone up top (for an overload blitz, etc.) where the right playcall could expose him, but I think it is probably much less prevalent than it might have been in Philly. Dawk seems to have plenty of speed for what he's been asked to do so far in Denver.

183
by Bruce G. (not verified) :: Fri, 10/16/2009 - 11:40am

All good info guys. I'm sure you could guess I'm an Eagles fan and thats how I knew about the Dawkins deal. But this year, I'm also (along with most of philly I'd imagine) keeping a close eye on and cheering for Denver because of Dawk. Unfortunately I don't have NFL ticket so we don't get to see him them on the east coast too much. Looking forward to the Monday nighter this week. I hope your team has a successful season.

178
by MassEagleFan (not verified) :: Thu, 10/15/2009 - 7:05pm

I know that Eagles fans sure wish he was still with us...but also glad he's doing so well in Denver. If he was on the Cowboys, however...

1
by BucNasty :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 5:47pm

Eek, check out the gap between Tennessee and the bottom 5.

31
by acetone (not verified) :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 7:36pm

And the gap between #7 DEN (31.8%) and #8 GB (19.9%). There are several other >10% gaps higher up as well.

97
by snarky (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 9:46am

The any-given-Sunday team of this year, yoooouuuuuur Tennessee Titans!

3
by battlered (not verified) :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 5:55pm

Has there been an extensive analysis on the number of terrible teams this year? Seems like there are an inordinately large number of bottom dwellers.

22
by zip.4chan.org/sp/ (not verified) :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 6:47pm

I agree. I can't recall a season within recent memory that had so many 0-5 teams as well as 5-0 teams. Is the performance of teams more polarized this year than in past years? Or do the bad teams just have tougher schedules by accident, and vice versa?

38
by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 7:54pm

Yeah, parity is out the window thus far - but rather than it being a function of differences in teams' budgets (before the salary cap era), now it's more a function of front office ineptitude.

4
by Agamemnon :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 5:58pm

Do the Saints really have an estimated 5.0 wins while only having played 4 games?

19
by NY expat :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 6:29pm

Looks weird, but there's an explanation:
"Teams that have had their bye week are projected as if they had played one game per week."

84
by bubqr :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 4:05am

That is definitly Tom bashing the Bears again. He implies that as NO vs BYE is a guaranteed win for the Saints, BYE sucks, and as Chicago hasn't been able to win, let alone score any point against them, they suck even more. What a hater.

109
by The Hypno-Toad :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 11:18am

In one of my fantasy leagues, the NO defense was projected to get me 10 points this week against the bye. Everyone is loving this NO vs. bye matchup. I wonder what the Vegas line was.

126
by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 2:08pm

The game was "off" - no one knew the status of bye's QB.

155
by Jerry :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 6:16pm

He won't play.

110
by Joseph :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 11:35am

It's because the Saints have been SOOO good, they got 1.25 est. wins in each of their four games. :p

5
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 5:59pm

Vikings/Ravens looks like a great game this Sunday, and hopefully, for this Vikings fan, the still shockingly high Vikings special teams ranking will make a big difference. If they can limit the Ravens' points to those scored by the Ravens' offense, I think they will win.

Bigger picture, the next three weeks really gives a chance for the Vikings to head into a mid season bye week in a great spot, with the more challenging part of an easy schedule behind them. It likely helps that they don't play the Giants until week 17. Heck, they could even lose the next three and still be in decent shape. Win two of three, with one win in Lambeau, and they are in GREAT shape.

37
by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 7:51pm

When I first saw their schedule, I put Ballmer (in Minny) as a 'maybe', Pitt (at Pitt) as a 'hell no', and Green Bay (in Green Bay) as a 'probably not'.

I'd revise that now, based on what I've seen. I think they can win at least 2 of the next 3. Depends on how well My New Purple Quarterback adjusts to the 3-4 defenses (by talented players who actually know what to do in a 3-4, unlike Green Bay).

105
by jds (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 10:43am

Will, or anyone else, what is the explanation for the ST improvement for the Vikings this year? I haven't seen enough of them to comment, but going from bottom 5 last year to top 5 this year (so far) seems to be quite the turnaround. Cutting down on returns for TDs must be part of that. Is it players, ooaching, execution?

120
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 1:17pm

Well, I think a huge part of it is the return yards they are getting, and that is in good part due to having people other than Bobby Wade returning, and better blocking.

168
by peterplaysbass (not verified) :: Thu, 10/15/2009 - 10:12am

I'm not Will, but I'll add that the return of Heath Farwell from injury is also huge. He has a lot of discipline on coverage, and when he's not tackling the oppoents' return man he's sucking up double teams, allowing other Vikings to make plays.

But yes, Minnesota's own return yards are looking very good this year.

I seem to recall MN being in the top 5 for average starting field position and also for average opponents' starting field position, though I couldn't tell you where I read that.

6
by Dan :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 6:00pm

So what's up with Jacksonville? In 2006 they were the most inconsistent team in the NFL, and now they're doing it again after being the 3rd most consistent last year. Even their inconsistency is inconsistent.

7
by Joe in Seattle (not verified) :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 6:01pm

It's a good thing Tom Cable removed Greg Knapp of the play-calling duties last season, he was clearly the problem with the Raiders offense.

It's actually a miracle Knapp got as much out of Russell as he did.

10
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 6:08pm

Hell, it is a miracle that Knapp got out of Oakland without a medical mishap!

8
by Vince Verhei :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 6:02pm

Yeah, I thought there were a lot of terrible teams this year, and the numbers back it up.

Five teams are currently below -40% in total DVOA. Since 1994, only seven teams have finished a season that bad:

1999 Browns: -40.1% (their expansion year)
2002 Texans: -41.6% (THEIR expansion year)
2003 Cardinals: -42.9%
2004 49ers: -42.5%
2005 49ers: -56.4%
2008 Lions: -48.4%
2008 Rams: -47.5%

11
by Temo :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 6:08pm

Well what you really want is to see how many years exist where so many teams were so bad after X number of weeks (in this case, 5). But in any case, I'm sure you'll find that the disparity between teams has increased anyway.

It fits in with the trend that was noted a while back in previous years, where there has been a linear growth in the disparity between teams.

14
by Vince Verhei :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 6:13pm

Aaron just looked that up: 26 teams have been that bad after Week 5, (about 1.5 to 2.0 per year) so it's not that uncommon this early in the season.

16
by Temo :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 6:18pm

Right but we're still going from an average of 2 per year to 5 this year, right? So that's something noteworthy.

32
by tally :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 7:40pm

Do the past year DVOAs account for opponent adjustments retroactively? I think once opponent adjustments kick in fully, it will help bunch up some of these ratings.

99
by Aaron Schatz :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 10:10am

The number I looked up for Vince was the "what DVOA would have looked like as of Week X" number. So it is based on 50 percent opponent strength, and only on the opponents in the first five weeks of the given season at the level they played at through those five weeks.

21
by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 6:46pm

I noticed that the average passing DVOA is 16% but rushing DVOA is about normal. Would that not lead to extremes in both the top and bottom teams in overall DVOA?

33
by tally :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 7:42pm

No, passing DVOA is almost always higher on average than rushing DVOA because passing plays generate more positive value on average. This is true in almost every recent year (i.e., the DVOA era).

64
by daveb (not verified) :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 10:44pm

True but passing DVOA has been MUCH higher the past few seasons. And trending higher since 2004.

2008:
AVG OFF passing DVOA: 14.0%
RUN OFF passing DVOA: 4.0%

2007:
AVG OFF passing DVOA: 11.2%
RUN OFF passing DVOA: 0.1%

2006
AVG OFF passing DVOA: 9.0%
RUN OFF passing DVOA: 1.8%

2005
AVG OFF passing DVOA: 8.3%
RUN OFF passing DVOA: -0.4%

2004
AVG OFF passing DVOA: 10.64%
RUN OFF passing DVOA: 2.1%

2003:
AVG OFF passing DVOA: 5.3%
RUN OFF passing DVOA: 0.3%

2000:
AVG OFF passing DVOA: 5.1%
RUN OFF passing DVOA: 1.6%

1996
AVG OFF passing DVOA: 4.5%
RUN OFF passing DVOA: -4.5

1995
AVG OFF passing DVOA: 9.7%
RUN OFF passing DVOA: -1.4%

12
by Hey now (not verified) :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 6:10pm

Well, the Bengals offense has a positive DVOA (5.9%) and the defense is slightly negative (-0.3%), so both of those are good things (it's fair to say that both are mediocre, but still overall positive).

But the focus is on the Bengals' negative overall DVOA, at -2.6%. But that's because their special teams are the worst in the league, at -8.9%. So wouldn't the Bengals' negative DVOA be due to Brad St. Louis / Shayne Graham missing FGs and XPs, instead of "how the Bengals are winning: close"?

