Week 12 DVOA Ratings
by Aaron Schatz
Some teams are rising, and some teams are falling, and it all shakes up the top of the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings this week. After all this week's movement, the Cincinnati Bengals return to the No. 1 spot, followed by the New England Patriots and then the surprise hottest team in the league over the last few weeks, the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs have actually ascended to the No. 1 spot in our weighted DVOA ratings which lower the strength of early-season games.
What about our last undefeated team, the Carolina Panthers? The Panthers are still the top team in the NFC, but they rank just fourth in DVOA and third in weighted DVOA. There's nothing wrong with being the top team in the NFC, but the AFC is simply the better of the two conferences this year. Eight of the top 12 teams in DVOA are AFC teams. The one weak AFC division is the AFC South... which happens to be the division that Carolina plays this year. Right now, only 13 of the 32 NFL teams have positive DVOA ratings, and only two of those teams are on Carolina's schedule: Seattle and Green Bay.
There's been some controversy about a FiveThirtyEight article from this week titled "The Panthers Are the Worst Team to Ever Start 11-0." But that controversy seems a bit ridiculous to me. How many modern NFL teams have started 11-0 depends in part on how you define the "modern NFL," but the article defines it with the start of the common draft in 1966. Since then, 12 teams have started the season 11-0. Every one of those teams was a very good team, but you can't have 12 teams that rank in the top ten! Somebody has to be 12th!
As it turns out, DVOA does not think that team is the 2015 Carolina Panthers. We don't have DVOA ratings for teams before 1989, but here are the DVOA ratings of all 11-0 teams as of the point they were 11-0:
|DVOA FOR 11-0 TEAMS, 1989-2015|
In case you are wondering, the team that ranked No. 2 between New Orleans and Indianapolis in 2009 was New England at 7-4. The one team with a higher DVOA than Green Bay after 12 weeks of 2011 was actually the 8-3 Houston Texans, who had just lost quarterback Matt Schaub to a season-ending injury and disintegrated after that.
We now have Carolina with 24.1 percent odds of finishing 16-0. Those two games with Atlanta certainly look a lot easier now than they did a few weeks ago. In fact, our odds of the Panthers finishing 16-0 are actually higher than our odds of Carolina winning the Super Bowl, which are down slightly to 23.9 percent this week. (The gap is even larger in the numbers published as part of our playoff odds report at ESPN Insider earlier today; the changes come from new opponent adjustments after Monday Night Football and random fluctuation in the 25,000 simulations of each run.)
The ratings may now say that Kansas City is better than Carolina but that doesn't necessarily mean that anybody at FO specifically believes Kansas City is better than Carolina. The Chiefs are probably getting a little bit of an unrealistic boost because they got to be the defense on the field when Peyton Manning suddenly became 120 years old a couple weeks ago. Nonetheless, the Chiefs' climb is a bit stunning. They have the best DVOA in the league since the start of October. Now that we're 12 weeks into the season, we're starting to see some significant gaps between total DVOA and weighted DVOA as teams trend upwards and downwards. Kansas City is by far the team trending upwards the strongest. Two NFC teams have equally clear trends downward: Green Bay and Arizona. Here's a look at the week-to-week DVOA graphs of all three teams.
On each graph, the other line in an opposite color is a five-week rolling trend of average DVOA. The downward trend for Arizona isn't as bad as it is for Green Bay, because the whole thing is a bit higher. The Packers have gone from solid wins to playing average or a little bit below. The Cardinals have gone from steamrolling their opponents to mostly playing a little bit above average, and the results are much better -- after all, the Cardinals beat both Seattle and Cincinnati despite having lower DVOA ratings than their opponents for both games. (We covered that in the DVOA commentary each of the last two weeks; archive here.) The same goes for this week's close and ugly win over the San Francisco Gabberts, although this time the Cardinals' DVOA is lower primarily because of huge opponent adjustments for playing No. 32 San Francisco, not because the unadjusted ratings for the game actually put the 49ers higher.
Since Week 6, our odds for Green Bay winning the Super Bowl have gone from 24.6 percent to 2.7 percent. Because the Cardinals keep winning despite the lower DVOA ratings, their odds have dropped by much less, from 16.4 percent to 12.6 percent. Meanwhile, Kansas City's odds of winning the Super Bowl have gone from less than 0.1 percent to 6.0 percent this week.
Finally, no discussion of rising and falling teams is complete without hitting on the Thanksgiving game between Detroit and Philadelphia. The rise and fall there is a lot more short-term than what we're talking about with the Kansas City or Arizona trends in weighted DVOA. Detroit's single-game DVOA of 72.0% is not the best of the year; Denver still has that for the win over Green Bay. Philadelphia's single-game DVOA of -89.0% is not the worst of the year; that belongs to Tampa Bay for the Week 1 loss to Tennessee. But wow, did that one game change the DVOA standings. Detroit jumps up from 28th to 16th and Philadelphia plummets from 13th to 24th.
The disintegration of the Philadelphia Eagles over the last couple weeks is mind-blowing. This is a team that ranked second in defensive DVOA just two weeks ago! It's really just two games for the defense, which was perfectly fine when the Eagles narrowly lost to Miami 20-19 in Week 10. The offense has fallen apart over three weeks, or basically since Mark Sanchez became the starting quarterback. Last year, the drop from Nick Foles to Sanchez wasn't very big. This year, the drop from Bradford to Sanchez is apparently much bigger, although the difference is bigger in DVOA than yards per play because of opponent adjustments and turnovers.
Take a look at what has happened to the Eagles offense over the last three weeks, and the defense over the last two. For those wondering, Philadelphia is now listed as sixth in DVOA in Weeks 1-10 rather than second because of changes in opponent adjustments and stat corrections.
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|Philadelphia Offense, Weeks 1-9 vs. Weeks 10-12|
|Weeks 1-9||Rank||Weeks 10-12||Rank|
|Philadelphia Defense, Weeks 1-10 vs. Weeks 11-12|
|Weeks 1-10||Rank||Weeks 11-12||Rank|
|Pass D DVOA||-13.6%||3||78.9%||32|
|Run D DVOA||-14.3%||11||4.5%||29|
I haven't gone into the data or watched film enough to have a concrete explanation for just what has happened to the Eagles defense in the last two weeks. Was this kind of collapse always looming, or has there been a significant change in circumstance? Is it a fluke where the Eagles can return to playing above-average defense, or are they going to be this bad from here on out? Did opponents just figure something out on film? Is there a major personnel change? I'd love to hear from Eagles fans in the comments.
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Once again in 2015, we have teamed up with EA Sports to bring Football Outsiders-branded player content to Madden 16 Ultimate Team. Each week, we'll be picking out a handful of players who starred in that week's games. Some of them will be well-known players who stood out in DVOA and DYAR. Others will be under-the-radar players who only stood out with advanced stats. We'll announce the players each Tuesday in the DVOA commentary article, and the players will be available in Madden Ultimate Team packs the following weekend. We will also tweet out images of these players from the @fboutsiders Twitter account on most Fridays. One player each week will only be available for 24 hours from the point these players enter packs on Friday.
The Football Outsiders stars for Week 12 feature a double dose of Detroit Lions:
- RE Ezekiel Ansah, DET (24-HOUR HERO): 3.5 sacks, all on third downs.
- CB David Amerson, OAK: 6 passes defensed, INT; three of the passes defensed (including the interception) came on third downs.
- LOLB Anthony Barr, MIN: 8 combined tackles, 2 forced fumbles, sack.
- C Mitch Morse, KC: Chiefs running backs gained 115 yards on 20 carries with 60 percent success rate, almost entirely on runs up the middle; no sacks allowed.
- RB Theo Riddick, DET: No. 4 RB of Week 12 with 53 DYAR (caught 5 passes on 5 targets for 62 yards and a TD).
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All stats pages are now updated with Week 12 information (or will be in the next few minutes) including FO Premium, snap counts and playoff odds. You can also check out further commentary on our playoff odds report at ESPN Insider.
We'll be announcing the winners of the special one-week Thanksgiving Loser League sometime tonight or at the latest on Wednesday.
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These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through 12 weeks of 2015, measured by our proprietary Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) system that breaks down every single play and compares a team's performance to the league average based on situation in order to determine value over average. (Explained further here.)
OFFENSE and DEFENSE DVOA are adjusted for strength of schedule and to consider all fumbles, kept or lost, as equal value. SPECIAL TEAMS DVOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver) and week of season. As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE. WEIGHTED DVOA represents an attempt to figure out how a team is playing right now, as opposed to over the season as a whole, by making recent games more important than earlier games.
