DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever
DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

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. 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, then ran a few more tables with the best teams split by pass and run ran here. Today we're flipping things around to look at the worst teams in DVOA history according to the new formula.

There really isn't a need to run separate lists of the worst overall teams in DVOA v6.0 and DVOA v7.0 for comparison purposes, because the exact same teams are in the bottom dozen with both methods, and the first nine are in the same order. Here they are, with their ratings and rankings by the new system:

Worst Total DVOA, 1991-2011
2005 SF 4-12 -55.5% 32 31 11
2009 DET 2-14 -51.6% 31 32 31
2008 DET 0-16 -48.4% 30 32 15
1991 IND 1-15 -47.7% 28 25 19
2008 STL 2-14 -47.1% 32 30 20
2009 STL 1-15 -45.1% 32 31 11
2003 ARI 4-12 -42.0% 31 32 24
2002 HOU 4-12 -41.9% 32 21 8
2004 SF 2-14 -41.8% 29 31 19
1999 NO 3-13 -40.3% 31 25 30
2000 CLE 3-13 -40.2% 30 25 20
1992 NE 2-14 -40.1% 27 25 22

Even seven years later, it is still a little surprising that the worst team in DVOA history is not the winless Lions or some 1-15 team, but rather a team that managed to win four games. However, the four wins for that 49ers team came with an average winning margin of 3.8 points, and the teams they beat were Tampa Bay (14th in DVOA), Houston (31st), and St. Louis (30th) twice. The 49ers also lost games by scores of 42-3, 28-3, 52-17, and 41-3. Suffice it to say, they also have the highest variance of any team in the DVOA era (36.7%).

Our new normalized stats scramble the list of the worst offenses a bit, with the expansion Texans moving down two spots and taking over as the worst offense in DVOA history. The 2010 Panthers now rank as the sixth-worst offense of the DVOA era, which just makes what Cam Newton did last year all the more incredible. The 1992 Seahawks still suck, but their offensive DVOA climbs considerably with normalization, from -45.9% to -41.3%.

Worst Offensive DVOA, 1991-2011
DVOA v6.0   DVOA v7.0 (NEW)
1992 SEA -45.9% x 2002 HOU -43.3%
2005 SF -42.0% x 1992 SEA -41.3%
2002 HOU -41.4% x 2005 SF -40.4%
1997 NO -38.6% x 2006 OAK -37.0%
2006 OAK -36.5% x 2004 CHI -36.5%
2004 CHI -36.1% x 2010 CAR -35.8%
1991 IND -34.8% x 2010 ARI -35.6%
1992 NE -32.2% x 1997 NO -35.6%
1997 SD -32.1% x 1991 IND -32.8%
2010 CAR -31.9% x 2007 SF -32.2%
1992 IND -31.6% x 1995 NYJ -30.7%
2010 ARI -31.4% x 2000 ATL -29.6%

Don't worry though, Seahawks fans. Your team is still number one (by which I mean "the absolute worst") when it comes to the passing game. With the old version of DVOA, the 1992 Seahawks passing game was so horrible that it was -13.1% DVOA worse than any other team ever. Now, that gap is "only" -9.7% DVOA.

Worst Pass Offense DVOA, 1991-2011
DVOA v6.0   DVOA v7.0 (NEW)
1992 SEA -71.0% x 1992 SEA -65.3%
2005 SF -57.9% x 2005 SF -56.0%
2004 CHI -51.2% x 2004 CHI -50.6%
2006 OAK -44.2% x 2010 ARI -46.1%
1997 NO -43.6% x 2006 OAK -45.4%
2000 CIN -43.4% x 2011 JAC -45.4%
2010 ARI -41.5% x 2000 CIN -43.9%
1991 TB -40.1% x 2007 SF -42.1%
2007 SF -40.8% x 1997 NO -41.4%
2011 JAC -40.5% x 2010 CAR -40.1%
1999 PHI -39.7% x 2002 HOU -37.9%
1998 SD -38.3% x 1991 TB -37.6%

It really is nearly impossible to overstate just how horrendous the 1992 Seahawks passing game was. You can find a long discussion of their terrible quarterbacks, nonexistant receivers, and underappreciated defense in the original 1992 DVOA commentary. That essay also had a list of the biggest offense-defense imbalances in the history of DVOA; here's an updated version of that same list. The Seahawks have been passed by the 1991 Eagles, who had the best defense we've ever measured and ranked 26th in offense that season. All three of last year's offensive juggernauts show up here as well, along with three straight years of Kansas City Chiefs teams under Dick Vermeil and a 2000 Vikings team that we'll get to in a few paragraphs.

