DVOA Analysis
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DVOA 7.0: Best Teams by Pass and Run

by Aaron Schatz

In Football Outsiders Almanac 2012, and recently on the website, we introduced the latest iteration of our DVOA formula, which we are calling DVOA v7.0. The biggest change in the new formula is that all years are normalized so the league average equals 0%, and that moves players and teams up and down our all-time rankings depending on how strong offense was league-wide that season. Today, we're going to continue looking at what the new version of DVOA does to our all-time rankings by looking at the best teams split into offense and defense by run and pass. As a reminder, we ran the list of top teams overall, top overall offenses, and top overall defenses back in the first piece that introduced the new version of DVOA on August 1.

Best Pass Offense DVOA, 1991-2011
DVOA v6.0   DVOA v7.0 (NEW)
YEAR TEAM PASS OFF x YEAR TEAM PASS OFF
2007 NE 75.4% x 2007 NE 72.7%
2011 GB 73.3% x 2004 IND 67.6%
2010 NE 72.5% x 2011 GB 67.6%
2004 IND 69.1% x 2010 NE 67.5%
2009 SD 63.7% x 1991 WAS 65.0%
1991 WAS 62.7% x 2009 SD 59.6%
2011 NE 61.0% x 2006 IND 55.4%
2009 NE 57.0% x 2011 NE 55.3%
2006 IND 56.9% x 2003 TEN 54.7%
2011 NO 55.6% x 2009 NE 53.5%
2008 SD 54.9% x 1998 DEN 52.5%
1995 DAL 52.4% x 1992 SF 51.8%

Normalizing each season to 0% has a big effect on the three great offenses from 2011, which was the best passing year in NFL history. The Packers and Patriots each lose about five percenage points off their DVOA ratings, and the Saints actually drop out of the top ten. (They rank 17th.) Otherwise, the top passing games pretty much rank as the top passing games. Pretty remarkable that the Patriots have a top ten all-time passing DVOA in four of the past five seasons. 

Here's a list of the best running games by DVOA. Remember that rushing DVOA includes both running backs and quarterbacks, a big reason why the 2011 Panthers had the top run offense DVOA in the previous version of our metric. With the new metric, they've been passed by the 2000 Rams.

Best Run Offense DVOA, 1991-2011
DVOA v6.0   DVOA v7.0 (NEW)
YEAR TEAM RUN OFF x YEAR TEAM RUN OFF
2011 CAR 35.5% x 2000 STL 36.5%
2000 STL 34.4% x 2011 CAR 32.1%
2002 KC 32.0% x 1998 DEN 31.4%
2003 KC 28.6% x 1993 SF 30.5%
2010 PHI 27.8% x 2002 KC 29.3%
2006 SD 27.5% x 2003 KC 28.9%
1998 DEN 27.1% x 1998 SF 27.8%
2010 NE 27.1% x 2006 SD 27.2%
2004 KC 26.6% x 2005 DEN 26.8%
2005 DEN 26.3% x 2000 PIT 26.4%
1993 SF 25.4% x 2003 SD 26.1%
2003 SD 25.2% x 1999 WAS 25.5%

There's more moving up and down here than on the passing table, because the leaguewide "raw VOA" of the running game was a lot lower back in the late 90's. Teams may be running less now, but they are running much more efficiently. You'll notice that the 2010 Eagles and 2010 Patriots both fall out of the top dozen altogether once we've normalized for each year. (The Eagles are now 16th, the Patriots 17th.)

