Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis
Click here to buy PDF version.
Click here to buy PDF version
Like our page on Facebook and get Football Outsiders links directly in your Facebook feed.
Official Account: @fboutsiders
Scott Kacsmar: @FO_ScottKacsmar
Ben Muth: @FO_WordofMuth
Aaron Schatz: @FO_ASchatz
Vincent Verhei: @FO_VVerhei
-- plus --
Ian Boyd: @Ian_A_Boyd
Bill Connelly: @SBN_BillC
Cian Fahey: @Cianaf
Brian Fremeau: @bcfremeau
Tom Gower: @ThomasGower
Bryan Knowles: @BryKno
Rivers McCown: @RiversMcCown
Chad Peltier: @CGPeltier
Andrew Potter: @BigHairyAndy
Rob Weintraub: @robwein
Carl Yedor: @CarlYedor61
11 Dec 2009
This week's New York Times matchup column reveals why the Colts should take a dive against the Broncos, the way to get free ham in Buffalo, and the ultimate New York Jets safe offense.
Posted by: Mike Tanier on 11 Dec 2009
75 comments, Last at
14 Dec 2009, 7:02am by
So, Mike... are you applying the "if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all" thing this week? I was sad to find nary a pun about my Phins.
Good article as always.
-- Go Phins!
I know! What does he think this is? Audibles?
Um, I've just got one thing to say Mike. Fuck you from all Chargers fans.
They have as good a shot as anyone else has of making it to the Super Bowl.
That includes the wonderful Saints, Vikings and Colts. The Saints can be incredibly sloppy at times. Favre is probably hitting the old man wall. And the Colts have been squeking by a relatively soft schedule.
I'm not scared of any of those teams or the inexplicably high DVOA Patriots.
At some point, don't sports fans realize that disrespect is just part of the territory? I mean, c'mon, grow up. FO isn't the place for foul language because your feelings are hurt.
Are the Chargers suddenly less likely to go deep in the playoffs because Tanier made your tear ducts well up?
That's exactly why I reacted so strongly. Do you know how hard it is to read a computer screen with your eyes full of tears?
Seriously it was a semi-joke, but agreed it was a bad one and he did strike a bit of a nerve.
I do apologize if I offended anyone. But I don't exaclty regret it because I don't think the young audience I would really regret offending has the attention span for this site.
Well, like you, my problem with the Chargers/Cowboys write-up was the utter lack of logic or coherence. Lack of discipline from the head coaches simply cannot be the determining factor in December wins as the very different records of these two teams prove. I guess he thought it would be more amusing to bash the coaches for events that happened two or more years ago instead. That's fine, but the mark of good writing is that it is both funny *and* true, and in this case we got the one but not the other.
The Saints can be incredibly sloppy at times. Favre is probably hitting the old man wall
Those are terrific reasons not to fear the Vikings or Saints keeping the Chargers from the Super Bowl. Even more reassuring is that they play in the other conference.
Well, given that it is unlikely that Dwight Freeney, Will Smith, or Jared Allen are likely to tackle you as you stroll to your car, it would be somewhat irrational for you to fear them.
The great thing is that, contrary to all belief, Mike Tanier has no influence on the outcome of games. So there, Mike Tanier! Poopyhead!
On a non-sarcastic note, really, if you think someone here has written something silly, humorous and good-natured mocking is usually the effective response.
Wow...I think it's fantastic that Charger fans have an official spokesman. I wish I was at that meeting.
They served milk and cookies. You really SHOULD have been there.
In all fairness to R O: don't the Chargers seems just as likely to make the Superbowl as any of the many flawed AFC teams heading into the playoffs? Hasn't FO spent a couple weeks explicating the Colts counter-intuitive lack of dominance? Do the Pats look invincible? Does anyone believe in the Jags or Bengals? Didn't the Bolts just toy with and disassemble the Broncos? Mike's off-hand comment was infuriatingly stupid even if you aren't a Chargers fan...
