Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

16 Dec 2014

Week 15 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

The New England Patriots have finally risen past the Denver Broncos and into the No. 1 spot in our weighted DVOA ratings. This is the first time since Cincinnati led the league way back in Week 4 that a team other than Denver is No. 1 in either DVOA or weighted DVOA. The Broncos are still No. 1 in overall DVOA because of New England's poor 2-2 start that included three games with negative single-game DVOA. But there's no question that the Patriots have been the better team since midseason. Denver and New England each have six games this year with a single-game DVOA above 40%. For Denver, four of those games came in Weeks 1-8. For New England, five of those games have come since Week 9.

It's also interesting to note the way the Broncos are now being led by their defense, not their offense. The Broncos had 32.3% offensive DVOA through Week 9, which led the league. Since Week 10, that has dropped to 12.0% offensive DVOA, which ranks just eighth. Meanwhile, the defense has improved slightly, from -13.1% through Week 9 (third) to -14.2% in Weeks 10-15 -- which, oddly enough, also ranks eighth. Yes, the Broncos have dropped from third to eighth in defense despite improvement, because of a number of teams that have been particularly hot on defense since midseason. Warning: arbitrary time-period measurement ahead:

Top 10 Defensive DVOA, Weeks 10-15 2014
Team Def DVOA
Wk 10-15
Rk Def DVOA
Wk 1-9
Rk
STL -29.1% 1 11.0% 29
NE -24.7% 2 5.2% 20
BUF -23.1% 3 -12.3% 4
ARI -19.0% 4 -6.6% 6
SF -17.9% 5 -6.5% 7
CLE -17.6% 6 8.2% 23
SEA -15.5% 7 -9.6% 5
DEN -14.2% 8 -13.1% 3
SD -14.2% 9 15.1% 31
PHI -11.7% 10 -0.8% 9

The Rams' turnaround on defense is massive, and a big reason why St. Louis actually crossed into the top dozen in weighted DVOA this week. The Chargers' turnaround on defense is almost as strong and has happened completely under the radar. Did you have any idea that the Chargers had improved significantly on defense over the last few weeks? I didn't until I ran these numbers.

Another way to see how Denver has been winning with defense more than offense is to look at the Broncos' DVOA for every game. On the table below, I colored the cell for whichever unit had the better game, offense or defense. These numbers are all opponent-adjusted, and I stuck on special teams too.

Denver Week-by-Week DVOA, 2014
UNIT IND 1 KC 2 SEA 3 BYE 4 ARI 5 NYJ 6 SF 7 SD 8 NE 9 OAK 10 STL 11 MIA 12 KC 13 BUF 14 SD 15
Offense 40.4% 58.2% -0.2% 51.3% 3.1% 81.9% 37.4% 2.7% -6.7% -9.7% 70.1% -1.6% 30.7% -8.0%
Defense -9.4% -10.7% -16.7% -30.0% -11.1% -5.6% -11.3% -13.1% -33.1% -9.1% 12.1% -46.6% 1.4% -23.4%
Spec Tms -11.4% 2.6% 4.0% -1.5% 3.9% -6.3% -5.9% -31.8% 8.9% -7.7% -11.1% -0.2% 6.7% -2.1%
Total DVOA 38.3% 71.5% 20.5% 79.8% 18.0% 81.2% 42.7% -16.0% 35.3% -8.3% 47.0% 44.8% 36.0% 13.3%

It's a short commentary today so I can go have the first night of Hanukkah with my daughter, but there's one other team I wanted to point out today. Mike Tanier argued today in his Bleacher Report column that the Pittsburgh Steelers are the best bet to break the Denver/New England hegemony atop the AFC. To me, what's most interesting about the 2014 Pittsburgh Steelers is how they are nothing like the team you imagine in your mind when you think of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Pittsburgh currently ranks third with 22.3% offensive DVOA, trailing only Green Bay and Denver. This is the best Pittsburgh offense DVOA has ever measured, whether by rating (the previous high was 16.3% in 2004) or by rank (the 2001 Steelers ranked fourth in offense). However, the Steelers have a terrible 13.1% defensive DVOA, which ranks 31st ahead of only Atlanta. And that is really a historical anomaly. The Steelers have ranked in the defensive top five 11 times in 25 years. Last year, they ranked 19th with a 4.0% defensive DVOA. That was the first time the Steelers had ever ranked worse than 15th, and the first time they ever had a defensive DVOA above 1.0%. To be next-to-last now is just mind boggling.

As for which team is the biggest threat to the Patriots and Broncos, the DVOA ratings certainly have the Baltimore Ravens higher than the Steelers. The Ravens keep putting up strong performances that look better to DVOA than to conventional wisdom. I'm as surprised as any of you to see Baltimore now ahead of both Seattle and Green Bay in weighted DVOA. But Pittsburgh might be the bigger threat because of their lack of consistency. They rank 27th in offensive variance, meaning a bigger chance that Big Ben could go out there and play like garbage against the Broncos or Patriots, but also a bigger chance he might hang 40 on one of them. Both Baltimore and Pittsburgh have an advantage because the most obvious defensive weakness for both teams is the deep pass, where the older, wiser, and weaker-armed-than-before Peyton Manning and Tom Brady tend to struggle a little bit.

* * * * *

Once again in 2014, we have teamed up with EA Sports to bring Football Outsiders-branded player content to Madden 15 Ultimate Team. Each week, we'll be picking out a handful of players who starred in that week's games. Some of them will be well-known players who stood out in DVOA and DYAR. Others will be under-the-radar players who only stood out with advanced stats. We'll announce the players each Tuesday in the DVOA commentary article, and the players will be available in Madden Ultimate Team packs the following weekend. We will also tweet out images of these players from the @fboutsiders Twitter account on most Fridays. One player each week will only be available for 24 hours from the point these players enter packs on Friday.

The Football Outsiders stars for Week 15 are:

  • WR Dez Bryant, DAL (24-HOUR HERO): Led all Week 15 WR with 83 DYAR (6-of-7, 114 yards, 3 TD).
  • CB Stephon Gilmore, BUF: Held Aaron Rodgers to 1-of-9 passing for just 6 yards when he was in man coverage, with 2 PDs and a run tackle for zero yards.
  • DT Johnathan Hankins, NYG: 6 combined tackles with 2.5 sacks, FF, run TFL.
  • LOLB Gerald Hodges, MIN: 9 combined tackles (8 were Stops, preventing the offense from reaching our baseline for a successful play) plus 2 PDs.
  • LT Andrew Whitworth, CIN: Helped Bengals RB gain 119 yards on 26 carries to the left, with a 62 percent Success Rate.

* * * * *

All stats pages are now updated with Week 15 information -- or will be in the next few minutes -- including FO Premium, snap counts, and playoff odds. You can also read the new weekly playoff odds report on ESPN Insider to get more commentary on the current playoff odds. For this week's playoff odds simulation, I decided to give Arizona and Houston a penalty for being stuck with third-string quarterbacks the rest of the way. It was hard to decide how much to make that penalty, since the previous quarterbacks weren't exactly lighting it up; since replacement level is usually thought of as being about 13.3% DVOA below average, I penalized both teams 6.5% DVOA, roughly half that. I did not penalize Cleveland because they changed quarterbacks by choice; Johnny Manziel may have struggled in his first start, but he's still No. 1 on the depth chart.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through 15 weeks of 2014, 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 for strength of schedule and to consider all fumbles, kept or lost, as equal value. SPECIAL TEAMS DVOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver) and week of season. WEIGHTED DVOA represents an attempt to figure out how a team is playing right now, as opposed to over the season as a whole, by making recent games more important than earlier games. As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE.

