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» OFI: Blowouts, Upsets, and Narrow Escapes

The College Football Playoff field narrowed on Saturday. Some teams got upset, some barely escaped an upset, and a few had big record-setting blowouts.

15 Nov 2011

Week 10 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

A huge win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers moves the Houston Texans into the top spot in DVOA for the first time ever this week, just in time for the team to lose their starting quarterback for the season. This would be a good time to remind everyone that the DVOA ratings and the playoff odds report do not account for future injuries. The Texans with Matt Schaub are number one. The Texans with Matt Leinart, well, we're not sure yet.

The Texans have swept into the top spot thanks to a strong four-game winning streak that has seen them outscore opponents by 132-42. Even with strong opponent adjustments for playing poor teams like Jacksonville and Cleveland, the Texans have an average DVOA of 77.9% in that four-game stretch. Their Week 7 win over Tennessee (41-7) has the highest single-game DVOA of any game this year. It's even more remarkable that the Texans did this without their top two players, Andre Johnson and Mario Williams. Johnson, at least, should be back soon to help the offense overcome the loss of Schaub.

Green Bay is close behind at number two this week but sees its overall DVOA rise with a dominating win over Minnesota last night. The Packers are a very good team, probably the best in the league (math be damned!) and the clear favorite to win this year's Super Bowl. However, the media continues to overrate them, and that's only getting worse as they get closer to a possible (but unlikely) 16-0 record. The Packers don't really have any dominating victories over good teams; 25-14 over Atlanta would probably qualify as the closest thing. They spanked the likes of St. Louis and Minnesota, but hey, Houston and New England can win games like that too. What really makes Green Bay look impressive is the consistency. The Packers rank second in VARIANCE, behind the Bengals. They may not have the huge wins over other good teams, but they haven't played a bad game or even an average game so far. Nonetheless, it is still very likely that they'll run into an opponent at some point which can take advantage of Green Bay's mediocre defense to win a shootout against the nigh-unstoppable Aaron Rodgers. It may only be by three points, and it may only happen once all season, but it is going to happen at some point. We give them only a 5.0 percent chance of going undefeated during the regular season, and that doesn't even account for the possibility that they'll get 18-1'ed come January.

Apropos of nothing, I wrote in an ESPN Insider column a couple weeks ago that I think the most likely loss that ends Green Bay's perfect season is their road game against the New York Giants in Week 13. This has nothing to do with anything statistically significant, it's just kind of fun history, but do you realize how many perfect seasons have been ended by New York teams? The 2007 Patriots, of course. The 1998 Broncos lost to the 6-8 Giants in Week 15. The 2009 Colts lay down to the Jets in Week 16. The 2008 Titans were 10-0 when they lost to the Jets in Week 12. And go all the way back to the 1934 Bears, and you find a team that went 13-0 and then lost in the NFL Championship to the Giants. (I mistakenly thought that the other Bears team that went undefeated but lost in the NFL Championship game also lost to the Giants, but it turns out that team lost to Washington.)

Speaking of New York... Gang Green is still at number three, but they drop a lot after their big loss to New England. To be honest, I'm tired of writing about how our system is overrating the Jets; we've addressed that plenty in previous columns. I've got some ideas for how we might address the "quirks" where certain things the Jets have done well seem to be over-weighted in the ratings, but I simply don't have time to do a complete overhaul of DVOA in the middle of the season, so any Jets-related changes will have to wait. After all, we don't make changes just because we want the Jets' rating to drop (or because we want Green Bay's rating to go up). We make changes when they will improve the overall quality of the ratings for all teams. That takes a lot of work.

Besides, the Jets' odds of making the postseason are still pretty good, for two reasons.

First, their schedule gets easier over the last seven weeks. Actually, a lot of the top teams in the league have schedules that get easier over the last seven weeks. The Jets go from eighth in schedule to 25th. The Patriots go from fourth to 32nd. The 49ers go from 14th to 31st. The Ravens go from seventh to 28th. And the Bears go from sixth to 26th.

Second, because the Buffalo Bills have completely fallen through the floor over the last two weeks. The Bills ranked second in DVOA two weeks ago. This week they rank 17th. The Bills single-game DVOA ratings for the last two weeks are -59.2% and -78.2%. In addition, their opponent adjustments for earlier games have caused their overall rating to fall because so many of the teams they have played this season have been worse in the last two weeks, including Kansas City, Washington, and Philadelphia.

I went back and looked, and that 15-place drop is the largest in DVOA history for any time after the first six weeks of the season. There are three other teams that dropped 14 places. The 1999 Carolina Panthers went from eighth in Week 6 to 22nd in Week 8. The 2002 San Diego Chargers went from fifth in Week 8 to 19th in Week 10. And perhaps the most similar team to this year's Bills: The 2010 Kansas City Chiefs went from first in Week 8 to 15th in Week 10. They never recovered and ended up 17th in DVOA even though they managed to win the AFC West at 10-6. 10-6 isn't going to even win a wild card in the AFC. So Bills fans: Uh-oh.

* * * * *

A note about next week: I'm going on vacation from Tuesday, November 22 through Monday, November 28, visting family in one of the best possible places for family to live: The Turks and Caicos islands. I'll be working on the DVOA ratings and commentary during a Tuesday layover, so everything should go online as usual, but it may be a bit later in the day. 

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through ten weeks of 2011, 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 HOU 32.3% 3 33.8% 1 7-3 24.6% 4 -7.5% 6 0.2% 15
2 GB 31.3% 2 30.6% 2 9-0 38.3% 1 9.1% 18 2.1% 9
3 NYJ 29.4% 1 28.3% 3 5-4 6.3% 13 -16.5% 2 6.7% 3
4 NE 23.0% 9 21.5% 4 6-3 33.8% 2 11.6% 23 0.8% 12
5 SF 21.3% 4 20.8% 7 8-1 3.2% 18 -7.5% 7 10.7% 1
6 BAL 19.7% 5 18.8% 8 6-3 2.4% 20 -23.3% 1 -6.0% 30
7 PIT 19.3% 11 20.9% 6 7-3 18.9% 5 0.1% 12 0.6% 13
8 NYG 19.1% 6 21.2% 5 6-3 18.2% 6 -1.4% 11 -0.4% 18
9 CHI 15.9% 13 17.6% 9 6-3 -2.9% 23 -9.0% 5 9.8% 2
10 DAL 14.4% 16 14.4% 10 5-4 12.9% 10 -2.5% 10 -0.9% 19
11 ATL 13.9% 7 14.0% 11 5-4 5.6% 14 -6.9% 8 1.4% 11
12 NO 13.5% 12 12.5% 12 7-3 24.9% 3 10.3% 20 -1.0% 21
13 TEN 9.1% 17 6.7% 15 5-4 11.8% 11 5.4% 16 2.6% 7
14 DET 8.3% 8 7.3% 14 6-3 0.5% 22 -12.8% 4 -5.1% 29
15 PHI 7.5% 14 7.6% 13 3-6 13.7% 9 6.4% 17 0.3% 14
16 CIN 5.3% 15 5.6% 16 6-3 3.7% 17 1.3% 13 2.9% 6
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 BUF 3.3% 10 1.0% 17 5-4 16.3% 7 12.1% 25 -1.0% 20
18 OAK -5.8% 21 -7.2% 18 5-4 7.9% 12 12.1% 26 -1.6% 24
19 MIA -8.2% 23 -7.6% 19 2-7 3.1% 19 10.9% 21 -0.3% 16
20 MIN -9.5% 18 -9.4% 20 2-7 4.8% 15 11.7% 24 -2.7% 28
21 SD -10.5% 20 -9.9% 21 4-5 4.2% 16 12.6% 27 -2.1% 27
22 DEN -11.1% 25 -10.3% 22 4-5 -3.1% 24 10.1% 19 2.1% 8
23 TB -11.9% 19 -13.5% 24 4-5 1.7% 21 17.4% 30 3.8% 5
24 SEA -14.7% 27 -12.7% 23 3-6 -8.3% 25 4.9% 15 -1.4% 22
25 CAR -15.1% 22 -14.2% 25 2-7 15.6% 8 21.0% 31 -9.8% 32
26 WAS -15.4% 24 -17.8% 28 3-6 -16.5% 30 -2.7% 9 -1.6% 25
27 JAC -15.9% 29 -15.0% 27 3-6 -26.9% 32 -12.9% 3 -1.9% 26
28 CLE -16.1% 26 -14.7% 26 3-6 -12.0% 27 3.6% 14 -0.4% 17
29 ARI -21.1% 30 -21.3% 30 3-6 -10.6% 26 14.8% 29 4.3% 4
30 KC -23.0% 28 -19.8% 29 4-5 -13.2% 28 11.2% 22 1.4% 10
31 STL -33.8% 31 -33.4% 31 2-7 -18.2% 31 14.1% 28 -1.5% 23
32 IND -44.6% 32 -46.3% 32 0-10 -15.9% 29 21.6% 32 -7.1% 31
  • 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 HOU 32.3% 7-3 39.7% 7.1 3 -5.0% 29 -7.9% 27 20.1% 26
2 GB 31.3% 9-0 34.1% 8.8 1 -4.1% 28 1.5% 17 2.7% 2
3 NYJ 29.4% 5-4 21.8% 6.3 10 4.8% 8 -4.0% 25 15.2% 22
4 NE 23.0% 6-3 15.1% 7.3 2 6.8% 4 -13.1% 32 10.9% 13
5 SF 21.3% 8-1 23.6% 6.8 5 1.3% 14 -12.2% 31 5.8% 5
6 BAL 19.7% 6-3 18.0% 6.9 4 5.0% 7 -7.9% 28 24.4% 30
7 PIT 19.3% 7-3 19.7% 6.7 6 0.4% 20 -10.4% 30 15.9% 24
8 NYG 19.1% 6-3 22.1% 6.5 7 -3.3% 25 13.6% 2 12.5% 18
9 CHI 15.9% 6-3 12.6% 6.2 12 5.1% 6 -6.2% 26 11.8% 16
10 DAL 14.4% 5-4 12.9% 6.4 9 2.3% 13 -1.6% 23 21.3% 28
11 ATL 13.9% 5-4 10.0% 6.2 11 -1.1% 23 0.4% 19 4.2% 3
12 NO 13.5% 7-3 15.7% 6.4 8 -5.4% 30 4.3% 9 12.9% 19
13 TEN 9.1% 5-4 14.5% 5.6 15 -3.5% 26 -1.3% 22 21.3% 27
14 DET 8.3% 6-3 11.9% 5.7 14 1.3% 15 5.0% 8 8.3% 9
15 PHI 7.5% 3-6 5.8% 5.3 17 0.3% 21 6.8% 6 11.6% 15
16 CIN 5.3% 6-3 16.0% 5.9 13 -0.5% 22 2.9% 13 1.5% 1
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
ESTIM.
WINS
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VAR. RANK
17 BUF 3.3% 5-4 1.9% 5.4 16 3.9% 9 3.4% 11 23.3% 29
18 OAK -5.8% 5-4 0.3% 4.8 19 3.0% 12 0.6% 18 27.8% 32
19 MIA -8.2% 2-7 -6.9% 4.9 18 3.1% 11 10.7% 3 8.4% 10
20 MIN -9.5% 2-7 -6.5% 4.2 23 3.1% 10 2.8% 14 14.1% 20
21 SD -10.5% 4-5 -2.9% 3.9 25 1.0% 17 2.1% 16 4.8% 4
22 DEN -11.1% 4-5 -8.4% 4.5 20 0.7% 19 4.1% 10 9.2% 11
23 TB -11.9% 4-5 -16.7% 4.4 21 12.1% 1 3.2% 12 19.5% 25
24 SEA -14.7% 3-6 -17.0% 4.3 22 6.3% 5 -8.5% 29 11.5% 14
25 CAR -15.1% 2-7 -12.8% 4.0 24 0.9% 18 0.0% 20 14.8% 21
26 WAS -15.4% 3-6 -17.1% 3.8 26 -3.8% 27 9.9% 4 15.4% 23
27 JAC -15.9% 3-6 -17.6% 3.8 28 7.7% 3 -4.0% 24 9.6% 12
28 CLE -16.1% 3-6 -7.0% 3.8 27 -6.7% 31 6.6% 7 5.9% 6
29 ARI -21.1% 3-6 -15.5% 3.5 29 -2.5% 24 -0.3% 21 6.0% 7
30 KC -23.0% 4-5 -16.9% 3.2 30 -8.8% 32 14.6% 1 27.3% 31
31 STL -33.8% 2-7 -37.1% 2.6 31 8.2% 2 2.4% 15 8.2% 8
32 IND -44.6% 0-10 -48.6% 1.5 32 1.3% 16 8.8% 5 11.8% 17