Best Pass Defense DVOA, 1991-2011
DVOA v6.0   DVOA v7.0 (NEW)
YEAR TEAM PASS DEF x YEAR TEAM PASS DEF
1991 PHI -53.1% x 2002 TB -51.9%
2002 TB -52.5% x 1991 PHI -48.6%
1999 TB -38.4% x 2009 NYJ -36.5%
1992 NO -36.8% x 2004 BUF -34.7%
1991 NO -36.6% x 1991 NO -33.1%
2004 BUF -35.1% x 2008 PIT -32.8%
2009 NYJ -34.2% x 1999 TB -32.2%
1991 WAS -33.4% x 1992 NO -29.9%
2003 BAL -32.1% x 2000 MIA -29.7%
2000 MIA -31.6% x 2003 BAL -29.5%
1992 PHI -31.3% x 1991 WAS -28.9%
1996 GB -31.1% x 1998 MIA -27.6%

Passing games have been so good in recent years that it shouldn't surprise anyone to see recent teams like the 2009 Jets, 2008 Steelers, and 2008 Ravens (who rank 13th) rising up the ranks with normalization. Yet we still end up with three different 1991 defenses in the top dozen. It's funny, but since the current DVOA database goes from 1991 through 2011, it ends up with two mirror image seasons on each end. 2011 was dominated by three offenses which were far better than the others in the league, particularly with the pass. 1991 was dominated by three defenses which were far better than the others in the league, particularly against the pass.

When it comes to defending the run, of course, it is still all about those 2000 Baltimore Ravens.

Best Run Defense DVOA, 1991-2011
DVOA v6.0   DVOA v7.0 (NEW)
YEAR TEAM RUN DEF x YEAR TEAM RUN DEF
2000 BAL -40.6% x 2000 BAL -36.6%
1991 PHI -39.4% x 1991 PHI -34.9%
1998 SD -37.3% x 1998 SD -32.9%
1995 KC -31.6% x 2006 MIN -30.5%
1999 SD -31.4% x 1995 KC -30.5%
2006 MIN -31.1% x 2010 PIT -29.0%
2000 TEN -30.9% x 2008 BAL -28.6%
2000 SD -30.3% x 2000 TEN -27.4%
2007 BAL -28.1% x 2007 BAL -27.3%
2010 PIT -27.7% x 2000 SD -26.6%
1995 SF -27.3% x 2011 CHI -26.5%
1994 MIN -26.9% x 2011 SF -26.1%

However, the recent defenses really climb the rankings dramatically once we have normalized for each year's offensive environment. In the older version of DVOA, the 2011 Bears ranked 23rd and the 2011 49ers ranked 29th. Now they are in the top dozen. Meanwhile, the 1999 Chargers have dropped from fifth to 13th.

Special teams ratings didn't really change extensively with the new version of DVOA, but for the sake of completion, let's take a look at the current list of the best special teams units in DVOA history:

Best Special Teams DVOA, 1991-2011
YEAR TEAM ST DVOA
2002 NO 12.2%
2007 CHI 11.2%
1994 CLE1 10.1%
1996 CAR 9.8%
2009 CLE 9.7%
1998 DAL 9.2%
2001 PHI 8.9%
1997 DAL 8.9%
2000 MIA 8.8%
2005 BUF 8.8%
2004 BUF 8.7%
2006 CHI 8.7%

Next week, we'll take a look at the worst teams of the DVOA era according to the new DVOA formula. In the meantime, it's time for a bit more housekeeping, as we continue to finish cleaning and updating all our pages.

  • FO Premium is now updated with the new version of DVOA, including all the splits for 1991 (although a couple of views, like DVOA as of a Specific Week, are not yet updated).
  • FO Premium is also updated with the 2012 schedule, so you can use the matchup view to check out 2011 DVOA splits for teams that play each other early in 2012.
  • Player pages are now up for "skill players" whose careers ended in 1991. For example, you can now find Mike Rozier, Gerald Riggs, and Stephone Paige.
  • Player pages have now been updated with proper VOA ratings for 1999-2001. We still have incorrect VOA ratings listed for 1992-1998 and we're working on fixing that.

Comments

85 comments, Last at 17 Aug 2012, 10:11pm

1 Re: DVOA 7.0: Best Teams by Pass and Run

I'll be an old fogey like in the Packers' thread, and say the constant pressure to change or reinterpret the rules to make passing easier results in a game that is more qb dependent than I would like. Not as bad as a mediocre NHL team with a hot goalie in the playoffs, but moving in that direction more than I would like.