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

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

TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
LAST
WEEK
WEIGHTED
DVOA
RANK W-L OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
1 DEN 33.2% 1 30.0% 2 11-3 23.4% 2 -13.6% 3 -3.7% 26
2 NE 27.2% 2 35.1% 1 11-3 16.6% 4 -5.3% 9 5.3% 5
3 SEA 25.4% 3 23.1% 4 10-4 14.8% 6 -11.9% 4 -1.3% 18
4 BAL 25.1% 5 28.6% 3 9-5 14.6% 7 -3.0% 12 7.5% 2
5 GB 21.7% 4 22.2% 5 10-4 24.5% 1 0.7% 17 -2.1% 21
6 KC 13.2% 8 19.9% 6 8-6 8.2% 11 1.4% 18 6.3% 4
7 PHI 12.3% 7 14.9% 7 9-5 -2.2% 16 -5.4% 8 9.0% 1
8 BUF 11.5% 10 14.0% 8 8-6 -11.9% 26 -16.6% 1 6.8% 3
9 PIT 9.0% 12 10.4% 9 9-5 22.3% 3 13.1% 31 -0.2% 15
10 IND 9.0% 11 8.9% 11 10-4 2.7% 13 -2.1% 13 4.1% 7
11 MIA 8.3% 6 7.0% 13 7-7 7.0% 12 -4.9% 10 -3.6% 25
12 DET 6.9% 9 4.3% 14 10-4 -3.9% 17 -15.6% 2 -4.8% 30
13 DAL 6.7% 13 8.9% 10 10-4 14.9% 5 9.2% 26 1.0% 11
14 SD 3.9% 15 3.6% 16 8-6 10.0% 10 4.4% 23 -1.7% 19
15 CIN 3.7% 16 -1.9% 19 9-4-1 -1.7% 15 -0.2% 15 5.2% 6
16 SF 2.3% 14 1.1% 17 7-7 -5.2% 19 -11.6% 5 -4.1% 29
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
LAST
WEEK
WEIGHTED
DVOA
RANK W-L OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
17 NO 2.2% 18 3.8% 15 6-8 14.3% 8 12.7% 30 0.6% 13
18 ARI -1.1% 20 -1.5% 18 11-3 -10.1% 23 -11.5% 6 -2.5% 23
19 STL -1.5% 17 7.2% 12 6-8 -10.6% 24 -6.2% 7 2.9% 9
20 ATL -2.6% 19 -6.7% 23 5-9 11.3% 9 17.4% 32 3.4% 8
21 HOU -7.3% 22 -3.7% 20 7-7 -4.3% 18 -0.8% 14 -3.8% 27
22 CLE -7.4% 21 -11.3% 24 7-7 -10.6% 25 -3.2% 11 0.0% 14
23 NYG -7.4% 24 -5.3% 21 5-9 -6.3% 20 1.9% 20 0.7% 12
24 MIN -9.3% 23 -5.7% 22 6-8 -8.8% 22 2.2% 21 1.7% 10
25 CHI -13.9% 25 -22.9% 27 5-9 1.1% 14 11.7% 29 -3.3% 24
26 CAR -14.5% 26 -16.7% 25 5-8-1 -7.1% 21 1.7% 19 -5.7% 31
27 NYJ -20.2% 27 -22.3% 26 3-11 -14.4% 28 4.7% 24 -1.2% 17
28 OAK -27.1% 28 -28.2% 30 2-12 -20.6% 30 5.4% 25 -1.0% 16
29 WAS -27.5% 29 -36.4% 32 3-11 -12.2% 27 9.3% 27 -6.0% 32
30 TEN -30.1% 32 -35.9% 31 2-12 -17.1% 29 11.0% 28 -2.0% 20
31 JAC -30.5% 30 -26.1% 29 2-12 -26.3% 32 0.1% 16 -4.0% 28
32 TB -31.1% 31 -24.6% 28 2-12 -25.0% 31 3.7% 22 -2.3% 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 DEN 33.2% 11-3 30.2% 12.3 1 4.9% 4 -11.7% 26 8.6% 6
2 NE 27.2% 11-3 22.9% 9.8 4 3.5% 6 -4.4% 20 17.7% 19
3 SEA 25.4% 10-4 21.4% 10.2 3 1.2% 13 -1.3% 17 13.7% 12
4 BAL 25.1% 9-5 28.8% 10.5 2 -4.8% 28 -7.3% 23 8.2% 5
5 GB 21.7% 10-4 22.4% 9.2 5 0.7% 14 -12.1% 28 12.5% 10
6 KC 13.2% 8-6 11.4% 8.5 7 2.7% 9 6.5% 10 21.8% 28
7 PHI 12.3% 9-5 10.1% 8.5 6 -3.4% 25 -17.5% 31 15.8% 16
8 BUF 11.5% 8-6 9.3% 8.4 8 3.2% 7 0.1% 15 5.2% 2
9 PIT 9.0% 9-5 9.8% 7.8 13 -6.1% 31 8.5% 8 15.0% 13
10 IND 9.0% 10-4 11.6% 8.2 11 -2.7% 21 -11.7% 27 10.3% 7
11 MIA 8.3% 7-7 9.1% 8.3 9 6.4% 2 -14.8% 29 18.4% 21
12 DET 6.9% 10-4 11.0% 8.0 12 -2.8% 22 3.9% 13 7.5% 4
13 DAL 6.7% 10-4 8.8% 8.2 10 -5.1% 30 -9.3% 24 18.6% 22
14 SD 3.9% 8-6 2.8% 7.6 14 5.0% 3 7.8% 9 16.1% 18
15 CIN 3.7% 9-4-1 5.4% 7.6 15 -2.4% 20 21.1% 2 23.9% 31
16 SF 2.3% 7-7 -1.6% 7.1 17 2.8% 8 1.4% 14 15.1% 15
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
ESTIM.
WINS
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VAR. RANK
17 NO 2.2% 6-8 0.4% 7.0 18 -1.3% 18 -16.8% 30 22.4% 29
18 ARI -1.1% 11-3 1.3% 7.3 16 2.6% 10 13.9% 4 6.7% 3
19 STL -1.5% 6-8 -1.4% 5.9 22 0.2% 16 9.0% 7 29.8% 32
20 ATL -2.6% 5-9 0.2% 6.4 19 -3.4% 24 -6.1% 22 12.4% 9
21 HOU -7.3% 7-7 2.4% 5.5 26 -7.1% 32 -2.7% 18 5.0% 1
22 CLE -7.4% 7-7 -2.3% 6.4 20 -3.9% 26 5.3% 12 21.2% 26
23 NYG -7.4% 5-9 -9.9% 5.8 25 -4.1% 27 5.4% 11 18.8% 23
24 MIN -9.3% 6-8 -7.7% 6.3 21 -0.9% 17 -2.8% 19 12.7% 11
25 CHI -13.9% 5-9 -17.4% 5.8 24 2.2% 11 -1.2% 16 10.5% 8
26 CAR -14.5% 5-8-1 -16.8% 5.9 23 1.5% 12 -5.0% 21 15.0% 14
27 NYJ -20.2% 3-11 -23.3% 4.6 27 4.7% 5 17.8% 3 15.8% 17
28 OAK -27.1% 2-12 -35.1% 4.0 28 6.7% 1 22.4% 1 19.1% 24
29 WAS -27.5% 3-11 -23.9% 3.5 30 -5.0% 29 9.5% 6 23.7% 30
30 TEN -30.1% 2-12 -25.8% 3.6 29 -2.0% 19 -10.7% 25 21.3% 27
31 JAC -30.5% 2-12 -28.7% 2.4 32 0.5% 15 -18.7% 32 18.4% 20
32 TB -31.1% 2-12 -24.9% 3.3 31 -3.3% 23 11.9% 5 20.0% 25

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 16 Dec 2014

157 comments, Last at 28 Dec 2014, 1:06am by Never Surrender

Comments

1
by Rick_and_Roll :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 7:20pm

What stood out about Denver in the special chart above was just how awful their special teams have been this season...

67
by Danish Denver-Fan :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 7:26am

They did have severe kicking issues ealy on - that seems to have been fixed - although I'm unsure as to how much that actually counts in ST DVOA...

111
by voidhelix :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 4:49pm

To me, the fact Denver`s defensive DVOA`s superior to Seattle`s is the thing that stands out most.

131
by tunesmith :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 7:46pm

Are special teams ratings adjusted for field position at all? I'd expect that a more efficient offense would lead to shorter punts, for instance. That said, Denver hasn't had much of a return game, either.

138
by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 9:37pm

"Our special teams ratings compare each kick or punt to the league average for based on the point value of field position at the position of each kick, catch, and return. We've determined a league average for how far a kick goes based on the yard line from where the kick occurs (almost always the 35-yard line for kickoffs, variable for punts) and a league average for how far a return goes based on both the yard line where the ball is caught and the distance that it traveled in the air."

http://www.footballoutsiders.com/info/methods

139
by damona :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 9:57pm

[Denver] is clearly ranked [too high] because [although they're very good over the course of a season, in a single playoff game against a very good opponent their particular weaknesses elevate the chance that they will lose.]

[My ACSforTHAT! metric, pronounced "Ax-fo-dat!"] is way better than this. Basically, it's "Intensity of Anxiously-Contracted-Sphincter for THAT!" * "Frequency of S*** I Was Afraid Of THAT!" * "Expected THAT! per Game". Normalized, of course--but don't ask me how I gather that data.

Examples: the ACSforTHAT! of Peyton getting strip-sacked is 59.35, of a Denver opponent returning a kickoff or punt for more than 50 yards is 73.02, and of New England cheating by filming defensive practices or such-like is -15.01. (As with defensive DVOA, ACSforTHAT! is better when it is NEGATIVE.)

DVOA is a great achievement, [but it seems to me that u all r sitting on ur comfortable large-sample-size aces and not tackling the next level of hard Qs about the fetal flaws of teams.]

144
by OPhoenix :: Thu, 12/18/2014 - 2:08pm

I love your post! And the idea of analyzing team fatal flaws is a great one, even if it would necessarily be pretty subjective.

Nice work!

148
by DefendTheDen :: Fri, 12/19/2014 - 4:39am

Great post.

2
by jonnyblazin :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 7:24pm

"Both Baltimore and Pittsburgh have an advantage because the most obvious defensive weakness for both teams is the deep pass, where the older, wiser, and weaker-armed-than-before Peyton Manning and Tom Brady tend to struggle a little bit."

Wow, the Ravens are really awful defending the deep pass (108% DVOA !!!). I'm sure they'd love to play the Chiefs if they make the playoffs, and hope for a freezing wind storm vs. everyone else. At least Flacco has the arm to play in such conditions.

4
by chemical burn :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 7:25pm

I think that's been the secret sauce for Baltimore for years now: Flacco is built for cold weather playoff games where the ability to push the ball deep despite the weather and score quickly on big pass plays is incredibly valuable...

3
by chemical burn :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 7:24pm

It's interesting that Philadelphia getting the crap kicked out of them two weeks in a row didn't even move the needle...

7
by The Powers That Be :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 7:35pm

Well, DVOA's always had a thing for the Eagles. (And something against the Cowboys).

23
by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 8:08pm

It's the power of special teams - it's the hidden stat that is pushing PHI and BALT up higher than you would think they should be.

28
by David C :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 8:20pm

Yeah, Philadelphia special teams... especially against Dallas...

52
by Sixknots :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 10:36pm

True but DVOA has had a super crush on Baltimore for years, with no (it seems) explanation.

56
by jonnyblazin :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 11:29pm

"True but DVOA has had a super crush on Baltimore for years, with no (it seems) explanation."

Yeah the Ravens have only been to the playoffs 5 out of 6 years (with 8-8 as a "down" year) and won a Super Bowl, that crazy DVOA stat just irrationally loves the Ravens.

82
by iron_greg :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 11:04am

I know, its almost as if DVOA is not just perfectly correlated with throwing 40 TD passes. its almost as if it considers other things...