Hey, I am a Chargers fan. I thought the R.O. comment was on the raw side. Tanier is a talented writer. The capsule was weak by his high standards. The Chargers are playing better. But we must always remember the team is still coached by Norv Turner and the Broncos are on the Chargers tail. And, frankly, the team has lacked something in the ferocity department since Turner took over. But let's hope for the best and that they get to the Super Bowl so Tomlinson, Rivers, and Gates can hoist that Lombardi trophy. They are quality leaders.
I once met LT in a bar. Seemed like a realy good guy. Please forgive me for declining to hope for a Chargers SB victory, however.
I'm just saying, as far as the AFC, it's not exactly a murderers row - the Chargers are at least as good as anyone else in the mix...
I think Tanier is the most talented writer on the site, but let's not forget he's also the guy that rated Coughlin and Del Rio as the two worst coaches in the NFL for Fox sports before the 2007 season, and then the Jags went to the divisional round and the Giants won the Super Bowl. So prognostication may not be his thing.
mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm - Cookies.
He didn't come across in the kindest way about the Bolts or Boys.. But, have you seen the Bolts swiss cheese of a defense playing all season long (and in the pre-season too)? Do you REALLY think that the Bolts D can hold off MinnNEsoTA or the BreseBoys and that the O can score more on them they they do on us? (Manning Big Brother they own - and the Cheating Chowds are reeling - so I think that the Bolts can beat them). I'd say that this was a dose of reailty check.
Is Roethlisberger really any good?
Last 4 years (including this year
Roethlisberger has managed 86TD, 60 ints, and a 6.32 yds/att, 9.2% sack
Backups in the same period: 10TDs, 4 ints, and 7.23 yds per attempt, 3.75% sack
27.5(I'm thinking that 27.5 will take a beating after last night)
in those same 4 years Batch, Leftwich and Dixon have combined for:
Batch DVOA's: 05: 25.6%, 06: 64.6%, 07: .5%
Leftwich 2008 DVOA: 66.0%
Really small samples but it has to make you think a little. I think it strongly suggests he is the major reason for the very high sack rate. He's certainly been less effective than the backups but I don't know who those backups played against though.
Colour me skeptical that he is actually any good. I feel the much the same way about Roethlisberger as I did Culpepper. Right place right time, some great skills but some awful weaknesses.
Yes, he's good.
I think Roethlesberger is a top four guy in the two minute drill, which leads me to conclude the coaches aren't using him properly.
Our quarterback's Jake Delhomme.
Tell your friends. Tell your Dad. Tell your Mom.
"He’s as good as Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, the Bob Dylan and Judy Garland of contemporary quarterbacks."
Fixed that for you.
Except I don't think Judy cried so much when she fell down.
Judy couldn't get a call from the refs, though. From all the rumors, she would have had some trouble with the NFL subtance abuse policy, too.
Shouldn't that be "N.Y. Times"?
The N.Y. Times
What, the editors are former Buckeyes?
Looks like Adalius Thomas has played his last game as a Patriot.
You spend the whole first two paragraph talking about how a bad December record is the sign of bad discipline, then claim Norv is an lazy disciplinarian, then ... oh yeah, there's the whole 14-0 in December record as a Charger coach, which is undoubtedly a sign of his Colonel Klink-esque lack of discipline! Oh yeah, but other teams he coached didn't do well in December. That would be a valid counter argument, except for the fact that it's totally bogus. Norv's pre-SD winning percentage: 0.415; Norv's pre-SD winning percentage in December: 0.433. He was not a great coach, but at least he was consistently inconsistent!
Who from San Diego pissed in your corn flakes? It seems like every week's Matchups is a dig at Chargers' players or coaches. You've made two jokes about Antonio Cromartie's "incident" with a champagne bottle at a bar in San Diego, without mentioning the fact that no charges were filed by the DA, numerous digs at Norv, and why? Making Norv jokes is like Leno making Viagra jokes -- cheap, easy, and old.
Maybe it has something to do with the insight-laden critiques like that of R O above.
Did you perhaps reckon that my insight-laden critique is a result of all the Chargers hate mentioned above?
I overreacted but everyone, including me, needs to lighten up.
And it would be nice for the lazy Norv digs to take a couple of weeks off. AT LEAST UNTIL THE CHARGERS LOSE A FRICKIN GAME.
