Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

Most Recent FO Features

RodgersAar05.jpg

» Expected Failed Completions

Expected Failed Completions is another step in using game charting to break down the air and YAC components in a successful connection. We look at a decade of results and hone in on 2015.

15 Dec 2015

Week 14 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

Hey, folks. I'm a bit of a semi-vacation this week and everything is running behind, so we'll have to go without a commentary on the new DVOA ratings this week. I wanted to write a little bit on the issue of backup quarterbacks -- how I determined the various sizes of adjustments I'm using in this week's playoff odds simulation, and a note on the surprisingly small size of the "Clausen effect" on Seattle's defensive rating -- but I won't get to that until a separate article Wednesday or Thursday.

(Friday Update: Or, everything could go sideways and I could not have any time to do this at all. We'll try to make that part of next week's commentary.)

Meanwhile, here are the latest updated DVOA ratings as well as the announcement of this week's Madden Ultimate Team players and an update on how Denver and New Orleans are doing on the lists of the best and worst defenses in DVOA history.

BEST DEFENSIVE DVOA
THROUGH WEEK 14, 1989-2015
  WORST DEFENSIVE DVOA
THROUGH WEEK 14, 1989-2015
Year Team W-L DVOA x Year Team W-L DVOA
1991 PHI 8-5 -40.0% x 2015 NO 5-8 24.0%
2002 TB 10-3 -39.9% x 2001 ARI 5-8 23.7%
2008 BAL 9-4 -31.4% x 1996 ATL 2-11 23.3%
2015 DEN 10-3 -29.5% x 1999 CLE 2-12 23.2%
1995 SF 9-4 -29.3% x 2013 SD 6-7 21.9%
2012 CHI 8-5 -27.8% x 2008 DET 0-13 21.7%
2008 PIT 10-3 -27.0% x 2003 ARI 3-10 21.6%
2004 PIT 12-1 -26.8% x 2000 ARI 3-10 21.5%
1991 NO 9-4 -26.7% x 2001 MIN 5-8 21.3%
1997 SF 11-2 -26.6% x 2005 HOU 1-12 21.2%
2004 BAL 8-5 -24.8% x 2008 STL 2-11 21.2%
2006 CHI 11-2 -24.7% x 2004 MIN 7-6 20.9%

* * * * *

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 14 are:

  • DT Kawann Short, CAR (24-HOUR HERO): 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 3 QB hits, plus tackle for loss on run.
  • LG La'El Collins, DAL: Led the way with blocks on Cowboys' one touchdown drive which went 80 yards on just 4 runs. Just watch this video. Trust me.
  • RB Todd Gurley, STL: Led all RB with 67 DYAR in Week 14 (16 carries, 140 yards, 2 TD).
  • TE Jordan Reed, WAS: Led all TE with 60 DYAR in Week 14 (9-for-9, 120 yards, TD).
  • CB Logan Ryan, NE: Held DeAndre Hopkins to 3 catches, 52 yards, and a season-low 6 targets.

