Week 8 DVOA Ratings
by Aaron Schatz
Even veteran Football Outsiders readers may be scratching their heads when they see that the Philadelphia Eagles are still on top of our DVOA ratings after Sunday night's overtime loss to Dallas. In fact, there's still a big gap between the Eagles and everyone else. Meanwhile, New England -- the team that is pretty much No. 1 in the NFL by acclamation right now -- is still just fourth after an easy win over Buffalo. What is going on here?
Actually, there's a pretty good explanation for both these teams.
First, the Patriots. The easy explanation for why the Patriots are not No. 1 is "Jacoby Brissett." Jimmy Garoppolo was actually reasonable in the Week 1 win over Arizona and then spectacular in his half-game against Miami in Week 2. In fact, if we lowered the minimum to be ranked to 60 passes, Garoppolo would be second in both passing DVOA and ESPN's QBR stat behind only Tom Brady. The Patriots easily have the best offense in the NFL since Brady's return, but they would also have the best offense if we only looked at games started by Brady or Garoppolo:
|New England Offensive DVOA by Starting QB, 2016|
|Weeks||NE DVOA||Best non-NE
|Weeks 1-8 (Starters: Garoppolo, Brissett, Brady)||19.2%||ATL||23.3%|
|Weeks 1-2, 5-8 (Starters: Garoppolo, Brady)||26.9%||ATL||18.1%|
|Weeks 5-8 (Starter: Brady)||32.8%||DAL||28.8%|
However, it's not just offense where the Patriots have gotten better in October. Their defense has also improved significantly. The Patriots' two worst defensive DVOA games were the first two of the season. They had 29.3% defensive DVOA in Weeks 1-2, and only the Colts were worse. However, since Week 3, the Patriots have put up a -6.7% defensive DVOA, which ranks 11th in the league over that time period.
So essentially, this is the Patriots team we've been seeing for the past month: a dominant offense combined with a good defense instead of an average defense. Combine the Brady offense with the defense of Weeks 3-8 and top-ten special teams, and you would get a team with DVOA of 41.9%. That's slightly higher than the rating the Patriots had when they were 8-0 after the first half of last season. If the Patriots continue to play at this level after the bye week, we'll see this Patriots team emerge in Weighted DVOA as those games from early in the season drop in strength over the next few weeks.
As for the Eagles, there are three major issues:
First, the fact that there has been no dominant team over all eight weeks of this season. That means that the Eagles can rank No. 1 overall thanks to the top-rated defense and special teams, despite ranking 23rd in offense.
Second, the power of one or two huge wins. There are only seven games in the Eagles' DVOA rating, and one of them was a 34-3 keelhauling of the Pittsburgh Steelers. With current opponent adjustments, the Eagles get 82.3% DVOA for that game. It's the second-best game of any team this year. (Ironically, the best game came from the Steelers the very next week, when they blew out Kansas City.) The Eagles also have 53.3% DVOA for their 21-10 win over Minnesota last week, because they completely shut down the Vikings' offense. These two wins have a huge amount of weight because they aren't balanced out by any large losses. The Eagles' worst game of the year is -17.3% DVOA in their Week 6 loss to Washington. A one-point loss to Detroit results in DVOA around zero, and they get around 25% for their wins over Cleveland and Chicago as well as Sunday's overtime loss to Dallas. (That game was a huge boost for both teams, as the Eagles come out at 26.6% and the Cowboys at 34.3%.)
Some may argue that this is evidence that our system gives too much weight to a single blowout and should limit the effect of a single game on a team's total rating for the season. However, history has shown us that this method would not be any more predictive of future performance. Everything the Eagles did on that day says as much about what we can expect from the Eagles going forward as everything the Eagles did against Dallas this week.
The third issue for the Eagles is special teams. The Eagles' special teams are phenomenal this year compared to the rest of the league. Philadelphia's special teams DVOA of 9.9% is nearly double that of any other team, with the Rams now second at 5.0%. The Eagles have been strong on both field goals and kickoffs this year, but the biggest reason for this rating is kickoff returns. And this is where we might have a bit of a problem. Kickoff returns this year are weird, because moving the touchback to the 25 has changed strategy far more than the NFL Competition Committee ever expected. The Eagles are the only team to return a kickoff for a touchdown, and they've done it twice. As a result, we estimate their kickoff returns to have a value of 13.9 points worth of field position over average. That's over 10 points ahead of the No. 2 team in kick returns, the New York Giants.
I've changed baselines to try to keep up with changes in kickoffs, both with the move back to the 35 in 2011 and this year's touchback change. However, it's possible that DVOA is giving too much value -- in particular, too much predictive value -- to long kickoff returns, given how rare they have become. Last year, there were nine kickoff returns we scored as being worth over 4 points more than average: seven touchdowns, plus 100-yard returns by Benny Cunningham and Ameer Abdullah that stopped just short of the goal line. This year, there are only two and Philadelphia has them both.
Nonetheless, special teams is not the only reason Philadelphia is No. 1. Even if we gave Philadelphia the same value for kick returns as the second-ranked Giants, the Eagles would still rank second on special teams and they would still have the best overall DVOA in the league. The difference would be in the gap between the Eagles and the five teams currently clustered between second and sixth below them: Dallas, Denver, New England, Atlanta, and Seattle.
Speaking of special teams, we've got to talk a little bit about what's going on with field goal kickers this year. It is really strange.
In general, field goal percentage has gone up gradually throughout NFL history almost every year. There's a bit of an exception recently because 2013 was a really good year, with kickers hitting 86.6 percent of field goals. Kickers were not as good in 2014, but 2014 was still better than 2012, and 2015 was better than 2014.
This year, field goal percentage is down. Kickers are hitting 83.8 percent of field goals this year, compared to 84.5 percent in 2015 and 84.0 percent in 2014. It doesn't look like a big fall, but of course kicking field goals gets harder later in the season in outdoor stadiums. In most years, percentage will drop in the second half of the year.