People hate the idea of a Flacco-led team doing well in DVOA without the usual fallback of "but its all Ray Rice"

30
by David C :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 8:22pm

The inability to hold onto the football is not something that's highly correlated from game to game, so it doesn't weigh as strongly on DVOA.

5
by shoutingloudly :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 7:34pm

Yeah, as a Broncos fan, it's been just mind blowing watching us evolve into a more defense-carrying-the-offense model. In our last three divisional games in particular, it was more like watching the Dilfer-era Ravens than the team that lost last year's Super Bowl. And, well...

6
by shoutingloudly :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 7:34pm

Oh, and our special teams are run by Charles Barkley, because they're turrible.

8
by Anon Ymous :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 7:37pm

Manning doesn't look right and hasn't for several weeks, IMO. As someone who follows the team more closely than I, are the whispers that he is nursing an injury (beyond this week's) or just age catching up with him?

11
by shoutingloudly :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 7:45pm

I haven't seen anything about a specific injury, confirmed or speculated, except the flu-like symptoms and thigh injury (dude, don't block, it's fine — esp. when you have the flu) from Sunday. But yeah, he's not right, and that's a big change from the first half of the season. I mean, even last year, it was much more about outsmarting folks with his wobbly duck throws than looking 100% relative to his Indy days. Now the zip just isn't there at all.

I'd put it at more than even money he retires after this year, no matter what. Which, sadly, will leave the Big Unit's career yardage total safe for the time being.

53
by Sixknots :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 10:41pm

Big Unit?? I thought that is(was) Randy Johnson.

58
by shoutingloudly :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 12:12am

Sorry, failed attempt at potty humor. Yes that was Randy Johnson, but "unit" is also a synonym for... It's a dig at Favre's impolitic use of his camera phone. Obviously it's not time to quit my day job.

76
by Guido Merkens :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 10:30am

The Small Unit?

14
by willybhu :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 7:49pm

I thought it was the flu? They were talking about that in last week's game, right?

16
by shoutingloudly :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 7:56pm

There's a pretty big difference, though, starting several weeks ago versus even the first half of the season. It's not just the flu, I think. Maybe that does suggest a hidden injury, or maybe nature finally said, "That's it, you're old," all at once. Or maybe it's a small sample size, he'll snap out of it, and he'll throw for 350 yards in the Divisional round.

21
by bearsbball12 :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 8:03pm

I think the perceived problems with Manning have been extremely overblown. The games he has struggled in have been:
1. St. Louis (#1 defensive DVOA since week 10) where the Broncos lost Julius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders early in the game and for some reason absolutely refused to run the ball. Since (I think) 2006, teams that have run the ball 9 or fewer times in a game (the Broncos technically ran it 10 times, but one was a kneel down so only 9 REAL rushing attempts) have gone 0-18.
2. Kansas City on a cold, windy night, where he was again without Julius Thomas.
3. Buffalo, who is #1 in both overall and pass defense DVOA and just made Aaron Rodgers look just as bad, if not worse, than Manning did against them.

I also don't buy that the arm strength isn't there. Last week he was 5/7 for 156 yards and a TD on deep throws.

27
by Anon Ymous :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 8:19pm

I've watching Manning for years and he doesn't look the same to me, and I'm talking about just last year, let alone back in his Colt days. The velocity has dipped considerably and the ball seems to Tom Candiotti around if it travels more than 15 yards down field. The fact that he's remained productive is a testament to his intelligence and Denver's weaponry.

If you genuinely think his throws look the same as they ever have, we're probably not going to come to an agreement.

37
by bearsbball12 :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 9:05pm

We don't have to agree. It just really feels like people are making a mountain out of a mole hill here. People always want something to be wrong with Manning. He had 2 not so great games against against 2 of the best defenses in the league. Aaron Rodgers looked absolutely terrible against the same defense Manning faced 2 weeks ago, but nobody thinks anything is wrong with him.

38
by Perfundle :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 9:09pm

Apparent performance declines by a QB nearing the end of his career is far more likely to be real than by a QB in his prime.

41
by bearsbball12 :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 9:21pm

Correct. But there's a difference between declining and facing elite defenses.

40
by Anon Ymous :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 9:19pm

True, but again, my comments have little to do with how productive Manning has been and more to do with how his throws have looked. Very subject, I know, so I don't expect anyone to take my word as gospel. My eyes have my pretty well convinced, though.

47
by Scott Kacsmar :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 9:44pm

It is making a mountain out of a mole hill. Frankly, it's one of the most ridiculous things I've read all year.

Denver lost to the Rams and took a long hard look at what goes wrong when they lose. The answers were obvious: offensive line gets pushed around, running game is nonexistent and it becomes a one-man show.

They moved some of the pieces on the OL and C.J. Anderson has been their best runner. Virgil Green saw the field more for blocking. They committed to the run so Manning wasn't stuck throwing 50+ times again.

Before the change: 2.49 points per drive
After the change: 2.92 points per drive

Chargers aren't a strong defense, but those other three games were against MIA/KC/BUF. Pretty talented defenses. Denver's played one of the toughest schedules in the league.

Emmanuel Sanders had a concussion vs. Rams and took another huge shot vs. Buffalo. Demaryius Thomas injured his ankle in a practice and was limping before Buffalo game. Julius Thomas, their best red-zone receiver, missed most of these recent games. Jacob Tamme has been playing hurt. Manning had the flu and a thigh injury this past week. That all certainly contributes to how much you want to feature your passing game, as did the weather/lead in KC and the defensive matchup against Buffalo.

With an increase in running, Manning has worked on the deep passing game the last month and has had some success.

First 10 games: average pass attempt traveled 8.2 yards with 5.1 YAC
Last 4 games: average pass attempt traveled 9.6 yards with 4.3 YAC

So the last month hasn't been as good as the first seven games, but so what? He's still completing 67% of his passes with 7 TD, 2 INT and 7.72 YPA. Denver's offense handled SD and BUF much better than NE and GB did this month.

I don't know if this offense will work against NE/SEA, but it's working against everyone else. There are some obvious circumstances that have limited how much they've thrown the last few weeks that I just don't think people are even bothering to address.

54
by BJR :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 10:48pm

Well put. I haven't always agreed with you on various topics but this is good analysis. There's nothing 'wrong' with Manning beyond him having played a tough recent schedule of defences, and having a couple of his best receivers injured. My only real concern for Denver going forward would be that their coaches begin to believe that running the ball and relying on their defence is their path to postseason success. This has been a historically great pass attack for the past couple of seasons, and getting away from that in the belief that something different will work better at this stage of the season would, I fear, be a big mistake.

59
by shoutingloudly :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 12:25am

Wow. Uncle! You've actually convinced me here. I kind of had "some injuries" and "tough defenses" in mind, but I didn't put them together or properly adjust for either. In particular, his timing hasn't seemed as on point, amd I failed to acknowledge that as a function of "who's my #2 this week, when is J Thomas going to be his old self, and oh, here's a world class pass rusher in my face." Which was pretty non-FO of me.

Please don't exile me to the ESPN boards, Scott. I'll be a good football geek.

65
by Rick_and_Roll :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 2:22am

I agree that Peyton's arm decline is over blown, but I think it is more of an issue than you make it out to be... It seems a lot of his deep balls are floating which has led to picks and more vicious hits to his WRs. Its not surprising that his yards per pass went up and YAC went down considering that they aren't throwing nearly as many bubble screens and more play action intermediate routes.

For whatever reason their philosophy changed, I think it gives them a much better chance to beat NE in Foxboro and Seattle in the SB. Denver doesn't have a great offensive line, but CJ has run well and out them in favorable 3rd down situations that Denver has capitalized on. For this philosophy to continue to work they will need to remain to be lights out on 3rd down...

If Peyton embraces the run first model, this could actually extend his career but a few years. He needs to realize there is no shame in letting a running game carry them to a championship- John Elway and Troy Aikman have 5 SB rings between them.....

73
by deus01 :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 9:58am

I don't think the passes are really floating any more than usual. Some of the picks against Buffalo looked bad but that was against a good defense and it seemed like it was more of a timing issue with the receivers.

They seem to have mostly substituted the short but methodical gains from passing with the run but still go for deep throws when the opportunity is there. It wouldn't surprise me if one game they start airing it out again if a defense commits too much to stopping the run.

There is still the occasional time when they do something stupid like run on 3rd and long, but they did that the last two years as well. My only real concern would be that the coaching continues to embrace the run even if it stops working (which seems like something Fox might do).

87
by BJR :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 12:47pm

"My only real concern would be that the coaching continues to embrace the run even if it stops working"

Precisely this happened on Sunday in San Diego. On Denver's first two drives, Anderson had 8 carries for 37 yards. Thereafter, 21 carries for 48 yards. Now Denver were ahead, but certainly not far enough ahead that it warranted killing time at the expense of actually gaining yards and scoring points.

This inefficiency, along with Fox's morbidly conservative 4th down strategy, allowed the Chargers to hang in a game they had no business being involved in as they were producing nothing on offence. I'd be concerned about this if I was a Denver fan.

Edit: I forgot to include carries by other RBs which generated 30 yards on 8 carries. So a slight improvement on Anderson's average, but nothing major.

95
by deus01 :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 2:12pm

Maybe it's all just a plan to keep the defense in the game. It seems like sometimes they get used to having a huge lead so if they didn't start blowing out a team early and fell behind they would start to fall apart.

90
by Anon Ymous :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 1:30pm

All of this is very compelling, and certainly germane to the conversation, but it doesn't entirely rebut the notion of a drop off in Manning's arm strength.

"Manning has worked on the deep passing game the last month."

You seem to be taking liberties with this statement. Running more and diminishing the reliance on screens and short passing could account for most, if not all, of the increase in average distance traveled. Is Manning throwing more deep passes or just a higher proportion of them?

