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The Seahawks receiver put himself on the map with a numerical explosion in the second half of last year, but Cian Fahey shows that Baldwin has been very good for a long time now.

01 Dec 2015

Week 12 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

Some teams are rising, and some teams are falling, and it all shakes up the top of the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings this week. After all this week's movement, the Cincinnati Bengals return to the No. 1 spot, followed by the New England Patriots and then the surprise hottest team in the league over the last few weeks, the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs have actually ascended to the No. 1 spot in our weighted DVOA ratings which lower the strength of early-season games.

What about our last undefeated team, the Carolina Panthers? The Panthers are still the top team in the NFC, but they rank just fourth in DVOA and third in weighted DVOA. There's nothing wrong with being the top team in the NFC, but the AFC is simply the better of the two conferences this year. Eight of the top 12 teams in DVOA are AFC teams. The one weak AFC division is the AFC South... which happens to be the division that Carolina plays this year. Right now, only 13 of the 32 NFL teams have positive DVOA ratings, and only two of those teams are on Carolina's schedule: Seattle and Green Bay.

There's been some controversy about a FiveThirtyEight article from this week titled "The Panthers Are the Worst Team to Ever Start 11-0." But that controversy seems a bit ridiculous to me. How many modern NFL teams have started 11-0 depends in part on how you define the "modern NFL," but the article defines it with the start of the common draft in 1966. Since then, 12 teams have started the season 11-0. Every one of those teams was a very good team, but you can't have 12 teams that rank in the top ten! Somebody has to be 12th!

As it turns out, DVOA does not think that team is the 2015 Carolina Panthers. We don't have DVOA ratings for teams before 1989, but here are the DVOA ratings of all 11-0 teams as of the point they were 11-0:

DVOA FOR 11-0 TEAMS, 1989-2015
TEAM YEAR TOTAL
DVOA
RANK OFFENSE
DVOA
RANK DEFENSE
DVOA
RANK S.T.
DVOA
RANK
NE 2007 71.9% 1 49.8% 1 -14.9% 4 7.2% 3
WAS 1991 59.7% 1 25.4% 2 -25.8% 3 8.5% 1
DEN 1998 48.6% 1 41.5% 1 -2.8% 12 4.3% 3
IND 2005 35.5% 1 26.3% 5 -12.4% 5 -3.1% 27
NO 2009 35.2% 1 27.1% 1 -11.3% 5 -3.2% 26
IND 2009 31.0% 3 23.6% 3 -7.8% 9 -0.4% 18
CAR 2015 27.2% 4 7.0% 10 -24.0% 2 -3.8% 28
GB 2011 26.6% 2 33.4% 1 8.2% 25 1.4% 10

In case you are wondering, the team that ranked No. 2 between New Orleans and Indianapolis in 2009 was New England at 7-4. The one team with a higher DVOA than Green Bay after 12 weeks of 2011 was actually the 8-3 Houston Texans, who had just lost quarterback Matt Schaub to a season-ending injury and disintegrated after that.

We now have Carolina with 24.1 percent odds of finishing 16-0. Those two games with Atlanta certainly look a lot easier now than they did a few weeks ago. In fact, our odds of the Panthers finishing 16-0 are actually higher than our odds of Carolina winning the Super Bowl, which are down slightly to 23.9 percent this week. (The gap is even larger in the numbers published as part of our playoff odds report at ESPN Insider earlier today; the changes come from new opponent adjustments after Monday Night Football and random fluctuation in the 25,000 simulations of each run.)

The ratings may now say that Kansas City is better than Carolina but that doesn't necessarily mean that anybody at FO specifically believes Kansas City is better than Carolina. The Chiefs are probably getting a little bit of an unrealistic boost because they got to be the defense on the field when Peyton Manning suddenly became 120 years old a couple weeks ago. Nonetheless, the Chiefs' climb is a bit stunning. They have the best DVOA in the league since the start of October. Now that we're 12 weeks into the season, we're starting to see some significant gaps between total DVOA and weighted DVOA as teams trend upwards and downwards. Kansas City is by far the team trending upwards the strongest. Two NFC teams have equally clear trends downward: Green Bay and Arizona. Here's a look at the week-to-week DVOA graphs of all three teams.

On each graph, the other line in an opposite color is a five-week rolling trend of average DVOA. The downward trend for Arizona isn't as bad as it is for Green Bay, because the whole thing is a bit higher. The Packers have gone from solid wins to playing average or a little bit below. The Cardinals have gone from steamrolling their opponents to mostly playing a little bit above average, and the results are much better -- after all, the Cardinals beat both Seattle and Cincinnati despite having lower DVOA ratings than their opponents for both games. (We covered that in the DVOA commentary each of the last two weeks; archive here.) The same goes for this week's close and ugly win over the San Francisco Gabberts, although this time the Cardinals' DVOA is lower primarily because of huge opponent adjustments for playing No. 32 San Francisco, not because the unadjusted ratings for the game actually put the 49ers higher.

Since Week 6, our odds for Green Bay winning the Super Bowl have gone from 24.6 percent to 2.7 percent. Because the Cardinals keep winning despite the lower DVOA ratings, their odds have dropped by much less, from 16.4 percent to 12.6 percent. Meanwhile, Kansas City's odds of winning the Super Bowl have gone from less than 0.1 percent to 6.0 percent this week.

Finally, no discussion of rising and falling teams is complete without hitting on the Thanksgiving game between Detroit and Philadelphia. The rise and fall there is a lot more short-term than what we're talking about with the Kansas City or Arizona trends in weighted DVOA. Detroit's single-game DVOA of 72.0% is not the best of the year; Denver still has that for the win over Green Bay. Philadelphia's single-game DVOA of -89.0% is not the worst of the year; that belongs to Tampa Bay for the Week 1 loss to Tennessee. But wow, did that one game change the DVOA standings. Detroit jumps up from 28th to 16th and Philadelphia plummets from 13th to 24th.

The disintegration of the Philadelphia Eagles over the last couple weeks is mind-blowing. This is a team that ranked second in defensive DVOA just two weeks ago! It's really just two games for the defense, which was perfectly fine when the Eagles narrowly lost to Miami 20-19 in Week 10. The offense has fallen apart over three weeks, or basically since Mark Sanchez became the starting quarterback. Last year, the drop from Nick Foles to Sanchez wasn't very big. This year, the drop from Bradford to Sanchez is apparently much bigger, although the difference is bigger in DVOA than yards per play because of opponent adjustments and turnovers.

Take a look at what has happened to the Eagles offense over the last three weeks, and the defense over the last two. For those wondering, Philadelphia is now listed as sixth in DVOA in Weeks 1-10 rather than second because of changes in opponent adjustments and stat corrections.

Philadelphia Offense, Weeks 1-9 vs. Weeks 10-12
  Weeks 1-9 Rank Weeks 10-12 Rank
Yd/Play 5.42 22 4.89 25
Offensive DVOA -5.7% 21 -32.6% 31
Pass DVOA -2.1% 26 -29.5% 31
Run DVOA 1.9% 8 -30.4% 26
Philadelphia Defense, Weeks 1-10 vs. Weeks 11-12
  Weeks 1-10 Rank Weeks 11-12 Rank
Yd/Play 5.28 8 6.87 31
Defensive DVOA -13.9% 6 41.2% 32
Pass D DVOA -13.6% 3 78.9% 32
Run D DVOA -14.3% 11 4.5% 29

I haven't gone into the data or watched film enough to have a concrete explanation for just what has happened to the Eagles defense in the last two weeks. Was this kind of collapse always looming, or has there been a significant change in circumstance? Is it a fluke where the Eagles can return to playing above-average defense, or are they going to be this bad from here on out? Did opponents just figure something out on film? Is there a major personnel change? I'd love to hear from Eagles fans in the comments.

* * * * *

Once again in 2015, we have teamed up with EA Sports to bring Football Outsiders-branded player content to Madden 16 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 12 feature a double dose of Detroit Lions:

  • RE Ezekiel Ansah, DET (24-HOUR HERO): 3.5 sacks, all on third downs.
  • CB David Amerson, OAK: 6 passes defensed, INT; three of the passes defensed (including the interception) came on third downs.
  • LOLB Anthony Barr, MIN: 8 combined tackles, 2 forced fumbles, sack.
  • C Mitch Morse, KC: Chiefs running backs gained 115 yards on 20 carries with 60 percent success rate, almost entirely on runs up the middle; no sacks allowed.
  • RB Theo Riddick, DET: No. 4 RB of Week 12 with 53 DYAR (caught 5 passes on 5 targets for 62 yards and a TD).

* * * * *

All stats pages are now updated with Week 12 information (or will be in the next few minutes) including FO Premium, snap counts and playoff odds. You can also check out further commentary on our playoff odds report at ESPN Insider.

We'll be announcing the winners of the special one-week Thanksgiving Loser League sometime tonight or at the latest on Wednesday.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through 12 weeks of 2015, 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. As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE. 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.

