Final 2017 DVOA Ratings
by Aaron Schatz
We don't have to face questions about DVOA and teams sitting starters in every single season, but we face them often. As I often have to explain: no, we don't adjust either full-season DVOA or weighted DVOA for teams sitting starters in Week 17. It's hard to determine what counts as "sitting starters" when teams will sometimes pull players out halfway through a game, or sit their quarterback but not other players.
But there was nothing questionable about the way the Rams completely punted on their Week 17 game with San Francisco. The Rams sat all their star players on both sides of the ball. The result was a 34-13 shallacking by the Jimmy Garoppolo Experience, enough to knock the Rams out of the No. 1 spot in DVOA despite a lead of more than five percentage points entering Week 17.
Instead, your final No. 1 overall team for 2017 is the New Orleans Saints. This is the first time in DVOA history that the Saints finish No. 1 overall for an entire season. They were previously No. 2 in both 1987 and 2011. (In 2009, the year they won the Super Bowl, they got to be the team sitting starters, which dipped their DVOA rank to No. 6 by the end of the year.) The Saints' turnaround was almost as large as the Rams' turnaround, as the Saints go from No. 21 a year ago to No. 1 this year. The Saints ranked second in offense (behind New England), eighth in defense, and 15th in special teams.
However, sitting starters in Week 17 prevents the Rams from registering as the greatest one-year turnaround in DVOA history. We listed the greatest turnarounds in the commentary two weeks ago, but the Rams have now fallen slightly below the 2012-2013 Kansas City Chiefs. The Week 17 fall also prevents the Rams from achieving the very rare goal of ending the season ranked in the top five for all three phases of the game. However, they still managed to meet the only slightly less rare goal of finishing ranked in the top six for all three phases of the game, something that had previously been achieved by only eight teams since 1986 and only two Seattle teams since the year 2000:
|Teams Ranking in DVOA Top 6 for All 3 Phases of the Game, 1986-2017|
|Year||Team||TOT DVOA||Rk||W-L||OFF DVOA||Rk||DEF DVOA||Rk||ST DVOA||Rk|
The Rams sitting starters also did wonders for the rating of the San Francisco 49ers. Yes, the Niners ended the season on a hot streak, but that wasn't five straight 34-13 victories over the best teams in football like they had this week. Thanks to the opponent adjustments based on what the Rams did the rest of the year, San Francisco gets the best single-game DVOA of the season at 120.5%. San Francisco finishes 12th in weighted DVOA almost entirely based on this win. Remove Week 17, and the Rams would go from third to first in weighted DVOA, while the 49ers would fall from 12th all the way to 21st.
Note that while we don't incorporate any adjustments for sitting starters into the raw DVOA ratings for the season, we did take this into consideration when putting together the playoff odds simulation, removing Week 17 from the weighted DVOA for the Rams and Steelers.
The most impressive part of the Rams turnaround is that they went from dead last, one of the worst offenses ever measured by DVOA, to sixth in offense this year. The Rams also had excellent special teams, but they had that in the past as well: the Rams were third in special teams DVOA in 2016, then ranked second this past year. What's interesting is that this dichotomy -- inconsistent offense, consistent special teams -- matches the entire NFL in 2017.
If you've been reading Football Outsiders for a long time, you know one of our main axioms is that offense is more consistent than defense, while both are more consistent than special teams. In 2017, the exact opposite was true.
- Only five of the top dozen offenses in 2017 were also ranked among the top dozen offenses in 2016. There was a bit more consistency at the bottom, where four of the bottom 10 offenses also ranked in the bottom dozen in 2016. But the year-to-year correlation coefficient for offensive DVOA in 2016-2017 was .33. It's usually around .50.
- On the other hand, nine of the top dozen defenses in 2017 were also ranked among the top dozen defenses in 2016. The exceptions were the Rams (15), the huge turnaround for the Saints (31), and a very quiet defensive turnaround for Washington (25). Things were less consistent at the bottom, where only two of the bottom ten defenses in 2016 were also bottom ten defenses in 2017. However, the year-to-year correlation coefficient for defensive DVOA in 2016-2017 was .41. This is only slightly higher than the usual correlation for defense, which is about .38.
- Special teams is kind of nuts. Three of the top four teams were also top four teams a year ago. The exception, New England, was eighth a year ago. Seven of the bottom ten special teams units in 2017 were also bottom ten special teams units in 2016. Some of this might be related to a change in the value of kickoffs because of moving the touchback to the 25, but remember, that's only one of the five special teams plays we measure to create special teams DVOA. The year-to-year correlation coefficient for special teams DVOA in 2016-2017 was an absurdly high .63. It's usually around .30.
Like 2016, 2017 ends up as a year of parity, with very few teams or units ranking among either the best or worst in DVOA history. The biggest exception is our No. 1 special teams unit, the Baltimore Ravens, who end up as one of the 10 best special teams units of the last 30 years:
|Best Special Teams DVOA, 1986-2017|
Only 42 different teams since 1986 have managed a special teams DVOA above 7.0%, and four of those teams are recent Baltimore squads with Justin Tucker at kicker, Sam Koch at punter, and Jerry Rosburg as coordinator: 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2017. It doesn't even include 2016, when Justin Tucker had the best placekicking year in NFL history but the Baltimore return game had an off year. This rating is subject to change once I finally build a new special teams kickoff method that fully accounts for all the pooch kicks teams have been using since the touchback move, but it likely won't change the Ravens much. Most of their special teams value came from placekicking and kickoff returns.