25
by Kellerman :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 7:13pm

I mostly agree with you and take heart from the fact that snapping this bad can't last a whole season. But, the bad snapping/blocks didn't turn any STOMPS into GUTS. Those games would still have been close, just not requiring going 8 out of 9 on 4th down! THAT kind of production seems unsustainable, or is this becoming another exhibit for the argument that NFL teams should go for it on 4th down much more often than they do? In any event, the Bengals' ST doesn't have me all that worried because the coverage teams have played OK except for Cleveland (and they made a little-noticed roster move after that by bringing Dan Skuta off PS to replace the 5th corner) and the return game has been barely adequate.

I am sanguine about the prospects for a good season (AND DVOA improvement as DAVE continues to recede into the background) when I look at the future schedule as compared to PITT and BALT (and supported by DVOA)

There is however another opportunity for a huge letdown this week against the Texans considering how "up" the team has been for 4 weeks in a row.

On a related note, if you consider Mason as the #1 wideout on the Ravens, the team pitched another shutout on Sunday. How is that happening?

42
by BD (not verified) :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 8:15pm

The ST DVOA is clearly what gives brings the Bengals DVOA under 0, and I think (dare I say hope?) that's mostly because of the ineptitude of Brad St. Louis (who I've thought to be garbage as a LS for years). What DVOA really tells me about the Bengals is that Carson Palmer is an exceptional quarterback in that he gives the team a real chance to win every game he plays even when their play is mediocre. He's had his terrible throws and hasn't put up impressive numbers, but he's scored when he's had to 5 weeks in a row now (see his 91-yard TD drive that should have beaten Denver). If the team could start playing consistently they'd be very dangerous, but they've managed to thrive living on the edge so far.

As for #1 WRs having a tough time against the Bengals, I think Leon Hall playing well and Mike Zimmer are the answer. Hall is matched up on opposing #1s more frequently than JJ, and I think (though I'm not positive) that Zimmer likes to double #1 WRs quite a bit as well. Hall has said that Zimmer's philosophy is not to let the offense's best player beat them, and it's largely worked so far. Andre Johnson will certainly test all that though...

43
by Kellerman :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 8:30pm

I agree on Palmer, anecdotally and viscerally, but is there any support for the notion that teams just "turn it on" at the critical time of the game? It seems to me that all the research doesn't support that. On the other hand, I believe my eyes and have long believed that psychological factors are unmeasurable-though important. Perhaps the Bengals merely keep playing when the other team "loses" something (its edge?) late in the game. Also, every game reminds me a little of last year's Cardinals season -- come out all excited, drop off in the middle, rally at the end.

139
by jebmak :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 3:31pm

I just wanted to let you know that STOMPS would become SKATES.

STOMPS - Big win over bad team
SKATES - Close win over bad team
GUTS - Close win over good team
DOMINATIONS - Big win over good team

The original theory was that big wins over bad teams are more predictive of a good team than close wins over good teams.

55
by Aussie Bengal (not verified) :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 9:44pm

I completely agree. It seems strange to me that the "the Bengals aren't actually very good" argument comes down to "they've had excellent fumble luck." Subjectively, you could just as easily say "they've had a couple of poor fluke special teams plays that kept them from putting games away."

In this, the Bengals seem to be the complete opposite of the Eagles, who often have extremely high DVOA early in the season despite a poor record...usually due to some incredible luck in some areas and incredible unluck in other areas. Subjectively, I think it isn't unreasonable to look at the Bengals' teams DVOA and say "though their special teams suck incredibly, it is unlikely that they will continue this trend all season, especially given that their kicking teams are multi-year pro-bowl caliber."

And while I understand that under-performing against the Browns for five quarters is likely to hurt DVOA, how is performing WELL against the Broncos, Packers, Ravens and Steelers for 16 quarters not helping the DVOA more? Regardless of the W-L record, the Bengals look like a team that has played mostly well against tough opponents.

I guess we'll see as the season plays out. I think the Bengals are a 9-7 team who could end up anywhere between 7-9 and 10-6, depending on the breaks. As such, they look undervalued by DVOA.

57
by SlantNGo (not verified) :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 10:11pm

The Bengals way underperformed their DVOA in 2007, so it's interesting how things have flipped now. I think DVOA has the Bengals right this year if we exclude the negative contribution of the special teams. Right now I see the Bengals as a 10th to 15th best team. The defense has played decently, with the only bad spot being giving up big plays. The offense is too inconsistent. No way should we be punting this much.

The only two games that I think we were clearly the better team were Green Bay and Baltimore, and in both games, Palmer gave the opposing team 7 points. So even in the games where we played really well, turnovers killed us, and in the other three games, we looked mostly mediocre. I still don't know how the Steelers managed to lose.

As for shutting out opposing #1 receivers, it's clearly scheme. Look at the Bengals Defense DVOA vs #1 receivers and compare to #2 and #3. Best in the league vs #1 and near the bottom vs #2 and #3. I seem to recall this being the Pats D strategy for years.

182
by Oldcat (not verified) :: Fri, 10/16/2009 - 2:12am

There really hasnt been a lot of average this year for Cincy, so I'm not surprised that the stats have trouble getting a handle on it. For instance on punt coverage, there is the Cribbs game where we gave up a zillion yards and three games where we gave up less than 10 combined return yards. Thats zero against GB, zero against Pitt, and 6 againt Baltimore. And thats not becuase we didn't punt.

Our games in Cleveland haven't been too average of late. In the last three games there, Cleveland has scored 0, then 52, then 0 points. While Cincy wasn't playing super great, Cleveland was at least playing like an actual NFL franchise. It really was radically different than how they played against Buffalo, where they acutally won.

Carson has been rusty, but not randomly. Against GB, he threw a pick 6 and a second int that went to the 10 or so, both early in the game. Nothing after that. Again, the Reed pick 6 was early in the game.

13
by Insancipitory :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 6:12pm

Jesus. -60.

39
by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 7:57pm

Sadly, I doubt Al Davis reads FO.

Really, the league should do something about that. It's like giving every team scheduled against the Raiders an automatic 'W' towards playoff contention.

94
by DrewTS (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 9:21am

Problem is, you could say that about every team from Buffalo down. There are just a lot of REALLY bad teams this year. St Louis is horrible. Buffalo is a joke. Cleveland is a joke. Detroit is still bad, just not historically bad anymore. The Titans even, appear to have rolled over since they started 0-3. The Raiders are just one of many in the pool of bad teams.

We're only 5 weeks into the season, and you could already write off a solid quarter of the league.

119
by snarky (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 1:13pm

It is not just OAK, though. If all these teams are as bad as they seem after the first 5 weeks, the AFC West division leader has a clear advantage over the rest of the AFC. Every AFC division seems to have a patsy this year, but the AFC West has two.

CLE - AFC North
TEN - AFC South
BUF - AFC East
KC - AFC West*
OAK - AFC West*

For right now, DEN has three games left on its schedule that are virtual gimmes. If KC and OAK continue as they have, not only will DEN get four easy victories, but they could get 2-4 quarters of rest for key starters. Get a big enough lead on KC or OAK and you can sit your starters for parts of the 3rd and 4th quarters. And they got to play CLE.

Turning to the NFC, the South has the same situation. The only division with no teams outside the top 20 is the NFC East, though it will be interesting to see if WAS joins that bottom rung club.

DET - NFC North
TB - NFC South*
CAR - NFC South*
STL - NFC West

South gets to play West this year, so they get TB and CAR in division, plus STL. They also already had BUF. So NO is pretty much a lock for at least second place in the conference playoffs. I will take "6 in the Win Column" for a conference championship, Alex.

140
by mm (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 3:44pm

South gets to play West this year, so they get TB and CAR in division, plus STL. They also already had BUF

South gets to play the East this year, so they get to play Washington. Because the Saints were a last place team (at 7-9, the South was better last year), they got to play Detroit, and will play St. Louis.

I think Atlanta, Detroit, and Carolina will rise somewhat in DVOA as opponent adjustments increase (and Carolina gets more distance from the Eagles meltdown game), but I won't argue the Saints will have an easy schedule this year.

15
by Paul A (not verified) :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 6:16pm

Ok, so the Skins have played the 28th, 29th, 30th, and 31st teams, gone 2-2, all games close, and they are...19th? If there are truly 13 teams worse than them, I need to forget everything I ever thought I knew about the game.

17
by Temo :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 6:22pm

They're probably not "really" the 19th best (Houston, SF, Ari, and SD probably all better), but certainly I'm not sure that they're as terrible as some think. They also played the #3 team closer than a terrible team really would, and not all those games you mentioned were as close as their final scores indicate.

I'm sure the Skins actually "won" the DVOA battle in some of those games, but gave up the game because they made stupid mistakes (mostly on offense).

90
by C (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 9:06am

The Redskins aren't penalized enough for not scoring in the Redzone. If this was a one time thing then maybe you could forget it, but they should have had a lot more points based on thier yardage last year.