So here's a look at how field goal percentage has really changed from year-to-year, looking at each half of the season separately. My numbers are slightly different from the NFL's because I've removed aborted attempts with no actual kick.
|NFL Field Goal Rates, Weeks 1-8 vs. 9-17, 2010-2016|
OK, so that's a change. But it's not really that big a change. It certainly seems like the problem with field goals this year is a lot bigger than this. And actually, the issue isn't all the field goals: it's when and where. There's a problem nobody is noticing, and a problem everybody is noticing.
The problem nobody is noticing is that kickers are much worse this year kicking from long distances. That's where most of the drop in field goal percentage comes from. In Weeks 1-8 of the last three seasons, NFL field goal kickers connected on 66 percent of their field goal attempts from 50 or more yards out. This year, that number is just 52 percent. Sebastian Jenikowski on his own has already missed five different attempts of 50 yards or more, including two against Tampa Bay that would have won the game for the Raiders.
[ad placeholder 3]
And that's the other problem: the when. Kickers are horrible this year when it comes to clutch kicks, the field goals that would tie a game or put a team ahead in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter or in overtime. It's been especially ridiculous the last two weeks. In Weeks 7 and 8, there were six different misses on game-winning field goals. For the year, kickers are 15-of-25 on these field goals (60 percent). By comparison, kickers hit 38-of-53 on these kicks in 2015 (72 percent) including 19-of-22 in Weeks 1-8 (86 percent). In 2014, kickers hit 29-of-39 clutch field goals (74 percent) including 21-of-26 in Weeks 1-8 (81 percent). So we all think there's a huge problem with field goal kicking because we've all been paying attention to a lot of very high-profile misses, but we haven't noticed all the 35-yard field goals that are still getting hit as usual in the first quarter of games. It also doesn't help that there are a couple of high-profile kickers having very public inconsistency issues, primarily Stephen Gostkowski of the Patriots and Blair Walsh of the Vikings.
So what's going on? I have no idea. I'm certainly not an expert on the technical aspects of field goal kicking, and I couldn't watch film of Gostkowski and Walsh and Janikowski and figure out if they have some problem in common. If there's something going around, it certainly isn't affecting Adam Vinatieri and Justin Tucker, who are each worth more than 10 points over an average kicker this year even after adjusting for Vinatieri kicking indoors. (Greg Zuerlein also hasn't missed this year, but the Rams haven't given him much opportunity.) It all could be just random variation. But it's really strange.
One last special teams note, because this is the kind of weirdness I find interesting: we've now had back-to-back weeks with an aborted punt fumbled by the punter, but picked up and run not just for positive yardage but for a first-down conversion. Marquette King of Oakland did it in Week 7, and Colton Schmidt of Buffalo in Week 8. The odds of these plays happening in back-to-back weeks are astronomical. I went back through our play-by-play files and there had not been an aborted punt-turned-first down in a dozen years. In 2008, the Seahawks had a punt blocked but picked it up and ran for a first down, which is sort of similar but not quite the same. But for an aborted punt-turned-first down, you have to go all the way back to Brian Moorman of Buffalo against the Patriots in Week 4 of 2004. To have these plays now happen in back-to-back weeks is just crazy. An equally crazy coincidence: two of the last three plays of this type involved a Buffalo punter against New England.
(Correction! A commenter found one of these plays that we missed, by Green Bay's Tim Masthay in Week 11 of 2011. So that's four of them in the last 13 years.)
And for those asking, I have absolutely no idea what to do with these plays in DVOA. Aborted punts count in special teams as negative plays, but these aren't negative plays. Fake punts count in the run/pass stats, but those are planned runs and passes, and these were supposed to be punts. Are these bad plays because the punt snap was fumbled, or good snaps because the punter somehow got a first down without getting tackled? For now, I'm just leaving them out entirely.
* * * * *
Once again this season, we have teamed up with EA Sports to bring Football Outsiders-branded player content to Madden 17 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, beginning at 11am Eastern on Friday. We will also tweet out images of these players from the @fboutsiders Twitter account on most Fridays. The best player of each week, the Football Outsiders Hero, will require you to collect a set of the other four Football Outsiders players that week, plus a certain number of Football Outsiders collectibles available in Madden Ultimate Team packs.
The Football Outsiders stars for Week 8 are:
- WR Amari Cooper, OAK (FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS HERO): Led all Week 8 WR with 64 DYAR (12-for-15, 173 yards, TD, plus a 31-yard gain on DPI).
- CB A.J. Bouye, HOU: Allowed 2.9 yards per pass with 67 percent coverage success rate, primarily against Marvin Jones.
- RE Adrian Clayborn, ATL: Two third-down sacks, run stuff on second-and-3.
- QB Kirk Cousins, WAS: Second among Week 8 QB with 164 DYAR (38-for-56, 458 yards, 2 TD, INT).
- LG Andrus Peat, NO: Saints RB had 9 carries, 70 yards and 67 percent success rate on runs to the left.
* * * * *
All stats pages are now updated through Week 8 of 2016. Snap counts, playoff odds, and the premium DVOA database are also fully updated. This week, we say goodbye to DAVE, our method which combines 2016 performance with our preseason projections. All numbers listed below represent 2016 only. However, for one more week, I did use a light version of DAVE for the playoff odds simulation. The ratings used for playoff odds consist mostly of Weighted DVOA, with a small amount of preseason forecast still included: five percent for teams that have played eight games, and nine percent for teams that have played seven games.
* * * * *
[ad placeholder 4]
These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through eight weeks of 2016, 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 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. Because it is early in the season, opponent adjustments are only at 80 percent strength; they will increase 10 percent every week through Week 10. 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).
98 comments, Last at 06 Nov 2016, 12:42pm
#1 by TanGeng // Nov 01, 2016 - 7:19pm
How often do you see the top 2 DVOA teams play each other and the bottom 2 DVOA teams play each other?
I guess in this case DAL and PHI ended up 1 & 2 instead of starting out so. But regardless, while the 1 vs 2 DVOA adjustments were interesting, how poor of a mark did Brown and Jets finish with; it had to have been ugly.