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 15 Nov 2011

174 comments, Last at 18 Nov 2011, 12:57pm by Tom W

Comments

1
by NumberOneMostHated (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 3:17pm

Any chance you can post alternate playoff odds assuming Leinart plays at replacement level ?

2
by tunesmith :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 3:20pm

Nice to see Denver out of the bottom quadrant (quartile?) of the league...

3
by battlered90 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 3:23pm

I'd like to cash out on my Houston Super Bowl win now please.

4
by John (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 3:25pm

Wow, the Colts just keep expanding on their "lead". Go Blue!

10
by Thunderbolt of ... :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 4:08pm

At this point, I can't imagine that Manning would refuse a trade to a solid team if the Colts draft Luck. Manning is good, but he's not the difference between 0-10 and a Super Bowl contender.

14
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 4:15pm

Which is the best team with an unsettled qb situation? 49ers? Could Stafford suck enough this year, and the Lions improve enough on the offensive line, to have Detroit be attractive to Longneck the Meatcutter?

16
by FooBarFooFoo (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 4:19pm

I doubt any team would swallow the contract the Colts did with Manning before this year. This is essentially a one-year deal with an option for the Colts. Nobody will know how recovered Manning will be from the neck surgery, so it will be a huge gamble.

I am undecided, should the Colts draft Luck, whether the Colts will keep both on the roster. My odds are, they will cut Manning, and have the other teams conduct a bidding war.

If I was Manning I'd retire. Dude has won a SB, has all the records, has a family, earned (I guess) just from the Colts ~150-200 Mio $, and is still fairly healthy. Why risk your health?

But based on the contract he did with the Colts, I guess he will try to snooker another team into a big one-year deal for which they won't get any value back.

23
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 4:36pm

There would be a good chance that the Colts would be making a historic mistake if they had the chance to draft Luck, and didn't do it. Big, very athletic, qbs with a proven work ethic, and high intelligence, are just too rare.

I don't know what would happen. I just think it would be fun to see him play in San Francisco, with a coach who played qb in the NFL after Manning broke in, and who is strongly devoted to very physical play.

58
by dbt :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 7:53pm

You realize that Harbaugh isn't just another former NFL QB, right? Before this season, he was the last non-Manning QB to start a game for the Colts.

79
by Dave :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 11:18pm

He also runs a simplified west coast offense, doesn't he? That's a pretty imperfect fit for Manning.

93
by greybeard :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 3:22am

You don't watch 49ers games do you?

151
by Dave :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 7:42pm

Not at all. Just asking based on what he announced when he was hired and the Chris Brown article about eliminating sight adjustments.

152
by greybeard :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 8:06pm

You should take a look at these three articles. I think that will give you some ideas on what they are doing:
http://espn.go.com/blog/nfcwest/post/_/id/50299/personnel-report-which-t...
http://espn.go.com/blog/nfcwest/post/_/id/50477/sopoaga-at-quarterback-t...

Quite often 49ers call two plays at the huddle and run one of them once Alex Smith makes a decision after checking the defense (http://www.csnbayarea.com/blog/niners-talk/post/49ers-review-Offensive-p...):
"Because it's a question that has been asked quite a bit, it should be noted that Smith is entrusted with the responsibility of making all the adjustments and reads at the line of scrimmage. Sometimes the 49ers call two plays in the huddle. At the line of scrimmage, he can stick with the first play by shouting and motioning, "Let it roll! Let it roll!" If he decides the second play is better, based on his pre-snap read, he yells, "Kill! Kill!""

154
by Dave :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 8:31pm

Thanks for the links. I recall another article (TMQ perhaps) noting the number of personnel shifts and snaps with extra linemen as well.

So it sounds like Smith himself is becoming more Manning-like before the snap... but I'm still not sure that the offense itself is at all similar to the Moore-Manning offense. Quite the opposite, even. They rarely substitute/rotate, the route combinations are different, and almost every throw is made based on sight adjustments that the QB and receiver must both make.

Now, obviously I'm not saying that Manning couldn't slide in and run a WCO. Just that it strikes me as a less than perfect fit. My comment wasn't about the play or decision-making of Smith, but the idea that Manning should go to SF. Sort of along the same lines as the idea that Jon Gruden would be a great replacement for Caldwell. Well sure... if you wanted your QB to start over from scratch after 13 years.

33
by RickD :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 4:59pm

I can see it now...

for starters, if the Colts have the #1 overall pick, they will take Luck. Manning has a very serious neck injury with serious nerve damage. It's unclear whether he'll ever recover, and even if he did, another blow to the neck could end his career. If I were Peyton Manning, I would not consider returning to the NFL unless there had been a complete recovery of nerve tissue in the neck. And (a) that's hardly a sure thing, (b) it could take quite a long time.

And if the Colts draft Luck, they're going to be hard-pressed to justify continuing to pay Peyton Manning. Either he'll be encouraged to retire as a Colt or he'll be release to pursue other options. And of course, if he can play, there would be plenty of options. I think even the Jets would make a run at him. It'd be easier to count teams that would have no interest at all (Pats, Packers, Steelers, Saints, Chargers, Falcons, Panthers, Bengals(?), Bills, Giants(!)) that to count teams that might want him under some scenario.

20
by Keith(1) (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 4:31pm

This is really lame conjecture to make. There is no reason to trade him. If they have Andrew Luck come in, he may or may not be the next Peyton, and only time will tell. Why would the Colts take that chance on the guy that made them relevant again? If they let him walk (or cut him), they would be eschewing a few more attractive Free Agent years (even though they are never particularly active). Ask the Lions -- it is tough to bring in anybody if your team sucks for many years. Andrew Luck alone is not going to help this franchise after Peyton leaves.

Best case scenario for all three sides (Manning, Luck, Colts): Manning stays on through 2013 or 2014, with Luck taking over in 2014 or 2015. That gives the Colts a few years to groom defensive end replacements, find a younger and compatible running back and receiving corps, and replacing Caldwell. This will allow the Colts to bring in offensive guys that Peyton can immediately train to work in a system that Luck can run, giving Luck the opportunity to learn the speed of the game, and get better decision makers behind him.

Throwing Luck into what the Colts are now will waste a few years on his career anyway. The Colts know they have the best possible opportunity for success right now with Manning, even if they drafted Luck. If you think at the start of the 2012 season that Andrew Luck will be as good as Peyton Manning, then you are worse than Matt Millen.

25
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 4:41pm

Luck would likely be foolish to accept that scenario, without creating an Eli-like mess to force a trade, because he won't be getting the huge payday of number 1 picks of the past, and not starting for a couple years will hurt his market value when his 2nd contract is negotiated.

29
by Keith(1) (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 4:49pm

I will respond to both this comment and the one below here.

Do you think sitting behind Favre likely dictated how much money Aaron Rodgers got? He got a large extension. He may not make Manning/Brady money, but he will still get paid a lot in his extension. Luck will still be young at the time his second contract comes up, and unless it is a mega-multi-year contract, he will still be relatively young at the time of his third. I am sure there can be a clause added that if he is not starting by year 3 or 4 he can be traded or paid.

Think of it this way -- there are some guys in the league that are more willing to play for a winner for less than a loser for a lot. Guys want to win. The smart money and the smart value for the total length of a career is to be a winner on a winning team. How many national endorsements did Drew Brees have with the Chargers? How many did Reggie Bush have with the Saints as compared now with the Dolphins?

31
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 4:56pm

That would have more weight if it was a proven fact that waiting in Indianapolis guaranteed winning. Polian has a nice track record. Polian is old. Hanging around Indianapolis might be just the ticket to lose money (actually, I would not be surprised to learn that Rodgers is quietly pissed about how much money he had to forgo relative to other qbs) relative to other qbs, and lose a lot of games.

67
by Paul M (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 10:33pm

Boy-- you don't get much about the Packers, do you? Rodgers a) is a better player in this scenario than he almost certainly would have been in any other (see Montana, Joe) yet is pushed to even greater success in large part because he dropped in the draft, had to sit behind Favre then take all the slings and arrows from the pro-Favre chorus in 2008; b) is guiding the best team in the league-- the most historically important franchise-- to what may become a legendary run of success; c) is quietly becoming Manning-like in his marketability and thus ability to make money off field and d) trust his organization well enough to know he will be paid handsomely sometime in the next couple of years. And oh by the way, he's probably smart enough to walk off into the sunset before some pup "Youngs" or "Montanas" him. Believe me he ain't quietly pissed over the money-- he is pissed (somewhat Jordan-like, actually) at all the slights he's gotten since high school. I mean the guy went out of his way to talk about Skip Bayless (unnamed, of course) on his weekly radio show today, so he is motivated by things way beyond money.

83
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 11:55pm

Boy, your reading comprehension and grasp of logic is extremely low, isn't it? You post is entirely too fatuous to examine in detail, but I will toss this out, ya' ol' Aristotle, you; Ted Thompson in 2005 is not Bill Polian in 2012, and what happened with the Packers from 2005-2009 does not give us instruction as to what happens with the Colts from 2012-2016.

Now, since you have managed to be pointlessly insulting, as well as insipid, I'll invite you to ignore my posts, and I'll do the same for yours.

84
by It Never Fails (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 12:25am

Any post that dares to question the genius of Will Allen will be met with harsh retort. It is very important to Will Allen that he be correct in any and all interactions. Accepting this fact and moving on will save dozens of "You sir, are a moron compared to my genius" type posts that WILL NOT STOP and in some cases may carry on for days, ruining multiple threads.

Let him have his way and move on.