To save people some time, please use the following format for all complaints:
<team> is clearly ranked <too high/too low> because <reason unrelated to DVOA>. <subjective ranking system> is way better than this. <unrelated team-supporting or -denigrating comment, preferably with poor spelling and/or chat-acceptable spelling>
- 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).
197 comments, Last at 07 Dec 2015, 3:39pm
#1 by Eleutheria // Dec 01, 2015 - 7:42pm
The most interesting thing from your playoff odds report is how valuable you rate Rob Gronkowski.
You rated Romo and Big Ben both at 13.5 DVOA, and Gronkowski as 5%. I find it tough to believe that QBs are only 2.7 times more valuable then tight ends. Though granted Gronkowski is among the greatest TEs of all time.
#2 by Aaron Schatz // Dec 01, 2015 - 7:59pm
Honestly, it's a bit of guesswork. We've never played with the ratings in the playoff simulation to try to account for injuries as much as we have this year, so this isn't based on doing tons of simulations on past years to see what's most accurate. We're making rough estimates, somewhat based on what offseason personnel changes would mean in the new personnel variables of the preseason projection system.
A couple of years ago, the book had numbers showing that the difference between the Patriots offense with and without Gronkowski has actually been much larger than 5.0% DVOA. But I wanted to be conservative with it.
#6 by Eleutheria // Dec 01, 2015 - 8:13pm
I guess that kinda makes sense given how highly Gronk rates on the WOWY scale.
But so why 13.5 points for Romo and Big Ben? I'd have always guessed a good QB would be about ~20% DVOA over a replacement level QB.
More guess work or is that based on actual studies (given the new QBASE system introduced in the offseason)?
#10 by jmaron // Dec 01, 2015 - 8:27pm
I remember reading a stat that every QB Randy Moss ever played with averaged 1 net yard per att more when playing with Moss than without him. Could Gronk do the same?
Wouldn't that amount to more than the difference between an elite QB and replacement level?
I always felt watching Moss in Minnesota that Moss made avg QBs like Cunningham, George and Culpepper great. Hell, when Culpepper went down to injury Gus Frerotte averaged 9.5 NYA in 62 attempts and Todd Bouman avg 8.54 nya in 89 att.
#13 by Eleutheria // Dec 01, 2015 - 9:02pm
It's 1.1 for Moss, 0.8 for Gronk. Moss is 3rd of all time among Wide Receivers, Gronk is 2nd all time among TEs (behing Ted Kwalick) and 14th all time among receivers in general.
Though I should note when looking at Gronk, we're looking at just Tom Brady, while with Moss we have ~8 difference QBs that were statistically significantly better when Moss was playing then without Moss.
To me Moss really is the greatest wide receiver of all time.
#17 by bmay // Dec 01, 2015 - 9:18pm
How/where are you getting those numbers?
#33 by Eleutheria // Dec 01, 2015 - 11:18pm
That was for Randy Moss and wide receivers.
Gronkowski was via self calculation.
#22 by jmaron // Dec 01, 2015 - 10:20pm
I remember when Moss missed a bunch of games in 2004 with a bum hamstring
He played the first 5 games of the year...the Vikings averaged 477 yds a game. He misses 5 and they average 332 yds/game. Comes back nursing a bad hamstring and they average 458 a game for the last 6. On top of that, the 5 teams they played without Moss were weaker defensive teams on average according to Football Reference srs than the 11 Moss played (by about 2 pts per game).
With Moss the Vikings averaged 50 yds a game more than the top team in the league KC. Without him they averaged 5 yards more than the league average.
#14 by Karl Cuba // Dec 01, 2015 - 9:04pm
Agreed but Chris Carter was there too, along with a very good runner and a fantastic line. Though I do think your point holds up.
#90 by formido // Dec 02, 2015 - 2:22pm
We're not talking about one version of Moss, we're talking about all his incarnations:
Carter wasn't on the field whenever Moss was.
#32 by MJK // Dec 01, 2015 - 11:15pm
I think Gronk's value depends a little on the context. I think the drop from full strength Pats (Gronk-Edelman-LaFell-Amendola-Dobson-Lewis-healthy-O-line) to full-strength-but-Gronkless Pats would be very different than the drop from current Pats (Gronk-Lafell-StonehandsChandler-BunchOfStreetFreeAgents-SpitAndBailingWireOLine) to Gronkless current Pats is very different. Figure it's probably going from a 10 to an 8 (you'll still beat most teams) versus going from a 6 to a 2.
#34 by Eleutheria // Dec 01, 2015 - 11:26pm
It's tough to fully measure the value of Gronk, since he's been with the Patriots playing similar offensive schemes, playing with a future first ballot Hall of Fame QB his entire career.
How much of Gronk's stats is based on context and how much is based on his ability is impossible to say.
Thats why I think I'd rather football outsiders generalizes great TEs, and compared the drop in the Patriots performance without gronk among the same lines as the drop in other teams performances without their all-pro TEs.
That would probably make the DVOA effect of losing Gronk more accurate.
#41 by shoutingloudly // Dec 02, 2015 - 3:49am
So: With or without roughly the equivalent of a healthy/prime Shannon Sharpe, Tony Gonzalez, or Antonio Gates, yes? If so, then I also think it's probably about 5% DVOA on the conservative side. I also think Gronk is even harder to stop and more valuable than that (already/guaranteed) HOF trio. He makes me scared on behalf of the mothers of NFL linebackers, in addition to being almost as fast and roughly as good at catching the ball. He would/does make anyone look way better — even Tom T.
#138 by MJK // Dec 02, 2015 - 10:32pm
I think worrying too much about context can be a bit of a red herring. Few players can succeed if surrounded by no other talent, no matter how physically gifted. And no player succeeds if his coach doesn't utilize him properly in a scheme that fits his skills. Would Lawrence Taylor have been as great if Parcells had been obsessed with trying to turn him into a 2-gap nose tackle? Would Warren Moon have been as good if never allowed to scramble? Woul Tom Brady be Tom Brady if the Raiders had drafted him and forced him to try to throw deep bombs to track stars who can't run routes every other play?
Yes, Gronk is used properly, but he has the skills to be used in a way that few other players are.
#85 by Scott C // Dec 02, 2015 - 1:52pm
I was going to say something very similar. Context has a LOT to do with how much a loss of a player hurts.
Lose your All-Pro left tackle? Replace him with a solid backup playing beside a pro-bowl guard and you will be better off than replacing him with a practice squad guy playing next to an inconsistent and mistake prone guard.
Lose your top-10 QB? Do you have a decent running game and o-line with an average backup qb and amazing WRs (Cassel on pats) or a very bad backup and poor o-line and run game (Indy when Peyton was out)? Was your QB also basically your offensive coordinator and the whole system designed around him (Manning out in Indy again)? or was the system not designed for him anyway (Manning in Denver this year).
Gronk makes everyone around him better, but by how much that improves the team depends a lot on who else is there.
#93 by rapierma // Dec 02, 2015 - 2:46pm
Have you noticed how much better Dalton is with Eifert, then without him?
#108 by Eleutheria // Dec 02, 2015 - 7:42pm
Though Dalton has been getting better every year, how much of Daltons improvement is maturity and gain of experience and how much is because of Eifert is difficult to say.
#3 by Perfundle // Dec 01, 2015 - 8:03pm
The Super Bowl matchup I want now is between Seattle and Kansas City, the Left For Dead Bowl; after all, they were 2-4 and 1-5 after week 6. They're also mirror images of each other at every level:
Pass offense: 7 (SEA), 11 (KC)
Run offense: 2, 1
Pass defense: 8, 7
Run defense: 11, 8
Special teams: 4, 6
Both teams lost their star running back for the year yet actually playing better on offense without them. Finally, both teams have the same record and have basically no chance catching the division leader three games ahead of them but behind in DVOA.
#5 by Tundrapaddy // Dec 01, 2015 - 8:10pm
That would probably be a really, really good football game. And an 'AFC West Reunion Bowl' to boot.
#11 by Duff Soviet Union // Dec 01, 2015 - 8:42pm
"Both teams lost their star running back for the year yet actually playing better on offense without them."
Gee, what a surprise. It's almost like running backs are ridiculously overrated or something.
It's kind of strange to see that Seahawks offense that everyone has been complaining about all year up to number 4 in DVOA. With the Chiefs in a virtual tie with them.
