Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Week 3 DVOA Ratings
Week 3 DVOA Ratings
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Aaron Schatz

Green Bay remains on top of the Football Outsiders ratings after three weeks, despite last night's close 20-17 loss to Chicago. The Packers' first two victories were big enough to keep a below-average game from knocking them out of the top slot. Before applying opponent adjustments -- those won't start until next week -- last night's game was the rare contest where both teams ended up with a rating below 0%. All of those False Start penalties result in a penalty for one team, but they don't boost the rating of the defense involved. The same goes for the two missed field goals (yes, that includes the one that was blocked, since blocking field goals isn't generally a predictive event).

That "double-negative" game is a big reason why Chicago is a surprising 14th this week despite starting 3-0. The Bears may have three wins, but all three have been very close. They certainly haven't been as dominating as a 2-1 team like Atlanta or Philadelphia. The flip-side equivalent to Chicago would be the Cleveland Browns, who rank 19th despite three losses. Those losses were all close, and Cleveland's single-game ratings are, in order -1.9%, -3.5%, and -24.6%. Another team that has been more impressive than its record is the Dallas Cowboys, who rank in the top ten even though they didn't win until this past week.

All of these ratings, of course, are still somewhat shaky because it is too early to include opponent adjustments. The 3-0 Kansas City Chiefs are a good example of this problem. When we predicted before the season that Kansas City would win the AFC West, it was more a prediction of San Diego's decline. We expected the Chiefs to sneak into the playoffs at 9-7. We did not expect them to start the season 3-0, including a triumphant 31-3 thrashing of San Francisco this week. According to our playoff odds report, the Chiefs now have the best chance to make the postseason of any team in the league: 93.9 percent of all simulations.

Now, it looks like Kansas City has built its good early record against bad teams, as its three opponents are a combined 1-8. But one of those opponents is San Diego, a team most observers expect to improve -- and the Chargers' two losses have been very close. Another of those opponents is Cleveland, which, as noted in the paragraph before this one, has played its opponents close so far. So has Kansas City played three bad teams? Or two average teams and one bad team? Or will the Chargers win eventually qualify as a win over a good team? It's just too early to tell.

San Diego's position in the rankings is even more questionable given how the Chargers managed to lose this week. The Chargers were almost entirely beaten by one man: Leon Washington. Seattle's performance this week qualifies as the best special teams game of the DVOA Era, and after looking at historical numbers, it's reasonable to state that Washington had the best kickoff return game in NFL history.

Back in Pro Football Prospectus 2006, we ran an essay in the New York Giants chapter discussing the best and worst special teams games in DVOA history. At the time, the best special teams game belonged to the 2002 New Orleans Saints, who were 16.3 estimated points worth of field position above average in a Week 6 win over Washington. (Click here for an explanation of how we turn field position on kicks and punts into an estimated point total.)

Right after we wrote that book, three of the best return men in history showed up in the NFL: Joshua Cribbs, Devin Hester, and Leon Washington. Cribbs has probably been the best of the three overall, but he's the one who has never had that one specific record-breaking superlative day. Hester was the main engine behind Chicago breaking the record in Week 12 of 2007, with 16.6 points worth of estimated field position. You may remember that as the "Why on earth is Todd Sauerbrun still kicking to Hester?" game, where Hester had two return touchdowns in the third quarter.

This week, the Seahawks broke that record by a very, very tiny margin. That Bears game was actually worth 16.59 points. This week, Seattle's special teams were worth 16.61 points. When we do our periodic upgrades to the statistical methods, adjusting the various baselines to make them more accurate, that Chicago game could move back in front. But for now, this Seattle game is the best special teams performance of the last two decades -- and again, it is almost entirely because of Washington. Olindo Mare hit two short field goals -- positive value, but almost meaningless. His kickoffs were very good, with two touchbacks and three other kicks returned to around the 20. On one of those, the Seahawks stripped the ball from Darren Sproles, which is definitely important. Golden Tate had a nice 31-yard punt return, but Jon Ryan's punts were pretty average.

Leon Washington, though... Washington averaged 63.3 yards on four kickoff returns. Besides the two touchdowns, he also brought a short 55-yard kickoff back 33 yards. (The average return on a 55-yard kickoff is only 18 yards.) Vince Verhei went back and looked at NFL history before the last two decades, and found that Washington had the highest single-game average of any return man with at least four kickoffs in a game. It's not even close -- Devin Hester previously held the record at 56.3 yards, and there are only two other players with games in the 50s. If we drop the minimum to three returns, then Washington ranks third with the highest average in 50 years; in 1960, Lenny Lyles of the 49ers had a game where he averaged 67.3 yards on three returns, while Ken Hall of the Oilers had one averaging 65.3 yards on three returns.

Here's a updated look at the best special teams games of the DVOA Era, going back to 1993:

Year Team Week Opponent Value
2010 SEA 3 SD 16.6 pts
2007 CHI 12 DEN 16.6 pts
2009 CHI 4 DET 16.4 pts
2002 NO 6 WAS 16.3 pts
2000 BAL 17 NYJ 16.0 pts
2002 CAR 14 CIN 15.5 pts
2000 TB 13 BUF 15.4 pts
1997 SD 10 CIN 15.3 pts
2003 OAK 17 SD 14.9 pts
1994 CLE1 1 CIN 14.8 pts
2005 NYG 1 ARI 14.8 pts

The good news for Chargers fans -- and bad news for Seahawks fans -- is that this kind of special teams performance is very unlikely to continue for the rest of the year. The Chargers may end up with the worst special teams in the league this year, but it won't be this bad.

* * * * *

All stat pages are now updated. The FO Premium database of DVOA splits will be updated later tonight. Also, please note that the KUBIAK midseason update will be available for download on Thursday afternoon of this week.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through three weeks of 2010, 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 VOA are adjusted to consider all fumbles, kept or lost, as equal value. SPECIAL TEAMS VOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver) and week of season.

There are no opponent adjustments in VOA until the fourth week of the season, which is why it is VOA right now rather than DVOA. As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE.

DAVE is a formula which combines our preseason projection with current VOA to get a more accurate forecast of how a team will play the rest of the season. Right now, the preseason projection makes up 55 percent of DAVE.

