1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary
1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Aaron Schatz

Here's the moment that Washington Redskins fans have been waiting for -- at least, the Washington Redskins fans who read Football Outsiders. With the official unveiling of the 1991 DVOA ratings, the Redskins pass the 2007 Patriots as the highest-rated team in DVOA history.

Washington may have been the most well-rounded team in NFL history. We now have DVOA ratings for 645 teams, and in that whole group, the 1991 Redskins rank 17th in offense, 16th in defense, and 13th in special teams. They rank fifth all-time in pass offense and 11th in pass defense. They aren't ranked as highly on run offense and run defense, but were still among the top ten teams of 1991 in both ratings. The Redskins were the best defense and the third-best offense in the second half with the score within a touchdown, which helps make them the first team to ever hit 16.0 Estimated Wins.

WAS 1991 14-2 56.9% 27.2% 1 -21.1% 3 8.6% 1
NE 2007 16-0 52.9% 43.5% 1 -5.8% 11 3.6% 7
NE 2010 14-2 44.6% 42.2% 1 2.3% 21 4.7% 8
GB 1996 13-3 42.0% 15.2% 3 -19.3% 1 7.4% 2
SF 1995 11-5 40.0% 18.6% 5 -23.7% 1 -2.2% 22
PIT 2004 15-1 37.6% 16.3% 8 -18.9% 3 2.4% 10
PIT 2010 12-4 35.4% 14.3% 5 -20.7% 1 0.4% 16
DAL 1992 13-3 35.1% 23.6% 2 -9.5% 5 1.9% 8
NE 2004 14-2 34.2% 23.3% 3 -10.7% 7 0.2% 16
STL 1999 13-3 34.0% 17.7% 4 -13.5% 3 2.8% 9

The ratings for past teams will look different from the ratings currently listed on our stats pages because they represent the new DVOA v7.0, and we haven't yet had time to get all the stats pages updated with the newer version of the stats. As I noted a week ago when the book came out, we'll get to that in the next couple of weeks and then run a few articles showing updated top-ten lists and how DVOA v7.0 has changed the historical rankings.

But I digress; back to the Redskins. A lot of the best teams in NFL history got a little extra boost by picking on an easy schedule, but not Washington. They had an average schedule, and a harder-than-average schedule of opposing defenses. One reason for that: 1991 was not only the year of the best overall team in DVOA history. It was also the year of the best defense in DVOA history, which showed up on Washington's schedule twice: the 1991 Philadelphia Eagles.

* * * * *

Here are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings for 1991, 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 averaged based on situation and opponent in order to determine value over average. (Explained further here.)

DVOA represents adjusted statistics. OFFENSE and DEFENSE DVOA are adjusted for opponent quality 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. NON-ADJ TOTAL VOA does not include these adjustments. DVOA is a better indicator of team quality. VOA is a better indicator of actual wins. WEIGHTED DVOA gives a stronger consideration to games late in the season. Remember that, as always, defense is better when it is NEGATIVE.

1 WAS 56.9% 54.5% 14-2 27.2% 1 -21.1% 3 8.6% 1
2 SF 26.0% 22.0% 10-6 24.0% 2 -4.8% 8 -2.8% 22
3 NO 19.6% 18.8% 11-5 -1.7% 17 -24.5% 2 -3.2% 23
4 BUF 19.1% 28.0% 13-3 21.5% 3 2.1% 16 -0.2% 16
5 PHI 17.9% 18.1% 10-6 -24.6% 26 -42.4% 1 0.1% 14
6 KC 17.8% 17.1% 10-6 13.3% 5 -2.1% 9 2.5% 6
7 HOIL 11.8% 16.5% 11-5 9.2% 9 -5.8% 7 -3.2% 24
8 DAL 9.9% 3.4% 11-5 17.6% 4 11.4% 24 3.6% 2
9 CHI 7.3% 5.1% 11-5 5.3% 10 -7.7% 6 -5.7% 28
10 NYG 6.1% 0.5% 8-8 12.5% 6 7.0% 22 0.7% 12
11 ATL 5.8% -1.8% 10-6 3.5% 14 1.2% 15 3.6% 3
12 DEN 3.5% 9.0% 12-4 -1.8% 18 -10.2% 4 -4.9% 27
13 LARD 1.9% -3.5% 9-7 -0.9% 16 0.3% 12 3.2% 4
14 SD 1.6% -4.8% 4-12 4.7% 11 3.6% 17 0.5% 13
15 CLE1 1.0% 3.3% 6-10 3.7% 13 1.1% 14 -1.7% 20
16 MIN 0.5% 6.5% 8-8 11.8% 8 10.6% 23 -0.7% 18
17 DET -1.2% 1.4% 12-4 -2.6% 19 0.9% 13 2.3% 8
18 MIA -1.3% 3.4% 8-8 12.2% 7 14.5% 28 0.9% 10
19 SEA -3.8% -5.8% 7-9 -14.9% 22 -8.2% 5 2.9% 5
20 NYJ -4.4% 2.4% 8-8 4.7% 12 5.2% 19 -3.9% 26
21 PIT -7.6% -7.5% 7-9 -8.6% 20 0.3% 11 1.3% 9
22 LARM -10.7% -24.1% 3-13 0.4% 15 13.5% 26 2.4% 7
23 GB -15.4% -11.2% 4-12 -15.9% 23 -0.8% 10 -0.2% 15
24 CIN -24.3% -29.0% 3-13 -9.8% 21 14.1% 27 -0.4% 17
25 PHX -24.3% -35.1% 4-12 -20.4% 24 4.6% 18 0.8% 11
26 NE -31.5% -28.4% 6-10 -23.7% 25 5.9% 20 -1.9% 21
27 TB -38.1% -41.3% 3-13 -28.4% 27 5.9% 21 -3.8% 25
28 IND -47.7% -40.1% 1-15 -32.8% 28 13.5% 25 -1.5% 19
  • 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.
  • WEIGHTED DVOA is adjusted so that earlier games in the season become gradually less important. It better reflects how the team was playing at the end of the season.
  • 1991 SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents played this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#28, most negative).
  • PYTHAGOREAN WINS represent a projection of the team's expected wins based solely on points scored and allowed.
  • VARIANCE measures the statistical variance of the team's weekly DVOA performance. Teams are ranked from most consistent (#1, lowest variance) to least consistent (#28, highest variance).

