Week 14 DVOA Ratings
by Aaron Schatz
A close loss to another really good team certainly isn't enough to knock Seattle out of the top spot in the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings, and Seattle's lead over No. 2 Denver isn't much smaller than it was a week ago. Below that we see Carolina and New Orleans move closer together, although the Panthers are still No. 3; Kansas City, New England, and Cincinnati also move closer together as the three real threats to the Broncos in the AFC, as the Patriots drop a bit while the Chiefs and Bengals move up.
The biggest story this week is a unit, not a whole team, and it's a bad story, not a good one. Washington's abysmal special teams day against Kansas City was worth an estimated minus-15.9 points below average, based entirely on horrible coverage on returns. They allowed 177 yards on seven Dexter McCluster punt returns, including a touchdown, and 123 yards on two Quintin Demps kickoff returns, including a touchdown.
As a result, Washington has now passed the 2010 San Diego Chargers and ranks as the worst special teams ever tracked by Football Outsiders through 13 games, going back to 1989.
| WORST SPECIAL TEAMS DVOA
THROUGH 13 GAMES
This doesn't necessarily mean that Washington is "on pace" to be the worst special teams in DVOA history, because that 2000 Bills team finished the season with a flourish. Their special teams were worth more than minus-25 points worse than average in Weeks 16 and 17 of that year, and as a result the Bills finished with a worst-ever -15.4% special teams DVOA. That's the worst special teams DVOA ever, and it isn't even close. You'll notice from the table above that there were ten different teams below -10% through 13 games, but only three have ever finished an entire season below -10%: 2010 San Diego at -10.2% and 1997 Seattle at -11.1%. Washington would have to have three pretty good games to escape being the fourth team to pass the -10% special teams barrier, but it would take another awful game like this week to bust Buffalo's record.
I thought it would be interesting to look back and just what on earth was so bad about these worst special teams ever, compared to the current Washington team. Note that for all numbers listed below, kickoff stats remove onside kick attempts as well as end-half squibs.
2000 Buffalo (-15.4% DVOA): The Bills apparently decided they had no faith whatsoever in their kickoff coverage, and sometime around Week 7 they ordered Steve Christie to kick short constantly to avoid long returns. So Christie's average kickoff went only 56.6 gross yards, and only 54.5 gross yards from Week 7 onwards. The league average for that season was 63.7 yards. The short kicks didn't help, as returns against Buffalo were worth an estimated 20.5 points worth of field position. Even after Week 7, that was 1.15 points per game, worse than any other team in the league. (Amazingly, the Bills didn't have the worst kickoff unit we've ever measured; the 1992 Bucs and 2009 Steelers were even worse because they couldn't tackle anyone.)
But wait, there's more! The Bills were at the bottom of the league on kick return value as well, worth minus-12.7 points with a league-low 18.8 yards per kick return. And they were at the bottom of the league in punt return value, worth minus-12.4 points with a league-low 5.6 yards per punt return. Chris Mohr was one of the worst punters in the league, specializing in shanking kicks out of bounds that didn't go more than 30 yards or get inside the 20 (he had eight of those). Plus Christie had four field goals blocked, and the long-snapper blew an extra point with a bad snap.
2013 Washington (-14.3% DVOA so far): Washington's biggest problem is punting. We now have them as minus-32.5 points below average on net punting value, which would be the third worst figure ever. Sav Rocca below average, but not horrific. It's worse that Washington has allowed three punt return touchdowns, plus additional returns of 40 and 60 yards. On kickoffs, Kai Forbath is tied for the lowest figure in the league with an average kickoff of 63.0 gross yards. (In other words, the worst average kickoff guy in the league now is about where the league average was in 2000; kicking keeps getting better every season.) Washington is near the bottom of the league in the other three areas of special teams we track, although they aren't at the absolute bottom of the league in any of them.
1997 Seattle (-11.1% DVOA): Todd Peterson wasn't so bad on field goals, but everything else was 29th or 30th in a 30-team league. The Seahawks used three different punters, and allowed two punt return touchdowns to Baltimore's Jermaine Lewis in Week 15. Kyle Richardson, the middle punter, had two blocked punts and one aborted in just two games. The Seahawks averaged 6.9 yards on punt returns (29th) with four fumbles. They averaged 20.8 yards on kick returns (26th) with three fumbles.