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 GB 35.4% 1 24.4% 2 2-1 27.3% 5 -13.9% 5 -5.8% 29
2 KC 33.7% 11 14.8% 9 3-0 9.4% 13 -16.6% 4 7.8% 3
3 PIT 33.5% 9 29.8% 1 3-0 -8.4% 19 -33.7% 1 8.2% 2
4 NYJ 31.7% 4 21.1% 6 2-1 19.1% 7 -7.0% 11 5.7% 5
5 PHI 30.8% 15 21.8% 4 2-1 30.2% 3 -1.6% 17 -1.0% 18
6 NE 26.5% 7 23.7% 3 2-1 47.2% 1 20.0% 27 -0.8% 17
7 ATL 24.7% 2 21.7% 5 2-1 17.5% 8 -7.5% 8 -0.3% 16
8 DAL 20.2% 16 10.6% 11 1-2 22.4% 6 3.6% 22 1.4% 11
9 SEA 19.3% 6 5.0% 14 2-1 -9.3% 20 -7.3% 9 21.3% 1
10 IND 18.8% 12 19.7% 7 2-1 32.6% 2 9.6% 24 -4.2% 26
11 MIA 9.1% 5 11.2% 10 2-1 10.2% 12 -4.0% 15 -5.0% 27
12 NO 6.8% 14 8.3% 13 2-1 13.5% 9 10.7% 25 4.0% 7
13 TEN 4.0% 17 -1.9% 20 2-1 -19.3% 28 -22.8% 2 0.5% 13
14 CHI 3.8% 13 9.5% 12 3-0 1.7% 15 0.8% 18 2.9% 8
15 SD 3.6% 8 -1.4% 19 1-2 12.3% 10 -18.0% 3 -26.6% 32
16 CIN 2.5% 20 -0.3% 17 2-1 -5.2% 18 -5.9% 13 1.9% 10
17 TB -0.2% 3 -6.4% 21 2-1 -13.4% 22 -10.6% 7 2.6% 9
18 BAL -1.3% 22 16.7% 8 2-1 -12.3% 21 -12.0% 6 -1.0% 19
19 CLE -6.6% 18 -14.3% 25 0-3 -3.0% 16 1.3% 19 -2.3% 20
20 NYG -7.1% 19 1.6% 15 1-2 -4.1% 17 -6.5% 12 -9.5% 31
21 HOU -8.4% 10 -14.0% 24 2-1 29.4% 4 37.8% 32 -0.1% 15
22 DEN -12.5% 21 -9.2% 22 1-2 10.4% 11 20.1% 28 -2.8% 22
23 STL -12.7% 23 -17.9% 26 1-2 -15.2% 23 -5.3% 14 -2.9% 23
24 MIN -14.7% 27 0.8% 16 1-2 -18.9% 27 -3.5% 16 0.7% 12
25 WAS -16.6% 25 -0.9% 18 1-2 7.7% 14 20.3% 29 -4.0% 25
26 DET -22.0% 24 -28.2% 30 0-3 -18.7% 26 3.8% 23 0.5% 14
27 ARI -23.1% 30 -13.3% 23 2-1 -17.0% 25 3.0% 20 -3.2% 24
28 BUF -41.3% 32 -24.8% 27 0-3 -16.1% 24 32.1% 31 6.9% 4
29 OAK -43.8% 29 -36.5% 32 1-2 -33.0% 31 3.0% 21 -7.7% 30
30 JAC -44.7% 26 -26.4% 29 1-2 -22.6% 29 27.2% 30 5.1% 6
31 CAR -46.6% 31 -25.3% 28 0-3 -51.5% 32 -7.2% 10 -2.3% 21
32 SF -49.6% 28 -32.9% 31 0-3 -27.2% 30 17.2% 26 -5.1% 28


212 comments, Last at 06 Oct 2010, 10:31am

1 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Wait, you mean Tampa isn't really the third-best team? Travesty!

140 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Just wait until those opponent adjustments come in! Why the Panthers game alone will..... oh, never mind.

2 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Every time I see someone ripping off good kick/punt returns regularly I die a little. Usually the last words on my lips are "they Colts coulda had him...." Washington was a risky move because of the injury, but a pretty inexpensive acquisition.

6 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

tall, dark stranger, mysterious glint in his eye, six-gun on his hip? No idea who he was. But he had a point.

Hey, at this pont I'll take Bethel Johnson--I see him in my nightmares anyway, why not on the field, too?

31 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Once again, hearing woulda coulda from Mr. Fan of Seven Consecutive 12 Win Seasons, Recent Super Bowl Winner, is little hard on the ears of Mr. Fan of Four Consecutive Super Bowl Loser, followed by Five Consecutive Conference Championship Loser, expecting to be followed by Six Consecutive Divisional Round Loser, Seven Consecutive Wild Card Round Loser, and then Eight Straight Years of Missing the Playoffs!

Glass half-empty guy? Who, me?

62 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

As Manning says, there's always room for improvement. And verily, their field position annually ranks as slightly better than a case of botulism. In the last 13 years (Manning era) they have had consistent, great O, up and down D (but sometimes very good), but consistently putrid returns. I'd trade a competent DB for a semi-competent one who can average 5.0 more yards per KO return and 3.0 more per punt return.

A fair trade. It's not THAT much to ask for, really....

127 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I'd wager that with a great offense, very good special teams returns and the better starting field position is not worth as much as a defense that produces more turnovers and therefore more possessions.

I know DVOA doesn't account for it, but it would be interesting research to see if the value of return teams is amplified or dampened by the biases of the offense and defense. Certainly, an offense that turns the ball over a lot ends up punting and kicking off less.

161 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Sure, but would you trade a third pass rusher (Jerry Hughes) for the "semi-competent" DB who excels at special teams?

3 More Than Meets The Eye

Worst 3-0 team: Chicago Bears
Best 0-3 team: Cleveland Browns
Worst 2-1 team: Arizona Cardinals
Best 1-2 team: Dallas Cowboys

152 Re: More Than Meets The Eye

Chiefs will be tested in week 5 against Indy. Win or Lose, everyone will have an answer if they deserve the coveted "undefeated" title. Odds are, of coarse, on the proven Colts but the Chiefs are proving to be effective scrappers. Will hopefully be a good game.

79 Re: More Than Meets The Eye

As a longsuffering Lions fan... I seriously think the Lions are a better 0-3 team than the Browns. But I could be wrong, and I don't have even my own numbers to back it up (yet).

119 Re: More Than Meets The Eye

Now that I've run the numbers for my own (experimental) personal rating system, I've got the Lions a spot above the Browns right now (#24 and #25 respectively). For what that's worth.

Caveat: I'm unwilling to say more than that I do have this system, as it's approximately 3 weeks old. (On two weeks of data, however, it went 8-7-1 on predictions last week: hardly stellar, but astronomically better than it did on Week 2, so with more data maybe it will be useful.)
Caveat II: I've only finished processing data for 9 of the 16 games, so ranking could change.

167 Re: More Than Meets The Eye

My ranking system has Detroit above Cleveland too, although it's such a small sample size for ranking comparisons. Detroit is 22 and Cleveland is 23. Best undefeated team is the Chiefs in my system, best 0-3 team is the Lions. Worst 2-1 team is the Arizona Cardinals, and best 1-2 team is the Chargers. My system is based mostly off of PA and PF as well as "Strength of schedule" and Offensive yards/Defensive yards allowed per game.

184 Re: More Than Meets The Eye

Why not run it through some historical data if you're trying to test its predictive accuracy? You don't have to wait for the results that way.

4 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Hmm... Philly with the #3 offense. That Mike Bell and LeSean McCoy are really something. Also, their offensive line is clearly dominant. There's no other explanation for what's going on there.

Just kidding. Everyone knows Owen Schmitt is the man.

20 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Last year there was reluctance to acknowledge Favre's impact because the story was overplayed, too. I think it's at least partly sportstalk fatigue related. And, as is sure to be pointed out, opponent adjustments will probably knock a little of the bloom off the rose

23 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Maybe - but so much of their offensive value is from the running game, where they are a 20% above the second ranked team and 40% above the 4th ranked team. Vick's passing value can drop significantly and their rushing DVOA is still giant.

Plus, they put up great numbers against GB, who is ranked highly on d. According to VOA, they've played a good defense, a mediocre defense and a bad defense - they truly haven't played 3 cream-puffs. I think they will drop to 8 or 9, but that ain't bad, considering they lost their Pro Bowl fulback and best offensive lineman in the first game of the season. And they haven't had their projected o-line starters make it through an entire game together (meaning, they've had o-line injuries in every single game.)

It's hard to think that Vick hasn't been the difference so far on offense...

49 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Will be interesting to see what happens with opponent adjustments. They'd surely leapfrog Indy's offense in 2nd place who've faced the #28 and #32 defenses so far....

52 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

That's true - Peyton Manning is clearly nothing but the beneficiary of unwarranted hype. He's only beat up on chumps! I saw him fail to convert a third down, to boot!

