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30 Nov 2010

Week 12 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

Perhaps I should stop saying nice things about teams in the DVOA commentary. I declared Kansas City a team that we had to take seriously as a Super Bowl contender, after which the Chiefs divebombed straight into mediocrity. I congratulated the Giants on reaching the top of DVOA after Week 9, and they got upset by the Cowboys in Week 10. Last week, I declared that the Eagles and Steelers had finally established some separation between themselves and the rest of the pack; the Eagles took a face-plant against Chicago while the Steelers barely got past Buffalo in overtime.

While the Eagles tumble into third place after their Chicago loss, the Steelers take over the top spot with only a slight decline in DVOA. Even though the Steelers needed overtime to beat a 2-8 team, DVOA -- even after opponent adjustments -- sees Pittsburgh as the superior team over the course of the entire game. The Steelers did a better job of maintaining long, sustained drives, and only recovered one of the game's four fumbles. However, I know Steelers fans like to look for reasons for pessimism, so here's one: Take out the blowout win over Oakland, and the Steelers were actually better during the four games without Ben Roethlisberger than they have been since his return. Their average DVOA in the first four games was 32.7%. Their average DVOA in the last seven games is only slightly higher, 33.4%, even though that string of games includes the biggest single-game DVOA of the season in the Oakland blowout.

Now let us turn to the team ranked second overall, the New England Patriots. Not learning my lesson from the first paragraph above, I will now damn my personal favorite team by saying nice things about them. This week, the Patriots move ahead of the 2004 Colts as the second-best offense in DVOA history through Week 12. More astonishing is the fact that New England's current DVOA of 45.2% matches the 45.2% offensive DVOA that the record-setting 2007 Patriots put up over the entire season. Remember, the 2007 Patriots faded from otherworldly to merely very good over the second half of the season. If the current Patriots don't have a similar fade, they have a shot to rank as the greatest offense in DVOA history, despite trading a Hall of Fame receiver in midseason.

Tom Brady is now almost 300 DYAR -- and 15 percentage points of DVOA -- ahead of any other quarterback. Once again, as in 2009, Brady is playing even better than his standard stats would otherwise indicate because he's put up big numbers against a tough slate of defenses. The issue is not as much that the Patriots have played the best defenses in the league -- they've only played four games against top 10 defenses -- and more that their schedule is missing games where Brady could roll up big stats on bad defenses. Only one of the Patriots' 2010 opponents, Buffalo, ranks among the worst dozen pass defenses according to DVOA. And it is about to get worse -- the Pats' final five games include interconference matchups with the number two (Green Bay) and number four (Chicago) pass defenses in the league, plus this week's rematch with a Jets defense that a lot of people (including me) think is probably better than its current DVOA ranking of 15th.

Now some readers might be asking themselves, "Wait a minute... Didn't Football Outsiders write an Any Given Sunday column after the Patriots lost to the Browns, showing that the Patriots offense had struggled since the Randy Moss trade because it couldn't get the ball to Wes Welker or the tight ends?" Why yes, we did write that column -- and, in fact, Tom Brady was having trouble getting the ball to Welker and the tight ends for month after the Moss trade. But those struggles completely ended after the Browns loss, and the entire Patriots offense has been en fuego for the last three weeks. Welker is back to putting up a performance similar to the rest of his Patriots career. The tight ends have actually played better in the past three games than they did in the first four games. And since Week 10, Brandon Tate and Deion Branch have played far better than Tate and Randy Moss played back in September.

New England Patriots Receiving Stats, 2010
All Tight Ends Wes Welker All Other WR (includes Moss)
DVOA DYAR/G Catch Rate DVOA DYAR/G Catch Rate DVOA DYAR/G Catch Rate
Weeks 1-4 44.4% 25.3 86% 13.4% 18.0 76% -5.6% 5.3 57%
Weeks 6-9 -2.2% 3.8 58% -17.2% -2.5 64% -2.1% 9.3 48%
Weeks 10-12 99.9% 41.3 88% 17.0% 23.3 70% 18.9% 26.3 63%

There are three good explanations for these numbers:

1) The Patriots needed a couple of weeks to get used to how the offense would work without Moss, and the Browns loss helped them straighten out what worked and didn't work.

2) The struggles throwing to Welker and the tight ends in the first four games without Moss were a small sample size fluke.

3) The great numbers that the offense has over the last three weeks are a small sample fluke, not the mediocre numbers in Weeks 6-9.

As long as the actual explanation is either number one or number two, the Patriots have to be considered favorites against the Jets on Monday night -- and a win there would virtually ensure the top seed, giving them an excellent chance to make their fifth Super Bowl in ten years.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through 12 weeks of 2010, 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 DVOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver) and week of season. WEIGHTED DVOA represents an attempt to figure out how a team is playing right now, as opposed to over the season as a whole, by making recent games more important than earlier games. As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE.

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
WEIGHTED
DVOA
RANK W-L OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
1 PIT 33.4% 2 33.4% 1 8-3 13.5% 10 -16.7% 1 3.2% 8
2 NE 30.6% 3 30.5% 2 9-2 45.2% 1 17.0% 27 2.4% 11
3 PHI 27.3% 1 27.9% 3 7-4 28.0% 3 -0.2% 11 -0.9% 22
4 GB 22.4% 4 21.9% 5 7-4 15.7% 6 -10.1% 4 -3.5% 27
5 NYG 20.6% 6 21.7% 6 7-4 12.2% 13 -12.9% 3 -4.5% 29
6 SD 20.5% 8 22.2% 4 6-5 19.1% 4 -13.8% 2 -12.4% 32
7 BAL 19.7% 7 21.0% 7 8-3 12.2% 12 -4.1% 8 3.3% 6
8 NYJ 19.0% 10 16.8% 8 9-2 7.2% 16 -6.8% 7 4.9% 4
9 ATL 15.8% 9 15.4% 9 9-2 16.9% 5 3.5% 18 2.4% 10
10 TEN 13.6% 5 12.7% 11 5-6 -2.6% 22 -9.9% 5 6.3% 2
11 NO 11.6% 14 12.7% 10 8-3 11.6% 14 -1.5% 9 -1.5% 24
12 MIA 10.7% 12 12.2% 12 6-5 12.7% 11 1.3% 13 -0.7% 21
13 KC 8.4% 15 5.2% 16 7-4 15.6% 7 4.5% 20 -2.6% 26
14 IND 7.4% 11 6.7% 14 6-5 14.9% 9 2.6% 16 -5.0% 30
15 CLE 6.7% 13 8.3% 13 4-7 3.5% 18 0.0% 12 3.2% 7
16 HOU 4.4% 17 5.8% 15 5-6 29.0% 2 24.2% 32 -0.4% 20
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
LAST
WEEK
WEIGHTED
DVOA
RANK W-L OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
17 TB 0.4% 16 0.9% 17 7-4 7.6% 15 7.1% 21 -0.2% 19
18 CHI -2.5% 19 -0.2% 18 8-3 -18.1% 30 -9.6% 6 6.0% 3
19 SF -6.8% 21 -4.0% 19 4-7 -7.1% 26 -0.5% 10 -0.1% 18
20 CIN -11.3% 18 -13.4% 25 2-9 -2.3% 21 3.6% 19 -5.4% 31
21 JAC -11.5% 22 -10.9% 21 6-5 5.0% 17 21.3% 30 4.8% 5
22 DEN -11.7% 24 -9.7% 20 3-8 15.2% 8 23.4% 31 -3.6% 28
23 MIN -11.8% 26 -11.9% 23 4-7 -6.5% 25 3.3% 17 -2.0% 25
24 DET -12.4% 20 -12.5% 24 2-9 -6.3% 24 7.3% 22 1.2% 14
25 BUF -13.3% 29 -11.3% 22 2-9 1.3% 19 16.9% 26 2.3% 13
26 WAS -14.3% 23 -14.6% 27 5-6 -3.6% 23 10.9% 24 0.2% 16
27 OAK -17.2% 27 -13.5% 26 5-6 -14.9% 29 2.3% 15 0.1% 17
28 DAL -17.5% 25 -19.9% 29 3-8 -1.0% 20 18.8% 29 2.4% 12
29 STL -19.8% 28 -19.0% 28 5-6 -9.3% 27 9.4% 23 -1.2% 23
30 SEA -26.1% 30 -30.2% 30 5-6 -14.2% 28 18.8% 28 6.9% 1
31 CAR -39.1% 32 -39.6% 32 1-10 -37.9% 32 1.9% 14 0.7% 15
32 ARI -39.5% 31 -38.9% 31 3-8 -28.9% 31 13.4% 25 2.9% 9
  • NON-ADJUSTED TOTAL DVOA does not include the adjustments for opponent strength or the adjustments for weather and altitude in special teams, and only penalizes offenses for lost fumbles rather than all fumbles.
  • 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 PIT 33.4% 8-3 30.7% 8.0 3 6.1% 7 -1.0% 20 14.0% 16
2 NE 30.6% 9-2 23.4% 8.4 1 6.2% 5 7.3% 8 12.9% 14
3 PHI 27.3% 7-4 29.1% 8.2 2 1.6% 19 -4.3% 24 12.4% 13
4 GB 22.4% 7-4 24.6% 7.5 6 -1.0% 21 5.9% 10 14.4% 17
5 NYG 20.6% 7-4 23.6% 7.9 4 -6.7% 27 1.9% 16 27.2% 29
6 SD 20.5% 6-5 24.5% 7.3 7 -5.6% 25 -7.7% 27 17.8% 21
7 BAL 19.7% 8-3 13.9% 7.7 5 3.7% 11 9.0% 5 5.2% 1
8 NYJ 19.0% 9-2 24.3% 7.1 10 3.1% 16 11.8% 2 8.2% 5
9 ATL 15.8% 9-2 12.9% 7.2 8 4.0% 10 -18.5% 31 5.8% 2
10 TEN 13.6% 5-6 8.8% 6.5 12 4.1% 9 3.2% 13 24.4% 24
11 NO 11.6% 8-3 16.1% 6.7 11 -11.2% 31 1.0% 18 8.6% 6
12 MIA 10.7% 6-5 10.3% 7.2 9 7.5% 3 6.1% 9 14.6% 19
13 KC 8.4% 7-4 17.2% 6.2 13 -7.9% 29 -2.9% 22 24.6% 25
14 IND 7.4% 6-5 5.1% 6.2 14 6.1% 6 -3.8% 23 9.7% 7
15 CLE 6.7% 4-7 4.6% 6.1 15 7.0% 4 7.8% 6 13.0% 15
16 HOU 4.4% 5-6 3.1% 5.6 17 3.3% 15 7.5% 7 26.6% 27
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
ESTIM.
WINS
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VAR. RANK
17 TB 0.4% 7-4 5.2% 5.9 16 -6.2% 26 -5.1% 26 14.4% 18
18 CHI -2.5% 8-3 1.5% 4.9 19 -4.9% 24 9.5% 4 27.0% 28
19 SF -6.8% 4-7 -2.9% 5.2 18 -8.2% 30 -8.5% 28 27.8% 30
20 CIN -11.3% 2-9 -16.0% 4.0 28 8.3% 2 18.4% 1 10.5% 9
21 JAC -11.5% 6-5 -16.6% 4.6 21 6.0% 8 -1.2% 21 17.9% 22
22 DEN -11.7% 3-8 -12.3% 4.4 22 0.7% 20 -4.6% 25 23.5% 23
23 MIN -11.8% 4-7 -14.7% 4.8 20 2.8% 18 3.9% 11 9.7% 8
24 DET -12.4% 2-9 -11.8% 4.2 25 3.7% 12 3.8% 12 6.7% 3
25 BUF -13.3% 2-9 -16.0% 4.3 23 9.7% 1 11.0% 3 6.7% 4
26 WAS -14.3% 5-6 -14.1% 4.2 24 3.5% 14 2.5% 15 10.7% 10
27 OAK -17.2% 5-6 -9.6% 3.7 30 -1.2% 22 2.6% 14 40.0% 32
28 DAL -17.5% 3-8 -18.7% 4.0 27 3.7% 13 1.6% 17 26.4% 26
29 STL -19.8% 5-6 -10.0% 4.0 26 -11.8% 32 -10.5% 30 12.3% 12
30 SEA -26.1% 5-6 -22.8% 3.8 29 -6.9% 28 -9.9% 29 32.0% 31
31 CAR -39.1% 1-10 -40.8% 2.3 32 2.8% 17 -0.1% 19 10.7% 11
32 ARI -39.5% 3-8 -34.7% 2.6 31 -4.6% 23 -19.0% 32 16.6% 20