2010 San Diego (-10.2% DVOA): This is a recent year, so you may remember the Chargers blowing a game against the Raiders entirely based on blocked punts. For the year, the Chargers were worth minus-34.3 points worse than average on net punting, the worst figure ever. They were also dead last in value on kickoffs, allowing three touchdowns. All the negative value comes from just punts and kickoffs; they were average in the other areas of special teams we measure (field goals, punt returns, kick returns).
2002 Cincinnati (-9.4% DVOA): This team is very similar to the 2010 Chargers. They used a fourth-round pick on punter Travis Dorsch, then only used him for one game all year, which happened to be one of the worst special teams games any team has ever had in NFL history. For the season, the Bengals allowed a league-high 14.5 yards per punt return, which worked out to minus-34.3 points worth of field position by FO methods. Neil Rackers had a poor year on kickoffs, with a league-low 58.4 gross yards per kickoff. The Bengals also got lousy punt returns from T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Peter Warrick, who between them had four fumbles and only four returns of double digits with five returns that lost yardage. That cancelled out some pretty good kickoff returns from Houshmandzadeh, Brandon Bennett, and Rudi Johnson, where the Bengals actually were sixth in the NFL.
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As long as we're talking about Worst DVOA Ever, I've taken off the tables for Worst Total DVOA Ever and Worst Offensive DVOA Ever because the Jaguars continue to improve each week and are close to climbing off those lists. But we can still look at the Worst Defensive DVOA Ever, although San Diego's defensive DVOA has dropped the past two weeks. I've had some people ask me if San Diego has the biggest gap between offensive and defensive DVOA ever, and the answer is no. That title belongs to a couple of Kansas City teams from the Dick Vermeil era. However, if the season ended right now, the Chargers would be near the top, along with a couple of recent Patriots teams and last year's New Orleans Saints.
(Because of the way DVOA is set up, of course, we're not really measuring "gap" between offensive and defensive DVOA, but rather the highest combination of the two without reversing the sign on defense to reflect that a lower-rated defense is actually a better defense that prevents more scoring.)
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Finally, one more Worst DVOA Ever. I mentioned this on Twitter on Sunday, but I can't believe I didn't check it out before then given how bad the Baltimore running backs have been this year. The Ravens currently are in the lead for the worst run offense in DVOA history. They were actually second-to-last, and then things go worse in Week 14 despite a win. The fact that a team with an offense so astonishingly one-dimensional might make the playoffs is a pretty strong indictment for the idea that running the ball is even necessary in today's NFL. Here's a look at the worst run offense DVOA ratings since 1989:
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|Year||Team||RUN OFF||TOT OFF||Main RB|
|1991||PHI||-23.0%||-24.6%||J.Joseph, H.Sherman, K.Byars|
|1998||NO||-22.9%||-23.3%||L.Smith, R.Zellars, T.Davis|
|2000||ATL||-22.8%||-29.6%||Corpse of J.Anderson|
I'll leave the discussion of who we blame for this -- i.e. is this all the blocking, or did Rice get cooked even earlier than usual for a running back -- for another time. (Jacksonville's a bit easier to figure -- you know the line is awful and Jones-Drew is on the downside of his career.)
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During the 2013 season, we'll be partnering with EA Sports to bring special Football Outsiders-branded items to Madden 25 Ultimate Team. Each week, we'll be picking out a handful of players who starred in that week's games. Some of them will be well-known players who stood out in standard stats. Others will be under-the-radar players who only stood out with advanced stats, including DYAR, Defeats, and our game charting coverage stats for cornerbacks. We'll announce the players each Tuesday in the DVOA commentary article, and the players will be available in Madden Ultimate Team packs the following weekend, beginning Friday night.
The Football Outsiders stars for Week 14 are:
- Jordan Cameron, TE, CLE (Limited Edition): 70 DYAR, best single game by tight end in 2013 (9-for-9, 121 yards, TD).
- Evan Mathis, LG, PHI: Helped lead LeSean McCoy to PHI-record 217 rushing yards.