* * * * *

All stats pages are now updated with Week 14 information (or will be soon) including FO Premium, snap counts and playoff odds. You can also check out further commentary on our playoff odds report at ESPN Insider.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through 14 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 32.6% 1 31.8% 3 10-3 21.1% 1 -7.9% 8 3.6% 3
2 SEA 32.0% 2 39.8% 1 8-5 18.0% 4 -11.1% 6 2.9% 8
3 NE 28.7% 5 25.5% 5 11-2 19.4% 2 -5.9% 9 3.5% 4
4 KC 28.2% 4 35.8% 2 8-5 12.3% 6 -12.6% 3 3.4% 6
5 CAR 27.9% 6 30.6% 4 13-0 7.6% 10 -23.5% 2 -3.3% 28
6 ARI 26.5% 3 18.2% 7 11-2 15.7% 5 -12.2% 4 -1.4% 21
7 PIT 22.0% 7 23.4% 6 8-5 18.1% 3 -3.7% 12 0.2% 15
8 DEN 16.4% 8 16.5% 8 10-3 -14.2% 28 -29.5% 1 1.1% 14
9 GB 13.8% 9 5.9% 10 9-4 9.3% 8 -4.7% 10 -0.2% 17
10 NYJ 12.1% 10 9.7% 9 8-5 2.4% 13 -12.0% 5 -2.3% 23
11 BUF 6.4% 11 5.7% 11 6-7 11.7% 7 7.0% 24 1.7% 10
12 OAK 2.5% 12 5.4% 12 6-7 5.5% 11 1.7% 16 -1.3% 20
13 MIN 0.0% 13 5.3% 13 8-5 -0.9% 15 2.5% 18 3.4% 5
14 NYG -3.3% 17 -1.6% 17 6-7 -1.3% 16 8.0% 27 5.9% 2
15 DET -3.6% 16 1.6% 15 4-9 -4.2% 19 1.2% 15 1.8% 9
16 TB -5.1% 14 2.0% 14 6-7 -2.1% 18 0.4% 14 -2.6% 26
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 WAS -5.6% 18 -3.8% 18 6-7 -4.2% 20 4.3% 20 3.0% 7
18 PHI -6.0% 20 -5.5% 19 6-7 -11.6% 25 -4.0% 11 1.6% 12
19 BAL -7.1% 15 -8.9% 22 4-9 -7.1% 23 6.6% 23 6.5% 1
20 CHI -7.1% 21 -1.1% 16 5-8 4.4% 12 7.7% 26 -3.9% 29
21 STL -8.0% 22 -10.8% 23 5-8 -20.5% 32 -10.8% 7 1.7% 11
22 HOU -8.8% 19 -7.2% 20 6-7 -6.7% 22 -2.9% 13 -5.0% 32
23 JAC -8.8% 25 -8.4% 21 5-8 -1.4% 17 6.2% 22 -1.2% 19
24 ATL -16.5% 23 -20.2% 28 6-7 -7.1% 24 7.4% 25 -2.0% 22
25 MIA -17.1% 27 -17.6% 25 5-8 -5.5% 21 9.1% 28 -2.5% 25
26 DAL -17.4% 26 -17.7% 26 4-9 -14.6% 30 4.0% 19 1.3% 13
27 NO -17.5% 28 -14.5% 24 5-8 8.9% 9 24.0% 32 -2.3% 24
28 IND -17.6% 24 -18.6% 27 6-7 -14.4% 29 2.3% 17 -0.9% 18
29 SD -18.7% 29 -22.8% 29 3-10 0.7% 14 14.7% 31 -4.7% 31
30 TEN -22.1% 30 -25.1% 30 3-10 -12.8% 27 5.4% 21 -4.0% 30
31 CLE -23.7% 31 -26.9% 31 3-10 -12.7% 26 10.9% 29 -0.2% 16
32 SF -32.1% 32 -31.6% 32 4-9 -16.8% 31 12.4% 30 -2.9% 27
  • 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 32.6% 10-3 27.0% 10.4 1 3.8% 9 -7.6% 24 8.7% 6
2 SEA 32.0% 8-5 29.4% 9.7 3 1.2% 17 -1.8% 18 12.0% 16
3 NE 28.7% 11-2 29.6% 10.1 2 -1.6% 21 -9.0% 26 7.7% 4
4 KC 28.2% 8-5 25.5% 9.4 6 4.1% 7 -9.4% 27 18.7% 27
5 CAR 27.9% 13-0 34.6% 9.6 4 -7.5% 30 -8.3% 25 12.7% 18
6 ARI 26.5% 11-2 29.4% 9.5 5 -4.1% 25 13.2% 3 17.0% 23
7 PIT 22.0% 8-5 19.3% 8.6 7 5.8% 4 -4.8% 22 11.2% 12
8 DEN 16.4% 10-3 20.3% 8.5 8 2.0% 14 12.0% 4 13.6% 19
9 GB 13.8% 9-4 15.0% 8.3 9 0.5% 18 9.7% 5 18.0% 25
10 NYJ 12.1% 8-5 19.7% 8.2 10 -7.1% 28 5.9% 9 10.1% 11
11 BUF 6.4% 6-7 8.4% 7.0 12 2.3% 13 -3.6% 21 9.6% 9
12 OAK 2.5% 6-7 3.6% 6.5 13 3.5% 10 7.7% 6 11.2% 13
13 MIN 0.0% 8-5 -1.3% 7.2 11 2.3% 12 1.1% 13 17.2% 24
14 NYG -3.3% 6-7 1.6% 6.5 14 -7.1% 29 7.3% 7 12.0% 15
15 DET -3.6% 4-9 -13.1% 5.4 21 7.2% 2 -18.9% 32 19.7% 30
16 TB -5.1% 6-7 -0.4% 5.8 18 -10.0% 32 4.2% 12 18.8% 28
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
ESTIM.
WINS
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VAR. RANK
17 WAS -5.6% 6-7 -5.1% 5.7 19 -2.5% 24 -5.7% 23 13.9% 21
18 PHI -6.0% 6-7 -6.5% 5.9 17 -2.2% 23 5.9% 10 20.6% 31
19 BAL -7.1% 4-9 -4.1% 5.6 20 0.0% 19 27.6% 1 3.9% 1
20 CHI -7.1% 5-8 -9.5% 5.3 23 5.0% 6 -2.9% 20 9.8% 10
21 STL -8.0% 5-8 -13.7% 6.0 16 5.7% 5 -1.7% 17 12.2% 17
22 HOU -8.8% 6-7 -9.9% 6.2 15 2.4% 11 -16.2% 31 18.6% 26
23 JAC -8.8% 5-8 -5.8% 5.3 22 -4.7% 26 -14.2% 29 9.5% 8
24 ATL -16.5% 6-7 -8.1% 4.7 25 -8.7% 31 0.5% 16 6.6% 3
25 MIA -17.1% 5-8 -15.5% 4.5 26 -1.0% 20 -2.5% 19 20.7% 32
26 DAL -17.4% 4-9 -18.3% 3.6 30 1.7% 16 4.3% 11 4.4% 2
27 NO -17.5% 5-8 -15.2% 4.2 28 -1.9% 22 -9.6% 28 13.7% 20
28 IND -17.6% 6-7 -22.0% 3.7 29 2.0% 15 -16.0% 30 11.7% 14
29 SD -18.7% 3-10 -21.2% 4.7 24 7.2% 1 0.6% 15 8.8% 7
30 TEN -22.1% 3-10 -20.3% 4.3 27 -5.8% 27 0.8% 14 18.9% 29
31 CLE -23.7% 3-10 -26.8% 3.5 31 3.8% 8 27.4% 2 8.6% 5
32 SF -32.1% 4-9 -32.8% 2.9 32 6.7% 3 7.0% 8 16.0% 22

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 15 Dec 2015

104 comments, Last at 22 Dec 2015, 3:40pm by DezBailey

Comments

1
by cardbomb :: Tue, 12/15/2015 - 9:24pm

The Chiefs looked great this past week and are only improving. Looks like the adjusted DVOA is pretty accurate!

2
by Tundrapaddy :: Tue, 12/15/2015 - 9:29pm

Chiefs, Seahawks and Steelers appear to be the 'no one wants to face this' teams right now.

And I'll repeat what I said a week or two ago; Chiefs-Seahawks would probably be a pretty good Super Bowl, the way they're playing now.

7
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/15/2015 - 10:34pm

I dunno, the Steelers obviously have some great players on offense, but everytime I turn them on, three Steelers dbs are missing tackles. Now, I don't watch them all that closely, so maybe I've just caught them at the right/wrong time. But any team with talented, healthy passing personnel is going to give them fits, it seems to me.

21
by t.d. :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 4:15am

Maybe New England gets healthy enough to qualify to that standard by the playoffs, but who else in AFC qualifies? All bets are off in Cincinnati, where I think Dalton is due to be re-evaluated, regardless of how they play from here on out; Osweiller's had some nice moments, sure, but I'm not sure I'd describe what he does as 'giving teams fits'; and KC has had the derisive ALEX scale invented to highlight their tendency not to challenge opposing dbs. For the second time in three years, the AFC is bound to produce a champion who was fundamentally altered by losing players to injury (and Seattle in the NFC was crippled last year, though Sherman and Thomas played through what ordinarily are serious injury), and, despite the loss of Bell, that offense might be enough to take it

28
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 9:25am

Yeah, I think it comes down to Brady, Gronk, and Edelman being healthy. If they are, I don't think the Steelers can beat them more than 2 times out of 10, in a playoff game in Foxboro.

31
by t.d. :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 10:30am

I'd agree that New England is the overwhelming AFC favorite if those three are healthy (I'd never really appreciated how great Edelman was til this year; he seems to be the difference between them being a nice offense and a juggernaut). I actually think Pittsburgh's at least as talented on offense as the Patriots, and their front seven has improved, but you're probably right that their best chance would be if someone else(Kansas City or Denver) takes the Pats out

32
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 11:06am

If you don't tackle well against a healthy Pats offense, you'll never have the ball to outscore a pretty good Pats defense. I don't think K.C. or Denver can do enough on offense to beat the Pats in Foxboro. Unless Gronk or Brady get hurt, I think the Patriots have about an 80% chance of playing in February again. I don't dislike the Patriots as much as I am bored with them; they have perfected offense in an era where contact with receivers is tightly controlled, and I continue to believe that the game would be more entertaining if more contact was allowed. In any case, I think a Seattle or Carolina Super Bowl rematch with the Patrioys woud be interesting, so I'm fine with it. I don't think Arizona's defensive personnel is dominant enough to make it a good game with New England.

