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» Scramble for the Ball: The DVOA Schism

Mike and Tom try to figure out what kind of secret sauce Arizona is feeding the media to sit at the top of the power rankings and in the middle of our DVOA rankings.

25 Oct 2011

Week 7 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

Undefeated Green Bay finally moves to the top of the DVOA ratings this week after their win over the Vikings. That's not a surprise. A bit more of a surprise is the placement of the Jets at number two. I wrote a lot about the Jets last week and most of what I wrote there still applies, although their overall offensive DVOA went up after the win over San Diego while their offensive DVOA in the red zone went down. I understand that subjective power rankings aren't going to put a 4-3 team at number two the way DVOA will, but I must admit I'm a bit stumped by the lack of love the Jets are getting from subjective power ratings. Mike Florio, for example, puts them below five other teams with 4-3 records. When you look at the quality of the teams the Jets have lost to, I just don't see how you can put them that low. And, in subjective power rankings at least, don't they deserve a little bit of benefit of the doubt after two straight trips to the AFC Championship game?

A bit below the top teams, we have three big upward movers this week. New Orleans, Houston, and Dallas all jump into the top ten after big wins this week. After the Saints stomped the Colts 62-7, I thought they were going to have one of the best single-game DVOA ratings of all-time. I thought they might even challenge the all-time best game, Pittsburgh's 145.6% DVOA in their 43-0 Week 1 win over expansion Cleveland in 1999. However, it turns out the Saints don't even come close to making the all-time top ten. In fact, they don't even have the best game of the week. Instead, Houston puts up the best single-game DVOA of the year at 122.7%, while New Orleans is "only" at 71.1%.

The issue here is not the offenses. If you look at the non-adjusted offensive VOA, you will see that the Saints offense (71.7%) outperforms the Texans offense (60.7%). On defense, however, there's a huge difference. While the Saints did not let the Colts into the end zone much, they did let them move the ball. The Colts averaged 1.6 yards per play more than the Titans. The Colts had seven different drives that gained more than 10 yards. The Texans had just three. There's also an issue with turnovers. Conventional stats say that Tennessee turned the ball over twice, and Indianapolis turned it over three times. However, DVOA also penalizes the Titans for a fumble they recovered themselves, and it knows that one of the Colts' fumbles was an aborted snap. The Colts get penalized for that, but the Saints don't get credit for it.

The Saints also get dinged by opponent adjustments. The Colts are one of the worst teams in the league. The Titans, once you combine their early success with their recent slump, come out at exactly average. So there's a big difference between VOA and DVOA for the Saints, and almost no difference for the Texans.

Here's a look at the stats for the four teams in Sunday's games, including both DVOA (adjusted for opponent) and VOA (not adjusted for opponent). The special teams rating is the same for both, as I've never been able to get special teams opponent adjustments to work well.

Team DVOA VOA Yd/Play DVOA VOA Yd/Play DVOA VOA ST
HOU 122.7% 122.3% 7.40 60.4% 60.7% 3.64 -56.2% -55.5% 6.1%
NO 71.1% 89.0% 7.43 56.4% 71.7% 5.26 -12.0% -14.5% 2.7%
TEN -86.7% -97.5% 3.64 -40.4% -45.3% 7.40 45.6% 51.5% -0.7%
IND -101.0% -107.3% 5.26 -35.1% -31.3% 7.43 67.3% 77.4% 1.4%

Some of you might be asking why VOA for one offense isn't the same as the VOA for the opposing defense, even though we're not counting opponent adjustments. The difference comes from the fact that the baselines are different for offense and defense, with certain events counting for offenses but not defenses (aborted snaps, false starts, delay of game). In addition, offenses get less credit in the fourth quarter of blowouts, but defenses are penalized the same as always. (That may seem odd, but otherwise DVOA wouldn't correlate as well with winning or with future DVOA.)

Finally, for fun, I present to you the leaguewide pass offense DVOA for each week of the season so far:

Week NFL Pass
DVOA
1 18.3%
2 25.3%
3 15.3%
4 17.9%
5 19.9%
6 19.4%
7 -2.3%

* * * * *

All stat pages should be updated shortly. The Premium DVOA database will be updated sometime this evening. There was a bug the last few weeks that messed up the "One Team, Every Week, One Season" view, but that should be fixed now. We apologize for the problem. 

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through seven 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.

Opponent adjustments are currently at 70 percent strength and will steadily grow stronger until Week 10. As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE.

DAVE is a formula which combines our preseason projection with weighted DVOA to get a more accurate forecast of how a team will play the rest of the season. Right now, the preseason projection makes up 19 percent of DAVE for teams with six games and 8.5 percent of DAVE for teams with seven games. Because DAVE uses weighted DVOA rather than total DVOA, Week 1-3 results are slightly discounted.

To save people some time, please use the following format for all complaints:

<team> is clearly ranked <too high/too low> because <reason unrelated to DVOA>. <subjective ranking system> is way better than this. <unrelated team-supporting or -denigrating comment, preferably with poor spelling and/or chat-acceptable spelling>

TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
LAST
WEEK
TOTAL
DAVE
RANK W-L OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
1 GB 30.7% 3 29.1% 1 7-0 37.3% 2 7.3% 18 0.7% 14
2 NYJ 28.6% 4 27.7% 2 4-3 3.5% 19 -14.7% 2 10.4% 2
3 SF 27.5% 2 21.2% 4 5-1 4.0% 17 -10.6% 4 12.9% 1
4 BUF 23.7% 5 18.1% 8 4-2 31.8% 3 8.6% 20 0.4% 16
5 NE 21.9% 6 23.3% 3 5-1 38.2% 1 16.8% 28 0.6% 15
6 BAL 21.5% 1 20.2% 5 4-2 -7.0% 24 -30.9% 1 -2.3% 26
7 NO 20.9% 13 19.9% 6 5-2 30.0% 4 10.3% 25 1.2% 11
8 HOU 20.1% 16 19.1% 7 4-3 17.2% 6 -0.4% 11 2.5% 5
9 DAL 17.2% 15 12.9% 11 3-3 8.3% 11 -11.6% 3 -2.7% 28
10 NYG 15.3% 7 13.7% 9 4-2 16.5% 7 -0.5% 10 -1.7% 25
11 PIT 11.4% 10 13.4% 10 5-2 13.1% 8 3.2% 16 1.5% 7
12 CIN 11.2% 11 6.9% 14 4-2 3.7% 18 -6.2% 7 1.3% 9
13 DET 11.2% 14 9.8% 13 5-2 4.7% 15 -10.6% 5 -4.1% 30
14 ATL 10.9% 12 10.9% 12 4-3 6.7% 13 -2.1% 9 2.1% 6
15 CHI 5.7% 21 6.1% 15 4-3 -4.2% 21 0.0% 13 9.8% 3
16 PHI 0.3% 17 5.0% 16 2-4 10.3% 10 8.9% 21 -1.1% 21
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
LAST
WEEK
TOTAL
DAVE
RANK W-L OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
17 TEN 0.0% 8 -4.5% 21 3-3 12.5% 9 9.9% 23 -2.6% 27
18 OAK -0.4% 9 -2.0% 17 4-3 7.6% 12 9.4% 22 1.4% 8
19 TB -3.0% 19 -3.5% 19 4-3 3.0% 20 10.0% 24 4.0% 4
20 MIN -4.3% 20 -4.4% 20 1-6 4.5% 16 7.9% 19 -0.9% 19
21 WAS -4.5% 18 -5.9% 22 3-3 -7.6% 26 -2.3% 8 0.8% 13
22 CAR -7.6% 26 -7.9% 23 2-5 17.5% 5 18.2% 29 -6.9% 31
23 KC -8.8% 27 -8.4% 24 3-3 -7.4% 25 2.7% 15 1.2% 10
24 SD -9.2% 22 -3.2% 18 4-2 6.4% 14 12.6% 26 -3.0% 29
25 CLE -11.9% 24 -9.9% 25 3-3 -8.9% 29 1.3% 14 -1.7% 23
26 DEN -13.1% 23 -13.2% 26 2-4 -7.6% 27 6.5% 17 1.1% 12
27 SEA -19.8% 25 -19.9% 29 2-4 -18.3% 30 -0.1% 12 -1.7% 24
28 JAC -20.7% 30 -18.4% 28 2-5 -27.8% 32 -7.7% 6 -0.6% 18
29 MIA -21.4% 28 -15.8% 27 0-6 -4.8% 23 15.5% 27 -1.1% 20
30 ARI -30.6% 31 -28.2% 30 1-5 -8.6% 28 22.1% 30 0.1% 17
31 IND -37.3% 29 -35.5% 31 0-7 -4.3% 22 26.2% 32 -6.9% 32
32 STL -47.0% 32 -40.7% 32 0-6 -20.5% 31 25.1% 31 -1.3% 22
  • 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 GB 30.7% 7-0 32.9% 6.2 1 -4.9% 28 2.4% 13 2.6% 3
2 NYJ 28.6% 4-3 24.7% 4.5 7 1.3% 16 4.1% 9 12.6% 21
3 SF 27.5% 5-1 25.0% 4.9 3 2.8% 11 -13.9% 32 8.3% 13
4 BUF 23.7% 4-2 25.4% 4.7 6 4.0% 10 2.7% 12 10.2% 15
5 NE 21.9% 5-1 22.2% 4.9 2 1.6% 15 -0.6% 19 10.8% 17
6 BAL 21.5% 4-2 25.6% 4.7 5 -1.3% 24 -2.9% 27 31.1% 30
7 NO 20.9% 5-2 22.6% 4.8 4 -1.7% 26 -2.7% 26 12.5% 20
8 HOU 20.1% 4-3 24.6% 4.3 11 -0.8% 23 -8.8% 31 23.3% 29
9 DAL 17.2% 3-3 15.6% 4.4 9 4.4% 8 -2.4% 25 7.0% 10
10 NYG 15.3% 4-2 21.3% 4.3 10 -13.0% 32 16.0% 1 15.1% 23
11 PIT 11.4% 5-2 15.3% 4.2 13 -9.5% 30 1.5% 16 20.2% 27
12 CIN 11.2% 4-2 23.9% 4.4 8 0.9% 19 -2.3% 24 1.8% 1
13 DET 11.2% 5-2 18.1% 4.1 14 4.9% 7 5.9% 7 6.4% 9
14 ATL 10.9% 4-3 4.0% 4.2 12 2.5% 13 -1.2% 21 3.5% 5
15 CHI 5.7% 4-3 6.3% 3.6 17 8.4% 5 -1.5% 22 11.1% 18
16 PHI 0.3% 2-4 -3.7% 3.3 19 4.3% 9 1.2% 17 7.2% 11
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
ESTIM.
WINS
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VAR. RANK
17 TEN 0.0% 3-3 -0.5% 3.6 16 1.2% 17 -3.0% 28 35.8% 32
18 OAK -0.4% 4-3 2.0% 3.8 15 8.6% 4 -1.0% 20 19.5% 26
19 TB -3.0% 4-3 -4.1% 3.5 18 10.3% 3 7.1% 3 18.5% 25
20 MIN -4.3% 1-6 -1.7% 3.2 22 0.7% 20 6.0% 6 21.2% 28
21 WAS -4.5% 3-3 -4.7% 3.3 20 -8.7% 29 6.1% 4 6.2% 8
22 CAR -7.6% 2-5 -3.8% 3.2 21 0.2% 22 1.7% 14 10.8% 16
23 KC -8.8% 3-3 -11.3% 3.0 23 -2.0% 27 4.1% 10 33.8% 31
24 SD -9.2% 4-2 -1.6% 2.9 25 0.5% 21 5.0% 8 7.6% 12
25 CLE -11.9% 3-3 0.2% 2.8 26 -11.3% 31 -0.1% 18 2.0% 2
26 DEN -13.1% 2-4 -6.7% 2.9 24 1.8% 14 6.0% 5 3.1% 4
27 SEA -19.8% 2-4 -21.8% 2.8 27 1.2% 18 -4.6% 29 14.5% 22
28 JAC -20.7% 2-5 -24.2% 2.6 29 12.3% 2 -5.3% 30 11.7% 19
29 MIA -21.4% 0-6 -19.4% 2.7 28 6.1% 6 11.7% 2 4.0% 6
30 ARI -30.6% 1-5 -24.2% 1.9 30 -1.6% 25 -2.0% 23 8.4% 14
31 IND -37.3% 0-7 -44.1% 1.6 31 2.7% 12 2.8% 11 17.0% 24
32 STL -47.0% 0-6 -51.7% 1.3 32 13.4% 1 1.6% 15 5.4% 7