86
by justanothersteve :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 12:51am

I guess you're new here. I've seen Will here for several years and even when I disagree with him, I've rarely seen him post anything stupid. OTOH, your (I'm assuming you are Paul) posts are blatant homerism smack talk. And for the record, I'm a Packers fan by birthright with family season tickets going back to the 1940's.

87
by armchair journe... :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 12:54am

yeah... but he usually IS right. i'll forgive the occassional "get off my lawn" rant from the ol' curmudgeon.

89
by Will Allen :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 1:55am

Hey, I'm wrong with some frequency, but I'm nothing if not considerate of the wishes of others, and I try to give those I differ with some benefit of the doubt. For instance, I usually assume, just to be generous, that those I interact with were not raised by wolves, and thus have enough self-awareness to grasp that if they choose to be uncivil and nasty, those they interact with will respond in kind. Therefore, I conclude that a person who writes that way wants a nasty exchange, and who am I to deny them want they want? This outlook may be faulty, however (there I go again), because sometimes when I do this, they'll be a person who does find it notable that incivility is responded to in kind. Live and learn, I guess.

In any case, it's just football, and I was just idly speculating as to what might be an interesting thing to see.

121
by Paul M (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 12:05pm

Don't want a nasty exhange, actually. Just surprised that anyone with the type of knowledge I would expect on a site like this would not get Rodgers, that's all. "Quietly pissed" about his contract is about as far off from what makes this guy tick as one could get-- that was my only point. If a player is quickly becoming the face of the league, I would think it would be useful for people who write or anlayze the league to fully understand him. So I was simply trying to add to that understanding, and I apologize for the snarky beginning.

As to the blatant homerism snipe, check out my criticism of their first down production against Vikings below or my skepticism of the offense's ability to perform anywhere near the current level at Lambeau in January. The defensive story is yet to be fully written, and we'll all see what results-- my fundamental assertion is that a defense with mainly the same personnel that was so good when it counted last year should not be so easily written off by out-of-context statistical analysis in mid-season the next. They improved a lot in the 2nd half last year, with mid-season games (Dallas in 2009; Jets last year) like this past Sunday's as the catalyst or at least the point of the turnaround. And with a bunch of injuries to the secondary (not just Collins, but Shields missed a game to a concussion, Burnett has been playing with a broken hand, and Williams had a bad shoulder for most of the first half) Capers was limited in what he could do, and clearly they were not playing up to standard either. Collins won't return, but perhaps at Woodson's prodding, Capers dialed up a flood of blitzes Sunday, using Burnett and Williams for the first time all year, and it worked. Whether that success can extend beyond Christian Ponder is anyone's guess. Whether the expected return-- finally-- of Mike Neal, the guy Thompson and McCarthy clearly believed would be the replacement for Cullen Jenkins in terms of pass rush, will pay off is also unclear. Whether Matthews-- who has actually reached or harassed the QB as much as anyone in the NFL this year, though his sacks are down-- will play better in the 2nd half is unknown.

But what is known is that they are a very talented group of players with a track record of success in the biggest possible moments last year. They saved that team's ass on numerous occasions when the offense couldn't put the game away. And with the offense playing as well as it has in 2011, perhaps they haven't had the supreme motivation yet this season to play their hardest. I would tend to think they should get more of a benefit of a doubt than the "porous/mediocre/not up to Super Bowl snuff" that the nitpick chorus expressed in full voice this past week. But we'll see-- that's whay they play the games.

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by Will Allen :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 12:21pm

I was not referring to his current contract, but rather to the fact that a lot of other guys made a lot more money than him early on, due to him not getting drafted until the back half of the 1st round, and not getting on the field until they cut ties with Favre. As you note, Rodgers seems to take those things very personally, so I would imagine the fact that he had to wait several years to get paid elite money irritates him. My only point was that since Luck cannot be assured of a successful rebuilding in Indianapolis, in light of aging stars at other positions (Freeney's best years are likely behind him, for instance), and more to the point, Polian's age, waiting a couple years on the bench behind Manning may not be a enticing proposition to him. What happened in Green Bay really doesn't tell us much about what the future holds for the Colts.

Good grief, it was just some in-season off-season speculating.

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by Paul M (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 12:41pm

Like I said, sorry for the snarkiness.

Luck may not want to be patient, I agree. But are the situations that different, really? Green Bay, while a playoff team the year before drafting Rodgers, quickly regressed, largely because Sherman's drafts and other player moves had left the cupboard fairly dry. They won only 12 games his first two years on the bench. McCarthy and Thompson changed it-- Polian won't leave (I guess) but Caldwell is clearly on borrowed time as Sherman was. I would think Manning is the bigger variable here, not Luck, assuming the neck heals.

And as for Rodgers, I think he understands the context better than anyone. What he gave up in money and the chance to play immediately, he made up for in spades with experience watching Favre and learning the offense, connection with the Packers' coaching staff, and ultimate ability to lead a team with supreme talent. He is one to burn at being slighted-- but in this case why get mad over something that worked out perfectly?? The Packers didn't slight him-- the rest of the league and the scouts (and even his own head coach at SF then) and the experts did. So he makes only 8 million a year for a while-- I don't think it matters.

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by Will Allen :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 1:22pm

Yeah, I'd say there is a real difference between a guy at 52, which was Thompson's age when Rodgers was drafted, and at 69, which is what Polian will be next month. Everybody loses their fastball eventually, and damned few keep it into their 70s. This is assuming that the fastball is not the residue of randomness, which is hard to tell with personnel guys. I'm pretty sure with Polian, since his track record spans 25 years and multiple franchises, but we can't really tell at this point if Thompson is mostly good or mostly lucky, which means we can't tell if Rodgers got lucky to be drafted by a team with a great GM, or got lucky to be drafted by a team with a lucky GM. Thompson has had what, 30-35 draft picks that he controlled so far? In baseball they would call you a lunatic to judge a hitter to be great, or to be bad, based on thirty at-bats, but in football drafting, everybody labels GMs either as geniuses or idiots, based on sample sizes that are too small to really instruct us of anything. It isn't very rational, and Luck would be crazy to look at what happened in Green Bay, and draw strong conclusions regarding what might happen with the Colts. The best thing for Luck's career is to get on a roster which already has talent, and is on the upswing already, with a high-quality entrenched coach, as soon as possible, as opposed to being on a team which might be on the upswing in the future, with a coach who might be good, after Luck spends a few years on the bench. As the number 1 pick, Luck will have leverage that Rodgers never had. He would be wise to use it.

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by Paul M (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 3:26pm

Thompson has had 7 drafts now (Rodgers was his first pick, FWIW) so it's probably at least 50 picks he has had control over, but I see your point. Of course the other distinction about his philosophy is a large number of free agent or castoff signings, all skewed young in terms of age. And how much credit does he deserve for helping to build a Seattle team that reached the Super Bowl and was a contender for a number of years? He's not Polian or Wolf yet, not by a long shot, but I think we're getting closer to the point where we can say skill is outpacing luck. Harrell, Brohm and perhaps Neal (and maybe Shorrod) are misses-- but the other side of the scale is pretty strong-- including Matthews, Raji, Bulaga and Cobb in the past 3 years alone.

I could not agree more about Luck's leverage-- it is Eli and Elway all over again, perhaps. If the Colts can't guarantee that which he wants, he can presumably force a trade. But what team really fills the bill? And did Harbaugh expect Smith to progress as much as he has this year?? -- because I've always felt that was the obvious plan all along. Is there sufficient talent in Seattle, Washington, Cleveland, Miami?? Or a "high-quality" entrenched coach?? Don't think Shanahan qualifies any more. Arizona may come closest but can't see them blowing more draft choices on a search for a franchise QB. Denver?? Or perhaps the real shocker-- the New York Jets-- if Rex passes the coaching bar.

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by jebmak :: Thu, 11/17/2011 - 9:25am

... and the man knew that he could skip an entire chuck of comments, because it began with someone saying "Boy" derogatively.

35
by RickD :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 5:08pm

Rodgers wasn't a #1 overall pick. Under the old system, Luck would have gotten a much bigger contract than Rodgers could have dreamed of as a rookie.

Does anybody know how the new rookie salary cap works? How much money did Luck lose by staying in college an extra year?

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by FooBarFooFoo (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 6:20pm

The rookie wage scale has been in place starting this season ... Cam Newton's contract has much less money guaranteed than Sam Bradford's, but the contract runs four years in stead of six (Netwon: 4yrs/22 mio, fully guaranteed//Bradford 6yrs/50 mio guaranteed, 76/86 Mio max).

Luck would have needed to be the No. 1 pick in 2009 (Sam Bradford) in order to escape the wage scale.

Honestly, there really is not much of a difference if the player ends up playing/starting, because the new rookie contracts only run four years instead of up to six before. Hence, if a player starts and turns into a superstar, he will most likely earn more than in the previous scenario (because the salary cap will increase hugely). The pay in years five and six will be ridiculously high (north of 20/25 Mio per year)

Again ... the rookie wage scale mostly changes the situation for underachievers (who are cut before the fourth year, aka "JaMarcus"), and for running backs (who win, because the contract length is limited to four years)

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by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 2:53pm

Yeah, I agree with you. The value of that second contract depends on how good Luck looks in his 5th year, not whether he played or didn't play in his first two years. If he sucks (and there is a non-zero chance of that, no matter what people say), he's not going to get a second contract just because he started his rookie year.

44
by InTheBoilerRoom :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 6:17pm

Is there any evidence to suggest Luck cares about his career earnings potential with respect to his career decisions? If anything, I would suggest the only evidence we have with respect to that is his choice to remain in college for another year, despite being projected as the clear #1 pick for the last draft. He was clearly willing to give up career earnings potential to stay and play one more year in school. I don't take him for the kind of player to raise a fuss because he's losing out on potential earnings. I do, on the other hand, see competitiveness as a driver for him.

50
by RickD :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 6:42pm

I see the desire to stay in school and caring about career earnings potential as different issues. The fact that he was willing to take one hit to his career earnings in no way implies that he'd be less than serious about his salary in the future.

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by Paul M (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 12:31pm

Rodgers is clearly a sample size of one-- the 3 year wait and then beginning his starting career for a team talented enough to have been one play away from SB the season before. Schaub and Kolb are perhaps semi-comparables, with one doing pretty well and the other not in a smaller sample.

But aside from the potential money implications for Luck and his team of sitting for a year or two (which Rodgers himself, perhaps not surprisingly, endorsed yesterday in a question about Luck), what do we conclude from the recent experiences of all the others? or is far too soon to tell?

Smith-- problems
Russell-- disaster
Ryan and Flacco-- instant success, followed by some regression
Stafford-- too many injuries to know, but the metrics weren't good the first two years
Sanchez-- a mess. Lousy individual numbers, great team results
Bradford-- injuries plague this analysis
Newton-- team ain't winning but production has been there
Dalton-- team is winning
Ponder--???

But Roethlisberger, Rivers and Manning all reached a pretty high quality level being thrown into the fire either their rookie seasons or soon thereafter.

I don't think we'll ever see another precise Rodgers situation again-- though if Manning's neck heals and if Polian and Co. are willing to try it, and the two principals agree, the Colts might come closest. Packers did slip to 4-12 in Rodgers' rookie season, so maybe the correlation is closer than we think.