Then you see them running RB checkdown passes in the goal line ( hey it worked last week), and wonder why they can't score in the red zone. I do blame SOME of it on Jim Zorn and not all on the big dufus.

112
by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 11:56am

Don't forget that the "D" in DVOA is still pretty weak this time of year. It's at 30% this week, I think?

20
by jayinalaska :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 6:43pm

Seattle is clearly ranked too low because over-excited fullback self-flagellation is a much better indicator. The number of times your fullback can smack himself in the head without losing consciousness minus whatever it takes to get one is way better than this. Seahawks rulz cuz they want to bring Ducks uniforms to NFL!

23
by Bobman :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 6:55pm

At least now when they sit around chanting "We are AVERAGE!" they don't get extra drug testing to find out what they're smoking.

24
by Dan :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 6:57pm

Part of what's odd this year is that there are so many teams that are good on both sides of the ball or bad on both sides of the ball, and not many that are good on one side but bad on the other. The range of offensive DVOAs doesn't look that unusual, and the range of defensive DVOAs doesn't look that unusual, but the correlation between them is so large (r = -.48) that it creates huge disparities in total DVOA. There are 9 teams right now that are outside of the -40%-40% range.

26
by DavidL :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 7:32pm

Right now, the Raiders qualify as the sixth-worst offense of the DVOA Era through Week 5 and the fifth-worst team overall.

Wait, so their offense is pulling them up?

29
by Temo :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 7:34pm

Well, their defense is actually better than their offense. It's actually that the combination of offense and defense is worse than the offense alone.

30
by the silent speaker (not verified) :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 7:36pm

Regarding the playoff odds: it's not relevant yet, but that makes now the best time to ask: can you code it so that when a team is actually mathematically eliminated (instead of merely having 10K sims suggest that they have a Raiders' chance) their odds for the category show up as E instead of 0%? I think it would be useful to know when a team has no realistic hopes but still is in by their fingernails and when the coffin is finally nailed shut. (% change when going from Raiders' chance to The End would logically be -0.0%.)

It actually might be relevant as early as next week, if the Patriots beat the Titans. I think 0-6 conference could mean they can no longer take the #1 seed even mathematically; somebody has to win more than half of their games.

35
by johonny (not verified) :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 7:46pm

Wow the Dolphins seem to be consistently mediocre at everything. Dolphins manage to be 17th overall, 17 th on defense, 17th on special teams and slightly better at 14 th in offense. What an incredibly average team.

79
by seamusfurr (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 1:59am

If you drill down a level, you see a team that's #1 in rushing yards per game, near the top in run defense, near the bottom in pass offense, and dreadful at pass defense. So, actually they're mediocre at nothing, except if you take pure averages.

36
by Adrian (not verified) :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 7:51pm

Aaron,

I know you spent a lot of time this week relating coaching changes to the success the Broncos and Saints have experienced this season, but have you thought about scheme changes? I'm a long time Broncos' fan, and I've been wanting them to change to a 3-4 for a long time due to--in years past--the abnormally large pool of talent we had at the linebacker positions vs. the utter lack of talent we had at the end and tackle positions. I say you put your best players out there as much as possible.

However, former defensive coordinators (and this was perhaps Shanahan's choice ultimately) chose to stay in a 4-3 set. This decision to stay in this scheme belied the talent of the players on the team.

Do you have records of base sets that teams used for the above table for Biggest Defensive Improvement with New Coordinator, 1995-2008? Maybe it wasn't so much the coaching change as it was a philosophical change to better utilize the players the teams possessed.

52
by Kibbles :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 9:13pm

Worth noting that the Broncos dabbled with the 3-4 last year, and as bad as they were in the 4-3, they were actually worse in the 3-4.

40
by Hari-Kiri Bengals Fan (not verified) :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 8:09pm

Cincy is clearly ranked just right because despite our improvements, we could easily be 0-5. Ranking teams based on how their logos would look on Kardashian kleavage is way better than this. But at least wi got teh new long-snapper!

41
by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 8:11pm

I approve of the name change, guys - the 'Subway Bowl' (held not in NY but across the river) is now the 'Exit 16W Bowl'.

73
by Red Hedgehog :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 11:48pm

I too approve of that name change.

44
by Giantsfaninla (not verified) :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 8:33pm

Is the fact the giants have pulled elements of the first team offense and defense in 2nd half of last three games keeping their dvoa below it's true value?
Love the site

82
by Jerry :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 2:42am

The short answer is yes, to whatever extent the team's performance declines after the substitutions.

The slightly longer answer is that since participation information isn't available (and can't be pulled from TV), there's no way to account for substitutions. And to the extent that DVOA is based on every play in which a team participates, in the end, it is the "true value". (Last year, the Cowboys with Romo were very different than the Cowboys with Brad Johnson, but it all counted toward their final DVOA.)

46
by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 8:41pm

How are Raiders ranked last? This rating ssteym is stupid. simply moronci ranking . Raiders have 1 win. chiefs have 0 wins. Ruight there it shwos you Raisers are better team than chiefs especaiily since Raiders beat cghiefs face to fafe in chiefs staidum . Whate more do you want?
Raiders also clearly better than rams, Lions, Titans, Buca, Browns, and Bills who all have 1 win or 0 wins and all are true crap teams. Raiders have 1 win and a loss vs Chargers that go down to wire and some others that weren't as close, but c'mon team still betetr than 7 teams in elague. so Raiders should be 25 or 26 not 32.

Dont penalize Raiders for only throwing 13 passes vs Giants. once game get away from Raiders in early 2nd quarter, Raiders coaching staff 9whcih is good staff)) decide to reel in passing game. This was very smart move. Don't give future opponents anything to look at. Raiders coaching staff decided to only run most of the time and just get out of giants staidyum without any injuries.

63
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 10:35pm

Can somebody explain to me how the hell Raiderjoe ended up at a hardcore statistical analysis site? This does not compute.

69
by Still Alive (not verified) :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 11:27pm

Raiderjoe is a staff member having his jollies.

74
by alexbond :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 12:05am

Thing is, when raiderjoe writes about any team that isn't in the AFC west or playing the Raiders, it is actually some of the best analysis I've seen from any commentator on this site. The guy knows football cold, he just has a little too much faith in the Raiders.

180
by MassEagleFan (not verified) :: Thu, 10/15/2009 - 7:17pm

Similar to the drunk dial, if she's not in your phone, you'd never call... - musta had it bookmarked ;-)

92
by DrewTS (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 9:15am

"Dont penalize Raiders for only throwing 13 passes vs Giants. once game get away from Raiders in early 2nd quarter..."

OK, how about penalizing them for the fact that the game had already gotten away from them IN THE SECOND QUARTER?

48
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 8:45pm

There just isn't enough Sierra Nevada for that to make sense, glad you're still about though.

49
by Ari (not verified) :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 8:46pm

How bout that Redskins schedule? I guess if they are 2-3 with the easiest schedule, that doesn't portend well to the rest of the season with the second hardest schedule!

53
by DavidL :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 9:15pm

The most telling fact about the Redskins is that they've played four teams that were winless at the time. Those four teams' combined record is now 2-22, including two wins against the Redskins.

54
by Dan :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 9:25pm

Actually all 5 of their opponents were winless when they played (the fifth was the 0-0 NY Giants, who are now 5-0). And they're about to become the first team ever to play six straight winless opponents when they take on the 0-5 Chiefs.

75
by DavidL :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 12:58am

Okay, "had a .000 winning percentage." Happy? Becoming the first win of a 0-0 team isn't really significant of anything.

181
by MassEagleFan (not verified) :: Thu, 10/15/2009 - 7:20pm

except it's a win

87
by apk3000 :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 8:46am

Assuming he lasts the entire year, Zorn's "staying medium" mantra means they'll probably stay near .500 and finish 7-9.

50
by Yaguar :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 9:04pm

Raiderjoe, Jamarcus Russell has a worse DVOA than Ryan Leaf in his rookie year. What do you think about this?

59
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 10:15pm

To be fair to Raiderjoe, Russell never stood a chance. Alex Smith's experience in San Francisco used to be the apotheosis of how to screw up a No 1 pick quarterback but Russell's case might break new ground. His receivers are crap, his line is crap, his offensive coaches are crap (he's regressed since losing Knapp, who is himself crap), his head coach is crap and the GM/owner/Lord of the Undead is crap.

He hasn't helped himself with an awful work ethic but better direction from his superiors would probably have sorted that out to some extent. He'll always be crap in Oakland and could be ruined for his entire career but I doubt anyone could have been successful there.

76
by The Hypno-Toad :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 1:27am

Apotheosis is an excellent word, and I applaud you for using it.