RANK 1991
1 WAS 56.9% 14-2 16.0 1 52.4% 1 0.1% 17 13.9 1 12.6% 15
2 SF 26.0% 10-6 11.0 4 31.2% 2 3.3% 10 12.3 2 16.9% 21
3 NO 19.6% 11-5 10.2 7 14.6% 6 1.3% 12 12.0 3 15.8% 20
4 BUF 19.1% 13-3 11.2 2 21.1% 3 -14.3% 28 11.4 5 10.3% 11
5 PHI 17.9% 10-6 10.3 6 20.3% 4 4.4% 8 9.4 8 21.9% 27
6 KC 17.8% 10-6 11.1 3 12.4% 7 4.9% 6 10.2 7 8.8% 8
7 HOIL 11.8% 11-5 10.3 5 10.9% 9 0.9% 14 11.8 4 5.2% 2
8 DAL 9.9% 11-5 9.8 8 15.3% 5 6.4% 3 8.9 11 18.7% 24
9 CHI 7.3% 11-5 9.1 9 4.0% 14 1.0% 13 9.0 10 15.1% 17
10 NYG 6.1% 8-8 8.9 11 2.8% 16 5.4% 5 7.5 19 7.1% 4
11 ATL 5.8% 10-6 8.6 12 12.2% 8 4.8% 7 8.6 13 14.1% 16
12 DEN 3.5% 12-4 8.0 15 -1.8% 18 -4.4% 21 10.3 6 8.7% 7
13 LARD 1.9% 9-7 8.0 14 4.9% 12 2.4% 11 8.0 15 17.5% 22
14 SD 1.6% 4-12 7.7 16 5.2% 10 4.2% 9 5.9 22 4.9% 1
RANK 1991
15 CLE1 1.0% 6-10 7.4 18 -1.7% 17 -0.6% 19 7.8 17 7.9% 6
16 MIN 0.5% 8-8 8.5 13 4.1% 13 -8.2% 25 7.8 16 18.3% 23
17 DET -1.2% 12-4 8.9 10 3.5% 15 -2.7% 20 9.3 9 19.1% 25
18 MIA -1.3% 8-8 7.7 17 5.0% 11 -10.6% 27 7.8 18 7.8% 5
19 SEA -3.8% 7-9 7.2 20 -7.0% 20 0.4% 16 8.5 14 9.8% 10
20 NYJ -4.4% 8-8 7.4 19 -4.0% 19 -10.0% 26 8.7 12 10.9% 12
21 PIT -7.6% 7-9 7.2 21 -9.6% 21 0.6% 15 6.4 21 11.7% 14
22 LARM -10.7% 3-13 5.9 22 -10.6% 22 8.9% 2 3.6 24 6.6% 3
23 GB -15.4% 4-12 4.5 25 -10.8% 23 -4.7% 22 6.7 20 8.9% 9
24 CIN -24.3% 3-13 4.7 24 -24.0% 25 5.6% 4 3.6 25 20.0% 26
25 PHX -24.3% 4-12 4.9 23 -22.0% 24 12.2% 1 3.5 26 15.2% 18
26 NE -31.5% 6-10 4.2 26 -26.9% 26 -6.5% 24 4.8 23 15.5% 19
27 TB -38.1% 3-13 3.7 27 -46.1% 27 -0.2% 18 3.1 27 27.1% 28
28 IND -47.7% 1-15 0.0 28 -47.1% 28 -5.8% 23 1.6 28 11.4% 13

DVOA for 1991 is now listed in the stats pages:

Statistician Eddie Epstein wrote a book a few years ago called Dominance, about the best teams in NFL history. He chose the 1991 Redskins as the second-best team ever, behind only the 1985 Bears. Doing these ratings definitely has me thinking about just skipping the late '80s for now and going straight to 1985 so I can compare the Bears to both the Redskins (overall) and the Eagles (on defense).

If you look closely at the ratings, you can get a bit of a sense of how two units -- the Eagles' defense and the Redskins' special teams -- really overwhelmed the rest of the NFL in 1991. Remember, with the new version of DVOA, every year is normalized to average 0%, so there should generally be 14 teams above average and 14 teams below average. On defense, you'll notice there were only 10 teams above average in 1991, with 18 teams below average. And while special teams are split 14 and 14, the difference between the Redskins and second-place Dallas is bigger than the difference between Dallas and 18th-place Minnesota.

The Redskins might actually be even higher in DVOA if they had not rested their starters for most of their Week 17 game against Philadelphia. Backup quarterback Jeff Rutledge was 6-for-16 in that game, and the Eagles scored 17 points in the final quarter to beat the Redskins 24-22. Even with that fourth-quarter flop, the Redskins had a 49.9% DVOA for that loss. The Redskins didn't have a below-average DVOA in a single game all season. In fact, the Redskins only had DVOA below 20% for one game all year, a 17-13 win over the Giants in Week 9. Their DVOA for that game was 19.5%.

Washington started the season with a ridiculous 45-0 slaughter of a Detroit team that was missing Barry Sanders due to a rib injury. That's a team that eventually went 12-4. I know Barry Sanders was good, but the guy was not 45-points good. The Redskins' single-game DVOA of 149.6% sets a new record for the strongest game we've ever measured, passing the 1999 Steelers' dismantling of the debut expansion Browns and the 1994 Eagles' shocking upset of the eventual champion 49ers. The Redskins bookended their season by clobbering Detroit (this time with Sanders) 41-10 in the NFC Championship. I don't have DVOA for that one yet because I haven't had a chance to run all of the historical playoffs with the new formula; that's an August project.

The 1991 Redskins are also famous for Tony Kornheiser's "Bandwagon" columns that followed the team throughout the year, considered by some to be the best series ever written by a sports columnist. You can find those linked here.

As great as the Redskins were, the Eagles may have been even more interesting. The 1991 Eagles completely lap the field in terms of defensive DVOA. Only the 2002 Bucs had a better pass defense, and only the 2000 Ravens had a better run defense, and the Eagles were much more balanced than either of those teams.