#3 by DezBailey // Nov 01, 2016 - 7:48pm
Week 8 BES Rankings are out - http://besreport.com/week-8-bes-rankings-2016/
Big disagreement here between DVOA and the BES on the No. 1 team as the BES ranks the Eagles 14th after losing three of their last four, including two losses in the division. BES still holds the Vikes at No. 1 by the skin of their teeth over the Cowboys at No. 2 and Pats at No. 3. The BES is still showing love for the Vikes dominant 5-0 start but that love is quickly fading and shifting toward Dallas and New England.
Other than that, the BES and DVOA still basically agree on who the top-10 teams are except for Philly and Oakland who the BES has ranked 6th Overall. In fact, the Broncos, Raiders and Chiefs are 5th, 6th and 7th in the BES respectively. How about that AFC West!! WOW!
Good stuff by DVOA as always!
#4 by Astutefootball // Nov 01, 2016 - 10:44pm
Why isn't Josh McDaniels getting smothered in accolades? Dude makes an offense hum, regardless of the man at its head, especially when he doesn't have to fret about the defense losing games. I mean, Brady's great, but the offense was still working without him or Gronk for awhile, and it's not because Brissett/Garappolo are top shelf talents.
#6 by RickD // Nov 01, 2016 - 11:18pm
Garoppolo is a top shelf talent. He'll be a starter soon.
Why isn't McDaniels getting smothered in accolades? Probably because people remember his HC gig in Denver.
Yes, I agree he should be getting more credit, but people have gotten used to the Pats' offense steamrolling people and kind of take it for granted. As we saw in the loss to the Bills, it may look easy, but that doesn't mean that it is easy.
#8 by theslothook // Nov 02, 2016 - 1:06am
How many pats coaches have flamed out vs succeeded? I hear crickets to this question. I think if it anything has been established its that BB and Brady are irreplaceable and everything and everyone else should be questioned very sternly.
Its another reason I consider BB the best coaching in any sport(america) ever.
#62 by poplar cove // Nov 02, 2016 - 10:25pm
Don't fool yourself into believing that just because of 3 games. All you have to do is look at the fact that Bill Belichick is 52-61 as an NFL head coach in games that Tom Brady wasn't his starting quarterback (before this year). Over 7 years of data including taking a Browns organization that had 4 out of 5 winning years before him in just one out of five with him.
#70 by Lyford // Nov 03, 2016 - 6:08am
"a Browns organization that had 4 out of 5 winning years before him in just one out of five with him."
Wow, is THAT dishonest (while being technically true)...
That five year period before he took over saw the Browns finish with a worse record every year, culminating in a 3-13 performance the year before he got there, in which they went through 2 head coaches and were outscored by 234 points. (Not much resemblance to that 12-4 team five years earlier that you're including in that comment.) He built a team that got better every year, a physical and disciplined team that went 11-5 and beat the Bledsoe-Parcells Patriots in the playoffs in '94. And they were off to a decent start in '95 when Modell announced that the team was moving from Cleveland to Baltimore, and the season cratered.
Obviously, he learned from his Cleveland experience, and certainly Brady covers a multitude of sins, but the idea that his tenure in Cleveland was a disaster is just not accurate...
#77 by poplar cove // Nov 03, 2016 - 12:32pm
I brought up the Browns because there's this belief the only reason he failed there was because he took over 'the loser Browns' which wasn't the case at all. In fact just two seasons before he got there the Browns were ranked 2nd overall in dvoa in 1989. Also of note, he took over a New England Patriots franchise that had four straight .500 or better seasons when he was hired and he started off with a 5-12 record in his first 17 games as their head coach. Then everything completey changed for him in his next game as it was that exact moment we can all point to where he went from being this guy averaging nearly double digit losses per year over 6 years as an NFL head coach into someone who is now considered a living legend, a genius who'd win basically win with any players, etc.......oh by the way that next game was obviously the first start of Tom Brady's NFL career.
I'm not saying the guy is inept or he's not done a good job either but his career regular season record is nearly identical to the 5 or so head coaches who combined to coach Peyton Manning (especially when you throw out Manning's rookie year which was basically a throwaway season for most teams back in that era). There seems to be this huge growing sentiment now that he's such a great head coach that he'd still win at high levels even without Brady as his qb which is the point I've been arguing against and I've got a large 100 game sample size in my corner. The public is fascinated with head coaches in all sports as most believe theyre the biggest reason for a teams success which is something i don't agree with. This is a players game and no player is more important then the quarterback in the NFL. In the end I'm of the belief that Tom Brady would have been fine without Bill Belichick just like Peyton Manning, he would have still won a large majority of his games while there's lots of numbers showing you can't say the same thing about Belichick.
#79 by Anon Ymous // Nov 03, 2016 - 1:44pm
"I brought up the Browns because there's this belief the only reason he failed there was because he took over 'the loser Browns' which wasn't the case at all.
Based on everything I've read, Lyford's description of that team is more accurate than yours. Cleveland was legitimately terrible the year before Bill arrived and much of the success you try to bring into the sample was with declining players he wasn't able to benefit from.
About a decade ago, I stumbled across a Cleveland blog that did a 6 or 7 part series on why Belichick's time with the Browns was more impressive than the win/loss record implies. It was genuinely eye opening, even for someone inclined to see Bill in the most positive light. The writer broke down in great detail how bereft of talent the Browns were, and how quickly Bill reconstructed a top 3 defense.
Not that it was perfect, of course. The offense didn't develop as rapidly and some draft whiffs were ghastly (Touchdown Tommy Vardell comes to mind). Bill's disregard for outside opinion, notably cutting Kosar and the adversarial relationship with the media, really colored people's perception of Bill, something he now wishes he had done more to combat.
I've tried unsuccessfully to find that article again a few times over the years, but either it was removed or too much stuff has piled on top.
The truth is, as usual, in the middle. While it is fair to wonder how Bill would have done had Brady not come along, it is also fair to point out that your "100 game sample" is not as convincing as you claim.
Incidentally, another thing I learned from the article is that Bill's final year wasn't solely marred by the move. Despite high expectations, the Browns were only 3-3 when Model made his announcement. Just mentioning that to say that the writer was comprehensive in his analysis and not just trying to reframe those years in light of Belichick's subsequent success.