159
by BroncosGuy (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 7:38pm

Yes, his receivers are, um, less than ideal. Yes, his OL is a poor pass-blocking group. I'm less down on his offensive coaches than you are, but there might be too many of them. Paul Hackett is a very good quarterbacks coach. Ted Tollner is a very competent offensive coach who would make a very good "passing game coordinator" if such a thing were at all necessary. Tom Cable is the de facto offensive coordinator; I'll give him the benefit of the doubt lest he decide to "f%&(*#@ kill" me. There are also two, count 'em, two (one!, two!) coaches of "Quality Control, Offense". And the owner/fuhrer/duce? Well, 'nuff said.

So I agree that a talented quarterback might struggle in those conditions. Steve Young flamed out in Tampa before becoming a Hall-of-Famer with a competent organization.

But Russell is not a talented quarterback. His mechanics are dreadful. His mechanics were dreadful at LSU. They remain so today. His drops are awkward and stiff. He is prone to throwing off of his right out-step, which is both a bad habit and one that strikes me as singularly difficult to fall in to. (maybe this comes from throwing on the move a lot at LSU? I haven't looked) His follow-through is often all-arm. He doesn't consistently "step into the throw" like you try to teach your eight-year-old to do.

Raiderjoe compared him to Elway, which is accurate to a point. Like Elway, he's a big guy, he's surprisingly athletic, and he has a very strong arm. But he's not good at throwing a football, which turns out to be important. Elway had the advantage of growing up with Jack Elway, who could coach quarterbacks a little bit, too.

I am probably the most vociferous in this community on the concept that context matters. Football is the "most team" of all team games (well, important US games; settle down, ruggers); teammates and coaches matter more than most will accept. But even given Russell's disadvantages in this area, I don't think he could have succeeded with any team. Call it a confluence of suck.

51
by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 9:13pm

Leaf was true crap. Russell has much better skills. Not even close. Russell is most skilled qb since Elway. Just hasn't put it all togethjer yet but will soon

58
by Adrian (not verified) :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 10:13pm

Raiderjoe, I would love to have as much denial as you do. JaMarcus is on pace for a historically bad season. I also don't remember Elway ever reporting to camp overweight. JaMarcus is, plain and simple, the next Ryan Leaf. I would make fun of him more, but it's like shooting fish in a barrel.

I however still have no pity for the Raiders' organization. Al Davis's egomania has been slowly destroying that team for years now, and I welcome it.

62
by Todd S. :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 10:31pm

I don't know...I think Russell is actually the next Akili Smith.

86
by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 7:33am

is poster drunk?
look at flim of Smith. Akili Smith horrible Qb had no arm comopared to Russell. Not even fair comparison. Russell much more athlete and skilled. Just having a slow start than expected. going to turn it around soon. Should beat Eagles. When was last time egales on road? Going to happen this week in Black Hole and Raiders going to win.

121
by ChaosOnion (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 1:26pm

The last time the Eagles were on the road was opening weekend at Carolina. The Eagles won that game 38-10 with a Kolb (backup) in for the majority of the second half after McNabb (starter) was injured.

CAR 1-3, Victory over WAS #19 DVOA
OAK 1-4, Victory over KC #26 DVOA

I think they birds will at least make a day of it.

156
by BroncosGuy (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 6:32pm

I'm pretty sure it was the "Hell Freezes Over" tour.

60
by toofunny (not verified) :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 10:22pm

I hope raiderjoe doesn't actually believe what he writes. "most skilled QB since Elway." Now that is rich.

You're either watching a different game than I am or you're getting a laugh at my expense.

157
by BroncosGuy (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 6:45pm

Actually, he believes every word of it. This is what makes him special. Joe is the epitome of The Fan. He is easily the most entertaining of the community posters, and more entertaining than half of the staff writers. This is not a shot at the staff writers; Joe is simply a very entertaining guy.

He is also a refreshing counterbalance to a number of self-serious posters who cannot remember that football should be fun, a pleasant diversion from the slings and arrows of Real Life (its possible I am among their number). Likewise, Football Outsiders should be a fun diversion, not a painful slog through a muck of self-important, condescending rants. Like this one.

65
by Rick (not verified) :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 10:49pm

You know, I agree with this, to a degree. Russell is good, but he needs support.

Sadly, he will never live up to his potential with the Raiders (at least this version of the team). If they don't do something for him, he may never live up to his potential.

70
by Spielman :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 11:30pm

I'm about 99% certain that it's already too late.

91
by C (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 9:14am

This is the problem when people get enamored with Physical skills...

It's not ( Fill in the blank), my guy could throw 75 yards... run a 4.3 40 etc. etc. etc.

Michael Vick never had a line, never had Receivers, never had a defense, a coach, support etc. Jamarcus isn't the problem... "I saw with my own eyes he could throw far!".

It doesn't matter if you could run a 4.3 40, throw the ball 120 yards, if you are lazy and don't practice and work hard you won't be any good. Being a "good QB" isn't an accident. You don't just show up and dominate, nobody is born being a GOOD QB, you have to work hard and learn the game. Drew Brees is fantastic, and his physical skills are less than impressive...

169
by peterplaysbass (not verified) :: Thu, 10/15/2009 - 10:29am

Russel's got loads of talent, but his work ethic is horrendous. It's hard to blame him though; I wouldn't put much effort into painting the deck of the Titanic either.

128
by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 2:21pm

Thanks, Joe. I was having a boring day at work and you brightened my day - as always.

56
by Aussie Bengal (not verified) :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 9:51pm

"The Bengals are also riding some excellent fumble luck (they've recovered six of eight fumbles, not counting special teams)."

What is the stat INCLUDING special teams? There doesn't really seem to be any logical argument for leaving out ST. Selective sampling to make the argument for DVOA? Or just an honest mistake?

I'm biased, of course. WHO DEY ;)

100
by Aaron Schatz :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 10:13am

The logical argument for not including special teams is that it is in a different workbook and I'm lazy. Also fumbles on special teams come in two flavors, muffs and fumbles, with very different average recovery rates.

Anyway, the Bengals on special teams have one muff recovered and one fumble lost, plus one muff by the other team recovered by the other team.

102
by Temo :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 10:32am

*giggles at liberal use of "muff"*

61
by Dales :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 10:27pm

" with Philadelphia's dominant victory over Tampa Bay putting them right behind at number two"

I don't know what the single game DVOA stats say, but...

Game A:
Home team gains 325 yards and yields 303.
Home team converted 4 of 10 third downs, while road team converted 9 of 18.
Home team had 16 first downs. Road team had 22.
Home team fumbled once, lost none. Road team fumbled twice, lost none.
Home team was not intercepted, road team was intercepted 3 times.
Home team penalized 10 times for 111 yards. Road team 4 for 30.
Home team had 4 punt return yards and 39 kickoff return yards, to 27 and 120 for the road team.
Home team won by 19 points.

Game B:
Home team gained 86 yards and yielded 397.
Home team converted 0 of 9 third downs, while road team converted 10 of 16.
Home team had 5 first downs. Road team had 27.
Home team did not fumble. Neither did the road team.
Home team was intercepted once. Road team wasn't.
Home team was penalized 5 for 25 yards. Road team 5 for 60.
Home team had 41 yards of punt returns and 67 of kickoffs, to 46 and 0 (on no returns) for the road team.
Road team won by 24 points in a shutout.

Game A is the dominating Eagles home win against the Bucs. Game B is the Giants win, on the road, against the Bucs. If VOA had the Eagles' performance versus the Bucs as more impressive, then this would be an example of a team managing to find the sweet spots in the formula.

I would find it hard to imagine that the Eagles' VOA in that game was higher than the Giants VOA in their game versus the Bucs.

66
by Rick (not verified) :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 10:55pm

the 2 teams have roughly equivalent VOA on offense, but defense is slightly in favor of Philly. There wasn't that big a difference between the two teams overall.

What's your point?

67
by Dales :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 11:09pm

Only this- the Giants beat the Bucs more impressively. Nothing more, nothing less.

I have no idea which is going to end up being better or more successful over the course of the season. I am pretty sure both will end up being pretty good. But since the commentary mentioned how dominating the Eagles were against the Bucs at home, I thought I would point out that the Giants beat the Bucs even worse on the road.

93
by C (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 9:16am

David Carr also saw the field... The Giants should get bonus points for playing that bum and lots of backups on defense.

98
by chemical burn :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 10:06am

You're over-looking turnovers, which DVOA penalizes heavily (and rightly so). Tampa Bay not only threw 3 interceptions to the Eagles versus 1 to the Giants, Tampa also fumbled twice against the Eagles and had the good fortune to recover both fumbles (while the Giants didn't force a fumble). That's a big difference in turnovers and I think you can see how that might matter a little in the final calculations. Also, the Eagles had more sacks - 3 to the Giants zero. All of the defensive big plays skew heavily in the Eagles favor.