72 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I think we need to wait until he faces a real defense. This might be the year he starts to decline. He hasn't even rushed for 100 yards once. And people are talking about him as a MVP contender? Please.

107 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I'm confused - are you talking about Vick or Manning?

I'd like to see Manning run for 100 yards.


7 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

< Da Bears > is clearly ranked < too low > because < they are teh clutch and winnging close game >. < Peter King > is way better than this. < Cutty ruulz, Rogers sux. >

8 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Is it just me, or does it seem early in the season for the field of undefeateds to be winnowed down to just three?

10 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

It feels like this year in general there aren't any great teams, just some pretty good ones. Maybe Pittsburgh will fill that role when the only dude in the league I'd like to QB my team less than Mike Vick is back. A lot of dominant teams from the past decade look shakier than normal and none of the young teams that were supposed to have emerged really look impressive. Heck, some like SF and Dallas have flopped pretty hard. Dallas will be fine... but, yeesh, SF looks awful. Like 2006 SF awful.

38 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Worse than 2006 awful, because we actually have a lot of talent on the roster this time around.

Have I said this before? WTF WTF WTF WTF WTF?

186 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I'm pretty sure this is a secret plot to get Luck in next years draft. It has to be that, right guys? right? *sobs uncontrollably*

9 Steelers

#1 in Defense
#2 in Special Teams
#19 in Offense

#3 overall

Just wait until their quarterback comes back...

11 Re: Steelers

In reply to by Mostly Anonymous (not verified)

Then it truly will be the year of "Horrible Men Grab all the Pro Football headlines."

18 Re: Steelers

In reply to by chemical burn

Eeeeh, I suspect his D will be grabbing all the headlines unless Ben averages 300 YPG and 3 TDs. Assuming a more normal QB season, most pundits and fans will be talking about their dominant D. But I hear your point. I expect the other PA QB story to fade a bit with time as well.

Rightfully so, so the entire country can prepare for the annual Peytom Branning debate, which we'd all prefer.

64 Re: Steelers

In reply to by chemical burn

You really need a new shtick

93 Re: Steelers

In reply to by chemical burn

A bunch of your comments here and in a few other threads complaining about Roethlisburger and Vick as people were wearing a little old. It's probably just me. I notice you also have a lot of posts about other topics, so just ignore me.

I admit that I'm a huge hatter of the Jim Rome side of sports commentary, and I don't usually give a crap what other people think of third parties I (and usually they) don't know personally.

Basilicus - That's how wikipedia spelled it. I actually looked it up before I posted.

154 Re: Steelers

In reply to by drobviousso

I think it's fitting that for every article that hits on those players, a few of us hang around to hate them (the players, not the articles). After all, other people get to hate teams and players because they beat their team when they were young or were an annual thorn in the side for their beloved player, so why can't we be the ones who stick around to remind people that, despite whatever success Roethlisberger and Vick might otherwise see, they are people who don't deserve our respect for even bigger reasons. When I see Vick apologizing more than once a year for his prior actions, or NFL Network even once mention what he did as being awful rather than celebrating every mention of his name, then people like us will shut up.

As is, few seem to care, and the few who do care find that deeply aggravating.

171 Re: Steelers

In reply to by Basilicus

Yeah...but you don't generally see a Redskins fan hang around just to say that "Dallas is garbage" every time they're mentioned in an article. (Or maybe I've gotten good at glossing over it?)

It's also slightly disconcerting to me that some people seem to have no forgiveness toward, benefit of the doubt for, or possibility of change in people they don't even know; And that makes it slightly more annoying.

180 Re: Steelers

In reply to by dbostedo

I don't recall Dallas torturing animals or being accused of raping women. That comparison is meaningless.

191 Re: Steelers

In reply to by Mountain Time …

But I didn't bring up that comparison....it was being compared in the comment above :

"After all, other people get to hate teams and players because they beat their team when they were young or were an annual thorn in the side for their beloved player, so why can't we be the ones who stick around to remind people that, despite whatever success Roethlisberger and Vick might otherwise see, they are people who don't deserve our respect for even bigger reasons."

I figured as long as it was mentioned that way, I'd point out that commenters also don't seem to treat it the same way.

168 Re: Steelers

In reply to by drobviousso

Yiddish is tricky, because the German gets transliterated into the Hebrew alphabet then back into Roman, but the standard is for the "sh" sound to be spelled with an "sh" (e.g., shlmiel, shpiel, shmate).

94 Re: Steelers

In reply to by chemical burn

Simpsons reference? Because I think it was "woozle-wuzzle" or however one would spell it.

162 Re: Steelers

In reply to by DW94

It was a Simpsons reference. It was me trying out a new shtick after my whole "I didn't do" one wore out it's welcome.


81 Re: Steelers

In reply to by drobviousso

You misspelled "schtick."

13 Re: Steelers

In reply to by Mostly Anonymous (not verified)

Yeah, that's pretty intimidating. As a Colts fan, I'm not easily worried. Even the 2007 Pats were a challenge I was pretty sure my team was up for (and for 50 minutes, they earned my faith). But this Steeler team is a wee bit scary....

I've called Parcells to see if he has any annointing oil handy, but he said he was all out. Guess we'll have to wait.

136 Re: Steelers

In reply to by Bobman

FO's preseason analysis of Pittsburgh is looking remarkably prescient at this moment. Whilst the mainstream media caught up forecasting impending doom, they noted that last season's drop-off was down to key injuries on defence and historically inept kick/punt coverage performance. Get the starters back on defence, sort the special teams out with a new coach and some outstanding athletes in the draft and they should be able to withstand 4 games without their starting QB. Bingo.

164 Re: Steelers

In reply to by Bobman

I'm ready to crown Polamalu's ass.

53 Re: Steelers

In reply to by Mostly Anonymous (not verified)

The most shocking number in that list is the #2 for special teams. Watching the coverage teams give up long returns for the last several years, how on earth are they #2? Is that soley due to 8 FG's and the return TD from last week or have the coverage units actually improved?

If that is the case, then this team could truely be scary. I can't wait for this weekend. This is the first time in along time that I have not been nervous for a Baltimore game. I expect to be no better than 2-2 in the first four so I feel like they are playing with house money. Based on last season, I'm more concerned about coming out of this game with all the star players as healthy as possible.

65 Re: Steelers

In reply to by SirKev (not verified)

Jeff Reid has a new approach on kickoffs that is apparently more uncomfortable on his knee, but produces much better results. He's got, I think, 3 touchbacks and at least 1 more kick off into the end zone this year. It'll either be his best year, or the year his knee explodes.

Also, Stevenson Sylvester, Worlids, and a few other rookies are playing good coverage.

68 Re: Steelers

In reply to by SirKev (not verified)

The coverage is indeed much better. Only one kickoff has been returned past the 30 so far. (I'm pretty sure.) I didn't know about Reed changing his technique - I recall him booting it pretty far early in the season before, only to flag off to the 4-yard line by December...

Returns are still pretty middling except for the TD. As the year wears on, I expect this ranking to taper off a bit, but even staying in the top half of the league would be such an improvement it's ridiculous.

100 Re: Steelers

In reply to by Mystyc


Ed Bouchette mentions it here. Can't find the article that talks about it more, but the article wasn't too enlightening. No real info on the technique, just a few quotes.

139 Re: Steelers

In reply to by drobviousso

Totally lost faith in the defense after watching all the 4th quarter blown leads last year. Starting to get that faith back. The difference in getting Big Ben back is not that he's guaranteed 300 YPG or 3 TD's but that he has more of a comeback capability in case they do get behind.