"Denver's offense handled SD and BUF much better than NE and GB did this month."

Compared to NE, Denver had ~100 fewer yards, 13 fewer points, 7 fewer first downs and 3 more turnovers against Buffalo. I'm curious how that translates to "much better."

Again, my entire point was about how Manning's throws have *looked* not how productive the offense has been. He looks weaker to me, and that goes back to before the illness/injury and even before all the injuries. I'm no pro scout, but I'm far from the only person to see this, and some of the people I've heard this from *are* more involved in the game than I.

Your post is definitely worthwhile and sheds a different light on things, but all it really proves is that Denver has continued to be successful through an offensive change. Hell, one could make a compelling argument that leaning more on the run is an adjustment to Manning's changing skill set.

92
by Scott Kacsmar :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 1:53pm

You seem to be taking liberties with this statement. Running more and diminishing the reliance on screens and short passing could account for most, if not all, of the increase in average distance traveled. Is Manning throwing more deep passes or just a higher proportion of them?

A higher proportion wouldn't click as being more vertical for you? It does for me. They're still throwing the screens too. With the arm strength, his deep misses against Miami were overthrows, so I don't see the arm strength issue there. He had one hang for a pick against Buffalo which was bad, but he had a pass hang for a pick against Arizona earlier in the season too. Still threw for a career-high in yardage that day against one of the best defenses in the league that no one else has cracked. The guy's thrown 12 incompletions the last two weeks and that includes two intentional throwaways and maybe one dropped screen by Demaryius or at least a play that had nothing to do with arm strength. The fuss is literally coming over a couple of plays. Yeah, I thought he played terrible in the second half in KC, but was great in the first half, so I'm not sure what was going on that night.

Compared to NE, Denver had ~100 fewer yards, 13 fewer points, 7 fewer first downs and 3 more turnovers against Buffalo. I'm curious how that translates to "much better."

I was comparing San Diego's defense vs. NE and DEN, Buffalo's defense vs. GB and DEN. That's why I used "this month" in the sentence. Only talking about games from Weeks 14-15.

97
by Anon Ymous :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 2:15pm

Thanks for the response.

"A higher proportion wouldn't click as being more vertical for you?"

No, it doesn't. If they are throwing the same number of deep passes, but substituting runs for a good portion of the short passes, then the average distance would automatically climb. It's a distinction between a more vertical *passing offense* and Manning throwing more vertical *passes*, but I think an important one.

Of course, I haven't run the numbers, so it is possible I'm wrong. If he is indeed throwing a higher number of deep passes then I'll gladly admit error.

"The fuss is literally coming over a couple of plays."

Perhaps nationally, but not for me. I see it on nearly every pass I've watched him throw the past month. It's not the picks, he just doesn't look like the same guy to me.

I should probably say that I don't think this means he can't be effective, that's obvious false. And maybe it is just a natural drop off due to weather, which is something he dealt less with earlier in his career. Maybe he's quietly nursing an injury, we all know how tough the guy is.

Or maybe I'm completely wrong. I don't think I am, but it wouldn't be the first time.

"I was comparing San Diego's defense vs. NE and DEN, Buffalo's defense vs. GB and DEN. That's why I used "this month" in the sentence. Only talking about games from Weeks 14-15."

Gotcha. Sorry for my confusion.

99
by Scott Kacsmar :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 2:30pm

Last night I only looked at "deep" throws that traveled more than 20 yards, but he's gone from averaging 3.9 deep attempts per game to 4.5 in the last month. And that's with his overall attempts falling from 40.7 to 27.3.

104
by nat :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 3:03pm

Oddly enough, if you just use the word "deep" in the play-by-plays available on line, a cutoff point for "deep" I have no control over, you get this:

November game long passes: 17, 5, 11, 7, 9
December game long passes: 8, 7

That's a slight reduction in long passes per game, even if you toss out that first game with its 17 long passes. It's a more meaningful reduction if you include that game.

So that increase that you think you saw might solely be a result of using a specific cutoff of 20 yards, and of the resulting tiny sample size.

It really looks like this is a case of replacing shorter passes with runs, without any added emphasis on long passes.

106
by Anon Ymous :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 3:10pm

Thanks. So, that's 2 twenty+ yard passes more in the past month than than he would have based on prior averages. It certainly influences the numbers, though not nearly as much as the removal of 53 shorter attempts. It also seems within a reasonable margin of error to have occurred with no offensive change.

I'm still unsure how meaningful I find it, but it is interesting and I appreciate you providing the actual numbers.

107
by Rick_and_Roll :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 3:14pm

This seems to be a subjective (arm strength) versus objective (pass distance) debate that is irresolvable. I partially agree with both. To me the most significant declining arm strength examples are happening on long throws where his receiver gets nailed that result in either a catch or a penalty. Whether this is a result of defenses catching up to their system or that he has to throw earlier to a spot giving the DB more time to recover is debatable, but bottom line he is going to get Sanders and Welker killed. I also haven't seen him throw any outs in the last few weeks.

98
by nat :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 2:28pm

The question was a simple one: Is Manning throwing more deep passes or just a higher proportion of them?

Instead of giving a straight answer, you're trying to change the topic.

It would be okay to just admit you were wrong. Better in fact.

Or answer the question and explain why you think throwing the same or fewer long passes amounts to "working on" them. Or answer the question and show that he is really throwing more of them, not just fewer other passes.

103
by Ryan :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 3:01pm

Uhh, it would appear he is both throwing more deep passes AND a higher proportion.

105
by nat :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 3:06pm

Uhh, see comment 104.

It's always worth investigating arbitrary cutoffs and small sample sizes.

108
by Ryan :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 3:20pm

It would appear that your cutoff (which you do not define) is just as "arbitrary" as Scott's, even though, for what it's worth, passes over 20 yards seems a reasonable and accepted point to define "deep." I've also seen "deep" defined as 15 yards through the air.

I'm not even sure what's being argued here anymore.

I agree with the others who have noted that Peyton's passes don't *look* great lately.

109
by Scott Kacsmar :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 3:36pm

I'm not sure what's argued either. He's clearly throwing less, but the vertical game has been a bigger part of his passing game.

If we look at the last two weeks where he has just the 40 attempts (20 each game), his average pass is traveling 10.9 yards. That's more than two yards deeper than the first 10 games this season. He's 5/7 with 2 picks on passes thrown 21+ yards against BUF/SD. You don't want the picks, but I think they'll enjoy the long completions, which were usually well on target throws.

110
by nat :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 4:30pm

What's being argued is the idea that Manning is throwing more "deep" passes this month than last month.

If you let Scott define "deep" and are okay with tiny samples, then he is.

If you let the pre-defined "deep" that the NFL uses in play-by-plays stand as is, and like larger samples, he is not.

Why does this matter?

It doesn't much. Someone's "eyes" say Peyton's long passes look worse than before. Scott claims that they don't and also that Peyton is throwing more long passes than ever.

If you have intellectual curiosity, you now know that Scott's claim depends on the cutoff for "deep" that he himself chose. Perhaps he chose it because it was convenient with the charting data he has. Perhaps he chose it to get the answer he wanted, after first trying to avoid the question. Either way, using the NFL's disinterested definition of "deep" you would get a very different answer.

114
by deus01 :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 5:11pm

I thought the NFL classifies passes over 20 yards as deep, so it should be looking at the same thing.

It's probably more likely that there is some error in listing 'deep' in the play-by-play similar to how it doesn't correctly record punts that are touched by the kicking team first.

119
by deus01 :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 5:21pm

Further, it seems like using the standard 20 yards to classify 'deep' is better than using an arbitrary classification of deep in the play-by-play that we don't know is consistent or what qualifies for it.

91
by spujr :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 1:45pm

I agree with this accessment and would like to add (in relation to this week's DVOA rating) that it seems Den decline on offense, particularly in the passing department, is also due to increase in Den defense. Better defense means less need to pass heavy in order to maintain a lead. I know the formula takes this into consideration but don't know how much it factors into the overall score.

Earlier I was reading a commentary that explained one reason for Mannings recent decline is due to where he is positioned for the snap (under center or shotgun). I am not sure if this true or not but might be interesting to look at.

94
by Scott Kacsmar :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 2:01pm

I'm looking at our passing workbook and he has 16 dropbacks without shotgun in the last four games. He's taken one sack. That underthrown deep ball pick against Buffalo was one of the 15 passes, but overall he's 12/15 for 107 yards, TD, INT, 62.5% success rate.

127
by JDL4 :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 6:49pm

Some other splits for Manning from Week 1-11 vs. 12 to 15:
41.8 drop backs per game over the first 10 games (59.4% of snaps) to 28.0 (40.1%)over the last 4.
Completion percentage goes from 67.1% to 67.0% - No change, but his accuracy (adjusting for drops, throwaways, batted passes and spikes) drops from 74.6% to 70.8%.
Yards/Completion and Yards/Attempt fall from 12.1 to 11.5 and 8.1 to 7.7, respectively.
Yards in Air (on completions) and Yards after Catch went from 7.1 and 5.0 to 7.0 and 4.5, respectively.
Average Distance of Target increased from 8.4 yards to 10.3.
Sack Rate increased from 2.4% to 2.7%, while average time to throw decreased from 2.28 seconds to 2.03 seconds. Percentage of dropbacks under pressure decreased from 22.5% to 13.4%, while pressure resulting in sacks increased from 10.6% to 20.0%. Completion % and accuracy under pressure increased from 48.2% to 58.3% and from 54.4% to 58.3%. Facing no pressure completion % and accuracy decreased from 71.9% to 68.0% and 79.6% to 72.3%.
Deep Passing - balls that travel at least 20 yards in the air - increased from 4.1 to 5.0 attempts per game, going from 10.1% of all attempts to 18.3%. Accuracy on such throws decreased from 48.8% to 35.0%.
Attempts traveling 20 yards or less improved in completion percentage from 69.1% to 74.2% and accuracy went from 77.6% to 79.1%.
Play action passing decreased from 8.7 to 7.0 dropbacks per game, but increased from 20.8% of all dropbacks to 25.0%. Completion percentage and YPA on those plays went from 66.7% to 59.3% and 10.5 to 8.0.
On passes with no play-action, completion % and YPA went from 67.2% to 69.5% and 7.5 to 7.6.
Average Pass DVOA and Adjusted Sack Rate of Defenses faced was 3.7% and 6.4% for the first 10 games and -0.2% and 7.4% for the last four, so the competition was a little tougher.
So in summary, the Broncos are running more and passing less. Since the switch, Manning is passing deeper more often on a relative and absolute basis, and he has been less effective on those throws, but just as accurate, if not slightly better on 'short throws'. Play action makes up a greater portion of their passing game, but has declined on an absolute basis. Manning has been less effective on these throws than earlier in the year, but just as affective on his passes without play action.
He is getting the ball out earlier, and getting pressured less, but with a higher ADOT, and a slightly higher sack rate.
He has faced slightly tougher defenses which would explain a drop in accuracy and higher sack rate, but why only on deep passes and play action, and why is he facing less pressure?