And the Eagles offense scored at will - their points per play were much higher than the Giants (.73 vs. .31). And also, DVOA doesn't include all penalties and the Bucs drives were kept going many times because of penalties on 3rd down (meaning the Eagles defensive DVOA wasn't hurt by it). Not saying that justifies the difference, but I think a not unreasonable case can be made that the Eagles dominated to a slightly larger degree...

107
by Quincy :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 11:07am

I think what's most interesting is the difference in the way each team dominated. The Eagles defense made more big plays, but also had many more opportunities to do so. Tampa Bay only ran 36 offensive plays against the Giants, as opposed to 75 against Philadelphia. I think it's safe to assume that the Giants would have recorded more sacks, interceptions and other negative plays if given more chances. This is in part a reflection of the Eagles' superior offensive efficiency, as their offense scored quickly and gave the ball back to the Tampa offense, while the Giants' plodding and relatively inefficient drives drained the clock and limited the Bucs' time of possession. But this is also a direct result of the Giants defense holding Tampa without a first down until the second half, and without a drive longer than 5 plays until garbage time. In terms of benefit to their DVOA, the Giants may actually have been too effective on defense (or more likely, not efficient enough on offense). I assume that with so few plays, the game will have less impact on the Giants defensive DVOA rankings than the Dallas game where they did not play as well over a larger number of plays. If I'm wrong on that last statement, someone please correct me.

118
by chemical burn :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 1:06pm

Yeah, to a certain extent - as you point out - each team's domination is a mirror image of the other. But I disagree that having more opportunities necessarily means they would've had a comparable number of sacks and turnovers. Eagles had 5 turnovers (including the two fumbles) and 3 sacks in 75 defensive plays while the Giants had 1 turnover and no sacks in 36 defensive plays. That's 8 times as many big defensive plays in only double the amount of time. Obviously, that's a very rough correlation, and both the Eagles and Giants have a fantastic Sack Rate this year, so the lack of sacks on the Giants part seems like a fluke.

One thing, though, that I only briefly touched on earlier that plays into what you are saying: DVOA doesn't take into account most penalties (I believe only it only penalizes for DPI and false start?) and the Bucs drives were extended at least three times by penalties on the Eagles part. The Eagles would quickly get the Bucs into a three-and-out (in one case, 3-and-25), only to commit a penalty. So, I think DVOA doesn't "see" some of the extended Bucs drives as being that big of a deal in terms of the Eagles defensive rating - on a play-by-play basis (discounting these drive-lengthening penalties, mind you), the Eagles weren't so much worse than the Giants. On that play-by-play basis, the Giants probably had more success, but not as much as it would seem on the surface (especially if DVOA's relationship to penalties is to be believed)...

131
by Quincy :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 2:32pm

I wasn't saying the sack and turnover numbers would've come out the same if the Giants D had more plays, just would've been closer. Your point about the penalties is also a fair one, had the Eagles not extended Tampa's drives with penalties, they might have actually had fewer sacks and turnovers but more 3 and outs.

I just jumped in because I thought the two games were an interesting illustration of how defenses can dominate in different ways, and how the different types of defensive success might be reflected in the DVOA formula. I'm less interested in the "Rah-rah, whose dominance is better?" facet of the argument

136
by chemical burn :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 2:47pm

Yeah - I'm not trying to "rah, rah," just explain why DVOA thinks the Eagles win was much more dominant, when on the surface the Giants seems to have the edge.

(I'm talking to myself as much as anybody, in other words)

141
by C (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 3:51pm

Not to defend the Giants here or anything, but I agree with the point that they were too efficent on defense for their own good. I mean I believe there was about 4 minutues left in the 3rd quarter before the Buccos got a first down ( this was also at home). You can't win if you can't score ( and get first downs).

I'm not fan of Byron Leftwhich, but having a young D3 quarterback start his first NFL game on the road might have something to do with the 3 turnovers. I'm not fan of Byron Leftwhich but at this point, he's better prepared than Josh Johnson to start games.

Josh Johnson was 4th on the depth chart in the preseason and didn't get as much work as Starter: Byron Leftwhich, Starter compete-er: Luke Mcnown, Starter of the future: Josh Freeman.... Josh Johnson wasn't even getting reps with the starters a few weeks ago, I seem to recall some Raheem Morris comment about him never being more than a backup ( and a few weeks later he's the starting QB).

The Bucs @ home were shutout and had poor yardage, TOP, and everything else...
The Buccos @ Philly had the points, but their young QB also turned the ball over...

I'm not just saying this as a Giants fan, but I feel like shutting out Leftwhich and the Bucs at home is more impressive than TD's & Turnovers against a unprepared young D3 QB in his first NFL road start...

147
by chemical burn :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 4:31pm

Let me just say (and agree with Kevin from Philly down there), that I too also think DVOA isn't doing exact justice to the relative strengths of the two teams - I'm just trying to understand the numbers it's putting out there. And to be fair, it's not like DVOA is saying the Giants didn't dominate, just that they didn't dominate as much.

I was nervous watching Eagles v. Bucs because it just seemed like the Eagles couldn't put them away. Stupid mistake, killer penalties, bad match-ups in coverage. I think kept "Man, they're really not putting the boot down the way I expected them to..." The whole first half was frustrating to watch because I think the Eagles were scoring so quick on offense and then weren't able to get off the field on defense (despite seeming to play well)...

I disagree on Leftwich vs. Johnson, though - I think Johnson could be ok. He handled the blitz much better than I expected and he's got a lightning-quick release with above average accuracy. Combine those attributes with his exceptional mobility and I think he gives the Bucs way more of a chance than Leftwich (especially against the quick, blitzing rush of the Eagles). But his receivers dropped passes left and right and the running game was DOA, so he was doomed...

150
by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 5:21pm

I'll add that Leftwich was HORRIBLE. His slow release is even slower than I remember from the Jacksonville days, and if he ever had any touch on the ball at any point in his career, it's utterly gone now--the only decent throws he seems to be able to make is when he needs to throw a laser down the field. That works, sure, and he can zip the ball in. The problem is his apparent inability to do anything other than that. I have never seen such ugly swing passes in my entire life. He had a less then 50% completion rate in the preseason. Luke McCown was a far better option than him (and yes, I believe the concept of "damning with faint praise" is in play here).

Johnson has shown flashes of promise, but they're all of the "needs a lot of good coaching to bring it out" variety. He did quite well at the start of the Philly game handling the blitz packages, but, as things went on, he got rattled and his WRs kept dropping the ball. He's not in a situation where he's going to succeed, but I can look at him and actually say "he could conceivably not suck someday". Which I can't say about Leftwich.

158
by Quincy :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 7:33pm

I agree. The limited amount I saw of Johnson was better than what I saw from Leftwich. The only drive the Bucs had against the Giants came with Johnson at the helm. I would wager that had he started the game, Tampa would have moved the ball better than they did. While the Giants played well, a couple of the three and outs ended with Leftwich making an off-target throw to an open receiver, something the Giants don't really deserve credit for.

With Johnson playing the whole game it easily could've turned out more like the Tampa-Philly, with more yardage for the Bucs but a few more negative plays as well. I'll also add that even with more plays, I don't think the Giants would've gotten to Johnson as many times as the Eagles did, as they were missing Tuck that game.

Regarding the Bucs' qb situation, I wouldn't hesitate to leave Johnson in there for most of the season to see if he can be their primary backup and fallback plan in case Freeman doesn't work out.

166
by C (not verified) :: Thu, 10/15/2009 - 9:32am

I seem to remember people from a particular website "that's more right than anybody", that "liked" Byron Leftwhich and thought Jack Del Rio was stupid for letting him go when he decided to go with David Garrard.

Remember Byron was the "don't coach me, don't try and change my mechanics, I got this far being who I am... JUST LET BYRON BE BYRON". You want that guy on your bench undermining your team???

If you are going to play Josh Johnson & Josh Freeman, the Buccos should consider cutting Byron. They have no plans of using him long term so what's the point?

151
by C (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 5:25pm

That's why people say the Eagles don't have that "killer instict" and that they "play down to their competition". The fact that DVOA always likes them better than the record supports the "killer instinct" comment... Doing good but not putting people away...

I'm not really comparing Leftwhich's career to JJ's, I'm just saying a young guy who wasn't even practicing, turning the ball over is more understandable. Josh Johnson is virtually a rookie out of D3, with his first NFL road start in a hostile Philly stadium turned the ball over... I'm not going ot fault the guy and yes, he ( like everybody else on the planet) has a faster release than Byron Wind me up Leftwhich... Byron's a vet who was starting at home and he gave the Buccos nothing at all and ended up getting benched...

154
by chemical burn :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 5:42pm

Yeah, I can see the lack of killer instinct and playing down to their opponents - but I think DVOA thinks they are playing well even in those games where they are "playing down."