#15 by Perfundle // Dec 01, 2015 - 9:09pm
Their offense has seen a massive resurgence after the bye. Their yards per play has gone from 5.68 before the bye (13th) to 7.15 in the last three games (2nd). Their red-zone TD percentage went from last place at 29.4% to first place at 80.0%. This happened to magically coincide with Drew Nowak getting the boot from the starting lineup, and now he's been booted off the team altogether.
#30 by Sixknots // Dec 01, 2015 - 11:05pm
Also coincided with three games at the C-Link, but I like your point.
#36 by Perfundle // Dec 02, 2015 - 12:08am
That didn't help them against Chicago and Detroit (5.9 and 5.5 yards per play, 0-3 in the red zone, 10 sacks between them), and neither team is a particularly good defense. Before the bye they weren't noticeably better at home.
I'm certainly not saying that it was mainly Nowak's fault, just that better OL play and much better red-zone production has been the driving force behind their recent improvement, and getting rid of Nowak must've helped.
#91 by formido // Dec 02, 2015 - 2:24pm
Rawls is better than Lynch this year, also. A lot better.
#98 by Pen // Dec 02, 2015 - 3:49pm
yes, and FO has been pretty much the only place that seems to show this in their ratings. Rawls is a significant upgrade over Lynch so far this season. Whether that remains to be true we shall see, but a 209 yard game is no fluke. I expect Rawls to be the future of this team if his body can handle the beating.
#18 by Will Allen // Dec 01, 2015 - 9:24pm
The running back for the Vikings may be on the verge of getting himself, legtimately, into the MVP conversation again, if not for the criminal violence he engaged in last year. No, he hasn't quite been at the 2012 level, but there are still 5 games left, and the o-line is worse this year than it was then. Of course, the 2nd year qb this year appears to be significantly better than the 2nd year qb in 2012, but the schedule may be harder this year.
If the Vikings win 3 of their last 5, against a tough schedule, and they win the division, it'll be likely have been done, in terms of offense, on the shoulders of their running back. I'd say an 11-5 Vikings division winner, with Peterson getting north of 1750 yards (550 more than he has now) rushing, is a decent argument for the MVP. The reality is that he could rush for 1000 yards in the last 5 games, and he wouldn't get it (which is fine by me), and if the Panthers go 15-1 or 16-0, it is going to Cam Newton, but I think it is still possible for a running back to be legit MVP, as opposed to ridiculoulsy overrated.
I think Marshawn Lynch in 2013 is another strong counterexample to what may be generally accurate.
#20 by Duff Soviet Union // Dec 01, 2015 - 9:50pm
It is not possible for a running back to be MVP under any circumstances at all (yes, I know it has actually happened many times. These were all stupid votes). A good running game is worth much less than a good passing game, and even then a running back is pretty much always a much smaller part of a good running game than a QB is of a good passing game. Basically they're a small part of a small part of a team's offense.
Before the season started, I would guess that the most common answer to "who are the three best backs in football" would be Marshawn Lynch, Jamaal Charles and Leveon Bell. All three have been injured, all three have been replaced by garden variety backups (yes, 78 year old DeAngelo Williams is a garden variety backup) and none of their teams has missed them in the slightest. It's a position that is both highly fungible and unimportant and any team who invests serious resources in one is making a bad decision.
#21 by Will Allen // Dec 01, 2015 - 10:16pm
So it was a bad decision for the Vikings to likely have about 5 wins, or perhaps less, than the 8 they do have, by investing serious resources in a running back?
(edit) I'll note again that Favre having perhaps his statistically best year ever at age 40 was largely due to who he was handing off to. Your point is generally true. It is a mistake to think that there are not exceptions to a generally true point, in nearly everything with regard to team sports.
#23 by Duff Soviet Union // Dec 01, 2015 - 10:28pm
The Vikings are an average team. Their DVOA, and most other metrics, place them amongst a bunch of 4 to 6 win teams. I'd say their winning more games than that is due to nothing more than randomness and not a running back.
I am highly skeptical of the idea that any running back in the history of the NFL has ever been worth the 3-4 wins per season you claim Peterson is. The best quarterbacks are worth that, the best running backs aren't even close.
The Vikings have gone from 29th in passing and 4th in rushing without Peterson to 21st and 4th with him. Maybe Peterson is making things easier for his QB (maybe), but I'd say it's simply due to Bridgewater getting a year of experience and the team not farting around with the likes of Cassell and Ponder.
#25 by Will Allen // Dec 01, 2015 - 10:40pm
Their weighted DVOA is now at 11. Yes, I know you believe what you believe. It ignores how defenses actually try to defend the Vikings when he is on the roster, compared to what how they do it when he isn't and if you think Peyton Manning was worth only 3 or 4 gmes in 2010, for instance, we will have to disagree. The Vikings offensive line is actually worse this year than last, for what it is worth.
More generally, again, I'd caution against thinking you can ever have a proposition, with regard to roster construction in a team sport, which is accurate 100% of the time. That simply isn't how human interaction works.
#47 by Eleutheria // Dec 02, 2015 - 8:34am
Saying that Manning was worth 5 wins in 2010 is saying that just over half of the total contibution (offense, defense and special teams combined) of the 2010 Indianapolis Colts came from Peyton Manning, an idea that I think is frankly absurd.
People don't realize how high a WAR of 3 or 4 in a game of football actually is. If Football had an 82 game season, a WAR of 4 would be 20.5 War.
A WAR of 20.5 in Basketball would be considering among the greatest seasons of all time, and I'd argue that a player like Lebron James or Michael Jordan has more impact on a basketball game then a QB has on a game of football, given that Basketball stars play both offense and defense while a QB doesn't.
If I was to estimate WAR, I'd say 1984 Marino, 2004 Manning and 2007 Brady are probably the only seasons in history that I'd give a WAR close to 5. 2010 Manning I'd rate around 3.
#52 by Will Allen // Dec 02, 2015 - 8:55am
I do realize it. I also realize that the Colts roster in 2010 was hideous, and an average qb playing on it would have had a very, very, good chance of being injured, meaning you end up with a John Skelton type playing, and then you are looking at three or four wins.
#53 by Eleutheria // Dec 02, 2015 - 9:00am
So you're saying Manning was worth more then the other 52 players on that roster combined? That's absurd. Especially if you're postulating that Manning had a high chance of being injured, as an injured QB would naturally have a lower WAR.
And especially given that the team sent 4 players to the probowl.
#56 by Will Allen // Dec 02, 2015 - 9:29am
That isn't what I am postulating. I am postulating the opposite. The absurdly fast recognition and release of Manning, throwing behind the likes of Charlie Freakin'Johnson at lt (!), is what kept Manning on the field, and Painter or Sorgi off it. Look, we saw this last year in Arizona. You get to your third string qb, Ryan Lindley, and you can't compete. This is another area in which football is different than other sports. The skill of a superior players at the most important position can often keep the superior player substantially healthier than a lesser player at that position. It would be as if a baseball team's starting rotation had a better much better chance of blowing out their arms by being bad, and giving up 5 runs in the 1st two innings.
#80 by rj1 // Dec 02, 2015 - 1:01pm
"The absurdly fast recognition and release of Manning, throwing behind the likes of Charlie Freakin'Johnson at lt (!), is what kept Manning on the field, and Painter or Sorgi off it."
If that was the only thing that kept Manning on the field, Sorgi and Painter would still be in the league as a QB somewhere else, not every team had a Peyton Manning.
#82 by Will Allen // Dec 02, 2015 - 1:09pm
Nor did every team have Charlie Johnson at left tackle. The point is that qb skill has a significant effect on health behind bad blocking.
#115 by Eleutheria // Dec 02, 2015 - 8:12pm
and not every team in the NFL embarks on a 'Suck for Luck' campaign when their star QB goes down.
Besides, the Colts pre-season projection for 2011 on this site was 7.9 wins with Manning and 5.9 wins without him (though if we give Manning a WAR of 3 like I think he deserves that falls to 4.9 and slightly more when we account for how bad Manning's back-ups were that year)
And seeing a 4.5 win calibre team go 2-14 isn't too shocking.
People give Manning way too much credit for the 2011 season, and overrate the importance of the QB position as a whole as a result.
Don't get me wrong, it's still by far the most important position in the NFL, it's just not as important as people seem to assume.
#134 by theslothook // Dec 02, 2015 - 9:52pm
The suck for luck argument always bothers me because it is a lazy argument. If it was an organization to player mandate, then clearly they were all duped because the entire franchise was gutted. Also the team won their only two games very late in the season, nearly blowing their chance at the 1 pick.