Chargers fan here. FO has commented that both Cincy and SD look strange. Good records but middling DVOA. I believe there is an AGS coming to dig into the discrepancy (saw a comment by Aaron on it).
It will be interesting to see the analysis, especially if SD wins, b/c DVOA has been saying they are going down for awhile. I subscribe to their premium data and have noticed that several wins have been despite FO picking them to lose with some high %.
Saying this was about as close as either team will be to the SB seemed a bit dismissive for two teams with a combined 17-7 record, but, this is a big, big test for SD. They have no D-Line for this game (Castillo out, their scrub NT's keep going down) so if they can go into Dallas and win I will start to believe Norv and Rivera are onto something.
An aside, the coverage of this game forced me to realize how shallow the analysis often is and how much reporters echo a theme. If I see one more "December swoon" lead in article I am going to vomit, and I am not a Dallas fan. Some original insight please.
So, I am holding my breathe. No eff-u's yet.
Luckily it looks like Castillo WILL play.
Unfortunately Weddle will not which lessens the possibility of a Tony Romo meltdown. I still think the Chargers have a great shot at winning this game.
Nice post. As a Chargers fan, I also agree with you insight on cliched coverage of Dallas. Now, if there were some way to combine the December swoon motif with coverage of Princess, the journalists could have it all. Maybe the two gunslingers angle is the way to go....
I actually think Norv's tenure in SD merits a reevaluation of his record as a coach. After all, Bellicheck was a failure with the Browns. Prior to getting to San Diego, Norv failed in Washington (making the playoffs once in six+ seasons) and in Oakland. A Hall of Fame coach had comparable success under Snyder, and we all know how competent Al Davis has been in the last decade. So in retrospect, he failed in two of the toughest working environmments possible. Because he's such a punch line, every move he makes is subject to scrutiny, but I'm not sure the criticism is fair.
Those are very good points you make. Turner was 10 games under during his Washington years, but even Gibbs couldn't produce a winning record in that environment.
Some coaches have been successful in the past under Davis of course - as recently as Bill Callahan two years before Turner took over. But Davis seems to get nuttier every year and none of those who followed Turner have done any better.
I'd written Turner off as a crappy coach - but your comment makes me think he hasn't gotten a fair shake.
I guess the next few years should tell us if he's a capable coach. He's in a good organization with a franchise QB. So far 28-16 is pretty darn good.
Dan Snyder didn't buy the team until the spring of 1999. Under the previous ownership -- the same one that Gibbs worked under his first time around -- Norv was 32-47-1. Norv actually had a winning record (17-12) and made his only playoff appearance with WAS under Snyder. Whatever you make of Turner's time in Washington, I don't think you can exactly blame his losing on Snyder.
I must have remembered the time frame wrong, but he did inherit a terrible team, and built them into a slightly above average one. He had a bad record his first couple of seasons, and then was above .500 over his last four years there. It's not the Millen-esque embarrassment that the derision he receives would suggest.
I don't think the Vikings ball control offense has revolved around Peterson since early this year. When he had decent rushing days it was more him breaking a few long ones than a consistent control offense. Their ball control offense has been (and this is just what it seems to me, not charting this year) mostly Favre completing passes and converting third downs. Even in weeks where they rolled up tons of yards Peterson would repeatedly get them in second or third and long. After the first drive the Cardinals repeatedly challenged their receivers with tight coverage, meeting them as the ball got there, and then later getting increasing pressure on Favre who just did not seem as accurate as he had been all year. The only receiver that seemed able to get consistently open was Harvin.
There are a number of stories saying that McKinnie or Peterson tipped off the Cardinals defense as to whether the coming play was a run or a pass. If it was McKinnie would be interested to compare the rushing stats from the stretch he was out of the game with the rest of the game... it certainly did seem every time Peterson got a handoff there was at least one if not two or three cardinals already in the backfield.
As a Vikings fan I hope that is the case, because as bad as that was that the coaching staff or someone else didn't notice it... it seems the kind of thing that is easily correctable, as opposed to there being something wrong with Peterson.
Have to agree with you Andrew. The Vikings haven't been able to sustain a rushing attack most of the year.