I think Baltimore got caught in a look ahead situation not taking Cleveland seriously, they won't have that issue this week. It will be a real test as always for all aspects of the Steeler's game. Can the O-line handle Baltimore's D this time? Can the D slow down the Baltimore running game that killed them last year? This is why they play the games ;-)

Props to FO's preseason work for predicting a better Steelers team this year while everyone else was down on them. I need this "prayer" one more time:

Oh Football Gods, we beseech thee for successful results and no injuries this weekend. Blessed be those in Black and Gold, and Blue with White, as they do glorious battle and seek to bring you glory with the pigskin. May preposterous punts be avoided and glorious line play be hailed. In the names of Noll, Lambert and Ham we pray, amen.

Steeler fan trapped in Houston!
Six Time SB Champs! ;-)

146 Re: Steelers

In reply to by Geo B

Personally, I think the difference in getting Ben back wont be that he is guaranteed 300ypg or 3 TD's, but that the Steelers would all of a sudden be a threat to get 300ypg or 3TD's every game.

The running game will benefit from Ben's return just as much as the passing game IMO. Assuming Arians doesnt decide to give up on it.

(and of course, the comeback capability you mentioned)

172 Re: Steelers

In reply to by Mostly Anonymous (not verified)

I'm still a little skeptical about the steelers offense. Their O-Line is still a wreck. It might even be the worst line they've had. I'd like to see how the steelers ranked in 3-and-outs last year, even with Big Ben. They were 21st in 3rd down conversions - not exactly great. A four week suspension is not insignificant either. Its hard to say how rusty and out-of-sync Roethlisberger will be when he returns. He'll be running for his life as usual if the steelers go back to throwing first...

Everybody went overboard thinking the steelers season was shot when the suspension was announced. The defense was far more responsible for their recent super bowl wins compared to Roethlisberger's contribution. It would be nice if people learned about going overboard... its still a bit early to proclaim them SB champions.

203 Re: Steelers

In reply to by MidnightAngler (not verified)

Actually, I thought the OL looked improved. Charlie Batch wasnt sacked a single time against TB, though maybe that wasnt a great test.

As for Ben being rusty, could be, but he rejoins the team Monday. Then he has two weeks of practices, due to the Steelers bye week, followed by a Cleveland game. You couldnt really ask for better timing as far as that goes.

204 Re: Steelers

In reply to by MidnightAngler (not verified)

"The defense was far more responsible for their recent super bowl wins compared to Roethlisberger's contribution"

I thought it smelled stupid in here.

12 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Credit for that Seattle special teams performance should go to the rarely-credited special teams coach, Brian Schneider.

Although after the 1st wave of blockers, it was all Leon. But Pete Carroll talked on Monday about the special teams plan against SD, that they are very aggressive up front but lack discipline behind. Schneider used a different blocking scheme to open up that first hole and leave the rest to the returner. Carroll said before Leon was even through that first hole Schneider was shouting, "we got em! We got em!"

15 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Schneider was the special teams coach in Oakland when they had that huge leap in special teams rating between 2007 and 2008. He's a good one.

14 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

"There are no opponent adjustments in VOA until the fourth week of the season, which is why it is VOA right now rather than DVOA"

The chart says DVOA, but I assume that's an editing error?

21 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

They don't change the chart template. They just remind us every week that the "D" hasn't kicked in yet. I'm cool with that.

17 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

As a 49ers fan, it is strangely comforting to be back at the bottom of the rankings. Like coming home again.

32 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

One of my co-workers send me a link to Australian Rules Football on wikipedia after hearing that I am a 49ers fan. He thinks I should start looking for joy somewhere else.

121 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

To be fair, I'd be angry or disappointed about the 49ers, except that I've used up all my anger on the Cal Bears. That 10-9 loss to Arizona is just gah grerg;n;kdgnlfgmhlkfnmkfhn

22 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Specific question: Just how bad was the Bears' pass defense VOA last night?

27 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I can't answer pass specifically, but their overall defense went from -13.1% to 0.8%, which I believe means a single game VOA of 28.6%

However, the Packer's offense was worse than it was the first 2 games.

50 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

By my calculations, the pass D was 3.2% after week 2 and 17.3% now, so if each game counts equally that would put them at 45.5% for the game. Granted, the Packers passing offense is really good, but that will have to improve if they are going to seriously contend for anything.

I'd also say the rushing offense has to improve, but it won't.

24 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Nice to see the Pack back where they belong ... in the special teams rankings.

36 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

exactly what I was going to write... Crosby kicks out of bounds (NOT to Hester) but Mathsay kicks IN bounds (to Hester)? WTF?

37 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

That's Shawn Slocum for you. Always keeps the other team guessing - just what stupid thing the Pack ST will do next.

25 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

For the first time ever Mark Tauscher looked washed up. Yes Julius Peppers is a great player but last night was just brutal as Tauscher was outright abused. He's never been pretty but MT has always been effective. Against the Bears he looked slow and overwhelmed.

48 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Even when Mckinnie was above average he always looked like an Arena League player against Peppers, so don't give up on Tauscher just yet. I expect Mckinnie to look like he is playing for the Ohio version of Miami when he faces Peppers this year.

105 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Speaking of Peppers, last night's game was a great example of how uninformative box score stats can be for defensive players. Anyone who watched that game knows just how significantly Peppers' pressure impacted that game, but if you look at the box score he only had 2 tackles and 1 QB hit.

As a Panther's fan, I can say I have frequently seen him dominate similarly without actually registering a sack, but instead, forcing multiple holding and multiple false start penalties. And four weeks from now "pundits" will have forgotten how important his play was since there aren't really any box score stats next to his name to "validate" it. It'll all just be about how he only had one sack through three games. I know I'm preaching to the choir on these boards regarding traditional stats failing to tell the story of a player's value, but I just need to vent, considering how terrible the Panthers have been so far. I miss Peppers already.

108 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Yes, it was a very nice game for Peppers. With him on the team and Urlacher back, the Bears again have an elite defense.

Shame about the QB.

147 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Totally agree with this point. All of the talk about this game has been how the Packers played circles around the Bears, but they shot themselves in the foot. That's because most football fans think about the game through the window of the box score and, to a lesser extent, fantasy stats. The Packers outgained the Bears by more than 100 yards, and their penalties and turnovers were just "sloppy" or "undisciplined" play. And some of the penalties were undisciplined -- an illegal formation, an offsides on a kickoff, the German suplex on Forte in the 4th quarter. But there were 3 holding penalties on passing plays, plus the intentional grounding, that are a result of the Bears' D, often Peppers, beating the Packers' O line. (Perhaps the false starts too, if you believe Gruden, though he did himself no favors making this point on a false start on the opposite side of the line from where Peppers was lined up.) If the Packers play "clean" and "disciplined" on these plays, they probably give up a couple of sacks (maybe even a strip sack) or hurried incompletions (maybe even a pick) that show up in the box score and fantasy stats. There were 2 DPIs (plus a third that was declined) that were the result of the Packers' secondary being beaten by the Bears' receivers. If they play "clean" and "disciplined" on these plays, they probably give up a big completion or two that show up in the box score and fantasy stats. The "clean" and "disciplined" play would negatively affect the Packers' NFL yardage ranks, and sack totals, and then the talk would be about the problems the team has on the O line and the secondary. Instead, the prevailing chatter just says that the Packers looked great, they just have to get some discipline and stop playing so chippily.