156
by t.d. :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 9:42pm

Eli had a historically awful rookie season, at least according to this site, and there was an article questioning whether anyone with such a bad start had ever reached a sufficient level of competence. Rivers sat a year

160
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 11/17/2011 - 9:09am

Stafford joined a team with less talent than he had at Georgia. God couldn't have done well on that Lions team.

169
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Thu, 11/17/2011 - 4:48pm

Nitpick the 2008 Packers were 6-10 and actually had a +39 point differential. That season was just odd. There were several games that the defense gave up the lead with less than 4 minutes to play (some with less than 2). I mean this was a team that was in the NFC Championship game the year before so it certainly did have talent.

That point differential got me thinking so I was looking through some team data and realized that since 2008 they have had only one loss by more than 20 points. The Patriots have had 2 such losses (out of 11 total) since the start of 2009, I didn't count the Cassel year in 08 (they had 3). For those curious you can look at the next bit for a quick summarization of the Packers losses since 2008.

The team is 36-21 since Rodgers became the starter at the start of 2008
1 loss by 20+ points - 2008 week 12 @NO 51-29, 22 points
3 losses by 10-19 - (2009 week 8 vs MIN 38-26, 12 points; 2008 week 3 vs DAL 27-16, 11 points; 2008 week 9 @TB 38-28, 10 points)
1 loss by 9 points
2 losses by 7 points
4 losses by 4 points (2 of those were games Rodgers missed all or half of)
8 losses by 3 points
2 losses by 1 point.

So one score losses 17, 2 score losses 3, 2+ score losses 1.

As mentioned they have always had a positive point differential
2008 (6-10) +38
2009 (11-5) +164
2010 (10-6) +148
2011 (9-0) +134

I know I'm getting way off track for what started as a nitpick but all this, the close losses, the good offense and really not a ton of blow out wins (4 at 30+, 9 at 20-29pts) just reinforces my opinion that McCarthy is an excellent game planner but only an average game day coach. The team always has talent enough (that reflects drafting/free agency and coaching up of below average and average players) even with injuries and a plan to use that talent. The close loses and not always just putting teams away seems to match what my eyes tell me about the game day decisions, that McCarthy is not great with time management or play calling late in games, but it's obvious he is one of the best in the business at assembling a staff and coming up with a plan for every game. I've wondered if the team might do better if the play calling were handed off to an OC.

Back on the original sub thread this is in response to. With it very likely Luck will be a Colt and also a good chance he will sit, like you said I'm not sure he will inherit the same level of talent Rodgers did. Thompson and McCarthy turned a tanking franchise around within a few years (05, 06, and 07 player churn) and Rodgers stepped into the starter roll on a team with flaws but no glaring weaknesses. Indy could be there again in a couple of years but I don't see Luck sitting for as long, 2 years at most. Indy has glaring weaknesses right now. Turning those into merely flaws seems to take 2-3 years for most teams I've paid attention to. So while it might end up being the closest parallel, Rodgers really was in a pretty unique place.

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by Tom W (not verified) :: Fri, 11/18/2011 - 12:33am

Have the play-calling handed off to an OC? Really? You're seriously unhappy with GB's offensive performance this year? Do you have someone specific in mind, who could do a better job of play-calling? Brad Childress is available, I believe.
Back to reality, I've made a couple of comments about my concern with the Packers' inability to finish games, largely because of a porous pass defense and, regardless of last week, it remains a concern. But, I'm starting to get irritated with the suggestion that GB is "overrated" and not really a "dominant" team, despite their 9-0 record. Yeah, they've made a few games more exciting than they should have been, but this is one of those problems that a lot of teams wouldn't mind having, because in order to blow a big lead, you have to have one to begin with, and the Packers have had double-digit leads in the second half of EVERY game they've played this year. All nine of 'em. That's kind of impressive. What's even more impressive is that there have been only two games this season in which GB has trailed after the first quarter. If that's not domainance, it's pretty damn close.

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by DisplacedPackerFan :: Fri, 11/18/2011 - 1:37am

Did you read my whole post? I'm talking about evidence even back when Favre was still at QB. Like I said I think McCarthy is an average game day coach, you couple that with him being one of the best game planning and talent development coaches currently in the game then add in the obvious talent and you get an excellent team. People said the same thing about Andy Reid in Philly back when they were going to conference championships and the super bowl year too. People question Belichick too.

As to what OC I might like to see doing the play calling to see if it would make a difference. I don't know, how about Joe Philbin who they have on staff? He could very well be worse than McCarthy (since as an average play caller in the league there are 14 - 18 pro's that do a worse job than him already), but he might be better too. He might actually utilize some of the myriad formations that team has more effectively. He might not.

I never once claimed they weren't dominant. My post started as a nit pick and side tracked into another nitpick. I've posted several times this season about my belief that we might be witnessing possibly the best passing offense ever. It's so good and the special teams have improved so much (something else I posted about back in the draft that over half of the draft picks were actually very good special teams pick ups not just Cobb) that it easily covers for the issues the defense is having.

I think they are clearly the best team in the league. I'm not convinced the defense is as bad as it can look. The blown assignments are a huge concern when they are still happening 8 games in but they can be cleaned up and it didn't look like there were many of them vs Minn. The team is committing fewer penalties this year, and I think some of that is why the defense is giving up yards. With the exception of Woodson, who has always had some issues with penalties, the secondary isn't getting a lot of calls against them. I think the coaches actually coached the players to play off a bit more and try and get play the ball a bit more. I think they are OK with giving a few a more big plays for not having as many penalties and potentially getting a few more turnover than they have in the past few years. It's not something that has been discussed much but I do think it might be a factor and I think we'll see the defense continue to improve. It won't get to last years levels but I think things will start looking better.

But I can still want perfection. If Rodgers can find faults in his play, and McCarthy can find faults in his plans (which he has admitted to) I can nit pick his flaws as a coach and wonder if there might be a way to improve it.

While the special teams have gotten better for instance I still think that a coach other than Slocum could improve them even more. I still don't think he is even an average ST coach. I've actually kind of been hoping they might move Edgar Bennett onto them. They are grooming him to do more as he went from running backs to wide receivers coach. ST is still a coordinator position even if it is lesser.

Why my comments triggered your pent up anger about them not getting enough praise, I don't know. National media seems to all say they are the best, though they don't get talked about as much as the Pats used to on the national scene, but that could be because it's hard for me to remember how much the Pats were talked about before they earned all the talk with multiple rings. They may have only gotten about this much when they were just starting to build up as well but my memory is tinted by the explosion that they earned later on. Of course the different market sizes has an effect too, blah blah.

Anyway hope this clears up my post a bit for you.

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by Tom W (not verified) :: Fri, 11/18/2011 - 12:57pm

As far as whether the Packers are overrated or not dominant enough for some people, I wasn't specifically responding to your post, at all. I don't have any pent-up anger about anything. OK? I was responding to a general undercurrent of babble I've detected on sites like this one, suggesting that they aren't really good enough to be 9-0. I don't think they are perfect and I agree with Aaron that they will probably lose somewhere down the line, but going undefeated isn't really the object. I think paying too much attention to advanced metrics like DVOA, which tells us that a 3-loss team is the best in the league and that a team with four losses (now five), is #3, can be misleading. That's all I really want to say on that subject.

I responded to YOUR post simply because your criticisms of McCarthy caught my eye. If one polled a representative cross-section of fans of every team in the league, the results would probably imply that every coach in the NFL, has game and clock-management issues. You admitted this yourself in your response to my previous post. I know you said you were nitpicking, but criticizing McCarthy's play-calling is something new. Analysts like Billick and Aikman, who have some expertise in that area, have praised him as one of the best play-callers in the league, and it's hard to question the results. I think Philbin is just fine doing what he does. My only issue with the offensive decision-making is that Grant is still getting 6-8 carries a game, when Starks has clearly proven to be the superior runner. The play-calling thing was the only issue I had with your post. Otherwise, I was just making a general comment. Sorry that you interpreted it differently.

27
by FooBarFooFoo (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 4:43pm

Salary Cap?

35 Mio for two QBs? They have hardly any money to spend on the rest of the team this season. They are not bad because they lack Peyton. They don't have money for the rest of the team.

Other reasons may include that Manning might not want to be a temporary guy on a team in transition, and he may not be willing to serve as a mentor to Luck. I mean, why the hell are Painter or Sorgi so totally clueless?

Sorry, based on the contract Peyton did with the Colts this season, in my eyes he is the most me-me-me guy in the league.

46
by InTheBoilerRoom :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 6:20pm

More so than Chris Johnson? Albert Haynesworth? I may be mistaken, but I seem to remember Manning turning down an offer from the Colts to pay him more than any other player in football (Brady being the ceiling at the time). Instead, he agreed to matching Brady's contract. Does that make him more of a me-me-me guy than Brady, or equal to Brady? Sure, his contract is still equal to the highest in the league, but would a me-me-me guy really turn down money?

62
by FooBarFooFoo (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 8:22pm

His contract is _much_ higher than Brady's (4yrs/48Mio/72 Mio). Peyton's contract is frontloaded, he is older than Brady and the last year/last two years were added to reduce the per year average. He made 23 Mio this year, and will make 23 Mio guaranteed next year if the Colts don't cut him before April. It is either a one-year deal (~23 Mio) or two/three year deal (69 Mio for three years). Based on the fact that the final two years will only be 21 Mio combined tells you that it was never planned he sees these years (he would retire before).

So, Brady is a real 18Mio per year deal, he will see all four years. Manning makes 23 Mio per year.

The Colts likely will have no clue in March next year how good Manning's neck has healed. They even have to keep him on the active roster just to be able to see im train in December. Otherwise, Manning could not be forced by the Colts to any medicals. They would need to roll the dice on him AGAIN. Silly. Team player? Sure, they barely have any cap space left, they have to waste a roster spot for him and all his backups really never looked like they got any mentoring from him.

Manning knew he was injured, and he apparently knew how injured he was when he signed the deal.

Summing up: The story that Manning took less is a myth to make him look good. The contract is structured to make it look team friendly. If you cash in 23 Mio this year knowing you won't play, that's not exactly team friendly (we are NOT talking about the fact what made the Colts offer him this deal and we are not talking about the fact whether any guy in this forum would have taken the money or not).

Get the facts straight.

30
by John (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 4:54pm

I want Manning to come back (healthy, obviously) for many reasons, but most of all to put to rest this notion that he's not the difference-maker here.

Colts go from historic success for the last decade to abject failure when one man vanishes, and people keep insisting that can't be the reason. Fair enough, I suppose, but if he comes back and the team wins 10+ games and goes to the playoffs, then can we agree that he's worth 10 wins?

41
by tuluse :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 5:48pm

The thing is, the Colts have been in close games this year. You upgrade their QB to say Cutler or Flacco and they probably have 3-4 wins by now. Being winless right now is a combination of losing Manning, Painter being awful, and slightly bad luck have lead to the Colts not winning a game.

52
by Johnny Socko (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 6:54pm

+1, I am shocked at the denial of the people on this board. Come on guys, you are SUPPOSED to be the enlightened football fans. It is so abundantly obvious that Manning is the difference this year that I can't fathom how anybody claims otherwise.