I also think ur making a mistake using fo projections as a kind of robust baseline. The standard errors on their forecasts are huge.
Finally, Manning compensated for a ton of holes on the roster. One can debate how much, but the 2010 colts had a worse o line, more injuries to their receivers, and the same idiot head coach and still managed to finish third in pass offense. Their complete implosion speaks volumes about manning's greatness.
Similar situations have happened with hall of fame qbs being injured. Almost none experience this kind of complete destruction.
#135 by Eleutheria // Dec 02, 2015 - 10:13pm
I'm using it as a baseline because it shows that the 2011 Colts weren't not a good team even if Manning was their QB.
And more injuries to receivers goes to more to why the team underperformed then emphasizing Mannings greatness.
I should clarify that my suck for luck comment is mostly a joke, it's just the easy cop out answer to explain the 2-14 season without having to go into the statistics.
#140 by dmstorm22 // Dec 02, 2015 - 10:39pm
Thank you for clarifying Suck for Luck was a joke, because I hate that people try to act like that was a thing.
If they wanted to tank, they don't go out and sign Kerry Collins, they don't avoid IRing Peyton with some ridiculous hope he can come back. They don't win two games and nearly blow the #1 pick.
Also, it is my favorite example to show how bat$hit insane the 'Yourteamcheats.com' site that some Pats fan created that they had that as evidence of the Colts 'cheating'.
#141 by theslothook // Dec 02, 2015 - 11:07pm
You're using it as a baseline, but you shouldn't. Its wildly imprecise measure. Sure, once can infer from their predictions who should be considered overvalued vs undervalued, but I wouldn't tie too much faith to their predictions.
And to clarify, the injuries happened to the receiving core in 2010 - the year before Manning got hurt. 2011 colts were a healthier(albeit still very injured team) than their 2010 version. Costanzo, for all his faults as a rookie, was a damn sight better than charlie johnson. Frankly, the 2010 team was arguably worse than the 2011 team.
Look, this is dangerously careening into irrational Manning praise, but I do want to be clear. For all of manning's faults, his greatest skill to my mind is his ability field a successful offense in spite of the talent constraints. Its more than his quick release. He takes a lot of the responsibilities off of the players around him. Receivers run a simple route combination because he's reading the defense and telling them where to go. He also sets protections and tells people where the blitz is coming.
The coach on the field thing sounds lazy, but its pretty accurate.
These are the reasons why the colts would probably win at least 8 games if Manning was healthy.
#149 by Eleutheria // Dec 03, 2015 - 11:57am
When has Manning not had an offense loaded with all-pro and first round picks?
#153 by Will Allen // Dec 03, 2015 - 1:55pm
In 2010, Reggie Wayne was a 1st rounder, picked 30th, and an All-Pro. Donald Brown was the other 1st rounder, picked 27th. Jeff Saturday was a Pro Bowl selection, running on the fumes of reputation. Not loaded.
#155 by theslothook // Dec 03, 2015 - 2:08pm
Is it just that Manning happens to be surrounded with great talent or that Manning himself has a lot to do with the talent looking great?
#157 by Will Allen // Dec 03, 2015 - 2:12pm
Hey, Eric Decker is a multimillionaire, proving he is a great player!
#160 by nat // Dec 03, 2015 - 3:08pm
Hey, Eric Decker is a top 10 wide receiver by DYAR and DVOA, while playing on this year's JETS...
Proving he is a great player.
#161 by Will Allen // Dec 03, 2015 - 3:40pm
Touche', but dependent on ignoring last year.
#162 by Thomas_beardown // Dec 03, 2015 - 3:46pm
I think nat is being a touch facetious. He's been demoted to #2 receiver behind Marshall, who is getting the classic DVOA/DYAR trap of being good enough that the QB forces him the ball, thus lowering his "value".
#165 by Will Allen // Dec 03, 2015 - 3:54pm
Performance evaluation is hard, ain't it?
#166 by theslothook // Dec 03, 2015 - 3:54pm
I don't think Eric Decker is a bad player in the same way I don't think Pierre Garcon is a bad player. I think if they were, they wouldn't be on the field. Its more like Manning takes reasonable starters and makes them into productive players. Note - no amount of Manning wizardy turns offensive linemen into reasonable starters.
#167 by Thomas_beardown // Dec 03, 2015 - 4:00pm
Eric Decker is a very good #2 receiver. That is no small accomplishment, but neither it is a great player.
#170 by nat // Dec 03, 2015 - 4:12pm
Whether you want to call his "role" a #1 WR isn't really the point in this context. His total production (and efficiency) and thus his value to an offense is that of a better than average #1 WR.
#172 by Will Allen // Dec 03, 2015 - 4:26pm
You can't accurately measure value a player has to an offense seperate from what resources the opponent is devoting to counter a player. Similarly, a defensive end who gets 12 sacks and 10 hurries while also being chipped by a running back or tight end is much, much, more valuable than a defensive end who does that while being blocked by a tackle alone.
#173 by Thomas_beardown // Dec 03, 2015 - 4:28pm
"His total production (and efficiency) and thus his value to an offense is that of a better than average #1 WR."
When he's being thrown the ball. Which isn't as often as a #1 receiver. Marshall has 30 more balls thrown his way than Decker. Those 30 passes had to go to *someone* and the Jets QBs weren't going to Decker.
This is a well observed and understood phenomena in basketball. Efficiency goes down as usage rate goes up. It's lot easier to score when Kobe is demanding attention, and much easier to get open when Marshall is. It's also much easier to look good when you're only thrown the ball when you're open.
#169 by nat // Dec 03, 2015 - 4:10pm
Last year he was pretty good, too, with a worse QB. Cracking the top 30 for WR production was actually pretty amazing, considering who was throwing to him.
#109 by Eleutheria // Dec 02, 2015 - 7:45pm
You are aware of what site you're commenting on right?
If you were here last year, you should know that all the advanced analytics said Arizona was way overrated prior to Lindley playing:
tons of fumble luck, lots of wins in close games, easy early season schedule tough late season schedule, etc.
The Cardinals winning less with Lindley was less about the gap between Lindley and Palmer in talent and more about the Cardinals and their opponents as a whole.
#116 by Will Allen // Dec 02, 2015 - 8:19pm
You are aware that it is pointless to be a condescending ass, right?
You apparently are unawre of the difference between "winning less" and "unable to meaningfully compete".
I'll be happy to re-adopt a civil tone, if you so choose.
#131 by Eleutheria // Dec 02, 2015 - 9:31pm
I love that you're not attacking my tone, rather then the argument I was making.
#137 by Will Allen // Dec 02, 2015 - 10:31pm
You ought to consider developing higher aspirations, with regard to targets for your love.
#79 by rj1 // Dec 02, 2015 - 12:48pm
The most real-life example we have is the Patriots where Brady got injured out for year in week 1 and was replaced by Cassel. Cassel took the team to 11-5 the year after they went 16-0. At the maximum, in real life Brady over Cassel was worth 5 wins. Now you can't really predict 16-0 seasons, but something like 14-2 would be a reasonable guess if you believed the Pats were going to be the best team in football that year, so there in real life Brady was worth 3 wins more than Cassel.
#81 by Will Allen // Dec 02, 2015 - 1:03pm
That was a great roster outside of the qb position, for an extremely well-coached team. It isn't far-fetched to think that a great player on a bad roster, with average to bad coaching, has more marginal value, in terms of regular season wins, than a great player on a great roster, with excellent coaching. Barry Sanders may have been the only significant difference in the Lions teams that averaged 7.8 wins per season in the 10 years he played, compared to the 4.8 wins a year they had in the next 10 years.
#101 by dmstorm22 // Dec 02, 2015 - 4:42pm
Also had a joke schedule. If they had a schedule as tough as the 07 Pats did, there is no way they go 11-5.
#110 by Eleutheria // Dec 02, 2015 - 7:53pm
And I would say 2007 Brady played at 4.5-5 wins above replacement players.
However I should also note that the 2007 Patriots had the 7th toughest schedule while the 2008 Patirots had the 5th easiest. So while the 2007 Patriots were a ~15-1 team in terms of skill, the 2008 Patriots were closer to 9.5-6.5.
#154 by bravehoptoad // Dec 03, 2015 - 2:02pm
4.5-5 WAR based on...?
Is this another guess involving people's guts?
#156 by Will Allen // Dec 03, 2015 - 2:09pm
No, this involves.......wait for it...........wait for it..........