I re-watched a few games and I could pretty much tell when McKinnie was going to pass or run block out of the 3 point stance when I had a decent enough angle to see how far back his left leg was. It really is pretty obvious.
Lately I've noticed teams not biting on the play action. I suspected it had to do with the lack of success but perhaps teams other than Arz picked up on some tips.
It wouldn't be a shocking thing; Mckinnie's weakness has always been run blocking technique.
Maybe now that they know that they know, McKinnie will go all Vizzini on the Bengals and lure them into over-thinking on every play.
Or maybe they just won't let him in the huddle.
Ideally Favre should tell McKinnie the opposite of what each play is (after secretly meeting with everyone else before the game). That way it wouldn't rely on his acting ability.
the 11th, if forced to play, wins a coupon redeemable for a turkey breast or a ham
If it does turn out to be Jamon Meredith, I assume he'll go for the ham.
Glad to see someone got the joke. Frankly, most people don't even get the jokes I make in English.
Now I get it.
Awesome. Will the FOMBC strike again?
Why is it inexplicable that the Patriots would be ranked pretty well in DVOA? They outplayed the best team in the league, on the road, for 53 minutes or so, before losing on either (depending on your home-city) a terrible spot, or an act of coaching hubris the likes of which the world has never seen. They lost by 3 to an unbeaten Denver team (also on the road). They lost by 1 point to a division rival, also on the road. They shouldn't be the top team, but if you take away, or add, a lucky bounce, or favorable spot, in any of those games (which I thought DVOA is supposed to reflect), they could easily be 9-3/10-2...
Defense can't defend in the second half, especially the fourth quarter.
Offense can't score points in second half, especially the fourth quarter.
Tom Brady throwing picks Rex Grossman would be proud of.
Again, I am poking a bit of fun but I do think the points are valid.
Ok, you're poking a bit of fun.
Your points would be more valid if you said "as well as they do in the first half". But perhaps less fun, so all is forgiven.
The Patriots points for/against in the second half this season are even at 108-108. That's with Hoyer taking the snaps for six drives (not counting kneeldowns). So they're getting net points like an average team in the second half, which is a big dropoff from their first half net points, but not "can't score" and "can't defend". We're so used to a dominant Patriots team that merely average performance looks terrible.
Before anyone whines about the Titans game, the numbers really aren't much different if you remove the top and bottom game, or two games, or three games, or four games, etc. The net points as you remove the extremes are 0, -1, -4, -7,
-5, -4... slightly negative, but never more than a single dropped/caught pass from even.
So why does a team that is great in the first half and average in the second half have a very good DVOA? The question answers itself.
It may sound like I'm being a Patriots hater. But it really is because I expect MUCH more from a Belicheck team.
Not that I've watched a lot of their games, but the highlights and what I've read have been disconcerting to say the least.
I DID however watch much of the first half of the Saints game.
A Patriots team that was a true contender would never look that putrid late in the season. As best I remember they almost always got their stinkers out of the way in the first quarter or so of the season.
The horrid defense was not even what was bad about that game. The supposesly great Brady/Moss/Welker juggernaught looked completely hapless against a patchwork Saints secondary.
Belichecks schems still seem to work against average to good teams. But this team seems to crack under the pressure in big games. I confess I don't know how you get that trait into DVOA. :)
It's a combination of factors, from what I've seen. The offensive line has been remarkably inconsistent this year. Kaczur has been a liability in pass blocking, both left tackles have been injured, and Neal's been up and down both in pass blocking and run blocking. Mankins and Vollmer are the only two I'd give pass marks at this point, and Vollmer's hurt. Maroney's fumbles at the most inopportune moments imaginable haven't helped one bit, which is frustrating as that aside I like how he's been running recently. As has been noted elsewhere too, Tom Brady seems to have forgotten how to be Tom Brady and started forcing balls into coverage towards Moss/Welker where before he'd have calmly gone through his progressions and found Edelman or Watson. How much of that is driven by the former point about the line, how much by the others maybe not being open, how much by the knee injury and layoff, and how much by the lack of a proper offensive co-ordinator is anybody's guess.