More than anywhere else, the parity of the 2017 season is seen in the defenses, with the smallest-ever gap between the best defense (Jacksonville at -16.1%) and the worst defense (Tampa Bay at -11.7%). Only two defenses have ever led the league with a worse defensive DVOA than the Jaguars: the 2007 Titans and the 2001 Eagles. And no team has ever been in last place with a rating anywhere close to being as good as what Tampa Bay ends up with. I can also note here that the New England Patriots escaped the possibility of being the first team to ever rank No. 1 on offense but dead last on defense, moving up to No. 31 after a great performance against the Jets in Week 17.
For a long time, we were talking about the Jaguars ranking among the greatest pass defenses we had ever measured. They end up falling far short of the all-time greats, but their -27.5% DVOA against the pass led the league by a gigantic margin. The gap between Jacksonville and No. 2 Baltimore at -15.3% is larger than the gap between No. 2 Baltimore and No. 11 Arizona.
It was only a few weeks ago we were talking about the Dolphins and Raiders ranking among the worst pass defenses we had ever measured. By the end of the season, neither one came close. Indianapolis actually finishes as the worst pass defense in the league, allowing 27.9% DVOA.
In fact, there's only one unit in 2017 which ends up ranking among the dozen worst units of DVOA history, and it's the Arizona running game:
|Worst Run Offense DVOA, 1986-2017|
So, you may wonder, where are the 0-16 Cleveland Browns in the lists of all-time worst teams? According to DVOA, they don't even come close. The Cleveland Browns instead make the list of unluckiest teams in DVOA history, not the list of worst teams. With a DVOA of -27.2%, the Browns are the best-rated team to finish in last place since the 1988 Detroit Lions finished 28th in a 28-team league at -26.6%. By comparison, the winless Detroit Lions of 2008 had a last-place DVOA of -48.4%. The Browns lost four games by three points or less, compared to just one for the 2008 Lions. Check the points scored and allowed, and our Pythagaport equation suggests the Browns should have won 3.3 games, not zero. That ties them with the 2001 San Diego Chargers (5-11, projection of 8.3 wins) as the most unlucky team ever to play a 16-game schedule.
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All player/team DVOA stats pages are now updated through the end of the regular season. Playoff odds, snap counts, and the premium DVOA database should be updated by the end of tonight. Drive stats and pace stats will be updated by the end of Tuesday, as will the Matchup View in FO Standard Premium for the four wild-card games.
Vincent Verhei will discuss which players had the best and worst seasons by FO stats in tomorrow's Quick Reads Year in Review. Loser League results will be announced in Scramble for the Ball Wednesday, and our Playoff Challenge game will go up on the site sometime tomorrow.
Please note that while this article is called "Final 2017 DVOA Ratings," we will continue with our unofficial postseason weighted DVOA ratings each Monday through the playoffs. Our December players for Madden 18 on consoles will be announced next Monday in the DVOA ratings that go up after the wild-card round. Our weekly Powerline players for Madden mobile will be announced on Tuesday from our Twitter account, @fboutsiders.
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These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through the entire 2017 regular season, 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. 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. As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE.
LAST WEEK represents rank after Week 17, while LAST YEAR represents rank in 2016.
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>
- ESTIMATED WINS uses a statistic known as "Forest Index" that emphasizes consistency as well as DVOA in the most important specific situations: red zone defense, first quarter offense, and performance in the second half when the score is close. It then projects a number of wins adjusted to a league-average schedule and a league-average rate of recovering fumbles.
- WEIGHTED DVOA is adjusted so that earlier games in the season become gradually less important. It better reflects how the team was playing at the end of the season.
- 2017 SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents played this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative).
- PYTHAGOREAN WINS represent a projection of the team's expected wins based solely on points scored and allowed.
- VARIANCE measures the statistical variance of the team's weekly DVOA performance. Teams are ranked from most consistent (#1, lowest variance) to least consistent (#32, highest variance).
101 comments, Last at 07 Jan 2018, 10:44am
#19 by aces4me // Jan 02, 2018 - 9:00am
Brady's December numbers this year are off from his usual pace. Nagging injuries and lack of receivers he is really comfortable with (edleman, hogan, mitchel) are what the local media are putting it down to. If White and Hogan are back on the field for the playoffs and the offense doesn't look better we might start hearing more age related talk from the local media (ESPN has kind of already put him in the retirement home).
#22 by Hoodie_Sleeves // Jan 02, 2018 - 9:21am
Do we need to repeat the whole 'DVOA isn't measuring an offensive player's skill, but the value of the plays the player is involved in within the context of the rest of the offense, including the offensive line, quarterback, etc"?
Lewis probably isn't the best back in the league - but he's absolutely one of the top 10. He's really quite good.
#45 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 02, 2018 - 2:36pm
When we do historical recaps of old seasons, do we tout players by their DYAR ranking? Why yes, yes we do.
Oh look, here's one that came up today.
Refers to him as the "best back".
#49 by Hoodie_Sleeves // Jan 02, 2018 - 3:40pm
The fact that people often do things that are incorrect isn't a justification for doing them.
DVOA/DYAR doesn't measure player skill - it measures the value of the plays the player was targeted in, or carried the ball.
#70 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 03, 2018 - 9:07am
They didn't, directly.
Rawls got this:
"And finally there's Thomas Rawls, who did little as a receiver and only started seven games, but he was dominant when he ran the ball, gaining 830 yards (16th-most in the league) on only 147 carries (33rd). He led all running backs in rushing DVOA and success rate, and was second in DVOA. It was the first time a runner finished first or second in all three categories since Clinton Portis did it in 2002; the only others to do so are Marshall Faulk (in 1999, 2000, and 2001), Stephen Davis (1999), and Emmitt Smith (1993)."