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 CIN 32.8% 3 32.1% 2 9-2 22.9% 1 -6.4% 8 3.4% 7
2 NE 30.6% 1 28.9% 5 10-1 20.3% 2 -2.4% 12 7.9% 1
3 KC 27.6% 6 32.7% 1 6-5 14.5% 5 -9.0% 6 4.2% 6
4 CAR 27.2% 4 29.5% 3 11-0 7.0% 10 -24.0% 2 -3.8% 28
5 SEA 26.9% 5 29.3% 4 6-5 14.5% 4 -7.1% 7 5.2% 4
6 ARI 25.1% 2 22.0% 6 9-2 12.0% 6 -13.3% 4 -0.2% 17
7 DEN 17.6% 9 17.0% 7 9-2 -11.6% 26 -26.2% 1 3.0% 8
8 GB 15.7% 8 11.4% 9 7-4 11.5% 7 -4.1% 10 0.2% 15
9 PIT 13.9% 7 14.3% 8 6-5 15.8% 3 0.5% 16 -1.4% 21
10 NYJ 10.3% 11 9.9% 10 6-5 -0.9% 15 -12.2% 5 -1.0% 19
11 BUF 5.4% 10 4.8% 13 5-6 8.6% 9 4.5% 21 1.2% 12
12 OAK 4.5% 14 5.0% 12 5-6 10.3% 8 5.2% 23 -0.7% 18
13 MIN 3.6% 16 5.8% 11 8-3 0.2% 14 -1.2% 14 2.2% 9
14 BAL -3.5% 17 -4.3% 17 4-7 -4.5% 19 6.3% 26 7.3% 2
15 WAS -4.7% 20 -3.7% 15 5-6 -4.8% 20 4.2% 20 4.3% 5
16 DET -5.8% 28 -4.8% 18 4-7 -5.0% 21 2.4% 18 1.6% 11
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 NYG -6.5% 12 -7.3% 21 5-6 -5.0% 22 6.8% 27 5.3% 3
18 STL -6.7% 19 -8.7% 22 4-7 -21.5% 32 -14.4% 3 0.4% 13
19 CHI -6.8% 27 -3.3% 14 5-6 4.2% 13 5.6% 25 -5.4% 31
20 IND -7.0% 21 -5.1% 19 6-5 -7.8% 25 -0.5% 15 0.2% 14
21 TB -7.3% 15 -3.8% 16 5-6 -3.6% 17 0.5% 17 -3.1% 26
22 HOU -7.7% 23 -5.2% 20 6-5 -6.7% 24 -4.9% 9 -5.9% 32
23 ATL -10.3% 18 -12.3% 25 6-5 -4.2% 18 4.0% 19 -2.1% 23
24 PHI -11.0% 13 -12.2% 24 4-7 -13.4% 28 -3.7% 11 -1.4% 20
25 JAC -14.2% 24 -14.9% 26 4-7 -5.5% 23 5.5% 24 -3.2% 27
26 MIA -14.4% 22 -12.0% 23 4-7 -2.7% 16 8.7% 28 -3.0% 25
27 SD -15.3% 30 -15.2% 27 3-8 5.2% 12 15.2% 30 -5.3% 30
28 TEN -17.0% 25 -18.6% 28 2-9 -14.4% 29 -1.2% 13 -3.9% 29
29 DAL -19.1% 26 -19.2% 29 3-8 -14.4% 30 4.6% 22 0.0% 16
30 NO -22.0% 29 -23.9% 31 4-7 6.1% 11 26.3% 32 -1.8% 22
31 CLE -22.3% 31 -22.5% 30 2-9 -12.4% 27 11.7% 29 1.8% 10
32 SF -33.7% 32 -31.6% 32 3-8 -15.7% 31 15.4% 31 -2.6% 24
  • 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 CIN 32.8% 9-2 26.4% 8.8 2 4.4% 9 -5.6% 23 10.3% 13
2 NE 30.6% 10-1 32.1% 9.3 1 -1.2% 20 -8.0% 27 4.6% 3
3 KC 27.6% 6-5 25.2% 7.6 6 6.5% 4 -6.4% 24 21.9% 30
4 CAR 27.2% 11-0 33.9% 8.4 3 -6.1% 27 -11.3% 31 7.4% 7
5 SEA 26.9% 6-5 23.4% 7.9 5 0.8% 14 -0.8% 18 10.5% 14
6 ARI 25.1% 9-2 27.0% 7.9 4 -5.5% 26 5.7% 7 17.2% 24
7 DEN 17.6% 9-2 19.9% 7.3 7 5.8% 6 4.1% 9 15.3% 21
8 GB 15.7% 7-4 13.1% 7.3 8 2.5% 12 1.7% 14 18.4% 25
9 PIT 13.9% 6-5 13.0% 6.7 10 6.0% 5 3.5% 10 8.8% 9
10 NYJ 10.3% 6-5 17.2% 6.7 9 -5.0% 25 -1.3% 19 9.1% 10
11 BUF 5.4% 5-6 8.1% 5.4 13 5.3% 7 -6.4% 25 12.9% 17
12 OAK 4.5% 5-6 5.8% 5.7 12 0.7% 15 14.7% 2 13.0% 18
13 MIN 3.6% 8-3 6.6% 6.3 11 -1.7% 22 10.9% 4 15.0% 20
14 BAL -3.5% 4-7 2.0% 5.0 17 -1.9% 23 17.4% 1 2.3% 1
15 WAS -4.7% 5-6 -6.5% 5.1 16 -1.5% 21 -10.1% 29 16.8% 22
16 DET -5.8% 4-7 -13.5% 4.5 23 8.3% 3 -10.7% 30 22.9% 31
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
ESTIM.
WINS
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VAR. RANK
17 NYG -6.5% 5-6 -0.5% 5.2 15 -8.7% 31 3.1% 11 12.9% 16
18 STL -6.7% 4-7 -8.9% 4.9 18 4.3% 10 1.0% 15 10.1% 12
19 CHI -6.8% 5-6 -11.8% 4.6 21 9.9% 2 -9.6% 28 13.2% 19
20 IND -7.0% 6-5 -9.9% 4.1 26 1.1% 13 -7.9% 26 5.9% 5
21 TB -7.3% 5-6 -3.4% 4.6 20 -8.4% 30 -3.7% 22 18.8% 26
22 HOU -7.7% 6-5 -7.4% 5.3 14 0.5% 16 -0.4% 17 17.1% 23
23 ATL -10.3% 6-5 0.2% 4.6 19 -12.0% 32 2.2% 13 4.8% 4
24 PHI -11.0% 4-7 -8.4% 4.6 22 -6.5% 29 10.0% 6 20.7% 29
25 JAC -14.2% 4-7 -14.1% 3.9 28 0.1% 17 -12.8% 32 6.6% 6
26 MIA -14.4% 4-7 -15.2% 4.4 24 -1.1% 19 -0.3% 16 26.0% 32
27 SD -15.3% 3-8 -15.4% 4.3 25 4.1% 11 10.6% 5 8.1% 8
28 TEN -17.0% 2-9 -16.3% 4.0 27 -6.2% 28 2.4% 12 20.7% 28
29 DAL -19.1% 3-8 -17.2% 2.8 31 -0.4% 18 4.4% 8 4.1% 2
30 NO -22.0% 4-7 -18.8% 3.0 30 -3.5% 24 -2.1% 21 12.9% 15
31 CLE -22.3% 2-9 -26.2% 3.1 29 5.3% 8 13.5% 3 9.3% 11
32 SF -33.7% 3-8 -34.9% 2.7 32 10.0% 1 -1.8% 20 19.7% 27

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 01 Dec 2015

198 comments, Last at 29 Apr 2016, 9:34pm by kimkom

Comments

1
by Eleutheria :: Tue, 12/01/2015 - 8:42pm

The most interesting thing from your playoff odds report is how valuable you rate Rob Gronkowski.

You rated Romo and Big Ben both at 13.5 DVOA, and Gronkowski as 5%. I find it tough to believe that QBs are only 2.7 times more valuable then tight ends. Though granted Gronkowski is among the greatest TEs of all time.

2
by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 12/01/2015 - 8:59pm

Honestly, it's a bit of guesswork. We've never played with the ratings in the playoff simulation to try to account for injuries as much as we have this year, so this isn't based on doing tons of simulations on past years to see what's most accurate. We're making rough estimates, somewhat based on what offseason personnel changes would mean in the new personnel variables of the preseason projection system.

A couple of years ago, the book had numbers showing that the difference between the Patriots offense with and without Gronkowski has actually been much larger than 5.0% DVOA. But I wanted to be conservative with it.

6
by Eleutheria :: Tue, 12/01/2015 - 9:13pm

I guess that kinda makes sense given how highly Gronk rates on the WOWY scale.

But so why 13.5 points for Romo and Big Ben? I'd have always guessed a good QB would be about ~20% DVOA over a replacement level QB.

More guess work or is that based on actual studies (given the new QBASE system introduced in the offseason)?

10
by jmaron :: Tue, 12/01/2015 - 9:27pm

I remember reading a stat that every QB Randy Moss ever played with averaged 1 net yard per att more when playing with Moss than without him. Could Gronk do the same?

Wouldn't that amount to more than the difference between an elite QB and replacement level?

I always felt watching Moss in Minnesota that Moss made avg QBs like Cunningham, George and Culpepper great. Hell, when Culpepper went down to injury Gus Frerotte averaged 9.5 NYA in 62 attempts and Todd Bouman avg 8.54 nya in 89 att.

13
by Eleutheria :: Tue, 12/01/2015 - 10:02pm

It's 1.1 for Moss, 0.8 for Gronk. Moss is 3rd of all time among Wide Receivers, Gronk is 2nd all time among TEs (behing Ted Kwalick) and 14th all time among receivers in general.

Though I should note when looking at Gronk, we're looking at just Tom Brady, while with Moss we have ~8 difference QBs that were statistically significantly better when Moss was playing then without Moss.

To me Moss really is the greatest wide receiver of all time.

17
by bmay :: Tue, 12/01/2015 - 10:18pm

How/where are you getting those numbers?

33
by Eleutheria :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 12:18am

http://www.footballperspective.com/which-receivers-elevate-their-quarter...
That was for Randy Moss and wide receivers.

Gronkowski was via self calculation.

22
by jmaron :: Tue, 12/01/2015 - 11:20pm

I remember when Moss missed a bunch of games in 2004 with a bum hamstring

He played the first 5 games of the year...the Vikings averaged 477 yds a game. He misses 5 and they average 332 yds/game. Comes back nursing a bad hamstring and they average 458 a game for the last 6. On top of that, the 5 teams they played without Moss were weaker defensive teams on average according to Football Reference srs than the 11 Moss played (by about 2 pts per game).

With Moss the Vikings averaged 50 yds a game more than the top team in the league KC. Without him they averaged 5 yards more than the league average.

14
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 12/01/2015 - 10:04pm

Agreed but Chris Carter was there too, along with a very good runner and a fantastic line. Though I do think your point holds up.

90
by formido :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 3:22pm

We're not talking about one version of Moss, we're talking about all his incarnations:

http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/randy-moss-may-well-have-been-the-gr...

Carter wasn't on the field whenever Moss was.

32
by MJK :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 12:15am

I think Gronk's value depends a little on the context. I think the drop from full strength Pats (Gronk-Edelman-LaFell-Amendola-Dobson-Lewis-healthy-O-line) to full-strength-but-Gronkless Pats would be very different than the drop from current Pats (Gronk-Lafell-StonehandsChandler-BunchOfStreetFreeAgents-SpitAndBailingWireOLine) to Gronkless current Pats is very different. Figure it's probably going from a 10 to an 8 (you'll still beat most teams) versus going from a 6 to a 2.

34
by Eleutheria :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 12:26am

It's tough to fully measure the value of Gronk, since he's been with the Patriots playing similar offensive schemes, playing with a future first ballot Hall of Fame QB his entire career.

How much of Gronk's stats is based on context and how much is based on his ability is impossible to say.

Thats why I think I'd rather football outsiders generalizes great TEs, and compared the drop in the Patriots performance without gronk among the same lines as the drop in other teams performances without their all-pro TEs.

That would probably make the DVOA effect of losing Gronk more accurate.

41
by shoutingloudly :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 4:49am

So: With or without roughly the equivalent of a healthy/prime Shannon Sharpe, Tony Gonzalez, or Antonio Gates, yes? If so, then I also think it's probably about 5% DVOA on the conservative side. I also think Gronk is even harder to stop and more valuable than that (already/guaranteed) HOF trio. He makes me scared on behalf of the mothers of NFL linebackers, in addition to being almost as fast and roughly as good at catching the ball. He would/does make anyone look way better — even Tom T.

138
by MJK :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 11:32pm

I think worrying too much about context can be a bit of a red herring. Few players can succeed if surrounded by no other talent, no matter how physically gifted. And no player succeeds if his coach doesn't utilize him properly in a scheme that fits his skills. Would Lawrence Taylor have been as great if Parcells had been obsessed with trying to turn him into a 2-gap nose tackle? Would Warren Moon have been as good if never allowed to scramble? Woul Tom Brady be Tom Brady if the Raiders had drafted him and forced him to try to throw deep bombs to track stars who can't run routes every other play?

Yes, Gronk is used properly, but he has the skills to be used in a way that few other players are.

85
by Scott C :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 2:52pm

Yeah, this.