On the flip-side, they can hang with anybody - or at least "play up" well enough to beat certain NFC East rivals on the road twice and bounce them from the playoffs... or maybe that rival team just lacks a killer instinct as well ;)

68
by daveb (not verified) :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 11:11pm

1. The Giants were ranked 5 last week while the Eagles were ranked 2 so its possible that the Giants single game DVOA against the BUCS in fact ranks higher but they didn't move up enough to catch the Eagles

2. The stats you list somewhat distort how effective the Eagles were

ANYA= adjusted net yards per attempt (passing yards+18*Td-50-INT-sack yards)/(passing attempts+sacks)

NYG vs TB
TB AVG per rush: 2.8
TB ANYA: 0.3
TB FD% : 13.9%

NY AVG per rush: 4.6
NY ANYA: 5.0
NY FD% : 35.5%

Winner NET:
AVG per rush: 1.8
ANYA: 4.7
FD% : 21.6%

PHI vs TB
TB AVG per rush: 3.8
TB ANYA: 0.6
TB FD% : 30.6%

PH AVG per rush: 3.8
PH ANYA: 8.1
PH FD% : 35.6%

Winner NET:
AVG per rush: -0.2
ANYA: 7.4
FD% : 5.0

Looking at it this way you can make a case that Philly's performance was at least close to their edge in the passing game. The other bad thing for Philly though was the fact that they had 10 penalties for 110 yards.

130
by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 2:27pm

I hate to say it, but I was at the game and it was far from dominant. Lots of stupid penaltys, lots of missed opportunities. If it weren't for the Bucs WRs doing fairly good Braylon Edwards immitations, the game would have been a nail biter.

138
by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 3:23pm

That's been a common theme for the Bucs this year. The only game where I didn't say, "you know, the Bucs could have won that or at least been close" was the Giants game. The Bucs' offense stomped all over Dallas in the first half, then the secondary gave up a series of long passes. Bills? Down 14 within minutes, then scrabbled back. Washington? The team melted down late. Philly? A constant stream of dropped passes and stupid mistakes.

They've become a very undisciplined team. Not that that should be a surprise with Raheem "If You Squint Hard Enough I Kind Of Look Like Mike Tomlin" Morris in charge.

142
by C (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 3:53pm

The lack of discipline doesn't surprise me when their young coach is trying to be boys with everybody on the team giving them jump hi fives after they make plays...

71
by mm (not verified) :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 11:30pm

-Only a 3.8% chance of a wildcard coming out of the NFC West (assuming that none of those scenarios have 2 wildcards coming out of the division at the same time).

--this reminds me of something I've meant to ask, could you print up in your playoff odds the odds of each division having 0, 1, or 2 wildcards? Especially towards the end of the season, it gives you a flavor of how the playoff race is shaping up.

-Cleveland and Buffalo each have a .1% chance of making the AFC championship game. Sadly, there is a 0% chance they will play each other in that game (greatest championship rematch ever!).

-Despite being significantly behind Pittsburgh and Baltimore in DAVE, the Bengals playoff odds aren't far off from those other 2 teams. Even with 10 games left, a 1 game lead and a 3-0 record in the division makes up for a lot of difference in DAVE.

72
by Rick A. (not verified) :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 11:46pm

In regard to the ongoing subject of the Vikings: I was at their game against St Louis. I can assure all of you speculating on their future that they are absolutely locked and loaded. You can see, live, that they have tremendous team speed, in fact, one of the fastest teams, overall, I've seen in years. The Special Teams troubles that have been kicked around in this thread I really don't think will be a big factor. And No. 4 looks better than he has in years. He was absolutely far more on the page with the receivers than in the first couple of weeks, looking to me to have the kind of synchronicity with them that he had in G.B. in the two SB years of 96/97 when I saw him live three times. And as for No. 69, well, that guy is a serious force. DVOA cannot quantify what an impact player he is. It was comical watching the mismatch of him versus the entire sorry Ram offensive line. Only the best offensive lines have a prayer of stopping that guy who seems like he is at a career peak. Personally I cannot imagine New Orleans as being a match for this Viking team on a neutral field. It is clear to me that the Vikes and Giants are the two teams to beat.

A couple of words about DVOA: I feel every year that it takes about 6 games for this DVOA thing to start reflecting reality and it is approaching that right now. The chart is beginning to reflect reality and one reality is that the NFC is now superior to the AFC. So far the results of the games have been seeming to show that and, now, DVOA is saying the same with the only AFC team in the top 5 being the Colts. That's the way I've been rating it and now DVOA says as much...

78
by The Hypno-Toad :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 1:38am

Meh, less than a third into the season seems a little short to claim that the balance has shifted between conferences. I'm certainly not trying to say that you are wrong, it may turn out that 2009 = NFC back in command like 1997 = AFC back in command, but just let it shake out for a bit.

85
by justanothersteve :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 5:14am

You have no idea of the difference between early-season HWMNBN and late-season HWMNBN. I don't have the stats handy, but the Wrangler jeans model has fallen apart the last five seasons during the last 5-6 games each year. And he always looks stellar this time of year. Unless Chilly has the balls to rest him for a couple games during the season, the Vikings are going to witness a collapse reminiscent of 1998. Enjoy your season. Just don't think your favorite Sears shopper is going to keep his level of play at the current standard for another 12-14 games.

88
by Gruntled (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 8:59am

"I don't have the stats handy, but the Wrangler jeans model has fallen apart the last five seasons during the last 5-6 games each year."

"And he always looks stellar this time of year."

I keep seeing people saying this, and I'm sure somewhere there may be some stats that might seem to support this, but this has become elevated to the status of urban legend.

Last year, he was injured. An MRI diagnosed tear to his biceps tendon. Somehow the fact that this was never reported at the time seems to allow people to continue to ignore that.

The year before that, he took his team to the NFC championship game, one of only 4 QB's in the league to do that. Please tell me you're not looking at one overtime pass as evidence that he fell apart during the last 5 to 6 games. There was a lot more to that game than one (admittedly bad) overtime pass.

The year before that, in an 8 and 8 season, they LOST 4 of their first 5 games ("always looks stellar this time of year") and WON their last 4. And yep, I see the 2 games out of those 4 (0 TD 5 int combined) that are probably jacking up that theory for that year, as well as a big 4 int stinker from the year before during a 4 and 12 season (in which they lost 7 of their first 8 games while he was, I guess, "stellar").

I'm not ready to conclude that this falls into the lies, damn lies and statistics category, but I still think this particular legend may just be a little misleading at best. I'd like to see the actual numbers (if anyone has them), but I'd like to see statistical probability in that regard also, and I really don't think it's beyond reason to toss out the last few games from last year.

96
by Gruntled (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 9:40am

I meant statistical 'significance' rather than 'probability' in the above.

106
by ammek :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 10:58am

To quote Bill Barnwell:

Those elderly quarterbacks are losing more in the way of quarterback rating [in December and January] than their younger brethren, but that's because they gain more points during the warmer months than those quarterbacks do. That's due to selection bias: The quarterbacks who have made it as professionals to the age of 35 are a more talented, successful group of quarterbacks than the broader pool of quarterbacks who enter the league and play from the ages of 21 to 34.

If we measure the effect of the colder months as a percentage of their average quarterback rating in the previous months, old quarterbacks suffer from the cold weather and strain of a season almost identically as much as the broader pool. The difference is less than one-tenth of one percent.

In other words, while old quarterbacks play slightly worse at the end of the season, it's a trend that has nothing to do with their age.

108
by Temo :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 11:11am

Favre during December/January games:

2008- 53.3 Rating (season rating of 81, decrease of 34.2%)
2007- 90.6 Rating (season rating of 95.7, decrease of 5.3%)
2006- 72.7 Rating (season rating of 72.7, decrease of 14.4%)

Just a couple notes.

1) Of course 2008 counts. Him tearing apart his bicep seems to fall under "Favre's old body won't hold up over a full season".

2) Unfortunate that I don't have his DVOA splits, but: The 2007 number includes late-season home games against Oakland and Detroit, who were ranked 22nd and 32nd respectively in defensive DVOA that year. Against Chicago (good defense) he sucked horribly and St. Louis (not good defense) he was middling. The Seattle defense he shredded during the playoffs was 12th in pass DVOA.

In 2006, he faced SF (#27 vs. pass), Buffalo (#8), Seattle (#22), and Miami (#12). He did poorly against all.

3) I believe QB ratings in general go down in December due to weather changes, so that should be considered. I'm not quite sure how much.

4) As for statistical significance, it's surely impossible to demonstrate. And indeed if you're talking football, almost nothing meets sample size requirements for statistical certitude.

122
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 1:30pm

It is important to note that there looks to be only one regular season game where Favre will likely have cold weather to deal with, which seems to be more of an issue for The Elderly One. It is also important to note that a 40 year old qb faces significantly higher injury risk. Finally, it is also important to note that every game the Vikings can win while Favre throws less than 30 passes will likely pay dividends later in the season. We'll see (don't you love my penetrating insights?).