40
by blan :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 1:05pm

Well I guess it's either don't change the rules and be bored by the Patriot's offense, or allow more contact and be bored by the Patriot's defense. Of course, the latter situation is what led to the current rules environment.

43
by Led :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 1:14pm

Or we could just frame up Belichick as the mastermind of an international terrorist organization. That would, among other things, return balance to the Force and allow us to answer once and for all the "is it Brady or is it Belichick" question.

44
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 1:22pm

I always rathered enjoyed watching Belichik's defenses prior to the contact with the receivers rules being strictly enforced.I wish the league had simply, when Polian complained, overtly made contact legal within 10 yards, and svery strictly enforced, along with making anything resembling a hold a point of emphasis.

51
by blan :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 2:04pm

That seems like a reasonable solution.

For me, the problem is not what the current points of emphasis do to the style of play but what they do to league parity. I remember for a time after the salary cap really kicked in, but before the points of emphasis changes that it seemed like any team could reach the playoffs on a given year. Now, after the the points of emphasis changes favoring offense, a team needs to have a top ten quarterback to really have a shot, and there are only so many of those to go around. To put it another way, offensive DVOA has a lower year-to-year variance than defensive DVOA, and as a result, increasing the importance of offense or decreasing the importance of defense should lead to lower year-to-year parity.

53
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 2:16pm

The way I've always put it, which is pretty synonymous with what you are saying, is that rules enforcement which favors passing is always going to make qb play more important, relative to other positions, and the more important you make the qb, the fewer paths to team success there are. The fewer strategies teams can employ to pursue success, the less interesting the game becomes, because contrasts in strtaegy is one of the most interesting parts of the game. We are kind of in the mirror opposite of 1974, when about the only viable path to success was a strangling defense and an offense which emphasized running between the tackles. The rules had to change, getting rid of the head slap that pass rushers coud wallop o-linemen with, more liberalized use of hands by pass blockers, and then the rules against contact with receivers. We may have gone too far the other way now, although Seattle's recent championship was a bit of an exception, and the 2005 Pittsburgh win didn't feature high level passing.

95
by usernaim250 :: Thu, 12/17/2015 - 12:40pm

I think, rather, the problem is that teams behave irrationally. While it's true that having a great QB is an easy path to sustained long term success, few teams really try it the other way--building a great team and using just-a-Dilfer/Johnson/Flacco/young Roethlisberger at QB.

The reality is that Manning and Flacco, good to very good but not top of the heap QBs have won three of the last 8 Super Bowls, and Russell Wilson, for all his potential, is no world beater at this stage either. The reality is the Kaepernick and Jake Delhomme and still great but claimed off the junk heap Kurt Warner were a hair's breadth from winning, and Rex freakin' Grossman wasn't far off. And all that is without going back to the likes of Mark Rypien, Doug Williams, Joe Thiesman, Jeff Hostetler, Earl Morrall, Billy Kilmer, Stan Humphries, Jim Plunkett (twice), Rich Gannon, Craig Morton and other guys that weren't that good and/or were available for peanuts at some point.

IMO teams that don't have truly great QBs are ruining their chances by convincing themselves to pay way too much for decent QBs, driving the market for guys who are average into the stratosphere. While the top five or six guys are worth every penny, beyond that teams are probably better off spending elsewhere. And the approach of freaking out about finding a "franchise" guy leads to not recognizing the talent of guys who aren't pedigreed.

97
by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/17/2015 - 1:45pm

Well it is likely a mistake to lump all the not HOF performers together. Trent Dilfer was just bad, and the Ravens caught soome breaks to win the tournament with him. They easily could have lost to the Titans in the Divisional round. Brad Johnson was pretty good, and the Bucs faced little challenge in their playoff run. Some of the other guys may not be HOFers, but they have peaks which are HOF quality, it's just that the peaks don't last long enough. I challenge anybody to find a playoff run by a qb superior to that of Eli's in the 2010 season. I think the game against the Niners was one of the greatest playoff games ever played by a qb, in the way he performed in the face of non-stop ferocity by excellent pass rushers, against completely overmatched pass blockers.

I think the biggest mistake teams make, in their desperation for the (Gawd, how I have the terms) "franchise" or "elite" qb, is that they get was too desperate with 1st round picks. That's how you end up picking The Ponderous One with a 1st round pick, or even worse, a pick in the 1st half of the 1st round.

98
by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Thu, 12/17/2015 - 2:11pm

Yeah - I agree a lot with this - there just don't seem to be any teams that want to try something different - they'd rather give a guy whose barely above replacement $15m/yr than make a significant offensive change.

My dream is to see a team not really run a quarterback - draft 5 guys like Julian Edelman (small college qb turned WR)- kind of tweeners - who can throw a bit and run a bit - use a ton of pre-snap motion, misdirection, etc, and force other teams to play very different defensive schemes than they're used to. You'll have a lot of guys get hurt, but I think you should be able to find guys who would work pretty easily (although not as good WRs as Edelman)

The problem is that anything non-traditional has to work immediately, and work well, or the coach is going to get run out of town.

50
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 1:56pm

I always rathered enjoyed watching Belichik's defenses prior to the contact with the receivers rules being strictly enforced.I wish the league had simply, when Polian complained, overtly made contact legal within 10 yards, and very strictly enforced, along with making anything resembling a hold a point of emphasis.

70
by contrarycomet :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 4:59pm

@blan: Well played.

55
by t.d. :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 2:22pm

I think New England is easily the best team in the AFC, but I think 80% is way too high. New England's home field advantage against fellow cold weather playoff teams has been underwhelming over the last decade, and lousy conditions (quite possible in New England in January)increase the likelihood that something other than skill is determinant. KC and Denver are well coached (at least Denver's defense is well coached), and, again. that tips things more against the Pats than the average game would. I think the Chiefs might be a bad matchup for New England much like the Ravens have been. I think whoever wins the NFC should be a heavy favorite in the Super Bowl, unless something crazy like three fourths of their best unit suffers what would ordinarily be season-ending injuries in the championship game again

58
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 2:31pm

Yes, weather might be a factor, although short passing, YAC oriented offense can have a decided advantage in all but the very, very, worst weather. I think New England's defense may be on the rise, which is why I favored them so much. You really are going to have t be good on offense to score in Foxboro, and which AFC competitor of the Pats is good on offense, if McCarron is Cincy's qb? I know K.C. is ranked pretty highly, but I just don't trust Alex Smith in Foxboro.