#158 by theslothook // Dec 03, 2015 - 2:33pm
As a statistician, this is exactly why Charles Barkley can guffaw about "analytics" being a big delusion. I can promise you, most people trained in statistics are taught over and over to be conservative in how we interpret data and also to be circumspect.
Case in point - pretending like WAR can a) be applied to football as if it were a simple game of 22 independent starters and b) then making a leap from War being a sound stat to then using it as a baseline for other statistics.
#163 by Will Allen // Dec 03, 2015 - 3:47pm
I have immense respect for people who employ statistics in an intellectually honest manner which provides real insight into human affairs and the physical world, which is why despise it when people use phony quantitative analysis to 'win" an argument, or even worse, to wield governmental or other bureaucratic power. Now, sometimes, the people doing so are just ignorant, but I suspect that rather more frequantly it is done with dishonest intent, or. even worse, with regard to wielding power, it is done real mendacity.
#179 by bravehoptoad // Dec 03, 2015 - 5:47pm
That, or haruspication, which is certainly my new word for the day.
#187 by Eleutheria // Dec 04, 2015 - 1:02am
based on approximations from his DYAR and DVOA for the season.
#188 by theslothook // Dec 04, 2015 - 1:09am
Show me how dyarr translates to War...especially when dyarr makes 0 attempts to separate qb play from surrpunding players.
#26 by Thomas_beardown // Dec 01, 2015 - 10:41pm
You are seriously failing to adjust for era. Check out the OJ Simpson Bills, the Payton Bears, the Jim Brown Browns, etc.
There are also really hard to separate synergistic effects. Look at the Packers last year compared to this year. Lets say they lose to Arizona and Minnesota to close out the season. Does that mean Jordy Nelson is worth 2 wins? Well not really, but the way the Packers are built there are synergistic effects that make the whole offense better with him there.
#31 by Will Allen // Dec 01, 2015 - 11:13pm
The point is generally true, but declaring this sort of thing to be a 100% iron clad, totally accurate description of reality, in all circumstances, is just oversimplified.
#37 by theslothook // Dec 02, 2015 - 1:01am
Will we agree on a lot of things, but the value of even a top tier RB is not one. The year AP won the mvp, for instance, percy harvin carried the load for the first half the season. Also, that o line graded well by pff.
The vikes naturally were impotent on offense the following week with Joe Webb at qb. This isn't to say RBs don't deserve mvp votes(they do), but even the best rb imo doesn't make an offense good. And I've run regressions, pass offense seems to have 0 correlation with run offense and vice versa. The two seem entirely driven by different factors.
#39 by Will Allen // Dec 02, 2015 - 1:49am
Yeah, I said the 2012 line was better than this one. You can't say who carried an offense if you don't account what the defense is doing. If you want to say Favre having one of his best years at age 40 was largely unrelated to what defenses were doing to account for Peterson, go ahead. I differ, and I know Favre does as well.
#43 by Eleutheria // Dec 02, 2015 - 7:55am
I agree that running backs in general and AP in particular are overrated when it comes to their overall contribution to a teams success, however I disagree with the supposed lack of correlation between running success and passing success, can you provide a citation?
#87 by theslothook // Dec 02, 2015 - 2:14pm
So to explain the methodology(this was run several years back). I ran pass dvoa against rush dvoa to see if there was a relationship. I found that rush dvoa was not a significant variable and the correlation was pretty weak. I can re-run it again.
Perusing over PFF and their o line grades, I get the sense that most o lines are either solid at pass blocking or running blocking and very few are good at both. The real outliers seem to be New England in this regard.
On the other hand, there are plenty of o lines that are lousy at both too(the result of injuries mostly).
#113 by Eleutheria // Dec 02, 2015 - 8:01pm
Though even then, New England was a good run blocking team last year and ranked 31st in pass blocking.
I'll look at the numbers regarding Rush vs Pass DVOA this weekend, wont have time to parse data until then.
#44 by Eleutheria // Dec 02, 2015 - 8:13am
Actually if anything the Vikings would have more wins without AP, as they probably would have fewer fumbles. (this is mostly a joke, but I'm emphasizing the APs contribution to the Vikings is greatly overstated)
And the idea that any player at any position (outside maybe QB) would have already accumulated 3 Wins Above Replacement at this stage in the season is wrong.
In my opinion Brady, Dalton, Palmer and possibly Carr (since a WAR is probably somewhere between 400-500 passing DYAR) are the only players in the league that have contributed more then 2 wins above replacement at this stage in the season, maybe Carr has as well, tough to say.
If there was a WAR metric in football, the best running backs probably don't crack even 1 win above replacement and if AP2012 did, it would have been barely above 1.
#49 by Will Allen // Dec 02, 2015 - 8:46am
Yes, I know you believe it. If you think this has been empirically established, however, you are wrong. The game simply does not lend itself to being able to use metrics to determine the precise effect of one player, especially if that player is not the qb. We have to guess. Your guess is different than mine.
#51 by Eleutheria // Dec 02, 2015 - 8:54am
Ok lets look at it this way then.
Please rate the offensive win shares of the following positions for this seasons Minnesota Vikings keeping in mind that the total has to add up to ~5.5 (since ~2.5 win shares has been generated by Minnesota's defense and special teams this season):
All other RBs: ?
All other receivers: ?
Offensive Line: ?
I think you'll find it impossible to actually make all the numbers realistically add up and given AP over half the credit for this team's offense.
#58 by Will Allen // Dec 02, 2015 - 9:33am
Your premise is that win shares has been emprically established as a metric which accurately gauges the contribution of an individual player in football. That premise is not accurate.
#111 by Eleutheria // Dec 02, 2015 - 7:54pm
Your claiming that Adrian Peterson has contributed 3 wins to the Vikings this season, I'm just trying to demonstrate how absurd that line of thinking is.
#119 by Will Allen // Dec 02, 2015 - 8:54pm
Yes, with a metric which has not been established as useful. Why do that? It just lends a sheen of faux-precision, which is decidedly worse than a frank admission that what you are doing is just a guess.
#59 by Xexyz // Dec 02, 2015 - 9:39am
Alright, I'm trying to figure out how WAR works in football and it seems to me that it's a meaningless stat. So if the Minnesota defense & special teams is worth ~2.5 win shares, does that mean if you cut the entire defense and special teams units and replaced them with street free agents the Vikes would still have 5-6 wins? Is that how the stat works? Because that's an utterly ridiculous assertion.
#60 by Will Allen // Dec 02, 2015 - 9:48am
I really think that people who use advanced metrics in other sports often greatly underestimate how much more complex football is. Useful quantitative analysis in football is much, much, much, more difficult, relative to other team sports, in terms of measuring individual contribution to team success.
#62 by dmstorm22 // Dec 02, 2015 - 10:04am
It's actually difficult in other sports as well. It works best in baseball because of the individual nature of hte game, that aside from defense, everything is really and individual matchup between pitcher and hitter.
Basketball it somewhat applies, but I think both football and hockey are incredibly difficult to translate conventional WAR-type advanced stats.
#65 by Will Allen // Dec 02, 2015 - 10:13am
The nature of having completely different personnel for offense and defense, before we even get to special teams, and the sheer number of players on the field, makes it incredibly difficult. I also think that how skill affects injury rates, especially at qb, is an area ripe for investigation.
#88 by theslothook // Dec 02, 2015 - 2:17pm
Analytics is useful in a macro sense, but we're simply waay too primitive to get details at the micro level. Even pff stats(which are useful) are only intrepreted in the context that said player did this given the scheme, players around him, and opponent he faced. And even here its not so clear cut. There are all kinds of intricate relationships between the overall team, the player, and even a few set of players next to him. We don't even have a way to quantify what units make up a good pass defense/how pass rush really affects coverage and vice versa.
The offense has similar issues too, though probably less complex because qb play explains a good chunk of it.
I really just don't think WAR as a stat will work in the nfl.
#112 by Eleutheria // Dec 02, 2015 - 7:58pm
I was being as conservative as possible to show that even if you understate the contribution of defense and special teams, Will Allen is dead wrong in assuming that Peterson has contributed 3 wins to the Vikings this season.
#117 by Will Allen // Dec 02, 2015 - 8:23pm
You are dead wrong in thinking that the metrics available to us can provide great confidence in our judgements of such matters.
#126 by Eleutheria // Dec 02, 2015 - 9:27pm
well all the Metrics point the RBs being less then 1 game a year, so while you're right that I can't be 100% confident in my guesses, I can be confident that your guesses are wrong.