Strangely, the Competition Committee has yet to contact me.

12 Re: DVOA 7.0: Best Teams by Pass and Run

Well Will, i guess counting the people below this makes about eight of us.

It pains me how close we came to a Flacco vs Smith super bowl.

Just as s general question do you guys th.ink 2011 was an aberration in terms of passing stats? To me I say yes. I still think passing numbers will trend up, but I doubt three or even two quarterbacks throw for 5000.

As a person who is a rare Colts fan that loves defense, 2011 was a sad year. I want to think that 2011, due to the lockout, was a perfect storm. I'm getting scared though that the NFL is becoming a more popular version of the NBA, where one player can have a disproportionate impact.

18 Re: DVOA 7.0: Best Teams by Pass and Run

It might be because I was slightly drunk at the time, but I got way too excited to see Dan Orlovsky and the Colts beat the Texans in Week 16. As Bunk would say, "Sad how far we done fell" as Colts fans in 2011, but it was oddly liberating to enjoy a win and not think about playoff ramifications, and Manning's legacy.

6 Re: DVOA 7.0: Best Teams by Pass and Run

Agreed, I'd like to see the running game still matter. I don't want the whole of the league to start using the run as an afterthought like the Pats and Packers do, even though chucking the ball all the time is clearly more effective.

That the Pats have a top ten passing DVOA in four of the past five seasons seems odd to me. They're good but I don't think they're that good. The team I was looking for was the 1994 49ers, who I still regard as being one of the greatest units in NFL hitory. However, they started slowly that year, the mechanical consistency of the Pats is rather impressive, they really know how to execute. I'd also suggest that their (relative to earlier NFL history) abandonment of the run would boost their efficiency.

FAO Editor: In the second paragraph the word you are looking for is percentage.

8 Re: DVOA 7.0: Best Teams by Pass and Run

Will, I totally agree too. In fact, I think it's worse than the hot NHL goalie, because at least that changes from year to year.

Right now the ticket to having a successful dynasty is to win the quarterback lottery. That's probably always been the case, but it's become more the case now than ever. Look at these DVOA numbers. The top offenses today have quarterbacks who outperform the league average by 60+%!

I prefer to see a game where defenses can consistently affect the outcome.

Time to move to 1st down chains to 15 yards?

19 Re: DVOA 7.0: Best Teams by Pass and Run

And I thought I was the only one lamenting this! Any of my friends who are NFL fans I have brought this exact problem up to. It is a little disturbing to me.

I should note, the only rule changes I really complain about pertaining to this problem are the DB contact rules changed many years ago. I endorse rule changes designed to promote player safety and I don't really think defenseless DB/QB rule changes have all that much to do with the passing explosion, contrary to the consternation displayed by many current players and commentators

20 Re: DVOA 7.0: Best Teams by Pass and Run

We've discussed this before, and I think there is a way to make both sides happy, and solve some current problems in the NFL as well.

Relax holding rules immensely so that everything that falls under the old adage "you could call holding on every play" is not true anymore. All the stuff that refs rarely or simply don't call anymore, make it legal. This way, 1) we refs' jobs easier, 2) we make holding calls way more consistent no more getting made because of phantom holding calls or borderline calls where you think "that never gets called anymore", 3) this would reduce the importance of pass blocking, which would increase the options a team has when constructing their line, and thus offense. They could go with a good run blocking line, knowing that the pass blocking would be good enough since it has been made easier.

Combine this with the 10 yard jam rule, and I think you make a more varied and interesting NFL, and increase parity, and decrease frustrations from officiating.

23 Re: DVOA 7.0: Best Teams by Pass and Run

I'm not sure about a ten yard jam rule. My idea is for defenses to be given a free rein if the offense runs a rub or pick. If the offense is deliberately interfering then the entire rule should be thrown out and defenses should be allowed to knock the crap out of the receivers involved.

I would also like to see offensive pass interference enforced more rigorously and more punitively.

You might have a point on the offensive line holding calls but wouldn't your proposal boost the offense even more?