1991 PHI 10-6 -42.4% -48.6% 1 -34.9% 1
2002 TB 12-4 -31.8% -51.9% 1 -8.8% 8
2008 PIT 12-4 -29.0% -32.8% 1 -24.2% 2
2004 BUF 9-7 -28.5% -34.7% 1 -21.9% 2
2008 BAL 11-5 -27.8% -27.1% 2 -28.6% 1
2009 NYJ 9-7 -25.5% -36.5% 1 -13.9% 7
2000 TEN 13-3 -25.0% -23.0% 2 -27.4% 2
2003 BAL 10-6 -25.0% -29.5% 1 -19.9% 3
1991 NO 11-5 -24.5% -33.1% 2 -12.3% 5
2000 BAL 12-4 -23.8% -14.8% 7 -36.6% 1

It probably seems strange that there are no teams from 1992-1999 on this list, but they do show up when we get into the teens, with teams like the 1995 49ers (11th) and 1998 Dolphins (14th).

It's crazy to imagine how few points the Eagles might have given up if they were playing with a halfway-decent offense instead of losing Randall Cunningham to a torn ACL in the first game of the season. The Eagles were stuck depending on an over-the-hill Jim McMahon for 11 starts, plus Jeff Kemp for two and Brad Goebel for two. McMahon actually wasn't half bad, with 6.9% passing DVOA, but the other two quarterbacks were awful, especially Goebel who had no touchdowns with six interceptions. And the running game was dreadful, with 3.1 yards per carry as a team.

Still, the Eagles were fifth in the league in points allowed, and first in yards allowed by nearly 400 yards -- and the team that was second in yards allowed is also on that top-ten defenses list, the 1991 New Orleans Saints. The Eagles allowed 3.9 yards per play, where no other team allowed fewer than 4.5. As bad as their running game was, their run defense was even better, allowing 3.0 yards per carry. Three-fourths of the starting defensive line was All-Pro (Reggie White, Jerome Brown, and Clyde Simmons). Linebacker Seth Joyner and cornerback Eric Allen made the Pro Bowl as well.

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The Saints and Redskins had really good defenses as well that year. The Saints of course were led by their linebackers, with Sam Mills, Vaughan Johnson, and Pat Swilling all making the Pro Bowl and Rickey Jackson being awesome without getting a trip to Hawaii. It wasn't really the easiest year to find space on the NFC Pro Bowl defense, was it? The Redskins only got two guys onto the Pro Bowl roster, defensive end Charles Mann and cornerback Darrell Green. That defense was also a source of future general managers, both good (cornerback Martin Mayhew) and not-so-good (Matt Millen).

You definitely see the NFC dominance in the DVOA ratings for 1991. Buffalo, the AFC Champion, ranks fourth, the highest AFC team and one of only three AFC teams in the top 11.

Three other teams stand out in 1991, for being overrated (Detroit), underrated (San Diego), and just plain dreadful (Indianapolis).

The Lions were one of the most inconsistent teams of the year, which is what happens when you win 12 games but lose 45-0 (to Washington) and 35-3 (to San Francisco). Otherwise, it's a little hard to tell why they ended up only 17th in DVOA. The Lions didn't have too many super-close victories, but did go 4-0 in games decided by a touchdown or less. They didn't particularly take advantage of long plays that are discounted by DVOA, with only four gains of 50 yards or more. They did benefit a little extra from fumbles on defense, recovering 15 of 23. They also benefitted from poor opponent special teams, ranking third in Hidden special teams value.

San Diego was the opposite, somehow going 4-12 despite being an average team by DVOA with the league's lowest variance. The Chargers went a horrifying 2-8 in games decided by a touchdown or less. (They were 2-1 in games decided by eight points, but in 1991 that didn't count as a touchdown or less because there was no two-point conversion.) They didn't have particualrly bad luck on fumbles, and their schedule was ninth in the league, so it wasn't all about opponent strength. They just kept losing close games. Part of San Diego's problem was a significantly unbalanced offense, which ranked second in rushing DVOA and 19th in passing DVOA. That made it tough for them to come back from a deficit, and they just happened to end up with more fourth-quarter deficits that needed erasing than fourth-quarter leads that needed protecting.

When San Diego went 11-5 the next season, it wouldn't have been a big surprise to Football Outsiders readers, if there had been Football Outsiders readers in 1991. Or if there had been an Internet. Or if I had not still been in high school (my 20th reunion is this Saturday).

Finally, to finish up discussion of teams: Yes, Indianapolis is listed there with 0.0 estimated wins, one of only two teams to hit that mark. The other was Detroit in 2009. It's the flipside of Washington; the Colts were the worst offense and defense in the league in the second half of close games, and the worst offense in the league in the first quarter. Their only win all season came by one point over the 8-8 Jets, and they scored more than a touchdown only five times. For this disaster, they won the right to draft Steve Emtman, whose career was derailed by injuries. The next season, they may have been the luckiest team in DVOA history, going 9-7 despite ranking 27th in a 28-team league in DVOA. In 1993, they were back to 4-12.

Now let's take a look at the best and worst players by position:

Quarterbacks: Mark Rypien, was you might expect, is the leading quarterback of 1991 in both DYAR and DVOA. Rypien had a season that was somewhat equivalent to the one Aaron Rodgers just had for the Packers; the passing game was so efficient and the team so good overall that Rypien didn't have to throw as many passes as the other top quarterbacks of his era. Rypien started all 16 games but had just 434 pass plays, including DPIs. Warren Moon is second in DYAR, and in the run 'n' shoot he had 686 pass plays. That's ridiculous in other direction. The average team in 1991 had 540 pass plays, including DPIs.

The top DVOA guys, other than Rypien, are generally guys who didn't play the whole season for one reason or another. Steve Young (second in DVOA) missed five games with injuries; when he was out, Steve Bono came in and was fourth in the league in DVOA. Troy Aikman (fifth in DVOA) missed four games; when he was out, Steve Beuerlein came in and was third in the league in DVOA.

The worst quarterback in the league, based on total value, was Jeff George, who was in his second year with the Colts. George comes out with -590 DYAR despite having an above-average completion rate: over 60 percent when the NFL average was 57.4 percent. The issue here wasn't really turnovers, as George threw only 12 picks. However, George was Captain Checkdown with a league-low 8.3 yards per completion, and he took a league-leading 56 sacks. He did this against one of the easiest defensive schedules in the league. Also having a really bad season was Tom Tupa of the Cardinals, in his only season as a regular starting quarterback. He was strictly a punter and third-string emergency quarterback from then on.