Biggest Offense-Defense Imbalances in DVOA, 1991-2011 by DVOA v7.0
Year Team Offense Rk Defense Rk Difference*
1991 PHI -24.6% 26 -42.4% 1 66.9%
1992 SEA -41.3% 28 -15.7% 3 57.0%
2002 KC 35.4% 1 14.0% 29 49.4%
2004 KC 31.6% 2 16.0% 30 47.6%
2011 NE 31.9% 3 13.2% 30 45.2%
2006 OAK -37.0% 32 -8.0% 8 45.0%
2000 MIN 18.5% 5 26.0% 31 44.4%
2010 NE 42.2% 1 2.3% 21 44.4%
2004 CHI -36.5% 32 -7.3% 9 43.8%
2011 NO 33.0% 2 10.2% 28 43.2%
2003 KC 33.4% 1 9.4% 25 42.8%
2011 GB 33.8% 1 8.6% 25 42.4%
*Because defensive DVOA is better when negative, "Difference" here is offense plus defense.

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OK, that digression over, let's transition from a terrible offense that I described in detail in the 1992 DVOA commentary to a terrible offense that I didn't really give enough words to in the 1991 DVOA commentary. Somehow, going over all the numbers to figure out what to write about from 1991, I totally missed the fact that the 1991 Colts set a new record for the worst run offense DVOA in history. With the new ratings, they are the only run offense to fall below -30.0% DVOA. The Colts as a team averaged 3.3 yards per carry that season. That's far from the worst average in history; in fact, it wasn't the worst average that year, as the Eagles averaged just 3.1 yards per carry. And from a yards per carry perspective, the 1992 Colts running game was even worse, with just 2.9 yards per carry (the second-worst average since 1978). However, the 1991 Colts were distinguished by their inability to gain yardage against a bad schedule. The Colts played half their games against teams in the bottom 10 in run defense DVOA, and perhaps they would have played more except the worst run defense in the league belonged to the Colts themselves. The Colts also had 11 fumbles from their running backs, second in the league, even though they were 25th in the league in running back carries. The culprits here included Eric Dickerson (167-536-2) and Ken Clark (114-366-0), who is inexplicably listed as a tight end by pro-football-reference. Somehow, a backup named Tim Manoa actually managed 5.3 yards per carry on this team, with 27 carries, and then never played again.

Also on the list of the worst run offenses: the 2002 Texans, proving that it wasn't all David Carr's fault.

Worst Run Offense DVOA, 1991-2011
DVOA v6.0   DVOA v7.0 (NEW)
1991 IND -32.2% x 1991 IND -30.2%
2005 ARI -30.3% x 2005 ARI -29.1%
1998 NO -27.3% x 2002 HOU -27.4%
1993 IND -26.8% x 1995 ARI -25.1%
1995 ARI -25.9% x 1991 PHI -23.0%
2002 HOU -25.4% x 1998 NO -22.9%
2000 CAR -25.3% x 2006 DET -22.9%
1992 NE -25.3% x 2000 ATL -22.8%
2000 ATL -25.1% x 2000 SD -22.5%
1996 NYG -25.0% x 2000 CAR -22.2%
2000 SD -24.9% x 2004 SF -22.1%
2006 DET -23.5% x 1992 NE -21.9%
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Let's move on to defenses. Just like we have a new team as the worst offense ever, we also have a new team as the worst defense ever, as the normalization makes the ratings a little less critical of the worst defenses of the last few years. The 2008 Broncos and Lions were horrible, but they also had to operate in an environment where the average team scored 22.0 points per game. When the 2000 Vikings allowed opponents to run up and down the field, the average team was only scoring 20.7 points per game. Even kookier is the fact that our new worst defense ever was an 11-5 playoff team, proving that the 2011 Packers and Patriots actually follow in a grand tradition of offensive juggernauts that win despite lousy defense. OK, well, the Vikings weren't that good -- they were fifth in offensive DVOA and won seven games by a touchdown or less, going 11-5 despite just 8.7 Pythagorean wins. That's the team that started 7-0 and then went 4-5 down the stretch, later getting keelhauled by the Giants 41-0 in the NFC Championship game. Still, for Daunte Culpepper to overcome that kind of horrible defense to go 11-5... we forget how good Daunte Culpepper was when he had Randy Moss to throw to.

Above (below?) the 2000 Vikings and 2008 Lions we find a lot of 20th century defenses which rank worse under DVOA 7.0, since the offensive level of the league was lower then. Before, no defense from before 2000 ranked among the worst dozen. Now, there are five different pre-2000 defenses in the worst dozen.