I was going to say something very similar. Context has a LOT to do with how much a loss of a player hurts.

Lose your All-Pro left tackle? Replace him with a solid backup playing beside a pro-bowl guard and you will be better off than replacing him with a practice squad guy playing next to an inconsistent and mistake prone guard.

Lose your top-10 QB? Do you have a decent running game and o-line with an average backup qb and amazing WRs (Cassel on pats) or a very bad backup and poor o-line and run game (Indy when Peyton was out)? Was your QB also basically your offensive coordinator and the whole system designed around him (Manning out in Indy again)? or was the system not designed for him anyway (Manning in Denver this year).

Gronk makes everyone around him better, but by how much that improves the team depends a lot on who else is there.

93
by rapierma :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 3:46pm

Have you noticed how much better Dalton is with Eifert, then without him?

108
by Eleutheria :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 8:42pm

Though Dalton has been getting better every year, how much of Daltons improvement is maturity and gain of experience and how much is because of Eifert is difficult to say.

3
by Perfundle :: Tue, 12/01/2015 - 9:03pm

The Super Bowl matchup I want now is between Seattle and Kansas City, the Left For Dead Bowl; after all, they were 2-4 and 1-5 after week 6. They're also mirror images of each other at every level:

Pass offense: 7 (SEA), 11 (KC)
Run offense: 2, 1
Pass defense: 8, 7
Run defense: 11, 8
Special teams: 4, 6

Both teams lost their star running back for the year yet actually playing better on offense without them. Finally, both teams have the same record and have basically no chance catching the division leader three games ahead of them but behind in DVOA.

5
by Tundrapaddy :: Tue, 12/01/2015 - 9:10pm

That would probably be a really, really good football game. And an 'AFC West Reunion Bowl' to boot.

11
by Duff Soviet Union :: Tue, 12/01/2015 - 9:42pm

"Both teams lost their star running back for the year yet actually playing better on offense without them."

Gee, what a surprise. It's almost like running backs are ridiculously overrated or something.

It's kind of strange to see that Seahawks offense that everyone has been complaining about all year up to number 4 in DVOA. With the Chiefs in a virtual tie with them.

15
by Perfundle :: Tue, 12/01/2015 - 10:09pm

Their offense has seen a massive resurgence after the bye. Their yards per play has gone from 5.68 before the bye (13th) to 7.15 in the last three games (2nd). Their red-zone TD percentage went from last place at 29.4% to first place at 80.0%. This happened to magically coincide with Drew Nowak getting the boot from the starting lineup, and now he's been booted off the team altogether.

30
by Sixknots :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 12:05am

Also coincided with three games at the C-Link, but I like your point.

36
by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 1:08am

That didn't help them against Chicago and Detroit (5.9 and 5.5 yards per play, 0-3 in the red zone, 10 sacks between them), and neither team is a particularly good defense. Before the bye they weren't noticeably better at home.

I'm certainly not saying that it was mainly Nowak's fault, just that better OL play and much better red-zone production has been the driving force behind their recent improvement, and getting rid of Nowak must've helped.

91
by formido :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 3:24pm

Rawls is better than Lynch this year, also. A lot better.

98
by Pen :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 4:49pm

yes, and FO has been pretty much the only place that seems to show this in their ratings. Rawls is a significant upgrade over Lynch so far this season. Whether that remains to be true we shall see, but a 209 yard game is no fluke. I expect Rawls to be the future of this team if his body can handle the beating.

18
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/01/2015 - 10:24pm

The running back for the Vikings may be on the verge of getting himself, legtimately, into the MVP conversation again, if not for the criminal violence he engaged in last year. No, he hasn't quite been at the 2012 level, but there are still 5 games left, and the o-line is worse this year than it was then. Of course, the 2nd year qb this year appears to be significantly better than the 2nd year qb in 2012, but the schedule may be harder this year.

If the Vikings win 3 of their last 5, against a tough schedule, and they win the division, it'll be likely have been done, in terms of offense, on the shoulders of their running back. I'd say an 11-5 Vikings division winner, with Peterson getting north of 1750 yards (550 more than he has now) rushing, is a decent argument for the MVP. The reality is that he could rush for 1000 yards in the last 5 games, and he wouldn't get it (which is fine by me), and if the Panthers go 15-1 or 16-0, it is going to Cam Newton, but I think it is still possible for a running back to be legit MVP, as opposed to ridiculoulsy overrated.

I think Marshawn Lynch in 2013 is another strong counterexample to what may be generally accurate.

20
by Duff Soviet Union :: Tue, 12/01/2015 - 10:50pm

It is not possible for a running back to be MVP under any circumstances at all (yes, I know it has actually happened many times. These were all stupid votes). A good running game is worth much less than a good passing game, and even then a running back is pretty much always a much smaller part of a good running game than a QB is of a good passing game. Basically they're a small part of a small part of a team's offense.

Before the season started, I would guess that the most common answer to "who are the three best backs in football" would be Marshawn Lynch, Jamaal Charles and Leveon Bell. All three have been injured, all three have been replaced by garden variety backups (yes, 78 year old DeAngelo Williams is a garden variety backup) and none of their teams has missed them in the slightest. It's a position that is both highly fungible and unimportant and any team who invests serious resources in one is making a bad decision.

21
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/01/2015 - 11:16pm

So it was a bad decision for the Vikings to likely have about 5 wins, or perhaps less, than the 8 they do have, by investing serious resources in a running back?

(edit) I'll note again that Favre having perhaps his statistically best year ever at age 40 was largely due to who he was handing off to. Your point is generally true. It is a mistake to think that there are not exceptions to a generally true point, in nearly everything with regard to team sports.

23
by Duff Soviet Union :: Tue, 12/01/2015 - 11:28pm

The Vikings are an average team. Their DVOA, and most other metrics, place them amongst a bunch of 4 to 6 win teams. I'd say their winning more games than that is due to nothing more than randomness and not a running back.

I am highly skeptical of the idea that any running back in the history of the NFL has ever been worth the 3-4 wins per season you claim Peterson is. The best quarterbacks are worth that, the best running backs aren't even close.

The Vikings have gone from 29th in passing and 4th in rushing without Peterson to 21st and 4th with him. Maybe Peterson is making things easier for his QB (maybe), but I'd say it's simply due to Bridgewater getting a year of experience and the team not farting around with the likes of Cassell and Ponder.

25
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/01/2015 - 11:40pm

Their weighted DVOA is now at 11. Yes, I know you believe what you believe. It ignores how defenses actually try to defend the Vikings when he is on the roster, compared to what how they do it when he isn't and if you think Peyton Manning was worth only 3 or 4 gmes in 2010, for instance, we will have to disagree. The Vikings offensive line is actually worse this year than last, for what it is worth.

More generally, again, I'd caution against thinking you can ever have a proposition, with regard to roster construction in a team sport, which is accurate 100% of the time. That simply isn't how human interaction works.

47
by Eleutheria :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 9:34am

Saying that Manning was worth 5 wins in 2010 is saying that just over half of the total contibution (offense, defense and special teams combined) of the 2010 Indianapolis Colts came from Peyton Manning, an idea that I think is frankly absurd.

People don't realize how high a WAR of 3 or 4 in a game of football actually is. If Football had an 82 game season, a WAR of 4 would be 20.5 War.

A WAR of 20.5 in Basketball would be considering among the greatest seasons of all time, and I'd argue that a player like Lebron James or Michael Jordan has more impact on a basketball game then a QB has on a game of football, given that Basketball stars play both offense and defense while a QB doesn't.

If I was to estimate WAR, I'd say 1984 Marino, 2004 Manning and 2007 Brady are probably the only seasons in history that I'd give a WAR close to 5. 2010 Manning I'd rate around 3.

52
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 9:55am

I do realize it. I also realize that the Colts roster in 2010 was hideous, and an average qb playing on it would have had a very, very, good chance of being injured, meaning you end up with a John Skelton type playing, and then you are looking at three or four wins.

53
by Eleutheria :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 10:00am

So you're saying Manning was worth more then the other 52 players on that roster combined? That's absurd. Especially if you're postulating that Manning had a high chance of being injured, as an injured QB would naturally have a lower WAR.

And especially given that the team sent 4 players to the probowl.

56
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 10:29am

That isn't what I am postulating. I am postulating the opposite. The absurdly fast recognition and release of Manning, throwing behind the likes of Charlie Freakin'Johnson at lt (!), is what kept Manning on the field, and Painter or Sorgi off it. Look, we saw this last year in Arizona. You get to your third string qb, Ryan Lindley, and you can't compete. This is another area in which football is different than other sports. The skill of a superior players at the most important position can often keep the superior player substantially healthier than a lesser player at that position. It would be as if a baseball team's starting rotation had a better much better chance of blowing out their arms by being bad, and giving up 5 runs in the 1st two innings.

80
by rj1 :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 2:01pm

"The absurdly fast recognition and release of Manning, throwing behind the likes of Charlie Freakin'Johnson at lt (!), is what kept Manning on the field, and Painter or Sorgi off it."

If that was the only thing that kept Manning on the field, Sorgi and Painter would still be in the league as a QB somewhere else, not every team had a Peyton Manning.

82
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 2:09pm

Nor did every team have Charlie Johnson at left tackle. The point is that qb skill has a significant effect on health behind bad blocking.

115
by Eleutheria :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 9:12pm

and not every team in the NFL embarks on a 'Suck for Luck' campaign when their star QB goes down.

Besides, the Colts pre-season projection for 2011 on this site was 7.9 wins with Manning and 5.9 wins without him (though if we give Manning a WAR of 3 like I think he deserves that falls to 4.9 and slightly more when we account for how bad Manning's back-ups were that year)

And seeing a 4.5 win calibre team go 2-14 isn't too shocking.

People give Manning way too much credit for the 2011 season, and overrate the importance of the QB position as a whole as a result.

Don't get me wrong, it's still by far the most important position in the NFL, it's just not as important as people seem to assume.

134
by theslothook :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 10:52pm

The suck for luck argument always bothers me because it is a lazy argument. If it was an organization to player mandate, then clearly they were all duped because the entire franchise was gutted. Also the team won their only two games very late in the season, nearly blowing their chance at the 1 pick.

I also think ur making a mistake using fo projections as a kind of robust baseline. The standard errors on their forecasts are huge.

Finally, Manning compensated for a ton of holes on the roster. One can debate how much, but the 2010 colts had a worse o line, more injuries to their receivers, and the same idiot head coach and still managed to finish third in pass offense. Their complete implosion speaks volumes about manning's greatness.

Similar situations have happened with hall of fame qbs being injured. Almost none experience this kind of complete destruction.

135
by Eleutheria :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 11:13pm

I'm using it as a baseline because it shows that the 2011 Colts weren't not a good team even if Manning was their QB.

And more injuries to receivers goes to more to why the team underperformed then emphasizing Mannings greatness.

I should clarify that my suck for luck comment is mostly a joke, it's just the easy cop out answer to explain the 2-14 season without having to go into the statistics.

140
by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 11:39pm

Thank you for clarifying Suck for Luck was a joke, because I hate that people try to act like that was a thing.