He gets thrown into good company, with Portis, Faulk, Davis, and Smiff.
Rawls, like Lewis, finished #1 in rushing DYAR but well down the pack in total DYAR. In 2015, backs were described in order of total DYAR (which is why Danny Woodhead and his 238 receiving DYAR got the 4th description -- does anyone think he was the best RB in 2015?)
In 2017, Lewis is 1st in rushing DYAR (by 4, while Gurley sat out week 17) and 3rd in total DYAR (by 171 to Kamara, and 139 to Gurley). But Lewis gets the first mention.
"Dion Lewis had eight carries for 28 yards and negative DYAR after the first three weeks of the season. Since then he has 172 carries for 868 yards (5.0 yards per carry), and he surprisingly finished first in the league in rushing DYAR. He was fourth in the league in success rate, and didn't fumble on a single carry."
When in doubt, QR will describe the Patriot first. The 2015 article talks mostly about Gronkowski when Eifert squeaked him at the line for top TE DYAR. The 2017 article talks mostly about Lewis despite being far back in total DYAR. It's understandable; this place started as a Pats fan site.
#43 by RBroPF // Jan 02, 2018 - 2:20pm
Agreed. He's 27, has an extensive injury history, and has only made $5 million so far. He should absolutely grab as much guaranteed money as he can. I don't think he's going to getting a lot of high offers though. Maybe a few $million guaranteed.
#56 by RickD // Jan 02, 2018 - 6:04pm
Before 2017, Lewis's highs were 64 carries for 283 yards and 36 receptions for 388 yards. Not in the same season.
More than half of his career production came in 2017.
If anybody offers him a wheelbarrow of money, he should take it. Given the Gillislee and Burkhead contracts, I wouldn't expect Belichick to get into a bidding war for Lewis.
#5 by dank067 // Jan 01, 2018 - 7:47pm
In the AFC I would have guessed that schedule strength played a role but looks like those four wild card contenders all played schedules ranked 26th or easier. Luck and even randomness will always loom large in a 16 game sample
#44 by RBroPF // Jan 02, 2018 - 2:23pm
When you win or lose a game by 3 points or less, I look at that as a tie decided by a coin flip. I don't believe there is any attribute that makes a team consistently win or lose significantly more than 50% of those.
#9 by bravehoptoad // Jan 01, 2018 - 10:03pm
The 49ers are the only team ever to start 0-9 and end 5-0. This seems like a great opportunity to study an extreme case of the effects of one man on a football team. How important is it to have a good QB? Here's one answer.
It's such a frustrating experience to wish, just once, that the season were 30 games long. The 49ers would make the playoffs for sure. Well. I've lived through a lot of offseasons of 6-10 teams (and the vicinity), but this will be the one with the most supressed excitement.
#12 by theslothook // Jan 02, 2018 - 12:36am
Yeah I think this season end for the 49ers brings tremendous optimism. The defense has a couple big time playmakers and the qb situation looks incredibly bright. Free agency can round out some of the weaker parts of the roster(wide receiver, offensive line, defensive back) and of course the first round pick should net another very high prospect.
It would seem to me - the real question is just how good can Jimmy G be. As good as he as looked, I think I need to wait till midway next season just to be sure. I've seen too many Josh McCown, Rob Johnson, hell even Colin Kaepernick's fool me with a 10 game sample. Plus figuring out where he ultimately lands is tough because there is such a wide gap even with good qbs. There's a sizeable difference between Tom Brady and Big Ben and Big Ben to Stafford.
#15 by billprudden // Jan 02, 2018 - 7:11am
The real question is whether ownership will now begin to spend up to the cap.
Jimmy G and optimism are great, but if you down 40m in payroll vs. the opponent, those missing quality players are hard to overcome week in and week out.
#26 by Hoodie_Sleeves // Jan 02, 2018 - 9:37am
I'm hearing a lot of this sort of thing - "I've seen too many Josh McCown, Rob Johnson, hell even Colin Kaepernick's fool me with a 10 game sample" - but I think it underestimates how good Garappalo has actually been, especially considering how bad the 49ers roster is.
2017 (5 games) - 39.2%
2016 (1.5 games) - 44.4%
2013 - 16.6%
The sample is still small, but the performance has been elite. Most of these flash-in-the-pan guys aren't anywhere near this good. Matt Flynn is probably the best exception at this point.
Frankly, with Brady's age, I think the Patriots are going to regret trading JG for a long time.
#37 by coremill // Jan 02, 2018 - 11:59am
As Aaron discusses, Garoppolo's DVOA is boosted by the Rams' opponent adjustment, and should be taken with a grain of salt.
Kaepernick's small sample size year was 2012, where he had 25.8% passing DVOA in seven regular season starts, plus three very good playoff games, in one of which he set the single-game QB rushing record.
#39 by Hoodie_Sleeves // Jan 02, 2018 - 12:58pm
"As Aaron discusses, Garoppolo's DVOA is boosted by the Rams' opponent adjustment, and should be taken with a grain of salt."
Garopollo put up 107 DYAR against the Rams, good for 5th this week.
He put up 178 DYAR (1st) the week before.
He put up 85 DYAR (9th) the week before that.
He put up 78 DYAR (11th) the week before that.
He put up 55 DYAR (16th) the week before that.
Week 1: 37 DYAR (16th)
Week 2: 144 DYAR (4th) (In one half).
Its not the Rams game buoying his dvoa/dyar - he's been consistently good as a starter, and has been getting better.
He'd be 13th overall in DYAR for the season if he qualified with enough pass attempts (right ahead of Russel Wilson, Cousins, Prescott, and Aaron Rodgers).