35 Re: DVOA 7.0: Best Teams by Pass and Run

I bet you want to watch baseball players bunt. ;-) This is very simple - you're in a small minority. Put on a ground control game against a wide open passing game, and the run-heavy game will get crushed in the ratings. And then the next day, comment sections will be full of people saying they wish for the old days.

Personally, I love watching a special running back do his stuff, but there aren't many of them. Most teams that featured the run went three yards between the tackles all day. Personally, I'd rather see an 25 yard pass that goes incomplete than a 3-4 yard run between center and guard. At least there's the potential of something big happening while the ball is in the air.

36 Re: DVOA 7.0: Best Teams by Pass and Run

You've put forth a false dichotomy, and please note that I never claimed that I wasn't in a small minority.

One of the aspects I've loved about the game is how interdependent the players are. The emphasis on making passing ever easier allows the qb to dominate the game more easily, with a lesser contribution from his teammates. I don't like that as much, but I don't have any illusions that anything within shouting distance of a majority of fans agrees with me.

73 Re: DVOA 7.0: Best Teams by Pass and Run

I think more agree with you than you think. There's a few teams that are somewhat artless in their passing game, but the rules are on their side and they have superior athletes so they put up huge numbers. I watch those teams and think, "what is the point? This doesn't even look like football." I love defense and I love strategy and those elements are less in play in the current wide-open version of the game. You're also right about making a good QB too important and reducing the team element... Anyway, almost every fan I'm friends with (except for all the Saints fans in my family) would agree with the honorable Will Allen here...

3 Re: DVOA 7.0: Best Teams by Pass and Run

Looking at the list of top rushing offenses, most of the top teams/players jumped off the list. You've got the Terrell Davis Broncos, Priest Holmes Chiefs, LaDainian Tomlinson Chargers, etc. And then there's the 93 49ers. Ricky Watters led the team with just 950 yards, but he averaged 4.6 yards per carry. The next two top rushers were Steve Young (407 yds, 5.9 avg) and Marc Logan (280 yds, 4.8 avg.) As a team they averaged 4.6 yards per carry and scored 26 rushing touchdowns.

7 Re: DVOA 7.0: Best Teams by Pass and Run

Vince, I'd just like to point out that this 49er team, which has great run DVOA, was a pass first team. As ever, football is holistic.

Another thought is that when I think of those Broncos I think of the system, when I think of the Chiefs my thoughts are of that amazing line but when I think of Tomlinson he is the focus. How did such an amazing runner pass under the radar? (relatively)

32 Re: DVOA 7.0: Best Teams by Pass and Run

Right. I mean, Tomlinson's a no-brainer first ballot Hall of Famer, league MVP, uncontested best back of his generation, probably consensus all-time top 10 at the position (or at worst just outside it) - I don't really see how he's under the radar. He's rated very, very highly, and fairly accurately, as best I can judge.

43 Re: DVOA 7.0: Best Teams by Pass and Run

I'd say he was as famous as Faulk without being quite as good, less famous than Smith while being roughly as good, and less famous than Payton or Sanders due to not being quite as good. To me, that seems like Tomlinson being appropriately rated, Faulk being slightly under-rated because so much of his value was as a receiver, and Smith being slightly over-rated because he played for the Cowboys, won three Superbowls and holds the career rushing record.

11 Re: DVOA 7.0: Best Teams by Pass and Run

It's funny that we talk about this notion of the old school 'defenses rule' and how a defense can't get to the top any more, or how the running game was so dominant before and now it's all about the QB and receivers.

Really? Alex Smith and the 49ers have a dominant QB? Trent Dilfer was a dominant QB? Rex Grossman was a dominant QB? Joe Flacco is a dominant QB?

Having one helps, but if you go back and look at winners of the superbowl you have a few things that stand out:
-QBs really matter (Montana, Aikman, Young)
-Defenses really matter (Bears, Giants, 49ers)
-Running games haven't mattered much at all since, oh, the 70s at best. And even then - how many superbowls did OJ win? How many championships did Payton win? The best argument is for Emmit Smith, but he also had Aikman, Irvin and a great D as well.