58
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 2:31pm

Yes, weather might be a factor, although short passing, YAC oriented offense can have a decided advantage in all but the very, very, worst weather. I think New England's defense may be on the rise, which is why I favored them so much. You really are going to have t be good on offense to score in Foxboro, and which AFC competitor of the Pats is good on offense, if McCarron is Cincy's qb? I know K.C. is ranked pretty highly, but I just don't trust Alex Smith in Foxboro.

84
by t.d. :: Thu, 12/17/2015 - 4:01am

I think New England's defense is good and getting better, too. I just think that New England has higher odds than usual of facing two tough playoff games, and they're a little untested against good competition (NFC East & AFC South). This Pittsburgh offense seems quite different from the ones the Brady/Belicheck combo dominated in the last decade, and, if Cincinnati makes it to Foxboro, Dalton should be healthy. They still should be the favorites, and what is this, the seventh different distinct identity that Pats have had under Belicheck that he's taken to the top of the league? Incredible

88
by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/17/2015 - 9:52am

Pittsburgh's offense is great, great, great. The way Pittsburgh tackles, however, makes me think Pittsburgh's offense won't see the ball much.

69
by Joshua Northey :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 4:33pm

I don't know, if Manning actually gets rested and health I could see DEN OFF significantly improving for a couple games until he tires/gets hurt again. How likely that is is impossible to know.

Also the Eagles are looking really stupid regarding Andy Reid right now. It was dumb at the time and it remains dumb.

3
by FlippingADollar :: Tue, 12/15/2015 - 9:31pm

After watching both the Oakland and SD game, the Oakland game felt closer than the end score and the SD felt further apart. The backup punt returner (Hammond) fumbling and the turnover really didn't help anything. Field goals have been missed a lot more this year too. Not sure what that's about.

27
by eggwasp :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 7:59am

Carr doesn't throw the first pick vs KC - which I *think* was the dump off into the DL- ie a fairly unusual one - and the Raiders area probably 10 points up with 12mins or so left. Carr doesn't then have to force the ball downfield - easy to see KC losing that game without the pick. So yeah, nice streak, but I'm not convinced the Chiefs are anything other than a decent team on a nice streak, rather than a team to be feared. Of course, I'm biased.

64
by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 3:55pm

His first pick wasn't his worst throw; it was the one before it, when he badly overthrew a wide-open Crabtree on what would have gained at least 20 yards if not a touchdown.

72
by Richie :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 5:22pm

Last year through 14 weeks, the league made 84.8% of field goal attempts.
This year through 14 weeks, the league made 84.6% of field goal attempts.

(Last year, for the whole season, the league made 84.0% of field goal attempts.)

4
by RickD :: Tue, 12/15/2015 - 9:38pm

Would it be fair to assume Khalil Mack wasn't eligible for "FO star for Week 14" because he'd already won the honor some previous week? Because, man, he won the game in Denver and that's a good team.

9
by deus01 :: Tue, 12/15/2015 - 10:55pm

I think Brian Burke formerly of Advanced Football Analytics tweeted that Mack's WPA was 0.43 or something.

5
by DezBailey :: Tue, 12/15/2015 - 9:53pm

Interesting to see Detroit and Tampa Bay on the edge of the top 15 in DVOA and about the same in Weighted DVOA. They're playing solid ball despite records, the Buccaneers in particular who are first up for the sixth seed in the NFC if (a HUGE "If") Seattle AND Minnesota stumble.

The BES has the Chiefs No. 1 for a third consecutive week with the Panthers a strong No. 2 - http://besreport.com/week-14-bes-rankings/

Panthers have the No. 1 BES Offense and Defense. Its interesting to see DVOA has Denver with the best defense still. Arguably, the Panthers, Chiefs and Seahawks have been better on defense as of late.

Either way, always great stuff from FO!

13
by Thok :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 12:24am

The biggest difference between Detroit and Tampa Bay is the schedule. Tampa Bay has the easiest schedule so far, Detroit has the second toughest schedule.

14
by tuluse :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 12:34am

The NFCE and AFCS sure make teams look good (or their DVOA look bad depending on perspective).

56
by ChrisS :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 2:25pm

But the future schedule is 32nd. So look out meaningless wins here come the Lions.

36
by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 12:38pm

Tampa's playoff hopes are effectively dead at this point after laying that stinking rotten egg against the Saints; Minnesota has to completely collapse (I'm assuming Seattle won't at this point), and Tampa has to win out, including week 17 at Carolina. Tampa maybe could have lost one of its last four, but what should have been a very winnable game against a horrible Saints defense clearly didn't go right.

Middle-of-the-pack seems about right for Tampa, as somebody who follows the team obsessively. They've been really consistently good on third down offensively since the first month of the season, and DVOA loves consistency, and they haven't seemed consistently good on defense. Of course, the ludicrously easy schedule helps, just like last year's harder schedule didn't help.

104
by DezBailey :: Tue, 12/22/2015 - 3:40pm

The Week 15 BES Rankings have just been released - http://besreport.com/week-15-bes-rankings/

The Buccaneers dropped to 19th but the Lions are 9th and the only sub-.500 team in the Top-10.

6
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/15/2015 - 10:30pm

How badly did the Vikings defense go over a cliff in 2000, in weeks 15-17? Did not they end up the worst defense of the DVOA era? They don't even show up in the bottom 12 for weeks 1-14!

It is crazy to think they played in the conference championship, and were within a few plays oF getting home field advantage, pretty much solely on the basis (their qb play was mediocre at best) of good blocking, a good running back, and two HOF receivers.

This Vikings team has a top 15 offense, with maybe the worst line in the league, overall very pedestrian receiving, and a 2nd year qb who is not blessed with upper echelon throwing ability. I know there are many I converse here with who think running backs are as useful as mammary glands on the male of the bovine species, but I really can't think of any factor, other than a HOF running back, which may have produced that outcome.

10
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/15/2015 - 11:07pm

It must have been an insane last 3 weeks because they are in fact the worst defense in DVOA era with a 26%, yet they were no worse than 20.9 through 14 weeks apparently.

As I'm writing this, I just realized this could also be early games could get discounted more or dropped off. So it could have been games like holding the Dolphins to 7 points and the Patriots to 13 points not being counted any more.

19
by Jerry :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 3:29am

Opponent adjustments can change as more games are played, but full-season DVOA doesn't discount or drop any games. (Of course, weighted DVOA does.)