156
by spujr :: Sun, 12/21/2014 - 11:15pm

Great post, and yes, some of those stats are confusing. I would say that the increase sack rate with less pressure is the result of holding the bail too long but then we see that he is releasing the ball quicker. Ultimately I think we are looking at a small sample size that makes it difficult to use for predicting or diagnoses. We'll have to see how the later games develop.

75
by Theo :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 10:20am

Read the XP article about 'losing your football innocense'.

His stats went down, but I think the reason was because the Broncos just decided to run the ball more.
I think Manning said at one point in the season 'guys, my arm is falling off, I can't throw a bazillion passes in a season anymore.'.

So they changed things around, looked at the opposition and handed the ball off more.

Good decision.

The times that Manning threw, he looked alright to me. A bit off in the pocket, yes, but mechanically he seemed alright.
Maybe there was a little injury that accelerated the decision but I don't think his skills drove off a cliff here.

9
by jklps :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 7:42pm

Yay Washington! 32 in Weighted DVOA, 27 Offense and 27 defense, 32nd in Special Teams.

Thanks Dan Snyder!

10
by Anon Ymous :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 7:44pm

NM, misread.....

12
by jklps :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 7:47pm

Never saw what you wrote. The "yay" and "thanks" are obviously sarcastic.

I hate my favorite team.

13
by Anon Ymous :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 7:49pm

I know, I was trying to say they sucked, but they deserve credit for *consistently* sucking, but it turns out I had the stat backwards. DOH!

15
by shoutingloudly :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 7:52pm

Chainsaw Dan is a terrible owner and, even relative to his peer group of people who are totally protected from any consequences for their actions, a pretty terrible human being.

17
by jklps :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 7:57pm

Yes, and only 50 too. It is sad. Some Buffalo fan replied they had it worst, no playoffs since 1999..I can't see any situation where Washington could do what Buffalo did on Sunday, beating an Aaron Rodgers led Packers team...beyond maybe not allowing the Packers to field a team.

64
by hatersgonhate :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 1:41am

Dallas is pretty good this year.

18
by jklps :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 7:57pm

Yes, and only 50 too. It is sad. Some Buffalo fan replied they had it worst, no playoffs since 1999..I can't see any situation where Washington could do what Buffalo did on Sunday, beating an Aaron Rodgers led Packers team...beyond maybe not allowing the Packers to field a team.

77
by Guido Merkens :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 10:34am

One of my good friends has been a lifelong Washington fan and is considering abandoning the team for this very reason. If there were a decent chance Snyder would give up ownership in the next 30 years, he would soldier through, but he doesn't want to wait until he's a senior citizen to root for a non-Snyder-owned team.

24
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 8:09pm

To be a pretty terrible human being, relative to the Nazgul otherwise known as NFL owners, is a considerable feat.

26
by Bobman :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 8:13pm

Jerry Jones: Do not come between a Nazgul and his TV dollars.
Al Davis: No man can kill me. (Well, he held on pretty long)

Did the Nazgul say anything else quote-worthy aside from Bagginsssss and Shire?

42
by Kevin from Philly :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 9:24pm

Nah, the Nazgul had lousy agents.

44
by Hurt Bones :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 9:30pm

Hi, I'm Bill Ferny agent for the Nazgul. Let's talk contract.

51
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 10:10pm

"No, we never have considered Jimmy Johnson for the Ring of Honor"?

88
by LyleNM :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 12:54pm

Those are Gollum quotes not Nazgul quotes.

49
by Never Surrender :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 9:58pm

"I hate my favorite team" is a great way of putting it. I tune in every week, soldiering on for the sake of soldiering on.

149
by DefendTheDen :: Fri, 12/19/2014 - 4:51am

Some teams have been through worse. Trust me.

157
by Never Surrender :: Sun, 12/28/2014 - 1:06am

I mean no offense to fans who have suffered or are suffering through the pits. But I do think that Snyder's reign of terror has earned us Redskins fans the right to say we hate our favorite team and that tuning in each week has been an act of pure will.

Besides, Redskins fans with a deep history know futility as much as any fans from any era. It doesn't get much more hopeless than it was for Washington in the '50s and '60s.

20
by bearsbball12 :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 8:01pm

Duplicate post.

19
by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 8:00pm

If it wasn't for the slow start on D for STL and all the injuries to the D's of SF and ARZ (and to a certain extent SEA), I think all 4 NFC West teams Defenses would be in the top 5.

22
by bearsbball12 :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 8:07pm

Can we get a list of worst ever 11-3 teams and how they finished the season? I feel like the Cardinals have to be up there.

31
by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 8:24pm

If you look at ARZ and STL stats, they are almost the same across the board, except STL is way ahead in ST....and one team is 11-3 and the other is 6-8. I guess the difference is that ARZ losses were real bad losses and their wins were mostly meh, but still. Would have liked to see how a healthy Bradford would have helped.

70
by Vandal :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 9:18am

An argument could be made that a healthy Carson Palmer could have helped too...

50
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 10:08pm

The 2000 Minnesota Vikings have to be the worst defense of any 11-3 team. Undoubtedly the worst defense to ever appear in a conference championship game. 'Fer the love of Alan Page, they were as soft as 20 feet of goose down, and I hated that team more than any other Vikings team in my too may years of watching them, even more than than the 3-13 Les Steckel debacle of 1984.

25
by Bobman :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 8:10pm

All hail the Colts, one of only THREE teams with all three phases of the game in the (random cutoff alert!) top 13! (Pats with #1 DVOA and Ravens at #3) A balanced Colts team? I think I'm getting a touch of the vapors and need to sit down. Offense and Defense are ranked the same at 13 and their (who would have guessed?) ST are leading the way at 7. Could it be that punter Pat McAfee (and not Andrew Luck) is just awesome enough to make Indy fans forget about that Manning character? Okay, I didn't think so, but still....

I don't hold out too much hope for the playoffs unless Trent Richardson gets in a car accident, or slips in the shower and falls on a knife. Even if that happens, Pagano is likely to give him 25+ snaps per game. Hell, if T-Rich died, Pagano would give his lifeless corpse at least 10 snaps.

29
by Anon Ymous :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 8:21pm

Wouldn't tripping over a dog be more than enough to sideline T-Rich? That seems to be a traumatic event for NFL players.

61
by Bobman :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 1:12am

The rat-bastard is apparently NOT fragile. Some guys are made of glass and really talented (former Colts WRs Anthony Gonzalez and concussion-sponge Austin Collie come to mind). T-Rich might trip over a line in the sidewalk, but it doesn't injure him enough!

I'm thinking the OL should chip in to buy Boom Herron a rusty, razor-sharp bear trap that accidentally gets set outside T-Rich's front door one night. If they don't, local fans will.

32
by Perfundle :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 8:28pm

Elite defense and special teams, dragged down by a horrible offense --- looks like Buffalo is Chicago reincarnated.

33
by Anon Ymous :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 8:36pm

+Orton. ;-)

112
by TecmoBoso :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 5:03pm

The missing piece is Cutler. Jay will fix everything, Bills fans.

34
by D2K :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 8:40pm

It's very hard to watch. Spiller comes back this week and the offensive line has played much better since the insertion of Kraig Urbik at LG during the bye week. Spiller should give the running game and passing game a weapon out of the backfield that they havent had since he went down back in October.

It wont be enough to overcome starting NFL quarterback Kyle Orton, but his home run ability should at least make the offense watchable again.

39
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 9:09pm

Learn to love it man. There's nothing quite like strangling teams down to single digit points and walking away with a win where they don't know what just happened.

55
by chemical burn :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 11:27pm

Yeah, those teams are actually a ton of fun to root for when they start winning with any kind of consistency. Watching your team break another team's spirit WITHOUT blowing them out is hugely satisfying.

68
by big10freak :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 9:07am

Kraig Urbik, another feisty Wisconsin lineman making a difference

UW offensive linemen starting in the NFL: Travis Frederick, Peter Konz, Joe Thomas, Ricky Wagner, Kraig Urbik, Kevin Zeitler

Not too shabby

100
by TomC :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 2:41pm

Yup. I announced to the world on Sunday that I was going to pretend that Buffalo was the 2005 Bears and root for them accordingly. It felt sooooo right, all the way down to screaming at Orton.

101
by TomC :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 2:42pm

Double post deleted.

36
by Perfundle :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 8:55pm

I had forgotten about the pass direction addition on the defensive efficiency page. It's shocking that Seattle is solid everywhere except against passes to the Thomas' deep middle, where they're horrible. But maybe it's because Thomas is there that there's a really small sample size, so that a few deep passes in that area can really skew the numbers; I know that was the case with Seattle's performance against #1 receivers, when they jumped from below average to top five within the span of two games.