I also think it's interesting how great NE looks at this despite not having the most insane year to year success. That passing offense has resulted in two trips to the superbowl - but two losses as well. The other two years their record wasn't particularly insane. In all 4 years of that absurd passing offense the team lost in the playoffs or the superbowl to a team that had a significantly better defense (Baltimore, NYJ, NYGx2).

So how exactly is defense languishing here? When the team known for one of the most dominant offensive abilities loses consistently to the team with a strong defense, I'm not sure that the numbers are saying what y'all think they are.

13 Re: DVOA 7.0: Best Teams by Pass and Run

Ask Joe Gibbs and Bill Parcells whether the running game mattered in the 80s. Ask Jimmy Johnson about the 90s. Hell, even in the Walsh West Coast, the running game mattered.

I have mega-respect for Peyton Manning, but the strict enforcement of the 5 yard contact zone with receivers has changed the game for the worse, for someone like me that enjoys offensive line play.

14 Re: DVOA 7.0: Best Teams by Pass and Run

If offensive levels had risen so high through the natural evolution of strategy and athleticism, I would have no problem with it. But knowing that the passing explosion is an artifically created phenomenon aimed to increase TV ratings just drives me crazy. I understand the NFL's efforts to promote player safety by limiting hits on defenseless receivers and quarterbacks; that's fine. What I don't understand is why we have to slant all the non-safety related rules in favor of the offense as well.

The first rule I'd change is to turn the 5-yard contact zone into a 10-yard contact zone. That would at least give DB's a fighting chance to distrupt the receivers routes without getting flagged. Speaking of flags, I would increase emphasis on offensive PI, since it seems as though WR's get away with a hell of a lot more pushing and bumping and armbars than the DB's currently do. I would also consider putting slight limitations on what the offensive linemen can do with their hands - not pre-1978 rules, but a little more restrictive than what we have now. Basically what I'm saying is that I don't care who wins between offense and defense, I just want it to be a fair fight.

42 Re: DVOA 7.0: Best Teams by Pass and Run

Similarly, Will - ask the Steelers if the running game mattered in the last 10 years. Ask the Pats in 2001 and 2003 and 2004. Ask the Giants. Ask the Ravens or the Rams. Ask Marshall Faulk.

It matters. It's just not the biggest deal. If you have a great defense or a great QB you can get by with an average running game. If you don't have one of those things you can't get by with a stellar running game. And that's been true for Joe Gibbs or Bill Parcells (both of which had great defenses), of Jimmy Johnson (who had a great QB and often great defenses), of Bill Walsh (the 49ers had a really underrated defense and, of course, amazing QB play).

If you can point me to a team that didn't have one or the other, I'd be curious. And even then, they'd still not be the dominant team; they'd be the exception.

17 Re: DVOA 7.0: Best Teams by Pass and Run

Very well put. I have always enjoyed watching defense but do enjoy these new high powered offenses(especially the Packers). What Rodgers and the Packers offense did last year was probably the most amazing thing I have ever seen in any Sport. I have never seen a system ran that precise(Makes me wish I was more than a Peewee coach and could steal some of MM's plays). The scary thing for the other teams in the NFL is the Packers are just now entering their prime.

Looking back at 95% of dominate teams they all had good to great QB's. This league has for a long time been about the quarterback. Their is a big difference between the NFL and NBA though. The Quarterback can't play defense like a superstar in the NBA can. He needs help and if he doesn't get it he isn't winning a ring. Championships are still won by Defenses people!

Hopefully this all makes sense. Just worked 14 hours straight and it is very early in the morning. I chose not to even attempt to use good grammar.

26 Re: DVOA 7.0: Best Teams by Pass and Run

Re It's funny that we talk about this notion of the old school 'defenses rule' and how a defense can't get to the top any more, or how the running game was so dominant before and now it's all about the QB and receivers.