Worst Defensive DVOA, 1991-2011
DVOA v6.0   DVOA v7.0 (NEW)
2008 DET 29.2% x 2000 MIN 26.0%
2008 DEN 24.7% x 2008 DET 24.3%
2000 MIN 24.4% x 1999 CLE 22.2%
2008 STL 23.4% x 1996 ATL 21.6%
2004 MIN 23.0% x 2004 MIN 21.6%
2004 SF 21.4% x 1992 ATL 21.3%
2010 JAC 21.2% x 2008 DEN 20.7%
2009 DET 21.2% x 1999 SF 20.4%
2010 HOU 21.0% x 2005 HOU 20.1%
2009 STL 20.3% x 2001 ARI 19.4%
2011 CAR 20.1% x 2004 SF 19.4%
2002 ARI 20.1% x 1998 CIN 19.4%

Ths list of the worst pass defenses really undergoes a huge dramatic change with the new version of DVOA, with recent teams moving way down the list. Three different 2010 pass defenses used to rank in the bottom ten. Now those teams are 13th (Houston), 16th (Denver), and 21st (Jacksonville). Meanwhile, the 1996 Ravens are now the worst pass defense in DVOA history. Seriously, the Ravens. The 1996 Ravens had the league's best offense and the worst pass defense. Within three years, by 1999, they had the league's best defense and had fallen to 27th in offense.

Worst Pass Defense DVOA, 1991-2011
DVOA v6.0   DVOA v7.0 (NEW)
2009 DET 40.1% x 1996 BAL 42.0%
2009 JAC 39.8% x 1999 SF 41.7%
1996 BAL 38.8% x 1996 ATL 38.0%
2008 DET 37.4% x 2009 DET 36.5%
1999 SF 37.0% x 2009 JAC 35.8%
2010 HOU 37.0% x 1991 LARM 35.4%
2008 DEN 36.7% x 2000 MIN 35.2%
2010 DEN 36.3% x 1996 ARI 35.1%
2010 JAC 36.2% x 1999 CIN 34.7%
1996 ATL 35.1% x 2003 ARI 34.6%
2006 WAS 35.1% x 2006 WAS 34.0%
2000 MIN 34.8% x 1994 TB 33.6%

There's also some change going on with run defense, where three teams from the '90s now have the top (bottom) three spots as the worst run defenses. Last year, NFL teams averaged 4.29 yards per carry, the largest figure in league history, and that's one reason why the 2011 Panthers have gone from the 10th worst run defense (pre-normalization) to 31st with the current ratings.

Worst Run Defense DVOA, 1991-2011
DVOA v6.0   DVOA v7.0 (NEW)
2008 STL 23.0% x 1996 WAS 20.1%
2008 DET 22.1% x 1992 LARM 18.8%
2005 ATL 17.5% x 1998 WAS 18.3%
1992 LARM 16.4% x 2008 STL 18.0%
1996 WAS 16.4% x 2005 ATL 17.8%
2005 BUF 16.3% x 1999 CLE 17.8%
2008 HOU 15.5% x 2008 DET 17.1%
1998 WAS 15.4% x 2000 ARI 16.4%
2006 NYJ 14.7% x 2005 BUF 16.0%
2011 CAR 14.6% x 2000 SEA 15.7%
2006 IND 14.6% x 1993 CIN 15.6%
2000 ARI 14.3% x 1993 IND 15.1%

Finally, we'll finish things up with the worst special teams we've ever measured. We've written about this 2000 Bills team numerous times. The original 2000 commentary goes into more detail, albeit with older, dated DVOA ratings. The biggest issue was Steve Christie. Christie's average kickoff went only 55.6 yards, 7.5 yards less than the league average. And the bad kickoffs didn't just come late in the season in Buffalo's usual snow and wind. Week 8 against Minnesota -- in a dome! -- Christie had five kickoffs of 56 yards or less. On the season, 18 of his kickoffs went for 50 yards or less. No other kicker had more than 10 kicks that short. Apparently, the Bills coaches wanted Christie to kick it short because their coverage teams were so bad. Well, they were at least right about that part. Once Christie's kicks had come down, Buffalo allowed opponents kick returns worth 22 points more than the league average. No other team in the NFL gave up kick returns worth half that. So the average opposing drive after a Buffalo kickoff started at the 37-yard line. Wow. The Chargers team from two years ago which had its entire season basically implode due to special teams ranks third.

Worst Special Teams DVOA, 1991-2011
2000 BUF -15.4%
1997 SEA -11.1%
2010 SD -10.2%
2002 CIN -9.4%
1998 OAK -9.3%
1997 CHI -9.2%
1992 TB -9.2%
2004 STL -9.0%
1993 MIN -8.4%
1995 PHI -7.9%
2008 MIN -7.9%
2002 WAS -7.8%

Next week, we'll get to some best and worst players lists.


78 comments, Last at 17 Sep 2012, 3:27am

1 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

Someday I'm going to have to try to figure out if that '96 Ravens team set a record for most games lost in which a team was leading at some point in the fourth quarter. My recollection is that they would race out in front almost every single week and just could not hold a lead to save their lives.

5 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

Could someone check to see how the 2011 Panthers would rank on that list? I think they lost something like 5-8 games in which they were leading at some point during the 4th quarter. The only game I recall that was never even close was the Titans game. I would bet that they led at least 8 of the 9 other games at least once after halftime before they went on to lose the game.