43
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 9:26pm

Holy crap! How long have we been doing that? I had no idea!

48
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 9:52pm

(By the way, I looked it up, and Seattle's awful DVOA on deep middle passes has come on only nine passes, only five of them successful, and never more than one success in a game.)

57
by Perfundle :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 11:36pm

I expected as much. The biggest difference between this year and last year is that teams only avoided Thomas deep, and this year they're avoiding Sherman too. Last year's pass defense was not sustainable because a huge whack of it came from teams challenging Sherman, and they've learned not to do that now (other than Kaepernick).

One way I can think of attacking Seattle's deep middle can be seen with this clip:

http://gfycat.com/AthleticBronzeFoxterrier

Seattle's version of Cover 3 has Chancellor settling slightly deeper than the other three shallow defenders so as to intentionally create a hole in the zone, which encourages receivers to settle in it while Chancellor races toward him, and ideally he gets there just in time to knock the pass away, which he does here.

But look at all that space behind Chancellor! All the receiver needs to do is to pretend to settle in the zone, give a double-move and he's in the clear. Use Chancellor's momentum against him, since he's not going to be able to reverse direction that quickly, and put a bit of air under the pass so that he won't have a chance to tip it. If Thomas is going to cheat away from Sherman's side teams should take advantage of that open field between those two.

84
by Rick_and_Roll :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 11:19am

Last year Seattle's pass rush didn't allow time for double moves. On the pick 6 in the SuperBowl Demaryous Thomas was open for a huge play on the type of pattern you suggested above and Manning got hit as he was throwing it and......

While their pass rush isn't what it was last year it has improved as the season has progressed.

96
by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 2:13pm

You don't need much extra time to pull off a double move. The QB just needs to throw the ball as soon as he sees Chancellor running forward.

I rewatched the pick-6, and I didn't see any double-moves by Thomas; he's just running a simple post route. He might've been open when Smith came down with the ball, but I don't think he was open when Manning could have targeted him. Earl was slightly deeper than Demaryius at that time, and Manning's lack of arm strength should mean that Thomas would have been able to contest the ball. I also think he would've dropped back deeper had he been facing a QB with a cannon.

102
by tictoc :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 2:59pm

"I also think he would've dropped back deeper had he been facing a QB with a cannon."

The Seahawks had no respect for deep throws from Manning. A combination of good pressure on the Qb and doubt that Peyton could actually get the ball there when he had time. Sherman said something to that affect in post game interviews. It was a big reason they were so successful shutting down the underneath stuff.

35
by BroncFan07 :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 8:53pm

How many years is this that a Jeff Fisher team made some sort of turnaround in the middle of the season that was just enough to miss the playoffs but get everyone excited for next year?

45
by ChristopherS :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 9:32pm

Previous comment aside, is there an educated opinion/analysis anywhere on whether Fisher's any good as a coach? (or educated analyses of coaches in general?)

It seems every opinion out there boils down to either "All his results are mediocre and his players are thugs!" or "He's the greatest coach ever if you account for his rosters!"

60
by chemical burn :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 12:53am

Is there more to say about Fisher beyond "his results are mediocre" but that's not too shabby "if you account for his rosters!" I mean, I don't think anyone anywhere thinks of him as top shelf...

62
by Alternator :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 1:29am

Subjectively, he seems great at getting superior performance out of inferior players, but does not have the ability to get superior performance out of average or better players. Great for rebuilding, bad for building a strong contender.

78
by Guido Merkens :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 10:39am

By way of attempted explanation for your observation, he appears to be very good at teaching fundamentals, but is extremely conservative and rarely innovative. Thus, he can get truly awful teams to do the basics well enough not to embarrass themselves, but fails to add the strategic value that good coaches like Belichick, Carroll, or Harbaugh add. Essentially Marty Schottenheimer 2.0, which is funny considering his current offensive coordinator.

89
by LyleNM :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 12:56pm

How many years of his coaching career has his GM provided him with a top 10 QB? Pretty difficult to have much playoff success without one.

113
by Hurt Bones :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 5:11pm

It maybe a little of the chicken or the egg argument. Is the GM giving him the talent and he isn’t maximizing it, or is he maximizing the talent and there isn’t much. McNair was Top 10 in DYAR four times, and the Titans missed the playoffs in two of those years. So whose fault is that Fisher or the GM? From 1995 (Fisher’s first full season) until 2013, teams with a QB in the Top 10 in DYAR have made the playoffs just over 2/3 the time. So 50% isn’t particularly good.

Other coaches who missed the playoffs multiple times during that period while fielding a top 10 DYAR QB.

Marvin Lewis 4
Gary Kubiak 3
Jason Garrett 3*
Mike Shanahan 3
Tom Coughlin 3
Norv Turner 3
Bill Belichick 2 (only 2 out of 13 top 10 QB seasons)
Denny Green 2
Dick Vermeil 2
Gunther Cunningham 2
Jim Mora 2
Mike Holmgren 2
Mike Sherman 2
Sean Payton 2*

*Both Payton and Garrett can miss again. Mike Smith can become a 2 timer as well as Tomlin if they don’t make the playoffs.

117
by LyleNM :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 5:18pm

DYAR is a counting stat. You should be using DVOA.

(edit) But it is also a loooong time since McNair retired.

120
by Hurt Bones :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 5:33pm

Personally I prefer DYAR when looking at players and DVOA when looking at teams. With Top 10 DVOA you would have include a season like 1998 Bubby Brister (4th in DVOA). He only played in 7 games starting just 4. Sorry I'll stick with DYAR. But if you want to set the rules feel free to look up the seasons yourself.

And yes it has been a long time since McNair retired but you asked how many times, not how recently.

142
by LyleNM :: Thu, 12/18/2014 - 12:26pm

All right, I'll stick with your terms. Let's see - 18 years, 4 seasons with a top 10 QB. I think my point is made. (That's a 22% rate, BTW.)

143
by Hurt Bones :: Thu, 12/18/2014 - 2:07pm

I agree with you that Fisher is difficult to judge. Personally I think he is a good not great coach. His strength is on the defensive side. One could argue that McNair might have been in the top 10 more often with a different head coach. Certainly OCs like Steckel, Heimerdinger, Schottenheimer and the Norm Chow Experience aren’t going to scare a whole lot of teams. Players do generally like playing for him, but I think he has a definite ceiling.

125
by tuluse :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 6:23pm

I've watched a good number of Rams games. Fisher is maximizing the talent there.

118
by ChristopherS :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 5:21pm

Thanks everyone, this has been enjoyable.

So it seems these arguments still boil down to "mediocre/thugs!" or "great/rosters!" But in a reasoned way for once, beyond just shouting "8-8!"

123
by chemical burn :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 6:16pm

I personally think he has excellent thugs on a mediocre roster.

46
by osoviejo :: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 9:41pm

Are the SOS rankings based off weighted DVOA?

63
by hatersgonhate :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 1:39am

What kind of correlation is there between run/pass ratio and DVOA? It seems intuitive that pass DVOA is higher than rush DVOA, so a change in run/pass ratio could affect DVOA

66
by Dr. Gamera :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 7:15am

Interesting playoff odds note: the Browns' playoff odds may indeed round to 0.00%, but they are technically not eliminated. The problem is that along with a lot of other help, they need a Chiefs-Chargers TIE in Week 17.

72
by cstoos :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 9:42am

I had noted that as well. I remember a few years ago (2007 maybe?) KC needed 6 or 7 games over the course of two weeks to go their way to get in and all of the pieces fell just right. Their playoff odds had to be really close to 0% at the end of Week 15 that season.

So you never know. Of course, betting on a tie is a rough one.

79
by Guido Merkens :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 10:39am

Last year, I think the Chargers needed four separate games to go their way in Week 17 to make the playoffs, and all did.

83
by Travis :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 11:06am

2006, where in Week 17 alone the Chiefs had to beat the Jaguars, have the Titans lose at home to the Patriots, the Bengals lose at home to the Steelers, and the Broncos lose at home to the 49ers.

69
by big10freak :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 9:11am

Green Bay's special teams continue to slowly slip into the abyss.

The constant surrendering of field position is not a winning strategy.

McCarthy/Thompson steadfast loyalty to assistants is to some extent admirable but it should be earned. Slocum has done little in his tenure to generate this type of commitment from management.

I wish Ted were as ruthless with the coaching staff as he was with the roster.

71
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 9:32am

It is the most consistent failing of otherwise good head coaches, but an understandable one. Developing a reputation for loyalty really helps attract talented assistants. It's just a very hard balance to strike.

74
by big10freak :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 10:15am

Agree completely on the need for reputation for loyalty. But the flip side is that Thompson has proven to be pretty ruthless on the player side.

It's a contradiction that not just writers but players have noticed.

80
by Guido Merkens :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 10:42am

Perhaps it's more acceptable to be ruthless on the player side, since all teams are somewhat ruthless. It could be tough for players to draw a distinction between the Packers' ruthlessness and that of other teams, when virtually every team lets go several established players every offseason. Since it's more rare for teams to fire assistant coaches without firing the head coach, each such firing probably has a bigger impact on perception.

85
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 11:31am

Being ruthless with people who have an average career length of about 4 years is eminently logical. Loyalty to those who won't be able to perform at even a replacement level in few years doesn't obtain much, since everybody understands that a playing career is over very fast. In contrast, even very average assistants commonly have careers that last decades. Hell, demonstrably bad assistants have been known to hang around for 20 years. Assistant coaches are always going to place a lot more value on loyalty than players, and are thus always are going to be far more likely to obtain it. The trick for GMs and head coaches, and it is a hard one, is dole out enough to attract good assistants, without being so generous that average or bad ones get to hang around forever. In other words, management is hard.