If they wanted to tank, they don't go out and sign Kerry Collins, they don't avoid IRing Peyton with some ridiculous hope he can come back. They don't win two games and nearly blow the #1 pick.

Also, it is my favorite example to show how bat$hit insane the 'Yourteamcheats.com' site that some Pats fan created that they had that as evidence of the Colts 'cheating'.

141
by theslothook :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 12:07am

You're using it as a baseline, but you shouldn't. Its wildly imprecise measure. Sure, once can infer from their predictions who should be considered overvalued vs undervalued, but I wouldn't tie too much faith to their predictions.

And to clarify, the injuries happened to the receiving core in 2010 - the year before Manning got hurt. 2011 colts were a healthier(albeit still very injured team) than their 2010 version. Costanzo, for all his faults as a rookie, was a damn sight better than charlie johnson. Frankly, the 2010 team was arguably worse than the 2011 team.

Look, this is dangerously careening into irrational Manning praise, but I do want to be clear. For all of manning's faults, his greatest skill to my mind is his ability field a successful offense in spite of the talent constraints. Its more than his quick release. He takes a lot of the responsibilities off of the players around him. Receivers run a simple route combination because he's reading the defense and telling them where to go. He also sets protections and tells people where the blitz is coming.

The coach on the field thing sounds lazy, but its pretty accurate.

These are the reasons why the colts would probably win at least 8 games if Manning was healthy.

149
by Eleutheria :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 12:57pm

When has Manning not had an offense loaded with all-pro and first round picks?

153
by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 2:55pm

In 2010, Reggie Wayne was a 1st rounder, picked 30th, and an All-Pro. Donald Brown was the other 1st rounder, picked 27th. Jeff Saturday was a Pro Bowl selection, running on the fumes of reputation. Not loaded.

155
by theslothook :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 3:08pm

Is it just that Manning happens to be surrounded with great talent or that Manning himself has a lot to do with the talent looking great?

157
by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 3:12pm

Hey, Eric Decker is a multimillionaire, proving he is a great player!

160
by nat :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 4:08pm

Hey, Eric Decker is a top 10 wide receiver by DYAR and DVOA, while playing on this year's JETS...

Proving he is a great player.

:-)

161
by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 4:40pm

Touche', but dependent on ignoring last year.

162
by tuluse :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 4:46pm

I think nat is being a touch facetious. He's been demoted to #2 receiver behind Marshall, who is getting the classic DVOA/DYAR trap of being good enough that the QB forces him the ball, thus lowering his "value".

165
by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 4:54pm

Performance evaluation is hard, ain't it?

166
by theslothook :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 4:54pm

I don't think Eric Decker is a bad player in the same way I don't think Pierre Garcon is a bad player. I think if they were, they wouldn't be on the field. Its more like Manning takes reasonable starters and makes them into productive players. Note - no amount of Manning wizardy turns offensive linemen into reasonable starters.

167
by tuluse :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 5:00pm

Eric Decker is a very good #2 receiver. That is no small accomplishment, but neither it is a great player.

170
by nat :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 5:12pm

Whether you want to call his "role" a #1 WR isn't really the point in this context. His total production (and efficiency) and thus his value to an offense is that of a better than average #1 WR.

172
by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 5:26pm

You can't accurately measure value a player has to an offense seperate from what resources the opponent is devoting to counter a player. Similarly, a defensive end who gets 12 sacks and 10 hurries while also being chipped by a running back or tight end is much, much, more valuable than a defensive end who does that while being blocked by a tackle alone.

173
by tuluse :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 5:28pm

"His total production (and efficiency) and thus his value to an offense is that of a better than average #1 WR."

When he's being thrown the ball. Which isn't as often as a #1 receiver. Marshall has 30 more balls thrown his way than Decker. Those 30 passes had to go to *someone* and the Jets QBs weren't going to Decker.

This is a well observed and understood phenomena in basketball. Efficiency goes down as usage rate goes up. It's lot easier to score when Kobe is demanding attention, and much easier to get open when Marshall is. It's also much easier to look good when you're only thrown the ball when you're open.

169
by nat :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 5:10pm

Last year he was pretty good, too, with a worse QB. Cracking the top 30 for WR production was actually pretty amazing, considering who was throwing to him.

109
by Eleutheria :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 8:45pm

You are aware of what site you're commenting on right?

If you were here last year, you should know that all the advanced analytics said Arizona was way overrated prior to Lindley playing:
tons of fumble luck, lots of wins in close games, easy early season schedule tough late season schedule, etc.

The Cardinals winning less with Lindley was less about the gap between Lindley and Palmer in talent and more about the Cardinals and their opponents as a whole.

116
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 9:19pm

You are aware that it is pointless to be a condescending ass, right?

You apparently are unawre of the difference between "winning less" and "unable to meaningfully compete".

I'll be happy to re-adopt a civil tone, if you so choose.

131
by Eleutheria :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 10:31pm

I love that you're not attacking my tone, rather then the argument I was making.

137
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 11:31pm

You ought to consider developing higher aspirations, with regard to targets for your love.

79
by rj1 :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 1:48pm

The most real-life example we have is the Patriots where Brady got injured out for year in week 1 and was replaced by Cassel. Cassel took the team to 11-5 the year after they went 16-0. At the maximum, in real life Brady over Cassel was worth 5 wins. Now you can't really predict 16-0 seasons, but something like 14-2 would be a reasonable guess if you believed the Pats were going to be the best team in football that year, so there in real life Brady was worth 3 wins more than Cassel.

81
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 2:03pm

That was a great roster outside of the qb position, for an extremely well-coached team. It isn't far-fetched to think that a great player on a bad roster, with average to bad coaching, has more marginal value, in terms of regular season wins, than a great player on a great roster, with excellent coaching. Barry Sanders may have been the only significant difference in the Lions teams that averaged 7.8 wins per season in the 10 years he played, compared to the 4.8 wins a year they had in the next 10 years.

101
by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 5:42pm

Also had a joke schedule. If they had a schedule as tough as the 07 Pats did, there is no way they go 11-5.

110
by Eleutheria :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 8:53pm

And I would say 2007 Brady played at 4.5-5 wins above replacement players.

However I should also note that the 2007 Patriots had the 7th toughest schedule while the 2008 Patirots had the 5th easiest. So while the 2007 Patriots were a ~15-1 team in terms of skill, the 2008 Patriots were closer to 9.5-6.5.

154
by bravehoptoad :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 3:02pm

4.5-5 WAR based on...?

Is this another guess involving people's guts?

156
by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 3:09pm

No, this involves.......wait for it...........wait for it..........

METRICS!!!!!

Hurrah!! SCIENCE!!!!

158
by theslothook :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 3:33pm

As a statistician, this is exactly why Charles Barkley can guffaw about "analytics" being a big delusion. I can promise you, most people trained in statistics are taught over and over to be conservative in how we interpret data and also to be circumspect.

Case in point - pretending like WAR can a) be applied to football as if it were a simple game of 22 independent starters and b) then making a leap from War being a sound stat to then using it as a baseline for other statistics.

163
by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 4:47pm

I have immense respect for people who employ statistics in an intellectually honest manner which provides real insight into human affairs and the physical world, which is why despise it when people use phony quantitative analysis to 'win" an argument, or even worse, to wield governmental or other bureaucratic power. Now, sometimes, the people doing so are just ignorant, but I suspect that rather more frequantly it is done with dishonest intent, or. even worse, with regard to wielding power, it is done real mendacity.

179
by bravehoptoad :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 6:47pm

That, or haruspication, which is certainly my new word for the day.

187
by Eleutheria :: Fri, 12/04/2015 - 2:02am

based on approximations from his DYAR and DVOA for the season.

188
by theslothook :: Fri, 12/04/2015 - 2:09am

Show me how dyarr translates to War...especially when dyarr makes 0 attempts to separate qb play from surrpunding players.

26
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/01/2015 - 11:41pm

You are seriously failing to adjust for era. Check out the OJ Simpson Bills, the Payton Bears, the Jim Brown Browns, etc.

There are also really hard to separate synergistic effects. Look at the Packers last year compared to this year. Lets say they lose to Arizona and Minnesota to close out the season. Does that mean Jordy Nelson is worth 2 wins? Well not really, but the way the Packers are built there are synergistic effects that make the whole offense better with him there.

31
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 12:13am

The point is generally true, but declaring this sort of thing to be a 100% iron clad, totally accurate description of reality, in all circumstances, is just oversimplified.

37
by theslothook :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 2:01am

Will we agree on a lot of things, but the value of even a top tier RB is not one. The year AP won the mvp, for instance, percy harvin carried the load for the first half the season. Also, that o line graded well by pff.

The vikes naturally were impotent on offense the following week with Joe Webb at qb. This isn't to say RBs don't deserve mvp votes(they do), but even the best rb imo doesn't make an offense good. And I've run regressions, pass offense seems to have 0 correlation with run offense and vice versa. The two seem entirely driven by different factors.

39
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 2:49am

Yeah, I said the 2012 line was better than this one. You can't say who carried an offense if you don't account what the defense is doing. If you want to say Favre having one of his best years at age 40 was largely unrelated to what defenses were doing to account for Peterson, go ahead. I differ, and I know Favre does as well.

43
by Eleutheria :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 8:55am

I agree that running backs in general and AP in particular are overrated when it comes to their overall contribution to a teams success, however I disagree with the supposed lack of correlation between running success and passing success, can you provide a citation?

87
by theslothook :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 3:14pm

So to explain the methodology(this was run several years back). I ran pass dvoa against rush dvoa to see if there was a relationship. I found that rush dvoa was not a significant variable and the correlation was pretty weak. I can re-run it again.

Perusing over PFF and their o line grades, I get the sense that most o lines are either solid at pass blocking or running blocking and very few are good at both. The real outliers seem to be New England in this regard.

On the other hand, there are plenty of o lines that are lousy at both too(the result of injuries mostly).

113
by Eleutheria :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 9:01pm

Though even then, New England was a good run blocking team last year and ranked 31st in pass blocking.

I'll look at the numbers regarding Rush vs Pass DVOA this weekend, wont have time to parse data until then.

44
by Eleutheria :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 9:13am

Actually if anything the Vikings would have more wins without AP, as they probably would have fewer fumbles. (this is mostly a joke, but I'm emphasizing the APs contribution to the Vikings is greatly overstated)

And the idea that any player at any position (outside maybe QB) would have already accumulated 3 Wins Above Replacement at this stage in the season is wrong.

In my opinion Brady, Dalton, Palmer and possibly Carr (since a WAR is probably somewhere between 400-500 passing DYAR) are the only players in the league that have contributed more then 2 wins above replacement at this stage in the season, maybe Carr has as well, tough to say.

If there was a WAR metric in football, the best running backs probably don't crack even 1 win above replacement and if AP2012 did, it would have been barely above 1.

49
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 9:46am

Yes, I know you believe it. If you think this has been empirically established, however, you are wrong. The game simply does not lend itself to being able to use metrics to determine the precise effect of one player, especially if that player is not the qb. We have to guess. Your guess is different than mine.

51
by Eleutheria :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 9:54am

Ok lets look at it this way then.