There's still a chance that he's got some fatal flaw in his game that teams haven't figured out - but his play has been absolutely elite to this point.
#42 by bravehoptoad // Jan 02, 2018 - 2:09pm
He has flaws that are pretty well known. The most obvious is that he has poor footwork, so his long passes (over 20 yards) are pretty inaccurate. He relies on upper body strength and doesn't step into his throws. Theoretically, this is a simple, fixable mechanical problem, but shoot, he was with the Patriots for three years and didn't fix that problem, so it may not be so simple.
I'd seen in print several times that he reacts worse than the average QB to getting hit. I haven't seen evidence of that. He was playing behind a pretty piss-poor O-line this year. He took some good shots and it didn't seemed to affect him. Also his release is so quick that he doesn't take that many shots.
#50 by Hoodie_Sleeves // Jan 02, 2018 - 3:59pm
You're absolutely correct that his footwork is lacking - and he sometimes doesn't step into throws - but frankly, Cam Newton won an MVP with much worse footwork.
He does a couple of things really well though - and IMO those things are more important than footwork - and honestly, aside from the fact that he's a way faster runner, he reminds me a lot of Brady when he was young.
He gets rid of the ball quickly, he makes his reads quickly, he makes decisions quickly, and he's relatively accurate. That's pretty much Tom Brady before Tom Brady started grinding his skills and showing up every training camp having mastered some new thing (like drastically improving his pocket mobility at about 35).
You can do a lot with just that - and the floor is relatively high for guys who can do those things. And he can run a bootleg without looking like a slow motion trainwreck.
I really think the Patriots are going to regret trading him.
#51 by duh // Jan 02, 2018 - 4:30pm
I understand your point about Jimmy, the thing is though, I don't see a lot of options for keeping him short of moving on from Brady after last year. It seems plain they couldn't reach a contract agreement with him (else why trade him when they did) and franchising him wasn't really a realistic option given the team building implications of having 30 some odd million bucks tied up at QB between the two of them. Maybe I'm missing some other choice?
#52 by Hoodie_Sleeves // Jan 02, 2018 - 5:23pm
My understanding is the money wasn't the issue - the issue was they weren't willing to promise he'd start next year.
Frankly, I'd have rather seen them trade Brady. Yeah, he's the GOAT and all that, but I'd rather have what I think is a 26 year old franchise quarterback than a 40 year old GOAT.
Brady still looks pretty good, but there are cracks appearing, and I'd be very surprised if he's a better quarterback than JG in 2019, and frankly I wouldn't be all that surprised to see JG put up a higher full season DVOA than Brady next year.
I think JG is going to be a top 5-10 QB in the league from 2019-2024, and maybe longer, and I think that's significantly more valuable than the upgrade that Brady presents over the next year or two.
#53 by duh // Jan 02, 2018 - 5:42pm
I think that trade (Brady) would have had to be done prior to the start of the season. It is hard to find home for that kind of cap number right before the trading deadline. (Especially given that if you were going to trade Brady you have to think you'd want to send him to the NFC) You may well be right that that they 'should have' done that and moved on from Brady after last year and given Belichick's history of dealing with older players it does seem odd that he didn't.
It would be strange indeed if the guy who has the reputation for keeping his team competitive by being a stone cold 'move a guy a year early and not a year late' guy ends up having his run of excellence end because he wouldn't / couldn't make that choice with Brady.
#71 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 03, 2018 - 9:48am
Montana, Manning, and Favre all got disposed of after seasons where they went a combined 37-10, with 1 MVP, 3 Pro Bowls, and 2 conference finals.
They played a combined 9 more seasons, made four conference title games, two super bowls, won a super bowl, an MVP, two all-Pros, and 6 pro bowls.
Montana and Favre were replaced by SB-winning HOF QBs. Indy almost had that, if they hadn't murdered him behind Irsay's coke habit.
The Raiders sat LaMonica for Stabler and then Stabler for Plunkett. (Oddly, New England dumped Plunkett for Grogan before this, but that's a different situation)
The 49ers flipped Tittle for Brody. (Tittle then replaced Conerly in NY)
The Rams flipped Waterfield for Van Brocklin.
The Bengals flipped Anderson for Esiason.
The Giants dumped Warner for Manning (the lesser). This one comes with an asterisk.
The Cowboys went from Meredith to Morton to Staubach to White. Some of those were retirements, but some were dumps.
The Giants had a brief interregnum in 1960 when Conerly was either injured or they were trying to replace him with Shaw (didn't work out) before Tittle rode to the rescue in 1961.
This is ignoring the Brady-Bledsoe and Rivers-Brees replacements.
Is Brady too good for that company?
Pretty much every team that had an old all-pro and thought they had a future all-pro switched to the new guy before the old guy was completely worn out.
#74 by Hoodie_Sleeves // Jan 03, 2018 - 11:32am
Yup - I think this is going to be looked at long term as a huge mistake for the Patriots.
Brady being the Superbowl MVP, and the comeback is completely irrelevant - franchises should be making decisions based on future projections, not past performance.
Brady IS going to turn into a pumpkin sometime in the next couple of years - and its probably going to be earlier than he thinks (he says 45). And he's not the sort of guy to just hang up the cleats because he's declining - he'll dig in, and work harder, and press, and it will be ugly unless the franchise puts an end to it - because he won't. He'll always think he can work harder, or watch more film, or study more - because that's the core of what has made him so great.
Its almost always better to move on a year early than a year late.