#124 by Perfundle // Dec 02, 2015 - 9:27pm
As others have mentioned, using win shares to determine contribution is absurd. The total win share of every single unit on a team is far more than the total number of wins, because a good unit makes far less difference to a horrible team than to an average one. For instance, Replacing Matt Ryan with a replacement-level QB matters far more in the win column to the 13-3 Falcons of 2012 than to the 4-12 Falcons of 2013, even though Ryan had basically the same DVOA in both years.
So the order that you replace the units matters a lot. If you replace Minnesota's defense and special teams with those of New Orleans, they'd have a similar record to the Saints' 4-7. Taking Peterson off of that team wouldn't decrease the number of wins as much as taking him off of the current Vikings team.
#128 by Eleutheria // Dec 02, 2015 - 9:29pm
It's possible to have negative win shares, which I imagine some of the 2013 Falcons units had.
#136 by Perfundle // Dec 02, 2015 - 10:13pm
That's irrelevant to my point that a player's win shares can vary widely depending on the team he's on. An Adrian Peterson on a .409 team matters considerably less than an Adrian Peterson on a .727 team. A team with 44 Greg Schianos won't gain any wins by adding Adrian Peterson, or Tom Brady for that matter.
#133 by Perfundle // Dec 02, 2015 - 9:42pm
#145 by intel_chris // Dec 03, 2015 - 9:16am
Since I hate baseball I don't know what the WAR advanced stat means, I'm going to assume something like "Wins Above Replacement", something like DYAR converted into wins. I think the argument that team situation makes a big difference is relevant. How many wins would AP add to NE? How many wins would Gronkowski (assuming that he is healthy) add to the Vikes? I think both numbers would be significantly smaller than the amount added to their current teams. Moreover, I don't think either team would go for a straight heads-up trade and the resulting teams would both be worse off.
To further the point (about complexity of WAR stats and how good players don't necessarily impact wins in an easily measurable way), I point to the last few years of PMs career, i.e. those with the Broncos (completely ignoring his tenure with the Colts). Does anyone want to argue that PM did not add significantly to the Broncos' 3 previous win totals? Before answering that with "yes, the QB is the most significant factor in the offense", consider this year when those people replacing the unsuspecting coffee drinkers with instant, decided to substitute a 31st level replacement for PM. Somehow the team still went undefeated for 7 games. That's despite PM almost managing to throw away many of those games. So, up through those 7 games a bad PM did not manage to impact the teams W-L total. (Gee, the coffee drinkers didn't notice. Maybe sitting in a fine restaurant makes bad coffee good.)
For those of you who want to insert a million excuses, you are just proving the point that football is an incredibly difficult to analyze sport, specifically if you limit your stats to W-L records which give you only 1 bit of information per game. I love wins as much as anyone, they are the reason the games get played. However, as a statistical measure, they are lousy; way too few data points. So, while it might be nice to be able to quantify a player in terms of "wins added", we are so far from being able to do that, that such discussions always become opinion-fests. There is nothing we can do about that. We just don't have enough data. And, emphatically, we don't have enough data from W-L records.
#146 by Will Allen // Dec 03, 2015 - 9:34am
#159 by theslothook // Dec 03, 2015 - 2:34pm
As an extension - so many people pretend like teams don't change that much over separate seasons. Case in point, looking at the packers offense this year as opposed to last years and then proposing the difference is all because of Nelson's injury. Clearly Nelson is important, but one is completely wrong to just look at the difference in dvoa and pretend that thats all Nelson.
Actually I would assert the problem is even worse. We can't even act like teams themselves are the same across the whole season.
#175 by Perfundle // Dec 03, 2015 - 4:42pm
Even more than that, you can't even say that an individual game will have the same outcome if played again with the same players. A player's contribution would be better measured in DVOA change, or point differential change, instead of just wins and losses.
#193 by panthersnbraves // Dec 04, 2015 - 10:46pm
Absolutely teams change as the season goes by. Offensive line is a lot about Chemistry and knowing how the guy to your left and right is going to react. (If you look at the play where Romo got injured, Thomas Davis was triple-teamed, but ALL THREE peeled off to go help out the other singled-up guys, so TD got left untouched). Offensive lines should get better as the season goes along. The same with QB/WR combos that don't have a lot of experience together.
Injuries play a part as well. Twice this season, injuries on Defense have forced the Panthers to look outside for help. That of course has to be followed by a period of adjustment.
Lastly comes film. Teams find weaknesses and then learn to exploit then, and then counter the exploits, etc. On the first Luke Kuechly INT, he credits Thomas David for identifying the Dallas call and so Luke backed out of a blitz into a Cover-2, and then read the route personally to get the grab. Without film, maybe they don't recognize the tendency and don't get the Pick-6...
#196 by Mr Shush // Dec 05, 2015 - 1:43pm
This seems unduly confident in DYAR as a measure of individual performance. I think it's very likely indeed Newton has contributed more wins to Carolina than Dalton to Cincinatti, for example. I also think that Watt may well have been worth more than two wins, but no stat's really going to help us there.
#45 by jmaron // Dec 02, 2015 - 8:28am
not sure if this means anything, but since Peterson has been a viking in the years he's missed games the team has a .375 winning pct when he's out and .409 winning pct when he starts.
#54 by Eleutheria // Dec 02, 2015 - 9:01am
Which would make his WAR ~0.5 per 16 games, about where me and Soviet Duff put it, rather then the absurd 4.5 that Will is putting it at.
#120 by Will Allen // Dec 02, 2015 - 9:01pm
I didn't put it at 4.5. I said that so far he might have added 3 (re-looking at the schedule, I think 2 may have been a better guess), and did not state with any confidence that the trend would continue for the balance of the year.
If you are going to repeteadly tell me how abusrd my guesses are, be polite enough to get the guesses right, will 'ya?
#122 by Duff Soviet Union // Dec 02, 2015 - 9:24pm
To be fair, you put it at 3 in 11 games which pro-rates to pretty close to 4.5 over 16 games.
#127 by Will Allen // Dec 02, 2015 - 9:28pm
Yeah, a description of the past does not always an entail a prediction of a trend continuing into the future. As I noted, the the schedule toughens, and it is hard to add wins without actually winning.
#132 by Eleutheria // Dec 02, 2015 - 9:33pm
even 3 or 4 wins is almost as absurd.
#164 by Will Allen // Dec 03, 2015 - 3:50pm
Yes, your "metrics" tell us that.
#123 by Eleutheria // Dec 02, 2015 - 9:25pm
well when you haven't clarified your guess beyong AP being worth 3 wins above replacement this year for the Vikings, I've been forced to make assumptions.
I do love your back pedalling though.
#130 by Will Allen // Dec 02, 2015 - 9:30pm
I apologize for "forcing" you to make assumptions, and I stand chastened in the face of the withering accusation of back pedaling.
#186 by herewegobrowni… // Dec 04, 2015 - 12:51am
It's a very noisy stat over that many years, without the context of opponents faced in each circumstance, and ups and downs of surrounding talent. Likewise the "Colts go from 10-6 to 2-14 to 11-5" example is noisy in its own way despite being just a few consecutive years
For instance, from 2013 to 2014 the Vikes went from 5.5-10.5 to 7-9 with the main changes basically being adding Bridgewater and subtracting Peterson. How do you account for the value of each? And did Peterson get that much more valuable between 2011 and 2012, when the team went 3-13 vs. 10-6 with him playing almost all of the games in each?
What about generally-considered elite players like Joe Thomas, ODB, prime MJD, Josh Gordon, etc. who haven't presided over much win-loss improvement - what is their true worth in that category?
#99 by Pen // Dec 02, 2015 - 3:51pm
So the entire world, including John Elway, is wrong when they say TD is what got the Broncos that Super Bowl? That having a legitimate running game had no effect on Elway's season?
#107 by Richie // Dec 02, 2015 - 7:11pm
It's an added complexity to consider playoff wins ("got the Broncos that Super Bowl"), partly because of the elimination format.
In 1995, the Broncos were 7-7 in the first 14 games (where Davis played). He missed the final 2 games and they went 1-1.
In 1996, Davis had a better season and the team went 13-3 with the offense playing a little better. But the defense improved even more. 1996 was the first year in Denver for Bill Romanowski, John Mobley and Alfred Williams. The 1996 Broncos were upset in the divisional round of the playoffs, but were considered by most to be the best team in the AFC. So the 1996 Broncos improved by 5 games, but it looks like the defense was probably the biggest reason. Williams and Romanowski may have been a big component to that improvement.