Really? Alex Smith and the 49ers have a dominant QB? Trent Dilfer was a dominant QB? Rex Grossman was a dominant QB? Joe Flacco is a dominant QB?

Have you been paying attention to passing numbers for the last decade? Here's the top seasons by passing yards in the NFL. Notice how the top is dominated by players playing in the past 10 years or so. Something has happened in the last 10-15 years to slant the game towards passing.

No one is saying that your list of sub-par QBs are dominant. But what they're saying is that when a guy like Matt Stafford has thrown for more yards in a season than Dan Fouts ever did, something's out of whack.

aving one helps, but if you go back and look at winners of the superbowl you have a few things that stand out:
-QBs really matter (Montana, Aikman, Young)
-Defenses really matter (Bears, Giants, 49ers)
-Running games haven't mattered much at all since, oh, the 70s at best. And even then - how many superbowls did OJ win? How many championships did Payton win? The best argument is for Emmit Smith, but he also had Aikman, Irvin and a great D as well.

I think you're wrong, led in part by the fact that you limit yourself to Super Bowl winners. Yeah, that's the goal. But let's agree that a Super Bowl win is somewhat determined by luck. What you really want to do is look at what was happening in the 80's and 90's, and you'll see that the best teams had a solid run-pass balance-- something you simply don't see now.

I'm looking at Pro Football Reference, and checking out various years at random. In 1980, the top 7 teams averages 2499 yards rushing and averaged 10.3 wins. In 1983, those numbers were 2571 and 9. Fast forward to 2009, and we have 2355 and 7.9. In 2012, those numbers were 2337 and 8.

This is, again, just a small sample taken blindly from the early 80's and then from the past few years-- perhaps a larger examination would show my above data points to be not representative. But what my numbers do show is that a) teams ran more in the 80's and b) the top-rushing teams were doing better.

You bring up OJ Simpson and Walter Payton and suggest that their having only 1 Super Bowl ring among them (Payton's in 1985) is proof that a running game didn't matter even in its perceived heyday. But come on-- there's more to a team's success than just one player's contribution. And one can counter that with guys like Larry Csonka, Mercury Morris, Franco Harris, Tony Dorsett, John Riggins, Roger Craig, and so on.

Indeed, most of the most prolific passing teams of the 80's that never won were criticized precisely because they lacked a running game-- Marino's Dolphins, Elway's Broncos, Houston's Run-and-Shoot offense led by Warren Moon, to name a few. Contrast that with the modern NFL, where no one would claim that Peyton Manning's failure to win more Super Bowls was because he needed more of a running game in Indianapolis. Ricky Watters-- Ricky Watters!-- was thought of as a major contributor to the 49ers success in the early 90's. (Just watch a replay of the Dallas-49ers NFC Championship from 1994 and listen to John Madden.) Would anyone think that a guy like Watters playing on a modern NFL team with an elite QB (trade Aaron Rodgers for Steve Young, for example) was a major factor?

As for the Patriots, you're again pinning too much on Super Bowl wins. The reality is that this insane passing offense of New England is putting them in a position to win Super Bowls in a way that prolific pass offenses from previous decades simply weren't able to do.

27 Re: DVOA 7.0: Best Teams by Pass and Run

I have to disagree with your last statement. A prolific offense always put a team in contention, not matter how they got there. The problem isn't that being great at passing leads to success, the problem is that either passing greatly or stopping the pass greatly seem to be the only 2 ways into contention.

For contrast, I would point to the mid 80s Ram or late 70s early 80s Oilers. Those two teams were pretty much RB + Def, and that was it. The closest thing to that in the last 15 years has been the Ravens, but really the running game has not been constant for them, and I don't think it can be with current conditions.

28 Re: DVOA 7.0: Best Teams by Pass and Run

Sorry, tuluse, I didn't mean to imply that in the past it was running that led to success, where passing was an afterthought. My point was just what you said: there were several paths a team could go, and forming an offense around a dominant running game was one of them. That has changed in the last 10 or so years such that having an elite runner (e.g. Adrian Peterson) is no longer a viable option for a team to form an offense around. Or at least, it's much more difficult than before.

