Week 11 DVOA Ratings

Marcus Peters
Marcus Peters
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

We finally have a stir atop the DVOA leaderboard after Week 11, as the red hot Baltimore Ravens become the first team to rank in the top two other than New England/San Francisco since Week 3. The Patriots remain in the No. 1 spot because of their overall performance over the entire season, but the Ravens move up three spots to No. 2 after a huge win over Houston that caps off a spectacular month of performances going back to Week 7. Baltimore has a single-game DVOA over 45% in each of the last four games, peaking with 97.1% DVOA against Houston this week, which is the second-highest individual game of the season so far.

Week 7 is a bit of an arbitary endpoint, although it was the first week after Baltimore traded for Marcus Peters. Since Week 7, however, Baltimore has both the No. 1 offense and the No. 1 defense in the league by DVOA. Baltimore isn't leading the league in our ratings because even weighted DVOA takes a more long-term view of things, giving full strength (or close to it) to the last eight weeks of data. And for Baltimore, that eight weeks includes the last four big wins but also narrow victories over Cincinnati and Pittsburgh as well as a loss to Cleveland. Here's a look at the week-to-week graph for Baltimore, comparing their DVOA to VOA (without opponent adjustments).

Baltimore week-to-week

Baltimore is the only team that has two wins over 80% DVOA this year: this week's win over Houston and their Week 1 blowout of Miami, which was over 120% before opponent adjustments. Here's a look at the biggest single-game DVOA ratings of the year so far:

  1. SF, Week 5, 31-3 over CLE (107.5%)
  2. BAL, Week 11, 41-7 over HOU (97.1%)
  3. KC, Week 2, 28-10 over OAK (85.4%)
  4. LAR, Week 2, 27-9 over NO (83.9%)
  5. BAL, Week 1, 59-10 over MIA (80.3%)
  6. DAL, Week 7, 37-10 over PHI (77.9%)
  7. NE, Week 1, 33-3 over PIT (77.4%)
  8. CHI, Week 4, 16-6 over MIN (73.4%)

The list of the worst single-game DVOA ratings of the year so far is not exactly a list of the same games, just looking at the losers. Obviously, opponent adjustments play a big role in which teams have the worst games by DVOA. But three of the five worst games of this year were played in Week 11. Washington now has the two worst games of the year for their big losses to the No. 29 Giants and the No. 28 Jets. Washington falls two spots to No. 31 this week and it's kind of amazing that Washington still can't get into last place behind Miami. That's how bad the Dolphins were in the first four weeks of the season: Washington has the two worst games of the year and still isn't in last place.

(Washington's drop also means that winless Cincinnati moves up a spot to No. 30. Our season simulator now has Cincinnati going 0-16 in 10.8% of simulations, although that number is probably a little too low. The simulator doesn't quite understand Cincinnati's, shall we say, "reverse incentive structure.")

The other two games from this week that make a list of the worst games of the year are Carolina's 29-3 loss to Atlanta (third) and Houston's loss to Baltimore, which is second on the list of the best games but fifth on the list of the worst games. These horrible games drop Carolina nine spots all the way down to No. 27 and Houston seven spots down to No. 17. Here's the list of the worst single-game DVOA ratings of the year so far:

  1. WAS, Week 11, 34-17 to NYJ (-116.8%)
  2. WAS, Week 4, 24-3 to NYG (-108.4%)
  3. CAR, Week 11, 29-3 to ATL (-105.3%)
  4. CLE, Week 5, 31-3 to SF (-98.4%)
  5. HOU, Week 11, 41-7 to BAL (-93.5%)
  6. MIA, Week 4, 30-10 to LAC (-85.2%)
  7. CIN, Week 4, 27-3 to PIT (-83.3%)
  8. ATL, Week 7, 37-10 to LAR (-80.9%)

Now let's look at the all-time greatest team lists we've been updating here every week. There are two major bits of information in the list of the best defenses ever through 10 games.

First, we have the disappearance of the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers have put up two games with positive defensive DVOA (i.e. worse than average) over the last three weeks, both against the Arizona Cardinals, and that's moved the 49ers off the list of the best defenses ever. They're still in the top 20 but not the top dozen. San Francisco also dropped three spots in total DVOA to No. 5 this week. By the way, how about Arizona moving up into the offensive top 10 this week just one year after having one of the worst offenses in DVOA history? That's pretty incredible. If the season ended today, Arizona would have the third-highest year-to-year increase of offensive DVOA ever, trailing only the 2011 Panthers and the 2017 Rams (and just ahead of the 1999 Raiders and 1991 Cowboys).

Second, this list features the first appearance of the 1985 Chicago Bears. I put a rush on getting 1985 DVOA finished so we could compare the Bears to this year's Patriots and 49ers, and so we'll be leaking out a little bit of Chicago information each week as we compare the 1985 Bears to the other greatest defenses in DVOA history. Then we'll run the full 1985 data with all the individual and team stats tables sometime in February. The Bears will be climbing this list over the next couple weeks, since they won their Week 10-12 games by a combined score of 104-3.

THROUGH 10 GAMES, 1985-2019
Year Team W-L DVOA
2002 TB 8-2 -42.1%
1991 NO 9-1 -40.5%
2012 CHI 7-3 -35.0%
1991 PHI 5-5 -33.6%
2019 NE 9-1 -32.1%
1997 SF 9-1 -31.9%
1990 CHI 9-1 -30.0%
1985 CHI 10-0 -29.2%
2005 CHI 7-3 -29.2%
2004 BAL 7-3 -28.7%
1991 WAS 10-0 -28.2%
1986 CHI 8-2 -27.3%

Finally, here's the list of the worst teams of all-time. Yes, the Miami Dolphins are still on this list but they move up in DVOA again this week and will be moving off this list in the next couple weeks if they continue to play like they have over the past month.

THROUGH 10 GAMES, 1985-2019
Year Team W-L DVOA
2005 SF 2-8 -58.3%
2013 JAX 1-9 -57.1%
2009 DET 2-8 -53.6%
2008 STL 2-8 -52.3%
2000 CIN 2-8 -50.0%
2007 CIN 2-8 -48.6%
2019 MIA 2-8 -48.6%
1999 CIN 1-9 -47.8%
1993 TB 3-7 -47.2%
1991 IND 1-9 -47.0%
2010 CAR 1-9 -46.6%
2008 DET 0-10 -46.4%

* * * * *

Stats pages should now be updated through Week 11, including playoff odds, the FO Premium DVOA database and snap counts.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through 11 weeks of 2019, 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.

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>

1 NE 38.4% 1 35.7% 1 9-1 4.7% 12 -32.1% 1 1.5% 10
2 BAL 33.7% 5 33.5% 2 8-2 24.8% 3 -6.2% 10 2.7% 4
3 KC 29.7% 3 27.6% 3 7-4 25.3% 2 -2.7% 12 1.7% 9
4 DAL 26.2% 4 26.2% 4 6-4 30.6% 1 2.5% 20 -1.9% 25
5 SF 25.9% 2 24.7% 5 9-1 0.4% 16 -25.1% 2 0.3% 16
6 NO 21.6% 7 23.9% 6 8-2 10.8% 8 -8.7% 5 2.1% 7
7 MIN 21.1% 6 21.0% 7 8-3 14.3% 6 -7.0% 7 -0.2% 18
8 SEA 15.5% 9 15.5% 8 8-2 20.5% 4 2.7% 21 -2.3% 27
9 GB 15.1% 8 13.4% 10 8-2 16.7% 5 2.1% 18 0.5% 14
10 PHI 11.6% 11 14.2% 9 5-5 5.0% 11 -7.2% 6 -0.6% 21
11 OAK 2.5% 12 4.6% 11 6-4 12.6% 7 9.8% 29 -0.3% 19
12 LAR 2.3% 13 0.6% 14 6-4 -5.0% 20 -6.7% 8 0.6% 13
13 DET 1.9% 16 1.2% 13 3-6-1 5.8% 10 8.2% 26 4.3% 2
14 IND 0.8% 15 1.5% 12 6-4 0.2% 17 -2.4% 13 -1.8% 24
15 CHI -1.8% 17 -2.3% 15 4-6 -13.3% 26 -9.1% 4 2.4% 5
16 JAX -1.9% 14 -3.0% 17 4-6 -0.8% 18 2.2% 19 1.1% 12
17 HOU -2.0% 10 -3.2% 18 6-4 2.8% 14 6.6% 24 1.9% 8
18 DEN -4.4% 21 -2.9% 16 3-7 -7.8% 22 -6.6% 9 -3.2% 31
19 LAC -4.7% 19 -3.8% 19 4-7 4.2% 13 6.1% 23 -2.8% 29
20 CLE -5.4% 25 -4.7% 21 4-6 -7.3% 21 -0.6% 15 1.2% 11
21 PIT -6.0% 20 -4.7% 20 5-5 -18.3% 28 -12.2% 3 0.1% 17
22 ARI -7.5% 26 -5.6% 22 3-7-1 6.2% 9 11.4% 30 -2.3% 28
23 TEN -7.8% 23 -8.6% 23 5-5 -4.0% 19 0.3% 16 -3.5% 32
24 ATL -9.3% 27 -9.1% 25 3-7 1.4% 15 7.7% 25 -3.0% 30
25 BUF -9.5% 24 -8.7% 24 7-3 -8.4% 23 -1.2% 14 -2.3% 26
26 TB -11.8% 22 -11.6% 26 3-7 -9.3% 24 4.5% 22 2.1% 6
27 CAR -14.2% 18 -16.0% 27 5-5 -12.5% 25 0.8% 17 -0.9% 22
28 NYJ -23.6% 30 -23.1% 28 3-7 -30.4% 32 -4.0% 11 2.8% 3
29 NYG -24.1% 28 -23.4% 29 2-8 -14.5% 27 8.2% 27 -1.4% 23
30 CIN -37.3% 31 -37.1% 30 0-10 -25.3% 29 17.4% 31 5.3% 1
31 WAS -38.0% 29 -41.9% 31 1-9 -28.3% 31 9.0% 28 -0.6% 20
32 MIA -48.6% 32 -45.3% 32 2-8 -27.1% 30 22.0% 32 0.4% 15
  • 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).
1 NE 38.4% 9-1 49.3% 9.7 1 -13.3% 31 -6.9% 26 9.8% 14
2 BAL 33.7% 8-2 39.4% 8.0 6 -6.1% 28 -2.7% 20 15.5% 24
3 KC 29.7% 7-4 24.9% 8.2 5 4.9% 6 6.0% 7 9.9% 15
4 DAL 26.2% 6-4 34.5% 8.9 2 -8.7% 29 0.5% 16 6.3% 4
5 SF 25.9% 9-1 33.3% 8.4 4 -11.0% 30 13.1% 2 15.5% 23
6 NO 21.6% 8-2 27.4% 7.2 9 -0.2% 20 -3.1% 21 10.9% 18
7 MIN 21.1% 8-3 19.8% 8.5 3 0.9% 17 5.2% 8 6.8% 6
8 SEA 15.5% 8-2 14.6% 7.4 7 0.6% 19 6.5% 6 7.6% 7
9 GB 15.1% 8-2 9.4% 7.3 8 6.8% 3 -2.5% 18 16.6% 26
10 PHI 11.6% 5-5 6.5% 7.2 10 2.1% 12 -15.5% 31 19.0% 29
11 OAK 2.5% 6-4 0.8% 6.3 11 1.8% 15 -2.1% 17 12.8% 20
12 LAR 2.3% 6-4 8.9% 5.8 12 -2.3% 24 14.4% 1 15.6% 25
13 DET 1.9% 3-6-1 -3.2% 5.8 13 6.8% 2 -3.3% 23 5.0% 3
14 IND 0.8% 6-4 4.0% 5.8 14 -5.2% 27 -2.7% 19 8.5% 11
15 CHI -1.8% 4-6 -6.7% 5.2 17 2.9% 9 11.6% 3 9.7% 13
16 JAX -1.9% 4-6 -4.9% 5.5 15 -3.9% 26 -5.0% 24 6.6% 5
17 HOU -2.0% 6-4 -2.9% 5.3 16 5.6% 5 1.2% 15 15.5% 22
18 DEN -4.4% 3-7 -4.7% 5.1 18 4.8% 7 3.0% 10 8.0% 8
19 LAC -4.7% 4-7 -3.0% 4.2 25 -1.9% 23 9.4% 5 8.2% 9
20 CLE -5.4% 4-6 -9.8% 5.0 19 6.5% 4 -17.2% 32 20.3% 30
21 PIT -6.0% 5-5 -4.4% 4.9 20 2.0% 13 -8.3% 27 8.3% 10
22 ARI -7.5% 3-7-1 -11.8% 4.7 22 2.5% 10 1.7% 13 9.2% 12
23 TEN -7.8% 5-5 3.8% 4.8 21 -3.1% 25 3.2% 9 14.3% 21
24 ATL -9.3% 3-7 -11.7% 4.4 23 4.1% 8 1.3% 14 17.5% 27
25 BUF -9.5% 7-3 8.9% 4.1 26 -18.4% 32 10.7% 4 2.8% 1
26 TB -11.8% 3-7 -9.3% 3.6 28 1.9% 14 -3.3% 22 4.9% 2
27 CAR -14.2% 5-5 -14.9% 4.3 24 -0.9% 21 2.0% 12 21.7% 31
28 NYJ -23.6% 3-7 -22.2% 4.0 27 -1.3% 22 -10.9% 30 17.7% 28
29 NYG -24.1% 2-8 -29.6% 1.4 30 2.3% 11 -8.4% 28 10.5% 17
30 CIN -37.3% 0-10 -45.6% 1.8 29 8.9% 1 -8.5% 29 11.4% 19
31 WAS -38.0% 1-9 -36.6% 1.0 31 1.5% 16 2.7% 11 22.0% 32
32 MIA -48.6% 2-8 -49.0% 0.0 32 0.8% 18 -6.8% 25 10.1% 16