8 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

The 2000 Chargers hold the record, losing 7 games in which they held leads at some point in the 4th quarter.

Nine teams lost 6 such games: the 1953 Chicago Cardinals (in a 12-game season), 1984 Browns, 1986 Bills, 1989 Chargers, 1990 Vikings, 1994 Redskins, 1997 Raiders, 2001 Panthers, and 2008 Packers.

The 1996 Ravens lost 5, and the 2011 Panthers lost 4. The Panthers didn't even lead the league last year - both the Eagles and Cowboys lost 5.

16 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

Wow, that actually surprised me. I was thinking that more of their games were close entering the 4th quarter, before the defense and/or special teams imploded and gave away any chance to win.

Upon closer inspection, it appears they had four 4th quarter leads that were blown, resulting in losses. They also had two 4th quarter ties, resulting in losses. They had a would-be 3rd quarter lead erased by penalty vs Chicago, and never managed to take a 4th quarter lead in the game, despite being very close for most of the contest.

Out of the Panthers 10 losses, they break down as follows:

Never had a chance: 1 game
vs Tennessee (30-3, week 10) - It was over right after the opening coin toss.

It was close, until halftime: 1 game
@ New Orleans (45-17, week 17) - Panthers never scored again after tying the game at 17 points with 1 minute left before halftime.

It was close, until the 4th quarter: 1 game
vs Green Bay (30-23, week 2) - Panthers jumped out early on the Packers, scoring 3 times to open the game 13-0. They held the lead into the half, but gave up 1 TD and 3 field goals in the third quarter. The Panthers were within a touchdown when Rodgers threw an 84-yd TD to Nelson with just 2 minutes left. The Panthers scored an empty TD with just seconds remaining to narrow the final gap back down to 7.

Panthers blew a late lead or tie: 6 games
@Arizona (28-21, week 1) - Panthers are up 21-14 in the 4th quarter, but give up a 70-yard TD catch to Early Doucet, and an 89-yard punt return TD to Patrick Peterson, losing by 7 points.

vs New Orleans (30-27, week 5) - Panthers take the lead with a TD with 12+ minutes remaining. The Saints scored the game-winning TD with 50 seconds left in the game.

@ Atlanta (31-17, week 6) - Panthers led 17-14 to start the 4th quarter, then gave up 17-straight points to lose by two touchdowns.

vs Vikings (24-21, week 8) - Game was tied at 21 until the Vikings kick a FG with under 3 minutes left in the game. The Panthers come right back down the field, line up to kick the game-tying FG from 31 yards with 26 seconds left, but Mare pushes the try wide left. Game over.

@ Detroit (49-35, week 11) - Panthers are up at the half 27-14, enter the 4th quarter down 28-27, tie the game at 35 with 5 minutes left. Detroit scores a TD, gets an immediate turnover, and scores another TD to win by 14.

vs Atlanta (31-23, week 14) - Panthers open the game up, leading 23-7 at the half, and still led 23-17 to open the 4th quarter following a 10-point run by the Falcons. The Falcons scored another 14 unanswered (24-0 run after halftime) to put the game away in the 4th quarter. It's the second straight game against the Falcons where the Panthers gave up the lead while getting shutout in the 4th quarter.

Panthers had a chance to tie/win late, but failed: (1 game)
@ Chicago (34-29, week 4) - Panthers were within 1 point early in the 4th quarter following a Mare FG. Even though Forte ran for 200+ yards on the day, the Panthers lost the game because of two long returns by Devin Hester. The first was a 73-yard kickoff return that set up a Forte TD. The second was a 69-yard punt return touchdown in the 2nd quarter. The Panthers had 543 yards of total offense, but Mare missed 2 FGs in the second half (1 was blocked by, of all people, Julius Peppers), and they failed to convert a 2-point conversion on the last score. The Panthers gave up 21 points on 3 big plays (Barber also scored a short TD following a 40-yard Forte run with under 2 minutes left), and left a lot of points on the board, in a game that they lost by only 5 points. The Mare FG attempt that was blocked was the result of a failed drive that also included a Jeremy Shockey TD catch that was nullified by OPI.

Looking back, there were a lot of close and exciting games. The defense and special teams just seemed to struggle too much to keep the offense ahead late in the game. Maybe a better summary for the Panthers was that they were a good-to-great first-half team, and a bad 3rd-quarter team, and a terrible 4th-quarter team. Would any of the FO crew be willing to share quarter-by-quarter splits for the Panthers last season?

You can make the case that with better defensive health (Beason/Edwards/Davis), better special teams tackling (P. Peterson/Hester), better kicking (Keep Kasay instead of signing Mare), and some luck, the Panthers could have won 7 of those 10 games that they lost last season. The Panthers would have needed a giant truckload of luck to win all 7 of those games and go 13-3, but they probably should have won at least 3 or 4 of them and snuck into the playoffs.