Finally, teaching a lesson in not getting roped in by small sample size, Todd Marinovich started the final game of the regular season for the Raiders and had 49.2% DVOA and 152 DYAR.

Running Backs: 1991 was the year of Thurman Thomas, who led the league in both rushing (306) and receiving (290) DYAR. He's seventh all-time in receiving DYAR for running backs, and tenth in combined rushing-receiving DYAR for one season. Emmitt Smith, in his second season, was second with 266 DYAR. He had strange receiving numbers, too. Emmitt Smith early on was much like LaDainian Tomlinson early on, with awful receiving DYAR because he was so often getting hopeless dumpoffs. Smith had -55 receiving DYAR despite an 82 percent catch rate, because he had just 5.3 yards per reception and fumbled three times on receptions for good measure.

Barry Sanders actually led the league in rushing YAR, but he drops to fifth in DYAR because of strength of schedule. It's a bit of an odd schedule; on the surface, it doesn't look like Detroit's schedule of opposing run defenses was that easy. The Lions missed the Eagles, but they did have to play six games against the teams ranked sixth through ninth in run defense DVOA: San Francisco, Chicago, Washington, and Green Bay. Except Sanders didn't play against Washington in Week 1, and he had only seven carries against San Francisco in Week 8. His two highest-carry games came against the two worst run defenses in the league, Miami and Indianapolis.

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Rod Bernstine of San Diego, a converted tight end, was third with 260 rushing DYAR and actually led the league in rushing DVOA.

The least valuable back in the league was rookie Leonard Russell of the Patriots. Man, was Leonard Russell bad. In 1991, the Pats made him the 14th overall pick out of Arizona State and gave him 266 carries at 3.6 yards per carry. They resisted the urge to throw him many passes, at least, just 26 of them. He caught 18 and had just 4.5 yards per reception. So that's -151 rushing DYAR and -47 receiving DYAR. The year after, 1992, Russell got another 123 carries at 3.2 yards per carry and was second-to-last in the league with -89 rushing DYAR. In a six-year career, Russell never averaged more than 3.6 yards per carry, although he at least had positive DYAR in 1993 and 1996.

Eric Dickerson was also near the bottom of the league with -124 rushing DYAR. 1991 was the year he finally fell off the cliff, with 3.2 yards per carry at age 31.

Wide Receivers: DVOA loves Michael Irvin. Just loves him. Michael Irvin finishes first in receiving DYAR for 1991, which means he now ranked first in four out of five seasons from 1991-1995. In the other season, 1994, he ranked second to Jerry Rice. Here's the rank of those seasons in all-time receiving DYAR according to the new formula, in order: 20th, 19th, 23rd, 42nd, and first. Wow. Irvin was also first in DVOA in both 1991 and 1992, ahead of the part-time receivers who make our rankings despite having only one-third as many passes. Wow.

Gary Clark of the Redskins finished second in the league in DYAR and fourth in DVOA. Art Monk was 15th, Ricky Sanders 21st. The Redskins had the best three-wide attack in the league, although other teams had more impressive duos. The Bills had Andre Reed (third) and James Lofton (fourth). The 49ers had Jerry Rice (10th) and John Taylor (seventh). And the Miami Dolphins had Mark Duper (eighth) and Mark Clayton (ninth).

The least valuable wideout in the league was a depth guy for the Houston run 'n' shoot named Tony Jones. He had -45.3% DVOA when no other receiver with at least 50 targets was below -27.7%.

Tight Ends: Tight ends just weren't a big part of offenses in 1991 when compared to 2001, or especially when compared to 2011. Eric Green of the Steelers led the league with 170 DYAR one year after he was taken 21st overall in the 1990 draft. (It's remarkable how few highly-drafted tight ends have been busts.) Green was one of only three tight ends with at least 100 DYAR. Last year, by comparison, there were 13 different tight ends with 100 DYAR.

A fairly obscure undrafted H-back out of Stanford named Jim Price led the league in receiving DVOA and was tied for second in DYAR. Here's an article about him for those curious. He eventually played limited time for the 1993 Cowboys Super Bowl team. He was tied with Ethan Horton of the Raiders. Jay Novacek was fourth and Steve Jordan (gratuitous Brown reference!) fifth. The least valuable tight end in the league was San Diego's Derrick Walker, who had a miserable 6.7 yards per reception and converted just one out of seven passes on third down.

Usually in these articles, I note the great players who show up in our play-by-play breakdowns for the first time, but there were surprisingly few great players whose careers ended in 1991. Players who appear in the DYAR/DVOA stats for the first time include Gerald Riggs and Mike Rozier, and a lot of ex-USFL guys including Marcus Dupree. A few coaches show up as players for the first time, including Gary Kubiak, Mike Mularkey, and Jimmy Raye.

(Correction: This Jimmy Raye is actually the son of Jimmy Raye the offensive coordinator. The younger Jimmy Raye is Director of Player Personnel in San Diego.)

The 1991 play-by-play is available almost entirely because of the work of one man, Jeremy Snyder. After using multiple volunteers for previous seasons, Jeremy ended up basically doing 1991 by himself, except for the game I had to transcribe myself off a DVD. (1991 was the first season where we couldn't find every single gamebook somewhere, but I found a Falcons DVD collector who was able to send me the missing Minnesota-Atlanta game, and I transcribed the play-by-play myself.) Jeremy has done a great job of translating the gamebooks for various teams whose official scorers were using non-standard play descriptions back in the pre-Internet Stone Age. He's already done most of 1990, too, but we're missing a few games from that season and I'm going to need to contact the teams looking for gamebooks, and after that NFL Films looking for any videotapes. For those curious, the list of missing 1990 games:

  • Week 3 WAS-DAL
  • Week 5 LARM-CIN
  • Week 7 LARM-ATL
  • Week 8 ATL-CIN
  • Week 11 LARM-DAL
  • Week 16 ATL-LARM
  • Week 17 ATL-DAL
  • Week 17 LARM-NO (second quarter only)

The 1991 stats are now available for both team and position stats page. The 1991 data is not yet in the premium database, because we need to get all the new DVOA v7.0 data in there. We'll be doing that soon. We also don't have the 1991 data on player pages yet, because of the player page permission issues we've been struggling with, as noted in this article. We'll work on getting that taken care of as soon as possible.