154 comments, Last at 29 Dec 2019, 5:18pm

#1 by ssereb // Nov 19, 2019 - 6:40pm

Are the Bengals the worst team to ever lead the league in special teams performance? Maybe the guys they have on special teams should take some snaps from scrimmage, unless they're serious about this losing thing.

Points: 0

#4 by Perfundle // Nov 19, 2019 - 7:07pm

I just looked through the archives the archives and they are, though 2002 Detroit was also pretty bad despite the 2nd-best ST rating. But I did notice how there's not much difference between the best and worst special teams this year, only a 8.8% difference.

Points: 0

#2 by Swilson1472 // Nov 19, 2019 - 6:46pm

They're still 3rd in DVOA even though they've looked like frauds for the past 6 weeks for various reasons. Is this a good sign that their fundamentals are still pretty good even if they aesthetically have played pretty ugly? I know their schedule has been pretty tough, but still.

Points: 0

#10 by dank067 // Nov 19, 2019 - 9:50pm

Opponent adjustments do move them from 6th to 3rd, and all of their losses are one score games. The mystery to me is: are they really the fourth best pass defense in the league? And one of the few that can claim to be legitimately good? Unlike the run defense, I don't think the KC pass defense is bad, but I'm not sure they're good or a net positive either.

Points: 0

#18 by CaffeineMan // Nov 19, 2019 - 11:38pm

Patriots and Chiefs are mirror images in offense, defense and special teams.  Pats 12th, 1st, and 10th.  Chiefs 2nd, 12th, and 9th.  Should be an interesting matchup later this year.

Points: 0

#90 by kcmiz24 // Nov 20, 2019 - 7:12pm

Having watched pretty much every down of Chiefs football this year, I can understand that impression.  The schedule has been surprisingly tough and may end up being the toughest or at least the top 3 for this whole season.  The Chiefs have also had an unbelievable amount of short to medium-term injuries, especially on offense. Fundamentally, they look and feel efficient on both sides of the ball but have been plagued by very damaging miscues, specifically critical fumbles and penalties. 

Points: 0

#3 by Perfundle // Nov 19, 2019 - 6:56pm

Interesting that Seattle is slightly ahead of Green Bay now, despite a worse point differential on an easier schedule. I wonder what hidden advantages Seattle has. Seattle does convert third downs only slightly better than Green Bay, despite 1.2 fewer yards to go on third down. Green Bay also has a relatively low third-down conversion allowed given the average yards to go, so perhaps DVOA is rewarding Seattle over Green Bay for stuff like getting short third downs and forcing long third downs despite the actual conversion percentage.

Points: 0

#12 by dank067 // Nov 19, 2019 - 10:13pm

If the Chargers could have scored touchdowns in the red zone, GB's point differential is much closer to Seattle's. I think that game hurts the Packers DVOA quite a lot, or at least it helps provide some context in this comparison.

Packers defense sometimes feels like it's hanging by the skin of it's teeth in terms of stopping drives where the other team is moving the ball but they get a big sack on 3rd down, or an interception in the end zone. (Hey, that's happened in the Chicago, Minnesota and Carolina games. This one wasn't close, but also Oakland.) DVOA might see through that a little bit.

On the other hand, I'm convinced that the Packers offense is leaving tangible points on the board thanks to pre-snap penalties and offensive holding. They have good early down playcalling tendencies and have a high running success rate, and yet they still seem to wind up in 3rd and long a lot, helping kill drives. I don't know how that might play in DVOA if true.

Points: 0

#24 by Perfundle // Nov 20, 2019 - 2:40am

Huh, you're right, GB does have a remarkably good red zone defense relative to their offense defense.

And yeah, the Packers are pretty penalty-prone on offense, though they hardly commit any on defense to make up for it. 

And speaking of penalties, that's one area that Seattle has made amazing improvements. Since Wilson arrived in 2012, they've ranked 23, 32, 30, 24, 22, 32, 21 in fewest penalty yards per play, which has risen all the way to 6th this year.

On defense, I think it's sadly because Seattle's coverage has been so poor for most of the season that they aren't even in position to get holding or illegal contact penalties, but their offensive line has been committing false starts and holding penalties at a league-average rate, which is unheard of for them.

Points: 0

#33 by toraltamike // Nov 20, 2019 - 9:18am

.....that SEA leapfrogged GB this week even though both teams were on a bye.  A flaw in the calculation methods that needs to be debugged?.......or did GB get more DUI charges laid last week?

I did the math and the average DVOA of GB's Wk 1-10 opponents fell by 1.4% while SEA's increased by 2.5% from Wk 10 to Wk 11.  In other words, GB's past opponents had a poorer Wk 11 than SEA's.  Perhaps that is the explanation but, if so, I don't believe a particular team's DVOA should be influenced by how an opponent is playing now instead of how they were playing when they were the opponent.

Points: 0

#36 by Will Allen // Nov 20, 2019 - 9:41am

We have more information with which to evaluate their respective opponents.

Points: 0

#84 by Richie // Nov 20, 2019 - 4:00pm

Remember, the weight of early games lessens each week.  So even though the teams didn't play, their performance in the first few weeks carries a little less weight now.

Points: 0

#5 by thok // Nov 19, 2019 - 7:11pm

The Niners are ranked too low, because I'm worried there's a database error; shouldn't their week 8 51-13 win over Carolina be in the top 10 games of the season? Double-checking that might lead to a more accurate set of ratings.

Points: 0

#6 by reddwarf // Nov 19, 2019 - 8:31pm

I swear that Estimated Wins column is the most depressing thing ever when you are a fan of a team that keeps finding ways to lose (cough Denver cough).

Points: 0

#74 by LionInAZ // Nov 20, 2019 - 2:19pm

Try being a fan of the Lions, who are nearly 3 games below their projection, worst in the league.

Points: 0

#7 by Kevin // Nov 19, 2019 - 8:53pm

KC/NO/IND/TEN/NYJ/MIA are clearly ranked too low AND DEN is clearly ranked too high because the weighted DVOA values in the playoff odds report are different (everyone else matches). Finite but sufficiently large numbers of monkeys with typewriters are way better than this. It may be spelt Raymond Luxury-Yacht, but it's pronounced Throat-Wobbler Mangrove.

Points: 0

#35 by Aaron Schatz // Nov 20, 2019 - 9:35am

In case it's not clear, the playoff odds report lists which teams have adjusted weighted DVOA in the playoff simulation; we're trying to predict the future more accurately based on changes at the quarterback position.

Points: 0

#95 by Kevin // Nov 20, 2019 - 10:30pm

It was clear, I was having some fun with the standard reply template and meant the comment to be in jest.

Points: 0

#8 by Will Allen // Nov 19, 2019 - 9:21pm

Matt Stafford is going to have another top 10 (DYAR) year, maybe even as high as top 3. What Lion's management has done with that guy's career is criminal.

Points: 0

#50 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Nov 20, 2019 - 12:12pm

Agreed.  A significant proportion of Lions fandom thinks he's the problem and they need to trade him and start over at quarterback.  As if that would magically fix what has ranged from a below-average to terrible defense for most of his career.  

Points: 0

#72 by Mountain Time … // Nov 20, 2019 - 2:14pm

You should never listen to what a "significant proportion" of any fanbase believes. A significant proportion of the Broncos fanbase thinks Fangio should be fired already, Brandon Allen is clearly better than Drew Lock (who is yet to take his first NFL snap), and probably other dumb things too. They thought Noah Fant was a bust after he had one rough game.

Points: 0

#76 by Will Allen // Nov 20, 2019 - 2:26pm

Swap out Brady for Stafford in 2009, and I am not confident that the Patriots have fewer championships.

Points: 0

#9 by t.d. // Nov 19, 2019 - 9:38pm

I'm actually shocked Baltimore only comes out as the third best offense; I know points scored is a very basic stat, but they lead the league in scoring, by a lot lot (30+ points over KC, who have played one more game, and 50+ over anybody else,and they've done that despite having the fewest possessions (tied with Atlanta). They seem to blow everyone else away in terms of efficiency (also lead the league in time of possession, despite the fewest drives, of course).  Having spent a few weeks watching Chiefs games this season, theres something to say about the other team knowing exactly what you're gonna do and being unable to.stop it (in the chiefs case they know teams are gonna run it down their throats, they just can't do anything about it)

Points: 0

#13 by dank067 // Nov 19, 2019 - 10:20pm

So they're also #1 in points per drive, which I believe adjusts for this, but Baltimore has scored 5 defensive touchdowns this year. Otherwise though I don't think their offense is too underrated - they're not far off the top, and I mean, Dallas and Kansas City have been really good too. I do love watching their run game, and love that their rushing offense DVOA is higher than all but 8 teams' passing offense DVOA in the year 2019.

Points: 0

#14 by Anon Ymous // Nov 19, 2019 - 10:29pm

Most likely this comes down to recency bias - they had some underwhelming performances early in the year - and opponent adjustment.  They smoked NE, but they've also feasted on a pretty lousy slate of defenses 

Points: 0

#15 by t.d. // Nov 19, 2019 - 10:39pm

Most points in fewest drives has nothing to do with recency bias,  (and they'd still be 1st in scoring without defensive scores included) and Dallas (one of the teams ahead of them) has faced an easier slate of defenses

Points: 0

#30 by Anon Ymous // Nov 20, 2019 - 8:37am

Of course it is.  

23 points against Arizona (30th in Defensive DVOA)

23 points against Cincy (31st)

16 points against Seattle (21st)

If these were their last three games, no one would argue a virtual tie for the second best offense in the league is unfair.  The fact that they weren't the last three games doesn't mean they count any less.  Furthermore, Aaron says right in the first few lines of this article that Baltimore has been the best offense and defense in the league over the past month.  What else are you looking for?

Points: 0

#11 by armchair journ… // Nov 19, 2019 - 10:10pm

DVOA is broken or my eyes are.

Points: 0

#21 by Mountain Time … // Nov 20, 2019 - 12:02am

In reply to by armchair journ…

Agreed, I was trying to fill out the complaint template for them but I was never happy with my jokes.

Dallas is rated too high because they just don't look that good to me. I don't know what DVOA is seeing, but I hate the Cowboys so I'm certainly not going to look any more closely.

Points: 0

#26 by Will Allen // Nov 20, 2019 - 8:19am

Well, look, there are few more enjoyable camera shots than Jerrel's mug as the Cowboys go down in defeat, and the coach is a doofus, but good players are good players. An excellent o-line, a good if overpaid rb, a legit number 1 wr, and a talented qb coming into his prime equals an extremely good offense. The defense can't match that, but on that side they are very well coached. If this team had a really good head coach, and an owner who would just count the money, they'd be strong  championship contenders.