22
by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 5:55am

I've looked at all the relevant stats on that team and I still don't understand how they managed a positive score differential. Their offense turned it over 50% more often than their defense forced, but the offense still scored 0.22 more points per drive than their defense allowed. Their defense was the worst at causing turnovers, so I thought maybe the offense took advantage of the rare occasions they had short fields, but that wasn't the case either. The only notable advantages were that their opponents missed three more field goals than they did, and the defense was league-average instead of utterly horrible at preventing TDs in the red zone.

25
by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 6:00am

Their defense after Week 14 in 2000 was at 20.2%, so they did just miss the "worst ever through Week 14" table. Although, at that point, SF (20.4%) and ARI (21.5%) were both even worse!

And really, it was just Weeks 15 and 16 that did them in; their defense DVOA in Week 17 was a better-than-average-for-them 10.6% against Indianapolis. But those other two games...

Week 15
Opponent: St. Louis
Defense DVOA: 60.4%
Notes: The Rams scored five touchdowns and two field goals on their first seven (non-kneeldown) drives. They had no turnovers, and their only punt came when they were up by 19 points with less than five minutes to go. Marshall Faulk had 178 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns.

Week 16
Opponent: Green Bay
Defense DVOA: 45.3%
Notes: The Packers had one punt, no turnovers, three touchdowns, and four field goals. Ahman Green had 192 yards from scrimmage and Brett Favre threw three touchdowns.

34
by lokiwi :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 11:59am

"Mediocre at best" really undersells Dante, who ranked as the 4th best passing and 5th best rushing QB by DVOA that year (3rd and 1st by DYAR). I'm not sure if the eye test quite agrees with those numbers, but the advanced stats loved Culpepper before he blew out his knee.

38
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 12:53pm

Not really. He had two great years (2000, 2004) by advanced stats, one good year (2003), one mediocre year (2001) and one bad year (2002). Then, with Moss and Carter gone, but with a still serviceable o-line, he was, through six games (knee blown out early in 7th), absolutely terrible. Brad Johnson, at age 37, took his place, and played hugely better, with the same teammates.

Culpepper had some obvious talents that matched up well with Carter, and especially Moss, which really inflated Culpepper's numbers. Mike Shananhan said, after looking at film of the Vikings prior to a game with the Broncos, that the Vikings were the only professional team he ever saw who, as part of their conscious offensive design, just threw it deep in the general area of a receiver, trusting that HOF talent to haul it in more often than not. I think it is highly likely that if Culpepper had been drafted by another team, without such gifted receivers, he either would have taken a lot more contact, and/or thrown a lot more interceptions, and never would have come close to the production he enjoyed.

"Mediocre at best" was probably an overstatement, but I really don't think Culpepper ever was truly a top echelon qb, despite his incredible numbers, in 2004 especially.

71
by lokiwi :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 5:04pm

All fair points. If I was being contrarian, I would argue that his stats showed a normal progression for an elite qb (great 1st year, learning curve steps back in yrs 2 and 3, breakout to elite in 4th and 5th) with 2005 being a small sample you can just throw away.

But I also watched him play, so I can't really disagree with you. Moss was the defining talent on those teams. And I would have loved to have seen what they could do with a real coach/owner combo instead of the Tice/McCombs disaster.

75
by jmaron :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 7:06pm

I always felt Moss made Culpepper, as well as Denis Green's ability to have a good passing game. Whenever Culpepper got hurt the backup was better in every case but one (Spurgeon Wynn - the others Todd Bouman, Brad Johnson, and Gus Frerotte).

In three seasons where Culpepper was injured for a total of 16 games

Culpepper 13W, 19L - 6.25/NYA, 45TD 36Int
Johnson, Bouman, Frerotte - 10W, 4L, - 6.65/NYA, 27TD, 10Int

Johnson didn't have the benefit of Moss - his yds/att were in line with Culpepper that year but his td/int rate was miles better. Bouman and Frerotte had 15TD and 6 ints and averaged almost 3 NYA more than Culpepper.

I'm would go a step further than Will. My bet is without Moss and Green, Moss would have been a complete bust.

76
by lokiwi :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 7:59pm

But those were also the 2 seasons in which Culpepper played his worst football when healthy. Obviously there is no way to compare the backups against his good years because they never played, but I have a hard time believing Johnson, Bouman or Frerotte could have duplicated or improved on his 2003/2004 seasons. I don't want to be a total Dante stan because there were a lot of problems with his game (like backbreaking fumbles), but we can't just completely throw out a 32 game sample that indicated he was a top-5 QB. I think his talent level was probably slightly above replacement level when he could still run.

77
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 10:09pm

Overall, I'd say Brad Johnson was a clearly better qb than Culpepper, even if he never attained the peak Culpepper did in 2004.

78
by jmaron :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 10:09pm

actually the seasons were 2001 (his second season as a starter), 2003 and 2005....2003 was his 3rd best year according to dvoa.

in 2003 he managed 6.69NYA; Gus Freotte played two games and managed 9.54NYA and DVOA of 36.7.

If you take all the years Culpepper played in Minnesota he totaled 4665 DYAR in 80 games an average of 58 DYAR a game. In the 14 games those other three played in that period they averaged 58 DYAR a game as well.

I just don't see any evidence he was anything but a product of a really good environment to put up big stats.

52
by Eleutheria :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 2:05pm

Vikings defense first 13 games vs final 3:
Yards allowed per pass: 6.1 vs 8.5
Yards allowed per run: 4.5 vs 4.7
Points allowed per game: 20.6 vs 34.7
Points allowed per drive: 1.77 vs 4.00

Vikings defense in final three games was so bad, every other offensive drive by the opponent was a touchdown (12 TDs in 26 drives).

Keep in mind though the Vikings had a very tough final three games, facing the two best offenses in the league (Rams and Colts) plus the Packers (10th).

So given these base stats don't account for strength of opponent they certainly overstate the gap between the first 13 and last 3 games.

Either way though, that is quite the implosion.

54
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 2:18pm

4 POINTS PER DRIVE!!

8
by AB in DC :: Tue, 12/15/2015 - 10:36pm

Only eleven teams have a winning record after 13 games, and only twelve teams have DVOA over 0%. Are those both all-time lows?

24
by ammek :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 5:58am

And four teams in the top quartile for offensive, defensive and special teams DVOA. Seven teams in the top ten for both offense and defense. Unprecedented, I think.

Interesting, too, that the 3-10 Titans have more estimated wins than the 6-7 Colts.

11
by Cythammer :: Tue, 12/15/2015 - 11:13pm

With the Bengals almost sure to drop with Dalton out, Seattle are the frontrunners to finish first in DVOA for the fourth straight year. Really a remarkable run for them. It's funny to think that popular perception of Seattle over the last few years (which is already pretty high) probably actually underrates them.