That's another point, actually, I think the lack of a proper offensive co-ordinator is really affecting the Patriots' play. All jokes aside, I'd take Weis back without a second thought even just for December and (hopefully) January on the off-chance he provides a spark the Patriots simply don't seem to have right now.
You didn't sound like a hater to me. It sounded like you were overstating the case (a little bit) for the fun of it. Which is ok by me.
Patriots teams used to be known for their second-half adjustments and how they finished off games.
This year they are still known for their second-half adjustments and how they finish off games.
Which just sucks for us Pats fans.
Drew Brees, like Tom Waits, is an unappreciated American master.
I think we can stop saying this. Everyone knows Drew Brees is very, very good now; it's not just fantasy nerds anymore.
So he's like Townes Van Zandt, without the inconvenient being dead thing.
Exactly like Townes Van Zandt! It's not just Steve Earle standing on Bob Dylan's coffee table, the rest of us are up here too.
This site is starting to get a reputation for its across the board irrational Norv Turner bashing. It's like we are stuck in 2006 and all the work he's done with the Chargers and all the improvements he's made to his coaching style count for nothing. We just keep rehashing is old Redskins woes as if he could not possibly have learned from his mistakes. I know Tanier will often write with his tongue placed in his cheek, but this is not an isolated incident. It's becoming a sad situation where the site I used to love for its rational analysis has no inclination to ever deviate from the article they wrote for the annual backing in 2007 despite the evidence mounting against it. Norv Turner is not the greatest coach and probably isn't even in the top 10 in the NFL right now, but I don't see the need to consistently go after the guy with the highest winning percentage of any Chargers coach. Especially during a 7 game win streak.
I agree completely, the Norv bashing is ridiculous. It make about as much sense as donovan mcnabb bashing. Or claiming the redskins are atrocious each year (they are typically below average).
This is one of the main things that I worry about at FO. The numbers are still good but the analysis is slowly approaching that of the very people most readers were originally driven away from. I find myself looking to other even less mainstream sites to get people who actually do all the research instead of relying on cliches. Yes I know writing 800 words about football each day must be incredibly onerous :rolleyes:, but you could at least make sure you have done the research.
I don't know. When he took over from Schottenheimer, he took over a powerhouse. Terrific defense and a young and extremely gifted offense. He took this 14-2 team, turned it into an 8-8 team in two years. That's, no matter how you slice it, a spectacular case of mismanagement. Whether or not that is deserving of Millen-esque bashing, I don't know.
And the highest winning percentage thing. Is basically a tie with Marty, and Gillman has a better record. I think...
Turner 31W:18L 63%
Marty 47W:35L 57%
Gillman 77W:52L 60%
If you take out the best and worst seasons of Marty he is 29W:20L 59%. Had Marty been fired after 2005 after the Martyball criticism and lack of playoff success, he would have been 33W:32L 51%.
Chargers reached AFC championship game during Turner's time. He seems to be on the way for 3 for 3 for playoffs. The only time Chargers were more successful was 94 with Ross.
His SD teams have been better overall than Marty's SD teams in the rankings for points scored, points allowed, and also on wins/losses.
Marty inherited a team that had gone 1-15 and 5-11 the previous two years, while Norv took over a team that was 9-7 and then 14-2.
I don't claim that Norv is a better coach. But I believe people look at the 14-2 season and assume that all of this was Marty's doing.
But look at it this way if you are claiming that he cannot even succeed with such a great team that Marty built. If you consider only the best 3 years of Marty which were also his last 3 including the 14-2 season he has 35 wins. If we assume that SD wins two more games this year, and I will give Norv the Denver game last year, that would put Norv's first/best/worst 3 years with SD at 34 wins. 35 wins vs 34 wins.
The poster said for his San Diego work "a spectacular case of mismanagement".
Someone who gets his team to playoff 3 times in 3 years, plays in AFC champs game and has over 60% winning record in my opinion is done a good work, however good a team he inherited.
My point was that including the time Marty had to spend building what he had inherited from Riley in the comparison to Norv's record with what he inherited isn't entirely fair.
It's also not fair to assume that Schottenheimer could have accomplished everything that Turner has these last three years, but that thought does cross my mind.
I agree the comparisons are not fair and it is not fair for either one of them.