86
by tuluse :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 11:44am

I bet if Thompson could draft coaches he'd be just as ruthless with them.

81
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 10:45am

Like many Packers fans I've been griping about Slocum for years. I had some glimmer of hope earlier in the year when things were working alright. The reduction in injuries to the team I figured was the biggest factor in the special teams improvement, and I thought that, as crazy as it sounds, that hiring Ron Zook as an assistant special teams coach was making a difference too.

Now some of the horrors may be injury related. Sitton and Lang were pulled off the punting and kicking teams when they got injured and several of the blocks are a direct result of their back-ups getting beat. But to have 2 extra points, 2 field goals, and 2 punts blocked in a season... I know Barclay was good on those units and they lost him at the start of the season too, but it's just insane. Masthay and Crosby are actually kicking pretty well, but the rest of the unit...

I actually hope that the hiring of Zook means the firing of Slocum (and Zook). I'd like to believe Slocum said he needed help in the off season and he could fix the poor performance. He got it, he had healthy players for most of the year, and he still failed so the whole special teams coaching structure is being let go and replaced. By who, I don't know, but it can't be much worse than the last few seasons.

93
by nath :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 2:01pm

I'd like to see a weekly graph of the Saints' results. I feel like they played better and just got bad luck earlier in the season, but after the Green Bay game or so their overall level of play really slipped.

115
by TecmoBoso :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 5:14pm

The Good Surprises this year based on rankings, which obviously is flawed in and of itself, but let's roll with it:
--Baltimore O (7th) - 30th last year. This can't all be Smith and Forsett?
--Philly D (8th) - Toss up with Bal's O as most surprising unit this year.
--Pittsburgh O (3rd) - There was reason to believe they'd be good since they weren't bad last year, but this good?
--Buffalo D (1st) - This is more considering the injuries they had prior to the season even kicking off. This sort of seems more a byproduct of good coaching, but correct me.

The Bad Surprises this year based on ranking:
Carolina D (19th) - Quite the fall
Jets D (24th) - The writing was probably on the wall, but bottom quarter of the league bad?
TB D (22nd) - They were pretty good last year and Lovie was coming in... I guess the players aren't matching the scheme? Help me here, haven't seen a ton of the Bucs.
Bears/Eagles O - Neither have been bad and injuries have played a roll, but neither are very dynamic after being pretty dynamic last year.

122
by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 5:55pm

Philly D(8th)
Carolina D (19th)

Defenses solely reliant on the pass rush and run defense to cover up a bad secondary are on very shaky ground. Carolina was like Philadelphia last year, and fell apart after losing Hardy. Philadelphia is seemingly in the process of falling apart right now.

126
by chemical burn :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 6:27pm

Philly's defense has been bad all year - watch the Rams game if you want to see what happens when a mediocre offense suddenly realizes their secondary literally can't cover anyone. They rely on getting to the QB and unsettling an offense, making them afraid throw because of pressure - when teams start max-protecting against them and going deep all the time, it turns into a bloodbath. The last quarter and a half of the Carolina game is another example. I know they're not giving their all there, but the ease with which Carolina moves the ball at the end of the game is alarming by any standard...

(Also, you could watch the Green Bay game and see what a good passing offense does to Fletcher/Williams/Allen. Warning: the footage is not appropriate for children.)

Also, the Eagles running offense has been horrific - look at McCoy's numbers. He's second in the league in carries, so his traditional stats look ok, but his DVOA is awful and they're running him into the line 20 times a game. He leads the league in runs for a loss and I can't imagine any non-QB has been tackled more frequently for a 5 or more yard loss. He's been really, really bad. And it's hurt the entire offense, especially sticking with McCoy when it isn't working and not giving more carries to Sproles/Polk who have been effective in a limited capacity. And Sanchez in his 6 starts has now officially (by DVOA) been worse in Philly than he was in 3 out of 5 seasons in New York. Let that sink in for a moment.

147
by David C :: Thu, 12/18/2014 - 5:48pm

The way you talk about them, I'd think they weren't a 9-5 team expected to win their final two games.

130
by jonnyblazin :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 7:12pm

"Baltimore O (7th) - 30th last year. This can't all be Smith and Forsett?"

That's the difference going from a guy who's never run an offense before (Jim Caldwell) at OC to Gary Kubiak.

140
by mehllageman56 :: Thu, 12/18/2014 - 2:19am

Per the Jets defense, I expected it to do worse. No corners but the brittle Milliner, a rookie safety, and facing a murderer's row of quarterbacks. Kind of unfair to Rex, but there were games when the team was just not ready to play.

141
by chemical burn :: Thu, 12/18/2014 - 3:02am

I definitely felt at times it seemed like Idzik had assembled a defensive roster built specifically so Ryan would fail - there was no reasonable excuse to have CB's that bad when it's known how Rex builds his schemes around CB's. And we know Idzik wanted Rex out of there (and a couple GM candidates turned down the Job because Woody wouldn't let them fire Rex straight away.)

116
by formido :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 5:17pm

Sorry but weighted DVOA is penalizing Seattle for the injuries they had midseason that they didn't have at the beginning and don't have now.

121
by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 5:50pm

Also penalizing them for the unspectacular game they just had against a mediocre San Francisco.

124
by chemical burn :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 6:23pm

And not getting too excited for their domination of mediocre Philly and Arizona offenses. It's hard to get a DVOA boost when you don't play good teams, it never gets too impressed by beating up on mediocre/bad opponents. Also, their offense hasn't been good (just somewhere between ok and subpar) since they went on their recent tear...

128
by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 6:56pm

Not really, the weighted DVOA and offensive DVOA have been steadily going up until this week:

Week 11: 12.2%, 13.1%
Week 12: 16.0%, 12.0%
Week 13: 16.4%, 12.6%
Week 14: 24.7%, 15.1%
Week 15: 23.1%, 14.8%

Their offense has been fine apart from in the red zone. There's a lot that the offense does that doesn't show up on the scoreboard. For instance, they went on a 11-play, 7-minute, 64-yard drive against Arizona to end the game, a 12-play, 7-minute, 55-yard drive against San Francisco where they turned it over on downs inside SF's red zone, and a 9-play, 4-minute, 34-yard drive against Philadelphia to end that game, with only 5 third downs faced total.

It's hard to get a DVOA boost when you don't play good teams, it never gets too impressed by beating up on mediocre/bad opponents.

Sure it can. Seattle went from 31.9% DVOA and 35.6% wDVOA to 38.8% DVOA and 43.9% wDVOA after they beat Arizona 58-0 in 2012.

Offenses that rely on ball control (longest time of possession per drive, 4th-most plays per drive), not turning the ball over (fewest turnovers per drive) and pinning the defense deep in its territory if the drive stalls (2nd-best starting field position for the defense, despite a below-average net per punt and average field position after kickoffs) are always underrated.

129
by chemical burn :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 7:01pm

Ha - that's what I mean. They went up 5.1% DVOA after a 58-0 win. It wasn't that impressed but a hugely impressive win. Also, those offensive numbers are mediocre. Good-ish? They're fine, I guess, but not anything that would be expected to boost DVOA. They're very consistent, for sure. So, I'm not sure why that would boost their DVOA.

Anyhoo, the conversation isn't "has Seattle been playing their best football recently?" Which, obviously. I was addressing the question is "Why isn't DVOA reacting much to their obvious improvement," but disagreeing with the notion that it's the injury games bringing them down. I think the answer is: their offense has just been ok and defensively they've beaten up on not great teams.

There's the question more directly brought up of "Is weighted DVOA measuring them incorrectly?" And I think it's genuinely tough to say. They've looked great, but they've looked great on defense against mediocre competition and have looked ok on offense versus strong-ish defenses. It's just tough to say what that means and that's what I think weighted DVOA is expressing. It says they're very good, but isn't willing to say they're amazing. I think that's really fair, all things considered.

(And, yes, offenses whose strategy isn't to score do tend to get rated poorly by DVOA. Those teams are being compared to offenses who intend to score and do so with more frequency and consistency. Obviously, if Aaron Rodgers played for Seattle, he would stop trying to score and attempt to hold onto the ball and pin his opponents deep because that's Seattle's philosophy.)

132
by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 8:13pm

It went up 6.9%, not 5.1%. Also, the higher DVOA you have, the harder it is to go higher. That game was the 3rd-highest DVOA game from 1991-2012:

http://www.footballoutsiders.com/extra-points/2012/seattle-and-best-dvoa...

Note that 9 out of the top 12 games came against below-average opponents, contrary to your theory.

Also, I didn't list their weekly DVOA, but the DVOA after each of those weeks. To go from 13.1% in week 11 to 14.8% in week 15 means they averaged roughly 20% DVOA on offense the last four weeks, which would be ranked 4th among all offenses; that's hardly mediocre.

And, yes, offenses whose strategy isn't to score do tend to get rated poorly by DVOA.

Fascinating, then, that Seattle's offense, which you seem to think is mediocre because they aren't scoring much, is not being ranked poorly by DVOA.

Obviously, if Aaron Rodgers played for Seattle, he would stop trying to score and attempt to hold onto the ball and pin his opponents deep because that's Seattle's philosophy

Funny of you to mock this possibility when Brady, with horrible receivers to start 2013, did exactly the same thing.

I think the negativity of your reaction to Philadelphia's ending stretch is seeping into your judgments of other teams.

133
by chemical burn :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 8:31pm

Look, I'm not sure what the complaint is here - I genuinely cannot follow your first 4 paragraphs there. I don't have any opinions on the Seahawks beyond the fact that they're obviously very good - I'm just trying to see what DVOA sees. They have moderate variance, so it's not like they've had huge swings in their performance all season. It's not like they played a stretch where they were awful and then suddenly were otherworldly - over the course of the season, it seems like they went from being good to slightly less good to somewhere above the original good.