29 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

To add to Ryan's post, in the week 5 game against the Saints, CAR took the lead, then didn't get the ball back till after the Saints scored the go-ahead TD. I think the Saints converted about 7 3rd downs on that drive. They ate up over 10 minutes of clock. CAR's D just couldn't get a stop, or they might win that game.

33 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

Would any of the FO crew be willing to share quarter-by-quarter splits for the Panthers last season?

Offense was fairly consistent, ranking 5th to 10th in every quarter. Defense, though...

1Q: -4.7% (11th)
2Q: 8.0% (24th)
3Q: 14.4% (26th)
4Q: 39.4% (32nd -- there were three other teams in the 20s, but no other team in the 30s)
Late and close: 26.7% (32nd -- five other teams in the teens, but no other team in the 20s)

Reminder, this information is available for all teams for Premium subscribers.

74 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

1 was blocked by, of all people, Julius Peppers

Of all people? Are you implying that this is somehow a rare event? Having a FG blocked by Julius Peppers, he of the 12 career blocked kicks (second in NFL history, behind the ABSURD 25 by Ted Hendricks according to Wikipedia)?

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

77 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

"... behind the ABSURD 35 by Ted Hendricks ..."

Not for nothing was the man nicknamed "Stork". Pretty darn good LB, as I recall.

Wikipedia says his nickname was "The Mad Stork", and at 6'7"/220lbs I can believe it. The 1970 Colts featured "The Mad Stork" and Mike "Mad Dog" Curtis at LB - I wonder if Ray May was nicknamed "The Sane One" or just "Madboy" or something?

Anyway, Hendricks got plenty of chances and was very good at blocking kicks, despite being an LB good enough to start for a decade and more.

2 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

Ahhhh, brings back fond memories of those days in 1991 as a kid watching Eric Dickerson get stuffed. I think about 50% of the Colts 1991 drives went like this.

1-10: Dickerson left for 2
2-8: Dickerson right for 3
3-5: Dickerson up the middle, no gain

3 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

I remember the week beore the 2000 NFCCG, between the Vikings and Giants, and how I was astounded that a team with a defense as soft as the Vikings' could be one game away from the Super Bowl. No, I was not surprised to see Kerry Collins look like Otto Graham that afternoon.

4 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

I was surprised not to see the 2008 Broncos in the Offense-Defense Imbalances list, but it looks like they are a few points behind (39.9 difference). However, in looking that up, I noticed that they were 1st in offense and 31st in defense. Only the truly pathetic Detroit Lions from that year kept them from being what I have to assume would have been the only team to ever have both the best offense/defense and the worst offense/defense in history.

(Which of course just makes a Denver fan depressed in knowing that rather than finally hire a defensive coordinator and focus a draft on defense, they went with, "what the hell, let's blow this whole thing up, awesome young offense included." )

6 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

The '95 Eagles Special Teams still hold a place in my heart. They seemingly made one or two game-losing plays every week. Kind of shocked they aren't higher in the all time rankings. Who was that ST coach, again? I remember him looking so overwhelmed.

7 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

At 4-12, that 96 Ravens team was fun to watch. They were always in it and always out of it at the same time. The secondary wasn't good. Eric Turner was pretty good and Antonio Langham wasn't shabby. Stevon Moore was a run only safety and Donny Brady isn't worth talking about besides nickel and dimes backs. The real problem was no pass rush. Mike Caldwell led with 4.5 sacks and he only played in nine games. Anthony Pleasant (12 games) had 4, then Rob Burnett (6 games), Tim Goad, Jerrol Williams and Bennie Thompson each with three. The next year they drafted Boulware and signed McCrary and they had 20.5 sacks combined in 97.

9 Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman

I had a feeling I'd see Terry Shea's Bears on the worst offense list. Those were dark, dark days with the unholy QB trinity of Quinn, Krenzel, and Hutchinson. Here's to hoping that Cutler can finally, respectfully bump Sid Luckman to #2 on the Bears' all time passing list.

11 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

I can't wait until we get the 1990 ratings and we see where the 1990 Patriots rank on these lists. They may not be able to beat 2005 SF, but they were really really awful. My memory is they were at least as bad as the 1991 Colts and far worse than the 1992 Patriots.

Other than the 90 Patriots is there any other team with a chance of beating 2005 SF until we get to the 70's Tampa teams?

19 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

Maybe the 2-14 '81 Colts ... who managed to beat the 2-14 Pats twice by a grand total of 3 points. They met the Pats in the final game of the season with the 1st pick in the draft on the line. The Boston papers came up with some snide title for the game but alas my memory fails me. That colt team still hold the record for most yards given up in a single season .....

Found an older FO article about that Colt team here


Reading through it the game was dubbed the 'Stupor Bowl'

20 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

I would guess that, in addition to the 1990 Patriots* and 1981 Colts already mentioned, the 1990 Browns*, 1986 Buccaneers, 1987 Falcons, and 1984 Vikings** are all going to be among the worst ever and so have at least some chance of unseating the 2005 49ers.