66
by Not Registered (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 10:05pm

In no universe is one player worth 10 wins. With Manning the Colts would have 3 wins this year AT BEST. The man doesn't play defense or special teams, and both are at the bottom of the league as well as the offense. Manning supporters using this season to make him look better than he is is starting to get irritating.

76
by Jonadan :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 10:56pm

I assume you mean 3 wins at best to date? Here's what I'm going to call a conservative assumption: the Colts have been within one score in four games so far. Colts + Manning win those four. Record is 4-6.

True, the rest of the schedule is bad: Pats, Ravens, Texans are probably losses, Titans and Jags I say would go 1-1, Panthers are a complete wild card. So my most conservative estimate says Colts + Manning go 5-11 this year.

Last year, with the 24th-ranked (DVOA) defense, the Colts went 10-6. To me, these two data points means we have to say Manning is worth, at a minimum, 5 wins to the Colts.

Final thought: last year the Colts had 25 turnovers all season: 1.6 per game, and mostly concentrated in their 3-loss streak. This year they're up to 19 already: 1.9 per game, on track for 30 for the season, and (most importantly for the comparison) spread pretty evenly across their games. While turnovers are random to some degree, I think there's clearly a big talent-to-blame change here: Last year the Colts went 4 games without a TO and a total of 8 with 1 or fewer (50%). This year, they've managed either feat exactly 3 times out of 10 games (30%): against KC, Tampa, and Pittsburgh (of all teams).

Combining this with the idea that an actual offense would probably help the defense at least in terms of field position make me think that Colts+Manning this year would have a probable "floor" of 7 wins. How many games that makes Manning worth I guess we'll see at the end of the season.

10 wins seems high. But then, with Manning healthy all the way I feel like we'd have been "expecting" to see a 6-4 or 7-3 Colts team at this point whether or not it actually happened. Manning is worth 10 "media-expected wins"?

---
"When you absolutely don't know what to do any more, then it's time to panic." - Johann van der Wiel

146
by Yaguar :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 4:40pm

Colts points per game last year: 27.2. Colts points per game this year: 13.1.

You don't even have to look at turnovers, or hypothesize about the wearing down of the defense. Manning is worth over 2 touchdowns per game, minimum.

Just bring their offensive point totals up to what they're used to scoring - give them 14.1 extra points per game - and they're 6-4 right now.

I have no idea how anyone could see a decline in points-per-game to worse than half of last year's rate, and assume that it's just a normal fluctuation that has absolutely nothing to do with the loss of the greatest player of all time.

108
by Johnny Socko (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 10:20am

"In no universe is one player worth 10 wins. With Manning the Colts would have 3 wins this year AT BEST." Yes, Manning is worth 10 wins - at least. This assumption is NOT hindsight, because loads of people have claimed that the Colts were a one-man team for years. Ray Lewis is on record saying the Colts were a 3-13 team without Manning - before he got hurt. The Colts defense has been heavily criticized for Manning's entire career. The special teams has routinely been terrible, and yet the team always won 12 games a year. It has nothing to do with "Manning supporters" trying to make him look better, its just so damn obvious that YOU are trying to come up with alternate theories to explain the Colts sudden and complete collapse.

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by RickD :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 1:38pm

You made a point, people disagreed, so you just make the same point, but louder.

Look, people think you're wrong. Calling them stupid doesn't advance your argument.

Almost all of the regular commenters here, including several Colts fans, are of the belief that far more is wrong with the Colts than the absence of Manning. I still don't know how Manning's absence has turned the defense into the worst in the NFL.

The Colts defense ranking (according to DVOA) over recent years:

2007: 2
2008: 10
2009: 15
2010: 24
2011: 32

This decline would also appear to play a role.

138
by Johnny Socko (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 2:18pm

Did I call anybody stupid? Just to add some context to your DVOA list, in 2006 the Colts defense ranked 27th, Special Teams 26th, and the Colts went 12 - 4. How many games would that team have won with Matt Painter at QB? I would guess 1 - maybe.

Clearly the Colts have all sorts of problems other than the QB - everybody recognizes that. The point I am trying to make it that Manning has routinely covered-up those problems to the tune of 12 wins every year. It is impossible to accurately quantify EXACTLY how much he is worth, but to claim it's only a couple of games a year vastly under estimates his value to the Colts.

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by Yaguar :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 4:58pm

Nobody is saying that the loss of Manning is the only thing wrong with the Colts. But while you're splitting hairs over a defensive decline from "way below average" to "worst in the league", most people are more interested in the offensive rankings.

2003: 2nd
2004: 1st
2005: 3rd
2006: 1st
2007: 2nd
2008: 6th
2009: 6th
2010: 6th
2011: 29th

It's a 33% decline in DVOA. It's just a little bit worse than taking the Rodgers Packers and replacing them with the Raiders.

The Colts scored over 27 points per game last season. You can look it up. This year, they have 27 points in the last four games. And you're demanding that people focus on the defense? It's asinine.

68
by RickD :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 10:36pm

Thanks to Manning's departure, the Colts have the worst defense in the NFL.

How does that work?

80
by t.d. :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 11:30pm

Well, I'm just going to throw this out there,but they might be less successful at sustaining drives, thus negatively impacting an undersized defensive line designed to play with a lead

90
by steveNC (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 2:50am

The defense has largely stopped trying; they're hoping for the #1 pick?

100
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 9:47am

The Colts are constructed to make you pass. When the offense cannot generate a lead, they cannot make you pass.

56
by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 7:27pm

Actually, given that the rest of the team is almost precisely the same as last year, it very much appears that Manning is the difference between a 0-10 team and a Super Bowl contender.

[Edit: Actually, I need to correct that. This year the receivers and the defense are both healthier than they were last year.]

71
by RickD :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 10:43pm

I don't care if the defense is healthier, their quality level has dropped precipitously.

They are currently rated #32 by DVOA. Last year they were #24, which isn't any great shakes, but it wasn't quite as awful.

Here's another explanation: Jim Caldwell is just not a very good coach. He's running Dungy's system, but he's not half the coach Dungy is.

Look, there are plenty of examples where a star QB has gotten hurt and the team hasn't suddenly been unable to compete with anybody. Yes, Peyton Manning is extremely important, not simply for his QB skills but because he knows the Colts' offense better than anybody else. But a lot of other things are wrong with this team. Manning was able to cover up some of the problems, but they had been getting steadily worse since Dungy retired.

110
by Mr. Guest to you (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 10:36am

I must be an incredible moron to think that losing Peyton debilitated the team, and i'm not referring to just its pass offense. Talking about a drive sapping realization: An entire roster constructed with Peyton in mind, arguably the best QB in the league, if not its finest player, loses him shortly before the season starts.

Yeah, good luck with that.

If Peyton never went down, I suppose this is another 10-6 team.

113
by Will Allen :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 10:53am

Yeah, nobody really knows, of course, but I think the coaching factor is of some signifigance as well. Negative coaching changes sometimes don't rear their ugly heads for a while. There were yammerers, like Mark Schlereth, who were proclaiming that Parcells to Phillips was an upgrade in Dallas, based upon Dallas' record during Phillips' first year there. Ooops.

The Colts are down one Dungy, one Tom Moore, and one Howard Mudd from a few years ago. That might be worth a few losses as well.

114
by Mr. Guest to you (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 10:58am

You're probably right, there. I can't imagine this mess occurring with Dungy as HC.

119
by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 11:50am

Negative coaching changes sometimes don't rear their ugly heads for a while.

John Gruden to Bill Callahan, anybody?

125
by Will Allen :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 12:10pm

Yeah, I'd forgotten about that trainwreck.

144
by M :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 3:16pm

Last year the Colts' DVOA was 3.0%, and this year their mean projection was 7.8 wins. Despite how maligned DVOA has been this year, it has been correctly pegging the Colts as a declining team for several years, and 2011 with Manning would have likely been a continuation of this downward slide.

Given this as well as looking at individual games, it seems quite possible that a healthy Manning would have the team at 5-5 or 6-4 with victories over Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Kansas City, and Jacksonville coupled with a possible win against Cincinnati or Atlanta. In addition, there is no way they would have lost by 55 against New Orleans (maybe 21, though) and the Houston loss would have looked more like the 10 point defeat in the 2010 opener.

However, one thing I've wondered if whether the Colts' backup QBs are actually worse than replacement value (i.e. weakest backup QBs in the league over the past decade). This could inflate Manning's value by 2 wins, IMO.

In reading all of the comments, it almost seems that he is that ridiculously valuable. To support this, look at Tom Brady's 2008 absence. One thing people consistently miss about Tom Brady in 2008 is the absurd increase in schedule difficulty from 2008 to 2009. Part of the reason Cassel was able to look as competent as he did was due to playing both the NFC West and AFC West teams that year, as well as a Jets, Dolphins, & Bills pass defenses that were much weaker (Side note - In 2010 Cassel also played one of the easiest pass defense schedules in recent memory). By comparison, Tom Brady played one of the most difficult pass defense schedules ever in 2009, and played against above-average defenses in 2007 & 2010. If the schedule were normalized each year, it is quite possible we have decline from 4-5 win decline in value between Brady & Cassel, whom we can probably discern is better than replacement value, but not by much.

While my post is lengthy, it seems that the value of the best QB in football vs. a true replacement-level backup may be 4-6 wins in a full season (roughly 10 points per game). I don't believe it has always been this way, but the increased emphasis on the passing game has only solidfied how necessary it is to identify and retain a true star QB.

147
by Johnny Socko (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 4:43pm

I'm on board with your "worse than replacement value" argument (Painter is much worse than average), but disagree with your projected wins theory. FO and DVOA have consistently underestimated the Colts # of wins for years. Thus, a low predicted win total this year was just "more of the same". This issue has been talked about numerous times over the years by FO, with everyone recognizing that the system always underestimated the Colts # of wins - for some unknown reason.

155
by g (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 8:33pm

100% correct. The problem isn't just the loss of Manning, it's that his backup is below replacement value. (Which is evidenced by the Colts getting Collins off the couch) If you take a league avg QB, like Flacco, and stick him on the Colts, this is not a 0-10 team.

Brady going down cost the Pats 6 wins against a much easier schedule then the year prior. I think a safe estimate is 4-6 wins for losing an elite QB, certainly not 10.

161
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 11/17/2011 - 9:15am

The Pats went 11-5 in 2008. My dead grandmother wouldn't have been a 6 win drop from God on that team.

And as far as replacement level, Cassel wasn't even replacement level in Div I (He was the 3rd string QB!). Painter at least started in Div I.

165
by dryheat :: Thu, 11/17/2011 - 9:41am

I think you're exaggerating a bit. Cassel lost out on a head to head battle with Carson Palmer to start for USC, and when Palmer left he was the loser of a head to head battle with Matt Leinart. He was the primary backup to both Heisman winners during his career there.

It's not too much of a stretch to suggest that a player who made a strong case to start for those National Championship Trojan teams was a better quarterback than the starter on Purdue....or many, many different Div I programs.

History is filled with backup senior QBs who went on to better Pro careers than the guys who started over them (Mark Brunell, Brad Johnson, Tom Brady, Joe Flacco off the top of my head).