Worst Playoff Team Ever Watch

According to the FO Playoff Odds simulation:

  • Chance the NFC West champion will be 8-8 or worse: 83.3 percent
  • Chance the NFC West champion will be 7-9 or worse: 33.0 percent
  • Chance the NFC West champion will be 6-10 or worse: 0.9 percent

Best and Worst DVOA Ever Watch

BEST OFFENSIVE DVOA
AFTER WEEK 12
  WORST OFFENSIVE DVOA
AFTER WEEK 12
  WORST DEFENSIVE DVOA
AFTER WEEK 12
  WORST SPECIAL TEAMS
AFTER WEEK 12
2007 NE 51.8% x 2005 SF -44.0% x 2004 STL 30.5% x 2010 SD -12.4%
2010 NE 45.2% x 1997 NO -41.9% x 2008 DET 27.7% x 1995 PHI -10.3%
2004 IND 42.6% x 2002 HOU -38.9% x 2005 HOU 27.2% x 1997 STL -10.0%
2002 KC 41.2% x 2004 CHI -38.7% x 2008 STL 27.2% x 2008 MIN -10.0%
1995 DAL 37.2% x 2004 MIA -37.9% x 2002 KC 25.7% x 1997 PHI -9.6%
1998 DEN 37.0% x 2010 CAR -37.9% x 2004 SF 24.7% x 1996 NYJ -8.6%
1993 SF 35.1% x 1998 PHI -36.3% x 2010 HOU 24.2% x 2008 MIA -8.5%
2005 SD 32.9% x 1993 TB -35.1% x 2010 DEN 23.4% x 2007 CAR -8.4%
2004 KC 32.4% x 1996 STL -34.8% x 2004 NO 23.3% x 2009 GB -8.3%
2004 PHI 31.6% x 2006 OAK -33.8% x 2000 STL 22.7% x 2004 STL -8.1%

Three notes for those curious about these tables:

1) Twitter reader @SeanBlanda asked about where the 1998 Vikings stand on the list of the best offensive DVOAs of all-time. Yes, I'll admit it is quite a surprise to see that Vikings team, with the second-most points in NFL history, missing from the top ten list above. An even bigger surprise is that 1998 Vikings don't even make the top 30. They rank only third in 1998 itself, behind Denver and San Francisco. I actually covered these issues back in 2005 when I first wrote up commentary on the 1998 ratings. The ratings have changed since then (with the big DVOA upgrade before the 2009 season) but the basic ideas remain the same. The Vikings played an easier-than-average schedule, and there's a reasonable argument to be made that DVOA, which generally likes teams that consistently move the chains, does not properly give the 1998 Vikings credit for their consistent ability to connect on deep pass plays over 25 yards.

2) The Rusty Venture Experience pulls the Texans out of last place in the all-time defensive ratings. This will surely bring on questions about why we don't account for injuries in our opponent adjustments; the Texans' performance is adjusted based on Tennessee's whole season, not who was quarterback this week. The answer to these questions is: "We expect you to use common sense." There really isn't any good system for deciding when an injury should or should not impact the rating. What's important is for us to look at all stats in context and understand why a rating may or may not be completely accurate. That's one of the reasons why we write all these words on Football Outsiders, rather than just running table after table of numbers. In the case of the Texans' defensive DVOA, I don't think we have to change the number for people to understand that it was a little better than it really should have been this week.

3) Longtime FO followers might be wondering why the "worst special teams after Week 12" table is missing the team that actually holds the record for the worst special teams in DVOA history, the 2000 Bills. The Bills actually managed to put up a few weeks of average special teams after a terrible start, so by Week 12 their rating was no longer below -8.0%. However, the special teams completely crashed in the final month, with two of the worst special teams games ever in Weeks 16 and 17. (Our weather adjustments may not do enough to adjust for the 40 mile per hour winds in Buffalo in Week 16, but there's no excuse for the Week 17 game played on a rainy but windless afternoon in Seattle.) The Bills didn't get below the current Chargers rating until after the final game of the season. However, this is the first week of 2010 where the Chargers' special teams DVOA has been higher than Buffalo's final 2000 rating of -12.9%.

4) Someone in last week's discussion thread pointed out that the same franchises seem to appear multiple times on the "worst defensive DVOA ever" list, but the lists of best and worst offensive DVOA seem to have mostly different franchises. Doesn't this contradict our general precept that offense is more consistent than defense from season to season? I don't think so. It might suggest that really awful defenses are more consistent than defenses that are good, average, or just a bit below average. However, you'll notice that while the same franchises repeat on the list, they don't generally repeat in consecutive years. Two examples: St. Louis ranks in the bottom 10 in three different seasons, but each of those seasons is separated by four years. Denver was among the worst 25 defenses in history in both 2008 and 2010, but had an above-average defense in 2009.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 30 Nov 2010

164 comments, Last at 18 Oct 2012, 3:36am by Healthy Living Tips

Comments

2
by Mike B. In Va :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 6:02pm

Hmm. GB and SD stand out for being in the top ten (and relatively equal) on both sides of the ball. Interesting.

Oh, and "first"!

10
by RickD :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 6:26pm

Heh - not any more.

That'll teach you to not edit your comments. :)

22
by FB Fan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 7:21pm

And both GB and SD are at the bottom of the heap with special teams. In past years SD's special teams has been at the top of the league. I give them more hope for fixing their special teams mess. If they do, they will be the team no one wants to play in the playoffs, once again. So we will see if, once again they choke, or if they go deep.

98
by NateR (not verified) :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 10:32am

It may be true that going into the playoffs noone thinks they want to play SD. But as the years of disappointing playoffs collapses/upsets/results pile up around Norv, the reality is quite different.

113
by Karma Coma :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 1:32pm

In fairness, they were collapsing in the playoffs before Norv was HC of SD.

130
by greybeard :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 3:04pm

You mean loosing AFC championship game and losing at the divisional round after one win and loosing at the divisional round after a bye in the wildcard round are collapses/upsets. And of course Keading with his 86.6% career field goal kicking rate not making on all 3 field goal attempts agains Jets on game that ended 17-14 shows how terrible Norv is.

He makes playoffs in all 3 years with Chargers, takes them to AFC championship game and divisional rounds twice, has 50% winning percentage on playoffs. That is not disappointing.

It seems like poeple loose perspective when the topic is Norv Turner.

150
by donk (not verified) :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 9:04pm

True. But you are fighting a losing battle around here.

156
by TomC :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 5:30pm

You mean a loosing battle, right?

163
by The Ninjalectual :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 4:57pm

is this supposed to be a joke? I don't get it

1
by RickD :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 6:02pm

Noting with pleasure that, yet again, the Patriots' D is ranked 27th, where it belongs.

3
by RichC (not verified) :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 6:08pm

Whats interesting about that, is in week 8, when the Pats were #27, they were at +11.4%. Now they'er at +17%, so DVOA thinks the defense is getting signficantly worse, when my eyes are telling me the opposite.

They've got from getting gashed to getting gashed and forcing turnovers.

6
by BSR :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 6:12pm

It seems like their pass D is getting better while their run D is getting worse according to DVOA so that might be part of it. Frankly, I think they are pretty good at stopping the run but it doesn't show up in their stats since they have spent much of the third/fourth quarter in a sub defense.

12
by RichC (not verified) :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 6:27pm

Thats probably a good thing then. If the offense can continue to score tons of points, the run defense probably doesn't mean all that much.