#86 by RobotBoy // Nov 04, 2016 - 8:45am
Pete Carroll talks about how his tenure in NE was especially difficult because he wasn't allowed to draft the players that would fit his system. He says that led him to wait until he was offered the ideal situation (the NCAA penalties might have played a certain role as well). I'm not sure of the level of Belichick's influence on Browns' drafts but it certainly wasn't what he he's had in NE. That makes it difficult to point to his Cleveland tenure as 'proof' Brady made him as a coach. That said, the Patriots' mantra of playing whoever they think is best, regardless of history or draft position, is certainly not an empty boast. Belichick kept an extra QB on the roster, and didn't flinch over nailing Bledsoe on the bench. Not every coach makes those decisions.
Has FO been able to do analytic work on coaching performance, added wins expected, etc? It seems like an impossible task. Every new HC walks into a completely different situation with different personnel, and there are too few HC's to provide a significant amount of raw data.
The Belichick-Brady conundrum leads to two constant, contradictory assertions: 'Brady is a system QB! Look at Matt Cassell!' and 'Belichick would be nothing without Brady! Look at Cleveland!'
#88 by Raiderjoe // Nov 04, 2016 - 11:34am
all thongs considered, think B. Belichick pretty good job in celveland. Sging team when took oeverr. B. Carson had made it kind of stink. Belichick helped make tema good. Got to playoff with V. testaverde. Beat Pates. Had to make riough but correct decision to can B. Kosar. Craxy cleevaldn fans went ape &%^!. 1995 season total team meltdown for obvious reason out of Belichick's control.
Belichick later had success assisting on 1996 Pates a nd then with Jets 1997-99. Then leaves Jets beucuase nervous about new owner W. Johnson and also having to work under B. parcells. so leaves and goes back to Pates. wins several super bowls. does reasonably well even when Soft balls Tom Bardy does not play (10-5 with m. cassel starting 2008), 2-0 with J,. garrplo and 1-1 with J. brissett. so that is 13-6 when Brayd is out. That is pretty good record.
Soft Balls T. Bardy great quayreback. if anyone thinks he is not, then that guy is drunk or has agenda. Now, what will say is P. manning might be bettr bejhcuause when he out, Clots went into toilet. When Brayd has been oput, Pates still compete pretty good and win although not as in as much dominant fashion,.
#92 by theslothook // Nov 04, 2016 - 1:39pm
Since any praise heaped at Belichick means a ding at Brady(and vice versa) - I feel compelled to address both. But let's do it separately.
Having done draft analysis, I'm pretty convinced that drafting is very much a luck based endeavor with skills displayed at the margins(ie - finding solid depth). And since I've seen so many so called good coaches get fired 5 years later, I'm pretty skeptical about the value of coaching in general. That said, there are reasons I concluded that BB is worth multiple first rounders for. For starters, consider the draft. The pats have had the misfortune(fortune?) of drafting late every year because they are so good. That means you never get a chance to draft a very highly rated player at the top of the draft. On top of that, they were dealt heavy blows of having two first rounders and some draft change stripped from them for controversies. Fair or unfair, this should have been a severe hamstring to the pats. Yet they are still good. Even for teams with great qbs, you need supporting talent and the patriots aren't exactly hurting for talent.
There are other things. Leaving aside this season sans brady or the cassel years, the pats do a few things well seemingly in perpetuity that are almost unheard. First - their almost decade long success running the football. Having done regressions in the past, strong pass games don't necessarily correlate with strong run games. In fact, run games tend to be pretty volatile year to year. That the pats manage to keep a strong run game consistent throughout time is amazing and probably the least talked about aspect of the patriots. This also goes on the backdrop of their near consistent special teams. Given how special teams is so volatile, its remarkable how well they do there as well.
Its also the strategic innovations and general offensive line discontinuity. People can point to the high draft pedigree on their o lines, but they've fielded remarkably consistent and effective o lines even when said high draft picks have been injured. It took a comic level injury rash to finally reach the breaking point last year. No doubt Brady helps this line a ton. No doubt. But their consistency in the run game and general quality of play over the years is another amazing fact about them.
Now - are these a function of Belichick? I can't say for sure, but we've seen coordinators and front office people leave but the machine keeps moving as if they never left. And the underlings tend to fail so there's at least some circumstantial evidence to point to Belichick being the primary cog in this machine.
Now to Brady. The extreme view that Brady is a slightly above average qb made better by a system is wrong. If it really were true, then BB would be the firs to kick Brady to the curb and go with a cheaper player. That he isn't speaks volumes. Also you can just watch Brady. He's got so many high quality traits that its a waste of time to list them all year.
The real question is - would he be the same player if he were in a different scheme/coaching regime. This is the right question to ask - not is he or isn't he an overrated player.
I'll admit, this is a supremely difficult question and probably unanswerable given the likelihood that Brady will retire with the Patriots. If you ask my opinion(and I admit, I'll be the first to say its just a hunch) - I think he would look worse. Not enough to make him look like an ordinary player. But I think he'd feel maybe a 10 percent to 20 percent max knockoff from his main statistics. The reason i say this is because the patriots are able to scheme certain advantages in ways that other teams cannot for some reason. Greg Cosell mentioned once how often the patriots get their first read open. Happily, the interviewer asked...how??? And greg replied - with every trick in the book. Splits, motions, no huddle, multiple formations, bunch personnel and a very fluid scheme. And of course - Gronk. My research into yac suggests yac is not a qb thing but a receiver scheme thing. If you took Brady and put him on the Rams, i do not believe they could replicate these specific qualities.
So there's my detailed answer.
#93 by Raiderjoe // Nov 04, 2016 - 3:43pm
Did not go oevbr your post with fine-toothef comb (beucuase am at work; with limited free time for this) but skimmimng it, it looks pretyuy good.
personally, do not root for Pates and therefore, do not eroot for belichick or bardy either. however, am man enough to say both are great. Not sure why people on internet watn to denigrate one of them of both of them,
so I just came into this thread earlier today to wrikte some good stuff on b oth of them. just general stuff not in response to any particular posters
#98 by CaffeineMan // Nov 06, 2016 - 12:42pm
Thanks for the detailed answer theslothook. I think you separate things out as well as can reasonably be done, given how intertwined coach/team/player performance is with 22 guys on the field with a funny shaped ball for 60 minutes of chaos. Often Coach-vs-QB just results in a whack-a-mole game due to oversimplification.