167
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 11/17/2011 - 10:36am

Brady started at U-M in 1998 and 1999. Flacco started in 2006 and 2007 at Delaware. Brunell was replaced by Hobert at Washington after a knee injury, and split time thereafter.

Johnson isn't a bad example, but he at least was higher on the depth chart than Charlie Ward. Much like Antonio Gates and guys like that, though, he was basketball-first early in his career.

And arguing that Cassel was not quite as good as Leinart isn't a strong argument. That's pretty much an argument he was worse than replacement level.

168
by dryheat :: Thu, 11/17/2011 - 11:40am

I seem to remember Henson starting over Brady much of the time their careers overlapped, but I could be mistaken. You're argument was that Orton (whom I agree is underrated) was arguably a better QB than Cassel (whom I think is rated just about properly) because he was a D1 starter at the NCAA level. Flacco was not a D1 starter, and the difference between the two is that Cassel decided to honor his commitment to USC and Flacco decided to transfer down a level. As you said, Brunell lost his job to Hobart, and Johnson lost his job to Casey Weldon heading into their senior seasons. And obviously there are a hell of a lot of QBs who started at D1 schools who never made the NFL who are clearly not as good as Cassel.

I don't see what's wrong with the argument that Cassel wasn't quite as good (in Carroll's eyes) as Leinart. Leinart won a Heisman, runner-up for another, and was a Top 10 draft pick. He was an extremely successful college QB.

Note that I don't necessarily think that Cassel is the better of the two. I think they're about equal.

136
by Jeff Feagles is God (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 2:10pm

Actually, Peyton Manning IS the difference between 0-10 and a Super Bowl contender. Other NFL players, especially defenders, have known this for some time and have said so publicly. Check out Ray Lewis' comments on the NFL Network's "100 Greatest Players" segment on Manning.

Manning is the league MVP this year without playing.

142
by dryheat :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 3:04pm

Well, since he's provided zero value to the Colts, I'd say he's tied for Least Valuable Player in the league this year....unless you want to go into negative value. All this season does is confirm what everybody already knew -- Manning is very, very, very good, and what most people always suspected -- The Colts constructed their team around the thesis that Manning was going to be the starting quarterback, and that the Colts didn't have an Continuation of Operations plan in event of an emergency.

153
by Dave :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 8:17pm

I suspect that 0-10 was precisely the Continuation of Operations plan for the 2011 season in the event of an emergency.

5
by Null_void (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 3:28pm

Last year, Carolina had a putrid offense, average defense, and average special teams. This year, they have a good offense, awful defense, and legendarily bad special teams.

If you could only combine the two teams, you'd have a wild card team!

Or, you'd make the 2005 49ers look good....

13
by tuluse :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 4:13pm

I think defenses get overrated when matched with awful offenses because opponents know they don't need to play their best to win.

36
by Ferguson1015 :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 5:08pm

I don't know if you could say "legendarily bad special teams" the year after the Charger's historic collapse last year. Imaginiging what could have been last year if the special teams had just been ok is all Charger fans have left for this year.

6
by ssimo02 :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 3:32pm

Just to be clear, the Jets are the 3rd best team in the NFL, almost as good as the Packers? :)

112
by Mr. Guest to you (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 10:38am

Hey, last week they were number one!

7
by QQ (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 3:48pm

How Incredible is that that GB's Passing DVOA went DOWN as a result of Monday's Perormance? You know you are playing otherworldy when 5 Tds and 1 FG in 9 Possessions with 0 Turnovers hurts your rating

69
by Paul M (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 10:43pm

They had their worst first down performance, by far, of the season. McCarthy ran more on 1D, in part due to the score, than in any other game save SL (another rout). But that doesn't explain less than 3 yds/1st down play for the entire game with Rodgers As QB (Flynn threw a 30 yd 1st D pass to Cobb in the 4th Q to up the overall to 3.7) when they hadn't been lower than 6.6 all year, and often 8 yds or more a first down play. And Rodgers knew it in his less than thrilled comments after the game-- it was far from their best offensive performance. In fact, I believe their bigger issue come January and Lambeau (if not Candlestick) will be the OFFENSE, not the DEFENSE. There is as yet no clear proof that they can reach the same level in the cold and other elements as opposed to a dome or otherwise neutral weather setting. Rodgers has been saying for three years now that they are at their best in a dome. Their only "must" win Lambeau games last year were Giants (when they did play extremely well in a cold, but not deadly, day) and Bears (where the offense stalled as they only scored 10 pts) I'm convinced that the biggest reason Favre was canned after 2007 was his obvious discomfort during that Giants game with the horrid weather and cold-- TT and MM realized they couldn't count on him in that setting. It would be ironic if Rodgers suffers the same fate, and if they are matched up against SF or Chicago or the Giants again, it will likely not be a shoot 'em up type game.

8
by Bobby Wommack (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 3:54pm

How many more times do the Pats have to blow out the Jets for them to move ahead in DVOA? LOL

18
by Keith(1) (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 4:21pm

These "rankings" are not rankings. They are just the order the computer spits them out based on how well they compare to everybody else. Consider this, the New England offense is so good that they would drop six "ranks" to 10th overall if their offense was even as good as #3 offense instead of #2 offense. However, to go from #4 overall to #3 overall, their defense would have to be at least as good as the Seahawks offense.

Put differently, if their offense dropped to the level of the third best offense in the league instead of their current level, New England would be 10th overall. If their defense jumped to the top-half of the league instead of the bottom-third (close enough), they would be third overall.

Their defense really is that bad. Their offense is just really good. This is not about Patriots vs Jets.

19
by RickD :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 4:28pm

Just looked at the NFL standings. Seems that after Sunday's game, the Jets have given up exactly 200 points in 9 games. Curiously (and unexpectedly), the Pats have given up exactly 200 points in 9 games.

Now that doesn't mean that the defenses are equal. For starters, the Jets have had to play against Tom Brady twice, while the Pats have gotten to play against Mark Sanchez twice. :)

More seriously, my point is that, after hearing all week that the Pats defense is "32nd in the league" (usually without the caveat that the person was talking about yardage, not points), I think that we should recognize that their defense is not so much awful as much as mediocre right now.

22
by Keith(1) (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 4:34pm

One thing that is not factored is how those points are scored. Is it the Jets defense that has given up that many points, or has it been a combination of the offense turning the ball over for return touchdowns, short fields (not the defense's fault, in my opinion), special teams touchdowns, safeties, etc?

28
by RickD :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 4:44pm

Hmm...yes. The Jets' offense not only threw a pick 6 to Ninkovich, but they let the Ravens defense score three TDs. Looking at the fantasy stats at Yahoo (which exclude points given up by the offense but not those given up by special teams), I see the Jets have given up 170 points from defense (+ special teams) while the Pats have given up 190 points. I think that's five TDs coughed up by the Jets offense while the Pats offense gave up a TD to the Bills and apparently one other safety in addition to the one the Jets scored on Sunday.

I'd forgotten just how many defensive scores the Ravens had against the Jets.

34
by Keith(1) (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 5:04pm

Think about it this way, and this is very rough.

If there was an offense ranked 16.5th in the league, the DVOA would be somewhere around 3.95. New England is 29.85 DVOA above that, while the Jets are only 2.35 DVOA above. If there was a defense ranked 16.5th in the league, the DVOA would be somewhere around +5.9. New England is 5.7 DVOA above that, while the Jets are 22.4 below that.

The delta of New England's offense to the Jets offense is 27.5, in favor of New England. The delta of New England's defense to the Jets defense is 28.1, in favor of the Jets.

Therefore, the New England offense is almost exactly as good on a scale as the Jets defense, but since New England's defense is ranked 23rd and the Jets offense is ranked 13th, people perceive that as the Jets just being better. While that is clearly not the case, and their strengths cancel each other, I think their weaknesses are going to be the determining factors in their games. So far, it has actually been that way, even if DVOA is not exactly reflective of that.

65
by paddypat (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 10:01pm

I think the subjective point here is that the New England defense appears to be better than the Jets Offense. I guess the standard numbers don't really bare this out any more than the FO numbers do though. The Jets offense has scored pretty respectable point totals. Maybe it really is just a matchup problem?

157
by commissionerleaf :: Thu, 11/17/2011 - 1:23am

Are you taking out touchdowns scored by the defense or on possessions beginning in the opponents' territory?

9
by Adam (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 4:05pm

Packers won pretty convincingly over the Bears also.....they're basically being punished for both not playing that many good teams, and getting a little lax on D in garbage time in others. If there's a tweak in DVOA in the offseason, I'd maybe reduce the weighting on opposition. Maybe lower the opponents weighting if their variance is high?

12
by tuluse :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 4:12pm

Yes, being ranked 2nd and the difference between them and first probably statistically insignificant is being "punished"

102
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 9:55am

The Packers problem has been they get so lax on D that garbage time stops being garbage time.

They had both the Saints and Chargers games well in hand, and had to win both on a turnover in the last 30 seconds.

11
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 4:08pm

I know the Vikings, or I should say, Adrian Peterson, can run the ball, against some teams, especially if they don't fall way behind early, but I just can't agree with the notion that their offense ranks 9 positions higher than their defense. The Vikings defense gave a respectable effort in the first half last night, even with the stumbling, bumbling nature of their secondary. The offense sucked first quarter, last quarter, and everything in between.

Put it another way; if the Packers offense was paired with the Vikings defense, that team might win 11 or 12 games. If the Vikings offense was paired with the Ravens' defense, I think you are still looking at an eight or nine win team.

15
by JJohnson (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 4:17pm

There is a chance Miami could finish in the top half of DVOA and still pick in the top 5 of the draft.

17
by Eggwasp (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 4:20pm

Well like for the individual players, I think you have to say that that is the dvoa for Minnesota offense, WITH pressure, momentum, scoreboard etc contributed by the Minnesota defense, not in isolation from them (and for every other team as well of course)

21
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 4:33pm

OK so total variance is week to week overall game DVOA variance. I'm assuming that is that the same for the separate offense and defense variance?


....Total.....Offense...Deffense
GB..2.7% (2)..1.3% (1)..1.5% (1)
CIN.1.5% (1)..2.4% (8)..2.8% (4)

Green Bay has been noticeably less variable on both offense and defense but more variable in games than Cincy. I know special teams, which don't have a listed variance, play into this too and that even without special teams that I do understand mathematically how this works, but it still feels weird so I commented on it.

Basically without special teams factored in (and Green Bay has been hugely variable on ST play) you can read it as, when Cincy has been worse on offense they have been better on defense so that overall they are basically the same. Green Bay has been more consistent on both offense and defense but when the offense has been worse so has the defense (or they have tended to both be better together) so that overall variance is higher. Other ways to describe it, but that should clear it up.

Again just an oddity.

57
by leviramsey (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 7:31pm

Simpson's paradox at work?

Remember that it's quite possible when combining sets of data for a relation to exist on the combination but in neither of the base sets and vice versa.

Example from baseball (probably the most famous example):

Derek Jeter's batting averages in 1995, 1996, and 1997:

1995: .250
1996: .314
1997: .291

David Justice's batting averages in those years:

1995: .253
1996: .321
1997: .329

Justice has the better average in all three years, yet when you calculate the overall batting average, you find

Jeter: .300
Justice: .298

61
by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 8:01pm

My favorite example of Simpson's Paradox is from the UC Berkeley. They were sued because their graduate acceptance rates were much higher for men than for women. Fact.