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 25 Oct 2011

181 comments, Last at 17 Mar 2013, 4:09am by seo google map experts

Comments

1
by navin :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 2:27pm

Wow, the Jets and 49ers have very, very similar profiles.

39
by zenbitz :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 3:49pm

their defenses are inverted (Revis effect?) with the Jets better at Pass D than Run D and the Niners vice-versa. Also, Jets have a better Kicking game and Niners have better Punting/Punt returning.

2
by TomC :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 2:34pm

Back in Quick Reads, we had this comment by Vince:

If anyone you know tries to argue that anyone other than Rodgers has been the MVP of the league so far, cut off all ties with that person, immediately.

apropos of which I submit the following piece of evidence:

2010:

Rank Team OFF DVOA

32 CAR -31.9%

2011:

Rank Team OFF DVOA

5 CAR 17.5%

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'....

6
by scoreboard (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 2:42pm

2-5

8
by CraigoMcL (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 2:53pm

Cam Newton doesn't play defense or special teams, two units whose bottom of the league standing might have something to do with their win-loss record.

11
by andrew :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 2:55pm

But Tim Tebow does apparently.

15
by CraigoMcL (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 3:04pm

I'd never seen a quarterback kick and recover an onside kick in one play.

23
by Keith(1) (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 3:13pm

The difference in offense between #1 (New England) and #5 (Carolina) is large enough to include all but the two worst offenses in the league, and almost all but the worst. The difference of 27.9% DVOA is actually higher than all but four teams, all of whom are above 30%. If you want to find a team playing well with a quarterback playing well, and you want to show improvement over last year, look to Fitzpatrick.

24
by CraigoMcL (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 3:17pm

Discuss that with TomC. I'm just pointing out that it's pretty silly to pin Carolina's poor record on Cam Newton when it's clearly despite his play, not because of it.

25
by Keith(1) (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 3:20pm

Well, I would not overarchingly say it is despite his play, as he has put his team into some tough situations -- he is just a rookie, and playing mildly acceptable, but is not MVP-caliber!

27
by CraigoMcL (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 3:25pm

I agree. Without getting into the whole best player overall v. most valuable to his team - we all know that the award goes to the first, but even if you use the second definition I think it's still Rodgers.

31
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 3:35pm

Insert "Peyton Manning could be the MVP without ever playing a down" comment here.

42
by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 4:00pm

Reminds me of when Steve Young went out with a concussion in 1999. With him, the 49ers were 12-4 in '98, and 3-1 in '99. Without him, they went 1-11 to finish the season.

75
by Spielman :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 5:30pm

"With him, the 49ers were 12-4 in '98, and 3-1 in '99. Without him, they went 1-11 to finish the season."

Minor correction: 2-1 and 2-11 in 1999.

And I'll just mention this... in his three games that season, Young had a passer rating of 60.9, and an ANY/A+ of 74. Jeff Garcia, who replaced him, had a passer rating of 77.9 and an ANY/A+ of 104.

46
by WeaponX (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 4:04pm

Mildly acceptable....lol.

13
by are-tee :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 3:02pm

I think Revis needs to be considered if the Jets make the playoffs. In three out of their four wins, he has had game-changing interceptions, and he continues to neutralize the other teams' best receivers.

26
by Wikitorix (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 3:24pm

However,

2010:

J. Clausen: -41.1% DVOA
M. Moore: -37.5% DVOA

110
by TomC :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 10:40pm

I think Wikitorix nails it. Newton is not playing at an MVP level, but he is playing at an MVP level compared to Jimmy Clausen and Matt Moore.

I mostly made that post hoping to stimulate conversation, and I am well pleased with the result.

32
by BigDerf :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 3:37pm

That is a great ROY argument, but never going to get an MVP from a team that bad.

144
by CraigoMcl (not verified) :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 12:49pm

I'm curious - has there ever been an MVP from a non-winning team? Or non-playoff team, let's say.

147
by Joseph :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 1:49pm

Cortez Kennedy, SEA--early 90's, iirc.

156
by spenczar :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 6:26pm

Yes. In fact, there was one two years ago.

OJ Simpson, 1973 - Bills 9-5, no playoffs
Cortez Kennedy, 1992 - Seahawks, 2-14
Michael Strahan, 2001 - Giants 7-9
Priest Holmes, 2002 - Chiefs, 8-8, no playoffs
Ed Reed, 2004 - Ravens, 9-7 no playoffs
Jason Taylor, 2006 - Dolphins 6-10
Chris Johnson, 2009 - Titans 8-8, no playoffs

157
by tuluse :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 6:29pm

I think you're confusing offensive and defensive player of the year awards with MVP. There hasn't been a defensive MVP since LT for one.

169
by CraigoMcl (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2011 - 11:53am

Where is this list coming from? OJ Simpson is the only one who appears to have actually won the award.

3
by nuclearbdgr :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 2:36pm

Packers Special teams back in the positives - I guess Cobb's fumble didn't hurt too much. Crosby is having a heck of a year, and the new kickoff rules help him (and the coverage teams) out.

33
by ppabich :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 3:38pm

For the most part, I think thats what separates this team from last years team. The offense is a little better, and the defense is a little worse.

*edit* DVOA numbers do not support this. The Offense has been so much better it greatly out weighs the decrease in defense and the improvement in ST. The reason this Packers team could be better than last years is the offense, not some marginal improvement in ST.

152
by Tom W (not verified) :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 5:14pm

While GB's defense figures to get better as it gets healthier, right now the Packers are a lot like the Patriots: a great passing game compensating for mediocrity in virtually every other area. Wonder what the over/under would be for a GB-NE Super Bowl match-up.

4
by Alexander :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 2:39pm

Da Bears are clearly ranked too low because they are the only team undefeated in Europe. Eurowins(TM) is way better than this. Robbie Gould crushes Mason Crosby's face.

12
by tuluse :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 3:00pm

Chicago's previous schedule is ranked 5th, the future schedule is ranked 22nd. This should be a fun ride.

45
by Packer Pete (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 4:04pm

When the Euro collapses soon, will that negate the Bears' Eurowin?

59
by TBW (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 4:41pm

Since the Bucs will have the most Eurolosses does that mean they win the "Suck for Luck" contest ?

66
by Kal :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 5:16pm

No, they sadly win one of the following:

Suchen fur gluck - a german...never mind. You don't want to know. And whatever you do, DO NOT GOOGLE IT.
Suck for Lucia, based on the historical tale of the war over St. Lucia between the British and the French

98
by akn :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 7:09pm

Suck for a spot of Luck.

5
by John (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 2:42pm

The Colts are clearly ranked too low because they're clearly showing a lot of moxie while dealing with the loss of Peyton Manning....sorry, just not feeling it.

For those who thought Peyton Manning couldn't possibly be worth 6 games, well, the 2011 Colts agree with you: he's worth more.

30
by Thunderbolt of ... :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 3:34pm

Looking at the decline of the Colts, I think it's more than just Manning. In addition to losing a top-5 QB:

- While Manning covered for a bad line the last few years, this year's OL is arguably worse than ever.
- Reggie Wayne has aged rapidly and can no longer get separation.
- Joseph Addai has been banged up, limiting him to 69 touches on the season.
- They've lost a lot of talent in the secondary between Bob Sanders and Kelvin Hayden

Compared to last season, this season the offense has gone from 16.6% to -4.3% DVOA, but the defense has declined almost as much, going from 8.2% to 26.2%. The Colts weren't that great last year - they had 8.8 DVOA estimated wins. This year they have 1.6 DVOA estimated wins out of 7 games, which projects to 3.7 DVOA estimated wins for the season. Even with the defense's decline, the Colts are "truly" only about 5 wins worse this season than last. So at least according to DVOA, Manning is worth LESS than 6 games.

36
by CraigoMcL (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 3:43pm

I'm not trying to be snarky, because I truly feel for a guy whose career was essentially ruined by injuries - but does the loss of Bob Sanders really hurt that much when, IIRC, he spent the majority of his IND tenure on IR?