#91 by dryheat // Nov 04, 2016 - 1:00pm
It simply comes down to how much patience the owner/GM have. It goes without saying that the only reason Belichick's predecessors were fired was because the team was clearly moving in the wrong direction, even if they hadn't reached bottom yet. Both the Browns and Patriots had successive years when they were winning fewer games than the prior year and made the change.
Belichick's approach to both was the same -- hastening the re-build by tearing down the team and ridding themselves of anybody who wasn't going to be part of the answer going forward, focusing on the draft, and signing players to fill in around the edges while those players developed. Additionally, in New England, there was a lot of Cap fluff he had to pare while rejuvenating the roster as previous GM Grier had a nasty habit of locking up their own average players with long-term contracts. Bob Kraft was patient enough to let Belichick execute his stragegy. The 1st Super Bowl was largely an accident of good fortune, but the result bought him any time he needed that Kraft may not have been inclined to give him. In Cleveland, the decision was made to start fresh in Baltimore. If negotiations to re-locate were kept secret, as the Colts were back in the early 80s, the Browns probably would have been a playoff team again in their last year in Cleveland. Let's not forget that that Browns team won the Super Bowl in a couple of years as the Ravens.
The "A Football Life" or "30 for 30" story on Belichick and the Browns was great viewing.
#9 by The Hypno-Toad // Nov 02, 2016 - 1:25am
TL;DR: Josh McDaniels=good at his job. His tenure in Denver=Bad (probably not really all his fault, but substantially his fault). All-time great qb's make Offensive Coordinators look good.
Before I go all burned denver fan, I want to make a couple things clear: I think McDaniels is a well above average offensive coordinator. I think the biggest failure of his time with Denver belongs to Pat Bowlen for granting him personnel control. I think he has absolutely benefitted from a position where he's caught a lot of shine from "coaching" a guy who might be the best quarterback ever to play the game.
As someone who sat through the McDaniels year and a half in Denver as a season ticket holder (so clearly not an objective observer), I completely agree with the"Probably because people remember his HC gig in Denver."
And I think it might even be more specific than that, I think people remember his time as the decision maker in Denver. His tenure (in a purely offensive ranking sort of way) wasn't a complete disaster. I think the Broncos weighed in at about league average in DVOA with Kyle Orton substantially running the show (please, God let that be in the neighborhood of accurate) I don't think that does a great job of capturing the drudgery that was watching his teams after week 6 of the 2009 season, but I can't argue with the DVOA. And while he doesn't deserve the blame for being granted full roster control of the Broncos, he was given that control and despite a couple of nice hits in the draft (Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and David Bruton, most notably) as far as I can tell, the only players who were with the Broncos past their first contract were Bruton and Demaryius. And the pickings of people who wound up on another contract anywhere seem very slim. In 19 picks made (not counting picks traded away in packages), it seems like it would be on the generous side to say that his regime selected 6 actual NFL players (Moreno, Robert Ayers(?) Bruton, Thomas, Decker, and I dunno, take your pick, Zane Beadles or Perrish Cox?). And that's without discussing the draft capital wasted on trading a 2010 first round pick to select Alphonso Smith in the second round of 2009 and then trading him for a lesser Gronkowski (who might have made the regular season roster? who knows at this point) the following year, essentially without watching Smith play in a regular season game. I don't really want to get into the three picks that he set on fire to acquire Tebow, But his head coaching legacy will be at least partially tied to that decision until he gets his next chance. He'll get another chance if he wants it, but it's possible that he's just built to be a coordinator, a la Wade Phillips or Rex Ryan. And it's possible he's wise enough to have realized that, a la Wade Phillips.
#10 by tunesmith // Nov 02, 2016 - 2:49am
One under-appreciated bit about McDaniels is that he was left with a complete house of cards in terms of personnel. Shanahan had really hollowed it out with aging veterans and untalented role players. If you look at the names of the players that were released, you don't see much in terms of them finding success elsewhere. The offensive line was in particularly bad shape in terms of aging/retirements. JD Walton had some bad injury luck but was scoring pretty well beforehand. Zane Beadles actually made a pro bowl.
This isn't to defend McDs other choices, but when you inherit a team that is basically guaranteed to be worse a year later, it's not an enviable position to be in.
#18 by TimK // Nov 02, 2016 - 9:07am
A lot of the problems McDaniels had seemed to come across as 'personality' as much as 'personnel'. He seemed to alienate a lot of people and didn't handle himself in a great manner either. He seems to have learned something from the experience, though I find myself wondering if he might be most likely to be the coach to take over from Bill B in New England rather than try somewhere else.
The roster did need restocking, and a case could be made that the trades of Cutler & Marshall were a sensible way to get more ammunition for drafting, but the draft picks were spent in strange ways (trading down and then back up and generally seeming to be all over the place).
Interestingly John Elway seems to have learned more from Bill Belichick (and Ozzie Newsome) than McDaniels did, in that he seems to be playing the draft picks game fairly well, and using the benefits of compensatory picks to keep a core of young, cheap, role-players and picking and choosing who gets serious money renewals. (Yes, the Broncos do miss Malik Jackson on the DL, but they got Wolfe for considerably less, and could bring in some cheap vets and new young players to try to fill the gaps).
McDaniels perhaps was too eager to prove himself by making big waves in his first head coaching job?
#27 by MilkmanDanimal // Nov 02, 2016 - 10:33am
I am somewhat curious to see if, in the future, McDaniels gets another head coaching gig and takes things a little more . . . humbly? Not sure what the right word is there. Who knows, he could be Norv 2.0, a guy who's just a better fit as a coordinator than HC.