19
by Nathan :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 6:45pm

also the injuries on the d-line the last few weeks have lead to them being a bit softer vs the run to my eyes

4
by Dre538 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 6:09pm

Tom Brady is totally on another level this season. The Patriots offense has a solid group of running backs and receivers, but not a group which is particularly impressive. Brady makes all the difference. He's been crticized a lot this season in New England and I really don't understand. He's taken a seemingly unimpressive group of offensive skill players and made them the best offense in the league. Patriots fans are so used to top notch QB play that they don't realize Brady's not as good games are far better than what most teams get from their QBs.

7
by BSR :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 6:18pm

I don't think he's received that much criticism at all, especially since the Moss trade. At the most people just say that he should get a haircut.

As for his play, this is nothing new. He's been the top QB in the league according to DVOA since 2007. The fact that he is doing it with a bunch of nobodies (other than maybe a recovering Welker) is making it more impressive this year. I believe Welker was quoted last Thursday that it was the first game where his knee actually felt back to normal. No surprise that that was a big game for him.

I also can't believe how effective Woodhead has been both running and receiving for them. As Rex Ryan said, he is a perfect fit for their offense.

9
by RichC (not verified) :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 6:23pm

"The Patriots offense has a solid group of running backs and receivers, but not a group which is particularly impressive"

I'm going to strongly disagree with this.

The tight ends are already (even though they're rookies) the best group of tight ends Brady has ever played with. They're really good.

Welker is good. Branch is getting open all the time. And Woodhead is drastically better than Faulk was in space. He's not nearly the blocker that Faulk is, but hes much faster, and much more likely to rip off big chunks of yards.

Randy Moss is gone, but I'd argue that the rest of the "skill positions" are better than they were in 07.

11
by RickD :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 6:27pm

In fairness to Faulk, the Faulk of 10 years ago was much faster than the Faulk of today, too.

14
by BSR :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 6:36pm

You are underestimating Grahmbo and Furia. Those two were both excellent TE that could both block well and get open. Gronk and Hernandez might have higher ceilings but at the moment they are still rookies and I am sure make plenty of mistakes.

And you are significantly underrating Faulk. The guy has routinely been one of the better 3rd down backs in the league for the past 8 years. Woodhead is doing an admirable job of replacing him but he still has a ways to go before being on the same level as Faulk.

23
by JonFrum (not verified) :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 7:32pm

Graham and Fauria were both excellent? Take off your fanboy glasses. They had to stop passing to Graham because he couldn't hold on to the ball - and eventually kicked him to the curb - and Fauria was adequate, but not starting quality. Both had there moments, but neither was excellent.

31
by BSR :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 8:10pm

That's ridiculous. Graham was a devastating blocker and was a reliable pass catcher. There was a short stretch where he was dropping passes, but that was hardly the story of his career with NE. As for NE kicking him to the curb, that is a pure fabrication. Graham received a huge contract from Denver that NE would not match. They would have definitely taken him back for the right price.

I'm not try to claim that these guys were like Tony G, Gates, Witten, Clark class. But Graham and Fauria were very effective in that Patriots offense. Gronk and Hernandez will probably surpass them soon but at this point they are rookies and expectations should be tempered.

20
by Nathan :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 6:47pm

The tight ends are amazing.

45
by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 9:51pm

That's what she said

79
by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 2:42am

Raiderjoe...I'm stunned. No misspellings.

No wonder Sierra Nevada's stock has dropped so much.

134
by AudacityOfHoops :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 3:15pm

At least he forgot to end with a period.

89
by jebmak :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 9:10am

Hah!

54
by Dingle-Doodah (not verified) :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 11:02pm

'Randy Moss is gone, but I'd argue that the rest of the "skill positions" are better than they were in 07'

The best deep receiver in football, along with its best slot man, and BRADY (now, with receivers!) with Stallworth, Gaffney, along with a very effective Maroney and Faulk, is somehow junior to Gronk*, GE\head and hope Branch isn't limping?

No, you're wrong. I respect that this offense churns out yards like it has no right to, but there is no comparison between the '07 and '10 Pats except the former could defend. And Brady.

55
by RichC (not verified) :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 11:26pm

Branch is better than Gaffney or Stallworth.

Gronk,Hernandez, and Crumpler are better than Watson and Kyle Brady.

Woodhead is a significantly better runner (although not the blocker) than Faulk.

So, yes, I stand by what I said, Aside from Moss, the Patriots have better "skill" positions than they did in 07

66
by Rich Arpin (not verified) :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 1:08am

Can you really take out one player and say the rest are equal? You're changing the whole match up?

1. Moss 07>Branch10
2. Welker07>Welker10 (coming back from injury)
3. Gaffney07>Tate10, and Hobbs was just as good at KR
4. Stallworth>>Price?, not comparable to Edelmann.

1. Watson=Hernandez, though H has more potential and flexibility
2. K Brady < Gronk, but Brady didn't have the fumble when fighting tackles issue.
3. Crumpler is an awesome blocker.

1. BJGE>Maroney. Maroney just never hit the hole, except for the end of 07
2. Faulk=Woodhead. Woodhead is like MJD with lower body strength and balance, but Faulk is shiftier; they are both small backs who defenses can't contain that come out of the backfield and catch the ball.

I'd say Tight ends are a wash, with Watson not utilized to his potential, and that the 07 Offense was built for vertical as well as intermediate passes, while the offense this year is built so much on balance and deception. Moss never runs the routes Branch does today because against double coverage those routes are suicide. Seriously, cutting a post square in against inside trail coverage with safety over the top is throwing it straight at the CB in coverage (Branch staple off PA). Similarly, an out and up (Branch 2nd TD vs Detroit) is something they weren't doing with moss as safety's were always directly over him. Also, zone defenders stick to Moss, they don't leave him till he's handed off with the smallest of windows.

If you take Moss out, sure you can compare the offenses, but you can't compare them without Moss because Moss was a part of that offense. 1st WR then vs 1st WR now, not 3rd WR then vs 1st WR now, cuz yeah, Branch is in tune with Brady, much more so than Stallworth ever was, who started as the 3rd WR, but became 4th as Gaffney moved up the Depth Chart.

Fyi, Gaffney was a first rounder, tate and price are still works in progress.

74
by RichC (not verified) :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 2:05am

Can you people not read? Seriously?

Go back and read what I posted, and stop cutting down straw men.

94
by Jetspete :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 9:52am

So basically your argument is that, minus the guy that caught 100 balls and 23 tds, the skill position guys this year are better than 07? Thats kind of absurd logic. Welker, while still a pro bowler, is on pace for 20 fewer catches. And as far as the other guys go, most of them are interchangeable, with the exception of the invaluable Faulk out of the backfield.

With the exception of the Dillon years, the Pats have been a pass to set up the run team with a great O-Line. If BJE/DW are better, it is a minimal difference.

And taking Moss out of the equation, i would probably rather have a 27 year old stallworth than a 31 year old Branch.

The difference hasnt been in the skill positions, it has been in Brady. He appears to be back at his hall of fame level despite rookies and castoffs throughout the offense.

123
by RichC (not verified) :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 2:42pm

"So basically your argument is that, minus the guy that caught 100 balls and 23 tds, the skill position guys this year are better than 07?"

Thats exactly what I said, isn't it? And it wasn't an argument, it was a statement.

142
by Anonymous Jones :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 4:29pm

Really? It's all Brady? The lack of QB hits and sacks is *all* Brady as well?

I know you didn't say it's *all* Brady, and I'm sure it's a lot Brady, but I'm definitely skeptical that the only difference is Brady. There's a reason why offensive linemen (and people who scout them) get paid, too.

60
by Dales :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 11:44pm

There is another way to look at this. A way that I would not have even considered until lately.

Randy Moss was out of this world with Minnesota, but not so much in Oakland, and not so much with Tennessee.

Welker was promising in Miami, but had not proven much.

Branch was great in NE, and then went to another team and was not much of anything.

These guys just seem to play really great with Tom Brady as their quarterback- better than they play with other quarterbacks.

Maybe he has a lot more to do with it than many, including me, have believed.

115
by MJK :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 1:38pm

Interesting. I just took your points and did a more thorough analysis. I made a list of every receiver that has caught at least 20 passes in a season from Tom Brady, and compared their average DYAR per season playing with Brady to their average DYAR per season in all other seasons they played with a QB other than Brady. I excluded 2010 because it's not complete yet, and also because the Moss and Branch trades make it really messy. I counted seasons where the player caught no passes as 0 DYAR seasons. Here are the results (the * implies just a single-season sample).

Name / Avg DYAR with Brady / Avg DYAR without Brady

Troy Brown / 93 / 83
David Patten / 106 / -7
Deion Branch / 139 / 28
David Givens / 113 / -43*
Tim Dwight / 85* / 51
Reche Caldwell / 174* / -10
Doug Gabriel / 85* / 55
Wes Welker / 404 / 117
Randy Moss / 482 / 276
Donte Stallworth / 150* / 65
Jabar Gaffney / 89 / 52
Julian Edelman / 49* / Never played with other QB
Sam Aiken / 14* / -1

In every case, a WR has put up a better performance on average playing for Tom Brady than with other QB's. The only one with significant sample size that is even close is Troy Brown, who put up almost as good numbers with Drew Bledsoe as with Brady (of course, Brady had Brown in his waning years).

Of course, there is context to go with some of these. Givens never really got a chance to shine after he left NE because of a career ending injury. Stallworth's off-the-field problems post-NE are well known. A number of these players (Dwight, for example) left the Patriots because they were near the end of their careers, or because they really weren't all that good (e.g. Caldwell or Gabriel) and had one or two weak years before retirement that dragged their "without Brady" averages down. So some of this effect could be attributed to good personnel evaluation by the NE front office (of course, even signing guys like Gabriel, or thinking Caldwell could be a #1 WR, somewhat contradicts this theory).

But still, this "Brady Effect" seems real.

Probably not earth-shaking news, but interesting nonetheless.