Now throw in the Hester TD, which robbed the Bears' offense of a possession, and you get the Packers running rings around the Bears on the stat sheet, but not so much on the field. When you break it down per play, the Bears had 4.3 yards per rush (propped up by some good Cutler scrambles); the Pack had 4.2 (propped up by some good Rodgers scrambles). The Bears had 6.6 yards per pass play; the Pack had 7.0 (not counting the penalties discussed above). Each team honked a makeable FG and had a turnover that affected the scoreboard. I'd say the Packers probably played a bit better play by play, mostly because Cutler was a bit erratic and the Pack's turnover seemed more fluky, but the difference was maybe that of a 10 or 11 win team versus an 8 or 9 win team, nothing more.

153 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Now here's a man who doesn't succumb to outcome bias or post hoc rationalization. Excellent points, sir.

26 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I am curious to see how PITT's Defense does against top Passing Offenses that can spread the field and go attack the secondary. So far, Pitt has gone against two teams that rely heavily on running (ATL and TENN) and a team lacking any playmakers on Offense (TAMPA) which makes all 3 opponents great matchups for PITT's great Run Defense.

149 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I dunno, Tenn and Tampa werent that good but I think Atlanta has a very good passing game.

Ryan dropped 225 yds/3tds on Arizona, and 228 yds/2tds on the Saints. They do have a great run game, but they also have the passing game to punish teams that can defend it.

28 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Looking at that, I'd think Pitt are going to be terrifying when they get their QB back.

29 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I have to say it's pretty concerning as a fan to see the Ravens at 8 in DAVE but 18 in VOA. I realize opponent adjustments aren't in yet but I can't imagine that would change things all that much.

Flacco looks to have lost some of his mojo and I don't quite know what to make of it.

Regardless, poor 49er fans. At least the Bills, Browns, and Rams weren't saddled with high expectations.

54 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Early theory: the Ravens hired Jim Zorn as their QB coach, and he's been busy fixing things that weren't broken.

177 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Well, Zorn is still pretty respected as a QB coach. His rep isn't all Hasselbeck either: Zorn helped cajole one of the best rookie-QB seasons in history from Charlie Batch, plus he had 9 seasons as a college coach. If Zorn is making some fundamental changes in Flacco's game, then it would be legit to see Flacco take a step backwards before progressing. Consolidation phase or whatever.

The thing I wondered about Zorn was, his pro coaching background was primarily with the "West Coast Offense" or Bill Walsh offense. That's not what the Ravens run. Cam Cameron is more of a Coryell/Zampese/Suanders/Norv kind of coach. Is it possible there is some kind of incompatibility between the QB skills taught in the WCO, vs the things required in that other system? Footwork or something?

Eh, I don't know a thing about coaching QBs, not one thing, so I'm just wondering aloud. Anyway, Zorn played QB for a dozen years in the NFL, mostly before there even was a "WCO". He probably knows how to coach the position, either for that offense or for some other.

179 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I don't know a thing about coaching QBs either. But just because a coach has stuck around and has a long history of employment does not mean he's above incompetent. Look at hoe Eric Mangini continues to find work... Maybe Zorn knows how to be successful. And maybe he forgot after his embarrassing stint in Washington.

109 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

In reply to by Mort (not verified)

Eh, there were some expectations. Anybody remember the FO preseason DVOA prediction that the Bills would have the #3 defense?

Man, that prediction came out of *nowhere.* Injury bounce-back must have been way, way overestimated. They got back some good players, not Jesus "Ballhawk" Christ and his Turnover Apostles. If you looked closer, you'd see a 3-4 defense with three lineman ill-suited for their positions and a damn poor linebacking corps that depends upon a very injury-prone guy who's never proven himself to be much better than average. (He is, of course, already injured.)

So terrible. So very, very terrible.

33 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Atlanta is giving up 1.2 yards per play more than they gain. I find that a strange stat given their 24.7% VOA.

SD is gaining 2 yds per play more than they've given up. I suspect we will see them make their usual 2nd half run.

40 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Since DVOA is a per play stat, the three huge plays that account for 20% of Atlanta's yards against are probably downplayed in DVOA (since there is little difference in value for such long plays). The other 161 plays yielded 5.03 y/p. Atlanta's defense has given up the fourth-fewest first downs in the NFL, and stopped opponents on 25/33 third and fourth downs, and has collected 6 ints. Not saying that is sustainable, but it sure explains why the defense is better than just looking at a 6.2 y/p.
On offense, Atlanta's y/p is low (5.0), but they are tied with the Texans for the most first downs through three games, and leading the league in plays from scrimmage. So #1 in first downs on offense, #4 in first downs on defense.

35 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

The Pats Defense is terrible. I wonder when Belichick and all the rookies and 2nd years will gel, figure things out, and start gellin'. At least Chung is the real deal. Too bad Meriweather isn't seeing the field much.

58 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Their defensive performances in the first three weeks are going to look (even more) funny bad once opponent adjustments are factored in.

111 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Yes, the Pats (pass) defense is godawful. Oddly, they've been getting a little more pass rush than last year, and the run defense is reasonable. But the coverage is just awful.

It should be a good test of BB's abilities. According to his reputation, he should be able to whip these guys into shape.

137 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

In reply to by Rich Arpin (not verified)

Merriweather played 40 of 56 defensive snaps.

This whole "Merriweather is riding the pine" thing is overdone.

41 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

A bit surprised to see the Vikings defense only ranked 16th—they've certainly played better than that according to my human eyes.

"We're the worst thing since sliced bread" - Steve Francis

42 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

This is where your rankings are a joke I am sorry the raiders in yardage have the 10 ranked offense 4th ranked defense and somehow they are 29th?

KC has been running a offense on gimmick plays etc... (how many passes have they completed to WRs and their one td to a WR was a trick play) this look like this years Denver.

Problem with outsiders is it does not incorporate common sense. Like the raven were the best team in the league last year at 9-7 right!

As Parcells would say you are what you are. And Cleveland is 0-3 not the 19th best team in the league.

73 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Improper formatting. Allow me.

The Raiders are clearly ranked too low because total yardage is an infallible measure of football prowess. Common sense is way better than this. Chefs suk cuz their offense is only gimmiks!

112 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

You want "common sense"? Go read something that isn't based on numbers. Or do you typically spend your time whining about statistics?

I am sorry the raiders in yardage have the 10 ranked offense 4th ranked defense and somehow they are 29th?

It's about getting points on the board, not moving the ball. Having a kicker who horks (sp?) three figgies in one game is a good way to lose.

183 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

In reply to by outsidersisajoke (not verified)

Seriously dude, the Raiders are an awful football team, and they have no idea what they're doing. Try to hide your homerism a bit next time. It's blatantly obvious. You just sound like you have no clue what you're talking about (which is probably true).

43 Da Bears

I'm very much behind FO and what they are about, but I've been paying attention to DVOA for years now and I just have to say I'm getting farther from "believing in it" than closer. I understand the idea of 50% of 1st down yardage, 100% of 3rd, etc. as definitions of successful plays, but DVOA's limitation are becoming increasingly glaring.

Sure, it's frustrating watching the Bears D give up CONSISTENT 5-7 yard passes. BUT, that type of defense is intentional. I'm not saying it's wrong or right, but philosophically Lovie Smith is playing a strategy on both O and D, and last night at least it worked.

For all Rodgers "domination", the Bears FORCED Rodgers to gain 70 yards in 10 plays instead of allowing him to do so in 1 (Btw, he average 7.0 yards per pass. Not only is that NOT dominating, it was worse than Cutler's 8.2 average). So he had 75% (or whatever the number was) successful plays. Smith is taking the chance that over 10 plays (or 60 in the game), his opponent can't make enough successful short plays to win. You need to string a lot of successful plays together to beat the Bears D.

On the other side, "mediocre" Cutler didn't string a number of successful drives together so he's rated poorly. Yes, he was 3 and out some, but on other drives all he had to do was get 1 or 2 decent chunks to ultimately lead to points.