#66 by The Hypno-Toad // Nov 03, 2016 - 1:50am
That's definitely an interesting point. Lost in the discussion of how badly his tenure with Denver went is just what an arrogant dick he was through basically the whole process. Even having been one of his more committed detractors among Bronco fans, I try to give him the benefit of the doubt on that. He was absurdly young, trained by one of the least outgoing coaches in the NFL, in way over his head on the personnel side of things and had the monkey's paw sort of wish fulfillment of winning his first six games, making the inevitable reversion to "team with a a first year coach and Kyle Orton" all the harder to stomach... Which led to more pointed questions from the media, which led to him being more defensive and unpleasant.
The thing I hope he learned best is that you will almost certainly get caught if you try to tape another team's practice in the modern NFL. Ugh. What a barrel of embarassment that time was.
#43 by deflated // Nov 02, 2016 - 1:07pm
Disagree, McDaniels inherited a roster with enough assets to be useful and made it significantly worse. Brandon Marshall, Cutler, Royal, Dumerville, Clady, Champ all had great value; some decent lesser lights like Harris, DJ Williams, Kuper, Stokley, Dre' Bly.
That was a .500 team with a flawed construction but some high end talent (as shown by the value in the McD trades if not his results). McD's only apparent draft skill was identifying WRs; as he had to give up an all-pro at WR in his draft maneuverings to get DT and Decker color me unimpressed.
I'd actually argue that McD inherited a team that was ripe for the kind of mid-round restocking/reloading that the Pats and Ravens have lived off for years; good/great young offence, very uneven defense. Instead he sold the farm for high draft picks and massively failed with them. Spectacularly bad asset management.
#67 by The Hypno-Toad // Nov 03, 2016 - 2:01am
Yeah... That 2006 draft could have been something pretty special for the Broncos, had they decided to keep any of those players: Cutler, Scheffler, Dumervil, Marshall and Kuper were all solid or better choices. Plus Domenik Hixon and Greg Eslinger both made the active roster as rookies as I recall, and Hixon actually went on to be a pretty valuable piece for the Giants, maybe?
#68 by theslothook // Nov 03, 2016 - 2:37am
Which makes the resurgence of the Broncos after that collapse all the more amazing. Sure, Peyton Manning elevated a lot of the roster, but by 2014, they were arguably the most talented roster in football and could have been one of the all time greats if Manning didn't completely fall apart in 2015.
#84 by The Hypno-Toad // Nov 04, 2016 - 12:41am
Very true. It was pretty remarkable to watch. I think the shift from 2013 to 2015 might have been more impressive to me than the shift from 2010 to 2013. As great as it was to go from a 4 win team in 2010 to a fluky playoff appearance and win in 2011 to a first round bye for the 2012 playoffs, followed by a Super Bowl appearance after 2013, there was something really satisfying about watching the team be completely remade and redefined on the fly, with everything coming together just in the knick of time to cover for Manning's total end-of career collapse.
Every once in a while, I think about the fact that Peyton Manning elected to finish his career with the Broncos, and that it actually ended in a Super Bowl victory... I wish I could go back and visit 2009 Hypno-Toad and tell him, "Everything will be okay. Not just okay, but wonderful, actually. However, these next couple years will be unpleasant and weird. So buckle up."
#14 by Aaron Brooks G… // Nov 02, 2016 - 8:46am
Garoppolo is a top shelf talent. He'll be a starter soon.
The second is almost certainly true. The first is more dubious.
Garoppolo's performance was similar to Matt Cassel's in 2008. I think the consensus around here is that Cassel was more well than top shelf.
#32 by ncuba // Nov 02, 2016 - 11:03am
Garopp this year has DVOA 48.1%, QBR 92.1
Cassel in 2008 had DVOA 1.1%, QBR 63.2
One might argue about making the comparison in the first place but I don't know how one makes it and decides these guys performed similarly.
#41 by RBroPF // Nov 02, 2016 - 12:35pm
Yes, and Cassel was considerably worse in his first few games and got better with more game experience.
Now it's obviously possible that Garoppolo's game and half were a fluke, but if that's actually his starting point and he grows from there with game experience, then he's absolutely a top-shelf talent.
#53 by Bright Blue Shorts // Nov 02, 2016 - 2:37pm
Let's not forget that Cassel hadn't been a starter since high school.
He spent college backing up Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart and then three years backing up Brady. Apart from the occasional mop up drive and a few preseason outings, he didn't play for about seven years!
#11 by Bright Blue Shorts // Nov 02, 2016 - 4:28am
As a golfer, I read a lot up on the psychology side. With putting - it's all about having confidence. You practice with lots of short, easy putts to give your mind the image of seeing the ball go in the hole over and over again. But with long putts, you practice with a non-descript target e.g. putting to the opposite side of the green and just getting the length right.
It's quite possible that a lot of the kickers, Gostokowski being the obvious one, have had their confidence shaken by no longer seeing the easy extra points go through over and over.
The other theory being bandied around about kickers is that doing mortar kickoffs is affecting their FGs. It's obviously a possibility.
#13 by panthersnbraves // Nov 02, 2016 - 8:34am
The Panther's Kicker Gano seems to be missing more, but someone did the stats and his percentage is right in line with his historical numbers and the same as Kasay... I guess they are also falling into that 'clutch miss' category...
#55 by Richie // Nov 02, 2016 - 3:16pm
"Ageless Adam" Vinatieri has already set a career high this season with 5 field goals made of 50+ yards.
In fact, Vinatieri never made more than two 50+ yarders in a season before turning 40. Since turning 40 he is averaging four 50-yarders per season.
#97 by Sleet // Nov 05, 2016 - 9:52am
Somebody drug test that guy. While he's always been accurate and clutch (save when he kicked against NE), I recall that the Colts wouldn't even try a 50+ yard FG with him. Now at, what, age 50 he's kicking the ball longer than ever? He's having a Bond and Clemons like resurgence. Not buying it, yet nobody's writing it. Maybe my recollection is wrong. Maybe he had leg issues after he left NE. But he's been ridiculous early this year.