Points: 0

#28 by Bright Blue Shorts // Nov 20, 2019 - 8:28am

Do you think they've reached the Halas Bears / Davis Raiders stage where they won't win another championship until the owner is gone?

It sort of beggars belief that Prescott is still waiting for a contract extension while players at less consequential positions are getting big contracts.

Points: 0

#31 by Will Allen // Nov 20, 2019 - 8:44am

Probably, but not certainly. Obviously, guaranteeing the cash to the rb before the qb is a problem,  the way the owner undermines the head coach is always an issue, and the owner may get his nose into a bottle of Johnny Blue at any time and execute a dumb trade or draft, but I think his son may be pretty competent, and has constrained ol' rubberface to some extent. 

Points: 0

#37 by Bright Blue Shorts // Nov 20, 2019 - 9:52am

I always go back to that comment you made ... paraphrasing it was ... "Garrett's competent enough to be a decent headcoach but not so competent that he threatens JJ's ego"


Points: 0

#41 by Will Allen // Nov 20, 2019 - 10:16am

Pretty much. Garrett's primary responsibility is to strengthen Jones' belief that he's the smartest guy in the stadium. A few billion purchases a lot of delusion.

Points: 0

#16 by Sixknots // Nov 19, 2019 - 10:49pm

Holy Sh*t, DVOA now projects the Raiders to make the playoffs!

Points: 0

#17 by Will Allen // Nov 19, 2019 - 10:54pm

I've made some wisecracks about Chucky over the years, but the idea that he was an incompetent coach was always waaaaay oversold.

Points: 0

#19 by dmstorm22 // Nov 19, 2019 - 11:38pm

More than Gruden being a decent coach and a good playcaller, we may have to all admit or agree that Mike Mayock may be a good evaluator of talent.

Their production from their rookie class is incredible - especially since their 2nd of three first-round picks was a write-off this year due to injury.

They've been able to cobble together a passable defense (though DVOA says way worse than passable) and get decent weapons for Carr despite having no names of note.

What's weird is while they aren't as good as the 2016 team, or maybe even the 2010 team that went 8-8, they for once seem sustainable given the draft capital they still have.

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#20 by CaffeineMan // Nov 19, 2019 - 11:50pm

In reply to by dmstorm22

I never understood the up front assumption that Mayock couldn't judge talent.  Not aiming that comment at you, your comment just gave rise to the thought.  At worst I figured it was a wait-and-see situation.  He had no track record at all.  It's not like he was a front office retread with a history of bad picks.  I'm sidestepping the issue that Gruden has final say and their interactions might end up being dysfunctional...

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#23 by dmstorm22 // Nov 20, 2019 - 12:29am

Fair enough, but I do think a lot of NFL Twitter hated on that hire because he was the TV guy who was gifted a GM job.

Obviously we need more than one year, but the Raiders seem to be in a fairly good position going forward, which has not been the case other than the few weeks before Carr's leg injury in 2016 since like 2000.

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#25 by Bright Blue Shorts // Nov 20, 2019 - 8:16am

Let's not forget that Gruden demeaned analytics so there's a whole contingent of journalists/commentators lining up to call him out as a dinosaur.  If you happened to be surrounded by people in the analytics bubble that might sway one's perception of the wisdom of the crowd ...

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#29 by Will Allen // Nov 20, 2019 - 8:32am

Yeah, Gruden committed the sin of suggesting that the ability to run the ball had a lot of value. There's always been a nontrivial element in the analytics crowd which is too dense or stubborn to grasp that forcing a defense to defend more things makes playing efficient defense much more difficult. You'd think the fact that the most successful team of the past 20 years has been quite happy, to run the ball down the throat of opponents who weren't prepared to stop the run, would have been at least a little enlightening.

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#40 by sbond101 // Nov 20, 2019 - 10:08am

Yeah... I also think one cannot underestimate the way that analytics that tell complicated stories get crapped out by writers at places like ESPN to craft narratives that those stats don't really support. The run vs. pass question is one such narrative - where the reality of what the stats & game theory show is really complicated, but it comes out in articles as "analytics says teams care to much about running". 4th down strategy is another complex story that people get away with saying crap like "analytics says you should go for it more". I also think the raiders got caught up in the confusion concerning the inability to measure individual stats when they traded away Mack & Cooper to build something new - not saying either of those deals were "good" (or bad), but writers have used various stats & the buzz word of "analytics" to draw unjustified conclusions there as well.

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#43 by Will Allen // Nov 20, 2019 - 10:41am

In reply to by sbond101

With a game as ridiculously complex as football, any assertion pertaining to strategy which begins with an explicit or implied, "On average, it is better to....."  is very likely to be essentially worthless. There is no "average". There is only those particular players, matched up in that particular way, in that particular stadium, in those particular conditions, at that particular point in the game. That doesn't mean that metrics should be ignored, but it does mean that they need to be used with those particulars in mind.

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#32 by eggwasp // Nov 20, 2019 - 8:47am

Also, media/analytics community didn't get the joke & still haven't worked out that 80% of what Gruden says is messing with us, for the sheer hell of it - because he enjoys trolling us. 

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#39 by CaffeineMan // Nov 20, 2019 - 9:58am

“Also, media/analytics community didn't get the joke & still haven't worked out that 80% of what Gruden says is messing with us, for the sheer hell of it - because he enjoys trolling us.”

I mostly agree with this.  For instance I think the whole pronunciation of data thing was just a deadpan humor attempt with a bad delivery.  Then two groups that generally take themselves too seriously grabbed it and ran with it in their preferred direction:  ridicule or outrage.

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#47 by dmstorm22 // Nov 20, 2019 - 11:57am

Same with Belichick right, who openly trolls that the Patriots don't use analytics and he has no grasp on technology.

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#51 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Nov 20, 2019 - 12:13pm

I don't know if Belichick really does believe in analytics and is just trolling the media, or he just intuitively knows the stuff that other coaches need analytics to comprehend.

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#57 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Nov 20, 2019 - 12:33pm

I suspect it's related more to the comment in the thread above, that analytics spits out a number that speaks to "on average", but then gets applied to a specific situation that's likely to sit one side or the other of that average.

I find it highly unlikely that Belichick, seemingly as avid a student and historian of football as there's ever been, doesn't review analytical data and compare it to what his own experience tells him.  I'd read his comment more as "we don't make game day decisions based on what win percentages tell us".  And that's because he's focused on this particular situation, and where he thinks the game winning percentages lie here, not on average.  I suspect the long-term averages form part of his thinking, but he's modifying those odds based on the here-and-now.

But who knows.  I'm just speculating.  I've never even spoken to the man.  This is just my impression from what I've read about him

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#56 by bravehoptoad // Nov 20, 2019 - 12:28pm

Well, the MIT Sloan people gave the guy a big award, so he was never completely on the outs with the analytics crowd.  

Still, I can't recall any particular defenders of his on this site over the past year or so, excepting RaiderJoe.  Around the web, I read plenty of articles panning his personnel management, ones saying he couldn't manufacture offense, or was taking on too much responsibility and making too many decisions without consultation, etc.  

Hand it to the guy.  He might just be earning that salary.

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#59 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Nov 20, 2019 - 12:41pm

Gruden's doing much better than I thought he'd do.  I thought he was a clown.

I'll reiterate what I said when he went back to coaching, though.  I hope he was a lot of success on the sidelines, because I never want to listen to him in a media booth again.


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#106 by bravehoptoad // Nov 21, 2019 - 11:21am

Ditto.  It's like he was playing the SNL caricature of himself all the time.

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#124 by Mountain Time … // Nov 21, 2019 - 2:49pm

Booger isn't bad, and he may even be improving with experience!

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#22 by Mountain Time … // Nov 20, 2019 - 12:05am

In reply to by dmstorm22

Ehh, Farrell still looks significantly overdrafted. He would have been available in the second round, so there's no excuse for not trading down. 

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#27 by eggwasp // Nov 20, 2019 - 8:25am

In reply to by dmstorm22

With all those rookies/2yr players on D (Abram, Hurst, Key, Crosby, Ferrell, Hall, Mullen etc) its probably legit that the D is gradually gelling as the season continues - plus some easier matchups of course.  Offense is going even better - only Carr & 4/5ths of the OL (much of which has been missing until last week) has any sort of sustained NFL track record really - e.g.  Mayock didn't pick Kolton Miller, he's benefiting from Miller being healthy & better. Neither did he pick Key (who was just starting to make a decent impact before breaking his foot) or Waller.  To deal with one of the hardest schedules ever (in terms of preseason views of teams), a 5-game road trip including London and your prized future HoF free agent going crazy on the eve of the season, the coaching has been fantastic - this could have been a real dumpster fire, but if anything the team looks better for it 

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#34 by jimbojonessmith // Nov 20, 2019 - 9:19am

#1 in offense and defense since week 7 is pretty amazing. While the Peters acquisition is a decent place to mark the Ravens' defensive shift, I'd agree it really began following Week 4, after back-to-back 500-yard defensive debacles vs. KC and Cleveland. That's when they picked up street free agent LBs Fort and Bynes, cut Kenny Young loose, and started playing nickel as their base defensive package, and using more dime than standard 3-4 personnel. That coincided with the ineffective Tony Jefferson's season-ending injury and giving the green dot to his replacement Chuck Carr. That all got things going in the right direction, and then the subsequent addition of Peters and return from injury of Jimmy Smith supercharged them.

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#45 by af16 // Nov 20, 2019 - 11:33am

*Chuck Clark :-)


But yeah, they really went about changing a lot of things after the Cleveland debacle and I think these subtle changes get lost in the conversation about Baltimore's defense improving. Maybe some guys have gotten better - Earl Thomas is probably more comfortable now than week 1 - and Peters has been huge, but I think fixing the communication issues and replacing the ILBs have been the key. Bynes in particular has really helped shore things up. 

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#38 by Steve in WI // Nov 20, 2019 - 9:58am

I wish everyone in Chicago complaining about the defense regressing, or flukes like Kahlil Mack being absent from the stat sheet in Sunday's game, was required to look at a DVOA table. The defense, while not as good as last season and unable to replicate a clear outlier season in terms of takeaways and especially defensive touchdowns, is 4th in the league. If they manage to stay in the top 5 or 6 defenses even without Hicks and Trevathan, that will be even more impressive. They're more than good enough to support even a mediocre offense. But the offense under supposed genius Matt Nagy, and the QB that Ryan Pace had to have so badly that he didn't even bother to interview Deshaun Watson, is a pathetic 26th.

Their offensive DVOA so far this season is -13.3%. In 2017, with Mike Glennon starting the season, John Fox and Dowell Loggains "coaching," and basically no offensive weapons (seriously, go back and look up the 2017 Bears wide receivers/tight ends and try not to throw up), they were -15.1%.

My question: if all of the resources they have put into the offense between then and now, from personnel to coaching, are worth a 1.8% improvement in offensive DVOA, how in the hell do the Bears bring back Pace and Nagy for 2020?

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#42 by Will Allen // Nov 20, 2019 - 10:30am

This is spot-on with regard to the defense especially. To lose two players of that quality, and still maintain the defensive efficiency they have, is good stuff. The largest issue, by far, is the lack of productivity from the qb position. Either the player is inherently awful, or the coaching staff is awful at getting his abilities to the forefront. Or both.

I know some here maintain that Trubisky taken that high was not an obviously egregious error by NFL draft standards, and that it is revisionism to say so. I really disagree. 

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#44 by dank067 // Nov 20, 2019 - 11:10am

The Chicago Tribune just did an overly-long review of the QB draft class/evaluation process in 2017. It made pretty clear that there was a solid media consensus that Trubisky was the #1 QB, and that KC appeared to be a significant outlier with their interest in Mahomes (which makes sense given how they were able to hold back for awhile before trading up to pick him).

This isn't at all to say the Bears didn't make a mistake, especially factoring in trading up from 3 to 2. But unless Trubisky's status was significantly influenced by purposeful misinformation, a lot of other teams would have made same pick in the Bears situation, and a lot of bad teams also passed on Watson and Mahomes before allowing two playoff teams to trade up for them. So, when you say "by NFL standards..."

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#46 by Hoodie_Sleeves // Nov 20, 2019 - 11:45am

The problem with this argument is it assumes that the  media consensus and the league consensus are close to the same thing - which is a huge assumption given the incentives for not letting other teams know who you actually prefer. 