But they were acquitted because for each individual department, women were being accepted at the expected rate or better.

The reason for the discrepancy was that women tended to apply for the more competitive departments (English, Psychology), while more men applied to easier departments (Chemistry, Food Science).

72
by ScottyB (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 10:47pm

This is kinda bs, as it is due to the plate appearances involved. If there were the same # of ABs with those averages (Jeets has 50 ab's in is lowest season, Justice only 148 in his highest), Justice would be higher. If you are not innumerate, there is no paradox.

Not criticizing you, Levi, just the whole Simpsons Paradox thing

81
by Eddo :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 11:31pm

That's kind of the point of Simpson's Paradox.

Also, it seems weird to criticize a paradox.

92
by Intropy :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 3:06am

Oh yeah? Well screw you, Buridan's Ass.

135
by Eddo :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 1:58pm

Well played.

173
by jebmak :: Fri, 11/18/2011 - 8:29am

Love it.

Also, Buridan's Ass might be my new exclamatory of choice.

103
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 9:58am

The paradox is dependent on dissimilar sample sizes. It's not clear, and on the face unlikely, that this is the case with GB and Cincinnati, who should have very similar sample sizes.

122
by Jeff M. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 12:05pm

Yes but in all the examples above we're talking about means.

This is the variance we're discussing. The simple example is just that you're looking at the variance of a sum, where we know that Var[x+y]=Var[x]+Var[y]+2*Cov[x,y].

If Green Bay have lesser variance on Defense and Offense but higher overall, it seems likely that they have positive covariance (play relatively well on both sides against some teams, relatively poorly on both sides against others), or that Cincinnati have negative covariance (one side of the ball plays well when the other plays poorly), or both.

133
by Aaron Schatz :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 1:31pm

If Green Bay have lesser variance on Defense and Offense but higher overall, it seems likely that they have positive covariance (play relatively well on both sides against some teams, relatively poorly on both sides against others), or that Cincinnati have negative covariance (one side of the ball plays well when the other plays poorly), or both.

Yep. It's something like this.

163
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 11/17/2011 - 9:26am

I understand. But your explanation is not Simpson's paradox, and my explanation is that the situation at hand isn't eligible for it anyway.

24
by Boots Day :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 4:37pm

Is there a reason that no team had a bye this week, even though there are four teams that haven't had their bye week yet? The remaining four are bye-ing next week, but it was my impression that in years past, the bye weeks had all been contiguous.

32
by Marko :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 4:56pm

I don't remember the exact details or where I saw this, but I read a while ago that it had something to do with the way the schedule was set up this year in light of the potential for missed games due to the lockout.

40
by asp_j :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 5:42pm

All teams that played in Week 3 have the same bye week. That way if Week 3 was cancelled making up the games was easy, just reschedule each game during the teams' bye week.

The original schedule had byes in weeks 5-10, but unfortunately Reliant Stadium has a boat show the weekend of Week 10, so there would have been a conflict if the NFL had to make up week 3's New Orleans at Houston. So they ended up swapping weeks 10 and 11 so Houston would have their bye the following week, and as a result week 10 has no byes but week 11 does.

73
by RickD :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 10:49pm

There were 16 games in Week 3. So what you're saying is that all 32 teams have the same bye week?

:)

91
by RedZone :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 2:56am
26
by nat :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 4:42pm

Aaron:

To be honest, I'm tired of writing about how our system is overrating the Jets; we've addressed that plenty in previous columns.

I call baloney on this. Until last week you said roughly "it's a mystery", or cited the red zone bonus to explain the Jets bizarre offensive VOA in week five. The red zone bonus is thoroughly debunked as a cause (they had just 7 red zone plays after all) unless the bonus itself is completely broken. I don't think it is that broken.

Last week you cited stuff that either did not apply to week five (e.g being good on third down), was a red herring (e.g. game-to-game consistency, which a single game DVOA doesn't even measure), or was probably a minor effect (e.g. plays longer than 40 yards, lack thereof).

Rather than blustering about how tired you are of the topic, why not just write this:

Week five:
Jets 1st down (off)VOA: XX.X% - without red zone bonus
Jets 2nd down (off)VOA: XX.X% - without red zone bonus
Jets 3rd down (off)VOA: XX.X% - without red zone bonus

For extra credit...
Patriots week five:
Same stats, with and without the turnover plays.

We know you've already worked these numbers up. It's what DVOA was designed to let you do, and you're way too smart to have forgotten that. You could easily slice it up even more ways, if you wanted. But really, even a down-by-down breakdown would show us a lot.

This is not about liking or disliking the Jets. It's about either DVOA being right and its fans learning what DVOA was telling us about the Jets and football in that strange week five result; or it being wrong or broken, and learning about its strengths and soft spots so we can make the best possible use of a system we greatly respect.

Or, it's remotely possible it was a data transcription error or other one-time bug, in which case you'd correct it, and thus give us better season-long DVOA numbers to work with.

No one is asking that the DVOA system be altered this year. We just want to understand what it did on that crazy week.

78
by RC (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 11:13pm

Exactly.

DVOA thinks that the Jets basically destroyed the Pats in Week 5. We want to see why it thinks that, and like usual, Aaron is refusing to show us anything about how the metric is actually working.

The joys of proprietary technology.

82
by nat :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 11:44pm

No. Not "like usual". Aaron usually delights in pointing out to us what VOA saw in a team's performance. He doesn't disclose the actual formulas, but that's usually about all he keeps to himself.

This is something different.

97
by Jerry :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 8:31am

ENOUGH!

You've been complaining about this for weeks, and it clogs up these threads.

Maybe it's a flaw in DVOA.
Maybe it's an Eagles-like effect.
Maybe it's a bunch of outlying points that happened in the same game.
Maybe it's a spreadsheet error.
Maybe Belichick's horoscope was more favorable than Rex's. Or vice versa.
Maybe it's Aaron's well-known anti-Patriots bias.*
Or maybe the Jets weren't beaten as badly as the scoreboard and your eyes say they were.

Any or all of these could apply. Regardless, Aaron's looked at it, and doesn't have an answer. For all I know, similar things have happened in a Browns-Bengals game, but nobody bothered to keep harping on it. Let's agree that it's an anomaly and move on.

*-For those who don't know, Aaron is actually a proud New England fan. Put more credence in astrological explanations.

99
by nat :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 9:17am

All caps! Scary.

I think we can narrow it down to DVOA flaw, outlying points, spreadsheet error, or Jets offense being actually great on that day. You could throw in data transcription error, too, if that's different from your spreadsheet error.

We've examined the drive stats, and made a bunch of attempts at a poor-man's VOA using the "success" criteria that DVOA is based on. Those gave no signs that the Jets had unusual amounts of hidden value. So I, personally, have eliminated the Jets being great that day. I'd love to be shown why that's wrong.

I am sure Aaron would have done so already if it was possible. He hasn't.

But if it's a one-time data entry error, a flukey combinations of plays, or a systematic VOA formula problem, don't you want to know? It's not just about the results of one game. It affects the current DVOAs, and much more importantly, it affects how we should understand and interpret DVOA and DYAR.

101
by Jerry :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 9:49am

Yeah, I'd like to know. I don't think I'm going very far out on a limb to say that Aaron would, too. Meantime, he's addressed it as best he could for the moment, which we all agree isn't as well as we want, but life and the season march on. I'm sure it's on his list of things to look at during the offseason, and maybe he'll find an answer then. Meantime, the conversation's gone as far as it can, so let's stop rehashing this. If you want to adjust the Jets down and/or the Pats up a couple points when you look at the list, you're welcome to.

107
by nat :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 10:20am

But he hasn't addressed it "as best he could". That's the point.

I don't think we should just accept this stonewalling as an okay thing. He has the data and has probably already localized the problem, if there is one. Even if he hasn't, he has the by-down breakdown of the VOA, and could easily share that. The FO team discloses this kind of data all the time. Heck, they even give out DYAR for individual plays sometimes. It's not hard for them.

No one is asking the FO team to rework the DVOA system mid-season.

But knowing what VOA valued so highly and surprisingly in week five would help us understand DVOA, the Jets, and football. And hiding it makes us doubt more than just a single game and a single analysis.

104
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 10:06am

You learn most about systems when "hmm, that's strange" moments occur.

Pretending week 5 didn't happen is like Goodyear noticing that rubber charred instead of melted and shrugging and moving on.

37
by Ferguson1015 :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 5:13pm

Hmm, so AFC West this year is the NFC West from last year?

49
by Tracy :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 6:36pm

Yes. But to be fair: aside from the resurgent 49ers, the NFC West looks about like it did last year, too.

74
by RickD :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 10:50pm

The Tebow Cult is going to be very upset with you!

38
by Jetspete :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 5:22pm

You can say what you want about the numbers lying, but just last week the Jets were considered just a slight tick worse than the Pats in Vegas. I dont think these numbers are way off. It just shows what kind of jumbled mess the NFL is this year. Baltimore beats Pitt twice and loses to Seattle, tennessee and the Jags. Giants lose to Washington and Seattle, yet are 6-3. DVOA is simply meant to give us a ranking method which uses unconventional stats. Seeing that the Jets have been dogged by an inordinately high turnover/td rate, it is entirely possible they are the third best team in the league.

39
by Joshua Northey (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 5:26pm

The NE Patriots are clearly ranked too low because Rob Gronkowski is a Hall of Fame TE and the best player ever! Ranking teams based on how many future GoaTs they have is way better than this. Next year Rob Gronkowski will have 36 TDs and we will see how Houston, and your fancy maths do then.

75
by RickD :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 10:52pm

Well done, sir!

42
by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 5:58pm

I really appreciated the kick coverage by GB last night.

Cobb is a legit threat if he can hang onto the ball. Hester went through that phase of being overeager to GET the ball and make that first cut. I am hopeful Cobb learns from his errors. That punt return was Desmondesque.

105
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 10:08am

But his punt return was washed out by his muff. That's the danger of Cobb.

43
by Temo :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 6:08pm

Dallas has the 10th best DVOA, 10th best weighted DVOA, 10th best offense, and 10 best defense.

Sweet.

47
by justanothersteve :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 6:25pm

I'm in shock from Green Bay having a ST rank with a single digit.

53
by Kb (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 7:06pm

I will second this. 3 rookies have made a big impact on ST this year including Cobb. It seems as gb really tried improving their ST this year. I like the statement how GB will not go undefeated this year. Thanks for letting me know i was about to get excited about their chances. I love Math but sadly am not a big fan of this system.

48
by Kal :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 6:31pm

Wow. KC looks bad right now, and they played the easiest schedule up until this point. And now they play the hardest. And lost their starting QB-like product.

That's gonna be fun to hear about.

51
by Schrute Farmer (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 6:51pm

Aaron,

It isn't enough to take advantage of the Packers' D. You have to take advantage of the Packers' D and have a defense good enough to break Rodgers' serve.

The Packers passing DVOA is 79.8%. While their defense is weak and the team isn't an all around juggernaut, Rodgers and his weapons make them just as difficult to beat as an all around juggernaut.