The earlier poster was arguing that running hasn't been a big deal since the 70's. I disagree and vividly recall when having a solid running game was an important part of many dominant teams. Nowadays, however, even mediocre teams feature QBs throwing for 4,000+ yards, and tossing 30+ TDs in a season expected for the league's best.

30 Re: DVOA 7.0: Best Teams by Pass and Run

To me it's more than one thing.

The first one being the rule changes, or rather how the rules are called. Teams could not throw for so many yards because the middle of the field was considered no man's land. You could cover a WR with a LB, because he would simply kill the WR if he tried to catch it over the middle. You couldn't play a 5'9", 180lbs receiver.

But looking solely at the rules is simplistic. The Walsh 49ers won so much because they were ahead of their time in terms of offensive philosophies. You don't have to go much further to see teams picking QBs solely on arm strenght. There weren't option routes, dependant on coverage in the 80's. There weren't so many dome venues as there are today.

And there's also the factor of athleticism. Players nowadays are much more athletic than back then, specially on defense. They can cover ground much quickly, which makes running the ball much harder today than it was back then. A 280 pound DL can run as fast as a 200 pound receiver could in the 70's.

Another thing is the exponential increase in passer rating as a whole. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/222790-did-nfl-passer-ratings-spike-in-2004-or-standardly-evolve . Put you prejudice aside and actually read the article. Average QB rating has increased from decade to decade (except for the 70's), so it's only natural for the league to shift towards the passing game as it gets more effective. But what I found interesting was that the margin of increase has actually decreased . The shift from the 80's to the 70's was 9.3 points, but from the 90's to the 00's was 3.3.

So I don't think saying the current changes in the passing game are solely synthetical is right. There is a degree to it, no doubt, but I see it as a natural progression of the sport.

34 Re: DVOA 7.0: Best Teams by Pass and Run

Re Another thing is the exponential increase in passer rating as a whole. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/222790-did-nfl-passer-ratings-spike-i... . Put you prejudice aside and actually read the article. Average QB rating has increased from decade to decade (except for the 70's), so it's only natural for the league to shift towards the passing game as it gets more effective. But what I found interesting was that the margin of increase has actually decreased . The shift from the 80's to the 70's was 9.3 points, but from the 90's to the 00's was 3.3.

I don't see why the league needs to facilitate passing more with rules tweaks when there's already a natural progression towards improved passing.

40 Re: DVOA 7.0: Best Teams by Pass and Run

Maybe the natural increase is not enough for their view of what the game should be.

Maybe teams benefit the most (money) from superstar QBs, so inflating their stats and protecting them is their priority.

I can only speculate, but the natural progression, from what I gather, is there.

31 Re: DVOA 7.0: Best Teams by Pass and Run

I think you are quite mistaken about the Colts and Peyton Manning. First, their best years coincided with edgerrin james. After he aged and left for Arizona, do you remember the first round picks of Donald Brown and Joseph Addai? A lot of blame goes to the defense, but the colts run game was something the organization at tried to address, and their failure to consistently do so was a factor in their defeats. So, yes many people would claim that the lack of a run game hampered Peyton's SB goals.

33 Re: DVOA 7.0: Best Teams by Pass and Run

Sure, in retrospect-- among people who remember the days when a running game was an important part of the NFL. But having been an avid NFL follower since the late 80's, I never recall the sports media elite talking about the Colts' lack of a running game as being a factor in their failure to win more in the play-offs during Manning's tenure. There was a lot of talk about defense, and a lot of talk about stuff like "clutch" and whatnot, but I don't recall much talk at the time about "if only they had a quality running game..."

41 Re: DVOA 7.0: Best Teams by Pass and Run

Again, who cares about passing numbers by decade? We're talking about what makes teams dominant. What is the big trend. And the big trends haven't changed significantly. We have the teams that have elite QBs and those teams do well - just like they did in the 80s and just like they did in the 90s. We have teams with elite defense that do well. What we don't have is teams that have elite running games dominating - but those teams haven't dominated since the 70s at best.