Please rate the offensive win shares of the following positions for this seasons Minnesota Vikings keeping in mind that the total has to add up to ~5.5 (since ~2.5 win shares has been generated by Minnesota's defense and special teams this season):
AP: 3
Bridgewater: ?
All other RBs: ?
Diggs: ?
All other receivers: ?
Offensive Line: ?

I think you'll find it impossible to actually make all the numbers realistically add up and given AP over half the credit for this team's offense.

58
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 10:33am

Your premise is that win shares has been emprically established as a metric which accurately gauges the contribution of an individual player in football. That premise is not accurate.

111
by Eleutheria :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 8:54pm

Your claiming that Adrian Peterson has contributed 3 wins to the Vikings this season, I'm just trying to demonstrate how absurd that line of thinking is.

119
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 9:54pm

Yes, with a metric which has not been established as useful. Why do that? It just lends a sheen of faux-precision, which is decidedly worse than a frank admission that what you are doing is just a guess.

59
by Xexyz :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 10:39am

Alright, I'm trying to figure out how WAR works in football and it seems to me that it's a meaningless stat. So if the Minnesota defense & special teams is worth ~2.5 win shares, does that mean if you cut the entire defense and special teams units and replaced them with street free agents the Vikes would still have 5-6 wins? Is that how the stat works? Because that's an utterly ridiculous assertion.

60
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 10:48am

I really think that people who use advanced metrics in other sports often greatly underestimate how much more complex football is. Useful quantitative analysis in football is much, much, much, more difficult, relative to other team sports, in terms of measuring individual contribution to team success.

62
by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 11:04am

It's actually difficult in other sports as well. It works best in baseball because of the individual nature of hte game, that aside from defense, everything is really and individual matchup between pitcher and hitter.

Basketball it somewhat applies, but I think both football and hockey are incredibly difficult to translate conventional WAR-type advanced stats.

65
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 11:13am

The nature of having completely different personnel for offense and defense, before we even get to special teams, and the sheer number of players on the field, makes it incredibly difficult. I also think that how skill affects injury rates, especially at qb, is an area ripe for investigation.

88
by theslothook :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 3:17pm

Analytics is useful in a macro sense, but we're simply waay too primitive to get details at the micro level. Even pff stats(which are useful) are only intrepreted in the context that said player did this given the scheme, players around him, and opponent he faced. And even here its not so clear cut. There are all kinds of intricate relationships between the overall team, the player, and even a few set of players next to him. We don't even have a way to quantify what units make up a good pass defense/how pass rush really affects coverage and vice versa.

The offense has similar issues too, though probably less complex because qb play explains a good chunk of it.

I really just don't think WAR as a stat will work in the nfl.

112
by Eleutheria :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 8:58pm

I was being as conservative as possible to show that even if you understate the contribution of defense and special teams, Will Allen is dead wrong in assuming that Peterson has contributed 3 wins to the Vikings this season.

117
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 9:23pm

You are dead wrong in thinking that the metrics available to us can provide great confidence in our judgements of such matters.

126
by Eleutheria :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 10:27pm

well all the Metrics point the RBs being less then 1 game a year, so while you're right that I can't be 100% confident in my guesses, I can be confident that your guesses are wrong.

124
by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 10:27pm

As others have mentioned, using win shares to determine contribution is absurd. The total win share of every single unit on a team is far more than the total number of wins, because a good unit makes far less difference to a horrible team than to an average one. For instance, Replacing Matt Ryan with a replacement-level QB matters far more in the win column to the 13-3 Falcons of 2012 than to the 4-12 Falcons of 2013, even though Ryan had basically the same DVOA in both years.

So the order that you replace the units matters a lot. If you replace Minnesota's defense and special teams with those of New Orleans, they'd have a similar record to the Saints' 4-7. Taking Peterson off of that team wouldn't decrease the number of wins as much as taking him off of the current Vikings team.

128
by Eleutheria :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 10:29pm

It's possible to have negative win shares, which I imagine some of the 2013 Falcons units had.

136
by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 11:13pm

That's irrelevant to my point that a player's win shares can vary widely depending on the team he's on. An Adrian Peterson on a .409 team matters considerably less than an Adrian Peterson on a .727 team. A team with 44 Greg Schianos won't gain any wins by adding Adrian Peterson, or Tom Brady for that matter.

133
by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 10:42pm

Repeat.

145
by intel_chris :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 10:16am

Since I hate baseball I don't know what the WAR advanced stat means, I'm going to assume something like "Wins Above Replacement", something like DYAR converted into wins. I think the argument that team situation makes a big difference is relevant. How many wins would AP add to NE? How many wins would Gronkowski (assuming that he is healthy) add to the Vikes? I think both numbers would be significantly smaller than the amount added to their current teams. Moreover, I don't think either team would go for a straight heads-up trade and the resulting teams would both be worse off.

To further the point (about complexity of WAR stats and how good players don't necessarily impact wins in an easily measurable way), I point to the last few years of PMs career, i.e. those with the Broncos (completely ignoring his tenure with the Colts). Does anyone want to argue that PM did not add significantly to the Broncos' 3 previous win totals? Before answering that with "yes, the QB is the most significant factor in the offense", consider this year when those people replacing the unsuspecting coffee drinkers with instant, decided to substitute a 31st level replacement for PM. Somehow the team still went undefeated for 7 games. That's despite PM almost managing to throw away many of those games. So, up through those 7 games a bad PM did not manage to impact the teams W-L total. (Gee, the coffee drinkers didn't notice. Maybe sitting in a fine restaurant makes bad coffee good.)

For those of you who want to insert a million excuses, you are just proving the point that football is an incredibly difficult to analyze sport, specifically if you limit your stats to W-L records which give you only 1 bit of information per game. I love wins as much as anyone, they are the reason the games get played. However, as a statistical measure, they are lousy; way too few data points. So, while it might be nice to be able to quantify a player in terms of "wins added", we are so far from being able to do that, that such discussions always become opinion-fests. There is nothing we can do about that. We just don't have enough data. And, emphatically, we don't have enough data from W-L records.

146
by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 10:34am

Great post.

159
by theslothook :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 3:34pm

As an extension - so many people pretend like teams don't change that much over separate seasons. Case in point, looking at the packers offense this year as opposed to last years and then proposing the difference is all because of Nelson's injury. Clearly Nelson is important, but one is completely wrong to just look at the difference in dvoa and pretend that thats all Nelson.

Actually I would assert the problem is even worse. We can't even act like teams themselves are the same across the whole season.

175
by Perfundle :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 5:42pm

Even more than that, you can't even say that an individual game will have the same outcome if played again with the same players. A player's contribution would be better measured in DVOA change, or point differential change, instead of just wins and losses.

193
by panthersnbraves :: Fri, 12/04/2015 - 11:46pm

Absolutely teams change as the season goes by. Offensive line is a lot about Chemistry and knowing how the guy to your left and right is going to react. (If you look at the play where Romo got injured, Thomas Davis was triple-teamed, but ALL THREE peeled off to go help out the other singled-up guys, so TD got left untouched). Offensive lines should get better as the season goes along. The same with QB/WR combos that don't have a lot of experience together.

Injuries play a part as well. Twice this season, injuries on Defense have forced the Panthers to look outside for help. That of course has to be followed by a period of adjustment.

Lastly comes film. Teams find weaknesses and then learn to exploit then, and then counter the exploits, etc. On the first Luke Kuechly INT, he credits Thomas David for identifying the Dallas call and so Luke backed out of a blitz into a Cover-2, and then read the route personally to get the grab. Without film, maybe they don't recognize the tendency and don't get the Pick-6...

196
by Mr Shush :: Sat, 12/05/2015 - 2:43pm

This seems unduly confident in DYAR as a measure of individual performance. I think it's very likely indeed Newton has contributed more wins to Carolina than Dalton to Cincinatti, for example. I also think that Watt may well have been worth more than two wins, but no stat's really going to help us there.

45
by jmaron :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 9:28am

not sure if this means anything, but since Peterson has been a viking in the years he's missed games the team has a .375 winning pct when he's out and .409 winning pct when he starts.

54
by Eleutheria :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 10:01am

Which would make his WAR ~0.5 per 16 games, about where me and Soviet Duff put it, rather then the absurd 4.5 that Will is putting it at.

120
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 10:01pm

I didn't put it at 4.5. I said that so far he might have added 3 (re-looking at the schedule, I think 2 may have been a better guess), and did not state with any confidence that the trend would continue for the balance of the year.

If you are going to repeteadly tell me how abusrd my guesses are, be polite enough to get the guesses right, will 'ya?

122
by Duff Soviet Union :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 10:24pm

To be fair, you put it at 3 in 11 games which pro-rates to pretty close to 4.5 over 16 games.

127
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 10:28pm

Yeah, a description of the past does not always an entail a prediction of a trend continuing into the future. As I noted, the the schedule toughens, and it is hard to add wins without actually winning.

132
by Eleutheria :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 10:33pm

even 3 or 4 wins is almost as absurd.

164
by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 4:50pm

Yes, your "metrics" tell us that.

123
by Eleutheria :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 10:25pm

well when you haven't clarified your guess beyong AP being worth 3 wins above replacement this year for the Vikings, I've been forced to make assumptions.

I do love your back pedalling though.

130
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 10:30pm

I apologize for "forcing" you to make assumptions, and I stand chastened in the face of the withering accusation of back pedaling.

186
by herewegobrownie... :: Fri, 12/04/2015 - 1:51am

It's a very noisy stat over that many years, without the context of opponents faced in each circumstance, and ups and downs of surrounding talent. Likewise the "Colts go from 10-6 to 2-14 to 11-5" example is noisy in its own way despite being just a few consecutive years

For instance, from 2013 to 2014 the Vikes went from 5.5-10.5 to 7-9 with the main changes basically being adding Bridgewater and subtracting Peterson. How do you account for the value of each? And did Peterson get that much more valuable between 2011 and 2012, when the team went 3-13 vs. 10-6 with him playing almost all of the games in each?

What about generally-considered elite players like Joe Thomas, ODB, prime MJD, Josh Gordon, etc. who haven't presided over much win-loss improvement - what is their true worth in that category?

99
by Pen :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 4:51pm

So the entire world, including John Elway, is wrong when they say TD is what got the Broncos that Super Bowl? That having a legitimate running game had no effect on Elway's season?

107
by Richie :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 8:11pm

It's an added complexity to consider playoff wins ("got the Broncos that Super Bowl"), partly because of the elimination format.

In 1995, the Broncos were 7-7 in the first 14 games (where Davis played). He missed the final 2 games and they went 1-1.

In 1996, Davis had a better season and the team went 13-3 with the offense playing a little better. But the defense improved even more. 1996 was the first year in Denver for Bill Romanowski, John Mobley and Alfred Williams. The 1996 Broncos were upset in the divisional round of the playoffs, but were considered by most to be the best team in the AFC. So the 1996 Broncos improved by 5 games, but it looks like the defense was probably the biggest reason. Williams and Romanowski may have been a big component to that improvement.

In 1997, the Broncos were even better in terms of SRS, but actually won one fewer game. 1997 was the year that Rod Smith replaced Anthony Miller at WR. Their defensive SRS went down a little, but the offensive SRS went up a bunch. Davis improved on his already good 96 season. Also, John Mobley was named All-Pro. And the team won the Super Bowl.