12
by RickD :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 12:02am

Well...winning the DVOA title and winning the Super Bowl are different things.

18
by formido :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 2:22am

That's the point, right? Making it through the play-offs and Super Bowl has a significant element of chance, like throwing an INT at the 1 yard line with 30 seconds to go when you've got a 67% win probability.

39
by Jay Z :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 12:53pm

To throw an INT at the one yard line, it requires a particular play call. The play call isn't chance.

79
by Cuenca Guy :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 11:03pm

Because only a slant gets picked? Or they should have gone with Lynch? First, they were statistically bad with one yard to go when he got the ball, and a player can fumble. Whatever the play call, it was totally chance whether they won or lost. That was just...one of those things.

83
by theslothook :: Thu, 12/17/2015 - 12:54am

I always get annoyed at how people adamantly maintain the play call was bad. That's a purely after the fact reaction. The pats were playing the run all the way. The play itself was actually successful(it was pick play which I absolute cannot stand, but was still successful) and the receiver was open. Wilson just threw a poor ball at the worst possible time. Period.

Hate the result, but don't scapegoat the playcall just because of the result. If thats a td, no one discusses the play whatsoever.

And btw, by the rules of clutch, Wilson can theoretically never be a clutch player right? I mean...clutchness as defined? means one never makes mistakes with no time left with everything on the line. So in fact, we all must now bet the farm against Wilson in every playoff game he faces because hes clearly unclutch?

Oh and Wilson's recent tear...it just proves how he can pump up his regular season numbers. Stat padding. Easy to beat up on some bad teams with no pressure on. Playoff comes, ho hum...wake me up when he wins 4 sbs.

One might think my position is an exaggeration, but I've argued with clutch crowd here on this very site, with seahawk fans no less.

91
by Cuenca Guy :: Thu, 12/17/2015 - 11:21am

Yeah, that guy is all about himself...and Doug Baldwin I suppose. As to "clutch", Wilson has some of the best GWD stats through his first three years of anyone. Still, one moment can define everything for people and you can't argue with clutch.

The Seahawks lost in Week 1 when a 4th and 1 Lynch run failed. Many suggested that Bevell called the play just to "prove"??? that the SB call was the right call. As you say, if the result was a TD or even an incomplete pass, the play isn't discussed.

In the SB, I don't think the pass was really poor, and I didn't see a very successful rub/pick. Butler had an amazing jump, and Lockette and Kearse didn't really win those matchups. Wilson led Lockette by a little too much, but that only matters because Butler was there. Bad pass? Bad call? Lockette didn't fight hard enough for the ball? It was just one of those things. It was essentially the last play of the Super Bowl, however, so we'll be hearing about it forever.

94
by theslothook :: Thu, 12/17/2015 - 12:34pm

I was being sarcastic about the clutch comments.

86
by Pen :: Thu, 12/17/2015 - 9:09am

With one yard to go the Hawks were statistically far more likely to succeed than any team in the NFL. Way, way above average in that statistic. Don't know where you got infected with that "likely to fail on third and 1" narrative, but it's false.

92
by Cuenca Guy :: Thu, 12/17/2015 - 11:26am

I never said they were likely to fail. Like everyone else, I have no idea what would have happened had they handed the ball to Lynch. I said that if you look at Lynch's success rate in those situations, it wasn't very good. Because he's "Beast Mode", everyone assumes it was an easy yard...and it may have been. However, the Pats were loaded up for run and, as I said, his success rate in similar situations wasn't good, small sample size and such.

46
by blan :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 1:33pm

I think the premise of this post, that somehow DVOA does not contain a significant element of chance, is misguided. Even assuming that DVOA is the perfect measure of performance, the top teams still have a variance of around 10%. While some of that variance may be due to things that we might not consider due to chance like player injuries, player promotions, scheme changes etc, I would say almost all of it is due to chance in the same way the playoffs have a significant element of chance. That is: one team played better than the other on a given day and we can't really explain exactly why.

If the season were played over and over again with the exact same teams, we can expect a team with a DVOA of 30% and a variance of 10% to end the season anywhere from 20% to 40% a significant amount of the time. Since the amount separating the top teams is usually around 1% or 2%, winning "the DVOA title" should not be considered somehow less due to chance than winning the Super Bowl.

15
by Pen :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 1:02am

Seattle's three WR's are in the top 10 in DVOA. Rawls is still the #1 RB despite playing half as many games. Wilson has risen to #5 and the offensive line has finally budged off of last place in pass pro. I think the latter has everything to do with the success of all three of the former.

17
by theslothook :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 1:30am

Can we really be certain of that? I'm not trying to pick an argument with Wilson directly, but I have to think the relationship between qb and receivers is pretty much still a total grey area right now.

23
by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 5:55am

I'm quite certain that neither Rawls nor Seattle's receivers had anything to do with how much time Wilson got here:

http://www.seahawks.com/video/2015/12/13/seahawks-russell-wilson-doug-ba...

Or here:

http://www.seahawks.com/video/2015/12/13/seahawks-russell-wilson-22-yard...

Or here:

http://www.seahawks.com/video/2015/12/13/seahawks-russell-wilson-throws-...

PFF ranked the Seahawks' OL first in pass block efficiency this week at 93.4. Some of that is due to Baltimore's poor pass rush, but that didn't stop San Francisco who has an even worse one from sacking Wilson five times in the first game.

29
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 9:32am

More evidence supporting my belief that center play is the most underrated factor of offensive success.

41
by Led :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 1:05pm

You may be right. Nick Mangold has proven to be massively important to the Jets offense over the years. When he is out or seriously impaired due to injury, the interior of the line is barely functional. He's masked weak guard play to one side of him or the other since around 2009 (when Faneca declined). This year, he finally had solid pro guards on each side (Carpenter and Colon) but then Colon got hurt, requiring Mangold to babysit Brian Winters again.

42
by Travis :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 1:11pm

Yup. This year, Mangold missed the Raiders game and was only in for 11 snaps against the Texans. The Jets lost both.

48
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 1:47pm

When you get great center play, the playbook expands because the playcaller doesn't have to worry as much about abject disasters arising from a stunting defense, especially through the A gap. When you get really great center play, with a center who is, along with being very stout when a nosetackle is opposite him, highly mobile, and can thus pull to the outside on running plays then you really have a chance to give a defense fits.

The opposite? When the guy who initiates every play sucks, then disaster looms on every play. I think Sullivan has neen a bit overrated for the Vikings after 2011, when he started playing fairly well, but when he went down this year in August, and the Vikings replaced him with a 33 year old career backup who had never been primarily a center, I knew they had no chance of effective blocking. The only reason they aren't mired in the mid 20s or lower offensively is because of their HOF running back.