*Of course, it does hurt those teams' chances a little that they were in the same year, but it didn't stop the '08 Rams and Lions.

**Having lived most of my life with a Vikings fan and now living in Minnesota, I know to apologize to you Vikings fans for mentioning Les Steckel's season. I would love to see a good serious analytical discussion somewhere about the worst coaches in NFL history--Steckel may be it.

32 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

I'd never seen a team with good veteran leadership quit on a coach in the way the Vikings quit on Steckel. Yes, they had huge talent gaps, but there some guys like Scott Studwell, Doug Martin, Tim Irwin, Matt Blair, and others who were real pros. By the time the 2nd half of the season rolled around, however, they were nearly in a state of revolt over Steckel's incredibly bad leadership. When he got fired, Studwell appeared on local t.v. to give the veteran's take on getting a new coach (which turned out to be the old coach, Bud Grant). I was in a bar with a guy who knew Studwell, he saw Studwell had a hat on with the letters "AMF" stenciled across the front, and the guy I was having a beer with broke out laughing, and shouted "He did it!". "Who did what?" I ask. My suds comrade says "Studwell told me that when Steckel gets canned he was going to publicly say to him "Adios Motherf*****"".

56 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

Which is why I have to laugh when some analysts think they're being clever by mentioning "Moronwheg" as a darkhorse HC candidate. His work with the Eagles offense seems good (maybe an Eagles fan can chime in on whether or not thats' more due to personnel or scheme), but anyone who's heard the man speak during a press conference will immediately know that he is not a man you want leading your football team.

-I'm not Billy Bad-Ass.

57 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

Marty as a OC has been good, but he's mainly served as an outlet to take the heat off of Reid, even though he's more or less running the same system that has been run under Reid's entire tenure. People like him, but a few brain-fart decisions that easy could have been Reid's have been pinned on him because he's the "taking the wind in OT" guy. At one point his whole shtick was he had taken the playing-calling duties away from Reid (because grrrh, arghhh Reid can't do nuthin' right!) but that's quietly gone away. I like him but don't think much about him because the offense is so much Reid's design and philosophy. He does have a dull, hang-dog demeanor which works nicely with Reid's terse cop persona. You can imagine them as a duo confronting you from their cop car with Reid asking "where'd you get that bike, son?" while Marty looks on blankly. Jim Washburn is the nutcase who I wouldn't want to have one once more responsibility than he already does. He (not Juan Castillo) is the stand-out issue for me on the Eagles' coaching staff.

60 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

I've always found Jim Washburn strangely entertaining. It always looks like a crazy homeless man has somehow wandered onto the Eagle's sideline.

-I'm not Billy Bad-Ass.

67 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

He's a character for sure. I've probably just gotten used to the soberness and terse professionalism of Reid, Marty and Jim Johnson, so I don't have a ton of patience for foul-mouthed blowhards (on the Eagles' staff - I find Rex Ryan delightful.) His 9 wide nonsense was such a huge disaster last year it can probably be pin-pointed as the biggest culprit in their disastrous season. And then he'd show at press conferences complaining about how the problem is Trent Cole "didn't get it." There are few Eagles as beloved as Cole and few Eagles in the past decade as good as him. Fuck your system if it doesn't play to his strengths. You should be building your strategy around the best player on your line.

Howard Mudd was the lovable, decrepit weirdo.

68 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

The wide 9 is predicated on having good, disciplined linebackers, which makes it all the more puzzling that the Eagles chose that scheme given that Linebacker wasn't exactly a personnel strength. Maybe DeMeco Ryans will change that?

-I'm not Billy Bad-Ass.

70 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

They dropped the 9 wide at halftime of the Bills game (except for situational use - one of the many, many thing Benoit's Eagles preview got entirely wrong) so it'a hard to say even how much they'll use it in 2012. I hope none whatsoever - when it was their base, they were solidly worst in the league in DVOA. By the end of the season they were respectable. I was really hoping he got fired in the off-season, but no luck...

47 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

I wonder, some of the 70s teams would be even worse I think, but it was the dead ball era so compared to average maybe not as bad.

The 04 Bears were truly amazingly awful. However, they did have moments of non-terrible play. Grossman before he got hurt was looking average, and Chad Hutchenson had his one game with 4 TD passes. I'm assuming that the Seahawks were like that Bears team, but minus the games of competency.

51 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

I only have one memory I have of that '92 Seahwawks team: When they were on Sunday Night Football, and when Mike Patrick was introducing the position groups and got to the offensive line he said: "The Seahawks offensive line this year has been an injury-riddled piece of disaster."

Poor quarterbacking and receiver play was apparently not the only problem.

-I'm not Billy Bad-Ass.