In 1997, the Broncos were even better in terms of SRS, but actually won one fewer game. 1997 was the year that Rod Smith replaced Anthony Miller at WR. Their defensive SRS went down a little, but the offensive SRS went up a bunch. Davis improved on his already good 96 season. Also, John Mobley was named All-Pro. And the team won the Super Bowl.
In 1998, the Broncos offense was a little better (by SRS), the defense was a little worse, and overall the SRS was down a bit, but the team won 2 more games than they did in 97. Neil Smith came to the team in 1998.
One thing to note about those Broncos is the stability they had on the offensive line - particularly the left side. It looks like in 1998, they had the same 5 starters all 16 games. Zimmerman, Schlereth and Nalen were on the left side from 1995-97 without missing many starts. Tony Jones replaced Zimmerman in 98. Brian Habib started at right guard most of the time.
I think Terrell Davis, Rod Smith, Alfred Williams, Bill Romanowski and stability on the offensive line are the big reasons that the Broncos improved from a perpetual .500 team to a Super Bowl contender. They were basically an 8-win team from 1992-95, and turned into a 13-win team from 96-98. So all of the improvements noted above were worth roughly 5 wins per season.
I don't think Davis is the reason they won the Super Bowl. Maybe he was worth 1 or 2 wins max. I wonder what guys like Rod Smith and Alfred Williams think when people say Terrell Davis is what turned them into Super Bowl winners.
Then, the Broncos lost Elway, Shannon Sharpe, Mobley AND Davis and fell to 6-10 in 1999. Though Olandis Gary replaced 1,100 of Davis' yards at a 4.2 y/c rate.
#150 by Hang50 // Dec 03, 2015 - 12:01pm
There's also opponent luck.
I remember being so very happy when Green Bay beat San Francisco in the conference finals. The Niners were a matchup nightmare for the Broncos. The Packers, not so much.
#125 by Duff Soviet Union // Dec 02, 2015 - 9:27pm
I think people are right when they say that "a legitimate running game" massively helped. How big a part of that running game Terrell Davis was and how much of it was the offensive line is a more valid question. Saying Davis got the Broncos a couple of Super Bowls is a massive oversimplification.
#142 by ammek // Dec 03, 2015 - 5:09am
Yes, I would put Nalen in the HoF above Davis. It wasn't just stability on the offensive line, it was coaching too. Alex Gibbs introduced that undersized, zone-based, cut-blocking technique, and Nalen and Schlereth were the cornerstones. It took a few years for opposing coaches to figure out how to begin to defend the Broncos' running game, and Davis was the beneficiary of that period of grace. I think Davis was very good, and an excellent fit for the Shanahan offense, but he was not, in my eyes, a noticeably better runner than Clinton Portis. The irreplaceables on that Denver offense were Elway and the coaching staff. It dipped twice: in 1999, as noted, and again in 2001, when the left side of the offensive line had to be replaced and Ed McCaffrey was out injured. The running game, with Portis as the feature back, drove the improvement from 2002.
Elway was the ideal QB for that bootleggy, play-action-heavy offense, too. Mike Sherman was smitten by the Denver offense, and he tried to prolong Favre's career by giving him fewer snaps in a more run-heavy offense. But it didn't fit: Favre was a QB who liked to get in a rhythm – he was often erratic at the start of a game – and reducing his dropbacks actually made him a less effective, more impatient passer.
But the main conclusion to draw about the 1996-98 Broncos offense is that it was loaded with talent at almost every position AND well-coached AND benefited from a pioneering coaching technique AND mostly stayed healthy. In that context, the playoff exit to Jacksonville and the failure to win the AFC West in 1997 were genuine disappointments. The 1998 season showed what the team could really acheve.
#143 by Will Allen // Dec 03, 2015 - 7:53am
The best player on that line, and one of the best lts ever, Gary Zimmerman, deserves mention. It was just terrific across the board. Tony Jones was very solid, as was Brian Habib.
#147 by mehllageman56 // Dec 03, 2015 - 10:51am
They may have failed to win the AFC West in 1997, but they finished 12-4 and took out three pretty good teams on the way to dethroning a Packers team everyone wanted to crown a dynasty. I was sick of the NFC winning the Super Bowl, and they didn't disappoint me in 1997.
#144 by Will Allen // Dec 03, 2015 - 8:07am
Duff, I don't know why it took me a day to better communicate my difference with your position on this, but here goes. Any player on a football field that causes opposing coaches to, on a near-constant basis, realign their schemes in order to prevent that player's success, regardless of how the personnel around that player changes, is a player worth making a significant investment in. It's a game of adjustment, and if you can force your opponent to be predictable, regardless of who your other 10 guys on the field are, you've really accomplished something, and it is worth spending significant cap space to accomplish that. Now, the overwhelming number of players who meet that description, on the offensive side of the ball, are qbs, but there is, very occasionally, the very rare exception.
#151 by ZDNeal // Dec 03, 2015 - 1:15pm
See Eleutheria's comments on Randy Moss above.
#168 by Duff Soviet Union // Dec 03, 2015 - 4:07pm
I think you are radically overstating Peterson's effect on opposition coaches here. We saw the Vikings without Peterson last year and to me they didn't really look any different than they did this year or in 2013. Yes, they're winning more games this year, but that's due to improving defensively and on special teams and Bridgewater's improvement which begun late last year and I am pretty certain would have happened with or without Peterson, as well as general good luck in winning more than their underlying performance would say they should. The guy just doesn't move the needle. That's not a personal reflection on him, it's just the nature of the running back position. None of them do with the exception of someone like Marshall Faulk who in addition to being a fine runner was also one of the best possession receivers in the NFL, which I think we can agree that Peterson is not. I remember a study about 10 years ago (yes, I know, a bit outdated, but I bet it still holds up) about how teams do when players get injured. It was generally what you'd expect with a big decrease in win % when the QB gets injured, followed by defensive end. Running back was the one position where teams actually got better when the starter got injured.
As for the post earlier (not yours) about not trading Peterson for Gronk, are you nuts? There is absolutely no way on earth the Patriots would ever make that deal, but the Vikings would have to be out of their mind not to, even with Gronk's injury history. The Vikings with Gronk would be legit dangerous. We saw last year that they can plug in any old Jerrick McKinnon type and get a strong running game despite their allegedly terrible offensive line, so I think they'd be fine there. Gronk would make them a better blocking team when he stayed in to block and a much better receiving team when he didn't. The only reason to not make this trade is if you believe that he's a total product of New England's offense, which I don't think he is.
#171 by Thomas_beardown // Dec 03, 2015 - 4:22pm
I'm going to agree and disagree with you.
I don't think AP is making a huge impact this year. He's regressed to simply "good". However, if you're talking about the younger AP who was dragging Tarvais Jackson to the playoffs, I have to disagree completely. He was a total game changer.
#182 by Will Allen // Dec 03, 2015 - 6:02pm
I will point out at this time that The Ponderous One cannot get more than 1 day tryouts with teams so desperate for quarterback help that words can't capture it. The Ponderous One was 21st in DYAR and DVOA in the last year he was able to start more than 9 games with Peterson.
#174 by Will Allen // Dec 03, 2015 - 4:35pm
Yeah, I wouldn't trade Gronk for Peterson, not even close, but that really has nothing to do with what we are talking about. In order for me to agree with you, I would have to agree with the following proposition......
"Where defensive players line up has no significant effect on defensive capability, or overall defensive performance".
.......and everything I know about the game tells me that such a proposition is false.
#176 by theslothook // Dec 03, 2015 - 4:47pm
I sort of get where both of you are coming from. I think Duffy's point is - Offenses are scariest when they are passing based. Peterson's impacts on the passing game are indirect since he has 0 value as a receiver or much for that matter as a blocker. Assessing his indirect impact is also quite difficult, the point where neither of us has enough evidence to claim one way or the other. I personally think the impact is non-zero but not hugely significant.
I want to make one addendum to this. If I had a running style qb, then the quality of my running back becomes enormously important. And in that regards, someone like Lynch his hugely valuable.
#177 by Will Allen // Dec 03, 2015 - 5:00pm
To get back to what the original proposition was, the question of whether a player is worthy of signficant financial resources is never made in a vacuum. Would you rather spend 20 million on Aaron Rodgers, or 9 million on Gronk (whose agent appears to be a dolt) as opposed to 13 million on Adrian Peterson? Sure, but the Aaron Rodgers and Gronk store is closed 99.99% of the time. The question the Vikings had this year was whether they could use this money this year, or perhaps next, in a way that would better help them win games? That is doubtful.