56
by Bernie (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 4:28pm

If Manning was playing this season, the Colts would eb 5-2. The games against Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Tampa, KC & Cincy could all have been won had Painter been able to connect on various passes that he blew, that killed important drives. The games against Houston and New Orleans still would have been lost.
So they'd be leading the division, and everything would be businsee as usual....even though the team would still be vastly flawed.

Manning is worth much much more than 6 wins to that team.

69
by Johnny Socko (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 5:19pm

+1. Manning has been covering-up the Colts o-line AND defensive flaws his entire career.

128
by nat :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 9:45am

Statistically, the Colts OL has been great for most of the past decade, especially at pass protection. Yes, a lot of people whined that they would suck without Manning. And here we are: No Manning, and the OL is 7th in run blocking and 12th in pass protection. Not great, but pretty good.

I guess Painter must be covering up their flaws.

Seriously, it's more that the OL was constituted to complement Manning's strengths. They sacrificed run blocking skills and scheme to improve pass protection. Because with Manning at QB, pass protection really pays off.

Now with Painter it makes sense to have a more balanced scheme and personnel.

I hope we can get by the "Manning gets all credit, teammates get all blame" style of "analysis". This year has shown that the Colts OL is a solid unit. And this year's OL is probably their weakest of the past decade.

160
by Purds :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 10:03pm

Come on, Nat. Be serious. The Colts O-Line was "great" this decade and Manning had nothing to do with the pass protection? What is your proof?

That from 2008-2010 they averaged #24 in rushing adjusted yards?
That from 2008-2010 they never ranked higher than 20th in rushing 10+ yards % or rushing stuffed % ?
That in 2011 without Manning, they miraculously doubled their sack percent (couldn't have been any of Manning's influence)?

Or, did you mean earlier in the decade, when ...

From 2004-2007, when they were better, in the top 10 in adjusted yards, and yet they never ranked higher than #27 (!) in 10+ yards % ? Really, they were "great" but couldn't beat more than 5 teams in getting 10+ yard runs?
From 2004-2007, their power rushing rank went #32, #29, #22, then finally #1? I see, three years as one of the worst 10, and one year as #1, makes them "great."

Wait, I got it. They were great and Manning had no impact because from 2002-2010, the never ranked lower than #6 in sacks allowed %, but now without Manning they are #12.... Wait, that's the opposite proof.

WATCH A FEW GAMES before you spout such foolishness, or give some empirical evidence.

161
by nat :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 10:36pm

Don't be so stoopid in love with Manning. No one said he had "nothing to do with it". Just that his line had a lot to do with their strong pass protection.

This year was widely considered to be a rebuilding year for the Colts line. I think you yourself posted as much. The vets are aging, and they're fielding some rookies. Painter is universally considered to be much much much much (x20) worse than Manning, especially on the decision-making skills that let a QB contribute to avoiding sacks.

So, with their worst line in a decade and their worst QB in several, and with a shift in emphasis towards running, they still come in at 12th in adjusted sack rate. With just a normal quality QB they'd probably be about 8th (or don't you think QBs can affect sack stats - oh I remember, you think that a lot! It's your whole argument!)

So, the Colts worst OL of the decade is a natural 8th to 12th in the league in pass protection. Their best was probably a few notches higher than that. It sounds like they've been good all along. Certainly Manning made them better. He also caused them to focus entirely on pass protection, because that makes sense.

Oh. One more thing. Typing in all caps makes you look irrational. Like maybe your brain can't stand the idea that Manning owes some of his success to his teammates.

Wait. Peyton, is that you?

167
by Purds :: Thu, 10/27/2011 - 9:01am

Again, a lack of any proof. This is a new line, but tell me, where are those great Colt O-linemen of yesteryear? They're so good, they've caught on with other teams...

Tony Ugoh? The great anchor of those great lines, was released last year. And he's crushing it for ... wait for it ... no one! Not even a back up on a roster.

Yup, the Colts line was so good this decade that the spent the first and second round draft picks on offensive tackles. The sure sign of strength.

And, you can't be so asinine to really think a team's ability to run the ball has no effect on a team's ability to pass. Really? If so, then okay, I get it, you don't really have any agenda other than making Brady look better than Manning, as is your usual rant.

168
by nat :: Thu, 10/27/2011 - 10:21am

Good Lord. This is truly irrational. Brady isn't even the topic. Get a grip, champ.

No "proof" will ever satisfy someone so emotionally attached to Manning that he has to denigrate any of his teammates who might otherwise share the credit. Jeez.

But for anyone else paying attention, here's the outline.

1) All of the decent OL pass protection stats we have (adjusted sack rate, quick sack rate, QB hit rate, etc) point to the Colts having been in the top half always and in very near the top almost always during the past decade.

2) There is little correlation between run block stats and pass protection success, so those stats are no more relevant than kicking stats. It is possible and in fact quite common to be good at protection while being bad at run blocking.

3) Painter is universally considered to be very bad at quick decision making and play adjustments at the line, the two skills theorized to let a QB contribute to pass protection. You would be hard pressed to find credible opinions putting him anywhere near average in those skills. (He may yet develop them, but that doesn't affect the point today)

4) With Painter at QB, the protection did indeed suffer, as predicted. Now the Colts' line is merely solidly above average.

The conclusions are that (a) the Colts' line was probably better than "solidly above average" for the past decade, and (b) the "Manning effect" is at least partially responsible for the line getting top or near top protection stats, and (c) the "Manning effect" is less than the difference between 12th and 1st in pass protection.

We now have seen evidence that the pass protection successes of today and probably the past are due largely to the Colts' line being better than "solidly above average" at pass protection.

We don't really have any evidence that the "Manning effect" exists. But we believe it does, because we don't believe that Painter is so bad as to single-handedly drop the Colts OL 11 places in sack rank. But because we believe that QB's do affect the sack rates, we also believe that the "Manning effect" must be less than 11 places in sack rank, perhaps around 6 places.

Overall: Manning's success in avoiding sacks is largely due to having a line that has been consistently better than "solidly above average". Manning also gets credit, and should be considered the factor that moved those offensive lines from being consistently great to perhaps the best ever at pass protection.

162
by nat :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 10:58pm

FYI: The correlation between adjusted line yards (i.e. run blocking) and adjusted sack rate (pass blocking) is -0.06 this year. I suspect that's pretty usual, since the techniques, skills, and decision-making needed are entirely different. I guess you feel a bit silly for thinking that the Colts' run blocking stats had anything to do with this topic. You might as well have quoted kick return stats.

87
by Yaguar :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 5:53pm

Manning always overperformed Estimated Wins because of his freakishly excellent clock management - one of the many things at which he is the greatest player in NFL history.

163
by RichC (not verified) :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 11:23pm

Every team with an elite offense overperforms estimated wins, just as every team with an elite defense underperforms.

Its a flaw in the formula, and has nothing to do with Manning and clock management.

124
by jedmarshall :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 8:46am

The Colts 1A biggest problem this year is the secondary. They have no credible SS or 2nd or beyond CB and to compound this their only truly good CB Powers has been hurt off and on. The first few games they weren't exposed as much because of the awesome D-Line, but ever since Nevis and Foster went out, they aren't getting enough pressure to cover for the putrid secondary.

One point I definitely disagree with. The offensive line is much better this year than in year's past especially before the injuries to the tackles. At some points there are actually certifiable holes for the RB's. I think I could count all the times this happened last year on one hand.

Can we please start the Fire Larry Coyer movement? The man has never shown any aptitude for coaching defenses. Hey remember that guy Peyton regularly torched in the playoffs vs the Broncos. Yeah let's hire him to coach our defense.

159
by Hummingbird Cyborg :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 8:36pm

Actually, the Broncos had a pretty good defense in those years when the Colts obliterated them. Granted it failed pretty bad against the Colts, but overall, it was pretty good. Every year with Coyer as Coordinator, he coached an above average defense. He was very good at utilizing the talent that we had.

7
by Biebs :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 2:52pm

It was mentioned in the past and I think it needs to be mentioned again. The Jets offense is unlike any offense I've seen before. This is strictly observational, and I could end up being way off, but it seems like they a really high number of 3 and outs or scoring drives. Less drives of 4 or 5 negative plays and 1 good play, and more of 1 or 2 good plays, and a bad play on 3rd down. This is particularly strange because the Jets don't have a "Big Play Guy" on their team. I don't recall a single long TD this season, so when the Jets offense works, it's methodical drives that end up being TDs, and not like your average boom/bust offense that has a DeSean Jackson or Chris Johnson (circa 2010) who just explode for 50 yards plays on a surprisingly regular basis

My understanding is that the system doesn't take drives into account, which I would think causes the issues. (Again, this is all conjecture).

Now I'm wondering if there's a correlation between 3 and outs and win % over the course of the season (Compared to drives with 1 or 2 first downs). The logical answer would be "Yes". But it would be interesting to see if DVOA sees it that way.

It's a side note, but I haven't seen a team (Though I mostly watch the Jets) use the new kickoff rule as effectively as the Jets this season. It really seems like opponents start the ball inside their 20 after a kickoff really often against the Jets.
I used to think that Westoff is overrated as a ST coach, but it's become clear he is some sort of kickoff guru. He's turned five different Jets (Chad Mortin, Justin Miller, Leon Washington, Brad Smith, Joe McKnight) to high quality returners in his 10 years here, and only Leon Washington has had return success with his next team.

14
by The Powers That Be :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 3:02pm

"It was mentioned in the past and I think it needs to be mentioned again. The Jets offense is unlike any offense I've seen before. This is strictly observational, and I could end up being way off, but it seems like they a really high number of 3 and outs or scoring drives."

When you mentioned this before, the questions were about whether this was something that was likely to continue. Looking through this week's game, I don't really see that it fits the pattern you describe:

Drive 1: one first down, then an INT
Drive 2: three first downs, FG
Drive 3: two first downs, INT
Drive 4: four first downs, TD
Drive 5: one first down, punt
Drive 6: two first downs, punt
Drive 7: four first downs, TD
Drive 8: three-and-out (helped by two penalties leading to 3rd-and-22)
Drive 9: one first down, TD
Drive 10: two first downs, FG

On the Jets' non-scoring drives, they got two first downs twice, one first down twice, and one three-and-out. Looks pretty normal to me.