You seem to be arguing with me about why DVOA can't recognize that Seattle has one of the best offenses in the NFL by their particular standards for what an offense should be? Ok - but why would DVOA ever be able to understand that? Why would anyone want it to? Why would a team that could theoretically move the ball well not want to score? I just don't get what the argument I'm having with you is - the original poster posited that DVOA was under-rating a team because of a stretch with injuries. I think it's rating them more or less correctly - it thinks they're very good, but not the best! That's not because of some down games with a few defensive injuries, that's because of how they've played recently.

Seattle's pass offense is average and their run offense is amazingly good - in the modern game, i was putting more emphasis on the passing game. It's totally fair to disagree. But I don't think it's strange that DVOA doesn't like them better. The idea that they're not trying to score and that not trying to score should be regarded as a strength, however, is genuinely strange. Anyhoo, my negativity about the Eagles is definitely making me not impressed by what Seattle did to them, so that much is true!

I mean look, I think Seattle's DVOA and weighted DVOA is interesting because of how it competes with the standard narrative of the team. DVOA doesn't think: they were good and then horribly hobbled by massive injuries and then otherworldly good when they got a few players back. I think it's fascinating also that it isn't so blown away by their recent stretch in comparison to the rest of their season, which I think makes sense, all things considered. I never would have guessed they'd rank 7th in defensive DVOA for weeks 10-15 - they're getting talked about like in that time being back to 2013 form, which DVOA doesn't think they are even close to...

134
by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 8:49pm

I'm arguing that while there are good reasons why Seattle's weighted DVOA isn't higher, you are providing entirely the wrong ones. Here's what you have come up with:

Teams don't have high DVOA numbers when they play against mediocre/bad opponents. I've shown that this is false.

Seattle's offense has been between OK and subpar. By DVOA, this is also false.

You seem to be arguing with me about why DVOA can't recognize that Seattle has one of the best offenses in the NFL by their particular standards for what an offense should be?

Again, by DVOA, if not by what the average person, or even by myself, Seattle is one of the best offenses in the NFL. Your ranking of offenses seems to be:

Top 4: Great
5 to 12: Between OK and subpar
13 to 32: Horrible

That's not how it works.

Seattle's weighted DVOA rating isn't higher because while they've easily beaten several average teams, they haven't blown them out, like New England just did to Miami, and like Seattle did to San Francisco, Jacksonville, Atlanta, Minnesota, New Orleans and New York last year.

136
by chemical burn :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 9:30pm

The point you make about blowouts is basically the same one I'm trying to make. I guess I'm just being unclear - I said it's harder to move the needle on DVOA when you play bad/mediocre opponents. That's objectively true - that's what the D in DVOA is for, it accounts for what you're doing against who you're doing it to. If you throw for 250 yards versus a bad defense, DVOA is less impressed than if you do it against a very good defense. Therefore, to impress DVOA more versus a bad/mediocre opponent, you need to be even more impressive - that's what I mean by it is harder to affect DVOA vs. a bad/mediocre opponent. Not impossible, but more difficult. A 58-0 blowout over an ok team will impress it more than a 24-14 win over an ok team.

I absolutely take my classification of their offense back. My meaning is: they've played ok but not so amazingly or with notable improvement as to affect their DVOA. Part of my stumbling is that I'm being squishy with their weighted DVOA vs. seasonal DVOA and the comparison of the two. It's a good offense - awesome running attack, I have no opinion on how to describe their 12th ranked passing game. Pick a word you're happy with.

So basically, I have three interlocking assertions about the Seahawks weighted DVOA not being higher and I don't think they're different than what you're saying. Number one is not even up for debate, but you've bristled at it:
1) The opponent adjustments are a factor in their DVOA. (That's what the D stands for.)
2) They have played well on defense against mediocre offenses.
3) They have not played astoundingly well against good defenses. (I mean that with no sarcasm or irony. I'm trying to find a neutral-ish phrase here, "good not excellent" or "well, but not notably well" to describe what they've done - I don't want to repeat my "ok" or "mediocre" mistake by saying "pedestrian." Maybe "above average but not wildly above average?" I think I'm being clear so pick whatever phrase you are most happy with.)

Here's the thing, I think I'm just giving a little more in-depth explanation of the nature of their non-blowouts. You say they "won easily" but it's tough for DVOA agree because of the factors outlined above. You mention a mediocre game against SF, but that game had many similarities to their wins against Philly and Arizona - almost improbably so with those three teams all having similar offensive/defensive profiles (according to DVOA) and Seattle delivering very similar performances against them.

My premise is: it's not the injury games bringing their weighted DVOA down so much as it is the non-injury games failing to bring it up. Maybe that's not true, do you have the game by game stats? (Also, I apologize if I seem like I'm mocking you - this conversation is actually fun for me, so I hope it is for you, too!)

145
by Perfundle :: Thu, 12/18/2014 - 4:36pm

I don't have the game-by-game numbers, but I can roughly infer it from their weekly change in DVOA. As far as I can tell, their DVOA (and weighted DVOA) is getting dragged down by the six-game stretch between Dallas and Kansas City, which just happens to be the games that Wagner was hurt for.

Now, weighted DVOA kicks out earlier games as the season progresses, so as Seattle gets high DVOA games in their recent stretch, great games at the start are being lost, so it doesn't go up as much as you would expect.

It's true that their recent DVOA scores aren't as high as some from the last two years, but they're still very impressive. But weighted DVOA isn't a four-game rolling average; if it was, Seattle would be #1. It's still including games from that 6-game stretch, so in that sense formido is right that the Wagner-less games are depressing their ratings.

You mention a mediocre game against SF, but that game had many similarities to their wins against Philly and Arizona - almost improbably so with those three teams all having similar offensive/defensive profiles (according to DVOA) and Seattle delivering very similar performances against them.

If you look further into the data you'll see that the last game against San Francisco was not the same as the previous three games. They allowed more yards, and a 42.1% conversion rate on 3rd and 4th downs, compared to 28.6% for the first three games. They also failed to go on a long time-consuming drive in the fourth, and went 3-and-out losing 29 yards in the process. So their offense and defense both took a step back, which is why their offensive and defensive ratings also slightly decreased.

135
by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 9:28pm

I think it's fascinating also that it isn't so blown away by their recent stretch in comparison to the rest of their season, which I think makes sense, all things considered. I never would have guessed they'd rank 7th in defensive DVOA for weeks 10-15 - they're getting talked about like in that time being back to 2013 form, which DVOA doesn't think they are even close to...

Except their recent stretch is not the same as weeks 10-15. The latter includes the New York and Kansas City games, which were not good defensive games at all. From weeks 12-15, i.e. their recent four game winning streak, and coincidentally the games that Wagner played, their defensive DVOA is around -28%, and is near tied at #1 with St. Louis in that stretch. -28% is even better than their -25.9% from last year.

137
by chemical burn :: Wed, 12/17/2014 - 9:37pm

Oh - interesting. What are the weeks Wagner (and who else was injured - Chancellor?) were out? Four games is a really small sample size (I mean, if you take the Ram's four best game from weeks 10-15, they'd be even higher, right?) - what was their DVOA in the stretch Wagner was gone? Do you have defensive DVOA breakdown for those three chunks: early season, injury-stretch, current resurgence? Or do you not agree there are distinct chunks to their performance?

146
by EricL :: Thu, 12/18/2014 - 5:26pm

Wagner got hurt against Dallas (week 6 - he took 54 of 75 defensive snaps), and didn't return until the Arizona game in week 12. Chancellor missed weeks 9 and 10 (the Raiders and Giants games), but had not really been healthy most of the season to that point. Maxwell got hurt against Dallas (taking 31 snaps) and didn't return until week 10 against the Giants.

The four worst games the Seahawks defense have played this year have been these:

Week 02: L @SD. Rivers had an amazing game, great game plan. They got beat in the heat.
Week 07: L @StL: Maxwell and Wagner out. Harvin traded on Friday. Special teams trickeration.
Week 10: W NYG: Wagner and Chancellor out, Maxwell not fully back (played only 27 snaps).
Week 11: L @KC: Wagner out, first game without Mebane.

Wagner then returned in week 12, the start of the defensive run.

Note about the Dallas game: with 5 minutes left, the Seahawks had an 88.5% win probability. Then Dallas converted that miracle 3rd and 20, and things went RAPIDLY downhill from there.

150
by nat :: Fri, 12/19/2014 - 12:04pm

I just noticed in Offensive Drive Stats...

The league leader in Points and TDs per Red Zone Trip is the OAKLAND RAIDERS.

That sound you hear is my brain exploding.

151
by chemical burn :: Fri, 12/19/2014 - 8:27pm

That's just got be affected by a small sample size, right? What's their rank in redzone trips alone?

152
by nat :: Sat, 12/20/2014 - 12:01am

They average 1.6 Red Zone trips per game, which is about half the league average, and by far the worst in the league. They are 31st in points per drive overall.

So, yes, it's a small sample.

It still blows my mind. I think I've decided to ignore red zone stats from now on.

153
by tuluse :: Sat, 12/20/2014 - 1:33am

It's funny that FO determined redzone is no more predictive than other parts of the field years ago but gives it a bonus anyways to fit "what's happened" instead of "what's going to happen".

Still this might warrant some investigation. I know the knock on Carr this year is that he checks down too much and/or throws short all the time. Maybe that's an ideal redzone strategy.

154
by nat :: Sat, 12/20/2014 - 8:05am

I thought Aaron dropped the red zone bonus for DVOA. But that might just be wishful thinking on my part.

155
by nat :: Sat, 12/20/2014 - 9:40am

That sound you hear is my brain exploding.
That's just got be affected by a small sample size, right?

Wait just a gosh darned minute there...