FO's stats said Trubisky was an insanely risky pick, and there's no reason to believe that a significant amount of teams hadn't come to the same conclusion. 

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#49 by theslothook // Nov 20, 2019 - 12:11pm

Pre draft rankings by espn and the NFL Network closely track the actual draft. This makes sense since Kiper and McShay constantly communicate w NFL personnel when assessing a prospects draft stock / what attributes teams are looking for.

Look I fundamentally disagree, trubisky was considered the top prospect in what was otherwise a weak draft class. 

Everything that has played out since is 100 percent w the benefit of hindsight

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#54 by Will Allen // Nov 20, 2019 - 12:20pm

Except for those of us who said at the time that Watson was easily the better prospect.

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#64 by theslothook // Nov 20, 2019 - 1:30pm

I have met people who will swear they knew Brady was a superstar the day he won his first superbowl. Look, Kudos if you saw this coming, but Watson was certainly not being hyped anywhere near Andrew Luck to feel like this had so much certainty behind it. He might have looked like a superior prospect, but no one was suggesting taking Trubisky ahead of Watson was a heinous crime. Reading Watson's scouting report and you can see where the concerns were. 

Look, I believe it was McShay who said if Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf were to enter today's nfl draft, he suspects most would choose Leaf because they value mobility much more today than in the past. And who knows what might have happened if Manning was sent to the Jeff Fisher Rams while Leaf went to the Andy Reid school.


That's the thing about it.  You never know. 


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#58 by bravehoptoad // Nov 20, 2019 - 12:36pm

I seem to remember that Watson would have been the big favorite for #1 QB except for the sudden interest in a stat that no one had paid much attention to before, namely, ball velocity.  Watson had a very low velocity, and suddenly this was supposed to cast into doubt his ability to even play in the NFL.  

Pah ha ha ha ha, yeah, well....

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#65 by theslothook // Nov 20, 2019 - 1:32pm

Here's what I found when googling Watson's draft scouting report. Here was their bottom line.

"Teams will have to weigh the inconsistent field vision and decision-making against his size, athleticism, leadership and production. While not perfect, teams can add checks to both arm and accuracy boxes for Watson. However, discussions about whether or not his areas of improvement can be corrected will likely determine whether a team will view him as a high-upside prospect or a franchise quarterback. Watson's transition from Clemson's offense to a pro-style attack will obviously take time, but his combination of intangibles and athletic ability make him worth a first-round selection."


Nothing damning there, but it said first round, not top 3 pick. 

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#77 by Mountain Time … // Nov 20, 2019 - 2:27pm

People still talk about "adjusting to a pro-style offense"? Hahahaha this is why I don't read scouting reports. They're more likely to reduce your understanding than any other result.

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#107 by bravehoptoad // Nov 21, 2019 - 11:23am

Here's more along the lines of what I was thinking of:


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#52 by dank067 // Nov 20, 2019 - 12:18pm

Sure, I agree it could have been a factor. But when I say the review the Tribune did was overly-long, they went back and looked at all of prospect lists published by the major outlets and major names. Virtually all of them had Trubisky as their #1 QB, and no one of note had him lower than #2 (scroll down to Chapter 4):


No doubt the Kipers of the world are trying to gauge teams about how they feel about prospects and will be fed some bogus information (or not given the good information) in the process. But it would take a pretty coordinated misinformation campaign for Trubisky to end up ranked so consistently and broadly as the #1 QB prospect if the league truly thought he was garbage, and the pundits aren't going to put their own name on something that would really, really clash with their instincts.

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#53 by Will Allen // Nov 20, 2019 - 12:18pm

Yeah, I agree, and I think it also supports the idea that the qb position is overvalued, by most teams, and wildly so in the media. No team should ever, ever, trade up within the top 5 picks, unless one is hugely confident that the target will, absent injury, be an All-Pro 2-3 times, with 5-7 Pro Bowl selections, regardless of position. Anybody who had that degree of confidence in Trubisky has no business getting paid to evaluate talent.

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#61 by bravehoptoad // Nov 20, 2019 - 12:52pm

Well, I don't know.  Trubisky was always ranked highly because of projection.  He had very little actual experience.  Everyone knew he was a gamble.  Any poker player knows you can make the right decision and get bad results.  

Giving away four premium picks to move up one spot, though?  That's either great hubris or great panic.  

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#70 by Pat // Nov 20, 2019 - 1:46pm

Four picks? Wasn't it just a 3rd and 4th plus next year's 3rd? That's... not much.

It's not nothing, mind you, but really only the 3rd has significant value: the 4th and next year's 3rd aren't really that value. You can recover those pretty easily since they're in the "easy compensatory pick" range and the bust rate for 3rd/4th round picks is high anyway. 

"That's either great hubris or great panic."

It's not. It's just a bad valuation of Trubisky. If they thought he was *actually worth* the #3 pick (and none of the other quarterbacks were) trading the picks they did to make sure they were going to get him is just not a big deal. You get 2 picks in the 64-128 range every year, and sometimes more than just 2. If the NFL had pure parity you get picks in the 1-3 range only once every 10 years, and we obviously know it's not pure parity.

Keep in mind, teams are usually right when recognizing top-tier quarterbacking talent (note: not at recognizing, when recognizing - as in, if they think the guy's top-tier he probably isn't garbage). The quarterbacks drafted in the top 3 in the past 10 years have something like an 80% chance of being at least a replacement-level starter, which it's pretty clear at this point Trubisky is not

Honestly if you look at all of the 15 top-3 QBs in the past 10 years, there's really only 2 that you'd criticize a team strongly for trading up a spot to pick him: Trubisky and Bortles. Probably 3 others (Winston, Mariota, and Griffin) you'd say "eh, that didn't work out" but it wouldn't be that surprising that they did it. 

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#109 by bravehoptoad // Nov 21, 2019 - 11:34am

Four picks, if you include the #3 overall pick, and when one is making a sweeping, dramatic statement, why wouldn't one? 

It's not. It's just a bad valuation of Trubisky.

My turn to say, "it's not."  Your valuation of Trubisky may be right or it may be wrong.  Your certainty of that valuation is a completely separate matter, particularly with someone like Trubisky, who required much more projection and guesswork than most top prospects.  It would be like a poker player going all in every time they think they have the best hand. 

Hence they were engaging in either 1) hubris:  "Our valuation of this risky prospect is sooooo good we can guarantee it," or 2) panic:  "What can we possibly do if someone swoops in to draft him instead?" 

I'd be much inclined to #1, but the fact they didn't even interview Watson hints that they didn't prepare a fallback position, and so maybe felt they had to waste a bunch of picks to guarantee the guy they did actually interview. 

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#120 by Pat // Nov 21, 2019 - 12:57pm

"Your valuation of Trubisky may be right or it may be wrong.  Your certainty of that valuation is a completely separate matter, particularly with someone like Trubisky, who required much more projection and guesswork than most top prospects."

Draft evaluation includes risk. If you're wrong about the risk, you're wrong about the valuation. It's a market - you have to bake in the uncertainty into the value. If you can't do that, you're bad at valuing players.

So what you're calling hubris I'm just calling bad valuation. And your 'panic' is also bad valuation, because the only way it makes sense to trade up is if you think Trubisky's significantly better than Watson/Mahomes, and the fact they didn't interview Watson suggests that's exactly what the problem was.

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#121 by bravehoptoad // Nov 21, 2019 - 1:41pm

It sounds like we're mostly agreeing.

I guess I'm seeing more value than you do in separating your evaluation of a player from the chance your evaluation is wrong, and also more value in distinguishing between hubris and panic.  For diagnostic reasons post-mortem, those differences are important. 

Particularly, "baking in" risk assessment is an easy road to a binary conclusion:  We're right, or we're wrong.  We believe in ourselves, so we're right.  At some point, whatever you call it, you want to separate those two. 

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#128 by Pat // Nov 21, 2019 - 3:52pm

"Particularly, "baking in" risk assessment is an easy road to a binary conclusion:  We're right, or we're wrong.  We believe in ourselves, so we're right."

I think you're talking about the wrong "risk" here. If your risk is "I might be wrong in what I see about this player, so I'm going to just fuzz what I believe" - then you have a bigger problem, because you suck at evaluating players. If your risk is "I'm projecting this kid to turn into this adult in the NFL, and my projection has uncertainty" you just bake that uncertainty in, and take the kid at the spot where the uncertainty equals out the average uncertainty in the NFL.

(edit: by 'bake that uncertainty in', take Johnny Manziel, for instance. Suppose you've got a first-round grade on the guy, so you expect an ~80% chance he's going to be a viable starter. You know he's got a substance abuse problem. Fine. Look at all other guys who've had similar problems. How many of them have made it? Let's say 50%. So now he's got a 40% chance to be a viable starter. So you don't draft him in the first round, you draft him in the mid-seconds where most guys are at a 40% chance to be a viable starter.)

Take a look at a long-term successful franchise, like, say, the Patriots. The Patriots have a perfect record in the first round over the past decade. What do I mean by that? They've drafted 7 players in the first round in the past 10 drafts (excluding this year, since not enough info). Exactly one has not become a viable starter in the NFL for the Patriots or another team, Dominique Easley. That's an 85% success rate, which is easily compatible with the expectation for successful drafting.

Were the Pats wrong on Easley? Yes, sure. But there's nothing wrong with their process. Now, they can go back and look at Easley, look at how they projected him based on his film, and maybe change some of their projections for other players. But they don't really have to - it's a projection. You accept that some of them aren't going to happen.

Compare that to, say, the Browns. They've drafted something like 13 players in the first round, and around six have not become viable starters, either with the Browns or another team. That's way below the expectation for successful drafting, so there's something totally wrong with their process.

But the Browns can't fix that problem by just adding "well, let's be less confident in our valuations." Their valuations are wrong. That's what needs to be fixed. Not their confidence in their valuations.

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#131 by bravehoptoad // Nov 21, 2019 - 4:03pm

That sounds right.  But if the Browns were consistently trading up because of the confidence in their valuations, then no, they need to be less confident in their valuations.

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#63 by Pat // Nov 20, 2019 - 1:17pm

The Bears traded #67, #111, and a 2018 3rd rounder to move from 3 to 2. If they had high confidence that they were in a bidding war with someone who wanted the same player they did, that's not an unreasonable amount to trade. It's a third and a fourth, plus a next year third. Draft picks past the second round are pocket change - you can pick them up via trades or via compensatory picks by being careful via free agent signings (note: the Bears aren't particularly good at either of these, but that's a separate problem). 

The problem was the evaluation, not the trade. If they had picked him at 3 it still would've been bad.

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#66 by Will Allen // Nov 20, 2019 - 1:38pm

To say the 64th pick has measurably more value than the 67th is problematic. My point is this. If you really think your evaluation ability is such that you have high confidence that Trubisky will be significantly better than the guy you'll get at #3, if Trubisky is taken at #2, then you are either overvaluing the qb position, or are too confident in your evaluation abilities.

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#68 by theslothook // Nov 20, 2019 - 1:40pm

The qb position is overvalued until you land an elite player. Maybe the mistake for most gms going in is to expect that player to be elite, but the fact remains, the elite qb is arguably as valuable as a typical NBA superstar. 

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#71 by Will Allen // Nov 20, 2019 - 1:56pm

I'd want precise definitions of "elite" and "superstar" before agreeing or disagreeing with that.

To many gms think it is nearly impossible to win in February absent an elite qb, and thus use way too much capital trying to obtain one.


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#73 by theslothook // Nov 20, 2019 - 2:17pm

In my time watching football circa 2000, the following QBs are elite: Manning, Brady, Brees, Rodgers, and now Mahomes.


Superstars are Harden, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant etc. LeBron is in his own universe.


And I would phrase the goal differently. Of course everyone is trying to win the Superbowl, but elite QBs offer you consistency across a very long time. They give you multiple chances to win without requiring an all star cast on offense to elevate them/ can compensate for bad players on offense.

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#75 by Pat // Nov 20, 2019 - 2:19pm

How are you overvaluing the QB position? It's what the free-agent market is. Drafting even a marginal starting-level quarterback is worth ~$60M, minimum, over 4 years. No other position is worth even half that.