18
by ScottyB (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 3:08pm

Aside from the fact that the Jets had 25 first downs last week, as opposed to the 18 you report, this is a great analysis.

28
by The Powers That Be :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 3:25pm

By my math, my numbers add to 20 first downs + 3 TDs = 23. I did miss one each in drives 4 and 9 - I skipped a couple penalties that happened on first down, thinking they weren't "conversions". Doesn't really change the argument. Sorry 'bout that.

51
by Biebs :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 4:14pm

I was actually referring to the past two games. I didn't make that clear at all. THis week the Jets offense looked more like a normal offense.

But against the Patriots it was

Drives with 0 first downs - 7 (21 Total Plays)
Drives with First Downs and no scoring - 1 (End of Game) (6 Plays)
Drives with scoring - 3 (27 Total Plays)

Against the Dolphins it was

Drives with 0 first downs - 6 (18 Total Plays)
Drives with First Downs and no scoring - 2 (10 Total Plays)(4 Plays 1 FD, 6 Plays 1 FD)
Drives with Scoring - 3 (28 Total Plays)

What I should have said is that the Chargers game WAS normal, but 2 weeks of boom/bust offense that methodically moves down the field distorted their offense in the system (I think)

73
by MJK :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 5:28pm

I've just gone over all the Jets drive this year, and I think Biebs impression is actually correct, at least based on length and outcome of drive. I counted five categories of drives.

First, I threw out any drives that started inside the opponent's 20 and ended in a TD (i.e. went less than 20 yards but ended in a TD), since the Jets essentially ran out of field on those drives and it's impossible to say how long the drive would have been if they'd started back at their own 20.

On their remaining drives, I labeled them as "failures" if they gained less than 20 yards (i.e. gained at most one 1st down, since such a drive accomplishes nothing, not even a substantial change in field position), "short" if they gained 20-40 yards (i.e. changed field position) but didn't end in a TD, "partially successful" if they gained more than 40 yards (i.e. either dramatically changed field position or gave a FG) but didn't end in a TD, and "successful" if they went more than 20 yards and gained a TD.

Here are the numbers for the Jets so far this year:

Failed Drives: 49 (61%)
Short Drives: 9 (11%)
Partially Successful Drives: 9 (11%)
Successful (long TD) Drives: 13 (16%)

I haven't the slightest clue if this is a normal distribution of success versus failure, but it certainly FEELS like Biebs is right. Roughly 3 out of 5 times that the Jets get the ball, the do absolutely nothing with it, and manage to score a TD just 16% of the time.

My next idea is to do the same analysis for Cincinnati, the team closest to the Jets in offensive DVOA, and ideally a number of other teams, and see if they have a similar pattern (i.e. is this kind of behavior typical of a +3% DVOA team), or are the Jets some kind of outlier. But I'm out of time for now...

My suspicion is that this is not characteristic of a decent offense, and that the Jets have somehow found a way to have decent per play stats that DVOA likes, but somehow string their failed plays together to produce terrible per-drive stats in a way that one wouldn't expect from a decent DVOA.

114
by Jerry :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 1:44am

I look forward to seeing how this compares to other teams. I also wonder whether, within a game, successful plays tend to be distributed randomly among drives, and whether the Jets' performance against New England was just an outlier.

170
by Kulko :: Thu, 10/27/2011 - 11:59am

I checked this for the only 2010 team with a 3% Off DVOA the Detroit Lions.

Failed 48%
Short 16%
Partial 16%
Success 19%

I think there were 3 or 4 bipolar games (almost all drives failures or success) there where 3 or 4 other games were it was almost 25% in each category.

16
by ScottyB (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 3:04pm

Re: Jets kickoffs. It sure looks to me that Folk is great at getting some hang time and getting the returner to catch the ball *just* inside the end zone (as opposed to the way back of the end zone, which almost always results in a knee). The coverage team is also consistently excellent and, as a result, opponents start an awful lot of drives at the 15ish yeard line.

I also second what was stated in the article. the Jets are 4-3 and only lost AT Oakland (pre-McFadden and Campbell injuries, and at their home opener), AT Baltimore and AT New England, all in a row. Aside from GB, what other team would be expected to win more than 1 of those games?

54
by are-tee :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 4:21pm

The local media/TV analysts beat up on the Jets after each of the Jacksonville and Miami games, which they won by a combined total of 47 points. They also pooh-poohed the week 1 win over the Cowboys because Romo "gave the game away". If you thought the toughness of the NY media was overrated, you are mistaken.

97
by c0rrections (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 7:04pm

Well they could have lost to Dallas and Dallas could have won that NE game but yes the point is taken they've played a pretty tough schedule.

103
by Dennis :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 8:25pm

It's the way they lost, especially the Baltimore game. And the offense was pretty pitiful in the Miami win. That's why people are down on the Jets.

109
by MJK :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 10:30pm

I think the biggest factor is that casual fans (and many writers) perfer flashy offenses to good defenses, and ignore special teams entirely. This may in part be a fantasy effect.

The Jets have a mediocre offense (at best, if you believe DVOA...a putrid offense if you look at drive efficiency), and an excellent defense and special teams. Also significantly, they have no viable fantasy players. So they get dissed while teams that put up tons of points get elevated.

I think, in general, a team that wins every game 13-6 will always be thought less of than a team that wins every game 35-27.

132
by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 10:41am

I think the biggest factor is that casual fans (and many writers) perfer flashy offenses to good defenses, and ignore special teams entirely.

Not just fans. Some very good rating systems ignore special teams entirely. Brian Burke's AdvancedNFLStats does that. And voila! The Jets are ranked #13 and the 49ers #16 in his system. Give these teams 0% special teams DVOA, and FO would have the Jets #9 and the 49ers #11.

I think, in general, a team that wins every game 13-6 will always be thought less of than a team that wins every game 35-27.

Agree. There is some basis for this, though: someone on this site was pointing out that low-scoring games necessarily have a lot more variance, turning more games into coin-flips that hinge on a couple of big plays. A 13-6 game can be a nail-biter right down to the end. A 26-12 game, not so much.

142
by Intropy :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 12:13pm

Disagree. I think on average a person seeing a 13-6 win and a 35-27 win will consider the 13-6 win more convincing because it has the better score ratio.

143
by nat :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 12:23pm

The average football fan thinks +7 is a ratio.

146
by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 1:33pm

Convincing has nothing to do with it. A 13-6 game will be more influenced by a flukey 7-point swing than a 35-27 game.

149
by Intropy :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 2:22pm

You don't think that how "convincing" a win is has anything to do with which team "will always be thought less of"? Those are nearly the same thing.

150
by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 4:01pm

Ah, I see what you're saying. Sorry -- I was providing a justification for why a good offense/bad defense team might in fact win more games than a team with an equally good defense/bad offense -- luck will play a bigger part in their games.

151
by Intropy :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 4:22pm

That seems to make sense.

111
by Biscuitt (not verified) :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 12:41am

In regards to the Jets phenomenal kickoff coverage, Westhoff was on Mike Francesca's show specifically talking about this (I believe it was after the first game). He said they specifically practice having Folk kick high hanging balls angled towards the corners because they feel that they have excellent kick coverage. The extra hangtime, plus the closer starting position of the kicking team results in a higher % of drives starting before the 20. I wish i could find it online, because it was a great interview. Westhoff is clearly great at what he does, and this interview only further cemented my opinion. It was a surprisingly in depth discussion on the various schemes he uses, and how he approached the new kickoff rule.

9
by Keith(1) (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 2:55pm

I love the Packers, and watching them is great fun, but I cannot get behind that they are the best team right now. Maybe I am being optimistic through pessimism, by hoping that they can somehow (magically) get better on defense and special teams; however, I am thoroughly impressed by something their offense does every game.

My favorite this week, of course, was the busted coverage on the second play from scrimmage in the second half. That 1-yard run to set up that 79-yard pass was laughable; the 79-yard pass left my jaw on the floor, and I was unable to really say anything else other than "Oh my God." My girlfriend looked at me and said "What? What just happened? Is your team losing?" All I could say was "Watch this." I backed up a few frames and just watched the play a dozen or so times...

20
by ebongreen :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 3:10pm

On one hand, I understand - last year's team looked a lot better on defense than this year's does.

OTOH, look at the competition for "best team", and there's not that much out there to impress. The Jets and SF have at best average offenses to go with good-not-stellar defenses. NE's defense is among the worst in the league. Baltimore has an elite defense, but a terrible offense. GB already beat NO (barely).

Buffalo, of all teams, is the Packers' nearest clone - darn good offense, mediocre-to-bad defense, average special teams. In that matchup, I give the edge to the Packers as I am not yet a Ryan Fitzpatrick believer… and AR … Has Got It Goin' ON.

*cue the funk*

29
by Marko :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 3:33pm

So Aaron Rodgers is Stacy's Mom? Who knew?

104
by Mike W :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 8:47pm

+1

35
by ppabich :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 3:42pm

The offense has been so significantly better than last years that for me #1 makes sense. The defense has definitely regressed a bit, but some improvement in ST and a HUGE improvement in offense and it's easy to see why this team is so good. This year offensive DVOA is 37.3% last year it was 14.7%.

172
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Thu, 10/27/2011 - 5:22pm

I'm pretty much in agreement I'm just throwing the week-7 numbers from last year up against the week-7 number from this year.


Year..DVOA...Rec...OFF....DEF....ST
2011..30.7%..7-0..37.3%...7.3%...0.7%

2010..11.5%..4-3..16.8%..-1.1%..-6.4%

Since the team changed a fair bit in the 2nd half of last year.

The offense is better by 20.5% DVOA, the Defense is worse by 8.4% DVOA (so not as much as people may think) and the special teams are better by 7.1% DVOA.

So yeah, the offense is significantly better at the same point in the season, and the special teams improvement almost makes up for the decline in defense.