#180 by Duff Soviet Union // Dec 03, 2015 - 5:59pm
You're kind of getting my point. I do think offenses are much better when they're passing based, and frankly I don't see how this is arguable. The best passing offenses are the best overall offenses and that's not true for rushing offenses. That's why it's impossible for a running back to be MVP unless they're averaging like 8 yards per carry.
The other point is that even when a team is dependent on it's running game, it's generally not the running back who is the important variable. You mention Lynch, but you might have noticed that Thomas Rawls is looking an awful lot like prime Marshawn Lynch recently. Running backs are not the cause of great offenses, they're the beneficiaries of them. The Chiefs don't miss Jamaal Charles who was allegedly "carrying" their offense for years and the Steelers don't miss All-Pro Leveon Bell unless they're also missing Ben Roethlisberger.
As for Peterson, he's a pretty valuable player when he's averaging 6 yards per carry in 2012 (although even then he's nowhere near an MVP candidate), when he's averaging a boom and busty 4.5 - 5 yards per carry, I could take him or leave him and that's not even looking at his contract.
#181 by Thomas_beardown // Dec 03, 2015 - 6:02pm
Will already made this point, but you're basically saying "why don't the Vikings go out and get a Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski", and I think the answer to that is obvious.
#183 by LyleNM // Dec 03, 2015 - 6:26pm
You might also have noticed that the Seahawks wasted an awful lot of time messing around with Robert Turbin and Christine Michael as "future Marshawn Lynch" types when in fact they weren't. Yes, Rawls himself did not cost the Seahawks much, but they still had to go through a 2nd and a 4th round pick before finding the right guy on the UDFA pile. It's very easy to just dismiss RBs (and other positions for that matter like center) as being replaceable but it's usually not so simple. I think the Seahawks would much rather have moved on from Lynch this last offseason but they (correctly) decided that Turbin and/or Michael were not good enough. And then they found Rawls.
#84 by mshray63 // Dec 02, 2015 - 1:28pm
Both teams play the AFC North & the NFC North divisions on their schedule, so 8 common games.
Both teams - during their slow starts - lost to Green Bay & Cincy.
Both teams reached .500 with relatively easy wins against divisional rivals (SF/SD) who weren't expected to be quite this lousy before the season.
Both teams got over .500 on Sunday with come-behind-wins that damaged the playoff hopes of their opponents. (in fact the Chiefs owe the 'Hawks a bouquet or something as they not only knocked the Steelers into a 4-way tie in the AFC playoff hunt with the Chiefs, but also as of today the tiebreakers put the Chiefs first in that group & the Steelers last.)
Both teams still get to look forward to games against the Browns & Ravens.
-- de gustibus non disputandem est
#4 by jonnyblazin // Dec 01, 2015 - 8:08pm
Interesting that the Ravens are 2nd in ST DVOA, but that doesn't even incorporate the fact that they've blocked kicks in 5 consecutive games (since DVOA considers them random events). Maybe with this particular unit they aren't so random.
#8 by Hurt Bones // Dec 01, 2015 - 8:19pm
It looks like they may have found a return man in Clay.
#19 by bmay // Dec 01, 2015 - 9:27pm
fyi, I believe ST blocks and other turnovers fall under the "Hidden" column.
#7 by jmaron // Dec 01, 2015 - 8:17pm
The Vikings special teams are 9th...no thanks to their Kicker, who after a great rookie season has steadily declined.
DVOA Ratings FG/XP:
2012 - 2nd
2013 - 19th
2014 - 26th
2015 - 29th
not a good trend. After going 10/10 in his rookie year - he's gone 9 for 18 since.
#12 by Tundrapaddy // Dec 01, 2015 - 8:43pm
Yeah, Walsh is one Viking I would be surprised to see survive a training camp battle next offseason.
In fact, I would be really, really pleased to see the Vikings:
1. Specifically target the special teams unit, from coaching down, as a 'want to improve' area.
2. Use actual starting-caliber players throughout special teams, much like the Seahawks do.
Unless they already do. I actually haven't paid close attention to the Vikes special teams units, but I'd be surprised if Barr, Robison, Smith etc were on the field covering punts and returns.
#9 by Kal // Dec 01, 2015 - 8:21pm
On the Eagles: their defensive collapse corresponds strongly to losing Jordan Hicks after the Dallas game. While their defense didn't meltdown against the Dolphins, it didn't do all that well - and then melted down the next two weeks as teams went after the Eagles linebacker corps.
#48 by Kevin from Philly // Dec 02, 2015 - 8:45am
On the plus side, this may help Hicks' DRoY chances.
#197 by horn // Dec 07, 2015 - 3:39pm
They lost Hicks. Kendricks and Alonso have been playing hurt, the latter looks badly so. The 2-game debacle was due to 2 things you can't have: Bad scheme married to poor execution. And you certainly cannot have them at the same time! Losing Nolan Carroll at the beginning of the DET game really hurt also, DB Rowe will be a very good player but just wasn't against Megatron - and one of those TD throws was a perfect throw and catch that Revis in his prime couldn't have done anything about.
I also think the short week killed them going into the Det game - Davis didn't come up with a good scheme and so many players were tired and hurt - Ryans is still recovering, etc.
This is still a good defense. Not top 5, but plenty good enough to make the playoffs if the Offense with Sam steps up. Sanchez is a season killer.
Put it this way: if Sturgis doesn't miss 2 chip shot FGs against Miami and Wash, they'd be 7-5 and a lock to win the division at this point.
#16 by TomC // Dec 01, 2015 - 9:17pm
I would be curious to see the Bears' variance after throwing out the two Jimmy Clausen games. To my eye, they have played incredibly consistently in the other 9 games, at a level that is good enough to blow out the Rams on a bad Nick Foles day and lose close games to Denver and Minnesota.
#27 by Thomas_beardown // Dec 01, 2015 - 10:43pm
I am curious about this and also offensive splits with and without Jeffery.
#24 by gomer_rs // Dec 01, 2015 - 10:32pm
"The offense has fallen apart over three weeks, or basically since Mark Sanchez became the starting quarterback. Last year, the drop from Nick Foles to Sanchez wasn't very big. This year, the drop from Bradford to Sanchez is apparently much bigger, although the difference is bigger in DVOA than yards per play because of opponent adjustments and turnovers."
Is it possible that Kelly made an accurate judgement about the value of Bradford to Foles but the rest of the offense has fallen so far as to be the difference?
I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.
#28 by David C // Dec 01, 2015 - 10:44pm
So the Cowboys are worse this season than they were in the season Wade Phillips got fired. And unlike Wade did, Jason Garrett doesn't have a co-head coach whose really even more responsible than he is whom he can blame. How does a team with that offensive line rank 30th in offense? But something tells me Jason Garrett will keep his job.
#67 by RBroPF // Dec 02, 2015 - 10:29am
The easy answer of course, is Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel. Garrett doesn't have personnel responsibility and the team has given him neither a competent veteran backup, nor a promising prospect to develop. That's on GM Jerry, and based on his recent comments he seems to realize it.
#74 by mehllageman56 // Dec 02, 2015 - 12:00pm
Perhaps he looked at what the Giants have (stability, two recent championships), and noticed that they don't just fire their coaches off one bad year.
#78 by jtr // Dec 02, 2015 - 12:32pm
I also feel like Garrett has been helped by his willingness to keep his head down and let Jerry get all of the attention.
#29 by Thomas_beardown // Dec 01, 2015 - 10:46pm
Since these threads have been Bears coaching love fests so much, check out that 31st special teams rating.
Considering how close the Lions and Broncos games were, average special teams could have been the difference. After finding some impact defenders, fixing special teams needs to be priority 2 this off season.
#55 by MinisterCheevy // Dec 02, 2015 - 9:25am
What happened to their good ST coach from a few years ago? Is he a DC somewhere now?
#66 by Thomas_beardown // Dec 02, 2015 - 10:15am
He left when Lovie was fired and went to KC.
#86 by TomC // Dec 02, 2015 - 2:01pm
In a lateral move. To a team coming off a 2-14 season. He wanted out of Chicago that badly. Apparently he knew something about Trestman and Emery that the rest of us didn't.
#94 by dank067 // Dec 02, 2015 - 2:50pm
Toub actually interviewed for the Bears head coaching job. Makes sense that he didn't stick around after getting passed over.