218 comments, Last at 11 Sep 2012, 7:12pm

71 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

regarding the rams in '99, going up against divisional opponents in the nfc west usually has been a recipe for success.

83 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

The '91 Redskins might not have had an easy regular season schedule, but they lucked out by drawing the Falcons and Lions in the playoffs, rather than the Eagles, 49ers, or Cowboys, who would've been real tests in a loaded NFC that year. At the time, I thought the 1991 49ers were the best team ever to miss the playoffs, and the Eagles' defense that season was incredible (I included the Cowboys as a dangerous opponent because they'd beaten the Redskins late in the season and were about to run off three Suuper Bowls in four years)

97 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

I'm not sure the Eagles would have been that much of a challenge for the Skins. That team just had too hard of a time scoring any points against good opponents. It may be more accurate to say that the Skins lucked out that Randall Cunningham was lost for the season in week 1.

The Cowboys could have been a threat, but Jimmy Johnson from 1989-1991 seemed hellbent on finding any excuse to put someone other than Troy Aikman under center. In '89 it was Steve Walsh. In 1991, Aikman missed some games due to injury, and Steve Beuerlein stepped in and won all of his starts. Rather than reinserting Aikman back into the starting lineup, Johnson wanted to go with the "hot hand" and Beuerlein was named the starter in the playoffs, despite a YPA in 6's and a sub 50% completion percentage (sound familiar? Because he's a WINNER!). That divisional playoff game in Detroit MAY have turned out differently if Troy Aikman (getting all the 1st team reps) had started.

181 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

I am a Redskins fans and I still remember that year fondly, despite being reasonably young. You are right, the Redskins had fits with the Cowboys all year. Their one "true" loss was to them (as mentioned in the article, the Skins basically gave away the Week 17 game despiting being up 22-7 in the 4th) and they should have lost to the Cowboys in Week 2 if not for some poor Jimmy Johnson clock management. I guess that's to be expected between rivals, but having Detroit knock out Dallas was a huge blessing. Dallas would be dominant for the next few years.

84 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

As someone expressed, I worry that we're not going to be able to get back too much further as far as DVOA. We've seen how some of the "super teams" measure up (at least as far as DVOA is concerned...) for the past 20 years with curious/interesting results-- only twice do we see two teams from the same year, 2004 and 2010 (both times, the Steelers and Patriots), for instance, and while the Steelers get listed twice and the Patriots three times, the Cowboys and 49ers only make it once each despite having some incredible teams from 91-95 (they played in 3 straight NFC championships and the Cowboys went to another the following year).

What other great teams are ready to crack that list? The '85 Bears? Another 80's 49er team almost certainly, right? And the Dolphins in 84-85 were impressive, too. I don't recall the 70's much, but obviously there are classic Steelers teams that could crack the list, along with some Cowboys teams. Going back a bit earlier, we come to some great Vikings and Dolphins squads, along with the Colts of course Green Bay. And that takes us to the start of the Super Bowl era.

But again-- are we ever going to get there?!?

100 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

As of right now:

From 1983-1990, the NFL is missing about 10 games per year. Most of these missing games involve the Falcons and/or the Rams, with a few Redskins, Bengals, Chiefs, and Cowboys games thrown in.

From 1981-1982, the NFL is missing about 25% of the games.

1980 and earlier is not yet available from the NFL, but most of the gamebooks probably still exist. For example, the Broncos have every single game in team history available on their website, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame occasionally publishes old gamebooks in their Throwback Game of the Week series.

169 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

I think once you reach the dead-ball era, the numbers will just stop making sense in comparison to the modern game. I wouldn't be shocked if were two or three teams every year with a DVOA as good as the 1991 Eagles, just because of the nature of offensive production in those days.

104 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

I question the value of all these fancy stats. I have been playing the 1991 season over and over and over and over again on Tecmo Super Bowl for 20+ years...and the Redskins are mediocre at best. The experimental evidence is overwhelming, lol.

129 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

Ah, that's right. It used the 1991 schedule...but the player attributes were based on the 1990 season. Whew. Now I don't have to try to reconcile the stats I love from FOA with the vast wealth of football knowledge I have from playing 100s of games with Christian Okoye "popcorn-ing" would be tacklers. Crisis averted.

107 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

Michael Irvin, 1991-1995: 7095 yards, 445 catches on 701 targets (10.12 yards per target, 63.48% catch rate)
Randy Moss, 1998-2002: 6745 yards, 415 catches on 729 targets (9.25 yards per target, 56.93% catch rate)

Clearly Aaron's stats are onto something legitimate. Irvin might be the most terrifyingly efficient receiver who ever played.

108 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

Definitely true, but Troy Aikman's otherwordly accuracy and ball placement helped, too (not trying to take anything away from Irvin). If Aikman played in an offense that asked him to regularly throw 30 passes per game, he could have set all kinds of records. But because he played in an offense that required a heavy dose of handing off to Emmitt Smith, his standard stats look pretty pedestrian.

111 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

Maybe true, but you could play those kinds of games all day. If Aikman had been asked to carry more of the load, maybe he would have buckled a bit and thrown 10 more picks a year. Or maybe the Dallas offense wouldn't have been on the field as much due to 3-and-outs and his numbers wouldn't have gone up so much. The "butterfly effect" of things like that are hard to guess at.

113 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

Yeah, but Cunningham and Culpepper's big arms and incredible deep passing were just as good a fit for Moss as Aikman was for Irvin...

(Also, I find the revisionist history that Aikman was just "pretty good" and not one of the all-time greats to be infuriating - I saw the man play on many occasions and the guy was as good as they come, even on a stacked team.)

118 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

I think some of them are in the throes of trying to defend their legitimately good current QB who doesn't maybe get exactly much respect as he deserves (hey, even that's debatable - he certainly has tons of detractors is all I'm saying) by tearing down their legends a little bit. I know when McNabb was constantly getting booed in Philly, I was on more than one occasion attempted to go the "well, he's a hell of a lot better than Jaworski, who wasn't even THAT good route!" without even really thinking through what I was saying.