Yes, this is the typical boom or bust argument, but the Bears are quite the one-team self-contained example of it. Their O doesn't put together consistent 5-7 yard (deemed successful) plays, but the ones they do hit are huge (30-50 yards). The D "allows" successfully plays, but only some singles, no home runs.

So, is DVOA rating both of these teams in this game properly? For the record, I don't care what any one ranking says, 1st or 32nd, about the Bears. I'm talking about systematically understanding what plays lead to winning. One 50-yard play vs 10 5-yard plays. Which is better? Personally, I'm in Lovie's (and Martz') corner here. I'd rather force the other team to string together 10 successes. You put the burden on the other team and give yourself 10 chances to do something disruptive yourself. On offense, if you can gain 50 in one play, of course that's better than having to take 10 plays to do it.

Sure, it felt like Rodgers was more in control than Cutler (and that's commentary on more than just those two players, like the O lines, the opposing Ds and the WRs: all advantage Pack btw), but does that mean he was more successful? Because for all that "control," it really just felt Rodgers was more "contained." Ultimately, (besides the ST domination, a welcome sight) letting Rodgers have the underneath stuff won out. If the Bears D had played differently (like the Pack D did) and been frenetic, maybe Rodgers hits on one big play (like in the 4th quarter of last year's Week 1 game) that blows the entire game plan and wins it.

Btw, this all says nothing of the fact that nine yards on 3rd and 10 can be successful. It could get your punter out of the end zone. It could get him closer to pinning the opponent inside the 10. It could get you into FG range. It could get you in position to go for it on fourth down. All these scenarios are deemed "unsuccessful" by FO stats (as I understand it) and basically I have a fundamental problem with that.

I'm not arguing the Bears as a team are better than the Packers as a team, but is it really 13th vs 1st? I have a very hard time buying into that.

45 Re: Da Bears

In reply to by JasonG (not verified)

I would say Rodgers thoroughly outplayed Cutler.

1) The Packers offense scored 17 points, the Bears scored 13, with Hester adding a return TD.

2) They both had a missed field goal, but the Packer's attempt was from a much closer range.

If the Bears offense and special teams had played worse, and the Packers were starting their drives 10-15 yards closer on average, would the sit back and watch them make a mistake strategy work?

Also, remember opponent adjustments haven't kicked in. By my calculations, the single game DVOA for Bears and Packers was respectively -8% and -4.8%, which is to say this was a very close game.

I do think the Bears might not be getting their due credit for "forcing" the Packers to commit penalties, but I doubt they're going to force another team to commit 18 penalties, so who knows if they should get credit for that.

Also, DVOA does take into account field position. Getting into field goal range is considered a good thing, and you get credit for that. Also, DVOA isn't really about making plays that are considered "successes," but about making plays that are more successful than the average team in the same situation. If the average team gets 5 yards on 3rd and 10, and you get 9, you will have a positive DVOA.

51 Re: Da Bears

In reply to by tuluse

"If the offense and ST played worse"

You could play that game all day. How about "If the refs had called all the holdings that actually occurred maybe this wasn't even a close game." "If Gould makes his FG, if Desmond Clark holds on to the TD, f the Bears didn't play for a FG at the end of the game once inside the 5." Tack another 7-10 points on right there. What if Hester doesn't go 62 yards and instead the O goes 62 yards and takes 4 minutes to do it? Then the Pack loses before Jones even gets a chance to fumble.

As for "would the sit back and watch them make a mistake strategy work?" that's the game you play. No, one strategy is going to win every time. The sit back strategy doesn't have to be in stone. Against a Rodgers who can burn you, you play it. Against a weak O, you might play more aggressively. These aren't the questions I'm asking or arguments I'm trying to start.

I want to know how DVOA can consider one of these teams league average and the other #1. I can concede, despite the Bears victory, the Packers are the "better" team, the one more likely to have more success over the rest of the season. However, I can't concede such a gap between the two and so I am questioning DVOA, in particular how it rates consistent 5-yard plays versus semi-consistent much bigger plays.

57 Re: Da Bears

In reply to by JasonG (not verified)

The short answer is that through three games the Packers have done more of the things that FO has determined correlate long-term with winning than the Bears have. A lot more. It could certainly be true that Lovie's bend-don't-break strategy is fooling DVOA into thinking that the Bears actually can't stop anybody, and that Martz's high-risk, high-reward offense is fooling DVOA into thinking the Bears offense is just lucky --- I don't think those things are true, but I can't prove they aren't.

Personally, I feel that the Bears' current rating is about right, and that we're more than a bit lucky to be 3-0. But I'm very optimisitic for the rest of the season, because 1) the offense is still finding its way, and 2) we've played the best two passing offenses we're going to see until very late in the year.

59 Re: Da Bears

In reply to by JasonG (not verified)

I think you missed my point. I wasn't saying "if the Bears had played worse, they would have lost." I'm saying if the Packers had shorter fields, would the defensive strategy work? It worked because the Packers had to go 70 yards, and they had to run 10 plays. If they only had to 50 yards and run 7 plays, things could have been a lot different. That's what DVOA sees. An offense putting together a lot of successful plays, so if the offense had shorter fields, they would score more points.

Also, you are putting too much emphasis on this one game. DVOA saw the teams as very close in this game. However, it saw the Packers dominate their other opponents better than the Bears did theirs.

The Bears passing offense is actually rated pretty well. 32% is very good, and it's 13th in the league so far.

Finally, opponent adjustments aren't in yet, I could see them looking a lot closer after that.

76 Re: Da Bears

In reply to by JasonG (not verified)

I was about to write this same post (though no doubt less eloquently). I find it very interesting that the Bears defense and offense are predicated on doing things that DVOA doesn't seem to value. In the case of the defense, the Cover 2 gives up plenty of first downs, but at least in theory fewer scores. In the case of the offense, it seems to suffer from more of its share of 3 and outs, but produces lots of big plays.

It could just be that the Bears offensive and defensive philosophy is completely wrong. But it seems like the Bears are trying to accomplish something entirely different that DVOA is attempting to measure.

78 Re: Da Bears

In reply to by JasonS (not verified)

The Bears only had 1 3 and out against the Packers, and the passing DVOA is 32%. DVOA like the Bears passing attack a lot. It hates the running game though, which drags the total offensive DVOA down.

130 Re: Da Bears

In reply to by JasonS (not verified)

I would agree that DVOA seems to not like Tampa-2 (or even base cover-2) teams, because they basically give their opponent a five yard pass each time, limit YAC, and force their opponent to have flawless execution.

However, either that is not true, or the 2002 Bucs were easily, by far, unequivocally the best defense ever, if they could put up those numbers playing a true Tampa-2.

BTW, I think you are right, but teams are better playing against cover-2 teams now than they were in 2002, but not necessarily better in scoring against those teams.

If a team like the Packers converts four different 3rd downs, but then doesn't convert the fifth which leads to a field goal, I think DVOA would think this was a nice drive (four 3rd down conversions and the like), but it is a win for the defense.

By the way, this isn't about FO or DVOA, but I love how so many people in the general media all say that the Packers "outplayed" the Bears, mainly on the evidence that they outgained them by 100 yards (again, this is not talking about FO but the msm). Of course, they all say the Giants suck because they lost when outgaining the Titans by 225, or that it is the same old Raiders, because they outgained the Cards by 150. Double standard much, msm? (end of rant)

157 Re: Da Bears

In reply to by dmstorm22

The Packers did outplay the Bears. I will grant that several of the offensive penalties the Packers had were created by the Bears defense, but having watched the game the Bears got a lot out of the Packers defensive penalties (5 of their 18 first downs, and I believe it was over 80 yards). The one on the 9 yard line when I was watching it I was waiting for the offensive pass interference call against Bennett as he started the contact and was pushing against Burnett. To me even on the replays that looked like the receiver was trying to push the defender out of the way and the defender simply got tangled. Burnett didn't even have his hands on Bennett his arms were tangled with him and so were their legs but Bennett had the hand contact and was even holding Burnett's Jersey. So I saw the flag after the interception and thought "well the Pack will decline that offensive pass interference call" but nope.