124
by RichC (not verified) :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 2:45pm

DVOA would probably be a better choice than DYAR, as the "Caught 20+ passes from Brady" creates some selection bias.

128
by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 2:57pm

I'd call it a Bellichick effect more than a Brady effect.

133
by Jerry :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 3:10pm

It would be interesting to see if all top QBs produce a similar effect.

143
by MJK :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 5:16pm

I think so, too. I wold like to repeat this analysis for, say, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees (Aaron Rodgers is the other option that comes to mind, but he probably hasn't been starting long enough to have a good list of recievers that have played with him AND another QB for at least a season each).

To really do it right, the analysis should be repeated for some "average" QB's as well, and maybe also some bad ones (just about any recent Chicago QB would do). That way you could gauge how much of this effect, if any, is due to the nature of the analysis (i.e. teams generally don't let go of a receiver unless they think he's starting to decline, so maybe ANY QB's recievers would look worse if you look at how they did with someone else to some degree).

Unfortunately, I do have to get some work done during the work week... :-)

61
by Dre538 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 11:53pm

The tight ends are solid players but I think the reason why their numbers look so good is because of Brady. Hernandez is a good target and he can get open, but he's had costly drops this year and struggles against physical defenders. Gronkowski is a big, strong player who can catch but not a guy who can consistently get open. They'll get better but now I think their performance is more a product of the system and QB than themselves.

I guess it's kind of a chicken or egg type question but I think it's Brady who makes the tight ends more than them being particularly great receivers, at least this season.

69
by RickD :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 1:25am

Hernandez had one game where he had a few drops. Aside from that, he's been excellent. He's already the best receiving TE for the Pats since Ben Coates.
I wouldn't say that Gronkowski has difficulty getting open. He has done so quite a few times for TDs. But most of the time he's either blocking or he's not the first option.
If it were so easy to excel as TE under Brady and the Patriots, Ben Watson would have been an all-Pro years ago.

44
by jfsh :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 9:43pm

Looking at the QB page, it's interesting to see that Brady's unadjusted VOA isn't much higher than his peers:

VOA
------------
Brady: 44.5%
Rivers: 43.1%
Roethlisberger: 38.6%
Rodgers: 34.5%

But when you adjust for opponents, he shoots way up.

DVOA
------------
Brady: 49.8%
Rivers: 35.0%
Roethlisberger: 34.5%
Rodgers: 34.4%

IMO this is one of the difficult to gauge things that makes FO's numbers particularly valuable. We can identify the top few defenses in the league, but the vast bulk of defenses don't particularly stick out in anyone's mind - even though they definitely impact the raw stats.

I'm also surprised to see how well Roethlisberger has done, considering the Pittsburgh offense hasn't been dominating. But I guess he's always been very efficient, even as a rookie.

75
by Mike Elseroad (not verified) :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 2:05am

Amen brother.

My (real) brother argued with me before the season that Brady has gone Hollywood and didn't have the drive to succeed that he had earlier in his career. I don't live in the Boston area anymore, but I'm certain he got that idea from listening to Boston sports talk radio was probably ablaze with that sort of mularkey after the Wild Card fiasco vs Baltimore last season.

90
by jebmak :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 9:20am

This was the year that I decided to choose silence over sports talk radio. I am about 3 hours from Chicago, so I get Chicago sports radio. And it was non-stop, "Woe is me", at least up through a couple weeks ago.

I mean seriously, when they had six wins, people (and I'm including the hosts) were predicting seven or eight wins for the season. At that point I just couldn't take it anymore. I can't say that I'm happier, but I am less irritated.

105
by TomC :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 11:54am

I'm not sure how you can rip on sports talk radio for holding the same opinion of the Bears as DVOA (if DVOA can be said to have an opinion) and 95% of the posters on this site. And Vegas, too --- after beating Buffalo (which gave the Bears their 6th win), they were home dogs to the Vikings, which means that if nothing changed about Vegas's opinion, they would have been favored in at most one game the rest of the season (at Detroit, and even that wasn't a sure thing). The combination of unimpressive victories up to that point and the brutal second half schedule made 7-8 wins a perfectly rational prediction.

110
by Eddo :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 1:03pm

While I agree with you 100% in this specific case, I also despise Chicago-based sports radio. Last year, after the Bears looked ugly in beating the Rams, the talk on the radio was that the Bears were a "terrible team". I kept thinking, "No, you want to know what a 'terrible' team looks like? Look at whom the Bears were playing."

In some ways, the 1985 championship, especially the ease with which the playoff games were won, was the worst thing to happen to the way the local media and public view the Bears. If they're not destroying every one they're up against, then they must not be a good team. (And no one ever stops and examines the 1985 team, which wasn't without its own struggles; something like six or seven wins were come-from-behind, often against mediocre-to-bad competition (Buccaneers, Packers, etc.).)

5
by Jetspete :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 6:11pm

REgarding the Pats, what is your take on how the weather will start to effect the Pats' offense? Unless they lose this week and have to go to SD/Indy in round 1, every game left until the SB is likely to played in poor weather.

As far as this week's game goes, I really dont know what to make of the Jets who will be facing their first real quality opponent in over a month. Brady should be able to tear up the middle of the field against the Jets (cleveland, det and hou had great success on te crossing patterns), but then again i thought the Jets were dead at halftime of Game 1 and Brady didnt put up another point.

13
by RickD :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 6:29pm

The Pats' offense should not have any significant problems with cold weather. And if the footing is bad, that tends to favor the offense more than the defense.

15
by are-tee :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 6:37pm

The Jets gave played three games this year against other top-ten DVOA teams (BAL, NE, GB)and allowed a total of 33 points in those games. They've also scored only 37 points in those games, so you would think that Monday's game might be a defensive struggle.

16
by BJR :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 6:41pm

28 of those 37 points were scored against the Patriots, way to select your samples!

8
by Led :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 6:20pm

Assuming possibility 1 is the case and the Pats needed a few games to figure out a new offensive approach to match their new personnel (which strikes me as the most likely possibility), then to some extent they may have benefitted during the last 3 games from something similar to the "unknown quarterback effect." Once teams have enough film and time to process it, the Pats numbers may very well come back from historically great to just very good. The Jets game will be a good test. (I agree the Jets pass defense is better than DVOA gives credit for. They're forcing more incompletions and getting more sacks than last year but have had a flukily low number of interceptions given all the incompletions and somewhat flukily high number of big plays/coverage screw ups.) In any event, Brady isn't going throw another 200 straight passes without an interception so some regression towards the mean is likely.

17
by tunesmith :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 6:42pm

Hmm... Denver has risen six slots in the last three weeks, and their offensive line stats are improving, too.

21
by loneweasel (not verified) :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 7:13pm

"DVOA, which generally likes teams that consistently move the chains"
+
historically bad D (again)
+
ineffective O in-real-life

=

20-30+ minutes of garbage time to pile up stats against prevent defenses

29
by jebmak :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 7:44pm

Removing garbage time makes DVOA less predictive.

18
by tunesmith :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 6:45pm

I have a question about the special teams adjustment for Denver. While Denver's special teams were bad the first few weeks of the season, being ranked #28 for the whole league seems out of whack, and they've been down there for a few years in a row. Could it be that Denver is getting an artificial penalty given that they have eight games a year when opponents can easily create touchbacks? Meanwhile, any opponent comes to Denver at most once a season, barring playoffs, so Denver's touchback percentage wouldn't hurt them too badly.

27
by AudacityOfHoops :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 7:43pm

Pretty sure that the length of opponent kickoffs are not included in special teams DVOA. It's one of those "HIDDEN" factors listed on the ST DVOA page. Just like an opponent shanking an extra point, it's something that affects the kicking team's DVOA, but not the opponent's.

Plus, there is some kind of "Denver" adjustment included in the "weather" adjustments to the kicking numbers. Don't really have any clue how that works, though.

46
by jfsh :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 9:55pm

I think the idea is that you multiply every kickoff / FG by some multiplier to remove the "thin air" effect. For example, a kickoff that goes 70 yards in Denver is equivalent to one that goes 60 yards in Cincinnati. Similarly, a 55 yard field goal might count the same as a 51 yarder in LA. My numbers are made up, but that's the gist. I assume FO's numbers were determined empirically.

The result is that touchbacks are worth slightly less in Denver than elsewhere. But it's still never bad, just like it's never bad to get credit for making a 51 yard field goal, even if it was actually 55 yards away.

24
by Dave :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 7:40pm

Brady is playing even better than his standard stats would otherwise indicate ... their schedule is missing games where Brady could roll up big stats on bad defenses.

No, his traditional stats didn't get a boost at all from bad defensive play:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HuHE7shtDzQ

(That tipped him up to the perfect PR pundits and idiots cite constantly, ignoring that he was better the previous two weeks.)

I think the reason he hasn't gotten quite the amount of credit that his value would indicate is that to watch him play, it's not actually all that exciting. Brady to Moss on big scores always jumped out at people. Now it's just a very efficient offense getting good useful yardage on every play. It's not quite as highlight-worthy. I guess maybe people just tend to find tight ends boring?

Seeing it in these terms, though, makes the 1st and 2nd down performances on those late drives against the Colts even more puzzling, though.

26
by RickD :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 7:42pm

Even Brady won't complete every single pass. The failures on the late drives can be seen as nothing more than statistical noise, a couple missed passes after an extremely long productive period. Nothing terribly unusual for a long string of coin flips. (If that's your model).

If you want to look at the specific play calls, some of them were weird.

72
by Dave :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 1:52am

That's what I meant. They ran into a D stacked against the run. Then on 2nd and long they did it again. All game they were in 3rd and Easy and then they almost voluntarily went into tougher downs.

38
by MJK :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 9:15pm

I think it's simpler than "not that exciting". I think it boils down to the effect Fantasy Football has on the way people think of the game.

Brady has had a relatively disappointing fantasy year, at least compared to 2007...I think he's only had one or two 300+ yard passing games, and the Pats red-zone running game has gotten so much better that more of their TD's this year have been on the ground than in previous years (at least, that's my impression). All in all, Brady has been a decent but not stellar fantasy QB this year (as opposed to, say, the Unstoppable Ryan Fitzpatrick!).