#79 by Steve in WI // Jan 03, 2018 - 2:12pm
Trading the Super Bowl MVP does not sound so crazy when he's going to turn 40 before the start of next season and you might have your next franchise QB sitting on the bench behind him. Based on Brady's age, I think it was more probable than not that he'd experience a big dropoff this season. Kudos to him for not falling off a cliff just yet, but it's even less likely that he'll be just as good at 41. The idea of him being an elite QB at age 45 is so ridiculous I wouldn't believe that he honestly believed it, if it wasn't for his apparent belief in that snake-oil salesman Alex Guerrero.
I really think that Belichick is planning on retiring the same time as Brady, and thus he just wants one more Super Bowl and is willing to make suboptimal decisions for the franchise to do it. (And if the Patriots win the Super Bowl this year with Brady, there's an argument to be made that it might not have been that bad of a decision. If they don't win it, and this is Brady's last great season as it almost certainly will be, then it looks awful.)
#80 by PatsFan // Jan 03, 2018 - 2:48pm
I really think that Belichick is planning on retiring the same time as Brady, and thus he just wants one more Super Bowl and is willing to make suboptimal decisions for the franchise to do it.
I don't believe sticking with Brady was Belichick's decision.
#81 by aces4me // Jan 03, 2018 - 3:00pm
I too think the Krafts overrode Bill in a rare display of ownership intervention. I read a piece somewhere this season about the difference between an owner's legacy and a coach's legacy. I think Bob Kraft decided to make a choice to enhance his legacy over Bill's. Sheer speculation on my part.
#83 by Steve in WI // Jan 03, 2018 - 6:48pm
How would keeping Brady (against Belichick's wishes no less) enhance Kraft's legacy? He is presumably more interested in the Patriots having continued success post-Brady than anyone else. And if Belichick wanted Garoppolo over Brady, that tells me that Belichick felt he was at least as good an option in the short term too because Belichick does not seem poised to preside over a rebuild, even a short one.
If anything, wouldn't a potential future where Brady retires, Belichick follows him out the door, and Garoppolo has an Aaron Rodgers-esque career following Brady enhance Kraft's legacy, because the franchise's success under his ownership wouldn't be 100% tied to Brady/Belichick like it is today?
Or does it come down to self-preservation, because very few people would criticize him for letting Brady play until he's no longer elite but everyone would criticize him if he traded Brady away and Garoppolo was a disappointment?
#84 by aces4me // Jan 03, 2018 - 9:44pm
If I can remember the points made. Bill's legacy is about win and loses, nothing else. No one will care how he treated any of his players when they measure his legacy. Bob Kraft on the other hand will have his legacy impacted by how he treats the face of the franchise. There are other factors involved in an owners legacy (including ringz) as well but how he manages Brady's transition can tarnish or enhance his legacy.
#89 by Bright Blue Shorts // Jan 04, 2018 - 4:40am
Sounds like the journalist really hadn't got much experience.
- Some people think badly of Eddie DeB but it's not for trading Joe Montana to the Chiefs.
- If Green Bay had a single owner, I don't think anyone would hold it against them for trading Brett Favre.
In both cases the team had a successful understudy in the wings. And the Pats are in the same situation.
(Will add that the way this has played out, I'm increasingly edging towards BB retiring at season's end).
#58 by RickD // Jan 02, 2018 - 6:10pm
Belichick was asked about trading Brady and he rejected the idea out of hand. "You want me to trade the greatest QB of all time?" is what I believe he said.
Garoppolo might play at a Brady level at some point. He might not. Regardless I don't think Belichick's horizon is stretching out that far into the future.
#57 by RickD // Jan 02, 2018 - 6:07pm
If they hadn't traded him, he would have walked away as a free agent.
He wasn't going to sign a long-term contract unless he was starting Week 1 in 2018. And Belichick wasn't going to do that.
(And the craziest idea going around would be to use a franchise tag on a backup QB.)
The Patriots didn't exactly have any leverage. They got a pick that at the time looked like it would be #2 in the second round. That was before Jimmy started getting starts....
#65 by ncuba // Jan 02, 2018 - 7:42pm
I don't want to challenge any of these points but rather highlight the short term calculations, ie this season.
Belichick figured that a likely 2round+1year jump in the "compensatory" pick he'd get for JG was more valuable than having JG as Brady's backup for the rest of the season. I wouldn't criticize him for making that call at that time, but right now it's interesting that since JG started he's put up 100/150 more DYAR than Brady has (depending on if wk 17 is counted)-all without Gronk et al. and while Brady's been sitting out practices.
Patriots are like 2-1 to win SB but if MVP Brady goes down they're done. Whereas in alt universe where Bill keeps JG a Brady injury could well result in better QB play. That's wild.
#68 by DezBailey // Jan 02, 2018 - 11:42pm
"Patriots are like 2-1 to win SB but if MVP Brady goes down they're done. Whereas in alt universe where Bill keeps JG a Brady injury could well result in better QB play. "
Hard to say that though given JG is in a different offense. I'd be curious as to what his DYAR was in New England compared to Brady in those two games he started during Brady's suspension.
Edit: Nevermind...saw somebody had done that above
#27 by andrew // Jan 02, 2018 - 9:44am
Not quite the same, but look at the 1991 49ers
They started the season 4-6, but then finished 6-0, missing playoffs but were arguably one of the best teams in the league (not the best, which we know was the DVOA champ Redskins). They finished with a 52-14 demolition of the Ditka Bears who needed that game for the division (knocked them into a wild card). They haThey had the second best point differential (behidn the Redskins).
Ironically that hot streak coincided with Steve Young getting hurt and Steve Bono taking over (though Young came back for the final game).