The unnecessary roughness call against Woodson was dodgy as well because the ball carrier wasn't down yet. Forward progress was stopped so yeah he picked the guy up and dropped him to the ground, it was a tackle to stop a guy.

There could have been other holding calls against the Packers too, but I actually think those were called consistently for both teams. What wasn't called as a hold for the Packers wasn't called as a hold for the Bears either as both lines were holding.

The roughing the passer on Zombo was the right call as it was helmet to helmet, but again that was one of those where it was more incidental. You have a rookie getting pressure there and hitting hard, if his head was 2 inches lower that changes the complex of the game a lot too.

It wasn't a poorly called game, but there were some borderline calls and plays, that made a huge difference.

The eyeball test to me looked like the Packers generally outplayed the Bears. I would have expected them to win 7 of 10 games if both teams played like that. It was a close fought football game. But really the Packers had more "unforced errors" if they played cleaner, more like they did in the first 2 games, I think they win a close game. I didn't expect a blow out but my eyes say the Packers should win about 70% of the time vs what I saw from the Bears. On Monday they made more mistakes they lost like they should have, I think they cracked under pressure honestly.

This could be one of those "wake-up call" games for the Packers, because the team does look good and has in all 3 games. They have flaws, but they have playmakers on both sides of the ball, they have solid game plans usually. They were executing fairly well though they didn't on Monday night.

The Bears also have play makers in all 3 phases of the game. They execute pretty well, they look to have good game plans as well. They are a better team than I thought going into the year, but I see them as a 10 win team, I still see the Pack as a 12 win team.

158 Re: Da Bears

In reply to by DisplacedPackerFan

This is possibly a bias due to my work as a soccer referee, but one of the things that irritates me most in football analysis is the tendency to downplay penalties. I don't remember offhand how DVOA/DYAR treats penalties, so this may not apply so much to FO, but most places just sort of ignore them, unless they were egregious...

...And Green Bay was beyond sloppy. So even the regular outlets ought to be mentioning that. If you're outplaying when you're not committing penalties, but you're getting penalized a lot, that's just as "inconsistent" as a regular boom-or-bust offense (like Reid's or Martz's).

174 Re: Da Bears

In reply to by Jonadan

Oh I agree Green Bay deserved to lose this game, but the term outplayed tends to refer to what the opponent did to you not what you did to yourself. That's the hang-up I think. Even saying that the Bears caused 10 of the Packers 18 penalties I still think the Packers played better offense and defense. The Bears played way better special teams. Penalties matter, but as mentioned not all penalties are created equal, but even if all the questionable ones are removed that Packers still committed at least 13.

The other factor is that I think penalties should be easier to correct than other problems which is why I value them lower when evaluating the strength of the team. If the Packers don't clean them up then, yes that will make them a very bad team playing like that all the time. But I don't expect that to be the case. I still think they are the better overall team, they have more potential, and I feel they did more to beat themselves than the Bears did to beat them.

165 Re: Da Bears

In reply to by DisplacedPackerFan

I don't necessarily disagree with this, or the statement that the Packers are a 12 win team and the Bears are more of a 10 win team. However, to hear the media talk about this game, one would think the Bears did nothing but get giftwrapped TDs and had no business being in that game, and are a 6 win team at best, which is totally untrue.

113 Re: Da Bears

In reply to by JasonG (not verified)

For years some of us have wondered if the Pats' defense has been underrated because they often seem to be a "bend but don't break" approach. But the best answer is that a defense that doesn't bend is considerably better than one that tries to "bend but not break."

I don't think the DVOA system is optimal in the sense that it is the best possible statistic to compare the levels of different teams. But it is considerably better than most of the statistical systems out there.

For example, only one website liked the Chiefs before the season started. That was FO, and that's because their system picked the Chiefs to win the division. Right now that's looking like a great prediction.

207 Re: Da Bears

In reply to by JasonG (not verified)

Yes, this is the typical boom or bust argument,

Great, because that allows a simple response.

On defense, giving up consistent couple-yard gains is bad even if the other team doesn't score. You're giving up field position. Your defense might not seem bad - you might not give up a ton of points, for instance - but it'll hurt your team anyway, because your offense will be in consistently poor starting field position, so you'll score fewer points.

Equivalent argument for inconsistent offenses (3-and-out versus a couple-yard gain, etc.). In that case you hurt your defense. In both cases, it might seem like the boom-or-bust unit isn't that bad, just based on points scored/allowed (depending on offense/defense). But the lost field position hurts you on the other side of the coin.

So with a boom-or-bust offense, even if it scores as much on average as a more 'consistent' offense, you'd find that the opponent scores more than you would expect. With a bend-but-don't-break defense, you might prevent scoring as much as a 'good' defense, but you'd fine that your own offense scores less than you would expect.

2006 Bears vs. 2006 Ravens are a good example.

209 Re: Da Bears

In reply to by Pat (filler) (not verified)

Nice comment...makes sense. Any sort of data that would support these descriptions?

210 Re: Da Bears

In reply to by DeltaWhiskey

Sure. Just look at the drive statistics and locate teams that have a disproportionate points-per-drive compared to their yards-per-drive. Then look at the starting field position of the opposing unit, and it will tend to be way worse than average, and the points-per-drive of the opposing unit will tend to be worse than you would expect for yards-per-drive as well.

I really should compile these into a quick regression to maybe explain it, but there's no real question whether this sort of thing is true, so I just don't have a ton of drive to do it. To do it really, really well, you'd have to fold in the special teams ability of the teams as well, which would take a fair bit of effort. But I have to say, I don't know why I thought Chicago in 2006 was a good example; it's not. My brain must be mixing up teams.

Just as a quick list, though:
Dallas, 2009: Defense 11th in yards per drive, 3rd in points per drive: Offense 5th in yards per drive, and 13th in points per drive (and 29th in LOS/drive).
New England, 2009: Defense 17th in yards per drive, 7th in points per drive: Offense 1st in yards per drive, and 5th in points/drive.
Minnesota, 2007: Defense 12th in yards/drive, 7th in points per drive: Offense 15th in yards/drive, 20th in points/drive.

There are counterexamples, but they tend to have really good special teams (hence the 'fold in special teams ability'). The teams listed above all had average special teams. Also, NE 2007/IND 2007 kindof are counterexamples, but when you've got an offense that ludicrously good, field position doesn't matter that much (and your defenses tend to start with great field position).

Again, the logic here isn't complicated - giving up yards is bad. Period. The end. If Chicago has to choose between giving up yards and giving up a touchdown on defense, they're not as good a defense as one that *doesn't give up the yards in the first place*. The choice to not give up the touchdown might be a good one, but that doesn't change the fact that giving up the yards isn't a good thing, period.

And as an aside, my personal opinion is that 'bend but don't break' defenses occur when the defense has one of the three main components - defensive line, linebackers, and secondary - which is *much* worse than the other two. In the middle of the field, the offense can exploit the weak unit, but when the field compresses, that goes away. For Philly, I used to say "it's not a bend-but-don't break defense, it's a 'God our linebackers suck' defense."