Furthermore, because Moss was kind of ineffective despite getting a ton of targets, Welker has been gimpy, and the other WR's and RB's and TE's are in such a committee that they share the touches more than in most offenses, the Patriots have practically no fantasy superstars on offense.

It's been my observation that most football fans follow one or at most two teams closely, and most of what they know about all the other teams they know from playing fantasy. So any non-NE fans just know that neither Brady nor any of his receivers or RB's or TE's are putting up a big fantasy year. Hence they don't give the Patriots offense that much credit.

70
by Rich Arpin (not verified) :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 1:25am

That depends on the league scoring.

I'm the commissioner in a league that tries to keep everything as close to real value (proof reading, this statement makes no sense) as possible (look up value of possession on this site).

Hence, 70 yards (start possession from your 30) for 6 pts, plus opportunity for kick (1 pt) = 1 pt per 10 yards. And that's across the board.

QB's get 1 pt per 10 yards, 6 pts per TD, but if they throw incompletions, they lose half a pt for wasting a down. They also lose 4 pts to turnovers, and 2 pts to sacks, because I always blame QB's for sacks in fantasy. This leads to bad games being about 10 pts (where LB's score that much) and great games being retarded. Vick had 81 pts a few weeks ago, while Brady had 60.

As the owner of Brady, I've been having a good year. My only loss is to the owner of vick, who beat me on the week I highlighted

If you want to check my league out, link is in my name. The 0.25 pt per rush is to reward runners for ability to control the clock by running.

73
by Dave :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 1:57am

Certainly.

I hate fantasy, though, but I think even the enlightened among us are more impressed by the big plays and whatnot than simply posting a high percentage of successful plays as defined by the formula. And that's what they're doing.

Not that Brady can't make big long passes down the field that are also successful, but the strength of the offense is that besides just that, they're getting productive carries and useful short passes. All the time. And while a common fan might be impressed at the end of a game to learn that the team only punted twice, they're less likely to be impressed by a series of 13 play drives where the offense gets 5 yards a play every play. Which is why we have DVOA to tell us these things. It's not perfect and I'm still not sure I trust the opponent adjustments (primarily due to context and variation in game plans/preparation week to week, which nothing can accurately measure), I very much trust the VOA and YAR parts of it all. And D or no D in the stat, the Patriots offense has been frighteningly effective in all but maybe two games.

87
by Kulko :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 6:46am

>> And while a common fan might be impressed at the end of a game to learn that the team only punted twice, they're less likely to be impressed by a series of 13 play drives where the offense gets 5 yards a play every play <<

Which is something I do not understand, at least in the readership of this site.

When I watch a game, and my team gets burned for one big play, it sucks, but it does not really put a dent in my confidence. OTOH when the QB has two or three consecutive drives where he marches down the field for 10 plays even when he only scores FGs in the end, I am becoming extremly worried, because I am aware, that we will be in for a very long evening.

I think the problem is nmore, that it is almost impossible to find out which teams march up and down the field unless you watch them.

You can gleem a bit from the stats, but its relatively deeply hidden and its incomplete. There is basically nothing about it in the Recaps, which only care for the scores. And as you said it does not show up in the fantasy scores too. So apart from your own team its hard to know who the real powerhouses in the league are, unless you turn to tools like DVOA or Team Efficiency.

147
by dbt :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 8:48pm

Counterpoint: The Bears defense was happy to give up field goals and long drives all game long to avoid giving up the big play to the Eagles, and it worked.

25
by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 7:40pm

We expect you to use common sense.

Famous last words.

28
by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 7:43pm

2010 Raiders gretaest 27th rnaked DVOA yeam in history.

32
by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 8:18pm

As usual, raiderjoe's blatant Raiders homerism and overall sensationalism are also dead on. The Raiders are not an awful football team. They just have awful quarterback play and no consistent receivers (although Jacoby Ford appears to have potential).

35
by Spielman :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 8:32pm

But all their QBs are good! Including Russell, as I recall.

36
by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 8:40pm

Ruselel was bum who with help of crap coach/jerk L. Kiffin wrecked team for 2007-09. T. Cable had to get team back on track ans finally this year probelms fixed. Raiders to win Sunday. new standing siwll be
Cjefs 7-5
Raiders 6-6
Charegsr 6-6

43
by donk (not verified) :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 9:38pm

I heart Raiderjoe!

59
by Doug Farrar :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 11:37pm

We all heart Raiderjoe.

And can we use "Coach/Jerk" as an official title? Put it on the two SoCal coaches (Kiffin and Neuheisel) and expand from there.

67
by Shattenjager :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 1:09am

As a graduate of the University of Colorado, I am contractually required to say that I agree with this placement on Neuheisel.

91
by jebmak :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 9:27am

"That looks great! But who are the Cjefs?"

107
by TomC :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 11:56am

Grate ggogly mology!

139
by CaffeineMan :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 3:55pm

"Grate ggogly mology!"

Awesome.

108
by bouch (not verified) :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 11:59am

Great googly-moogly!

145
by tunesmith :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 6:02pm

ha ha... this means RaiderJoe is picking the Broncos to win in Arrowhead... cognitive dissonance at work. :-)

30
by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 8:10pm

Green Bay's special teams had a disasterous Sunday repeatedly surrending field position. Surprised the squad didn't crater further in the assessment. What an ugly day.

I accept that the Bears success is beyond my comprehension.

33
by Joe Mama (not verified) :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 8:19pm

How is the Bills offense if you take out the first 2 games with Trent Edwards?

34
by Yinka Double Dare :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 8:28pm

I know it's because of Rusty Venture, but nonetheless the Titans get my vote for my just-invented "Tori Black Demonstartes (sic) How To... Bust of the Week" award for the worst performance by a top-half DVOA team.

80
by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 2:57am

Oh - I didn't notice the misspelling until you pointed it out.

...

Don't judge me.

109
by TomC :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 12:00pm

I don't know how I missed this post the first time around. Brilliant. Kurtz & Gower should steal immediately.

37
by Bears (not verified) :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 9:09pm

I know it goes against the whole concept of statistical analysis to knowingly remove anomalies and outliers, but what would happen to the Bears' ranking if the Carolina game was removed? Does it become more accurate as far as the ranking is concerned versus the current results we’re seeing?
I know the Bears were equally bad against the Redskins, maybe even worse, but at least Cutler was the QB for that game and it would be therefore an outlier as opposed to a straight anomaly.
From a more general perspective then, my question also becomes, can the F/O system be updated with any metrics that remove single player results if it would make the overall DVOA system more accurate? It wouldn’t have to be capricious either, positive or negative outcomes could be removed as well if the metric identified a player who’s performance was exceptional enough, and their further contribution was no longer expected. For instance, if they were a 1 game injury replacement for a major position like QB, CB, DE..?
Has anything like this been attempted, was it successful? My understanding has been that the system was designed to be predictive based on certain theories, sustained drives, etc.. Is the “One game replacement scrub QB theory” a good new addition, does it work historically to explain any “DVOA glitches”?

40
by RickD :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 9:33pm

I would disagree with your first sentence. In real-world statistical analysis, it is not uncommon to remove outliers, presuming your reason for doing so is well-grounded. In many settings, an anomalous number is a sign of a bad measurement, and removing the number would be appropriate.
With regard to the particulars of your comment, I would argue that it is entirely reasonable to discard one game in particular, if the team's starting QB missed the game and the back-up was considerably worse. Witness what is happening with the Titans right now. Using the offensive numbers generated when Vince Young or Kerry Collins was the QB is not predictive of how the offense will perform with Rusty Venture at QB.

48
by MJK :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 10:07pm

You might be able to create an interesting statistic if you removed TWO games from EVERY team. I.e. remove the best and worst game of the season for every team and see what the ratings look like. This is statistically defensible...you're then presenting an "average" rating that is closer to a median and further from a mean than what you had before (a true median is what you get if you remove all but the one or two most central games, and average that). After all, this is what they do in Olympic scoring when they throw out the high and low judge score.

If a team was very low variance and always played the same way, doing this would have almost no effect on their rating. If they were higher variance and had one improbably good game and one improbably bad game, then again it would have little effect. But if they were usually playing a certain way, and due to some fluke had one game that was uncharacteristically good or bad, it would have a bigger effect...which is exactly what you want if you want to represent their "true" behavior with flukes removed.

52
by Jimmy :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 10:38pm

The Bears worst game of the season was the Giants game, and by quite some distance. Of course it seems probable that Cutler got concussed at the start of that game (which can't have helped) and Collins finished it. Removing games wouldn't hlep the Bears rating all that much, DVOA confirms what watching the games tells you - the Bears offense has been very poor at times and hadn't put a decent, balanced game together until last week (and the splits for that game aren't up on premium yet).

39
by Thok :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 9:25pm

What do the ratings look like if you take out every single game where a team started a player who hasn't started the entire season for them?

41
by RickD :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 9:34pm

It would look a lot like somebody burning a straw man.

78
by The Ninjalectual :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 2:29am

What is that supposed to mean?

120
by RickD :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 2:16pm

Thok is wondering
"What do the ratings look like if you take out every single game where a team started a player who hasn't started the entire season for them?"

Well, that would describe every single game played. The ratings would be based on the empty set of data.

I was interpreting Thok's question as an implied criticism of the notion that it's reasonable, under some circumstances, to consider only a subset of the data. Apparently this bothers him, so he points us to the idea that considering only a subset of the data somehow logically requires us to discard all the data.

83
by BigCheese :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 3:34am

Barren?

- Alvaro

42
by t.d. :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 9:35pm

I don't think this New England offense is better than 2007, but it seems like their blocking is

47
by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 10:03pm

Dont knwo where else to put this. Here will do.

This mroning on Mike & Mike show (one is botrher og good Raiders lienman Bob Golic) their stat guy or producer have questoin about Matt Ryan startijng 19-1 at home. Quiz was oen other guy do this Super Bolw era. One Mike guessed Danny white and other Mike guessed some other.