Special teams also has a clear path to improvement, which I've said before and hasn't proved as correct as I would have hoped. Over the last 10 games of last year Tim Masthay performed like an top 5 punter and got the whole punt unit to look like a top half of the league group. I expected that to continue. Well it hasn't Masthay started this year similar to last year, well not quite as bad, and the rest of the unit has screwed up too. Then in the MN game Masthay had one of the best punting performances in NFL history and it's again my hope that he'll take the punting from it's current deeply negative points added that it is currently sitting at (just like it was at this point last year) and get it back into the positive again like it was at the end of last year. I think I put my predicted number of a 3 - 4% DVOA for ST somewhere on here, but if not that is still where I see the GB ST ending up with most of that change from the current 0.7% coming in the punting game. We'll see.

153
by Aaron Schatz :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 5:31pm

The best part of that 79-yard pass is Joe Webb on the Vikings sideline clearly putting up his hands and going "come on, man!"

10
by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 2:55pm

Gotta like the 49ers chances of getting home field in the playoffs considering their remaining SOS.

Poor Vikes. 1-6 and the schedule gets MORE difficult. Ouch

49
by Packer Pete (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 4:09pm

Regarding "Poor Vikes", do you mean "poor" as in "Aaah, hahahahahaha!"

17
by The Powers That Be :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 3:06pm

Gotta love the Giants: 32nd-ranked past schedule, 1st-ranked future schedule. And that's before they play Miami at home next week. Wow.

I think I'll start collecting media stories explaining the reasons behind the Giants collapse after such a promising start to the season. I wonder how many different storylines they'll be able to concoct.

158
by dbt :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 6:46pm
19
by Fizzman :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 3:10pm

Does the drop in passing DVOA have to do with the teams on the bye? Buffalo, definitely NE...

22
by CraigoMcL (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 3:12pm

Plus the team that would have played NE.

*rimshot*

21
by nat :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 3:11pm

I'm a bit stumped by the lack of love the Jets are getting from subjective power ratings.

Possibly because you've never adequately explained how the Jets could ever be considered to have blown out (based on VOA) a Patriots team who actually looked pretty dominant. (and similar issues in their other games, I suspect) Last week you just threw up your hands and said in effect "it's a mystery".

Seriously. Your Jets numbers are either screwed up, or there was something very, very interesting going on. But somehow you couldn't explain what that interesting thing was, even with three weeks to look at it. It makes people suspect that their impressions are correct and your analysis is somehow broken.

Don't let us down. Pick that Jets-Pats game - or some other game with a similar issue of gross VOA/scoreboard mismatch without the usual non-repeatable factors - and show us how VOA is reflecting good play that usually leads to a blowout win rather than a solid loss.

To put it another way, you think the Jets are great based on DVOA showing dominant play on their part. But when you looked at the play-by-play details for one such game, you were unable to find any signs of dominant play. DVOA should be able to show us things we don't otherwise notice, true. But once it does, we should be able to see them.

34
by BigDerf :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 3:42pm

I've always thought there was a place on FO for a column that takes one game where the DVOA/VOA does not match the final score.

Any Given Sunday is fun, but it just explains upsets to everyone. The DVOA/VOA difference column would be interesting for fans of DVOA/VOA.

44
by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 4:01pm

Seconded!

38
by Joseph :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 3:45pm

Hey Aaron,
Maybe there is some data error in that Pats/Jets game "nat" is referring to. I'm not great with Excel, but I know that when something doesn't look right, it's almost always either an error regarding which numbers to total (AVG an extra column/row with a zero, for example), or I entered a piece of data wrong (100 instead of 10). Maybe that's the culprit.

40
by paddypat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 3:54pm

I'm gonna seriously second this sentiment. The Patriots dwarfed the Jets in first downs, 26-14, whupped them in 3d down conversion, 50% vs. 27%, averaged better than a yard and a third more per play (indicating that the Jets didn't make up for their suckitude by getting big plays), held the ball for longer, completed a picture perfect 4 minute drive...

What more could you possibly ask a team to do to demonstrate its dominance? The Pats asserted themselves with a very clear beatdown of the Jets. The Pats played better offense AND better defense. The only things the Jets really did well is they managed to put together two reasonable sustained drives, including one shortly before the half, intercepted a pass in the redzone (that was largely tipdrill luck), and sacked Brady 4 times. If those things really add up to a blowout win for the Jets in the eyes of DVOA, it seems that DVOA is misranking most of the important plays in the game.

I also watched NYJ-SD, and that game looked an awful lot like a draw. True, SD made some mistakes in the second half and kinda collapsed, but the Jets were downright lousy in the first half. Does that not count for anything? Isn't first half suckitude predictive of (or indicative of) something in the long-run?

Count me thoroughly perplexed. I'd love to see some explanation.

58
by RickD :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 4:30pm

I have to agree here.

A glance of the box score suggests that the Pats played considerably better than the Jets did that day. Errors in data entry are not unheard of. Did you use English units instead of the metric system, like that NASA contractor did during one of the Mars probe missions?

DVOA must really love that one turnover.

63
by Sean McCormick :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 5:05pm

Interesting. My subjective experience viewing those games was that the Jets played pretty well against New England on defense and special teams and were efficient with their shots in the red zone. I also thought when they were down 21-10 against SD that they had clearly outplayed the Chargers and were on their way to an undeserved loss because all the big plays went the other way (the first defensive touchdown, the Holmes touchdown that was nullified by penalty, etc.). I'm not surprised at all that the Jets ended up with a good DVOA for the game.

67
by RickD :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 5:16pm

I'm trying to reconcile "had clearly outplayed the Chargers" with "all the big plays went the other way."

Big plays are important, too!

Seriously, I know what you mean, but I think this kind of thing happens often. People build up their psychological impression of the flow of the game over a long period of time, but don't really adjust to how important big plays are. Let's say Team A puts together a long drive, complete with a mix of passing and rushing plays, a few key 3rd down pick-ups, etc., and after 6 first downs they score a TD.

And then Team B returns the ensuing kickoff for a TD. The game is tied! But the impression is going to be that Team A has clearly outplayed Team B. But, really, they haven't.

I suspect DVOA would prefer Team A. By a lot.

78
by Biebs :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 5:37pm

A better example would be the Jets/Dolphins game Last Monday night.

After 9 total Drives (5 Miami, 4 Jets)

Jets 7, Dolphins 6

Miami 174 Total Yards, 9 First Downs
Jets 14 Total Yards

Now SD/Jets wasn't close to that. But, yes there are clear examples of Team A outplaying Team B and being down.

88
by RickD :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 5:54pm

But the Dolphins didn't "outplay" the Jets there. They moved the ball a lot, but since that doesn't show up on the scoreboard, so what?

The game is based on getting points on the board.

It's like praising a chess player because he's ahead on material, even when he's about to be checkmated. But at least he protected his pawns!

80
by Led :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 5:38pm

"People build up their psychological impression of the flow of the game over a long period of time..."

If only there was an objective way to measure performance that considers the impact of each play, so we wouldn't have to rely on psychological impressions like "SD fell asleep in the second half."

83
by MJK :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 5:42pm

But exactly what we're discussing is whether an objective measure is the CORRECT objective measure if it deviates too sharply from psychological impressions. There are different kinds of objective measures. DVOA is per-play. It may be that a per-drive objective measure could correlate better with performance/winning AND with psychological impressions...

89
by Led :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 5:56pm

That may be true, but it doesn't have much to do with the NYJ/SD game (as opposed to the NYJ/NE game). NY moved the ball consistently throughout the game and had a significant advantage in yardage, first downs and 3rd down efficiency, especially when you factor in penalties. By conventional stats or DVOA, the Jets played better. Other than the fact that the Jets were playing out of a hole because of the fluky strip/TD play on the 3rd play of the game, there is no reasonable basis for a psychological impression that SD played better.

85
by Milkman (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 5:45pm

Well, the issue with what you're saying is that it has next to no predictive value (which is true for many, if not all, big plays). Big plays are often flukes, while sustained good play is much more repeatable.

If anything, the Jets-Chargers game exemplified why consistently preforming well should trump big plays. The Jets drove pretty well all game and were the better team by far in three quarters (the Chargers clearly dominated the 2nd quarter in all facets of the game). A fumble recovery TD in the first quarter led to a Charger lead, but that one big play was really all San Diego had going for it outside of the second quarter. Eventually the score evened out to reflect how the game was actually being played by each team.

164
by RichC (not verified) :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 11:29pm

DVOA says the Jets offense was fantastic against the Pats. Thats the problem.

they got first downs on what, 2 of their drives?

50
by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 4:09pm

Perhaps what's missing is that there's no DVOA for Rex Ryan's mouth.

37
by Mr. X (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 3:45pm

If the Jets are so awesome, how have they managed to lose three games and are in 3rd place in their own division? They are high in special teams. What is wrong with this picture?

48
by roger1000 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 4:08pm

For what it's worth, Dr. Bob, on this week's Behind The Bets podcast, also lists them among the Top 5 (along with Green Bay, Frisco, New England, and Buffalo).

53
by RickD :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 4:20pm
64
by Sean McCormick :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 5:07pm

Check back in three weeks. After the bye, the Jets play Buffalo and host New England, and I would expect them to win both games, so there's a pretty good chance that the picture will be corrected.

68
by RickD :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 5:18pm

"...and I would expect them to win both games..."

Rex, is that you?

So what you're saying is that DVOA is based on expectations of future results?

:)

117
by Sean McCormick :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 5:39am

No, not at all. I happen to think that the Jets defense matches up very well with Buffalo's offense, and the Jets and Pats have been splitting home and away for several years running. It's certainly possible that the Jets end up going 0-2, but I think 1-1 or 2-0 more likely, in which case there will be fewer complaints with where DVOA projects them. As always, we'll see...

139
by RickD :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 11:27am

I would prefer it if DVOA waited until after the Jets won those games.

A couple weeks ago, DVOA had the 1-4 Vikings at #11 and the 5-0 Lions at #13. It was contended at the time that the Lions record didn't reflect their true strength, and sure enough, they've since lost two in a row.

However, so have the Vikings.

Sorry, that's a bit of a digression. I guess my point is that sometimes arguments of the form "just have patience, DVOA will be justified in the near future" don't bear fruit.

The problem isn't that DVOA rates the Jets high, it's that they are rated at #2. In particular, many of us are baffled at how DVOA rates the Pats-Jets game in Foxboro in particular. If that one game had been scored in a way that were to make more sense intuitively, the Jets would fall a few spots and there would be no controversy.