Let's transplant ourselves a year backwards, to the 2016 draft, and pretend the Bears are drafting at 3 there. Suppose they let Wentz go because they're not sure about him, and draft Joey Bosa like the Chargers did.

Bosa was a solid pick. He made the Pro Bowl in year 2. 12 and a half sacks. 4 forced fumbles. He'll probably have double-digit sacks this year too. He's signed for ~$7M dollars/year, and he's a top-flight DE. A top-10 non-rookie DE makes $14.5M/year-ish. That's a savings to the Chargers of ~$30M. Nice - but nothing compared to a quarterback. Wentz was a dramatically more valuable pick to Philadelphia.

The Titans have moved on from Mariota, for instance - but he still wasn't a bad overall pick. They should've cut him before picking up his 5th year option and moved on, but relative to going after a free agent QB (like Cousins or Foles) he was way cheaper.

Let me be clearer: the problem with the Bears trading picks for Trubisky is because Watson was still on the board at that point, and they should've had Trubisky and Watson at least reasonably close. In which case you let the chips fall and go with who you get. If Watson hadn't been in the draft for some reason at all, trading those picks for Trubisky would've been fine. It's just that they never should've had him valued that high in the first place.

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#79 by Will Allen // Nov 20, 2019 - 2:42pm

If you draft  Bosa, then maybe you don't need to sacrifice draft capital to obtain Mack. The point is that getting good players at any position is the primary goal, and qbs get drafted higher than they should because people are willing to take risks at that position that they do not on others. 

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#87 by Pat // Nov 20, 2019 - 5:03pm

"If you draft  Bosa, then maybe you don't need to sacrifice draft capital to obtain Mack."

No, you can't count the lost draft capital in acquiring Mack. The lost draft capital is the difference between Mack's quality and Bosa's quality. They didn't acquire a "top 10 DE" with Mack, they acquired the best pass rusher out there. Obviously that's going to cost draft capital. Mack's worth more than the #3 pick overall, even with the price difference, due to availability. If we swap DE and QB around, Chicago would be drafting Bosa and trying to trade for, say, Russell Wilson.

This is the point - if you draft Bosa and acquire, say, Cousins, you've got a starting QB and a "very good" DE, and it's costing you $40M/year. If you draft a starting QB and acquire a "very good" DE, it's costing you $20M/year. Drafting a starting QB is always the right choice. Chicago just screwed it up.

QBs get drafted higher than they should because they have more intrinsic value just from their cost. You can ignore the "perceived" in-game value entirely - the market for QBs is what gives them their value.

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#88 by Will Allen // Nov 20, 2019 - 5:07pm

Yes, and the market for qbs is more inefficient, relative to other positions.

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#102 by Pat // Nov 21, 2019 - 9:44am

The market is what it is. Saying the market for QBs is inefficient is much different than saying quarterbacks are overvalued in the draft. Drafting a starting quarterback has significantly more value for a team than acquiring a quarterback of equivalent talent in free agency, so it makes perfect sense to spend more draft capital to do so.

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#103 by Will Allen // Nov 21, 2019 - 10:20am

Only on a risk-adjusted basis. The question is whether the risks which are taken on qbs at the top of the draft are larger than the risks taken on players at other positions at the top of the draft, and then whether the collective gains obtained when the picks work out are greater than the losses endured when they don't,  also factoring the opportunity cost endured when bypassing a less risky pick on a player at another position.

On top of this, the price stickiness of players drafted at the top must be factored. Two players can perform exactly equally on their rookie contract, but the player who was selected 3rd overall is going to get more money on his 2nd  contract  than the player who was drafted in the 3rd round. Sam Bradford gets more than he is worth, and Russell Wilson less. I strongly suspect that teams are taking risks on qbs at the top of the 1st round that they would be better off forgoing in favor of players at other positions.

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#105 by Pat // Nov 21, 2019 - 11:06am

"The question is whether the risks which are taken on qbs at the top of the draft are larger than the risks taken on players at other positions at the top of the draft"

What evidence is there that this is true? There are just as many top-end DE busts as QB busts, for instance. Ratio's about the same: past decade, there've been ~9 edge rushers in the top 3 picks, and about 6-7 of them worked out to be serviceable level. It's not as high profile when Dion Jordan, Tyson Jackson, or Courtney Brown flames out, but they happen just about as often.

Plus, the teams that draft busts at the top of the draft tend to be teams that aren't evaluating talent well, period. So you're asking those teams to think "hey, you probably suck at evaluating players, so maybe don't take a risk here because you're probably wrong." And that's not going to work, because if they realized they suck at evaluating players... they wouldn't suck at evaluating players.

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#111 by bravehoptoad // Nov 21, 2019 - 11:53am

What evidence is there that this is true?

I'm much to sleepy to compile actual evidence, but not for a little deduction and an anecdote or two.

Drafting a bad QB at the top of a draft will set a team back for years because of the importance of the QB position.  The team has to invest in the right skill position players for him, design an offense around him or bend him to fit the offense you've got, play him for six or seven hundred snaps to be sure how good he is.  Draft a bad DE, and you just missed a piece.  You can just expend capital to pick up another DE, and voila, you're good to go. 

If the 49ers had drafted Trubisky at #2 and were playing him right now, they'd suck.  Instead they drafted Solomon Thomas at #3, another bust, and how much did it hurt them? 


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#114 by Will Allen // Nov 21, 2019 - 12:21pm

Factoring into this is the fact that if you make a bad pick at the top of the 1st, you'd much rather be certain of the mistake you made at the end of year 1 or 2, as opposed to year 3 or 4. Anybody not afflicted with a fatal case of Grigsonitis knows whether a top end rb is a bust by the end of year two. DEs and OTs aren't that clear-cut, but they aren't like QBs, where you might get to the end of year 3, and still have a lot of uncertainty.

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#112 by Will Allen // Nov 21, 2019 - 11:56am

Inevitably, we get to sample size problems which prevent us from having anything more than suspicions. My suspicion lies in my sense that drafters are more willing, with qbs, to discount the fact that a guy didn't play much in college, compared to their willingness to do so with guys at other positions. If I'm wrong, I'd be happy to revise it to "Lack of starts in college is not factored heavily enough when deciding which player is worth risking a high draft slot on". 

(edit) To add on, I really started thinking this way when Bradford was the consensus preferred pick over Suh. I thought Bradford was a high risk, whereas as Suh was nearly guaranteed to be selected to multiple Pro Bowls. This was before the rookie salary scale, so the risk on Bradford was even more pronounced, but even with the rookie scale, it just seems to me that picking the near sure thing is the more wise path.



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#113 by Aaron Brooks G… // Nov 21, 2019 - 12:19pm

My suspicion lies in my sense that drafters are more willing, with qbs, to discount the fact that a guy didn't play much in college, compared to their willingness to do so with guys at other positions.

I'm inclined to think this specifically is not true. In the case of RBs, less time may be a benefit -- they have less mileage on their tires.

QB seems to be a position most hostile to late-bloomers. Teams will take flyers on one-year wonders at RB and DE/OLB pretty readily.

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#119 by Will Allen // Nov 21, 2019 - 12:45pm

You almost certainly are right with regard to rbs. Maybe a better way to put it is that drafters at the top of the 1st fail to give adequate weight to the fact that you need to see more snaps from a qb, relative to other positions,  in college in order to adequately evaluate his chances of success.

I really hope I haven't spent several thousand words to say that the people who pick at the top of the first round tend to suck at talent evaluation!

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#125 by Pat // Nov 21, 2019 - 3:02pm

A sample size of 10 is at least enough to say that they're not wildly different, and I can definitely give more examples of guys getting drafted too high based on limited starts.

"I thought Bradford was a high risk, whereas as Suh was nearly guaranteed to be selected to multiple Pro Bowls."

See, this is the difference here - you might've thought Bradford was high risk, but every report I saw said that every team at least had a first-round grade on him. Basically all top-20. That's not high risk at all - especially not compared to Trubisky, where grades were more spread to mid-to-late first round, even to second-round. If Bradford had been taken in the era of the rookie wage scale he would've been a decent value, and I wouldn't've even been surprised if they had ended up a playoff team in 2012. As it was his contract was a pretty strong drag on the team given his value. So when I see people saying "draft Suh or draft Bradford" there's not much difference. They're both high-value positions with a strong expectation that they'll be decent starters.

And, hey, guess what? There really wasn't much difference. Bradford's career got cut short by injuries, but he was a decent starter. Suh burst onto the scene with a huge splash, but the Lions didn't resign him, and the Dolphins released him. There's not that huge a difference between Bradford's career and Suh's, minus the injuries.

Whenever I here someone say "nearly guaranteed to be selected to multiple Pro Bowls" for the draft, I practically want to throw up. No one can be graded that highly. That's just dumb exaggeration. You don't draft guys based on what their ceiling likely is, you draft them based on what their floor likely is, and no one has a "multiple Pro Bowl" floor. Mike Williams, for the Chargers, has been basically about a mid-level starting WR, and was drafted 7th overall. That's fine. That's not a bad pick. He's still adding value to that team. It pisses me off that people are calling him a bust. That's not what a bust is.

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#129 by Will Allen // Nov 21, 2019 - 3:55pm

Well, I think you are overstating somewhat the difficulty of getting a couple Pro Bowl selections. I wasn't referring to the initial guys picked. 

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#89 by theslothook // Nov 20, 2019 - 5:24pm

The part I disagree with is Joey Bosa. I think hes better than top 10. I don't have the defeats numbers in front of me, but I think you'd be hard pressed to name even 6 players better than Joey at this point. 

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#104 by Pat // Nov 21, 2019 - 10:36am

When I say "top 10" I mean "on average he's #5" not "on average he's #10" - as in just about everyone would put him in the top 10. Also keep in mind "top 10 now" doesn't necessarily mean "top 10 in 4 years," obviously, so I'm giving Bosa the benefit of the doubt that he will stay top 10 in the next 4 years (that's not to imply Bosa will decline, it's to imply that he's not just top 10 because the current set of DEs is weak).

Bosa's good enough that when he gets a contract extension it'll be near one of the top contracts for a DE, but it won't be Mack "uniquely high contract" levels. Bosa and T.J. Watt, for instance, will likely end up with basically similar contract numbers. If you want to compare it to QBs, Bosa's like Wentz/Goff/Prescott - they're top end QBs, but their contracts aren't going to be like Mahomes's.

I'm really just talking about contract value, though - Bosa's contract will probably put him around top 4-5 for an edge rusher at the beginning but two years in, it'll be more like 7-9 or so, since guys like Bosa aren't that unique: his brother's contract will end up above his, for instance, and likely another edge rusher will emerge from that class too, and then there'll probably be another 2 high-end edge rushers in the next class as well.

That's why I'm saying that Bosa basically saves the Chargers around ~$7M/year, relative to what it would've cost them had they acquired a player of his talent in free agency in 2016. At most it's a little under $10M/year. So at most $40M total savings over a 4-year contract. Whereas a quarterback is more like double that.

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#55 by Steve in WI // Nov 20, 2019 - 12:27pm

To me, the most damning revelation is that Pace did not bother to interview Deshaun Watson before the draft. IMHO, that's a fireable offense. Even if you forgive him for locking on to Trubisky to the point that he was 100% sure of who he wanted, the Bears did not have the #1 pick so they could not be 100% sure they'd be able to draft him. What if the Browns suddenly decided to draft Trubisky over Garrett, or if some other team made a last-second trade up to #1? Pace not doing his due diligence on Watson is worse than merely preferring Trubisky to him.

I think there is enough data already to determine conclusively that Trubisky will not live up to his draft status. But he was the 19th ranked QB by DVOA in 2018. He's a disappointment, but he's not doesn't-belong-in-the-league bad. What concerns me is the level of regression both he and the offense have had from 2018 to 2019. That regression is why I do not feel confident about Nagy working with a different QB, and the ever-growing list of questionable to outright bad Ryan Pace decisions is why I would not feel confident about Pace picking a 3rd coach, in the unlikely event that Nagy is fired.

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#60 by bravehoptoad // Nov 20, 2019 - 12:45pm

Maybe that lack of due diligence is part of the reason John Lynch suckered Pace into trading up a spot to get Trubisky.  If he'd thought of Watson as an acceptable fallback, he might not have made the panic trade.  