13 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

I am absolutely stunned the 2009-2010 Steelers don't show up as the worst special teams ever, let alone not in the top 10!

Maybe it was only their coverage units that were bad...

14 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

Seeing that 2005 SF team reminds me about Alex Smith's rant this past offseason about how Cam Newton passing for lots of yards doesn't mean anything when your team is rubbish.

Really Alex? Then why have you only ever had two games over 300 yards in your whole career?

48 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

In general, I think Alex Smith would be wise to avoid criticizing any other QB. Cam Newton's yards MIGHT mean something or they MIGHT be be over-valued. Alex Smith's performances his entire career have DEFINITELY meant nothing. It's kinda of a "who is this guy to talk about the subject at hand and cast aspersions on another QB?" type situation. Seems pretty obvious... Even if he's right (and he more or less is) he should probably concentrate on the beam in his own eye...

78 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

... and tonight, Alex Smith just set the franchise record (yes, the same franchise with YA Tittle, Joe Montana and Steve Young) for most consecutive passes without an interception.

I don't care if all you throw is checkdowns, that's still impressive. His yards might be "overvalued", but his performance is almost certainly going to mean something - even if that something is only that Harbaugh is a pretty good coach and miles ahead of anyone Smith's ever had before.

15 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

Surprised not to see the 2006 Raiders making the top 10 list ... that 2nd Art Shell era was AWFUL.

I'd forgotten they had a vaguely reasonable defense ... although I seem to recall that opposition teams would just go for it on 4th down knowing that the Raider offense would be punting it straight back to them.

But as I recall there were a number of games (not least against the Browns in week 4) when the Raiders had a good lead and the defense gave up points. When the defense was asked to step up it never seemed to.

21 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

Hey, I came here specifically to share some pain about the 2006 raiders :^)

Every game, that team acted like they were just meeting each other for the first time.

When AL hired Art Shell, I actually thought it could work:

First, AL and Art could bring on Mike Martz as OC, maybe keep Rob Ryan at DC and bring in some young, energetic assistants.

Then, Shell would *delegate* -- staying out of the Xs and Os, just providing stable leadership, vision, direction, that kind of thing.

In other words, Shell would be like Eisenhower, who managed his staff egos, ran political interference and wasn't out there micro-managing Patton, Montgomery and Bradley in their troop movements.

As it turned out, of course, this didn't happen. Somewhat surprisingly, Art was lousy even at doing the above -- there was all kind of discord, press leaks and directionless flailing on the staff that year.

(Also, you'd have thought the offensive line would be great, with Shell, Irv Eatman and Jackie Slater all tutoring them. Not so much - the OL looked awful, game after game.)

lllll AJ

27 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

Yeah, pretty crazy. I admire the loyalty, and I don't think anyone would have blinked if Walsh had been brought on as a quality-control coach, senior assistant or somesuch. But offensive coordinator?

Find some really good Xs and Os whiz, either a proven one like maybe Martz or maybe some young, energetic up-and-coming positional coach. Tell him that you are going to run the team, hold him accountable and maybe give suggestions every now and then, but otherwise, the offense is his show to run.

Organizationally, this seems obvious to me, but what the hell do I know.

lllll AJ

38 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

I'd put the 2006 Raiders so far away in my memory that one of their two wins came over the reigning Super Bowl champion Steelers!!

I mean, I know the Steelers went 8-8 and Roethlisberger was playing with brainfarts from his motorcycle accident and an early season appendectomy ... but even so that Raiders team was just plain awful.

23 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

You got it wrong. Last year's Packers defense was the worst of all times. I've heard it numerous times.

31 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

I think you have this backwards, last year's Packers were historically great and their defense was much better than FO's rankings. I might have heard mention that they had never trailed in the 4th quarter or something like that.

26 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

I would say 2005 was painful for an SF fan, but so was 2006, and 2007, and 2004, so it stands out in no particular way. They all blur together in one huge painful bruise of memory.

30 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

I dunno, that year was nothing but pain, with torment for a side dish. Gore wasn't even playing, which would have spiced things up. Entering the year the dynamic part of the passing game was supposed to be Eric Johnson but then he missed the whole year. Misery.

28 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

Does anybody have the old irrational DVOA rant format handy? DVOA 7.0 can't list the worst offenses in the last 20 years and not have the Bobby Hoying-led Eagles in there.

49 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

But the 1991 squad is on there. Just brutal. Literally: never has an offense more undermined a great offense. With even a mere bad offense, that team most a good shot at going the way of the 2000 Ravens, 1985 Bears and 2002 Bucs... If cunnigham stays healthy? Forget it - their match-up vs. the Redskins would have been epic...

37 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

Congratulations to MIA, PIT, TEN, and DAL, the only teams not listed in any of the tables above, by my count.