#20 by InTheBoilerRoom // Nov 02, 2016 - 9:28am
I read it as Aaron is using the term "clutch" to describe the in-game scenario, not the abilities of the kickers in said scenario. Subtle distinction, there. Perhaps the term "high leverage" should have been used, but I think his point was made without attributing "clutchness" to kickers, per se.
#22 by Eddo // Nov 02, 2016 - 10:05am
Generally, among analysts of all sports, the "company line" is that "clutch" is not a skill that individual players have. That is not to say that "clutch" plays or "clutch" situations don't exist - they absolutely do, in this case, as game-winning field goals.
#24 by Bright Blue Shorts // Nov 02, 2016 - 10:15am
"Clutch" is generally thought of the wrong way round. It's usually seen as the person who ups their game when the going gets tough.
It's actually the ability to continue to play at your normal level when the situation gets stressful. Non-clutch people tighten up and start to perform worse.
#31 by Bright Blue Shorts // Nov 02, 2016 - 10:55am
I don't watch baseball so it's not helping.
If you mean that everybody tightens up then yes, that's true to an extent. The question is how much? Maybe Adam Vinatieri tightens up 5% while Gary Anderson tightens up 10% and Chandler Cantazero is 20% (numbers are illustrative not actual).
In professional sports there is an element of "survivor bias" that means most of the guys reaching that level have decent coping skills under pressure.
#36 by Noahrk // Nov 02, 2016 - 11:36am
Maybe with kickers, but I'm not sure about other positions. If you made the same assumption about athletic ability, there's a lot of guys who aren't great athletes and get by on good technique and smarts. As far as athleticism itself, some guys are bigger, others stronger and yet others faster. I would assume the distribution of psychological makeup is somewhat similar.
#37 by Thomas_beardown // Nov 02, 2016 - 11:39am
That's the thing though. Every NFL receiver is fast, there are still differences in speed between them, but there's none that are actually slow. It's a skewed distribution.
Excepting possibly Big Mike Williams.
#19 by BobbyDazzler // Nov 02, 2016 - 9:11am
Correction needed regarding the aborted punt section - Steve Weatherford of the Saints ran for a first down on a 4th & 4 against the Panthers in week 5 of the 2007 season.
He also did it against the Eagles in the wildcard playoffs after the 2006 season, although I realise DVOA doesn't take the playoffs into account.
#25 by Paul R // Nov 02, 2016 - 10:28am
I've been a loyal follower of this site for many years now. I'm totally inept when it comes to the science of statistics, but I'm a fan. It's great fun to watch the expert statisticians tinker with the DVOA metric, refining it, making small changes with the goal of being the best possible mechanism for finding the best teams.
It's funny that every year, further adjustments are made and, every year, there comes a time when the statistical model produces a result that makes everyone go, "Whoops. How did that team wind up at number one?" And then the memos start flying about what could possibly have gone wrong.
It's like watching a team of brilliant NASA scientists constructing a rocket to Mars, and then when the LAUNCH button is pressed, the damn thing lands in Philadelphia.
It's always Philadelphia.
#28 by MilkmanDanimal // Nov 02, 2016 - 10:34am
You know, the best way to handle the accuracy issues kickers are having this year would be to start drafting them higher, like, say, in the second-round. Heck, even trade up to do that. I mean, that makes sense, right?
*sets self on fire*
#30 by CoachMouse // Nov 02, 2016 - 10:45am
Regarding the aborted punts, and the last being in 2004: how do you classify this one from Tim Mastay in November 2011?
#49 by Aaron Brooks G… // Nov 02, 2016 - 1:48pm
How was this one scored?
That one was worth about 5 points in EPA.
He had a rushing DYAR of 11 that day, but he had two other rushes.
#96 by Aaron Schatz // Nov 04, 2016 - 10:34pm
If a QB fumbles the snap and then picks it up to run, I give credit for the rushing yardage and a penalty for the fumble. Special teams works differently, which is why there is an issue. The punt values assume that one of three things happens: 1) the other team gets possession after a punt which can have its value measured; 2) the other team fumbles the ball away but after an actual punt which can have its value measured; 3) an aborted or blocked punt results in the other team getting possession without a punt. I'm not sure what to do with "punting team gets a new set of downs." It might be different if someday I incorporate fake punts/FG into special teams instead of measuring them as pass/run plays.
#48 by Richie // Nov 02, 2016 - 1:48pm
FWIW, I use the DAVE/Weighted DVOA rankings for a confidence pool I play in. (We pick the games straight up, but I give a weight of 16 to the game I'm most confident in, down to 1 point for the least confident.) I use the DVOA differential between teams to calculate my confidence rankings.
Through 8 games in 2014, DVOA was picking winners at a 60% rate (again, straight up).
Last year through 8 games was 60%.
This year, DVOA is at 54%.
In 2014, I scored an average of 84 confidence points per week.
2015 was 93 points per week.
This year only 78 points per week.
#58 by Richie // Nov 02, 2016 - 4:47pm
Surely somebody has tried to quantify the scheduling advantage New England has had over the past 15 years. They've been given a couple of mediocre challenges by the Jets and Dolphins over the years, but mostly they've realistically wrapped up their division by November in most seasons.
It's pretty fascinating that from 2001-2016, the Patriots are 68 games better than 2nd place (the Jets).
During that span the Colts are 47 games better than anybody in their division, but each of the other 3 teams has put together a run or two in there and they didn't win their division in 6 of those seasons.
AFC East, AFC South and NFC West are the only divisions with only 1 team at .500 or above during that span.
#59 by Rick_and_Roll // Nov 02, 2016 - 5:15pm
In the Brady/Belichick era the best QB they've had in their division is probably Chad Pennington... Can anyone think of anyone better?
By and large, the AFCE hasn't had many awful teams, but they haven't had many that can compete with them either.
#61 by Bright Blue Shorts // Nov 02, 2016 - 5:43pm
Drew Bledsoe was in Buffalo in 2002-04 :-)
Beyond that if my memory doesn't fail me ...
- Miami had Jay Fiedler, Brian Griese, Daunte Culpepper, someone running the wildcat, Lemon, some Philadelphia backups that cost them 2nd round picks, Tannehill ...