#36 by coremill // Jan 02, 2018 - 11:53am
The 91 Niners were not a team that suddenly got good in the second half of the season, they were just pretty clearly the second best team in the league. Their six losses were by 2, 3, 6, 5, 3 (losing on a Hail Mary), and 5 points, while their average MOV in their 10 wins was 18. The Hail Mary loss to the Falcons cost them the tiebreaker and ultimately the last playoff spot.
If there's one knock on the 1991 Skins, it's that they got a little lucky with opponents. They drew Atlanta and Detroit, who finished 11th and 17th in DVOA. They then blew them both out, but it would have been nice to see them tested by SF, NO, or Philly again (who had beaten them in a meaningless-for-WAS Week 17 game where Washington rested starters in the second half).
#46 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Jan 02, 2018 - 2:39pm
While I do think some NFL tiebreaker rules are arbitrary and stupid, it should be mentioned that the 1991 49ers also lost to the Falcons in their own building...which then allowed the hail mary loss to complete the sweep. Can't really argue that the Atlanta didn't deserve the 6th seed over them.
Also, the Niners have only themselves to blame for scoring 14, 14, and 6 points in losses against the abjectly mediocre Giants, Vikings, and Raiders early in the season. They dug themselves too big of a hole to crawl out of in time (kind of like this year's Chargers).
#75 by Ben // Jan 03, 2018 - 11:33am
To me, it is a clear sign of something I've felt for a while. The NFL has become way too QB dependent. There aren't even 32 people on the planet who can play QB at a high level. When you start dealing with backups playing due to injury, it's even worse.
I think it's bad for the league when a team is doomed from the get go because of their QB isn't good. Same with teams whose seasons are ruined when the starters miss more then a game or two. Obviously just a single data point, but as a Colts fan, I was certainly less interested in the season since they didn't have a quality QB this year.
I have no idea how to fix that though. "Protecting the QB" just leads to even more of a discrepancy between the haves and haves-not.
#82 by rj1 // Jan 03, 2018 - 3:24pm
Packers fans have a better case for that than Colts fans.
I wouldn't say I 100% buy into the conspiracy that the Colts lied about Luck's injury preseason to sell tickets, but I wouldn't say I buy into it 0% either. Preseason Colts synopsis on the radio consistently turned on "Luck is coming back in 4 weeks, all the Colts have to do is get through their ridiculously soft starting schedule 3-1 and the playoffs are a possibility". If everyone is saying Luck was going to be back in 4 weeks, that means 99% hunch "an unidentified team source" told them that was the case. Colts' early season turned into a disaster, and magically Luck's injury news became vague. An October 16th post at ESPN says "the end was in sight". http://www.espn.com/blog/indianapolis-colts/post/_/id/21743/andrew-lucks-injury-how-we-got-here-and-when-he-will-return
So here we are we have a league where performance is so dependent on one player that teams at the very least if not lying are not telling the whole truth to their fanbases. Then you have Green Bay where "there is no plan B if Aaron Rodgers gets hurt". Any general manager that ever says that for any player should be fired on the spot for not understanding that part of their job is contingency planning. Imagine if you walked into any business in the real world of America and the guy in charge said "we had no hope of succeeding once X occurred".
#87 by theslothook // Jan 03, 2018 - 11:57pm
I argued back with and forth with Chase Stuart on twitter about this. He took the view(which he ultimately convinced me on ) that nothing had really changed in terms of qb importance. Sure, passing is easier than ever, but that just means the worst qbs of yesteryear are throwing better than their forefathers. Relative performance matters and over history, the teams that made the playoffs were hugely helmed by good qbs.
It took some thought before I realized the main point he was making. Its why I keep being adamant about this. I truly believe building a competitive team with an average qb is harder to build and lasts far less than the inverse.
#91 by rj1 // Jan 04, 2018 - 12:18pm
I'm not so certain the worst QBs of today throw better than their forefathers so much as the worst QBs of yesteryear didn't throw a screen pass on 3rd and 13, meaning they failed more spectacularly. Can we compare today's QBs to 1990 QBs for say passes 10 yards and longer? I don't think we have that level of detail data on this site.
#67 by DezBailey // Jan 02, 2018 - 10:47pm
Good question. I'd be interested in that as well. I have the Bills at No. 15 in my latest report where the Peterman game has less impact on their numbers than it probably does in DVOA: http://besreport.com/week-17-bes-rankings-final-issue-2017/
So, I'd imagine the impact of that game falling off the Bills books in DVOA would be quite significant, likely propelling them into the top 15.
#21 by brenthutto // Jan 02, 2018 - 9:21am
RE: "The Cleveland Browns instead make the list of unluckiest teams in DVOA history, not the list of worst teams."
It's a totally untestable notion but isn't it possible the difference between their DVOA and their record is less about "luck" than about "tanking"?
There's an assumption baked into projecting DVOA into Wins, something to the effect that all teams (from front offices right down to the players on the field) are trying their very best to eke out as many wins as possible given their quality. The 2017 Browns may be the rare case where that good-faith, best-effort assumption is violated severely enough to make them look like an "unluckiest" team.
#30 by BJR // Jan 02, 2018 - 10:29am
You could probably construct a case that Hue Jackson & co., knowing their jobs were safe next year, produced some deliberately sub-optimal play-calling and game strategy along the way. But that's a serious stretch IMO. Many of these players/coaches will not be around on the Browns' roster to reap any benefit from tanking, should they arrive. Deliberately conspiring to lose is in very few of their individual interests.
And if the objective was to tank, why not just lose out of sight rather than making games close and risk winning by accident?