(Although, ultimately, I believe that McNabb is better than Jaworski, just to confuse my point.)

153 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

Aikman just didn't produce the numbers that Steve Young did.

Of course, he didn't need to. With that running game, it would have been stupid to pass as much as the 49ers did.

The problem in arguing that Aikman was "one of the all-time greats" is that the numbers don't support it. He had the arm and the accuracy, but he wasn't relied on in the way most of the all-time great QBs were. So it's an unproven claim.

157 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

If you love raw compilation stats then he's not an all-time great. And we all know there are no issues with compilation stats - that's why we come to FO. Our love of big TD totals! His efficiency stats from 1991-1995 go like this (in DVOA) #5, #3, #2, #5, #2 - and his competition includes Steve Young, Brett Favre, Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, Joe Montana, John Elway, even Warren Moon. You might have noticed some of those gentlemen are in the Hall of Fame and considered among the greatest of all time at their position. And Aikman was every bit as effective a QB as any of them. He was great and on the level with Favre, Young, Kelly - he has no immediate contemporary with a prime of the early-90's that can decisively be said to be better than him according to DVOA. His consistent excellence is a marvel in and of itself - Young's worst DVOA in the same time-frame is 7th, Favre's is 9th, Elway drops all the way to 26th, Jim Kelly to 22nd in 1993. When Aikman was in his prime, he was Top 5. Always. The same can't be said for the other guys. Aikman just threw the ball less because he had one of the greatest RB's of all time behind him so he didn't need to throw as much. You can't fault him for being on a great team, as much as everyone seems intent on doing.

The claim is proven, the case is shut. Aikman is an all-time great.

161 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

Neither standard stats nor DVOA remove a player from his context.

"His consistent excellence is a marvel in and of itself - Young's worst DVOA in the same time-frame is 7th, Favre's is 9th, Elway drops all the way to 26th, Jim Kelly to 22nd in 1993. When Aikman was in his prime, he was Top 5. Always."

Hmmm. None of those other players had Emmitt Smith, perhaps you don't think that helped at all. He also had Irvin. Young had Rice. Those others, not so much.

Though why bother when the case has been declared proven and shut.

166 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

Kelly has Thurman Thomas and a host of excellent receivers including Andre Reed. Young had an excellent offensive line, a perfectly good RB in Ricky Watters and JERRY RICE, at least as much of a game-changing factor as Smith would ever be. (I mean, fucking seriously, are you trying to say Aikman had Smith and all Young had working for him was poor ol' Jerry Rice?) Favre had Sterling Sharpe and Chimura. I do think Smith helped (of course), but treating it like Young was out there alone or Favre did it all himself is utter bullshit. All Aikman can do is play the hand he's given. It would have been almost inconceivable for him to do any better than he did.

My question for you is this: what would Aikman had to have done to prove he's as good as any of his contemporaries? Outperform them by any measure but counting stats? Because he already did that. Wildly outperform Steve Young? He did wildly outperform guys like Elway, Kelly and Marino in the same era (and of course that wasn't Marino or Elway's absolute prime, fwiw.)

Give me one reason other than "his team was great and smartly coached" to discount Aikman's accomplishments. Because Young, Kelly and Favre played on some pretty good goddamned teams themselves with some HOF caliber coaches. The case is shut. It's open and shut. It shouldn't even be an issue.

167 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

I mean, I'm just sitting here laughing about the argument - other players on teams that weren't as good as the 90's Cowboys didn't play as well Aikman, so therefore Aikman is... what? Excellent? The argument isn't was Jim Kelly or Steve Young or John Elway an all-time great, but is Aikman? Finding excuses for Young's down year isn't what we're talking about here (and it is perfectly easily excusable and no way calls into question his achievements.) What folks are doing is calling into question Aikman's accomplishments and offering no proof beyond "he didn't throw for enough yards and TD's." Or, man, Young sure was great - and he only had a Pro Bowl RB, an excellent o-line and Jerry Rice to work with! Just imagine if he played for Dallas! His numbers would have definitely blown Aikman's out of the water!

I challenge you to find someone from the same era who was better. There isn't anybody who rises above the status of "arguably better." And if guys like Favre, Elway and Kelly aren't decisively better than Aikman by advanced stats (which, hey, look at that - they're not!) then Aikman must be considered one of the all-time greats.

174 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

Please point out who has said Aikman isn't a great quarterback, this thread started about Irvin and his stats. You are setting your own terms of reference to argue points that only you are trying to dispute. You are then immolating strawmen and being quite rude, get back under your damn bridge.

176 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

RickD says ”the problem with saying Aikman is an alktime great is that the numbers simply aren't there.” He's literally and clearly saying aikman isn't a great qb. I respond with numbers that prove otherwise. You wade into the new non-Irvin argument and I respond to you. That's not trolling and excuse me if I get irked by an absurd point of view that has aikman propped up by his teammates and steve young struggling to compete as he only took over one of the most dominant dynasties in football and only had jerry rice to bail him out. if you didn't want to get argued with on this point, you shouldn't have gotten involved in the argument. If you wanted me to be respectful of your opinions you should have said something less off-base.

177 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

You have removed Rick D's words from their context, as you did mine. I would suggest that even if you find someone's opinion to be disagreeable you should proceed in a more respectful manner, particularly as you seem to get in an argument with several people on almost every thread. Pick the billygoats out of your teeth, I can't be the only person you're winding up.

As you would belligerently say, case closed.

179 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

You're putting me in the position of apologizing for being disrespectful to a fundamentally disrespectful claim. That the claim is flat-out wrong is only going to make me more disagreeable (like on the other thread where someone suggests Matt Forte is better/more valuable than LeSean McCoy.) But this is a comment board - arguing passionately is (part of) why it is here. I'm attracted to FO because of their willingness to explore contrary positions - positions that are fun to argue in-depth. I enjoy getting wound up while arguing and finding people to argue back. It's harmless when we're talking about football. Utterly harmless. Save your lectures for a different context... (Or maybe grow a tiny bit thicker of a skin when it comes to meaningless junk like sports.)

164 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

I didn't actually say that Smith was a top 5 runner. I said the other QBs who played with top 5 all time running backs still didn't put up great stats.

Focusing on the "5" part isn't really constructive anyways. Expand it to 10 or 15 and you're still talking about the elite of the elite and how it has less of an effect than you expect the way people talk about Aikman.