Knew answer Daryle Lamonica. Guy start off 24-1 beforoe lose for 2nd tiem as starting QB. Went 1-0 for Biles in 1963 home start. Netxt time start home game 1967 Raiders. Go 7-0 regulalr season, 1-0 playoffs at home.
1968- 6-1 regular season, 1-0 playoffs.
1969- 7-0 rgeulalr seaosn, 1-1 playoffs.

If not want to couytn playoffs. like if quiz was Most wins with only one loss, regular seaosn< then Lamonica go 27-1 befoore losse 2nd home start.

1963, 1-0
1967, 7-0
1968, 6-1
`969, 7-0
1970, 6-1

Loss in 1970 last home game seaosn with 49ers.

--------------

So question is was Lamonica only answer. Just wodnering if epsn messed up.

49
by Mr Derp (not verified) :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 10:12pm

RJ - I have long argued that the mad bomber was a better QB than The Snake. I know pro football reference has written about this argument as well. I think people weight the SB victory for Stabler too heavily. What is yuor opinion?

51
by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 10:34pm

Both great with Raiders. Stabler struglged mightily afetr leave Raiders. Stinky with Oielrs and Saimts. Think Stabler's best seoasn 1976) better than Lamonica's best seaosn (1969). Stabler extrememely accurtate specially foir time period. 66.7 comple percentahe in 1976.
Stabler was better QB probably beucause was tougher
in pocket and more accurate with ball. Look at Sea of Hands play, Stabler throw gerat pass with defenders all over him. Vert cool and calm in face of pass rush. Lamonica weaker that department, but still great.

Very close thoguh so if someone want to say Lamonica better not goign to argue. Is like spiltting hairs.

97
by Athelas :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 10:27am

Raiderjoe is the ONLY poster in the history of the internet that is worth reading/interpreting despite his atrocious typing/spelling.

Thank you Raiderjoe for sharing with us.

106
by Mike B. In Va :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 11:56am

Not only was that informative, I have a new nickname for my favorite team when they do something stupid, like, say, draft a safety WAY too high in the first round. ;)

121
by RickD :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 2:26pm

This is a question that's been tossed around a lot this week. The answer that people were thinking of was Danny White.

I don't know why they were not considering Lamonica. Well, his career started long before the Super Bowl era did, and his first start with the Bills was also before the "Super Bowl era".

In any case, that's a very impressive streak.

131
by Jerry :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 3:07pm

Maybe they were only looking at the NFL.

50
by JCutler6 :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 10:32pm

DVOA still hasn't bought into the Bears which is understandable

The offense played far worse IMO than the traditional stats would indicate against the Eagles. It seemed like the offense was made up of nothing but big plays (which DVOA doesn't like) and they all came from what seemed like broken plays that the Eagles coverage broke down on - eg. the pass to Knox where Cutler rolled out and lobbed it over the defenders head for an easy completion and 40 yard gain

The O-Line is improved - but it is still terrible. Some of the breakdowns defy logic. Seems like if there is any confusion as to who to block, Cutler will be sacked. Defensive coordinators should be bringing non-stop DB blitzes and the O-Line will be powerless to stop them.

The running game was decent against the Eagles but still too many negative plays. Also Chester Taylor is horrible, absolutely horrible.

The real test for this team will be vs. New England and New York. I would be surprised if they didn't beat us heavily. Despite the defense and special teams being amazing - this offense is still an absolute disaster

53
by TomC :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 10:59pm

I think you're being a bit harsh about the offense in general --- Cutler and the WR/TE corps played very well, and Forte ran effectively --- but I agree about the OL in general and especially about blitz recognition. Seattle's pass D stinks, but they brought a DB on nearly every passing down, and the Bears whiffed the vast majority of the time.

68
by Marko :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 1:21am

"It seemed like the offense was made up of nothing but big plays (which DVOA doesn't like) and they all came from what seemed like broken plays that the Eagles coverage broke down on - eg. the pass to Knox where Cutler rolled out and lobbed it over the defenders head for an easy completion and 40 yard gain."

That broken play was to Hester, not to Knox. And while the Bears did have a lot of big plays against the Eagles, that seems to me like a good thing. However, I disagree that they all came from broken plays; the example you gave is the only broken play that I recall that turned into a big play.

There were some missed tackles by the Eagles (such as on Bennett's short catch that turned into a 30 yard gain), but that's not a broken play. The following big plays that I recall off the top of my head were not broken plays: Forte's two long runs (61 and 28 yards), the bubble screen to Hester, the pass to Bennett mentioned above, and the TD pass to Knox.

But in any event, I would much rather have the Bears be able to turn broken plays into big plays for them than big plays for the opposition, which seemed to happen all too often earlier this year and last year. Broken plays then seemed to result in sacks (and maybe fumbles too) or interceptions. The ability to turn broken plays into something positive is a huge plus as far as I am concerned. Cutler's ability to improvise, and the ability of his receivers to be in sync when Cutler is scrambling, is a huge improvement.

Ultimately, who cares whether DVOA has "bought into the Bears"? I don't think a statistical model "buys into" anything or anyone. All it does is measure what it measures. This isn't the BCS, where computer programs play an integral role in determining who makes the major bowls. The Bears either will or won't win their division or a wild card spot based on their record. (Shocking, I know.) Whether DVOA "buys into" how that record is achieved is irrelevant.

86
by Semigruntled Eagles fan (not verified) :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 6:45am

I can't say for certain, but the original poster may be counting "defender slips and falls in coverage" as a broken play, in which case at least two of the other long pass plays would be included. Although I wouldn't use the term "broken play" in that manner (I prefer "pulling a Joselio"). He could also be misremembering the underhanded pass to Forte as a "big play," when it was actually a "key 3rd-down conversion."

In general, the Bears offense performed quite well - which seems to be reflected in DVOA, the Eagles defensive DVOA increased from -6.9% to -0.2%, and Chicago's offensive DVOA increased from -23.8% to -18.1%. In fact, I'd say the "broken" plays included the few plays on which the Bears struggled offensively; on three of the plays in which Cutler was sacked, there was a completely unblocked pass rusher (Stewart Bradley wasn't blocked rushing up the middle on one of the Trent Cole sacks, and neither Graham nor Patterson were blocked on their sacks). There were a couple similar breakdowns on the Bears offensive line during running plays, but otherwise the line did a decent job. Moreover, Cutler's decision-making held up well despite the early pressure - only his final incompletion seemed to be a notably poor decision.

95
by Big Frank :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 9:54am

"Ultimately, who cares whether DVOA has "bought into the Bears"? I don't think a statistical model "buys into" anything or anyone. All it does is measure what it measures. This isn't the BCS, where computer programs play an integral role in determining who makes the major bowls. The Bears either will or won't win their division or a wild card spot based on their record. (Shocking, I know.) Whether DVOA "buys into" how that record is achieved is irrelevant."

While all of that might be true, the entire point of DVOA, this website, and this conversation is for us to try to predict what's going to happen in the future. Whether DVOA has "bought into the Bears" might be ultimately irrelevant, but it's also the best predictive tool we've got.

96
by JCutler6 :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 10:23am

Subjectively watching the game, the offense still didn't look good. There was no system, no plays that stood out as being perfectly executed - rather than the Eagles blowing coverage, or missing a tackle etc

Objectively, DVOA still doesn't like the offense. Even though they had one of their better games of the year, there are still only 2 offenses worse in the whole league.

The defense and elite special teams (still amazed there are 2 special teams better in the league) could still be enough to win the division but I remain pessimistic of them progressing any further, barring dramatic improvement in all areas of the offense - Cutler's play, run/pass blocking, receivers and Martz's playcalling

104
by Eddo :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 11:49am

DVOA did like the offense this past Sunday, though; the Bears' overall offensive DVOA moved from -23.8% to -19.1%. Running some rough calculations (assuming each game had the same number of offensive plays), it looks as though the Bears' offensive DVOA against the Eagles was +20.2%. That's not a great offense, but it is quite good.

111
by Jimmy :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 1:08pm

Actually DVOA really loved the Bears last week (specifically their passing offense which was not far off 200% - I don't think I should put actual numbers up as they do try to sell the premium access). The Bears last three performances have been their best all year with the Eagles performance being the best by far this season. The average DVOA over the last three outings has been over 50% (I have no idea if simply averaging the numbers makes statistical sense or not). The running game however still stinks.

If this is too much premium info then delete the post (personally I think it is more likely to make Bears fans by it and I have tried to be vague).

118
by Eddo :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 1:55pm

Thanks for that info, Jimmy. And for the record, I've been debating buying premium for a while, and your post may have been enough to push me onto the do-buy-it side.

99
by Danish Denver-Fan :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 10:53am

Also: Estimating how (un)lucky a team has been so far. The gambler in me finds that VERY interesting. Like measuring how badly you are running i poker: Ultimately inconsequential, but interesting no less.

114
by Marko :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 1:37pm

I disagree with the premise of the last paragraph. I don't think that's the ENTIRE point of DVOA and this website. Yes, for many readers/posters, that is a major point. But others (like me) come to this website for intelligent analysis and commentary from the articles and from the insightful posters who follow their teams closely.

I couldn't care less how my team (the Bears) ranks in DVOA. I do care greatly, however, how they are playing. Anyone who looks at the Bears the last few weeks and says that their offense still stinks isn't watching the same games I am watching. Yes, they still have areas on which to improve. They need to run the ball more efficiently, and they still have issues on the offensive line (although the situation is not as dire as it was earlier in the season). But anyone can see that they are playing significantly better on offense than they were before the bye.