Ironically, it was Sullivan being made to start too early, in 2009, when The Chiller idiotically alienated Matt Birk for no rational purpose, which I think was the biggest factor in the Vikings not getting HFA in the playoffs, and thus missing the Super Bowl. Heck, if Birk is playing center in the Superdome in the NFCCG, Favre maight not have taken the beating he did after throwing the ball, and that game may have turned out differently.

Of course, Birk went on to center a Ravens o-line that won a championship, that was re-jiggered about Thanksgiving. I don't that kind of massive change, with new guys at three positions, 2/3 into the seasons, would have worked, without a rock of stability in the middle, even if by then Birk wasn't the great player he had been at a younger age. The guy lost mobility after hip problems in 2005, but he was still very stout, and his line calls remained impeccable.

I oughta' write a book..... "The Secret History of the NFL, as Seen Through the Eyes of the Players Who Start it All".....

82
by LionInAZ :: Thu, 12/17/2015 - 12:19am

Makes you wonder why centers are valued so much less than OTs.

85
by Perfundle :: Thu, 12/17/2015 - 5:18am

Probably because the height requirement means that there are more good centers than good tackles. And the talent pool is diluted by a further 50% since a team needs two tackles versus one center.

87
by Guest789 :: Thu, 12/17/2015 - 9:37am

Will, in regards to your view of the unnamed "33 year old career backup", what's your reaction to this PFF article, calling him one of the best centres in the league this year?

https://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2015/12/14/pro-joe-berger-the-nfls...

89
by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/17/2015 - 10:00am

I think PFF often doent't know what they are talking about. For instance......

"While Adrian Peterson averages just 2.7 yards per carry (45 rushes for 123 yards) when running between the guards and tackles, he averages 4.8 when running on either side of Berger this season, better than his overall average on the year."

.........ignores how Peterson runs the ball. No, you can't judge who blocked their assignment based upon where Peterson crossed the line of scrimmage, I'd wager a lot of those runs between guards and tackles ended up there, but weren't designed to be there.

47
by Since1stTMQExile :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 1:40pm

And yet another area in which the Patriots either excel or at least suffer less than other teams. Back in the Aughts, Damien Woody goes down and in comes Koppen. 2011, Koppen goes down, and in comes Connolly etc. Stork is out this year to start and Andrews is cromulent. No games decided by an Andre Gourodeesque shotgun snap or other disasters.

93
by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Thu, 12/17/2015 - 12:12pm

I was just remarking the other day that I can't even remember the last time the Patriots snapped a ball over the QB's head - and how often they run plays that fake a bad snap, and how strangely effective they seem to be.

96
by Since1stTMQExile :: Thu, 12/17/2015 - 1:35pm

They have been running the "bad snap" plays since the Kevin Faulk days. You would think defenses wouldn't fall for it since the Pats have so few real bad snaps! Maybe BB will order a bad snap or two this week against Ten just to get it on tape!

60
by blarneyforbreakfast :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 2:54pm

I've been really impressed by Seattle's receivers the past few weeks. They are sure-handed and solid route runners. With the right play calls, they are actually a dangerous bunch. Against a top-level secondary (like NE's last year or Carolina) they might have some issues getting open, but I think the receivers stepping up their game should be getting more attention as a reason for the offensive explosion.

I do hope that Seattle keeps this system going. Drew Brees comparisons aside, it reminds me of the Saints' offense from a few years back. Russell Wilson has always been a good passer on deep routes, but can struggle with hitting receivers in stride. Many of his short passes get tipped at the line (Partly due to poor protection but also height). So this system actually plays to Wilson and his receivers' strengths. It's really redeemed Bevell in my eyes!

62
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 3:07pm

It is amazing how the intelligence of an offensive coordinator correlates with the skill of the offensive coordinator's players, including his linemen.

65
by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 4:09pm

Baldwin can get open against just about anyone, but more and more the receivers are getting schemed open, and that's definitely an improvement from earlier in the season. And yes, whatever their other faults are, they've been very good at not dropping passes, which was why the drops last Sunday were so jarring. Ironically, the season when Wilson had the best receiving corps, 2012, was when they had the highest drop rate. Since then, they've ranked 4th, 7th and 3rd in lowest drop rate.

80
by Cuenca Guy :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 11:10pm

"Many of his short passes get tipped at the line." This really isn't true. He has some passes tipped just like any QB. I have no idea of the numbers, but I would be very surprised if he's not at least about average in passes tipped. Even if he did have a lot tipped, I don't see it as height. His year at Wisconsin (with a huge OL), he had one pass tipped. Excellent protection meant the Hobbit could get his passes out.
Wilson's release is more like that of a 6'2" or 6'3" QB. Watch his throwing motion versus say Bridgewater...it's quite the contrast. I so wish this height discussion would die. I believe this bias is why so many still try to attach the game manager label to him.

81
by gomer_rs :: Thu, 12/17/2015 - 12:18am

He doesn't get many passes tipped but it has historically effected his ability to pass over the middle. The prefect example came in one of the early close losses, I don't remember which game exactly, they had a traditional cross to Graham set up that would have been an easy TD if RW delivered it, but, and you can see this clearly on tv, from where he was standing to deliver the ball over the middle he had to throw w/ an upward trajectory, and barely cleared the center's helmet by what looked like less than an inch, and the ball sailed on Graham who had no shot to get it.

The reason people want to say he's a game manager is because if QBs that are mobile and work better running and passing from the shotgun succeed it will encourage college style running spreads to make it to the NFL and begin the end of the West Coast Era. Many long time FB fans, players, and coaches really do not want to see that happen. Just think about how the old school guys in college were talking about changing the rules to stop the spread no-huddle.
_______

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

90
by Cuenca Guy :: Thu, 12/17/2015 - 11:14am

If he were 6'5", it would probably make some difference, but I really believe his height is a negligible factor on most plays...when he's getting protection. However, at that height he'd probably lose of that Fran Tarkenton escapability. Of course, with the protection he's had recently, he's only had to move from the pocket a few times a game.

An interesting theory on the game manager label, but to me, that'd work better for the "running QB" label. That's something that sometimes is said about Wilson, but not as much as people seem to discount his ability because of a good defense and running game. It's not something they've said about Newton this year who's up for the MVP with less than a 60% completion rate...I think perhaps because he's 6'6". I think it's going to be hard to keep that game manager label on Wilson when he's leading the league in passer rating and has had a four-week performance (only four weeks, but still the best) that no one else has ever had.