54
by Lordship (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 7:11pm

What was gbs defensive dvoa last year? Imo this is the same defense as the end of last year and will come around again in the same fashion. People will talk about how bad gbs defense is because of yardage. Teams are passing on gb like crazy. I believe Mike Neal will make a huge impact starting in a couple weeks. Which in turn will help out raji and matthews. Raji isnt the same player as last year because he plays prob as much if not more than any other DL in football. With Neal he can come out in some nickel situations. For matthews that inside rush will have to take some double teams away from matthews. This is all a big if but i believe Neal is that player if healthy. Also a healthy williams and a castless burnett would really help improve the pass defense. Gbs secondary has been really banged up.

55
by Richard G (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 7:18pm

If the Raiders non-adjusted DVOA is 0.3% and their strength of schedule is positive, why would their adjusted DVOA drop to -5.8%?

59
by akn :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 7:53pm

2010 Bears ranks: Off 28 / Def 6 / ST 1
2011 Bears ranks: Off 23 / Def 5 / ST 2

Despite all the turnover on the O-line and secondary, the Bears are basically the same as last year (so far). Though that may change for the better with the upcoming 5 game swing through the west.

60
by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 7:56pm

Raiders 18th? Computer drunk. Raiders much better thab 18th. Raiders don't care about DVOA anyway . Only concrrn is wimning do not care if win big, wik sloppy , win sexy or win sober. Key is to jusy win. Going to put out vs Texams, Steelerd and Pates and that's what it's all about.

64
by dbt :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 10:01pm

....baby.

88
by armchair journe... :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 1:09am

I, for one, am relieved to hear that sobriety is not part of the Raiders' gameplan. I am a little concerned to know that somehow paté is.

94
by Jacob (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 4:39am

"Computer drunk."

You have NO IDEA how many times I thought that in my Advanced C++ class...

140
by Intropy :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 2:53pm

And it NEVER is, is it? I've come across only two bugs that ended up being drunken computers. The first was when somehow, someway, two statically allocated variables from entirely separate parts of the program got placed in the same memory address so when one changed so did the other. The second required debugging all the way down into the firmware, which turned out to be buggy.

143
by Spielman :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 3:09pm

In my case, sadly, it was almost always a case of "programmer drunk".

Sometimes even when I was sober.

98
by Jerry :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 8:36am

What team does care about DVOA? Even those who pay attention care much more about winning percentage.

131
by David :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 1:17pm

Well, offhand, I imagine a few of them. I believe the 49ers are very interested in the FO work, and have engaged the staff for projects.

Caring about DVOA is not the same as not caring about winning percentage. However, any coach that wishes to improve, and have a clear idea about their team's 'true' strengths and weaknesses is probably more interested in DVOA than win percentage

Come to that, how many teams care about their win percentage? The Cowboys make money as a business regardless of their win percentage, so are you sure they care more about that? Or is Jerry Jones more of a businessman than a fan?

If the teams (an amorphous entity at best, so please do feel free to specify exactly what you meant by that) care so much about winning percentage - please explain the lockout to me...

/snark

159
by Jerry :: Thu, 11/17/2011 - 3:54am

Now I understand. When Brady kept throwing in 2007, it was because Bill Belichick wanted to set DVOA records. In fact, "nat" is probably a name Coach Belichick posts under, and he's pissed that his wins over the Jets didn't do enough to move the Patriots ahead of them in the DVOA rankings.

Or not.

More seriously, even those teams who pay serious attention to what FO has to say use it as a tool to (try to) improve their winning percentage. If there was a trophy presented for best DVOA every year, I doubt you'd see any winner displaying it prominently.

164
by dryheat :: Thu, 11/17/2011 - 9:27am

I think it would be off-the-charts awesome if Aaron spent a few dollars on a modest trophy for highest DVOA and each year sent it to the top team's HQ.

166
by nat :: Thu, 11/17/2011 - 10:13am

Dammit, Mangini! You've blown my cover!

115
by Eggwasp (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 11:06am

Agreed, but DVOA can't adjust for signing a retired QB off the street and throwing him in, any more than it can predict the Texans post-Schaub.
And the offense / defense did just each blow the KC/Denver games. If Raiders D plays like it did vs SD for the rest of the season, Oakland wins division at a canter, even if some of that was San Diego OL.... But most weeks it doesn't play like that for four quarters....

63
by Jonadan :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 9:56pm

Now that Schaub's not playing, I've thought of an article I would like to see written:

What factors (scouting, surrounding personnel, coaching?) have made the Schaub deal work so much better for the Texans than other recent deals to pick up backup QBs? Three names in particular coming to mind: Cassel, Kolb, and maybe Orton. Kolb seems to have been a disaster, but the team was a disaster already. Cassel's been mostly okay I guess but I haven't watched a Chiefs game in years. Orton with McDaniels was actually pretty good but seemed worse this year and never quite silenced the doubters.

And Schaub's been a top-flight QB for at least three years now, and was decent his first two with Houston when not hurt.

Is it as simple as, "It's a gambling move and sometimes somebody wins", or are there clear indicators to point to to say we could have predicted these guys' relative successes?

---
"When you absolutely don't know what to do any more, then it's time to panic." - Johann van der Wiel

70
by akn :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 10:43pm

While Orton was a backup for a while with the Bears, at the time of the Cutler trade, he was the established starter. Orton was essentially a throw-in to go with the 2 1st rounders since the Broncos had no viable QB behind Cutler.

85
by tuluse :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 12:33am

Matt Cassell is a bad quarterback who had a motivated Randy Moss on his team.

96
by Ryan D. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 8:16am

Say what you will about his late-career meltdown, but how the hell did the Panthers figure they were getting anything by picking up Jake Delhomme, a complete unknown backup to Aaron Brooks in New Orleans? When he was on, he was a competent top-10 QB. He probably has the best stat line ever for a losing QB in a Super Bowl, in the non-Kurt Warner division.

120
by SFC B (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 11:53am

I think this would be a really interesting article. What seperates the back-ups who are successful when they go to another team different from those who are not? Is it a difference in the quality of the player? The scouting? The team? Are there teams or coaches who have a better track record for creating starter-quality back-ups or coaches with a history of taking other teams back-ups and making them into starters?

Isn't Mike Holgren responsible for getting Favre from the Falcons, and wasn't he the coach who spawned Mark Brunell and Matt Hasselbeck?

123
by Will Allen :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 12:09pm

I think it was more Ron Wolf, but I thnk your general point is sound; Holmgren was really, really, good at overseeing the development of qbs. If Favre doesn't start getting really good, really strenuous, coaching early on, there's a decent chance that neither you or I would remember his name by now. I hope ol' Stubbleface sends a Christmas card to Holmgren every year.

124
by nuclearbdgr :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 12:10pm

...Isn't Mike Holgren responsible for getting Favre from the Falcons, and wasn't he the coach who spawned Mark Brunell and Matt Hasselbeck?

Ron Wolf traded for Favre (and that was in the works even before Holmgren was hired). Hasselbeck wasn't drafted by the Packers until after Holmgren had already left to Seattle

128
by dryheat :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 12:31pm

If I'm not mistaken, Hasselbeck was drafted by Green Bay prior to Holmgren's final year as HC (1998). In 1999 Holmgren went to Seattle, and traded for Hasselbeck in 2001.

150
by nuclearbdgr :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 6:15pm

I realized I was off by a year because in 1998 he was on the practice squad, not the active roster, which is what I glanced at.

126
by Paul M (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 12:13pm

Favre's backups-- in one form or another (Warner was just a cup of coffee)-- included Detmer, Brunell, Hasselbeck, Warner and now Rodgers, of course. Holmgren can't take credit for the latter, but 3 likely HOFers (Including Favre) and two quality long-term starters is a huge haul for a two decade period. And it pains me to say it but Favre himself should get some credit for all this, as should Wolf and Thompson, of course.

And Matt Flynn has looked more than competent in his few opportunities to play so far.

139
by MCS :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 2:25pm

Don't forget that Holmgren was QB coach for a guy by the name of Montana and OC for some guy from BYU.

Fairly impressive resume.

158
by commissionerleaf :: Thu, 11/17/2011 - 1:40am

Matt Cassel: Has been moderately succesful in KC, helped by a simple offense and the fact that Dwayne Bowe is actually very, very good when he is motivated. He was successful in New England because he played the worst defenses in football and had the New England offensive line. He's probably above replacement level, but at best an average starter.

Kolb: No reason to believe he is better than replacement level. His primary selling point is that once upon a time, Andy Reid thought he would be a good NFL Quarterback. That's not nothing. But it isn't a season like Cassel's 2008, either. Or even Cassel's 2010.

Orton: Underappreciated everywhere he goes. Probably at least as good as Cassel, given that he put up Cassel-2008 stats in Denver, throwing to Brandon Lloyd instead of Randy Moss.

Schaub: "Top-flight" is an exaggeration. He is an above average starter, a franchise quarterback, and as such the envy of at least 16 teams. I'm honestly not sure he's a better quarterback than Orton (for instance), though... He's not even top 10.

DelHomme is a good point, but I don't think his career is going to excite too many people these days.

Does Brees count? He was injured and left as an FA before he had a chance to taste backup-dom, but Rivers was going to start eventually.

77
by Ben :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 11:11pm

I find it hard to believe that there are worse offenses than the Colts. This team has punted 28 times and scored 20 points (on offense) over the last 4 games...

95
by BJR :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 8:06am

The Redskins have scored one touchdown (in garbage time) in their last three games. And there are allegedly two offences worse than them.

117
by t.d. :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 11:17am

Without looking, I was going to guess Jacksonville would be the worst, but I couldn't gelp myself, and I confirmed it

106
by andrew :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 10:08am

What would the Texans DVOA prospects look like if a certain gray stubbled gunslinger came back from the sunset....

111
by dk240t :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 10:37am

It would look the same, because DVOA measures past performance.

137
by andrew :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 2:13pm

Is not the whole point of DVOA to be able to predict future performance?

All we gotta do is look at past DVOA of 42-year old quarterbacks who are making their 4th unretirement...

116
by Eggwasp (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 11:09am

Desperate Dan?

109
by CoachDave :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 10:25am

The Colts is clearly ranked too high because Irsay's twitter feed is worth at least minus -100% DVOA. At best I would put them in the bottom 1/3rd of the CFL's Eh Hoser Division.

/Am I doing it right?

118
by Jimmy :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 11:30am

Nearly, your spelling is a bit too good.

148
by Denzera :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 4:43pm

Is Variance actually the variance statistic, or is it standard deviation? If it's actually variance, and you sqrt() it, there's really not that much difference in DVOA performance week to week; a matter of 1-5% StDev week to week suggests that most major upsets would be a 2-3 StDev event (<5% likelihood), whereas our Any Given Sunday experience suggests they are more frequent than that. In fact, if we just do the StDev of the point differential for each game on the season thus far (no fancy transformations needed), the StDev of game margin is 15.9 points, 4-5x that of the average of Sqrt(DVOA Variance).

How 'bout it, Aaron - how are you computing Variance?

171
by BroncFan07 :: Fri, 11/18/2011 - 12:39am

That's the DVOA computer, self-destructing after Denver goes 95 yds against its beloved Jets.