41
by AnonymousD (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 3:57pm

Dallas' ranking finally closer reflects my own opinion (biased as a fan). Their ranking is also much closer to what the models by Burke, Sagarin, P-F-R suggested the past couple of weeks - Dallas, despite their record, is one of the better teams in the league.

43
by ebongreen :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 4:01pm

What I find most interesting is the cluster at the bottom of DVOA. In order to be bad this year, at least one of your units has to be really bad.

In the bottom five teams by DVOA, you've got teams with the bottom three offenses by a wide margin, the bottom three defenses by a wide margin - including St. Louis, which happens to have one of each (yeesh). And the worst of the bad teams are the ones with the worst defenses, not the worst offenses.

#27 Miami is the next type of bad team, which is generically bad at everything vs. being spectacularly bad at anything.

47
by Jimmy :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 4:08pm

Chicago has a pass offense DVOA of 5.8% and a run DVOA of 5.7% and a total offensive DVOA of -4.2%. Does that mean that false starts, delay of game and procedure penalties cost the Bears 10%? I am not saying this can't be true as the Bears collect these things like pogs but is this costing the team 7 points a game?

52
by RickD :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 4:17pm

"When you look at the quality of the teams the Jets have lost to, I just don't see how you can put them that low"

It takes no ability to lose to a team. You're better off looking at who the Jets have beaten

- after being dominated by the Cowboys for most of their first game, they won when Tony Romo fell apart at the end of the game
- they beat the Jaguars. QBed by Luke McCown. Wow.
- they beat the Dolphins. QBed by Matt Moore. Double wow.
- after the Chargers built a sizeable lead, they fell asleep in the second half and, oh, mismanaged their final drive.

Basically, we're supposed to think the Jets are the 2nd best team in the NFL on the evidence of two blowouts of weak teams with very weak QBs and two respectable come-from-behind wins.

I think DVOA overvalues "losing by not too much." Often it's relatively easy (comparatively speaking) to pad on meaningless yardage in 2nd half drives that have no hope of bringing a team close to winning.

The Jets simply look like a bad team a lot of the time, esp. on offense. Yes, the defense is very good, and Revis is again making a strong case for defensive player of the year, but Mark Sanchez...? Doesn't inspire confidence.

55
by Biebs :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 4:23pm

I do think you are sort of undervaluing the Jets win over the Chargers, especially in this system. The Keller fumble that was returned for a TD was a fluky mistake. The INT in the endzone was unfortunate, but even when the Jets were down 21-10, I felt like the Jets offense was kind of dominating the Chargers defense. Also, if I recall it's not necessarily that DVOA overvalues "losing not by too much" but in the Jets case, overvaluing beating bad football teams. Not to mention my Successful plays theory that I have above.

Also, I don't think anyone on this site really believes the Jets are the 2nd best team in football. A quirk in the system is all.

57
by are-tee :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 4:30pm

The Chargers fell asleep? Or maybe the Jets just made some big plays on both sides of the ball.

60
by RickD :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 4:44pm

Yes, the Chargers fell asleep. Or at least, whoever was supposed to be covering Plax fell asleep. It was, however, amusing to watch the game with a friend who had given up on him (only 4 catches all season) and had buried Plax on his fantasy bench.

But then there's the awful clock management at the end of the game.

The Jets' reputation is based on two second halves of good play out of 7 games. And beating up two weak teams with very weak QB play. Of course, DVOA won't notice, for example, that Gabbert is a better QB than McCown. So the Jets will get some bump from last night's win by Jax.

Yes, the Jets have played well. But they still have no rushing game and a QB that cannot be trusted. They're a top 10 team, but not #2.

62
by The Powers That Be :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 4:54pm

A big part of the reason they're at #2 is special teams. If you figure DVOA without special teams in there, the Jets drop to 7th.

70
by RickD :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 5:19pm

Yeah, discussed this last week. Jets, 49ers, and Vikings have also gotten benefit from special teams this year.

77
by Led :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 5:34pm

Sanchez is almost exactly average so far this year. That includes a Baltimore game that I happen to think is a massive outlier (-181 in DYAR!), since it's the only negative DYAR game he's had this year, it's by far his worst performance since his rookie year and it involved an offensive line debacle involving a 3rd string, undrafted rookie center. We'll see what happens, but I suspect his DVOA will improve over the rest of the year as the impact of the stinkbomb Baltimore game is diluted, finishing up not far from the 6.9% and 8.6% that Rivers and Brady put up, respectivelty, in their third years in the league. I'm not predicting Sanchez will be as good as those guys. That's pretty unlikely for anybody. The point is that Sanchez is being held to an overly high standard for a 3rd year QB. He's clearly better than Eli Manning was at this time in his career (when his DVOA was -13) and Eli has turned into a very good QB, albeit not a great one. Can Sanchez be trusted? About as much as QBs like Flacco, Freeman, Ryan, Smith, and maybe Fitzpatrick. At least as much as Eli could be trusted back in 2007.

72
by Kal :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 5:24pm

To be clear, DVOA doesn't value winning, losing, or anything. It values success on plays and repeatable ways to get points.

So it won't value a fumble return for a TD or even a fumble recovery, but it would value a TD scored after a fumble recovery at the 20. If that sounds counterintuitive, you're right; it is far better for a team's DVOA to recover a fumble and not run with the fumble at all.

Similarly, a defense that holds a team to 7 3 and outs and 2 long drives is equivalent to a team that stops a team repeatedly through a day after a couple first downs per. And an offense that has the same pattern is much better than a team with a few first downs sprinkled around.

A running back that has success on 10 plays and no failure is more valuable on the day (not on a per-play basis but overall) than a running back that runs for 250 yards on 8 plays but is stuffed 4 other times. Especially if those stuffs were on passing downs.

There are a lot of things that don't add up in the DVOA system that I think are causing some odd non-predictive qualities. Or, it could be DVOA is doing a great job finding diamonds in the rough. My guess is that it's a mix of both; while the Jets aren't so bad as a 4-3 record might indicate they're not the second-best team in the league. While the Vikings aren't quite as bad as a 1-6 team might indicate they're not the 11th best team (or whatever they were last week).

61
by kbukie :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 4:47pm

It's an odd year when near the midpoint of the season not only are there still 3 winless teams, but it's actually possible that all 3 stay winless for the entire year.

Not likely, but possible, especially when said teams don't have a whole lot of motivation to go out there and win games regularly at this point.

74
by RickD :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 5:29pm

I'm surprised at how far the Colts have fallen without Manning. After all, the Pats went 11-5 when Brady was out for 2008. And no, this doesn't imply that Manning is a zillion times better than Brady, what it means is that Manning's excellence was covering a lot of untreated problems on a deteriorating team. They seem to have steadily gotten worse since Dungy retired.
Is there any chance Manning comes back in December? If I were Polian, I would veto any thoughts along those lines.

76
by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 5:33pm

The Pats also had a very easy schedule in 2008 after Brady went down.

There are certainly precedents for teams collapsing as badly as the Colts have when their star quarterback goes down.

86
by RickD :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 5:46pm

From division-winning to worst in the league?

I still contend that there's a lot more wrong with the Colts than Curtis Painter.

94
by tuluse :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 6:27pm

Another thing is that the Colts were constructed specifically for Manning. His particular skill set covered up a lot of flaws on the team, but wouldn't have covered up other flaws that they avoided.

For instance, the offensive line is bad, but it's not a traditional bad. It's a smart group that is good at making contact and slowing the rush down *just enough* for Manning to get a throw off. Replace the Colts line with say the Bears line, where they make tons of mental errors and let free rushers through on a regular basis and it would have been a lot worse (on the other hand, the Colts line might actually have been worse for Cutler who doesn't always make the fastest decisions).

134
by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 10:45am

Steve Young in '99 -- know this one because I'm a 49ers homer. 12-4 the year before. 3-1 until he went out. 1-11 the rest of the way.

100
by Thok :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 7:44pm

I'm surprised at how far the Colts have fallen without Manning.

Peyton Manning for MVP! :P

130
by Da'uds (not verified) :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 10:26am

Does anyone else think Tressel is being groomed to take over as head coach? I mean, what the hell is a "game day consultant" or "replay reviewer", really? Am I missing something?

119
by TimK :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 7:44am

I was thinking how interesting it might be if 3 teams are 0-15 going into the final week. Tie-breakers etc... could become very strange especially with all three teams playing in the early games.

The thought of going 0-16 and drafting 3rd might become the worst nightmare for a front office ever.

127
by Johnny Socko (not verified) :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 9:33am

Does anybody know the tie-breakers for draft position?

131
by Andrew Potter :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 10:36am

They're the same as the tie breakers for the playoffs.

135
by jedmarshall :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 10:47am

That's not exactly true. Strength of schedule is the number one tie-breaker. IE if the teams had played, the loser doesn't automatically get to pick ahead of the winner. It'd only be in an SOS tie where the others come in.

141
by Andrew Potter :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 11:56am

You're right. I misread that part.

138
by Eddo :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 11:22am

Is that new? It always just used to be strength of schedule (team with the easier schedule picking first), then a coin flip.

65
by milo :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 5:14pm

"The Colts had seven different drives that gained more than 10 yards."
Their first two drives they got 1 first down per, then turned the ball over in their own territory. Their next two drives were three and out. Their fifth drive was for a TD. The next time they got a first down, they were behind 62-7.

That Saints D really did let them down.

71
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 5:23pm

NE defense - 423.7 ypg, 8.5 yp passing att, 10 sacks, 11 turnovers, 42.5 3rd down, 4/8 4th down, 4.4 ypc, 22.5 ppg

Buffalo - 420.5 ypg, 7.8 yp passing att, 4 sacks, 16 turnovers, 39.4 3rd down, 4/4 4th down, 5.1 ypc, 24.5 ppg

OK, so they are equal at total yardage. Buffalo's advantage in passing ypa is exactly countered by their terrible rushing ypc. Their mild advantage in 3rd down is offset by allowing a conversion on every 4th down. They have a decent lead in turnovers but are allowing 2 more points per game despite it.

What is it that makes NE's defense appear 2X worse than Buffalo's according to DVOA? Neither my eyes nor anything found in conventional statistics bears that out.