- The Bill had Trent Edwards, JP Losman ... some guys in between ... Tyrod Taylor, EJ Manuel ... Ryan Fitzpatrick ... possibly another journeyman who'd played for six teams and retired a year or two ago ...
- The Jets mainly had Pennington, Favre, Sanchez, Michael Vick, Geno and Fitzpatrick
I have no idea how I know all that
#69 by Vincent Verhei // Nov 03, 2016 - 4:12am
To be fair, it's hardly any different than the scheduling advantage the 49ers enjoyed in the 1980s. Playing in the four-team NFC West the 49ers got to play two games each against the Rams (usually a mediocre kind of good), Falcons (almost always terrible), and Saints (almost always terrible), plus one game against the last-place teams from the NFC Central and East the year before. That usually meant a 6-2 or 7-1 record before they even got to the "rotating" part of their schedule.
#81 by Richie // Nov 03, 2016 - 3:45pm
True, but the Rams were far more useful from 1983-89 than anything the AFC East has done. The Rams made the playoffs 6 times and won 10+ games 5 times.
But they couldn't beat the 49ers, only going 5-9. Then they got blown out by SF in the 89 championship game, and that was the end of the LOS ANGELES Rams being relevant for 27 years.
#71 by nat // Nov 03, 2016 - 6:34am
Well, it's hard to be over .500 when you have to play the Patriots.
If you remove the Patriots games, then the Jets are 8 games over .500 since 2001. The non-NE teams of the AFC East are .482. That's pretty near average, as you would expect over that many years. It's only playing the Patriots that make them look weak.
Basically, we're saying that if you select the three worst teams in a division over a 16 year span, they are slightly worse than .500. Ho, flipping, hum.
#72 by nat // Nov 03, 2016 - 9:58am
The Patriots have benefited from playing 6+ games against other AFC East teams...
Patriots since 2002: 0.767
Patriots vs. AFC East: 0.770
"Extra wins" from "weak division": 0.003 x 87 = 0.26 wins in 15 seasons.
Huh. About as close to zero as you can get. Some "benefit".
Then I looked at the team in each division with the best 2002-2016 record.
By similar calculations, those teams with the most "extra wins" from feasting on their own "weak division" are the Colts (0.081 x 87 = 7.05) and the Packers (0.069 x 87 = 6.00). The "toughest" division is the NFC East, where the Eagles' did slightly (0.001) worse against their own division than the league as a whole. The AFC East was the second "toughest" by this measure of "feasting".
Because these good teams had schedules tilted toward tougher opponents (in two games each year by the scheduling rules), it's no surprise that their average "feasting benefit" was 0.034 x 87 = 2.96. Unless a team was "feasting" by more than 3 games, they weren't really feasting at all.
Who does that mean was actually benefiting from "feasting" on weak divisions 2002-2016?
Colts: 7-3 = 4 extra wins over expected
Who had tough pickings in their division?
Eagles: 3-0 = 3 extra losses over expected
1) This is a very small effect.
2) If anyone, it's the Colts who benefited.
3) The Eagles and the Patriots benefited the least.
4) Quit yer whining.
#73 by Bright Blue Shorts // Nov 03, 2016 - 10:28am
Yup ... I don't get what the "benefiting from a weak division" argument is about.
I don't see anyone stepping up and benefiting from the debacle that is currently the AFC South.
You have to be good enough in the first place to take advantage.
#87 by nat // Nov 04, 2016 - 11:22am
Yes. The "Feasting on Weak Division" extra wins are all about 2011 and on. Before that, there isn't evidence of the W-L record getting a boost from a weak division.
Before you get too excited as a Manning-era Colts fan, the same cannot be said for passing stats. 2002-2010, the AFC South was quite weak at passing defense. Houston was especially bad, ranking in the worst four pass defenses (by DVOA) five of nine years.
Manning's passer rating against division opponents in that era was 103.4. Outside the division, it was less outlandishly good at 96.7. That's still great - in the group of top QBs in that period with Rodgers, Rivers, Brady, and Romo. But his overall QB rating of 99.2 really was a case of exploiting a weak division.
Good for him. Exploiting weak defenses was in his job description. It was fortunate that he got to face weak pass defenses so often.
#95 by Richie // Nov 04, 2016 - 7:38pm
New England is still 7-3 in divisional games during week 17, from 2002-2016.
So excluding all week 17 games, NE is slightly better in divisional games (.779) than non-divisional games (.766). Indianapolis is still the leading feaster at .740 vs .624.
#60 by Rick_and_Roll // Nov 02, 2016 - 5:17pm
They have three potential hiccup games and the rest of their schedule is absurdly easy. I would guess they go 2-1 in them, finishing at 14-2.
1. At Denver. Denver is the only team with a winning record against New England in the BB era, esp in Denver. The pass rush, coverage, crowd noise and altitude make this a tough environment. Brady is 2-7 in his career there with the two wins coming against Tebow and Kannell.
2. Seattle. Seattle is a quality opponent that can do many of the same things defensively Denver can, and they have a much better QB. Playing them in Foxboro makes this an easier game.
3. At Miami. The Dolphins always play the Patriots tough in South Florida, and their victory over the Patriots in the last game in 2015 probably was the difference between reaching and watching the Super Bowl.
#83 by t.d. // Nov 03, 2016 - 10:48pm
This seems to happen every few years for the Pats, and I'd argue it does them more harm than good. Chances are, there won't be any cupcakes in the playoffs (I'll take this back if they end up hosting the Titans in the divisional round). This year, there's no 'Peyton's team' or Baltimore to worry about, either. Looks like any fresh blood will have to come from Pittsburgh or the AFC West (I know Pittsburgh's a perennial playoff team, but the Roethlisberger-Bell-Brown Steelers haven't really had a run yet)
#82 by Thomas_beardown // Nov 03, 2016 - 5:02pm
Interesting I just noticed looking at QB ranking page. All starting QBs for the NFC North are above average by DVOA. Bradford is the worst at 15th. This would include partial time starters if they threw enough passes (Hill, Cutler).
Not exactly the black and blue.