#61 by RickD // Jan 02, 2018 - 6:17pm
Playing well is a primary objective. Simply sending scrubs onto the field to lose helps the team a lot less than having players trying to win. And then if they are playing well and "happen to lose", so much the better. That is, if tanking is also a goal.
They had six losses by four points or less or in overtime.
Curiously, they were 4-0 in the preseason.
#64 by bravehoptoad // Jan 02, 2018 - 7:30pm
When the 49ers were in the process of losing 5 in a row by 2-3 points, fans were calling it the "elegant tank."
Well. That went right out the window at the end of the season. Strangely, it's hard to find someone who'd rather be 1-15 right now than 6-10.
#23 by andrew // Jan 02, 2018 - 9:25am
When a QB or even RB is out, you adjust win percentages going forward based on that player being out (Arod, Zeke, etc).
Do you do the same for Special Teams with a kicker? i.e., with Greg Zeurlein being out? I know finding a replacement kicker is a lot easier than a replacement QB or even RB, but he had to count for some of the Rams' terrific special teams ranking, right?
#32 by Aaron Schatz // Jan 02, 2018 - 11:06am
You mean that we adjust the rating we use in the playoff odds, not the actual ratings. But you make a good point. Let's see what the Rams do this week, then perhaps I'll adjust for Zeurlein if they move on to the next round.
#25 by Will Allen // Jan 02, 2018 - 9:33am
The only real surprise of any of the top 6 teams winning in February would be if the Eagles did so without Wentz. Keeping with that theme, I expect several playoff games, including the last one, will have their outcomes in large measure dictated by injuries that occur in the playoffs. It's the largest random factor in the NFL.
#28 by andrew // Jan 02, 2018 - 9:49am
The Browns lost four games by three points or less, compared to just one for the 2008 Lions.
And that one loss, by two points.... came in a game where Dan Orlovsky ran out of the back of the end zone on his own, oblivious to where he was.... heck, one of the FO writers even made a nice hand drawn diagram of the play...
#73 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 03, 2018 - 9:56am
Of course there was a blown DPI call. It's the Lions. They don't get calls, or replay reversals, or rule changes in their favor. If something hinkey occurs and the Lions are involved, there's a 100% probability the Lions will be on the bad side of the decision.
No one steals the Lions franchise in the middle of the night (looking at you, Cleveland, Baltimore, Oakland, San Diego, and St. Louis) because no one wants it.
#29 by johonny // Jan 02, 2018 - 10:10am
Miami slipped in year two of Gase in offense (perhaps Tannehill injury) and defense while holding on special teams. It sure feels like a bad sign in terms of things to come in year 3. While they have almost no place to go but up, up could still mean 6-10 again without much of a shock in 2018.
With the Chargers and Ravens sitting so high on the list and sitting at home for the playoffs it really does feel like the AFC is the hopelessly weaker conference this year. In terms of the Superbowl, though, it really doesn't matter if 6 out of the 7 worse teams were AFC teams. Either the Steelers or Pats should give a good show. Of there could always be an upset...I'm assuming the dreadful showing of the bottom of the AFC is more a fluke than anything else?
#31 by Hoodie_Sleeves // Jan 02, 2018 - 11:03am
"Either the Steelers or Pats should give a good show"
Yup - its important to remember that most of the teams don't really matter at this point. Buffalo and Tennessee are trash, but the rest of the teams are dangerous.
The Patriots beat the NFC 4, and 6 seeds (pretty handily), and lost to the 5 seed by 3 points.
The Steelers beat up the NFC 2 seed.
The Chiefs beat the NFC 1 seed.
Jacksonville is the only one who fell on their face against the NFC. (1-3, beat Seahawks, lost to Rams, Cardinals, JG 49ers).
So, at this level, I don't think there's much advantage either way.
#33 by MJK // Jan 02, 2018 - 11:07am
The bottom defensive teams this year have defensive DVOA of ~ +10-11%. Whereas the top offensive teams have DVOA of ~ +20-25%.
Is it normal for good offenses to be so much better than bad defenses, or are the "bad" defenses this year simply not all that terrible compared to previous years?
#34 by Hoodie_Sleeves // Jan 02, 2018 - 11:24am
Its a bit of both. Everything is a bit compressed this year (well, the last couple years), but defense generally has less magnitude.
O : -20 -> +27
D : +10 -> -16
O : -37 -> +25
D : +18 -> -18
2015 was a bit of an outlier:
O : -16 -> +19
D : +26 -> -26
O : -26 -> +25
D : +16 -> -17
Here's a big one
2007 (2010 is almost exactly the same)
O: -32 -> +44
D: +14 -> -15
#47 by Hextall_27 // Jan 02, 2018 - 2:49pm
The Saints were humiliated on both sides of the ball in Tampa (a kick return and a +2 in turnovers kept the game close). This was against a pathetic Tampa D (31st in DVOA) and the Saints offensive DVOA went up by 0.1.
They put up 323 yards on a team that was giving up 380+ per game.
They scored 17 on offense against a team that gives up around 24 per game.
How did the Saints offense improve off of that game?
#62 by RickD // Jan 02, 2018 - 6:21pm
I wonder if all of the Saints, Rams, and Panthers were trying to avoid the #3 seed. Not to avoid Atlanta, but to avoid Minnesota. Certainly the Rams sat their stars, lost, and still ended up with the #3 seed. New Orleans is arguably better off, playing a Panthers team they've beaten twice and likely going to Philly instead of Minnesota.
(I don't really think the Panthers were trying to avoid the #3 seed. Cam just had a horrible day.)