In 1998, the Broncos offense was a little better (by SRS), the defense was a little worse, and overall the SRS was down a bit, but the team won 2 more games than they did in 97. Neil Smith came to the team in 1998.

One thing to note about those Broncos is the stability they had on the offensive line - particularly the left side. It looks like in 1998, they had the same 5 starters all 16 games. Zimmerman, Schlereth and Nalen were on the left side from 1995-97 without missing many starts. Tony Jones replaced Zimmerman in 98. Brian Habib started at right guard most of the time.

I think Terrell Davis, Rod Smith, Alfred Williams, Bill Romanowski and stability on the offensive line are the big reasons that the Broncos improved from a perpetual .500 team to a Super Bowl contender. They were basically an 8-win team from 1992-95, and turned into a 13-win team from 96-98. So all of the improvements noted above were worth roughly 5 wins per season.

I don't think Davis is the reason they won the Super Bowl. Maybe he was worth 1 or 2 wins max. I wonder what guys like Rod Smith and Alfred Williams think when people say Terrell Davis is what turned them into Super Bowl winners.

Then, the Broncos lost Elway, Shannon Sharpe, Mobley AND Davis and fell to 6-10 in 1999. Though Olandis Gary replaced 1,100 of Davis' yards at a 4.2 y/c rate.

150
by Hang50 :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 1:01pm

There's also opponent luck.

I remember being so very happy when Green Bay beat San Francisco in the conference finals. The Niners were a matchup nightmare for the Broncos. The Packers, not so much.

125
by Duff Soviet Union :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 10:27pm

I think people are right when they say that "a legitimate running game" massively helped. How big a part of that running game Terrell Davis was and how much of it was the offensive line is a more valid question. Saying Davis got the Broncos a couple of Super Bowls is a massive oversimplification.

142
by ammek :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 6:09am

Yes, I would put Nalen in the HoF above Davis. It wasn't just stability on the offensive line, it was coaching too. Alex Gibbs introduced that undersized, zone-based, cut-blocking technique, and Nalen and Schlereth were the cornerstones. It took a few years for opposing coaches to figure out how to begin to defend the Broncos' running game, and Davis was the beneficiary of that period of grace. I think Davis was very good, and an excellent fit for the Shanahan offense, but he was not, in my eyes, a noticeably better runner than Clinton Portis. The irreplaceables on that Denver offense were Elway and the coaching staff. It dipped twice: in 1999, as noted, and again in 2001, when the left side of the offensive line had to be replaced and Ed McCaffrey was out injured. The running game, with Portis as the feature back, drove the improvement from 2002.

Elway was the ideal QB for that bootleggy, play-action-heavy offense, too. Mike Sherman was smitten by the Denver offense, and he tried to prolong Favre's career by giving him fewer snaps in a more run-heavy offense. But it didn't fit: Favre was a QB who liked to get in a rhythm – he was often erratic at the start of a game – and reducing his dropbacks actually made him a less effective, more impatient passer.

But the main conclusion to draw about the 1996-98 Broncos offense is that it was loaded with talent at almost every position AND well-coached AND benefited from a pioneering coaching technique AND mostly stayed healthy. In that context, the playoff exit to Jacksonville and the failure to win the AFC West in 1997 were genuine disappointments. The 1998 season showed what the team could really acheve.

143
by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 8:53am

The best player on that line, and one of the best lts ever, Gary Zimmerman, deserves mention. It was just terrific across the board. Tony Jones was very solid, as was Brian Habib.

147
by mehllageman56 :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 11:51am

They may have failed to win the AFC West in 1997, but they finished 12-4 and took out three pretty good teams on the way to dethroning a Packers team everyone wanted to crown a dynasty. I was sick of the NFC winning the Super Bowl, and they didn't disappoint me in 1997.

144
by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 9:07am

Duff, I don't know why it took me a day to better communicate my difference with your position on this, but here goes. Any player on a football field that causes opposing coaches to, on a near-constant basis, realign their schemes in order to prevent that player's success, regardless of how the personnel around that player changes, is a player worth making a significant investment in. It's a game of adjustment, and if you can force your opponent to be predictable, regardless of who your other 10 guys on the field are, you've really accomplished something, and it is worth spending significant cap space to accomplish that. Now, the overwhelming number of players who meet that description, on the offensive side of the ball, are qbs, but there is, very occasionally, the very rare exception.

151
by ZDNeal :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 2:15pm

See Eleutheria's comments on Randy Moss above.

168
by Duff Soviet Union :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 5:07pm

I think you are radically overstating Peterson's effect on opposition coaches here. We saw the Vikings without Peterson last year and to me they didn't really look any different than they did this year or in 2013. Yes, they're winning more games this year, but that's due to improving defensively and on special teams and Bridgewater's improvement which begun late last year and I am pretty certain would have happened with or without Peterson, as well as general good luck in winning more than their underlying performance would say they should. The guy just doesn't move the needle. That's not a personal reflection on him, it's just the nature of the running back position. None of them do with the exception of someone like Marshall Faulk who in addition to being a fine runner was also one of the best possession receivers in the NFL, which I think we can agree that Peterson is not. I remember a study about 10 years ago (yes, I know, a bit outdated, but I bet it still holds up) about how teams do when players get injured. It was generally what you'd expect with a big decrease in win % when the QB gets injured, followed by defensive end. Running back was the one position where teams actually got better when the starter got injured.

As for the post earlier (not yours) about not trading Peterson for Gronk, are you nuts? There is absolutely no way on earth the Patriots would ever make that deal, but the Vikings would have to be out of their mind not to, even with Gronk's injury history. The Vikings with Gronk would be legit dangerous. We saw last year that they can plug in any old Jerrick McKinnon type and get a strong running game despite their allegedly terrible offensive line, so I think they'd be fine there. Gronk would make them a better blocking team when he stayed in to block and a much better receiving team when he didn't. The only reason to not make this trade is if you believe that he's a total product of New England's offense, which I don't think he is.

171
by tuluse :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 5:22pm

I'm going to agree and disagree with you.

I don't think AP is making a huge impact this year. He's regressed to simply "good". However, if you're talking about the younger AP who was dragging Tarvais Jackson to the playoffs, I have to disagree completely. He was a total game changer.

182
by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 7:02pm

I will point out at this time that The Ponderous One cannot get more than 1 day tryouts with teams so desperate for quarterback help that words can't capture it. The Ponderous One was 21st in DYAR and DVOA in the last year he was able to start more than 9 games with Peterson.

174
by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 5:35pm

Yeah, I wouldn't trade Gronk for Peterson, not even close, but that really has nothing to do with what we are talking about. In order for me to agree with you, I would have to agree with the following proposition......

"Where defensive players line up has no significant effect on defensive capability, or overall defensive performance".

.......and everything I know about the game tells me that such a proposition is false.

176
by theslothook :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 5:47pm

I sort of get where both of you are coming from. I think Duffy's point is - Offenses are scariest when they are passing based. Peterson's impacts on the passing game are indirect since he has 0 value as a receiver or much for that matter as a blocker. Assessing his indirect impact is also quite difficult, the point where neither of us has enough evidence to claim one way or the other. I personally think the impact is non-zero but not hugely significant.

I want to make one addendum to this. If I had a running style qb, then the quality of my running back becomes enormously important. And in that regards, someone like Lynch his hugely valuable.

177
by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 6:00pm

To get back to what the original proposition was, the question of whether a player is worthy of signficant financial resources is never made in a vacuum. Would you rather spend 20 million on Aaron Rodgers, or 9 million on Gronk (whose agent appears to be a dolt) as opposed to 13 million on Adrian Peterson? Sure, but the Aaron Rodgers and Gronk store is closed 99.99% of the time. The question the Vikings had this year was whether they could use this money this year, or perhaps next, in a way that would better help them win games? That is doubtful.

180
by Duff Soviet Union :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 6:59pm

You're kind of getting my point. I do think offenses are much better when they're passing based, and frankly I don't see how this is arguable. The best passing offenses are the best overall offenses and that's not true for rushing offenses. That's why it's impossible for a running back to be MVP unless they're averaging like 8 yards per carry.

The other point is that even when a team is dependent on it's running game, it's generally not the running back who is the important variable. You mention Lynch, but you might have noticed that Thomas Rawls is looking an awful lot like prime Marshawn Lynch recently. Running backs are not the cause of great offenses, they're the beneficiaries of them. The Chiefs don't miss Jamaal Charles who was allegedly "carrying" their offense for years and the Steelers don't miss All-Pro Leveon Bell unless they're also missing Ben Roethlisberger.

As for Peterson, he's a pretty valuable player when he's averaging 6 yards per carry in 2012 (although even then he's nowhere near an MVP candidate), when he's averaging a boom and busty 4.5 - 5 yards per carry, I could take him or leave him and that's not even looking at his contract.

181
by tuluse :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 7:02pm

Will already made this point, but you're basically saying "why don't the Vikings go out and get a Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski", and I think the answer to that is obvious.

183
by LyleNM :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 7:26pm

You might also have noticed that the Seahawks wasted an awful lot of time messing around with Robert Turbin and Christine Michael as "future Marshawn Lynch" types when in fact they weren't. Yes, Rawls himself did not cost the Seahawks much, but they still had to go through a 2nd and a 4th round pick before finding the right guy on the UDFA pile. It's very easy to just dismiss RBs (and other positions for that matter like center) as being replaceable but it's usually not so simple. I think the Seahawks would much rather have moved on from Lynch this last offseason but they (correctly) decided that Turbin and/or Michael were not good enough. And then they found Rawls.

84
by mshray63 :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 2:28pm

Further similarities:

Both teams play the AFC North & the NFC North divisions on their schedule, so 8 common games.
Both teams - during their slow starts - lost to Green Bay & Cincy.
Both teams reached .500 with relatively easy wins against divisional rivals (SF/SD) who weren't expected to be quite this lousy before the season.
Both teams got over .500 on Sunday with come-behind-wins that damaged the playoff hopes of their opponents. (in fact the Chiefs owe the 'Hawks a bouquet or something as they not only knocked the Steelers into a 4-way tie in the AFC playoff hunt with the Chiefs, but also as of today the tiebreakers put the Chiefs first in that group & the Steelers last.)
Both teams still get to look forward to games against the Browns & Ravens.

-- de gustibus non disputandem est

4
by jonnyblazin :: Tue, 12/01/2015 - 9:08pm

Interesting that the Ravens are 2nd in ST DVOA, but that doesn't even incorporate the fact that they've blocked kicks in 5 consecutive games (since DVOA considers them random events). Maybe with this particular unit they aren't so random.

8
by Hurt Bones :: Tue, 12/01/2015 - 9:19pm

It looks like they may have found a return man in Clay.

19
by bmay :: Tue, 12/01/2015 - 10:27pm

fyi, I believe ST blocks and other turnovers fall under the "Hidden" column.

7
by jmaron :: Tue, 12/01/2015 - 9:17pm

The Vikings special teams are 9th...no thanks to their Kicker, who after a great rookie season has steadily declined.