41 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

Wow, some painful suppressed memories as a Lions fan coming back from this list. I masochistically watched every single game of that legendary 2008 team (actually I guess late 2007-late 2010 is one painful, throbbing blur). I remember feeling really bad for Calvin Johnson, who fought valiantly while surrounded by incompetence, and somehow put up Pro Bowl numbers while receiving passes from the quarterback hydra of John Kitna-Dan Orlovsky-Daunte Culpepper(washed up version)-Drew Stanton.

-I'm not Billy Bad-Ass.

44 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

I don't remember the John Kitna era being that bad, really. He turned the ball over too much, but considering the non-existent pass blocking, rushing performance, and his generally ham-handed non-Johnsonian receiving corpse, he did a fine job of turning lemons into really sour, but drinkable, lemonade. That team totally crashed once he got hurt.

52 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

Get this. I'm in an elimination league, where you have to pick one team each week to win, can't use the same team twice in a season.

Week 1, 2008, Detroit played at Atlanta. Altanta had just lost Michael Vick for the season, so I thought, knowing I'd probably never get another chance to take Detroit, go for it.

They lost 16 games. The first team I picked that year ... never won a single game!

54 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

Kind of reminds me of the first year I ever played fantasty football in 1991, had the number one overall pick, and thought I was being really clever by picking Randall Cunningham.

-I'm not Billy Bad-Ass.

46 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

He was easily the mosy competent Lions quarterback of the 2000's, but that's like saying he was the smartest moron in the room. He racked up a lot of passing yards (His receiving corps wasn't great, but it wasn't the worst...he had a semi-competent Roy Williams and the first 20 or so games of Megatron' career), but the amount he turned the ball over more than cancelled that out.

-I'm not Billy Bad-Ass.

50 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

Wow, truly were the 2008-2009 seasons a masterpiece of awful football. It's a shame the 49er's couldn't have slipped in one of their most awful performances of the decade in there. Believe me: you'll be telling your grand-kids about how the 2008 Rams team was secretly just as bad as the notorious 0-16 Lions squad and how both came out in 2009 intent on worsting the previous year's ignominy...

53 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

I can imagine Steve Spagnulo and Jim Schwartz going into 2009 training camp with their respective teams, seeing what kind of personnel the previous regimes had left them, and thinking, "Oh boy, what'd I get myself into?"

-I'm not Billy Bad-Ass

55 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

Well, 2008 was the year Millen finally got the ax, so I imagine Schwartz thought "Now, the rebuild begins." With Spags, I have a feeling he was thinking "wait, this team is awful. I have two years as a full-time coordinator and not just a positions coach. I made my rep on a single transcendent upset win and don't have a whole hell of a lot else on my resume other than a pretty embarrassing wildcard playoff upset loss. I didn't develop any of the best players I worked with in NY. I oversaw a terrible unit in Philadelphia. I. might. be. in. over. my. head."

58 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

Schwartz was bulletproof in 2009. Even if he had gone 0-16, while there would have been some grumbling, it still would have largely been staked on Marinelli and Millen.

Fans hated Millen so much, there were complaints filed to CBS when he announced a U-M game in 2009.

59 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

Schwartz was bulletproof in 2009. Even if he had gone 0-16, while there would have been some grumbling, it still would have largely been staked on Marinelli and Millen.

Fans hated Millen so much, there were complaints filed to CBS when he announced a U-M game in 2009.

61 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

I was mad about that, too. The Matt Millen era was an 8 year long torture session for Southeast Michigan football fans (and we've been through a lot before that, too). You would understand if torture victims get upset if they are forced to watch their tormentor on TV.

-I'm not Billy Bad-Ass.

62 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

I'm a Bears fan and I'm upset he's on TV at all.

He is as basically a proven failure as can be at talent evaluation, and now he's getting paid 100s of thousands of dollars, if not millions to talk about NFL player talents.

63 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

Agreed. Millen should serve as a warning to NFL owners that just because someone was a good NFL player, it doesn't automatically mean that they're going to know anything about talent evaluation. Millen was a good linebacker in his day, but his linebacker drafting was somehow even worse then his wideout drafting (at least he drafted Calvin Johnson!)

-I'm not Billy Bad-Ass.

64 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

Who is Billy Bad-Ass and why would we care if you are not him?

Jsit curious.

65 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

In Joey Harrington's rookie year, Tony Sirigusa implied that he was soft and not a "guy's guy" after seeing a video that showed him playing the piano. Harrington fired back and said, "So what if I'm not Billy Bad-Ass!?"

-I'm not Billy Bad-Ass.

66 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

OK, thank you piano man. Enevr knew abiurbthay Siragusa quote till tonight. Did know about Harrington playing piano though.

76 Re: DVOA 7.0: Worst Teams Ever

On the plus side, terrible football teams provide ample opportunities for self-reflection. Nothing forces you to ask "What the hell am I doing with my life?" like the realization you're debating whether Daunte Culpepper or Dan Orlovsky should be your starting quarterback.