#66 by dank067 // Jan 02, 2018 - 8:01pm
Since you can't control who your second round matchup would be if you earn the #4 seed, I don't know if it helps to try to actively avoid the #3 seed in this instance. Even if you particularly fear the #2 seed, you have to figure that you may still face them in the conference championship game. Would have to think other considerations like rest, injuries, or first round matchup would take precedence.
Now if Philly had been locked into the #2 seed—I think that would have provided quite a bit of incentive for the Rams/Saints/Panthers to play for the #3 seed.
#100 by AudacityOfHoops // Jan 05, 2018 - 7:23pm
"Since you can't control who your second round matchup would be if you earn the #4 seed, I don't know if it helps to try to actively avoid the #3 seed in this instance."
You can't control who your second round matchup would be if you earn the #4 seed, but you have a sub-50% chance that it will be the #2 seed. Whereas if you earn the #3 seed, your second round opponent is guaranteed to be the #2 seed. That's a pretty big difference.
"Even if you particularly fear the #2 seed, you have to figure that you may still face them in the conference championship game."
Sure, but again it's "may" instead of "will". It's always better to give the feared team a chance to lay an egg before you play them, thereby giving you an easier matchup.
"Now if Philly had been locked into the #2 seed—I think that would have provided quite a bit of incentive for the Rams/Saints/Panthers to play for the #3 seed."
In that case the difference between the #3 and #4 seeds, in terms of likelihood to face the Eagles in the second round, would be roughly 70% (100% chance as the #3 seed, roughly 30% chance as the #4 seed [you need the #6 seed to win]).
In real life, where the Eagles are the #1 seed, the difference is the same! As the #4 seed, you have roughly a 70% chance of facing the Eagles (need the #3 seed to win). As the #3 seed, you have a 0% chance. For a difference of 70%.
#69 by Mountain Time … // Jan 03, 2018 - 3:02am
It's ALWAYS "polluted," if you're going with that term, every single year. There's always something funky to be accounted for in your headcanon-DVOA. That's why the FO guys don't even try making "eco-DVOA." Nothing exists outside of context and everything needs interpretation.
I kind of think their refusal to adjust it for any of the "obvious reasons to" is central to everything DVOA is about.
#54 by renangms // Jan 02, 2018 - 5:53pm
"This rating is subject to change once I finally build a new special teams kickoff method that fully accounts for all the pooch kicks teams have been using since the touchback move."
Could you elaborate more on this?
#86 by Hextall_27 // Jan 03, 2018 - 11:15pm
So the logic here is not that you underestimate Nick Foles and fear Case Keenum, but that the Saints do too.
The Saints don't care about a 2006 Colts situation where beatable Keenum and Foles both lose and they threw away a home NFCCG as the 3 seed because Foles and his 100+ playoff QB rating is so much weaker then Keenum.
You further have to believe that the Saints would much rather play in below freezing temps with wind and freezing rain than in the dome in Minnesota which would then be the same stadium they would play in 3 weeks later if they win out.
On top of that, they risk injuries to Kamara, Ingram, Brees, and others by playing a secret fake lets try to lose game in Tampa instead of playing backups.
The payoff to all of this fear and terror could just be facing the mighty Case Keenum the next week in the NFCCG anyway.
I have to ask if you actually think Sean Payton is this stupid?
Occam's Razor says the Saints are a flawed team that played to win and lost anyway and that the Rams were OK with 1 home game and resting healthy players rather than risking injury.
Have fun with projecting your worship of Case Keenum on others though.
#88 by Alternator // Jan 04, 2018 - 1:32am
[Case Keenum] is clearly ranked [too high] because [he lacks winner sauce]. [Nick Foles] is way better than this. [All hail at the altar of Nick Foles, who is drenched in winner sauce and bathes in victory!]
#92 by Hextall_27 // Jan 04, 2018 - 2:38pm
The funny bit here is that Minnesota and Philly are very close in DVOA but people's strong feelings for Keenum and against Foles are why they fill out the form letter above to rank Philly far lower and Minnesota stays at 4. The playoff odds of winning the divisional round are 54.4% for Philly and 54.0% for Minnesota. These odds favor Minnesota in a Super Bowl match up; but I doubt the Saints, Rams, or Panthers care about that if Philly is in the Super Bowl (hard to tell with the flawed logic though, maybe that is significant to you)
They both have strong defenses, good O-lines, weapons at WR and TE, and a strong running game. The Vikings have a slight edge in offensive and defensive DVOA where Philly has a slight edge in special teams (2.0, 1.3, 1.8)
Sarcasm fails when you are too ignorant to realize that your jab actually applies to the opposite side of your argument.
I am always amused when people form a half-wit opinion and go the next step to declare it as a likely motivation of experts and then get offended when you disagree with their delusion.
#96 by Hextall_27 // Jan 04, 2018 - 9:20pm
This is what I was disagreeing with to use your form of dull and lazy communication:
[The Eagles] are clearly ranked [too high] because [they lack winner sauce]. [Nick Foles] is way worse than this. [All hail at the altar of Case Keenum, who is drenched in winner sauce and bathes in victory!]
#99 by stevo // Jan 05, 2018 - 12:41am
I'll make my complaint in a different format.
I wonder how much Special Teams DVOA is weighted in terms of total team DVOA. Isn't it one part in 6? It definitely bolstered the LA Rams over the Vikings in team DVOA. I'm not convinced this actually makes the Rams better than the Vikings. In the Vikings - Rams game, the Rams were in the game and did threaten because of good field position, but the Vikings drives didn't stall because of self inflicted wounds in the second half and the defense pressured Goff constantly because they knew Gurley wasn't a threat. The Vikings-Rams offensive and defensive efficiency gap became clear.
It seems Special teams did keep the game close, but offensive and defensive efficiency won out.