165 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

I'm responding to Karl, not you. My point is that Smith gets just as many "he was a product of his team" naysayers as Aikman. It's a circular argument. You'll find plenty of people who flat-out say "anyone would've been great at those positions behind those lines." With NFL history, I prefer not to play "what if" children's games and prefer to laud players for what they accomplished. There is little more Aikman and Smith could have accomplished.

170 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

Absolutely, at some point you have to drop these what-ifs and and just say the performance is what it is. Archie Manning might be a Hall of Famer if he'd been drafted by the Steelers instead of the Saints. But on the planet Earth, Bradshaw's a Hall of Famer and Archie isn't because, whatever the reasons, Bradshaw's career was more successful. Maybe, say, Chris Miller or Chris Chandler would have been as successful as Aikman if they'd been in his situation, but who cares? That's not what happened.

160 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

Yes. Because Warner didn't take another dismal franchise out of the dregs and lead them to the Superbowl. Clearly, before he arrived in Arizona, everyone in the league knew that playing QB there would be the best of conditions. And after his departure, the Cardinals remained a powerful force in the NFC and a championship contender.

Plus, Casse1l lead a team nearly identical to its record-shattering predecessor to 5 fewer wins and missing the playoffs while posting a 6.4%, 20th in league DVOA (and matching mediocre 17th ranked DVOA) shows how anybody could be Tom Brady, really. I mean Cassel's level of success was more or less comparable to Brady's league-leading 56.9% DVOA and its attendant mind-melting 2,788 DYAR. I mean essentially anybody can do that because Cassel more or less did. It's the situation, really.

163 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

Kurt Warner was also really good with the Cardinals with no running game and a weak offensive line.

Cassel in probably the best conditions for playing QB that I've ever witnessed was a stunning 20th by DVOA. This is a very similar DVOA to what McMahon posted on the '91 Eagles with a worse supporting cast and a more difficult rules environment.

Doug Williams was 9th by ANY/ATT in 1988. No one is confusing that for Troy Aikman.

135 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

Tanier talked about Aikman quite fairly in his Top 5 Cowboys QBs Walkthrough bit. He says:

Aikman may be the last great quarterback in history who had his statistics severely hampered by the fact that he played for a great team. The 1990s Cowboys were heirs of the 1970s Steelers and Dolphins and 1960s Packers -- teams that didn't pass very often because they didn't have to. By the time Tom Brady came around, even a 14-2 perennial champion with a defense-minded coach was going to attempt 530 passes per season. Brady's numbers are certainly affected by his team's success, but it is nothing like the distortion seen in, say, Bob Griese's numbers. Aikman has more in common with Griese than Brady. We will never see a truly great quarterback throw 15 touchdown passes in one of his signature seasons anymore. By Aikman's era, we usually don't make the mental adjustments that we make for guys like Griese or Bart Starr, but for Aikman we must.

I'm an Aikman (and Cowboys) fan, and experiencing the Cowboys in the early 90's while going to college in Philadelphia was quite sweet-- so my bias is real. But I'm honestly surprised to see Irvin looking as good as he does in DVOA. Even at the time, I never recall the media hyping Irvin in the same class as other early 90's top flight WRs. Rice, of course, walked on water. And guys like Chris Carter deserve to be spoken of highly for that period. (And even Sterling Sharpe, whose career was cut short due to injury.) But people like Andre Rison and Herman Moore got a lot of play as being elite in a way that Irvin wasn't spoken of. Sure, Irvin was the star WR for a great team, but you didn't hear him talked about as being "the best" in the way that FO's DVOA suggests.

140 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

DVOA's really awful at assessing receivers as individual players (as opposed to the value of their production). I don't think anyone is seriously claiming that Irvin was actually better than Rice in this period, and that's not how DVOA should be interpreted.

142 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

I'm sorry-- I wasn't claiming that DVOA was saying Irvin was better than Rice. Rather, I am just surprised that it actually suggested that Irvin was a truly elite receiver. Given that the Cowboys really were a run-first team, and given that Aikman never put up otherworldly conventional statistics, my feeling back in the early 90's that Irvin was always thought of as just the best WR on a really good (running) team. On "top WR" lists of that period, I seem to recall that he seemed to fall behind not just Rice, but quite a few other guys who put up big numbers. But what DVOA seems to say is that in fact, Irvin really was elite-- perhaps an all-time great. If you watched and paid attention to football in the early to mid 90's, this was not the opinion of sports media people at the time.

171 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

Yeah, guy. Thanks for the snark. I'm a Cowboys fan and sort of know what's going on. All I'm saying is that at the time, Irvin wasn't spoken about in the same terms as true "all time great" receivers past or (then) present. And I haven't seen much since then to suggest that the people in sports media have since come around to say that Irvin was among the all time best.

Indeed, the Hall of Fame is just as much about putting in the "famous" as it is the elites (hence a good number of Packers and Steelers). And that's fine of course-- it is the Hall of Fame (and may the people who say "Hall of Very Good" rot in hell). But because it is a Hall of Fame, it doesn't mean that you're an all time great in the strictest sense if you're there. Lynn Swann is a Hall of Famer, but no one would say that he's an all time great in the strictest sense of the term, no?

But what DVOA has shown is that Irvin-- contrary to what seems to have been popular opinion let alone popular opinion during his elite playing days-- was actually an all time great. His conventional stats may not have been great, but that's because Dallas liked to run the ball (I think they had some guy named Smith who set a few records for rushing touchdowns). All I'm commenting on is that Irvin comes out in DVOA as a better player than he was perceived in the sports media of his day, and given that he was already thought of as quite good, that's saying something.

But again, tuluse, thanks for the snark. It's not like I haven't been posting here for the past 6 years as an obvious Cowboys fan nearing his 40's and know nothing about football or its history.

172 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

You're right I was unnecessarily snarky. I apologize for that.

The point I meant to make was that there has to come a time when you can't complain about a player being underrated. I think that point is when he's inducted into the HoF which is the highest honor than can be bestowed on a player.

173 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

No worries, tuluse. You've been around FO forever and I respect your opinion, so I just thought I was being treated unfairly. But it's the Internet, and it's sometimes too easy to let snark happen.