81
by MJK :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 5:39pm

Well, it's not 2X worse, since the 0 in DVOA is an arbitrary point that represents 'league average play' as of a number of years ago. If you were to slide the zero up to currently what is +7, then Buffalo would be at +1% and NE at +9%. NE wouldn't be 9X worse than Buffalo in that scenario. All you can say is that an "average team" facing Buffalo will tend to get 8% fewer "success points" on a given play, on average, than if it was facing New England.

As to the difference, I would guess it primarily has to do with the turnovers. Buffalo has had a knack for getting turnovers, especially INT's, at exactly the right times this season, in game-critical situations. NE has fewer, and perhaps they've come in less critical locations (i.e. the middle of the field versus either red zone).

It could also be a sampling rate issue. As you mentioned, NE's pass defense is worse than Buffalo's, but Buffalo's run defense is worse. Maybe teams pass versus New England more often than they run against Buffalo.

84
by RickD :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 5:44pm

Buffalo has gotten an unusually high number of tipped ball interceptions this year. Seems unlikely that trend will continue.

93
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 6:22pm

Agreed, but even ignoring that a 5 TO advantage only starts to explain the gap.

82
by RickD :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 5:39pm

DVOA hates the Pats defense. It's irrational at this point.

95
by tuluse :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 6:33pm

Well the Pats defense is pretty bad, if anything the Buffalo defense is overrated.

96
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 7:02pm

That is a result that wouldn't have me raising my eyebrows. I'm not saying NE should be better, just that it is strange to see such a large gap between two seemingly identically bad defenses.

165
by RichC (not verified) :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 11:38pm

The entire difference is based on the Pats/Jets game, and the roughly +50% DVOA the Patriots defense put up that day.

For some reason DVOA thinks that the Jets went all Greatest-Show-On-Turf that day.

90
by ammek :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 5:58pm

The Patriots have recovered every fumble they've forced. Also, they have committed 50 penalties to Buffalo's 32.

92
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 6:17pm

OK, thanks for pointing this out. That type of hidden info is what I was looking for.

BTW, I looked up some info for other reasons and came up with this:

NE defense - 22.5
Opponent offense - 23.7

Buff defense - 24.5
Opponent offense - 24.0

NE has actually allowed 1.2 ppg less than their opponents typically score, whereas Buffalo allows 0.5 more. I'm not saying that is the whole story, but it is just more evidence that seems to indicate a different conclusion.

79
by Duke :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 5:37pm

Bears jumped 6.5 percentage points in DAVE and 8 points in DVOA in one week? That seems...amazing.

91
by QQ (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 6:03pm

WOW. GB's Passing Offense is up to 81%!!! How do GB and Hou though have basically identically rated Rush Offenses? Granted I have not seen much of Houston this year but I expected their Rush Offense to be ranked much higher

99
by Kal :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 7:29pm

Houston's chance of success is similar to GB's. GB doesn't run the ball as much but when they do they're very effective at it. See the game against Minnesota in the closing minutes for an example; they can very happily run out a clock and kill a game.

That being said, chances are DYAR rates their running backs better than Houston's as well...sigh.

102
by QQ (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 8:20pm

That last drive was the only time during the game that GB's run game was good. Until then it was pretty bad.

You also seem to overstate GB's ability to run out the clock at the end of close games by running the ball. It is rare for them to be able to do that and is the 1st time they have done that since early in the 2010 Season against Detroit at Lambeau

115
by Rivers McCown :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 2:36am

Texans had struggled to the run ball without Andre Johnson to keep things honest in the two weeks prior to this one. (You can also assume that Arian Foster wasn't in great shape if you want, seems to be another popular storyline.)

101
by Solomon :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 7:57pm

I was not expecting much from the Colts this year when Manning went down, but this has been a complete trainwreck. The defense and ST at 32? Those are not Manning's units. I suppose 5 of the losses were competitive, but the team should not be this bad. The team should have handled the backup QB situation better, but clearly the problems extend beyond that. Why did the Colts not bring back Sorgi (or get rid of him in the first place)?

The next offseason will definitely be an interesting one for the Colts.

105
by chemical burn :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 9:16pm

Well, as plenty of people have pointed out, the defense is also built around Manning: they are designed to generate sacks and fumbles with their d-line and with the Tampa 2 force the opposing offenses to march down the field in small chunks. That opposing offenses know Manning will be effecient adds to the pressure: better score now, force throws and abandon the running game because you know Manning will put points on the board. A one-dimensional player like Freeney excels in a system where he's required to do one thing (and do it well)... but as an all-around DE he's not able to carry that load. Mathis is an inferior version of Freeney. And those are the best players on the defense. When the opposing offenses are content to take 4 yard runs and 6 yard completions all day, the defense simply isn't designed/trained to step up the pressure - many players in the Colts system have literally never executed a blitz at the pro level. In the past decade, they've generally fielded unimpressive defenses even with all that in mind - now, they're designed for specific reasons and without their reason for being, there's no reason to think they can play at even that level...

126
by jedmarshall :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 9:27am

I don't get where the meme that Freeney and Mathis are only good at rushing the passer comes from. Without a doubt it is their strength and sometimes Freeney sells out and goes upfield, but he is ok against the run when he doesn't sell out and Mathis is one of the better DE's I've seen against the run period.

145
by chemical burn :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 1:17pm

Look at their advanced FO #'s - they're about 1/3 as productive in the run game as DE's with comparable #'s of sacks. Also, the fact that for a decade now it has been possible to gash the Colts on the run. It's pretty straight forward.

106
by RickD :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 9:17pm

pssst, typo
Paragraph 3,

The Colts had seven different drives that gained more than 10 yards. The Texans had just three.

Methinks that should be "Titans".

123
by milo :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 8:35am

Don't worry about that inaccuracy. The Colts only had five. As did the Titans.
But that's what you have to do (fib) to explain how a team that scored 3 points in the first quarter was better than one that scored 21. How a team that scored 38 points thereafter is better than one that scored 41 more. How a team that gave up 7 points was better than a team that gave up 7 points. Not just better, but 72% !!!!! better.

137
by InTheBoilerRoom :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 11:18am

I'm pretty sure they don't factor penalties into the yardage. If you consider actual yardage gained on non-penalized plays, the the Colts indeed had seven, and the Titans had only three.

140
by milo :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 11:53am

The Colts did not indeed have seven. Read the actual statement, do not add additional factors.

148
by InTheBoilerRoom :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 1:50pm

If the assumption that penalties don't factor into yardage gained is correct, then I count seven drives for the Colts on ESPN's drive charts in which the offense was able to gain more than 10 yards, and only three for the Titans.

COLTS drives in which offense gained more than 10 yards
1st Quarter: three drives
2nd Quarter: one drive (TD drive)
3rd Quarter: one drive, which also had a 10 yard intentional grounding penalty
4th Quarter: two drives

TITANS drives in which offense gained more than 10 yards
1st Quarter: zero drives (DPI accounted for 30 yards on the first drive)
2nd Quarter: two drives
3rd Quarter: one drive (one of their drives gained exactly 10 yards, not more than 10)
4th Quarter: zero drives

Now, if yardage gained or lost due to penalties were to be factored in, then the Colts only had six drives in which they gained more than 10 yards, and the Titans had four drives.

The only reason I point this out is to make sense of Aaron's statement. Perhaps he should have stated whether or not penalties were factored in. Either way, the Colts had more than five drives in which they gained more than 10 yards, and the Titans had no more than four drives in which they gained more than 10 yards. Unless ESPN's drive charts are incorrect. Aaron may or may not have made a mistake, but your accusation that Aaron would "fib" to explain the DVOA results is uncalled for. That suggests willfully misleading the reader, which is the antithesis of what Aaron seeks to accomplish here at Football Outsiders.

154
by Aaron Schatz :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 5:36pm

Yeah, I was just going by the official league drive charts on that so I didn't include the penalties. Probably should have included the DPI, since we include that in DVOA.

107
by nat :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 9:25pm

Aaron,
(or anyone who knows)
When do drive stats come out?

108
by Anonymouse (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2011 - 9:54pm

About GB's passing game:
They have the receivers ranked #2, #4, and #5 in DVOA. They have the 6th best TE by DVOA. And Randall Cobb has 74.5% DVOA, but not enough targets to qualify.

177
by Lordship (not verified) :: Sat, 10/29/2011 - 7:10pm

Wow that is amazing to me. I have to admit im shocked. James jones has really started to make the most of his chances. I still dont believe he has been the playmaker jordy has but has looked much improved over last year. I think gb has been sending jordy down the field more because they realized jones has always struggled wihh over the shoulder catches. Im glad to see the ball spread around so well. I do feel bad for driver because it seems like he has dropped more passes since last year and was already behind 3 wrs and a te. Now he has Cobb surpassing him who has very good. Surprisingly good actually and i believe had his first drop last week. Any1 think this wont be drivers last year. As a packer fan i would love to see what Gurley could add to this squad. 6'5" and runs a 4.4. Im excited to see this guys development after a year on ps. Well considering i worked a long day and ranted my way out of my thought i will end it here. Plus typing on a droid makes it a challenging task

112
by snafu (not verified) :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 1:14am

So this year the 4 dominant offenses (NE, GB, Buf and NO) also have the 4 best pass offenses. Each team also has a defense ranked below average. My question is this:

Does having an extremely effective pass offense cause that team's defense to be ranked too low?

Here are some ideas I had for factors that could translate into undervalued defensive play, I am hoping people can provide input on whether statistical ranking systems should or already do incorporate these (plus whatever factors you guys come up with).
*Quick note - I apologize for not having stats to back up these ideas, they are just propositions grounded somewhat in logic that need to be properly investigated"
- Really good passing teams score quickly and efficiently, giving the opposition's offense extra possessions throughout the game to find a successful strategy or wear down the defense.
- The team's defense is often playing with a lead, resulting in an altered style of defense that protects against big plays while giving up more consistent gains.
- When the other team is playing from behind or gets into a "shootout" mentality they throw the ball a lot more, and pass heavy offenses will rack up more yards per play than a team running the ball frequently in a close game.
- An opposing team trying to compete and play catch-up against a high powered passing offense will attempt more 4th downs and improve their overall offensive performance as a result of converting a few of those.

Really looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

113
by QQ (not verified) :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 1:30am

I'm not saying these are the reasons but here are a few more possible reasons:

-In a salary cap era, the resources required to build an Elite Passing Offense do not allow you to often build a very good defense (Granted this does not explain GB's Defensive Fall or Buffalo building its Offense without any Elite Prospects)

-Maybe teams play more aggressively on Offense against these teams knowing that they need to consistently to keep pace.