Of course, I'm always happy to see the 49ers screw the Bears.  It's part of an ongoing retribution for the Lance Briggs debacle back in '08.  

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#62 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Nov 20, 2019 - 12:54pm

I've only watched Trubisky play in a handful of games, but I come down on the side of those who think he could have a long career as a decent starter / above-average backup.  

That's not what Chicago thought they were getting, but it's how it's turned out.  I wouldn't be inclined to throw Pace under the bus for that decision.

Hiring Nagy's another tough one.  I don't think Nagy's a very good football coach, but the Bears won 12 games last year with him as their coach, so what do I know?   

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#67 by theslothook // Nov 20, 2019 - 1:39pm

If Trubisky is a bad, what is Nagy supposed to do about it? Are we convinced now that Andy Reid would fix Trubisky? And if Reid is off the table, does anyone else have a name to throw out that would get more mileage out of Trubisky?

The fact remains, the gravestones of so many head coaches boil down to the quarterback they have. Rex Ryan is now an espn talking head because Mark Sanchez was a bust, Tyrod Taylor proved to be no better than average. John Fox got the axe the moment Delhomme declined and Jimmy Clausen turned out to be awful at football.

Do I need rehash the coaches who were fired by the browns because they get drafting busts at the position. 

I don't watch the Bears closely enough to tell if Nagy is the problem. The games I've seen, Trubisky seems like the biggest issue, a proverbial hamstring to any offense. Give him the greatest show on turf and we'd probably see a bottom 10 dvoa offense. 


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#85 by Richie // Nov 20, 2019 - 4:30pm

It's possible that the Bears were willing to draft Garrett instead of a QB if the Browns didn't take him.

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#80 by theTDC // Nov 20, 2019 - 2:48pm

Here's the problem with this thinking, pundits have no fucking clue what they're talking about. The idea that KC was an outlier and therefore doesn't count is ludicrous. Bill Belichick is an outlier, that doesn't excuse the average coach going 6-10 five years in a row. I don't care that some randos in the media settled on Trubisky as some great QB prospect, they're idiots. Andy Reid made not just one but two great QB evaluations.

1) Evaluated Alex Smith as not being very good, DESPITE him going to the pro-bowl the year before, and putting up huge numbers. Lots of coaches/GM's in the league would have stuck with "their guy" Alex, but Andy Reid actually knows what he's doing, so he was looking for an opportunity to move on.

2) Recognizing that Patrick Mahomes was a fantastic talent, easily worth trading up to get. Worth the 27th pick, a third round pick, and next years first round pick. And I repeat, worth all this with Alex Smith still on the roster and coming off a pro-bowl season. Not only that, but they had him as the best QB on the board, and the best prospect they had seen in years. 

That's what actually having a fucking clue looks like. If Ryan Pace cannot outperform the media than he's gots to go my friend.

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#81 by theslothook // Nov 20, 2019 - 3:01pm

Andy Reid also drafted Kevin Kobb who amounted to nothing. He hitched his wagon to Mike Vick which worked out one year and then blew up in his face the next. If you're going to use Alex Smith and Mahomes as examples of his shrewd acumen, you have to reconcile the other two qbs from his past.


And Trubisky was not inflated by randos in the media. There is no evidence to suggest Ryan Pace drafted Trubisky because of media fawning. This idea about Trubisky is 100 percent hindsight based. He was a prospect with risks and upside that everyone knew going in. Yes, Pace trading up to get him suggested he was perhaps more convinced about his upside than he should have been, but it wasn't an egregious, utterly indefensible decision to draft Mitch. Not interviewing Watson is pretty egregious, but that's about Watson, not Trubisky. 


And behind all of this - we're not even sure if a qb is destined to be a bust or is molded that way by an incompetent coaching staff.



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#82 by Will Allen // Nov 20, 2019 - 3:17pm

And that is yet another reason why being less risk averse in drafting qbs high, relative to other positions, is a mistake; there are more ways for the pick to bust out, and it takes longer to determine whether the pick has busted out. Getting a good player in the draft, at any position, is extremely valuable, because the price is low. Yes, doing so at qb is most valuable, but that is the position at which it takes longest to be sure that the player is not good, so there is additional risk to go with additional reward. 

Now, maybe I'm wrong, and teams don't take greater risks when drafting qbs, but from my vantage point there is a lot more positional drafting for qbs in the top 10 picks, compared to the other positions.

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#83 by theslothook // Nov 20, 2019 - 3:30pm

Here's the biggest issue. Khalil Mack is one of the best players in the nfl. Jacoby Brissett is a slightly above average qb. The value difference between the two is enormous.

Put it another way...a lot of the wins and losses in the nfl can probably explained over a long period of time by gap in quality between the two opposing quarterbacks. The larger the gap, the more certain the outcome is likely to be. That truism does not hold for any other position group.

This gets to my overall point above. Yes qb play is overrated by the media and fans if we are talking about a single season or winning a title. But it is not overrated when it comes to long term success. Very very few teams can achieve the latter without getting at least above average play. The previous Ravens incarnations seems to be the beginning and end of that list. 

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#93 by Raiderfan // Nov 20, 2019 - 9:57pm

“A lot of the wins and losses in the nfl can probably explained over a long period of time by gap in quality between the two opposing quarterbacks.“

Over a very long period of time, Drew Brees winning percentage is 58.9. I doubt he was only the better QB on the field less than 60% of the time. If there is a single explanation for wins/losses over a long period of time (which I do not accept—too many factors involved), it is much more likely to be the Difference in quality of the coaching, not the QBs.

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#118 by Will Allen // Nov 21, 2019 - 12:37pm

Yep. Go look at Matt Stafford's average DYAR rank, and then the winning percentage of the Lions since 2009.

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#91 by theTDC // Nov 20, 2019 - 9:10pm

Andy Reid also drafted Donovan McNabb, then got rid of him before his decline for a second round pick and fourth round pick. He then used that fourth round pick to select Nick Foles. He also traded AJ Feeley for a second round pick, and traded Kevin Kolb for a second round pick plus Dominique Cromartie. If you look at a list of "QB Moves" made by Andy Reid, you're going to look at a pretty consistent track record of greatness.

"And Trubisky was not inflated by randos in the media. There is no evidence to suggest Ryan Pace drafted Trubisky because of media fawning."

Is that some common narrative, because I have never claimed this at all. I don't care WHY Pace thought Trubisky was good, I just care THAT he thought Trubisky was good. The fact that a guy like Andy Reid can accurately assess Mahomes as being the best QB prospect in years, while Pace thinks Mitch Trubisky is worth trading up to get is damning all on its own, regardless of what Sports Media thinks. That move was idiotic, and a professional NFL GM should be doing a whole lot better than "randos in the media" when it comes to drafting. 

"Yes, Pace trading up to get him suggested he was perhaps more convinced about his upside than he should have been, but it wasn't an egregious, utterly indefensible decision to draft Mitch. Not interviewing Watson is pretty egregious, but that's about Watson, not Trubisky."

Suggested? Are you kidding me. Look, I'm not a Bears fan, I don't really care, but the Trubisky pick WAS an "egregious, utterly indefensible decision". If you can't accurately evaluate talent, why should you be a GM in the NFL?

"He was a prospect with risks and upside that everyone knew going in."

Go watch college tape of Baker Mayfield and compare him to Mitch Trubisky. Mayfield is the best example, but you could pick Goff, Mahomes, or any number of high drafted QB's not named Winston or Haskins. I would challenge you to honestly say what you see on the tape is even close to the others, because it's not. Trubisky looks like the prototypical fifth round pick that might as a longshot start one day and who knows, you could get a good season or two out of him. The other guys look like top 5 picks. On top of that, Trubisky couldn't even win the starting job until his senior season.

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#94 by dryheat // Nov 20, 2019 - 10:18pm

I'm not sure that Trubisky and Goff aren't the same quarterback.  When Goff was being "coached" by Jeff Fisher, he was worse that anything Trubisky has put on tape.  If Trubisky had McVay to cut the field in half and then read the defense pre-snap for him, he'd probably be borderline Pro Bowl.

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#110 by Pat // Nov 21, 2019 - 11:42am

I "kinda" agree with you. Don't agree that offense simplification would help. Plenty of simplification already for Trubisky, he's just not pulling the trigger and throwing the ball. He's had some of the easiest reads on the planet - like, high school reads - and he just doesn't throw.

But I do agree it's pretty clear if he's going to improve he needs a new coach. Something Nagy (or the QB coach) is doing just isn't working. And I also think it's fairly obvious that Nagy doesn't believe in him at all, which also has to be a problem.

That being said he's still got problems with his mechanics, which is a bigger issue than Goff with Fisher had.

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#96 by theslothook // Nov 20, 2019 - 10:40pm

The mistake in your thinking lies squarely with the fact that study after study has shown that no one knows how to beat the draft.


You're suggesting that Ryan Pace should have known better than to draft trubisky. never mind the fact that trubisky himself was slotted as a very high first-round pick independent of Ryan pace. He appeared on a lot of mock drafts very high up on the list.and the fact that a lot of these mock drafts play out the way the actual draft goes shows there's a lot of expertise their, not just amateur prognosticating.


I myself have done a very rigorous study on this. In fact I wrote a paper on this in graduate school which did an in-depth statistical analysis on the NFL draft. I basically applied Eugene Famas famous luck vs skill of mutual funds to the NFL draft and found pretty much identical results. Bottom line, the results we have observed look a lot like the results we might see from simple luck.


That fact suggests that most of the draft is a crapshoot and the bulk of value is derived from where the player was taken not the GM or coach who drafted him.


Given this fact, I'm more sympathetic to Ryan Pace taking trubisky. I am not sympathetic to the fact that he chose not to interview DeShaun Watson at all

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#116 by Pat // Nov 21, 2019 - 12:27pm

"never mind the fact that trubisky himself was slotted as a very high first-round pick independent of Ryan pace."

This is not true. Trubisky's draft position breakdown, according to 104 mock drafts collected:

2.9% #1
8.7% #2
20.2% #6
16.3% #10
38.5% #12

For comparison, Mahomes's position breakdown was #12 (6.7%), #13 (29.8%), #25 (37.5%), #27 (7.7%). Watson's was #12 (18.3%), #25 (24%), #27 (9.6%).

If you look at those, you can see that the bulk of the drafts thought that Trubisky was a borderline top-10 pick. Valuing him at #2 is clearly an outlier there.

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#127 by theslothook // Nov 21, 2019 - 3:37pm

Fair enough, but then again, if you are a qb needy team and you don't anticipate being able to take him further down the draft, you should pull the trigger

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#133 by Pat // Nov 21, 2019 - 4:39pm

You're not making sense here. You're saying "no one can beat the draft." Trubisky's rated as a borderline-top-10 prospect by collective wisdom. The Bears draft him 2nd.

That is literally trying to beat the draft.

If everyone has him rated as a borderline-top-10 prospect, and you're worried about losing him at #3, you're probably wrong. In which case if he falls to you, cool, take him at 3. If he doesn't fall to you and he gets snatched at #2, that's life. The only reason you trade up to take him at 2 is if you believe he's significantly better than the other prospects in the draft. And the consensus view was that was not true, which means you have to believe yourself better than the other teams. And you're not.

Of course, the other possibility is that the mock drafts are all universally wrong, and bunches of teams did have Trubisky ranked way above Mahomes/Watson, and the Bears beat out those teams by throwing pocket change at the 49ers.

Why is this unlikely? Because Ryan Pace is a first-time GM and he was the youngest GM in the league when he was hired. There's a huge prior on Pace not being a good GM.

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#134 by theslothook // Nov 21, 2019 - 5:18pm

Here's how I would say it. Each pick, from 1 to the last, has some expected value with some corresponding risk. When you take Trubisky at 2 vs 10, you are essentially taking a lower expected value player with the 2nd overall pick. But this is a qb we are talking about, so draft value becomes now a tradeoff for positional value. They aren't trying to beat the draft, they are sacrificing one kind of value in exchange for another.

We will never know exactly what the primary motivation for Ryan Pace was. Did he think the world of Trubisky, was he afraid if he took some other position that all of the other qbs would be drafted by the time he selected next and or it would take a godfather offer to get back into the first round to select one of them. Perhaps he was also motivated to drone up excitement behind a young new qb prospect and that added more pressure to acquire THE GUY.