44 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

So does GB maintaining their #1 spot despite the loss make them this year's Philly, that is the team that DVOA loves no matter what they do?

97 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Yeah, truthfully, I was shocked to see the Eagles as high as they are. If opponent adjustments don't torpedo them, there's no reason for their DVOA darling streak to break!

63 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I thought last year GB was in the same boat - they 'should have' won a bunch but lost and had a huge differential.

I wonder when things like sloppy play and penalties become systemic enough in an organization that they should be predictive? GB was horrible on penalties last year as well, IIRC, and it did cost them.

I also wonder how much of DVOA nowadays is somewhat tailored incorrectly. IIRC, DVOA was a response to show how effective Brady was despite his subpar traditional stats, and one way they adjusted DVOA was to see what worked (ie, playoff and regular season game success) and tweaked it so that those teams that had success had higher DVOA on average. Has the game changed enough to where that's not reasonable?

67 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Even if penalties were systemic for the Packers, if it's not affecting the whole league, it would add predictive capabilities.

If one team does something vastly different from the rest of the league, a computer model isn't going to be able to capture it.

69 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

You actually got DVOA's creation exactly backwards - Aaron thought the media was wildly over-rating the 2001 Pats and Brady in particular and came with DVOA as a way to measure the value of what was really happening on the field. He was promptly proven correct when the 2002 Pats underperformed mainstream expectations and missed the playoffs completely.

90 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

The Establishment Clause (2003) was the first article in FO's history. It addressed the myth that teams need to establish the run to win. It was Aaron's first use of play-by-play data in spreadsheet form. So DVOA was not about proving or disproving the Patriots worthiness prior to the 2002 season. The timing is wrong.

Other early articles discussed Pythagorean Wins in football, an early attempt at pre-season predictions with DVOA, the introduction of DPAR (vastly superior to DYAR, in my opinion), and the value of turnovers and the "fluidity" of field position. So, other than the focus on debunking the Run-to-Win idea current in Boston during the 2002 and 2003 seasons, FO wasn't really about the Pats at all.

182 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

DYAR literally claims that a "replacement level back" would have rushed for 1,700 yards in Chris Johnson's place last year. DYAR literally claims that a "replacement level" quarterback would have thrown for 1,900 yards in Tom Brady's place last year. To believe this is to be stupid. DPAR is better because it's easier to take it for what it's worth--an estimate of relative cumulative value. DYAR is too literal.

195 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I think it says a replacement level QB would throw for 2277 yard in Brady's place last year. Which sounds about right to me. Rookie Kyle Orton threw for 1869 yards with Moose and a bunch of crap at receiver and Ron Turner as his coach. I think he could have got 400 more yards with Moss and Welker, and one more game started.

95 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Aaron - we need a ruling on this. He's definitely given the version of FO history that I laid out in interviews. It's possible he was working on DVOA and hadn't completed it when he started publishing articles...

96 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Yes, Nat is correct. DVOA was developed totally separate from any question about the Patriots. The only Patriots connection was in the inspiration for the first piece I wrote, on establishing the run, which I actually first wrote on my own in November of 2002. I started creating DVOA in December, but that really had nothing to do with the Pats.

Actually, the most important player in the development of DVOA may be Mike Alstott of Tampa Bay, because he was the guy who made me realize you had to create a baseline and compare every play to the average performance in the same situation -- otherwise, Alstott came out as the best back in the league in 2002 because he converted so many third downs.

99 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I respectfully accept that I am wrong.

Did you talk about the 2002 Pats early on in terms of DVOA though? Am I creating a memory wholecloth?

115 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Well, then I need to express my profound gratitude for your efforts once again, Aaron. Mike Alstott was my Zombie King when he was in his prime; it drove me effin' crazy the way people used to overrate him, even smart people like Dr. Z. I was convinced that half his reputation was built, and his obvious weaknesses (like fumbling a lot) were overlooked, in good part due to Chris Berman's sound effects when narrating Bucs highlights.

134 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I used the excellent "Analysis: Complete Archives" link to seek out the earliest articles, and found the reference to The Establishment Clause in "About: FO Basics". The early articles are a good re-read.

181 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I would like to briefly interrupt this thread to agree with nat that DPAR was and in far superior to DYAR. I know, they are iterations of the same thing, but conceptually, DYAR is too easy to disprove. Bring back DPAR!!!!!!!!

47 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Go Jets! It's amazing how clever and accurate DVOA is when it says your team is good and how stupid it is when it doesn't.

66 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Truer words were never spoken, except, of course, when the Colts came out on top.

(Actually, after a few years of Indy in the 1/2 slots but not winning it all, I started to covet the 5/6 spots.)

70 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Well, I'm actually in a different boat - the numbers are saying my team's offense is good and FO is insisting that our QB stinks. DVOA actually seems a very clever and accurate measure... that their writers really want to undermine for some reason...

77 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I've learned to forgive a certain amount of pointless contrarianism at FO because it arises out of the same instinct that drove Aaron to develop DVOA in the first place.

82 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Yeah, that's definitely true. And no one can ever accuse them of failing to go out on a limb. I really think DVOA does a really good job, just I am a little frustrated with the Vick writing because there's nuance there that the mainstream media is getting wrong (he's probably not a Top 10 passer and certainly not an MVP candidate) and that knee-jerk "he was over-rated then and he's over-rated now" gets the story just as wrong. It seems to me so far Vick's performance indicates the intriguing possibility that Andy Reid didn't have fluke success with McNabb and maybe really knows how to develop a running QB into a capable passer. Sure, he hasn't been tested yet by fierce opposition, but he is so far playing VERY differently than he ever did in Atlanta.

Yeah, I hate his guts as a guy, but so what? Really, let me know what I should do other than stop watching the Eagles, which is not going to happen. Write bad analysis for my football website seems like the worst option and the one FO is pursuing.

84 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

It doesn't have to be anything that specific. Reid could just be much better at coaching quarterbacks than anyone in Atlanta. It seems quite reasonable to me.

Also, his receivers are quite a bit better than his Atlanta days.

103 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Good point.

Is there anywhere else you'd like to be, if you where Vick? Good QB coach, good receivers, good game planning, and hey, it's Philly. You don't have to take the boos, headlines, and occasional battery toss personal.

I think "is Vick good?" is the wrong question. I think "is he a good fit for the system?" is the question, and the answer is yes. His strengths are magnified, and his weakness are covered up. Enjoy it while it lasts, because it's both rare, and a long time coming.

86 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I don't know if they're really getting that down on Vick. They haven't said he's terrible, just that his success has been exaggerated. Everything I've read here has pointed to, "If Vick plays a full season, his rating will be closer to 80 than 100." I think that's probably pretty accurate, and a lot of people are making a lot of inferences that FO is saying Vick is terrible when they're just saying, "Vick's good but not as great as these two weeks."

(And I hate Vick and WILL refuse to watch the Eagles - it's my choice, I don't want to hear it - unless it's in the playoffs, since then I'll have no other choice.)

89 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Listen, I understand anyone who literally can't stomach to watch Vick play, it;s just not at that level for me. Think if I were a Pittsburgh fan, I would have to stop watching when Roethlisberger comes back, just because what he did hits me personally a lot harder and I couldn't even look at him. But, yeah, I don't begrudge anyone who says "No way, can't do it."

As for FO's tone, it just feels like too much of a simple continuation of their take on him from Atlanta. In Atlanta, he really did suck, with passing DVOA normally down at around 37th in the league. And he would make one read before taking off or launching it randomly at whatever reciever he felt like throwing it towards regardless of coverage. Purely in terms of passing, according to DVOA he did SUCK in Atlanta and he hasn't sucked thus far - there's a crucial difference there.