123
by tuluse :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 1:39pm

I hate to rub it in (OK that's a lie), but I find very unlikely that Favre will play anywhere close to good at Soldier Field in December at night. I will delight in watching Favre fail at his last game at Soldier Field, hopefully it can mean the difference between a bye week and 3rd/4th seed. If a couple other teams can beat the Vikings, it could even matter for the division title.

127
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 2:12pm

Hell, if the Vikings win the first game with the Bears, and have a two game lead going into December 28th, I'd tell Favre that he was going to pull a hammy early in the Wednesday practice, and then find out how bad Rosenfels or Jackson want to be a startting NFL qb.

170
by peterplaysbass (not verified) :: Thu, 10/15/2009 - 10:42am

I don't have the numbers in front of me, but weren't the Favre-lead jets and Packers teams in the last several years pass-pass-pass? Maybe he doesn't breakdown late in the season because of the number of games he's started or cold weather. Maybe he breaks down at a certain number of pass attempts (especially if a large distribution of those attempts traveled further through the air than they have in Minnesota so far). If that's the case, then Favre could well be in week-10 form during their wildcard weekend bye (knocks on wood).

137
by ammek :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 2:47pm

I don't think it's impossible that Favre has declined, I just don't think it's either provable or a good guarantee that it will recur in 2009 on a new team. Some people seem to treat it as an indisputable fact, just as they once did his invincibility in games under 34° — and I had a problem with that too.

GB's 2006 December schedule featured the Jets, Niners, Lions, Vikings and Bears. Favre was good against SF and Chicago (with practice-squad receivers), horrible against Detroit, and so-so against the outstanding Viking defense.

161
by Gruntled (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 9:13pm

"Of course 2008 counts. Him tearing apart his bicep seems to fall under 'Favre's old body won't hold up over a full season'."

I don't understand why that has to be conceded; it's circular reasoning. A significant injury to his throwing arm is miles away from 'falling apart in the last few games' or 'always fading', which is the common repeated argument.

Elway had the exact same injury (it's not really clear when it started). In his case it completely tore on its own (or as a result of an injury) during preseason in 1997. Elway then went on to win the next two super bowls.

It's always possible that Favre could suffer something as impacting during this season; he could suffer a career ending injury next week. But in any case there is no reason to assume that whatever it is would happen only late in the season. One thing that IS for sure, is that he's not going to injure that particular tendon again.

Aside from last year, there is just nothing there. His overall rating in 2007 was higher than all but 2 years in his entire career; a dropoff to a 90 QB rating is hardly suggestive of 'falling apart.' That year just doesn't support the thesis.

It seems common sense that as he gets older he is probably more subject to injury, but there is no way quantify that, and for a guy who has never missed a game, it's almost impossible to get any kind of a handle on what the chances really are.

I agree with Ammek below; sure it's possible that he now fades late in the season, but the evidence is far from conclusive. I disagree with the common, repeated assertion of that 'fact' and am not willing to accept that it bodes anything in particular for this season, in and of itself.

77
by Matt Groves (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 1:28am

Pretty big leap from Denver to Green Bay. Any thoughts on why?

80
by The Hypno-Toad :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 2:03am

Laregely interchangeable offensive and special teams DVOA coupled with a significant defensive disparity? I really don't know, but I think that's the backbone of why.

95
by C (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 9:22am

The NFC has the top 3 DVOA spots. I thought we were the weak conference? It wouldn't shock me to see Indy gain some ground ( maybe at the Saints expense while the Giants/Eagles stay up there), see New England gain some ground...

Also, Pittsburgh's defense is 21 without Troy Polomalou?

101
by Chris from CT (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 10:21am

Giants past schedule = 31, Future schedule = 1. That's not fun!

So here's the big debate between conventional wisdom and Outsider's wisdom. Are the Giants a bit of a mirage because they've played nothing but cupcakes (save a mediocre Dallas, and barely), or are they seriously good because stomping out bad opponents is a better indicator than winning close games?

Giants and Saints this week is one hella matchup.

113
by Joseph :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 11:59am

As a Saint's fan, I think it will determine HFA for the NFC--no slight to Vikings fans. I think unless one of these teams is a mirage, one of them will have to take on the #6 seed at home in the WC round--while the other two sit at home, watch the games, heal up, and get ready to meet each other in the championship game.
The reason I think it will determine HFA is this--the Saints have the 31st ranked sched going forward (last week it was 32--beating up on "bye week" got rid of their easiest game :p). After this Sun (which gets rid of their hardest remaining opponent), they have 3 games that should be difficult--2 with ATL, and hosting NE on MNF. If they beat NYG, they would have the tiebreaker over 2 potential playoff teams--NYG & PHI, and probably go at WORST 13-3. This would almost assuredly give them the #1 seed.
To NYG fans--if you lose this game, it will be hard to make up that ground on the Saints because of that future schedule rating compared to the Saints. Best of luck--I am glad we're at home--that 3 point HFA will probably make the difference in the game. I hope that the game lives up to the hype that it is getting and will get.

132
by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 2:33pm

Watch the hubris, big guy. Still a lot of football left.

163
by Dales :: Thu, 10/15/2009 - 7:22am

Are the Giants a bit of a mirage or are they seriously good?

I *suspect* they are quite good. Reasons for this belief include:

They have much of the same (then young) core that won the Super Bowl 2 years ago.

They had a great record last year with even more of the same players they have today.

They have been stomping teams, which is a sign of a good team.

Their wins over teams have been as impressive, if not more impressive, than the wins of other good teams over the same teams. SD struggled against Oak. Dallas almost lost to KC and was unimpressive against TB. Phi at home beat TB, but not as badly (see above for my case; while I appreciated the counter-arguments I found them unpersuasive) as the Giants on the road.

It is possible to me that the Giants are good but not an elite team. Reasons to think this might include:

They have injury issues (Phillips, various DL, Boley, Ross, Boss).

The only decent team they played this year so far, Dallas, nearly beat them and probably outplayed them. That same Dallas team has been unimpressive in other games.

Either way, it is very fun being a fan of the Giants right now. And while the remaining schedule is daunting, it also means that each and every week we should be treated to some great football. And if the team succeeds over the rest of the regular season, they should be well-prepared for the playoffs (barring the injury situation getting worse). A brutal schedule seemed to have served the Steelers well last year.

103
by Crizzle (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 10:32am

Wow. Colts have a merely average special teams unit. Never would have imagined it possible. I wonder what the basis for the turn around will be. Different scheme under Rychelski?

104
by PM1976 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 10:38am

anyone seriously think any NFC team is better than the Colts? No NFC team has held a candle to them in 10 years.

111
by Temo :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 11:43am

They haven't had more than 4 losses in a season since 2002, dude. No one holds a candle to them, NFC or AFC. Besides, 2 of their 4 losses last season was against NFC teams.

114
by tuluse :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 12:15pm

Yeah, no variable for Peyton Manning is an unstoppable robot.

115
by Rick A. (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 12:31pm

Well guys, there seems to be a number of you kicking around your ideas of whether or not Favre is going to head south in the latter part of the season. Life is dangerous in the NFL for all. Even the all-time iron man finally got injured last year. But I just don't see any of your threads talking about the fact that for the first time he is playing in a dome. As usual, many of the threads seem all about rooting, emotions, what you hope will happen etc...

As for the already emerging debate, which I brought up, about whether the NFC has regained supremacy--the on-field results so far have seemed to indicate that, besides DVOA showing as much so far. Really, when the Giants beat the supposedly unbeatable Pats two years ago, following a season where the interconference games started evening out more for the first time in years, well that seemed like a possible turning point. Now it seems that that's where we heading for sure. Alot has been made in these threads about the coming Viking/Ravens matchup--mostly because the Ravens image and DVOA has been what it is. But don't be surprised if the Vikes handle them. The Ravens played nobody for their 3-0 start and now have been dispatched right on out of first place. What I saw in watching the Vikes live was seriously impressive aside from their weak competition in the game I saw. I've seen the Giants live in recent times too and I see no difference between the Vikes and them. I've seen several AFC teams in the last couple of years as well, and I think that only the Colts match up to what the Vikes now are. We'll soon no longer have to speculate about it all...

143
by Keith (1) (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 3:54pm

So, you are a Vikings fan. We get it.

Their secondary (aside from Winfield) has been consistent, not impressive. My New (Official) Purple Quarterback has been fairly good so far. Adrian Peterson has game-breaking ability, but is boneheaded. Allen has been playing out of his mind. They still have Big Pat and Kevin. Harvin has been a good find and Berrian has been decent. I would say they have been a good team so far this year, playing at a pretty high level.