In any case, my only argument to everyone is this - it was a suboptimal play but an understandable one and everyone is being completely revisionist history when they call the move unthinkable.

Contrast that with the Vikings taking Christian Ponder(Sorry Will). - a player who did not have a first round grade going all the way to 11th. That move looked awful without hindsight. 

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#148 by Pat // Nov 22, 2019 - 5:31pm

"We will never know exactly what the primary motivation for Ryan Pace was."

See, the funny thing is - all of the ones you list here are a bad idea.

"Did he think the world of Trubisky," - this means he's not good at evaluating talent, as most scouts had him as a mid-to-late first round pick.
"was he afraid if he took some other position that all of the other qbs would be drafted by the time he selected next" - this means he's bad at drafting. You don't draft for positional need unless the grades are equal. You're drafting to get a multi-year starter - at the top of the draft, you're trying to get a 10+ year starter. Pacing a few other positions is not a big deal.
"Perhaps he was also motivated to drone up excitement behind a young new qb prospect and that added more pressure to acquire THE GUY." - That's just crazy. You build excitement by having a winning team, and you don't build a winning team by doing anything other than trusting your evaluation.

The problem with Trubisky isn't that it didn't work out. It's that the process was flawed: they either clearly had a higher draft grade on Trubisky relative to Mahomes/Watson (which means they're bad at evaluating players) or they drafted a guy higher than they should've (which means they're bad at drafting).

"Contrast that with the Vikings taking Christian Ponder(Sorry Will). - a player who did not have a first round grade going all the way to 11th."

Ponder was a godawful draft pick. I mean, really, really god-awful. You don't draft a QB in the first round at 11 who's got injury concerns with his throwing arm, for crying out loud. That's a fantastic example of a team sucking at player evaluation: there is no way in hell you pick a guy at #11 that has an automatically, baked in 30-40% chance of dead failure. There's just no way. 

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#137 by Richie // Nov 21, 2019 - 7:16pm

Didn't Pace trade with John Lynch, who was also a first-time GM?  Pace had at least worked in a front office for a long time, while Lynch came out of the TV booth.

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#135 by theTDC // Nov 21, 2019 - 7:02pm

"That fact suggests that most of the draft is a crapshoot and the bulk of value is derived from where the player was taken not the GM or coach who drafted him."

This is a totally bizarre non-sequitur. Nobody has ever claimed that if you gave some idiot GM the first overall pick that they would do better than the best scout/GM team in human history with the 255th pick. Nobody has ever claimed otherwise. The question is what value would the two different teams convert from the picks that they are given. That the "value" of any individual pick can be explained mostly by the spot in the draft does not even come close to proving your assertion that "nobody can game the draft". I would also like to note, that you never actually define what "value" is, and if it's something like games played, then I'm just straight up calling bullshit. You are trying to tell me that there aren't serious and valuable differences in talent evaluation between any of the 32 teams in the league, and I'm going to call bullshit until you actually prove that.

Saying that the "value" of a player comes mostly from where they are drafted is a super fancy way of saying that the general consensus on players isn't absolutely pants-on-head retarded. So actually, you're already acknowledging that people can evaluate college prospects to some degree, but you're also saying that nobody can evaluate college prospects with any greater accuracy that provides meaningful return to an NFL organization. That's just absurd.

And my example of Andy Reid absolutely proves you wrong here. QB's Andy Reid has drafted:

1) McNabb No 2 overall, great player and outside shot at hall of fame.

2) Kolb in the second round, serviceable starter with bad injury luck

3) Foles in the fourth round, excellent backup, serviceable-good starter

4) Mahomes 10th overall. No explanation necessary.

Looks like someone figured out how to "game the draft" ie. actually evaluate college quarterbacks. This also ignores the moves he's made with QB's in the NFL, which show shrewd evaluation of NFL QB's. 

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#139 by theslothook // Nov 21, 2019 - 8:14pm

Ok I will try to respond to this without any snark, which isn't exactly something you've done in several of your posts. Apologies to everyone for this long response. And since this also already really long, I'm not going to address the other parts of my argument that you got wrong. 


Firstly - my point was that drafting Trubisky and him failing isn't by itself proof that Ryan Pace has no idea what hes doing. Trubisky was rated by a bunch of mock drafts(whos own ranking of players follows closely with the actual draft results), suggesting a lot of people had high opinions of Trubisky. 


Now, you can claim the smart gms would never have drafted Trubisky, no matter what the mock drafts had said. That therefore implies there are smart GMs out there that can consistently identify talent relative to the average. This seems to be at the heart of the disagreement - someone like Reid(who isn't the GM, but we are going to give him credit nonetheless), can adduce which players will do well and other GMs(Ryan Pace) just have no idea. Or in other words, can someone consistently beat the average. 

This is exactly the hypothesis I wanted to test and exactly what Eugene Fama did with actively managed mutual funds. Note, just as you cited Reid, there have been many many actively managed firms that have done really really well. That seems to suggest, like you are doing, that they are able to beat the market. In fact, they've been doing it for so long, how else could it be anything but evidence of skill right?

Well, it turns out it's not so clear cut. Here's what I did. I tried to predict the probability of a player being a hall of famer based on his accolades. These include years in the league, games started, probowls, all pros, and various other types of recognition. I essentially scanned every major media outlet for all pro teams and threw them in. What came out was a probability of being a hall of famer, higher the better. That became my metric for value. Btw, people have done this using AV and other methods. 


Then, I defined something called a regime - essentially, i tracked the entire tenure of a GM or a particular coach. 


Next, I tried to see how much of a player's draft value is a function of the pick it came from. You take away that part of the explanation and what's left over is either noise or noise + skill or mostly skill and a little noise.

In your example, Reid would be getting a big + differential since he drafts so well, while Pace would get a big - for his differential.

Then, I simulated a world where everyone picked exactly average with some distribution. A good example of this is think about tossing a coin 1000 times. Now do it over 1000 trials and plot the distribution. You will get most of the trials finding just about 50 50 for heads and tails. But some trials will have a lot of heads while others will have a lot of tails and thats just by chance alone. 

Finally - compare this simulated world to the world we observed and see how different the distributions are. Turns out, they aren't statistically dissimilar.  In fact, I started adding just a little variance into the simulation and the distributions were almost completely identical - suggesting there was very very little skill if any on display.


The wording here is important. There is no evidence to suggest that the results we see aren't the result of chance alone. It doesn't by itself prove it's all luck, but we should wary to assess results like this as skill.


Note - I am leaving out a ton of technical footnotes. 







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#143 by Pat // Nov 22, 2019 - 3:14pm

"In your example, Reid would be getting a big + differential since he drafts so well, while Pace would get a big - for his differential."

Yeah, that's what I meant when I say "teams don't draft to win - they draft to not lose." Take Mahomes, for instance. You'd give Reid a big plus, right? Drafting Mahomes wasn't a "huge win" for Reid. No way. Mahomes was projected to be a mid-first round pick, and Reid picked him a little higher than a mid-first round pick. It's maybe a "slight" win for the Mahomes pick relative to common draft knowledge.

Let me be more dramatic about it: Drafting Patrick Mahomes was as good a draft pick as was the Chargers drafting Mike Williams. The fact that Mahomes ended up way above his projection? That's luck. If the Chiefs had known with certainty that Mahomes would end up where he is, they should've traded their entire damn draft class, and portions of the next year's too. They just knew he projected to being an NFL starting quarterback, and they were right. The Chargers projected Mike Williams to be an NFL starting wide receiver, and at this point, it looks like they're right.

That's the problem with evaluating draft picks. Mahomes already has 23 career AV, Mike Williams has 7. They're both total draft successes, yet LA papers are publishing articles saying "is Mike Williams a draft bust?"

I could make a long list of guys that people call draft busts, and they're totally nuts. Bleacher Report has an article of the 10 biggest draft busts in Patriots history. One of them is Daniel Graham. Graham was an 11 year player with 117 starts! That's not a draft bust, that's completely a hit! But their argument is "oh, you expect more from the 21st player overall." No, you don't! A starter in the NFL for a decade? That's exactly what you expect from the 21st player overall. Brodrick Bunkley, for the Eagles. Same deal. Drafted 14th overall. Lasted 10 years in the NFL. Started over 100 games. Fine pick. Not a problem. Give me a decade of those and I'm happy.

Just think about it: You would give a GM a big plus for drafting Brady in the 6th round, right? Ends up Hall of Famer, but drafted at a spot where you wouldn't expect one. Drafting Brady in the 6th round wasn't a draft success! It was a total failure! They were violently wrong about Brady. And the guy who drafted Brady will tell you exactly that - over, and over, and over.

But dinging GMs for anything that happens after the 2nd round (maaaybe third round, although smarter people than me would have to do that) is insane. Third-day draft picks are pocket change. They aren't trying to find Hall of Fame guys in the third round. They're trying to find guys that don't project to the NFL, but that you might be able to do something with.

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#153 by theTDC // Nov 28, 2019 - 7:15pm

"Let me be more dramatic about it: Drafting Patrick Mahomes was as good a draft pick as was the Chargers drafting Mike Williams. The fact that Mahomes ended up way above his projection? That's luck. If the Chiefs had known with certainty that Mahomes would end up where he is, they should've traded their entire damn draft class, and portions of the next year's too. They just knew he projected to being an NFL starting quarterback, and they were right. The Chargers projected Mike Williams to be an NFL starting wide receiver, and at this point, it looks like they're right."

This is just flat out wrong. Why would the Chiefs overpay for Mahomes? They got him for what they paid, so I have no idea what you're talking about here. How is that conversation supposed to go anyway?

"Alright guys we're trading you two firsts and a third for the No 10 overall pick, you good with that?"

"Sound great"

"Actually we're going to trade you our entire draft this year and next because otherwise this internet commentator Pat won't believe that we adequately evaluated how good Mahomes is."

"You sure about that, you could have him for what you offered."

"Absolutely, never been more sure in my life."

Secondly, Reid said after they drafted Mahomes that he was the best QB prospect he had evaluated in years. It should be noted, he didn't trade up for Winston, Mariota, Goff, Wentz, Lynch, Trubisky or Watson. He did trade up for Mahomes. So it appears that Reid was pretty much correct in his evaluation of Mahomes, and did not say that he expected to get a starting quarterback. He already had one of those in Alex Smith.

On the topic of Brady, well sure. It's worth mentioning that the Patriots had him as a third round pick, but finally took him in the sixth because he had too much value to ignore. The Patriots may have missed on Brady just like everyone else, but they sure missed a lot closer to the target, as evidenced by them drafting him.

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#152 by theTDC // Nov 28, 2019 - 7:04pm

Didn't see this until now, but am responding anyway. Especially since you felt the need to claim that there are "other parts of [my] post that are wrong" without actually, you know, telling anyone what they are.

Your hypothesis is this:

1) The general consensus on college player evaluation is fairly accurate, so everybody can do better than just picking random college players.

2) Literally nobody can, over time, do better than the consensus, at least not to an extent that actually matters.

Okay, that's totally absurd to the point of parody. This is one of those "statistical findings" that a cursory glance at reality should dispel. If it were really true that no GM/scouting department could convert the same value in picks into a higher or lower value in players then you could just have no scouting department at all, and draft the highest player on some random dipshits draft board. I hope you don't regret picking Blaine Gabbert over JJ Watt my friend. Perhaps you should go and tell this to the owners of NFL Franchises. I'm sure you could save them a whole lot of money, since they don't need scouts any longer.

And I'm even ignoring gamesmanship during the draft, where you pick inferior players earlier because you know the player you want is available later. The Seahawks had a first round grade on Wilson, but waited until the third because they knew he would still be available, as an example.

I have some sympathy. It can be very easy to fool yourself into believing that you have proved something that you haven't, especially when an incorrect assumption seems perfectly reasonable. As it stands, the gold standard for a quick and dirty evaluation of a player is probably PFF's player grades. If you did the same study as before, and then found that the only correlation between a players grades was their draft status, then fine. 100% I would predict that would not be the case.

Points: 0

#154 by theslothook // Dec 29, 2019 - 3:31pm

Lol. You are probably someone who believes active investment managers beat the market, else why would they still exist if they didn't? Also, it's not only my study that has come to this conclusion. 

Also bringing up JJ Watt over Gabbert plus your carricature of my argument about what GMs should do suggests you either didn't bother reading my post carefully or didnt bother trying to understand it.