DVOA Ratings FG/XP:

2012 - 2nd
2013 - 19th
2014 - 26th
2015 - 29th

not a good trend. After going 10/10 in his rookie year - he's gone 9 for 18 since.

12
by Tundrapaddy :: Tue, 12/01/2015 - 9:43pm

Yeah, Walsh is one Viking I would be surprised to see survive a training camp battle next offseason.

In fact, I would be really, really pleased to see the Vikings:

1. Specifically target the special teams unit, from coaching down, as a 'want to improve' area.
2. Use actual starting-caliber players throughout special teams, much like the Seahawks do.

Unless they already do. I actually haven't paid close attention to the Vikes special teams units, but I'd be surprised if Barr, Robison, Smith etc were on the field covering punts and returns.

9
by Kal :: Tue, 12/01/2015 - 9:21pm

On the Eagles: their defensive collapse corresponds strongly to losing Jordan Hicks after the Dallas game. While their defense didn't meltdown against the Dolphins, it didn't do all that well - and then melted down the next two weeks as teams went after the Eagles linebacker corps.

48
by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 9:45am

On the plus side, this may help Hicks' DRoY chances.

197
by horn :: Mon, 12/07/2015 - 4:39pm

They lost Hicks. Kendricks and Alonso have been playing hurt, the latter looks badly so. The 2-game debacle was due to 2 things you can't have: Bad scheme married to poor execution. And you certainly cannot have them at the same time! Losing Nolan Carroll at the beginning of the DET game really hurt also, DB Rowe will be a very good player but just wasn't against Megatron - and one of those TD throws was a perfect throw and catch that Revis in his prime couldn't have done anything about.

I also think the short week killed them going into the Det game - Davis didn't come up with a good scheme and so many players were tired and hurt - Ryans is still recovering, etc.

This is still a good defense. Not top 5, but plenty good enough to make the playoffs if the Offense with Sam steps up. Sanchez is a season killer.

Put it this way: if Sturgis doesn't miss 2 chip shot FGs against Miami and Wash, they'd be 7-5 and a lock to win the division at this point.

16
by TomC :: Tue, 12/01/2015 - 10:17pm

I would be curious to see the Bears' variance after throwing out the two Jimmy Clausen games. To my eye, they have played incredibly consistently in the other 9 games, at a level that is good enough to blow out the Rams on a bad Nick Foles day and lose close games to Denver and Minnesota.

27
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/01/2015 - 11:43pm

I am curious about this and also offensive splits with and without Jeffery.

24
by gomer_rs :: Tue, 12/01/2015 - 11:32pm

"The offense has fallen apart over three weeks, or basically since Mark Sanchez became the starting quarterback. Last year, the drop from Nick Foles to Sanchez wasn't very big. This year, the drop from Bradford to Sanchez is apparently much bigger, although the difference is bigger in DVOA than yards per play because of opponent adjustments and turnovers."

Is it possible that Kelly made an accurate judgement about the value of Bradford to Foles but the rest of the offense has fallen so far as to be the difference?
_______

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

28
by David C :: Tue, 12/01/2015 - 11:44pm

So the Cowboys are worse this season than they were in the season Wade Phillips got fired. And unlike Wade did, Jason Garrett doesn't have a co-head coach whose really even more responsible than he is whom he can blame. How does a team with that offensive line rank 30th in offense? But something tells me Jason Garrett will keep his job.

67
by RBroPF :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 11:29am

The easy answer of course, is Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel. Garrett doesn't have personnel responsibility and the team has given him neither a competent veteran backup, nor a promising prospect to develop. That's on GM Jerry, and based on his recent comments he seems to realize it.

74
by mehllageman56 :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 1:00pm

Perhaps he looked at what the Giants have (stability, two recent championships), and noticed that they don't just fire their coaches off one bad year.

78
by jtr :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 1:32pm

I also feel like Garrett has been helped by his willingness to keep his head down and let Jerry get all of the attention.

29
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/01/2015 - 11:46pm

Since these threads have been Bears coaching love fests so much, check out that 31st special teams rating.

Considering how close the Lions and Broncos games were, average special teams could have been the difference. After finding some impact defenders, fixing special teams needs to be priority 2 this off season.

55
by MinisterCheevy :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 10:25am

What happened to their good ST coach from a few years ago? Is he a DC somewhere now?

66
by tuluse :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 11:15am

He left when Lovie was fired and went to KC.

86
by TomC :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 3:01pm

In a lateral move. To a team coming off a 2-14 season. He wanted out of Chicago that badly. Apparently he knew something about Trestman and Emery that the rest of us didn't.

94
by dank067 :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 3:50pm

Toub actually interviewed for the Bears head coaching job. Makes sense that he didn't stick around after getting passed over.

104
by Steve in WI :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 6:15pm

I don't know how much to blame Jeff Rodgers (and I had to look up his name because I could not for the life of me remember who their special teams coordinator is). It seems plausible that the severe lack of talent/depth on the roster is to blame.

I know a lot of guys whose ceiling is special teams contributor have been playing defense due to injuries, but I don't know if their elevation gets them removed from special teams duty or not. If so, then improving the defense might also improve the special teams just by allowing guys to return to that role. (One guy in particular I'm thinking of is Sherrick McManus, who is beyond awful as corner but seems to be a decent to good special teamer).

I did find it hard to believe that there was no one worth trying as a returner besides Mariani, though.

114
by tuluse :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 9:09pm

Look all I'm saying is that if Fox fixed all the problems in one off season, the Bears would be playoff bound.

Is that so much to ask for?

35
by batbatt :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 12:38am

This week's games thread isn't up yet, so I thought I'd post this here. The first time I saw it, I thought it said "Lord Matthew Stafford."

http://www.acmepackingcompany.com/2015/12/1/9826946/packers-lions-video-...

42
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 8:13am

That was hilarious, I was literally laughing out loud for most of the clip. Thanks for posting.

73
by Tundrapaddy :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 12:52pm

That was AWSCHUM!! I'll have to check in and see if these guys do an animated preview every week.

Thanks for posting!

96
by batbatt :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 4:41pm

Yeah, I couldn't stop watching it. I can't decide if I like Suh dropping out of the sky, or the packers receivers not catching balls is my favorite...

190
by The Ninjalectual :: Fri, 12/04/2015 - 3:41am

From this comment alone I deduced it was one of the Weird chinese ones :)

38
by theslothook :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 2:02am

I watched that Lions game closely. There wasn't a single phase of that defense that I thought played well at all. They gave up 8 yard runs, they got pressure ok, but not great and that secondary was completely overwhelmed at all levels.

The lions have shown a lot of life since the purges, but its unfathomable that this eagles D was ranked number 2 two weeks ago.

40
by Bobman :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 3:49am

I'm a little curious why the IND and HOU playoff odds are basically even. Indy is slightly ahead in DVOA/DAVE, has the tie breaker, and has an easier remaining schedule. Plus they host Houston in week 15 and may have Luck back by then (we can debate the actual merits of that, but the computer inputs indicate that Luck is preferable).

I suppose in this binary world, the tie-breaker is meaningless for division rivals, because either you go 2-0, 1-1, or 0-2 (excluding ties). Currently they have an edge, but after week 15, they will either have a HUGE edge, or lose that edge entirely. More meaningful for non-division foes who face each other just once.

Good Lord, am I now to the point where I'm rooting for the Pats? It's a primetime Sunday night game week 13.

46
by cstoos :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 9:32am

My math (point spread based) has Houston and Indy being almost dead ever as far as their ratings go. Still, with the remaining schedule it looks like Indy will be the favorite in 4 of their games while Houston will only be the favorite in two.

If all holds (with or without Luck), it seems like Indy should be favored to win the division by 2 games with a record of 10-6.

185
by herewegobrownie... :: Fri, 12/04/2015 - 1:24am

There are no "if all holds" in the NFL. Houston was supposed to have basically a guaranteed loss on the road against the Bengals and that really brought us to where we are now.

50
by Eleutheria :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 9:48am

Indy is given a DAVE rating of -13.6 for the games that Hasselback is gonna play.
Houston has a weighted DVOA of -5.2.

Football Outsiders gives Luck a 32% chance of returning by week 15 and given that homefield is worth ~7.5 DVOA, there's a 68% chance Houston will be a slight favourite for that week 15 matchup.

Also Indy is favoured to take the division 48.7% vs 45.7%, but Houston is more likely to get a wild card should they fail to take the division, which is why Houston has a 49.5% chance of making the playoffs.

57
by Pat :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 10:30am

Was this kind of collapse always looming, or has there been a significant change in circumstance? Is it a fluke where the Eagles can return to playing above-average defense, or are they going to be this bad from here on out? Did opponents just figure something out on film? Is there a major personnel change? I'd love to hear from Eagles fans in the comments.

Yes, it was looming. It was totally looming, and you could even see it in DVOA. If you look at their defense from even three weeks ago - before the two collapses at Tampa Bay and Detroit - they were the second-worst team in the league at covering #1 receivers. They're just not a good secondary. At all.

So what made them look like a good secondary? The same thing that makes every phantom defense look good. Turnovers. Sacks. 8th in interceptions/drive, 4th in fumbles/drive. 7th in sack percentage. And it was the pressure that was leading to those turnovers, too. And those things can disappear as fast as they appeared. Last 4 games? 0.5 turnovers/game. First 7 games? Over 2/game.

The other thing that would be interesting to look at is if teams are keeping more guys in to block against Philly. That's what it looked like with Tampa Bay and Detroit, at least: the Eagles pretty much stick to man coverage, and the extra blockers just bought time for them to find an open area.

63
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 11:09am

That is what made the 2011 Vikings defense so interesting, if you are a fan of the grotesque. Hall of Fame level play on the line of scrimmage, along with really solid play from more secondary contrbutors on the line, combined with the most inept, poorly coached, play by defensive backs imaginable. They couldn't even catch errant passes that struck them right in the hands, on those rare occasions when they were in the same general area as a receiver. I used to think it was a no-brainer that the o-line coach was the most important unit assistant, but I really think now that the d-backs coach is on the same level.

64
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 11:09am

That is what made the 2011 Vikings defense so interesting, if you are a fan of the grotesque. Hall of Fame level play on the line of scrimmage, along with really solid play from more secondary contrbutors on the line, combined with the most inept, poorly coached, play by defensive backs imaginable. They couldn't even catch errant passes that struck them right in the hands, on those rare occasions when they were in the same general area as a receiver. I used to think it was a no-brainer that the o-line coach was the most important unit assistant, but I really think now that the d-backs coach is on the same level.

89
by theslothook :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 3:20pm

The 2011 vikes are a poster child for why this view that all you need is pass rush is completely wrong. They led the league in pressure rate that season and had one of the single worst pass defenses of all time(This defense made Tim Tebow actually look like a star...let that sink in for a moment).

From that moment on, I became in love with secondary play.

92
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 3:41pm

I maintain that the game against Tebow, in the Metrodome, was the single worst game ever played by a secondary. No, I can't prove it, but it defied any description, it was so bad.

61
by FlippingADollar :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 11:03am

Mitch Morse got a concussion during the chiefs game. He only had 37 snaps on offense and also missed out on about half of Wares's runs, including the 35 yard rush that was Ware's longest.