What I fail to see though is their depth, and I think that through the end of the year, that will decide how things turn out. If they are healthy, they could go deep into the playoffs. If AP or MNOPQ slow down or break down from overuse or age (very likely in both cases), there are huge issues. Chester Taylor is passable, but he does not cause DCs to plan a game around him. And we know all about those backup quarterbacks!

148
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 4:45pm

At his current rate of use, there is no reason to think Peterson faces a higher risk of breaking down. Favre is much more of a question mark, but if they keep him to less than 30 throws in a fair number of games, his chances probably improve. Last Sunday was about perfect; Peterson has 15 carries, Favre has about 25 passes, and the offense scores 31. Now, if they can only get the Rams for every game......

129
by Jeesh! (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 2:22pm

Favre was injured last year --true. & he will be in a dome this year & that should help him. However -- both of these factors are irrelevant considering the mental mistakes he made repeatedly last year. Closing your eyes and heaving the ball to 2 & 3 defenders is just plain ridiculous, and I can't see how the bad bicep had any bearing on his lame-brained decision making. If you watched him play every week last year, like I did -- you would also still be struggling to recover. Absolutely unbelievable, unforgettable, and most of all -- unforgiveable.

133
by Temo :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 2:35pm

At the same time, he's playing with far greater offensive talent in Minnesota than he was with the Jets, so he'll feel less pressure to make stuff happen with his arm.

134
by tuluse :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 2:43pm

He's also a lot more familiar with this offense. He looks way better at the same point in the season than he did last.

144
by C (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 4:02pm

I think Favre has been about as conservative as I can ever remember except for the Green Bay game, and the Packers in that game gave no pass rush at all. I didn't see the game last week but I want to see the Vikings play a team that can rush or blitz.

The Vikings have a lot of speed and a lot of talent, but before the season started all I ever heard was how #4 wasn't going to last through the year, and now they are penciled in as the #2 or #3 team in the NFC.

I still wouldn't sleep in the Packers...

153
by The Hypno-Toad :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 5:34pm

I know you corrected yourself almost immediately, but the "sleep in the Packers" thing immediately flashed a very funny mental image of Aaron Rodgers as a tauntaun that I think I will have some serious difficulty getting out of my head.

145
by C (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 4:02pm

*on*

149
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 4:54pm

The Packers aren't doing anything until they start pass blocking. It doesn't matter who is at qb; you can't win in this league with that kind of pass protection. Getting Clifton back helps, of course, but the problems go far past one position, and there is a reason Tauscher wasn't on a roster at the beginning of the season.

Also, they are not adjusting as well to the 3-4 as I thought likely. Kampmann looks like an entirely different player, and not in a good way. Yes, there is time to correct things, but not a lot of time. A stomping of the Lions is in order.

The Bears, IF they get some improvement in the o-line, have a better chance, I think.

152
by C (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 5:28pm

You can't win in this league with that protection...

They were a droped 4th down catch away from making it a lot closer of a game. Getting Clifton back helps, and Kampman clearly is a round peg in a square hole trying to play OLB, but I'm not giving up on the Pack. Look at their remaining schedule ( yes I understand the whole NFCN has an easy schedule).

160
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 8:37pm

If the idea is to protect the passer in that manner, and then catch the fourth and goal throws to make the game closer, it still doesn't obviate the fact that the quarterback ain't gettin' up eventually. Maybe I'm just an old fashioned Joe Gibbs type, but effective passing begins with effective pass protection. Yeah, its hard to imagine anyone outside of the Lions falling too far behind playing a NFC North schedule. Injury luck likely will still play a huge role.

162
by Rick A. (not verified) :: Thu, 10/15/2009 - 1:02am

C--apparently you are a Green Bay fan and must never have played the game. Like Will Allen is pointing out, they're not going to go anywhere if they do not fix that protection problem. And, oh yeah, one small other point--they're going to get Rodgers killed. And, on defense, Kampman indeed looks like a different guy, for the worse. Green Bay is not in good shape in several other areas besides. It seems pretty clear to me they're in trouble.

And to Keith 1--I am not a fan of any team. I'm someone who used to play. I discovered DVOA a few years ago along with some of my friends from sports. It's an intriguing, well founded system. You guys are a hoot to read too. It's just that I saw the Vikes live the other day and was very impressed. The Rams are at the bottom but I can assure you they are not THE bottom. They generate a bit of defensive resistance, unlike a couple of other teams. But the Vikes speed and execution were overwhelming and Brett Favre, who had celebrated his 40th the night before at a semi-wild, I hear, private party, didn't appear to be aging in the slightest. He was throwing as hard and as accurately as the first time I ever saw him live which was in 1993. And that was not just after the partying but also on a short week. Your points about bench and injury further down the line in the season go without saying. That's football. That applies to every team. The thing right now about the Vikings, and Favre, is that they are conserving energy, also as Will Allen points out. That's the name of the game in pro football. These other teams that are undefeated, with the exception of the Giants, are expending too much. You'll soon see Denver go down, and as good as Indy is and as used to fast starts as they are, they are putting out way too much on defense. It's going to cause them problems sooner rather than later. I just don't think it will be the same fast start for them, as good as they are. But the Vikings, hey, they are looking very good...

164
by ammek :: Thu, 10/15/2009 - 8:14am

JaMarcus Russell is also conserving energy. Look out, AFC playoffs!

167
by C (not verified) :: Thu, 10/15/2009 - 9:43am

Rich A.

I'm one of the few main contributers here that HAS played football past high school and I'm very proud of it ( I also have a good record here as far as evaulating QB's when nobody wants to go out on a limb and make concrete statements early in their careers). There is a huge difference between just looking at outcomes and stats, and knowing the techniques and skills associated with success.

In defense of the Packers, they were missing their starting LT, then the backup got hurt, then they were playing a backup guard against maybe the best defensive end in the league. They aren't going to be going up against Jared Allen everyweek, and at some point they will get Chad Clifton back which will improve that pass protection. I wouldn't write them off this early and especially with their weak schedule. They will be in the playoff race and there anything can happen.

Jared Allen dominated that game which brought up memories of Osi O. dominating Winston Justice on MMF but Green Bay was still very competitive on the road in a playoff like atmosphere and are a few plays away ( in two games), from being 4-0.

171
by Jeesh! (not verified) :: Thu, 10/15/2009 - 10:43am

I am not so sure I agree with the statement that Favre has "far greater offensive talent in Minnesota". Did the Vikes lead the NFL in rushing last year? Is there offensive line really that much better than the Jets? Favre had a lot of protection last year, he won 8 games before he self destructed, and he had the league's number one rusher to hand the ball off to. So I guess I'm not buying that Minnesota has all of this talent that the Jets lacked last year. Other than a QB that made a lot of dumb mistakes -- they seemed to have been about even.

174
by peterplaysbass (not verified) :: Thu, 10/15/2009 - 11:09am

"and he had the league's number one rusher to hand the ball off to"

Seriously? And what did Thomas Jones do the year before?

Let's poll 1000 people to see who they think is better, Jones or Minnesota's starting back, whats-his-name. I'll eat my hat if fewer than 985 of them choose the Viking.

173
by Rick A. (not verified) :: Thu, 10/15/2009 - 11:08am

C--True on all counts. Sorry for thinking you spoke from no experience. The G.B.
OLine having people playing out of place is a tough thing. Then when they do all get back then they will be out of condition and out of synch for awhile. It pretty well destroys your season when that stuff happens right out of the gate. They are a tremendous offensive force and Rodgers is a future top-tier QB. They may be in the playoff hunt this but I don't think so. Besides all of the OLine problems their D has gone backwards. But the future certainly looks bright for them and they certainly did the right thing in moving on from No 4. Rodgers is a major talent...

175
by C (not verified) :: Thu, 10/15/2009 - 1:50pm

No problem.

I'm high on Aaron Rodgers for the future ( looks like you are too), and I put a premium on good QB play. If your team has one of the pro bowl QB's in your conference, you have an advantage and by even fielding an average defense you should be at least a borderline playoff team.

I actually like Green Bay's talent on defense, Kampman is a 4-3 end playing 3-4 OLB, but overall they under performed last year and Capers had the defense playing better although not at the steller level they were in preseason ( but hey, it was preseason). If they can't get pressure ( the minny game), then it doesn't matter who you have playing DB, they'll either need to blitz more or blitz smarter.

An NFL season is a long thing. Somebody posted something about the Saints going at least 13-3... A little optimistic for me. Before we crown the Vikings champs... a lot of people were arguing if purple QB would even make it through the season... I'm actually a Giants fan, I'm a defacto Packers fan due to a Vegas OVER 8 wins prop. I saw them at 3-1 at this point with a chance at being 4-0 or 2-2 depending how things went. Realistically I thought they'd be 3-0 ( no loss vs Cincy) going @ Minny... or maybe they'd lose to Chicago but beat Minny... 3-1 at this point seemed logical ( they were favored in 3 games, dogs in 1).