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#115 by bravehoptoad // Nov 21, 2019 - 12:26pm

I'm with theslothook on this one.  The power of hindsight is making you scornful.  Trubisky is a bad QB, it turns out.  That doesn't mean the decision to draft him was wrong. 

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#108 by Pat // Nov 21, 2019 - 11:32am

"Andy Reid also drafted Kevin Kobb who amounted to nothing."

Kolb was a second round pick, and he basically ended up as a replacement-level QB with below-average health.

It's also worth noting that he traded Kolb for basically the equivalent of what he acquired him for. In other words, another team thought that Kolb's performance vindicated Reid's valuation as well.

"He hitched his wagon to Mike Vick which worked out one year and then blew up in his face the next."

Vick didn't blow up in Reid's face. A whole lot of things happened that year, including Reid's son committing suicide at training camp. I mean, jeez, Vick was basically a slightly below average QB after Reid left (with Foles being better, obviously), and then Vick basically cratered.

"Not interviewing Watson is pretty egregious, but that's about Watson, not Trubisky. "

There's no way that's true. The only justifiable reason for not interviewing Watson is that they were already convinced by Trubisky, and being that convinced by a one-year starter in college is flatly insane.

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#126 by theslothook // Nov 21, 2019 - 3:35pm

Kolb and Vick was trying to refute the notion that Reid can forsee a qb's abilities well in advance.


And I worded things poorly with Watson. I meant that he didn't interview Watson is a separate blunder than drafting Trubisky. 

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#136 by theTDC // Nov 21, 2019 - 7:15pm

And the fact that you didn't also bring up him drafting McNabb and Foles is borderline dishonest. As well as him trading AJ Feeley for a second, and Kolb himself for a second. I've said before and I'll say again, the totality of Reid's "QB moves" can only be summed up as consistent greatness. 

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#140 by theslothook // Nov 21, 2019 - 8:17pm

It wasn't dishonest. It wasn't even the point. i was trying to show Andy Reid's greatness is not an any and always. 

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#141 by Will Allen // Nov 21, 2019 - 10:14pm

When it comes to evaluating decisions, until you get to a very large sample, there's a decent argument for being hesitant to use the term "consistent". Would I like to use Reid for picking qb's, compared to the average drafter? Sure. Especially if Reid is going to run the offense. If Reid's picks were being shipped over to Jeff Fisher, however, I'm not sure it makes much difference.

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#142 by dryheat // Nov 22, 2019 - 8:17am

This is really the key.  Andy Reid is very successful in identifying quarterbacks who will likely succeed in Andy Reid's offense. 

It sounds like a no shit statement, but such a dynamic is rare, because:

1. Most of the time the offensive guru is not responsible for drafting players, and/or

2. The HC/OC is convinced that they can shoehorn any good college QB into their offense. 

Such an idea would never occur to any of the Cleveland Browns management teams since their rebirth.  Instead, they collect good college players.  Forcing players -- not just QBs -- to do something they don't do well or have never done before, and expecting excellence commensurate with their college career / draft slot is ludicrous, yet it happens all the time.  If you're going to draft a college quarterback who's strength is running and throwing off of rollouts, you'd better not have him standing in the pocket for 3 seconds dealing with pressure and trying to find the open man.

It's really why the Patriots have been consistently able to acquire players who "busted" with their drafting team on the cheap, and get significant production out of them.

Points: 0

#145 by Pat // Nov 22, 2019 - 3:27pm

"Kolb and Vick was trying to refute the notion that Reid can forsee a qb's abilities well in advance."

Yeah, and I have no idea how that works to do that, which is what I'm saying.

Reid picked Kolb as a second round pick, and that's basically what he was worth. Keep in mind no one had Kolb that high, and Kolb's career looks like a second round pick QB - maybe starting quality on the right team, cut short by injuries. That's a typical second round pick QB to me. Drafting Kolb was totally a plus for Reid - at worst a very minor overdraft, maybe half-a-round. And yes, I know Kolb was a "near top of second round" guy, but again, if you look at Kolb's career, before it was cut short by injuries, he was basically tracking to be the "journeyman QB" guy, like, say, Josh McCown. That's a second-round type.

Vick's the same way. McNabb lobbied Reid to sign Vick, he took a look at him and said "yeah, there's something still here." And there was. Reid signed Vick to basically a vet-minimum contract. There was little-to-no competition there, and Reid wasn't looking at Vick saying "OMG this guy's a multi-year starter still." Hell no! If he thought that, he would've dumped McNabb and signed Vick to a $10M/year contract before some other team did.

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#146 by theslothook // Nov 22, 2019 - 3:38pm

2nd round value might be what Kolb ended up, but I highly doubt Reid was expecting that when he selected Kolb.

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#147 by Pat // Nov 22, 2019 - 5:17pm

"I highly doubt Reid was expecting that "

I don't! You know why? Because he drafted him in the second round.

If he thought he was worth more than that, why would he have waited that long?! Philly traded down that year. They moved down 10 spots from #26, and then they acquired Kolb at #36.

I think you're confusing "expect" with "hope". Of course Reid hoped Kolb would result in higher value than that. But they expected a player who played like Kolb did during college, with his workouts, with his interview, to be worth a second round pick. Drafting on "hope" means you're overdrafting.

You could say "well, the Eagles drafted back because they knew no one else would take Kolb there," and I totally disagree with that kind of drafting. Why? Because now it means that not only do you have to figure out what you think a player's worth, you also have to figure out what other teams think a player's worth. That's nuts. You draft a guy where you think he's worth it. Philly didn't think he was worth the #26 pick, so they traded back. If they wouldn't've been able to trade back, they still shouldn't've picked him there. Losing a player's not a big deal. I hate it when people say "if he's your guy, just take him." That's nuts. Teams lose hundreds of players every draft. No one's confident that some guy's going to be a Pro Bowler when you're drafting down at #26 or anything like that. You have the grades you have, and you stick with them. You miss a guy, so what. Throw the ball away, live to draft again.

Points: 0

#149 by theslothook // Nov 22, 2019 - 6:16pm

I guess I disagree with the view that GM's and coaches draft quarterbacks in the second round with the expectation that they will be solid backups. 

That might be what the hard numbers say, but I doubt they think of it that way.

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#150 by Pat // Nov 23, 2019 - 2:08pm

If they think any other way, why are they drafting them in the second round??

Second round QBs are projects. Guys that you think with work they might be starters, but you're confident they'll be backups quickly. Jimmy Garoppolo. Chad Henne. Kolb. John Beck. 

Backup QBs are still valuable. They make $4-5M on a team! Using a second round pick on one is still positive value.

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#86 by dank067 // Nov 20, 2019 - 4:50pm

The Chiefs also liked Alex Smith enough in the first place to trade a second round pick for him in 2013 and then hand him a $68 million extension the following offseason. In fact, I'd say they actually did a pretty damn bad job evaluating Smith considering how mediocre his 2013 season was. Look how much better they became on offense after the transition to Mahomes in 2018 - this after Alex Smith had far and away his career best season in 2017. Who knows how much the decisions the Chiefs made on Alex Smith in 2013 and 2014 held the franchise back through 2017?

They nailed the Mahomes evaluation, but this stuff isn't that simple.

Points: 0

#92 by theTDC // Nov 20, 2019 - 9:17pm

And they were probably right to do so. Getting Alex Smith in his prime for a second round pick is a completely defensible decision. Good quarterbacks don't grow on trees, and there's no 90 overall QB just waiting for you out there. Smith is a totally reasonable game manager who makes good decisions but has a pretty bad arm. That's worth a second round pick if your other QB's are garbage. 

And Reid proved that he could accurately assess how good Smith really was. First by selecting Mahomes and trading so much draft capital for him, and then by trading Smith away, for a third round pick plus Kendall Fuller I might add. So, again, I don't see how this disproves my point.

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#98 by ssereb // Nov 21, 2019 - 6:29am

Importantly, Patrick Mahomes wasn't available in 2013 or 2014. In 2013 the Chiefs had the #1 overall pick, which they used on Eric Fisher. The first QB taken was EJ Manuel all the way at 15. It was a bad draft for QBs, to say the least. Maybe in retrospect the Chiefs should have taken Lane Johnson over Fisher, but considering that Dion Jordan, Barkevious Mingo, and Dee Milliner all went in the top 10, they dodged a lot of bullets. Going from drafting first overall to pairing a competent starting QB with a highly-regarded rookie tackle is a solid team-building move.

In 2014, as a result of that solid team-building move, the Chiefs drafted 23rd. Here, the Alex Smith move actually saved them from a lot of heartbreak, as the QBs who had already come off the board at that point were Blake Bortles and Johnny Manziel. They could have moved on from Smith and drafted Teddy Bridgewater or Jimmy Garoppolo, but even healthy, those guys are clearly not Patrick Mahomes and to be honest, are pretty comparable with the version of Alex Smith that played for the Chiefs.

Hindsight plays a big part of it but it seems like Reid found himself a competent placeholder quarterback, then picked his spot to his guy rather than drafting a quarterback because he urgently needed to put someone under center (or in shotgun, as it were).

Points: 0

#138 by theTDC // Nov 21, 2019 - 7:25pm

Yeah I'm making a list of Reid's "QB Moves", not necessarily in perfect chronological order.

1) Drafted Donovan McNabb 2nd overall - decent to very good.

2) Traded AJ Feeley for a second round pick - great

3) Drafted Kevin Kolb 36th overall - okay

4) Traded Kevin Kolb for a second round pick and Dominique Rogers-Cromartie - great

5) Drafted Nick Foles in the fourth round - great

6) Traded Donovan McNabb the year before his huge decline to the Redskins for a second and fourth - great

7) Traded a second rounder for Alex Smith - good

8) Traded two firsts and a third rounder to draft Patrick Mahomes - Unreal

9) Stuck with Michael Vick as his starter over the rookie Foles - ?, but I'll say okay.

I'm not sure how anyone looks at this as "average". The guy has consistently shown talent evaluation to be a strong suit of his. There are no serious whiffs on this list, and a great deal of solid wins. That Reid doesn't have a magical ability to create Aaron Rodgers in a lab and have him play for the team is not a knock against him. You will notice that there is no "traded up for Busty McBusterson" item on this list.

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#78 by theTDC // Nov 20, 2019 - 2:32pm

"...or flukes like Kahlil Mack being absent from the stat sheet in Sunday's game"

I give you some film explanation.


TLDR: Rams ran often, threw quickly, and double or even triple teamed Mack almost all the game. Then they had the rest of the o-line winning constantly against whomever was left. Also, the Bears inexplicable had him drop into coverage 7 times (2 called back from penalties), so maybe he was injured or something.

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#48 by junglejoe_lv // Nov 20, 2019 - 12:09pm

I still wish the site allowed for Week A to Week Z drill down of DVOA for every team so we could see things like, "Since Week 7, however, Baltimore has both the No. 1 offense and the No. 1 defense in the league by DVOA", ourselves.


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#69 by Cheesehead_Canuck // Nov 20, 2019 - 1:40pm

I can't say for sure but that might be a premium feature. Anybody know?

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#101 by Aaron Schatz // Nov 21, 2019 - 8:01am

Right now, we can't provide this type of feature in premium but we would like to in the future.

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#100 by poplar cove // Nov 21, 2019 - 8:00am

I'm a premium subscriber and don't see that feature

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#97 by theslothook // Nov 21, 2019 - 1:05am

this is in response to multiple comments above. Behold nfl dot com's own review of Trubisky.

"BOTTOM LINE Trubisky is a high-end quarterback prospect who possesses NFL size, a big arm and the ability to throw with accuracy from the pocket or on the move. Despite playing in a spread-based offense, he's a full-field reader who does a very good job of getting an early read on the safeties before crafting his course of action. Trubisky will have to become much more pocket aware and do a better job of recognizing and attacking blitzes to back NFL defensive coordinators off. He hasn't put all the pieces together yet, but the puzzle is all right in front. Trubisky projects as a good starting quarterback with a high floor and the potential to be great."

The point is not to castigate the writer. Who here has the courage to make a prediction and sign their names to it. The point is to recognize that very few, if anyone, is a reliable soothsayer and realize that every prospect is like an unmarked box with a question marked attached to it.

Points: 0

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