68
by Alex51 :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 11:37am

Dearest Arlette,

The grim fate of the Green Eagle looms on the horizon like a storm cloud.

After a disastrous journey to Roanoke Island, our spirits rose during our siege on the Port of Dalianas. Alas, once we continued down the coast, misfortune followed us. First, a swarm of vicious sea monsters attacked the ship, injuring our helmsman. And no sooner were we free of them, then a fleet of pirate ships overwhelmed us. Seaman Sanchez was no match for their mastery of the sea, and they inflicted a most humiliating defeat that left us reeling. In the aftermath of this misadventure, a man with a magic staff attacked us, devastating our already weakened defenses. Many good men were lost to the sea that day.

Now, we travel to the icy waters of the Northern Shore, to confront a great evil. Captain Chip assures us that we will emerge victorious, but I have begun to lose faith. I am now praying that the ship is destroyed, though I will perish with it, if only to spare others from the indignity of following a madman to their doom.

If you do not hear from me again, know that I have died with your sweet visage in my mind, and your gentle spirit in my heart.

Your loving husband,
Ethon

69
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 11:41am

This really needs to become a book.

71
by Tundrapaddy :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 12:45pm

So...if an Eagles fan writes a quasi-historical fiction as allegory for his/her teams performance, does that mean we need an Atlanta fan to step up and summarize the Falcons' games in the guise of bodice-rippers?

75
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 1:06pm

Cleveland's would have to be in the spirit of Chekhov. Everybody's unhappy and stasis overwhelms.

76
by mehllageman56 :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 1:07pm

I'd offer to summarize the Jets 2012 season as either a Lovecraft story or continuation of the Evil Dead, but I already wrote the Dream Quest of Unknown Foxboro two weeks ago. Of course, I could imitate James Joyce and write it as a treatise on drains.

77
by tuluse :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 1:15pm

I feel like the proper tone for a Rex Ryan coached team is Hunter S Thompson.

83
by Hang50 :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 2:11pm

Me, I'd reserve Hunter S. Thompson for the Raiders. The titles write themselves:

  • Fear and Loathing in Oakland
  • Al Davis Is Decadent and Depraved
  • Another Coach Took My Place
  • The Great Receiver Hunt
121
by jacobk :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 10:06pm

It's hard to top the diary of General Andrew Luck and his period-accurate beard, but the Mutiny on the HMS Philly is solid work.

191
by tuluse :: Fri, 12/04/2015 - 3:51am

Always a joy to read Alex51.

70
by DezBailey :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 12:13pm

The Chiefs are red hot right now. The BES Report has them #1 Overall - http://besreport.com/week-12-bes-rankings/

They were #4 last week. They've simply been flat out impressive in all key areas. Meanwhile, Packers are 26th, Falcons 30th and Broncos 15th. They seem to be trending downward despite their records. The BES had the Bears ranked higher than the Packers going into last Thursday's game. - http://besreport.com/week-11-bes-rankings/

72
by ammek :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 12:48pm

I have no idea what the BES report is, and I don't intend to find out. The Packers are in a deep funk on offense, but they're not the seventh-worst team in the NFL. Mike Tanier's piece on Monday still seemed to think they would breeze to the division title; I think he's wrong too, the main problems are with personnel, for which there is no easy fix.

It's quite rare for a team to be above average in all five aspects of special teams, but the Ravens are on course to do it. Really, most of the attention goes to the wrong Harbaugh.

I've watched NFC East teams two weeks in a row now, and I'm keen not to watch any of them again. A few weeks ago, Aaron said it was much stronger than the AFC South, even though the extra-divisional records were similar. Now there is only 1 percentage point of difference per team. By VOA, the second most successful quarterack in the NFC East this season has been Brandon Weeden.

189
by The Ninjalectual :: Fri, 12/04/2015 - 3:31am

The BeS report suffers from an extraneous letter-guess which one.

I've checked, it's just one asshole's subjective opinion on stuff. Utterly worthless, and it had no place on a heady site like this one.

192
by anotherpatsfan :: Fri, 12/04/2015 - 11:51am

I believe comment 70 is straight from the horse's mouth...

How 'bout them Chiefs...

195
by DezBailey :: Sat, 12/05/2015 - 2:50am

Here's a read charting the Chiefs movement in the BES wk 2-10: http://besreport.com/bes-team-tracker-hail-to-the-chiefs/

The Chiefs been ranked as low as 32 by the BES so I wouldn't imply homerism here. Judging by your screenname, you might be interested to the know the Pats held the No.1 spot atop the BES wks 4-8 and 10-11, being supplanted by Cincy in Week 9 and the Chiefs in Week 12. You'll also note their decline in BES Offense pretty much coincides with the rash of key injuries they've been hit with. So again, no bias. And also, the BES is a different take, different format but it is number/stat driven...some may like it and others won't. That's perfectly fine. Can't make everyone happy.

194
by DezBailey :: Sat, 12/05/2015 - 2:38am

Nothing subjective about the BES - http://besreport.com/about-the-bes/

Took a miracle for the Pack to beat the Lions whom the BES had ranked 26th and 20th respectively. Chiefs are No. 1 in the BES...also in Weighted DVOA. So I wouldn't say it's worthless. A different take and method on ranking teams? Yes. Worthless? That depends on the reader I suppose.

95
by ZDNeal :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 4:08pm

Anyone heard from Oaktoon? Is he OK?

97
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 4:41pm

Oh don't worry, I'm sure if Green Bay wins the next 3 games, he'll pop up again and resume complaining about how DVOA doesn't adequately capture how great the Packers actually are.

100
by theslothook :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 5:27pm

Is it really the packers or just Aaron Rodgers?

102
by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 5:49pm

I really want to know what happened to the people who littered these boards back in late 2011 season when the Packers were undefeated, who were like cultists claiming the Packers had invented a higher way of playing football and were going to be a dynasty unlike anything we've ever seen?

I don't think Oaktoon was one of them (the only one I remember was QQ), but it was fun times!

103
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 5:56pm

Paul M was the one who famously informed us, in a serious manner, as Jehovah is my witness, that 'Yes, the water really does run colder and faster in Green Bay". Unlike a lot of people who grew up Vikings fans, I've never hated the Packers. Hell, I always liked watching Favre, even before there was a chance he'd wear a purple hat, and even with all the stupid hype. I really, really enjoyed it when the Giants upset the Packers in the playoffs that year, however.

105
by anotherpatsfan :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 8:03pm

Paul M(not verified) was that guy as I recall. Similar in some respects to those who thought post-dog murder Vick revolutionized NFL offense and things would never be the same again. IIRC, similar things were said about Kaepernick for f*ck's sake... Crowning their asses waaaaaay too early...

129
by Duff Soviet Union :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 10:30pm

"I really want to know what happened to the people who littered these boards back in late 2011 season when the Packers were undefeated."

They probably went to the same place where all the Seahawks fans who were saying the same thing about their team last year went. Actually a couple of them are back here now that their team has won a couple of games in a row. What a coincidence.

139
by MJK :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 11:38pm

I wonder about all the people that were worshipping Jay Cutler as the best young QB in the league right around the time he was traded to Chicago. I recall that he was better than Rodgers, Eli, Big Ben, Rivers, and was sure to be a first ballot HOFer.

148
by Eddo :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 12:02pm

In general, FO and the commenters here were high on Cutler, yes, but I don't recall anyone being that high. If anything, the prevailing sentiment was that the Bears paid too much to get him and that his interception figures were a little scary.

And remember, back in April 2009, Cutler was coming off a year in which he finished 4th in DYAR, 7th in DVOA; better than Rodgers (10th/14th), Eli Manning (8th/9th), and Roethlisberger (26th/27th). Rivers was coming off the best year of his career, but I also don't recall anyone arguing that Cutler was better than Rivers at that point.

But regardless, I don't remember anyone talking about Cutler in the way that Paul M. and QQ did about the Packers mid-2011 or the Seahawks crowd that (still, sometimes) acts like any insinuation that Russell Wilson isn't by far the best sub-30 QB in the league is the ranting of a crazy person.

106
by anotherpatsfan :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 8:08pm

Re the Packers, to my not-extremely-interested eyes, their offense appears to sort of suck, or at least is performing way worse than I thought it would. Can the cogent Packer posters please give us some insight?

118
by dank067 :: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 9:31pm

Their offense has indeed been pretty awful during this past 5 game stretch. Really, to me they started noticeably declining starting in game 4 at SF. (Before that they had been pretty good.) It isn't all of these things at any given time, but some things that have stuck out to me:

-WRs are struggling mightily to beat man/press coverage across the board. Cobb dealing with more attention/better corners than he's used to. James Jones is old and slow. Davante Adams has sucked.

-Following the above, Packers stubbornly insisted on asking their receivers to consistently win these 1 on 1 matchups (a major part of McCarthy's offensive philosophy) instead of going to different formations and play designs to help the receivers get open. (The gameplanning has seemingly improved in recent weeks—a little more variation in formations, some more screen passes.)

-Execution, however, continues to be awful. Rodgers appears to be getting flustered by the struggles and has been doing things like flee the pocket too early, hesitate to make throws, not see open receivers, and has been prone to bouts of inaccuracy. The receivers, for their part, have responded by dropping lots of passes. I would imagine lot of this has to do with the timing on routes being screwed up because the WRs can't beat their man.

-OL has been banged up, and had really bad games against Denver and Carolina. They haven't been as bad in recent weeks though (probably because they aren't playing Denver and Carolina).

-Really poor TE play.

-Run game has been struggling (has picked back up in recent weeks).

-Promising young receivers are either injured (Montgomery, Abbrederis) or so far in the coaches'/Rodgers' doghouse they can't get on the field (Janis).

152
by ZDNeal :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 2:17pm

How much do you think teams keeping Rodgers in the pocket has been a factor? I noticed it in the Den and Det games, and then he seemed to break contain well against MN and burned them significantly when he did. I didn't see the Chi game.

178
by Perfundle :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 6:30pm

Before that they had been pretty good.

So what changed from the first three games? Did the coverage schemes from the opponents change or did the receivers simply decline in performance?

I remember Adams not doing a very good job of separation last year either, but Rodgers would toss absolutely perfect spirals that caught him exactly in stride even in tight coverage. I wonder if opponents are mucking up the timing of these routes because the receivers are getting jammed at the line of scrimmage more.

184
by dank067 :: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 9:03pm

I think there has been some adjustment by opposing defenses—I remember Kansas City (possibly out of necessity, as they had CB injuries/suspensions) consistently playing off the receivers and getting burned all night long by quick outs. Nobody has played GB's receivers like that since then, and it certainly seems that both Rodgers and the WRs can't get in sync.

I think you're right too, ZDNeal—the third down conversion and third down TD to Jones were huge, huge plays in that game. Rodgers has made those improvised plays look routine over the years, like they're just another part of the offense, but when the defense is able to limit those opportunities it really stresses execution from the pocket, which is totally lacking right now.

198
by kimkom :: Fri, 04/29/2016 - 9:34pm

I guess that kinda makes sense given how highly Gronk rates on the WOWY scale.
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