117
by Jimmy :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 1:47pm

One thing that pisses me off about the Bears line woes is that normally when a team loses most of its starting linemen to injury at the same time people understand this and don't simply say the whole team is rubbish and everyone from the GM to the OC to the line coach and the waterboy needs to be fired. That is what happened to the Bears yet everyone just says 'worst in the league' or 'no hope' or other assorted specious nonsense. (rant over)

122
by RickD :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 2:38pm

I cannot speak for everybody, but a lot of the anti-Bears sentiment stems from disrespect of Jay Cutler. It seems like every time I watch him in a prime time game, he throws a lot of stupid interceptions.
There is appreciation of the defense, which is considerably better this year with Urlacher back and esp. with Julius Peppers. But Cutler is so erratic I am still avoiding using the Bears in my survival league, even when they are playing the Lions missing their top two QBs. (I also remember that they only beat the Lions in Chicago because of the ridiculous no-TD call on Calvin Johnson's put-the-ball-on-the-ground play.)

126
by Marko :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 2:55pm

"I cannot speak for everybody"

That is the most insane thing that I have ever read. What is the point of the Internets if you cannot speak for everybody?

149
by dbt :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 8:59pm

The Giants game was clearly the worst of the season, but the talent level on the line is still pretty bad and worthy of faulting the GM for. There are still far too many plays with unblocked players coming free off the edge.

56
by jmaron :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 11:28pm

Aaron Schatz "...and there's a reasonable argument to be made that DVOA, which generally likes teams that consistently move the chains, does not properly give the 1998 Vikings credit for their consistent ability to connect on deep pass plays over 25 yards."

Me thinks you are on to something

76
by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 2:06am

I concur.

81
by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 3:04am

I concur, but moreover, I really miss my 1998 Vikes. Except for the Atlanta bit.

I hope Favruh's sterger rots and drops.

119
by jmaron :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 2:05pm

ironically - what many forget about that game was Cunningham way under throwing Moss on a deep ball in overtime. So the 25+ pass play let them down in the end.

57
by jmaron :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 11:32pm

last week Football Outsiders listed the Vikings as 0.00% chance of making the playoffs

This week 0.01

Things are looking up!

62
by jfsh :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 12:04am

What was all that "one in a million" talk back there?

64
by justanothersteve :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 12:47am

Down to one in ten-thousand.

65
by Marko :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 12:59am

So you're saying there's a chance!

58
by Classic (not verified) :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 11:34pm

Tom Brady is great. Big Ben stinks. Classic FO.

Let's see, the Steelers were dead last in 1st downs per game without Ben.
But there better off without him. yea ok. lol

63
by Srsly (not verified) :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 12:31am

They're. Learn to fucking read.

84
by BigCheese :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 3:40am

Learning to spell would also be appreciated.

- Alvaro

71
by RickD :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 1:31am

You're ignoring the fact that Ben Roethlisberger is listed 3rd in DVOA, behind Brady and Rivers. Nobody is saying that he stinks.

But I guess that line of thought would upset your self-pity.

77
by Bill Barnwell :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 2:27am

SMARTMONIES (aka Dutch)! A classic poster returns. All we need now is Stephen Yang to make an appearance.

82
by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 3:08am

'lol'? Really? It didn't seem that funny, I doubt you were laughing at all, much less out loud.

Perhaps 'cqtm' (chuckling quietly to myself) or 'bsof' (bemused smile on face). Just suggesting.

146
by DFJinPgh (not verified) :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 6:05pm

cqtm and bsof get a lol from me!

153
by Treima6 (not verified) :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 12:58am

Way to cherry pick one single solitary team stat and using it to vindicate an assertion about which player is better.

My advice? Please don't pollute the gene pool.

85
by ammek :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 6:10am

Missing from your Best and Worst Ever DVOA charts is the Steelers' run defense. Where does it rank, historically, after 12 weeks? If it maintains its present DVOA to the end of the season, it would be the third-best run defense of the 18 years for which FO has numbers, behind only the 2000 Ravens and the overlooked Junior Seau-led Chargers of 1998. The Steelers' performance might be even more impressive because the 'average' run defense has declined during the last decade: the median run defense this year is -4.5%, with the 'running month' of December still to come; it was just -2.3% at the end of last year, compared with -8.8% in the Ryan Leaf era.

This year would be the fifth time that Pittsburgh has owned the top DVOA for run defense, and its 14th top-six finish — has any team dominated an aspect of the game for so long? Here are the Steelers' rankings in run DVOA since 1993:

1, 6, 3, 8, 1, 6, 19, 5, 1, 18, 4, 3, 1, 4, 3, 2, 9, (1).

88
by teamplay (not verified) :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 9:09am

I notice that the spread from the best to worst team in Offensive DVOA is much larger (45.2% vs -37.9%) than the Defensive spread (-16.7% vs 24.2%) which in turn is much than the Special Teams DVOA spread (6.9% vs -12.4%). If I understand your system correctly, this implies that teams are tightly clustered near the mean for Special Teams, less clustered for Defense, and highly varied in Offense. Is this the correct interpretation of your figures?

Given that your Total DVOA is the simple addition of these three factors, the "value" of having the top offense (NE at 45.2%) is almost three times as significant as having the top defense (Pitt at -16.7%). Do you concur and does this pass the common sense test?

Love the system, btw. Looking forward to comments.

Best,
Teamplay

92
by RichC (not verified) :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 9:30am

"If I understand your system correctly, this implies that teams are tightly clustered near the mean for Special Teams, less clustered for Defense, and highly varied in Offense"

Maybe, but not necessarily.

It could also just mean that its harder for a defense to cut the average run from 4 yards to 2 (-50%) than it is for the offense to bring the average up to 8. IE, as you make your defense better, there are diminishing returns within DVOA (but not necessarily on the field), whereas there's no such limiting factor on offense.

93
by rs (not verified) :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 9:32am

I think the ST DVOA has already taken a 2/3 haircut over its "true" variation. FO calculates that football is roughly 3/7 offense, 3/7 defense, and 1/7 special teams, and the numbers in the table are set up such that you can add the offensive, defensive, and special teams DVOAs to get total DVOA.

So I think that if you wanted to do an apples to apples comparison you would have to triple the ST DVOAs for comparison purposes - to +20.7% vs -37.2% to get the "True" ST DVOA spread. - Huge quality variation from best to worst, but less overall impact in the game. Kind of makes sense in that if a team played offense or defense as poorly as San Diego played special teams early in the year tehy would likely be blown out game after game.

100
by Falc (not verified) :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 11:07am

I don't know if this has been answered, but has anyone ever thought of trying to split the ratings by home and away? If nothing else to see if there is a consistent home field effect?

135
by johnnyxel :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 3:22pm

Home/Away DVOA splits are available with the premium db.

101
by CraigInDC :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 11:10am

Take out the blowout win over Oakland, and the Steelers were actually better during the four games without Ben Roethlisberger than they have been since his return.

I think there are two factors here.
1) The Oakland game may demonstrate that the Steelers with Ben have a much higher ceiling than without Ben. Actually, this seems obviously true.
2) The strange part isn't that the Steelers didn't get better when Ben came back. The strange part is how good they played without Ben. I think the rest of the team was playing over there head. The offensive line in particular looked pretty good in the first four games. In recent weeks it has returned to its natural state of terrible.

102
by Theo :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 11:23am

...where 'over there head' means 'uninjured'.
I also think that the Steelers played way better than DVOA says in the Raiders game, because of the rediculous penalties given.

103
by CraigInDC :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 11:46am

Also, it should be 'over their heads'. Thanks for not pointing that out.

I agree that injuries are a big factor, but every team has injuries, and I'm not sure how much worse the Steelers injuries are than other teams. Both starting DEs being out should be hurting them, but it doesn't seem to be hurting the run defense -- maybe it is hurting the pass defense. Of the injuries on the offensive line, Starks is the only one that really matters (of course, it matters a lot!). It doesn't matter which of the right guards are injured because they are all about the same. The injuries on the offensive line cut down on the continuity, but I'm not sure how much that matters.

112
by theshadowj :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 1:09pm

I was looking over the defense ratings, and I came across something odd. The Broncos have a pass defense ranked last in the league and their run ranking is 21st. The Texans have a pass defense ranked 31st and a run defense that is 19th. Yet, somehow, despite ranking higher in both individual categories, the Texans have a worse overall defense.

Can someone explain this to me? Is it as simple as there have been more passing plays against the Texans and therefore it factors into their overall defensive rating more heavily than the Broncos'?

136
by Ben B. :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 3:33pm

Simpson's Paradox!

The Texans have faced 421 passes and 282 rushes. The Broncos have faced 353 passes and 364 rushes. (Numbers taken from nfl.com). So the Texans bad pass defense receives relatively more weight in their total defensive performance than the Broncos's pass defense does in theirs.

148
by theshadowj :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 8:51pm

That's really counter-intuitive. I understand what's happening mathematically, but it seems to me that Houston should somehow be ranked higher than Denver in overall defense. It seems weird to punish the defense for something it can't control.

151
by Eddo :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 10:17pm

It's not "punishing" them, really; it's just that, on the average of ALL plays, the Texans are worse.

P-F-R has an excellent post on Simpson's Paradox.

152
by jebmak :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 10:51pm

They can kind of control it.

If they weren't so bad at defending the pass, maybe teams would pass less against them.

157
by AudacityOfHoops :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 7:46pm

To elaborate on jebmak's point, Houston was faced a MUCH higher percentage of passing plays than Denver, so their defense should be able to "sell out" against the pass more than Denver. If the run/pass ratio was closer to 50/50, Houston would have to play it a bit more safe, so their defensive passDVOA would probably get worse (while their runDVOA would get better). What effect this would end up having in the end, we can't be sure.

Another point is that the Houston offense is better than Denver's, so the Texans probably have a big lead more often than the Broncos. If so, Houston's opponents would be forced to pass more, which makes their passDVOA more important (so it probably should be weighted more heavily than runDVOA).

158
by MJK :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 9:55pm

This actually is a great example of one of the really subtle aspects of DVOA. Namely, a team's offensive DVOA tends to be a measure of their best offensive strength but a team's defensive DVOA measures (mostly) their biggest weakness.

That's because teams get to choose what kind of play their offense runs, but can't choose what kind of play their defense faces, and opposing coaches not named Andy Reid tend to choose the type of offensive play that (1) they are best at, and (2) attacks their opponents biggest weakness.