129
by Arkaein :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 10:15am

With regards to GB, I'd say that the main cause is likely the fact that every member of the GB secondary has had some sort of injury this year:

FS Nick Collins: out for season in second game
CB Tramon Williams: missed 1+ game with shoulder bruise, limited in press coverage since
Nickle CB Sam Shields: missed last game with concussion
SS Morgan Burnett: played last two games with broken hand and giant cast
Woodson: basic bumps and bruises, getting older

Additionally, the project right DE, Mike Neal, has missed all of the season so far with a knee sprain, though could return after the bye. He was expected to provide much of the complimentary pass rush to Clay Matthews.

Last season GB had a huge number of injuries, but they were mostly to key offensive players (Grant, Finley, Donald Lee, Rodgers' concussions), LBs (Nick Barnett), or backups other than in the secondary. There are fewer injuries this year, and most not as serious, but the secondary has been impacted the most.

Collins obviously won't be back this year, but if Williams' shoulder heals to 100%, Shields comes back fine from his concussion, Burnett gets his hand out of a cast, and Neal can return and play at full strength (the one true if, the rest are mostly matters of time) then GB's D could return to it's form from last year.

116
by tuluse :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 2:51am

- Really good passing teams score quickly and efficiently, giving the opposition's offense extra possessions throughout the game to find a successful strategy or wear down the defense.

Just looking through the data, http://www.pro-football-reference.com/years/2011/opp.htm#team_stats::5, I don't see much correlation between plays run against and defensive quality.

125
by nat :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 8:54am

Q: Do great passing games finish drives quicker than other teams, causing there to be more drives per game?
A: A three-and-out takes less time than almost all successful drives.
A2: These teams do not have an unusually high number of drives.

Q: Do great passing teams play with large leads a lot, skewing their defensive numbers?
A: It is very unusual for a team to play "prevent" defense earlier than the fourth quarter, and then only with large leads. There could be some effect, but it would be small.

Q: Do teams playing from behind run pass-heavy (and thus more effective) offenses?
A: Game theory suggests that teams play their most effective offenses early and close, and resort to offenses that are less effective on average but better at scoring quickly when behind late. This is balanced by defenses playing less effective strategies that are geared toward avoiding quick scores (the dreaded "prevent"). Theory matches what we see in games.

Q: Do teams playing catchup run more fourth down plays and thus skew the opposing defense's numbers?
A: "Yes" on running more fourth down plays. But DVOA is a per-play stat, so "No" on this making the defense look bad to DVOA.

Here's one effect you didn't think of: Great offenses keep teams in games when their defense is doing badly. So the defense never gets the stats "advantage" of defending against a team that is merely running out the clock.

I don't think this is a big effect, but it could be a real one.

Overall, I don't think the quality of the offense has much impact on a defense's DVOA. It will have an effect on some drive stats (because of field position) and total stats (field position, and because bad offenses increase the number of drives a defense has to face).

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by serendipity (not verified) :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 7:06am

"I understand that subjective power rankings aren't going to put a 4-3 team at number two the way DVOA will"

Your rankings are equallly subjective. You arbitrarily give weights to factors according to your gut instinct and out comes a number. Others could come up with a weighted statistical grading that is more in line to the polls then to your weighting.

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by DGL :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 10:43am

And the Pythagorean Theorem is subjective because it arbitrarily assumes euclidean space. But if I'm building a house and I want my corners to be square, I'm OK with that assumption.

DVOA doesn't assign weights to factors according to gut instinct; it assigns weights to factors according to how those weights increase the correlation between DVOA and wins, and (IIRC) increase inter-season correlations.

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by Aaron Schatz :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 5:38pm

I've mentioned this a few times, but once again to clarify.

When I try to improve DVOA, it isn't subjective. I try lots of different things with the goal being to get the highest balance between the following two correlation coefficients:

a) correlation of DVOA from one year to the next over multiple seasons;
b) correlation of non-opponent adjusted VOA to wins over multiple seasons.

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by RichC (not verified) :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 11:42pm

Aaron, thats completely subjective. Any time you choose whats most important, its subjective.

Its not arbitrary like the poster suggested, but it most certainly is subjective.

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by DGL :: Thu, 10/27/2011 - 12:16pm

By that logic, any ratings based on any criteria whatsoever are "completely subjective", including the ratings in the NFL rulebook to determine the winner of a football game. The NFL has chosen that "points scored after 60 minutes of play" is more important than "total letters in the name of the starting quarterback" - that's totally subjective.

In other words, your claim that DVOA is "completely subjective" may be precisely correct, but it's not very useful.

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by greybeard :: Fri, 10/28/2011 - 12:36am

There is nothing subjective about a win or total letters in the name of the starting quarterback. I am not sure what you mean by "the ratings in the NFL rulebook to determine the winner of a football game". Are you talking about the points scored? There is nothing subjective about it either. Whatever something was TD or not can be subjective, but once it is awarded by the official, there is nothing subjective about the points you get.

There are things in life that are not subjective. Such as what a day is, my weight at some instance in time, etc.

The football outsider statistics are entirely subjective. Who defines what success is? Aaron! Who defines how much is a yard in game is worth? Aaron!. He possibly tries to be as objective as possible in finding out the criteria to define the success, yet they end up being very subjective (and quite a failure as predictive metric BTW) because the success of the stat itself is also subjective. Does it try to be a predictive stat to predict win-loss, does it try to be predictive about Super Bowl winner, does it try to be predictive about points scored, whatever it tries to be is what Aaron chooses.

Here are two more examples about the subjectivity of the FO stats:
- Aaron changes them every year based on his metric of how much it failed, which itself is subjective
- He does not even publish them for peer review, so he may as well be using the number of letters in the name of the starting quarterback as part of his statistics and you would not know.

Here is what FO stats are good for: the get an idea on approximatly how good the teams that you do not follow are.
I follow 49ers and do not really care much about what FO stats says for them or their players. I see them play and know the context (I add 20 points to passer rating when Kwame Harris plays ;) ). I can make my own opinion about them.

For the rest of the teams I look at what FO says about them and also what advanced nfl stats and SRS says about them. That gives me a pretty good idea of how goo the other teams are.

I find the dedication some people have to DYAR and DVOA a little strange. They have never amounted to much as predictive stats and some other FO stats were so terrible (i.e. Lewin Forecast) that if someone is not skeptical about these that person must be a believer IMO.

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by tuluse :: Fri, 10/28/2011 - 10:17pm

I think DGL's point was the the rules of the NFL are subjective. A person created them, thus they were subject to his biases. Just look at how many points the different methods of scoring are in the NFL are you telling me there is an objective way to determine that 6 points was the exact right amount for a TD?

"There are things in life that are not subjective. Such as what a day is, my weight at some instance in time, etc."

Uh, the calender was created by people. Ask the Jews or Buddhists what day it is and you might be surprised.

I can keep going if you want.

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by greybeard :: Fri, 10/28/2011 - 11:43pm

A day is the time it takes the earth to make a full circle around its axis. Earth predates people. It is not a subjective thing. I am older than my children. I have 30 teeth, 10 fingers. Are these subjective as well?

I am not telling you the rules of NFL are not subjective. It was suggested that FO stats are either not subjective or if they are then everything is. That is bullshit. That is what I am saying.

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by akn :: Sat, 10/29/2011 - 6:47pm

Rules of the NFL = arbitrary (not subjective or objective)

Interpretation of the rules of the NFL (pass interference, roughing the passer, etc.) = subjective (not arbitrary or objective)

Basic statistical measurements (yards per attempt, points allowed, etc) = objective (not subjective or arbitrary)

Advanced statistical measurements (passer rating, DVOA, etc) = objective and arbitrary (not subjective)

Basic English, people.

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by greybeard :: Sat, 10/29/2011 - 7:47pm

You may very well be right. English is not my native language so there may be some nuance in the meaning of these words that I don't get.
Having said that I checked the dictionary and it defines subjective as:
"characteristic of or belonging to reality as perceived rather than as independent of mind : phenomenal — compare objective "

DVOA is based on a concept called "success". Here is the definition of success "On first down, a play is considered a success if it gains 45 percent of needed yards; on second down, a play needs to gain 60 percent of needed yards; on third or fourth down, only gaining a new first down is considered success."

What is defined within DVOA as success fits this definition of subjective quite well IMO.

But if Aaron says DVOA is objective and arbitrary instead of just saying that it is objective I would be OK with that too. But saying that DVOA is objective and not mentioning arbitrary paints an entirely different picture in my mind.

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by Intropy :: Sat, 10/29/2011 - 9:33pm

The difference is that in DVOA is that "success" is a well defined concept with specific, measurable requirements. Those requirements themselves are arbitrarily chosen (not randomly, mind you, they were chosen with specific purpose in mind), but a given play will objectively either meet or fail to meet those requirements since they are all measured numerically.

In a looser usage where a person was discussing whether a play was successful but without a specific well-defined set of measurable requirements being used to make that determination, you would be right to call "success" a subjective statement about a play.

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by tuluse :: Sat, 10/29/2011 - 10:41pm

All power rankings of NFL teams are arbitrary, Aaron was just pointing out the difference between his system and subjective ones. Does he have to fully explain what DVOA is and how it works before every single ranking?

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by andrew :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 7:46am

Do opponent adjustments count for special teams?

i.e., does running a kick back against the chargers count less than say the bengals?

and assuming so, does this gets split out to the components? i.e., if a team is good at returning but lousy at covering, do they have a kind of... offensive and devensive special teams dvoa? so holding them in check on returns means a lot but running back against them well not as much?

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by Jerry :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 8:29am

From the article above: "The special teams rating is the same for both, as I've never been able to get special teams opponent adjustments to work well."

121
by TimK :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 7:49am

Just looking at the playoff odds, has there ever been a mid-season game with as much swing in it as the Hou/Ten game?

HOU Odds 89.7% Change +41.3%
TEN Odds 15.2% Change -44.8%

136
by Budda (not verified) :: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 11:16am

The Jets have "no rushing game"... (?)

I beg to differ ... & I believe these guys will improve that running game every week.

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