I was just responding to the claim that he took something extremely good and totally ruined it.
I think both have been good coaches for San Diego.
I think most criticism of Turner at San Diego is based on prejudice than his actual body of work.
Every time I read the FO comments on audibles or other articles that are implying how stupid/incapable or whatever their perception of Turner is - and I know that not everybody at FO share the same ideas, but Norv bashing I saw a lot, Norv defending I don't recall ever seeing-, makes me think that, even the people who think they can think out of the box are just incapable of changing their mind in the face of reality.
What I see in comments at FO message boards is people put too much emphasis on game day decision:, on timeouts, 4th down decisions, challenges and mostly doing it with the benefit of hindsight. And justify their decision of whether that decision was good or not, based on their perception of the coach: the decisions are good if Belichick makes them even when they don't work, and are bad when Turner, etc do them because they didn't work, or they are bad even when they do work, because the other coach was too stupid to take advantage of that bad decision or they just got lucky.
Turner is a good example to point this out. He has been very successful at San Diego in what matters, i.e. taking his team to playoffs, and then winning games there. That is how a team wins Superbowls. Yet he is still the clown, just a lucky bastard. For whatever reason, that pisses me off, despite not being an SD fan.
Furthermore, his teams have peaked towards the end of the season, which is ideally what the best coaches strive for
tardus un vindico means slow to deliver for people like me who didnt take latin in high school.
I took latin in high school and I still didn't get it.
"Andy Reid’s tenure with the Eagles has been like a sturdy, unfulfilling marriage, so Philadelphia fans responded to news of Reid’s contract extension with a Robert James Waller heroine sigh and a brief fling with Allen Iverson. Philly fans don’t want dependable 10-win seasons and nail-biting victories against the Redskins and Bears. They want fireworks, and Reid’s Eagles never deliver."
This is the best description I've ever read of what it's like to be an Eagles fan and to watch Andy Reid's Eagles every Sunday. Well done!
Reid and Turner - separated at birth?
There is good reason to think Reid deserves a fair bit of credit for assembling the talent he wins with. In San Diego, the coach's job is to play with the players A.J. Smith gives him. San Diego are good almost entirely because Smith is a great talent evaluator. It is, however, plausible that the reason they are not better is that Smith is an egotistical douchebag.
I don't know, I've always felt the Eagles under Reid were both entertaining AND fulfilling. I know they haven't won the Super Bowl. But I figure if they keep doing well, they'll win eventually. It's a funny thing. Remember the Colts? They couldn't reach the Super Bowl let alone win their first playoff game for years. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, they win. Then they can't win again in the playoffs....weird.
Philly, meanwhile, does very well in the regular season with an average of 10 wins per season. They do well in the playoffs. 5 NFC Championship games. 1 Super Bowl. In 8 years. Meanwhile, the Giants haven't had anywhere near the consistency. But they have a SB win. OK, it hurts a little. But it makes me feel good that in 8 years, I've had a team to root for 2 weeks after the season ended 6 times, while the Giants fans have only had that once.
It's too bad they don't give awards to teams who are consistent. While the Patriots and Colts have been more consistent than the Eagles, the Eagles have been right behind them. They lack only that one SB win....
On the other hand, I still believe if Reid had hired someone to manage the clock for him, he'd have made 3 Super Bowls and won at least 1 of them.
People always want more. We watch football to feed the need that things will be better tomorrow. Reid got this team to an elite level in his second season. In his 3rd season he got them to the NFC Championship and they've never gotten past that level.
8 Years later I understand why people want change. Consistency in sports is maddening when it's just below the pinnacle. I truly believe Andy Reid is one losing season from getting canned. Now if he wins a Super Bowl that will buy him about 3-4 years of peace with the Philly fans.
he did lose a Super Bowl
I forgot to mention, I went to Syracuse.
I've lived with Boeheim haters for years. Most of them from Syracuse. He made the final game 2 times in 24 years...in the 25th year, he won it all.
There's something to be said for that. He's a consistent winner. Consistent winners win it all eventually.
© Football Outsiders, Inc. // Site powered by Stein-Wein // Partner of USA TODAY Sports Digital Properties