100
by duh :: Thu, 12/17/2015 - 3:30pm

I think one of the reasons folks want to say he's a 'game manager' is that for a long time his coaching staff pretty much treated him that way. They kept him on a short leash for most of the 1st 3 quarters of the game and only let him loose at the end of the games or when they were desperately behind.

If he continues to play the way he has the last few weeks and the team continues to to be as aggressive as they have been nobody will think of him as a game manager much longer.

101
by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/17/2015 - 3:49pm

He might be well on the way to a transition that Brady made at a similar stage in his career, and 7 weeks from now, there's pretty good chance that the cliches surrounding him, as they surround nearly all qbs, will have changed.

102
by theslothook :: Thu, 12/17/2015 - 5:35pm

Thing is, the media seems to be pretty fickle about who they remark is clutch and who they think is a choker. Look at how they've turned on Rodgers, even though Rodgers himself won a sb in dominant fashion pretty early in his career. Wilson has had a magical start, but played poorly in the championship game and threw that game ending pick and people will still probably consider him clutch.

As a Manning fan, its made me bitter how the media has really hurt his legacy. I think most people probably will say Manning was clearly a worse qb than elway, montana, brady, and unitas.

Conversly, Luck hasn't had anywhere near the success of peyton and the media is pretty nice to Luck all things considered. I guess people loved the idea of a mythic hero with a perceived achilles heel.

103
by gomer_rs :: Fri, 12/18/2015 - 2:50am

It's because the media is in the work of story telling and Peter King at SI makes more money than Chris Brown at Smart Football.
_______

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

16
by jonnyblazin :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 1:14am

I can't help but look at the Ravens rankings (23rd offense, 23rd defense, 1st special teams) and think that all those years of having excellent special teams play meant that the bottom of the roster was filled with special teamers and not developmental players for offense or defense. Maybe skimping on such players has caught up with them.

20
by Jerry :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 3:37am

If that's the case, it's a perfectly reasonable decision for a serious contender, which the Ravens have obviously been. Even if they're now left with a rebuilding project that will take an extra year, there's a lovely trophy to look at in the interim.

26
by Andrew Potter :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 6:42am

You can only have so many developmental players. The Ravens couldn't possibly have kept three quarterbacks, five halfbacks, Kyle Juszczyk, ten receivers, five tight ends, and about ten linemen on the roster while still having room for defenders and specialists, and that's what they'd have needed to withstand just their offensive injuries this year. Modern rosters just don't stretch as far as Baltimore's injuries have required them to stretch.

63
by jonnyblazin :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 3:49pm

That seems a bit of a stretch. I'll give you the QB position, most teams don't have a good back up QB and there's no way to really prepare for that. But I don't think injuries are really a valid excuse for their performance, because they weren't good before Flacco, Smith, and Forsett got hurt. But regarding some of the offensive positions:

OL: Monroe is really the only significant injury. Zuttah played in 2/3 of the snaps and is out for the year, but Urschel is considered on his level and has held his own as a replacement.

TE: Has been healthy enough, with a combination of Glimore, Williams, or Boyle being able to play in every game.

RB: Buck Allen and Terrence West seem just as effective as Forsett and Taliaferro. RB fungibility.

My issue is mainly on the defensive side of the ball. The only big injury they've had is Suggs. They've kept guys like McClellan, Trawick, Levine, Orr for years, and they've helped make the ST unit great. But now the LB and DB corps is filled with mediocre players, and they have nobody who can rush the passer aside from Dumervil, who isn't that good without Suggs opposite.

30
by Kyndynos :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 10:17am

Glad to see New England finally make the top 10 in defensive DVOA. Crossing my fingers that once Dont'a Hightower returns, this year's Pats defense will be better than last year's group.

66
by RickD :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 4:27pm

I think it's clear that this year's defense has been better. Can they maintain that with Easley gone? Well, Easley has been very good, but he's still not a full-time player, and Akiem Hicks has also been good (but not at Easley-level).

They're continuing to get solid play from the LB position, in spite of the fact that all four of their top LBs have had injury issues to deal with in one form or another. (Will we ever find out what, exactly, Collins's illness was?)

For me the big surprise is the secondary, which has been much better in the absence of Revis and Browner than I thought was possible. Butler and Ryan seem to be pushing each other and scuttlebutt is that PFF has both of them rated higher than Revis himself this season. Before the season started, I was certain that every team with a decent passing attack on their schedule (Denver, Pittsburgh, Giants, Cowboys) would torch them. They've had some good luck in terms of facing a lot of back-up QBs (and starting QBs like Hoyer who should be back-ups), but they've been doing very well.

33
by ChristopherS :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 11:09am

Oh look, Atlanta is the 3rd most consistent team in football. *double take*

35
by Ian Chapman :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 12:05pm

Makes sense to me. Atlanta has been pretty consistent for the last two months or so.....consistently bad.

-Ian

37
by LyleNM :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 12:41pm

Washington is in the top ten in special teams? What strange occurrence happened to make this possible?

49
by apk3000 :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 1:48pm

They got a kicker who kicks it out of the endzone, preventing runbacks? General competence?

67
by RickD :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 4:31pm

The former, not the latter. They got right of Kai Forbath and replaced him with Dustin Hopkins, who has a much stronger leg.

I wouldn't start looking for competence that much. They still are doing crazy things like the DeSean Jackson punt return against Dallas, when he ran backwards from the 26 to the 4 yard line, tried to reverse field, and then fumbled. I'm pretty sure no coach has ever used the phrase "It was a good thing our punt returner ran backwards 22 yards."

45
by zenbitz :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 1:25pm

morbid curiosity: Exactly how bad was SF's performance against CLE last week? I mean, they got out gained by ca. 300 yards by the 2nd worst DVOA team.

57
by Mugsy :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 2:30pm

Hey Will -- just look at what Mawae did for Curtis Martin. He paved the way for Martin's success .. literally..

68
by RickD :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 4:32pm

Literally?

73
by Hurt Bones :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 5:42pm

He was a paving contractor before he was a football player.

99
by ChrisS :: Thu, 12/17/2015 - 2:59pm

metaphorically literally

61
by rich006 :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 3:03pm

Impressive work by La'el Collins in the linked video clip, but someone needs to give Clinton-Dix credit for getting right up and making the tackle after getting pancaked. That was a pretty good recovery on his part.

74
by tg :: Wed, 12/16/2015 - 6:37pm

Yeah, nice play by him. It actually looks like a second block of Clinton-Dix by Collins would've allowed McFadden to cut back across the field. Collins' speed is impressive, but if I'm picking a great block on that run, I'll go with one of the two tight ends...one of them sealed off two players.