"As for the Patriots, you're again pinning too much on Super Bowl wins. The reality is that this insane passing offense of New England is putting them in a position to win Super Bowls in a way that prolific pass offenses from previous decades simply weren't able to do."

I don't see why. Dan Marino was considered to be a failure because of his lack of superbowl wins, but the Dolphins were otherwise massively dominant. If you want to throw them out of the 80s, you have to throw the Pats out now. Otherwise it's exactly like it was before - a team with amazing offense and star QB loses to defense-minded teams with strong balance overall.

I mean, we say how amazing the Pats have been - but their biggest successes have come not from the offensive side of the ball but from the defensive side. Their three superbowl wins came from a team with a strong defense, period - and they beat the team that was the offensive juggernaut in Peyton Manning!

Now, you can say that you object to the numbers increasing, and I guess that's fair; overall points scored are higher than they were before. But trending wise it's exactly the same as it has been for the last 30 years or so: dominant defenses win quite often. Great QBs win quite often. Dominant running attacks have not been by themselves particularly strong since the 70s. You may quibble about the numbers, but the results? The same thing.

44 Re: DVOA 7.0: Best Teams by Pass and Run

It's damn hard to win a Super Bowl, no matter how talented the team is. You have to win, at minimum, three games against the best of the league. In the case of the recent Packers and Giants title teams, significantly more. There is such a small sample size of Super Bowl winners, it's futile to proclaim defense beats offense of vice versa, especially in a best-of-one format. To offer that the Patriots dominant offense has lost twice to the Giants better defense is a bit wacky. If a career special teamer doesn't make one of the great catches in the history of the league, the dominant offense completes an undefeated season -- one in which they beat the Ravens, Eagles, and Giants (albeit all closely) off the top of my head. If Welker holds onto a pass he almost always catches, or if Manningham doesn't hold on to a pass he almost never does, then the Patriots are 2-0 against the better defensive team -- and the Giants defense figured into none of those plays directly. Both times, the Giants held the Patriots offense to their season low in points, but both times the Patriots offense played well enough to win the game.

Injuries also happen, often an inopportune times. First Brady, then Gronkowski suffered significant injuries in the AFCG, both of which had a major effect on the way the Super Bowl played out.

I guess in sum, A great defense beats a good offense, or other similar platitudes that get thrown around, might not be true.

46 Re: DVOA 7.0: Best Teams by Pass and Run

Sure - but at the same time, crowning the Pats after having 4 amazing offensive seasons when they didn't actually win the big one is a bit silly too. That those offensive teams consistently got beat by very good defensive ones is an interesting sidenote to it.

I'm not saying that defense beats offense. I'm simply saying that the thought that dominant defense is dead is clearly wrong. And it is. Having a great QB is one way of likely getting yourself a chance at a SB win. So is having a dominant defense. But running games? Not so much.

45 Re: DVOA 7.0: Best Teams by Pass and Run

Joe Gibbs won Super Bowls in the 80s and 90s with Joe Theismann, Doug Williams, and Mark Rypien at qb, and, yes, an elite running game. Bill Parcells won a Super Bowl in 1990 with Jeff Hostetler. Since the 5 yard rule became a point of emphasis after that 2004 Patrtiots/Colts playoff game, in which the Patriots took a very physical approach to the Colts receivers, no team has won a Super Bowl without a qb who has a decent chance to go to the HOF. Just prior to that (within a few years) we had Super Bowl winners with Brad Johnson and Trent Dilfer at qb. Now, it is possible that the 8 year run of SB winners with qbs who have a decent chance to get to the HOF (Brady, Manning I, Roethlisberger, Manning II, Rodgers) is an aberration like the eight year run from '92 to '99 (Aikman, Young, Favre, Elway, Warner), but the fact is Aikman's Cowboys DID have an elite rushing attack, as did Elway's Broncos. I think it is extremely odd that the dominant team of the '90s has the leading rusher of all time, and yet you don't think they were an elite rushing team.