You're right that the HoF is as good as it gets, and perhaps I shouldn't mind much about the rest. It's just interesting for me to see Irvin appear to come out as among the truly elite during the early 90's era for Dallas, when conventional wisdom suggested that he was just another cog in the well-oiled Cowboys machine who was great, but not really great.

DVOA, of course, isn't the end-all. But it's interesting to see the stats it spits out and look back again at that era with those data in mind. I look forward to going back further in time and seeing what they have to say...

185 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

I wouldn't say it is awful - but DVOA and DYAR do have flaws. I don't feel like rehashing old arguments (I am sure I can find plenty of them on this site) but in the case of Irvin, I suspect his DVOA is high around the dynasty years because he was the primary target on most 2nd/3rd and long conversions - plays which, if successful, have a big DVOA/DYAR number attached to them.

141 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

I always thought of Irvin as a guy whose situation made him seem better than he was. The Cowboys offensive line was top-notch, Smith was great, Aikman was great, and TE Novacek to me seems a bridge from Winslow/Newsome/Christenson era of pass-catching TE's to Gonzalez/Gates/Witten who are now giving way to Gronk/Graham/etc. Novacek didn't have the numbers, but he was quite effective. Thus, Irvin could never be the focus of the defense because of all the weapons on offense the Cowboys had.

143 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

Ugh. It's chicken-or-the-egg all over again! Couldn't we say this about a lot of the classically great teams? Montana, Rice, Craig, Brent Jones, John Taylor, etc.? I feel like we can say this about anyone-- in either direction. So-and-so was only good because he was on a team with lots of other good players-- or, so-and-so would have been so much better if he'd been on a team with better players.

147 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

Precisely. I take the opposite view on Irvin -- that he wasn't merely a product of his team's greatness, but rather was a driving force of that greatness. But the impossibility of separating individual performance in football means there can never be a definitive answer.

156 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

Irvin always seemed to get tackled inside the five yard line rather than scoring when he made big plays. Then Emmitt would take it in a play or two later. I thought he was the heart and soul of those teams, and when they lost him was when the era truly ended for them. The tried to replace him with big stat guys (galloway, anthony miller) but neither of those guys was remotely as effective

207 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

There's no way to know how many OPI's Irvin would have gotten in this era. As a bitter Redskin fan I always thought he was getting away with murder. Hey, give him credit; he used his size, they didn't call his pushoff's, so he was always open which explains his crazy catch rate. He owned HoFer Darrell Green in their matchups. His passion for gameday on the offensive side was right up there with LT's.

148 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

With Rice and Montana, though, we at least have brief windows into their performance on less-blessed teams -- turns out they were pretty great regardless of the circumstances.

We have no idea whether Irvin could have been as good on a lesser team, or just how much many Cowboys' side-businesses as coke dealers was taking his attention from football. Even in the 1996 season where the Cowboys stumbled early when Irvin was suspended, how much of that was due to Smith also being injured is questionable.

What hurts Aikman historically is that he seemed to be the most easily replaced part. Dallas struggled when Irvin or Smith were absent, but the Cowboys were frequently successful when Aikman was on the sidelines.

110 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

oh the agony of jeff george and the '91 colts.

everyone hopes luck will be the second coming of manning, but george was a #1 pick too....

hail damage

124 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

I've never heard ex teammates rip a starting qb the way they do George. They really despise him, including the use of a label you rarely hear in the NFL. Jack Lambert use to say that there aren't any cowards in the NFL. Some of George's former teammates beg to differ.

117 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

I really hope that you're not serious about jumping ahead to '85. As a Giants fan I'm looking forward to see how DVOA hates the '90 Giants. The Defense and Special Teams should be relatively high, since they only let up 211 points in the regular season, and I remember Renya Thompson being a beast on Specials (I'm interested to see how my memories translate to reality). But hoo boy that offense. I just checked and Dave Meggett(!) had the most receptions with 39(!!). My lasting memory of that offense was it was so conservative and held onto the ball for so long that it seemed every game was over in about 2.5 hours.

149 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

Here's the moment that Washington Redskins fans have been waiting for

YES! My thought exactly!

180 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

The '91 Chiefs. Martyball. Awesome at home, mediocre away (would love to see the DVOA splits). 33-6 over the Bills on MNF. Always losing to Elway (91 DEN a good example of a team winning with a 5th place schedule). Always beating the Raiders. Winning the Week 17 showdown with the Raiders (Barry Word, 35 carries, love the Martyball) and the right to host the wild card game with the same Raiders (Barry Word, 33 carries, love the Martyball). And a 37-14 blowout loss to the Bills to end the playoffs (it wasn't that close - curse the Martyball).

Check out the coaching entry at p-f-r:
Defensive Coordinator: Bill Cowher
Other Notable Asst.: Tony Dungy (Defensive Backs) and Herman Edwards (Scout)

182 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

Question: DVOA, etc., is al by season, right? So when so-and-so posts a 40% DVOA (or whatever), that's just relative to the other teams that season? Or does DVOA make a bigger statement that a team such as the '91 Redskins with their highest DVOA ever are truly the best team in some absolute sense.

In other words, is it possible that the '91 Redskins just represent the greatest domination (in DVOA terms) against their '91 foes, but could, on a broader scale, not measure out against other teams from other years? My guess is that that '91 Redskins DVOA is just measured against other '91 teams. But I could be wrong. If I'm right, then how do we compare the '91 Redskins against other teams from other periods? Or is that just not a metric DVOA can measure (except to say that '91 Washington was more dominant in its season than New England (or Dallas, or Green Bay, etc. ) were in theirs)? And if it's not a metric that DVOA can measure, how can we get to a point where we can start to make those measurements?!?

188 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

This is the rollout of DVOA 7.0, which is zero-based every year. So Lance's suggestion that this may not represent more than a dominant 1991 is reasonable. However, teams only play against other teams from that season, so there's an obvious limit to how easily teams from different years can be compared.

194 Re: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

wow, just wow. this year was when the jets lost a pivotal division game to the colts, at home. It was the colts only win of the year. I just read the box score, and in the 4th quarter the jets apparently made two fourth quarter field goals of 25 yards or less despite the fact they were down 7 and 4 at the time, respectively. I cant imagine what the atmosphere around gate D was that day.