In my opinion, this could go a long way to explaining why total defensive DVOA is more variable year to year than total offensive DVOA. If an offense is overall good but particularly good at something, they'll do it a lot. If something happens in the offseason to make them worse at that thing, they'll switch to doing something that they're almost as good at a lot. If they're bad at everything, and then get good at just one thing, defenses will sell out to stop that one thing, and they'll still be pretty bad.

But if a defense is medium or good at everything, and something happens to make them bad at defending one particular type of play, then opponents will run that play against them a lot. If they sell out to stop that one thing, they will get worse at stopping everything else.

In other words, offensive DVOA can be as good as an offenses strongest link, and defensive DVOA is only as good as a defense's weakest link. Hence defensive DVOA is more variable.

159
by Jeff Fogle :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 12:33am

"but a team's defensive DVOA measures (mostly) their biggest weakness."

MJK, could you give examples from the actual DVOA of this year?

23...St. Louis (23 pass, 20 rush)
24...Washington (22 pass, 25 rush)
25...Arizona (25 pass, 29 rush)
26...Buffalo (27 pass, 31 rush)
27...New England (26 pass, 27 rush)
28...Seattle (28 pass, 26 rush)
29...Dallas (29 pass, 16 rush)
30...Jacksonville (30 pass, 24 rush)
31...Denver (32 pass, 23 rush)
32...Houston (31 pass, 19 rush)

Looks like the bottom third is bad at both, with only Dallas and Houston making a run at average in one area. Not opposing offenses abusing a weakness...but opposing offenses abusing everything. Are you sure this is a "subtle aspect" of DVOA that really exists to the degree you're suggesting? Can see it matching some teams.

162
by AudacityOfHoops :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 3:57pm

I thought his assertion is that the numbers for pass and run SHOULD be similar, because a team will sell out more to stop whatever they are bad at. So, if a team is good at stopping the run, and bad at stopping the pass (in some context-neutral ideal environment), they would call more nickel and dime plays, which would make their passDVOA look better, and their runDVOA look worse.

Though I think something similar would happen on offense as well - if a team is great at passing, but bad at running, the defense would sell out against the pass, making the offensive team's passDVOA look worse, but their runDVOA look better.

160
by Jeff Fogle :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 12:38am

Hoops...we see a lot of Houston down here. It's not a team that gets a lot of big leads because of that bad defense. Their "first half record" is just 3-8-1 through 12 games. The leads were 13-10 over Indy in Week One, 20-14 over San Diego a month ago, then the 14-0 edge over Rusty "Aaron's joke hardly anyone gets" Smith.

They've allowed 14 in the 1H to Oakland, KC, and SD; 17 in the 1H to Indy (rematch) and Jax; 20 to Wash and Philly, and 24 to NYG. The defense is bad early and often...

161
by AudacityOfHoops :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 3:44pm

Thanks for clarifying. My 2nd point is moot, then.

155
by bravehoptoad :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 1:52pm

I work here at UC Berkeley, and we had one of the most famous examples of Simpson's Paradox. We were sued because our acceptance rate of men into our graduate schools was much higher than our acceptance rate for women. 100% true. However, we were cleared because each department, individually, accepted either equal numbers of women or slightly favored women. Simpson's paradox.

Why does this work? Because women applied more heavily for departments that were harder to get in to, and so more women were rejected. English, Psychology, History, Sociology...in these fields we're ranked at or near the top in the country, and these are fields that get more female applicants. We're not biased against women; we're biased against people who apply to hard programs, and more of those are women.

Edit: woops, thought you were saying you DIDN'T understand what was happening mathematically. Uggh. Reading comprehension...must improve.

140
by AudacityOfHoops :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 3:57pm

EDIT: My numbers were wrong, and the answer was already posted above. Never mind.

116
by Jeff Fogle :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 1:46pm

Pat offense may be able to stand pat to match the DVOA of the 2007 team. They'll have to lift their game a bit to match in a variety of other stats.

YARDS PER GAME
2007: 411.2
2010: 349.2

YARDS PER PLAY
2007: 6.2
2010: 5.8

OFFENSIVE TOUCHDOWNS
2007: 4.2 per game
2010: 3.3 per game

THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS
2007: 48%
2010: 45%

POINTS PER DRIVE (via Jim Armstrong's data)
2007: 3.37
2010: 2.77

TD'S PER DRIVE (same)
2007: .424
2010: .340

DSR (same)
2007: .812
2010: .764

BRADY'S TD/INT RAIO
2010: 50-8
2007: 33-6 if you pro-rate off the 23-4 through 11 games

Aaron mentioned how the Pats faded down the stretch in terms of offensive volume back in 2007.

First 11: 434 ypg, 6.5 ypp
Final 5: 360 ypg, 5.9 ypg
2010 now: 349.2 ypg, 5.8 ypg

2010's yards per play and game are actually a shade worse than the Pats in their cooling down phase. I think it's very tough to make the case that the 2010 offense is equal to, or possibly better than the 2007 Pats offense. The fact that DVOA is suggesting that is a strike against DVOA in my view.

Obviously the 2010 offense is still having a great year. Would agree with the "otherworldly to very good" comparison Aaron used earlier..except I would apply it to the two seasons rather than just early 2007 compared to late 2007. An offense's job isn't to accumulate DVOA, it's to move the ball and score TD's. The 2007 offense looks to be a cut above (or two) by several important indicator measures outside of DVOA.

Note that the 2010 Pats are VERY similar in the categories above to the 2007 Colts. Won't bore you with the list.

Also wanted to add...I've read a few times in comments that bad footing favors the offense. I know that's the perception out there, typically backed up by TV announcers. Every study I've seen in the past shows the opposite. And, in fact, Vegas totals go DOWN when it's clear bad turf or a wet surface is going to be an issue. Professional wagerers noticed long ago that conditions like this REDUCE scoring, and cleaned up betting Unders. Sportsbooks now chop points off a total in self defense.

Yes, recievers know where they're going and pass defenders don't. But, the timing is still off with the QB because it's at a different speed than normal. Plus, the QB doesn't always have great footing. And, you could make the case that blitzers know where they're going while offensive blockers are trying to react in bad footing. People could probably come up with a million things either way. In the big picture, bad footing does not help the offense in a way that shows up on the scoreboard. It helps the defense. I know of no studies that show the opposite. It's easy to cherrypick from memory games where teams scored anyway...or games where nobody could do a thing. Maybe FO can do a study with DVOA and see what it shows. To this point, the legal betting markets are very clear...and they were reacting to reality. Variations in turf quality have been around for decades.

125
by RickD :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 2:50pm

Agree with this:

"The fact that DVOA is suggesting that is a strike against DVOA in my view."

DVOA for some reason has a slight preference to an offense that consistently succeeds at getting first downs. We could have an involved discussion about the mathematical details, if the formualae were in the public domain. Since they are not, we're left making wild guesses.

129
by RichC (not verified) :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 2:58pm

"DVOA for some reason has a slight preference to an offense that consistently succeeds at getting first downs."

DVOA has a preference because these types of offenses correlate to higher points scored. DVOA likes them, because they score.

127
by RichC (not verified) :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 2:57pm

The only one of these stats that measures offense is 3rd down percetage, and i'm not sure that even that is defense independant.

If you have two equal offences, and one team has a better defense, that team is going to score more points per drive, more Tds, etc, because they have better field position.

I would argue that a lot of these stats are lower this year because the Patriots offense is getting LESS DRIVES because of the poor quality of the defense.

137
by Jeff Fogle :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 3:34pm

Why not look up the data before arguing the point? Jim Armstrong's Drive Stats are easy to find on the pull down.

In 2007, NE's average drive start was the 31.96 yard line (ranking 7th), this year it's the 31.64 yard line (ranking 6th). Tough to make the case that 32 100th's of a yard is an improvement in field position that's meaningful for the discussion.

In 2007, NE had 9.88 drives per game (with 41.63 yards per drive), this year it's 9.64 (with 35.45 yards per drive).

141
by AudacityOfHoops :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 3:58pm

2010 9.6 drives/gm, 31.6 ave LOS, +6.5% ave opp DVOA (total, not defensive, sorry)
2007 9.9 drives/gm, 32.0 ave LOS, +1.9% ave opp DVOA

Looks like opponent strength might be a bigger part of it than field position and opportunities.

EDIT: I need to start refreshing before replying. But then all the yellow comments go away :(

132
by RichC (not verified) :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 3:09pm

Also, the NE schedule strenght in 2007 was +1.6% As of right now, its +6.x% for 2010. Thats a significantlty tougher schedule (and I'd bet if you look at passing defense, its even further spread).

You'd expect a signficant gap between the conventional stats if DVOAs were the same, simple because of the defense adjustments.

For instance, if you adjust that 5.8 y/p this year to the base schedule dvoas (5.8 * 1.06/1.01), you get 6.1 y/p, which is pretty damn close.

138
by Jeff Fogle :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 3:40pm

Agree that strength of schedule should be in the discussion. A bit tough though because 2007 New England was pretty much running roughshod over everbody in the first three months of the season. They would ultimately play four regular season games against teams who finished in the top 7 of DVOA (Indy 2, Dallas 4, Pitt 5, SD 7), and averaged 404.5 yards per game and 6.4 yards per play. It's almost as if the opposing defense didn't matter during that historic run. New England did what they wanted.

Would agree that SOS brings the math closer together...but not enough to consider the units equal, or to make the case that 2010 might be superior...as suggested in the story's subhead...

144
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 5:19pm

Probably easier to just use VOA for both years: 46.5% vs. 39.5%. Gets you basically the same result ((1.465/1.395)*5.8). That, coupled with a slightly lower turnover rate (.075/drive as opposed to .082/drive) makes perfect sense to me.

154
by Travis Wright (not verified) :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 9:53am

The return of Logan Mankins is largely to credit for this 'resurgence' over the past 3 weeks.

Since Mankins has been back BJGE and Woodhead are averaging 5.1 per carry, and the line has allowed ony 3 sacks.

164
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