- Paul Posluszny, MLB, JAC: Led all NFL defenders with 13 combined tackles this week.
- Da'Rick Rogers, WR, IND: 53 DYAR, second among wide receivers (6-for-9, 107 yards, 2 TD against one of NFL's better pass defenses).
- Jeremy Ross, WR, DET (Special Punt Returner Edition): Scored both kickoff and punt return touchdowns, and not even against Washington!
Some other players we considered (not including players we did in previous weeks or those included in Madden's Team of the Week) were John Abraham, Keenan Allen (we've come close to including him numerous times this year, it will happen eventually), Charles Clay, Dexter McCluster, and Josh McCown.
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All 2013 stat pages are now updated or will be updated in the next few minutes, including snap counts, playoff odds, and the FO Premium database. For more on what these DVOA changes have meant to the playoff odds, check out Danny Tuccitto's playoff odds commentary on ESPN Insider.
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These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through 14 weeks of 2013, 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.)
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OFFENSE and DEFENSE DVOA are adjusted to consider all fumbles, kept or lost, as equal value. SPECIAL TEAMS DVOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver) and week of season. WEIGHTED DVOA represents an attempt to figure out how a team is playing right now, as opposed to over the season as a whole, by making recent games more important than earlier games.
As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE.
A reminder: The adjustments for weather are currently a general adjustment based on whether it is a cold-weather city or not, and whether a stadium is a dome or not. We do not have specific adjustments for specific weather conditions such as the snow on Sunday in Week 14. If you feel that stats should be adjusted for these conditions, use your common sense and best judgment. (Although Baltimore, Minnesota, and Philadelphia did a pretty good job of demonstrating that you can score plenty of points in the snow!)
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>
- NON-ADJUSTED TOTAL DVOA does not include the adjustments for opponent strength or the adjustments for weather and altitude in special teams, and only penalizes offenses for lost fumbles rather than all fumbles.
- ESTIMATED WINS uses a statistic known as "Forest Index" that emphasizes consistency as well as DVOA in the most important specific situations: red zone defense, first quarter offense, and performance in the second half when the score is close. It then projects a number of wins adjusted to a league-average schedule and a league-average rate of recovering fumbles. Teams that have had their bye week are projected as if they had played one game per week.
- PAST SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents played this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative). It is not adjusted for which games are home or road.
- FUTURE SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents still left to play this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative). It is not adjusted for which games are home or road.
- VARIANCE measures the statistical variance of the team's weekly DVOA performance. Teams are ranked from most consistent (#1, lowest variance) to least consistent (#32, highest variance).
133 comments, Last at 16 Dec 2013, 3:04pm
#1 by thok // Dec 10, 2013 - 7:31pm
Inquiring minds want to know: is Indianapolis's DVOA actually 0.0%, or do they slip to slightly positive/slightly negative as you add more digits.
(Scientific minds realize that adding extra digits is only for recreation enjoyment.)
#50 by CBPodge // Dec 11, 2013 - 5:35am
I decided to have a look into this. Allen has 909 yards, with 312 DYAR through 13 games, which is 24 per game, coming out at 384 for a season. His DVOA is currently 33.4%. Since 1989 (the DVOA era), there have been 15 other rookie receivers with 900 or more yards. Here’s each of their DYAR and DVOA (sorted by DYAR):
DeSean Jackson, 2008 (912 yards) – 50 DYAR, -7.3% DVOA
Mike Williams, 2010 (964 yards) – 66 DYAR, -6.1% DVOA
Terry Glenn, 1996 (1132 yards in 15 games) – 80 DYAR, -6.7% DVOA
Eddie Kennison, 1996 (924 yards in 15 games) – 90 DYAR, -2.5% DVOA
Eddie Royal, 2008 (980 yards in 15 games) – 127 DYAR, -0.2% DVOA
DeAndre Hopkins, 2013 (707 yards in 13 games to date) – 129 DYAR, 4.4% DVOA
Joey Galloway, 1995 (1039 yards) – 156 DYAR, 2.8% DVOA
Andre Johnson, 2003 (976 yards) – 164 DYAR, 4.9% DVOA
Julio Jones, 2011 (959 yards in 13 games) – 165 DYAR, 9.9% DVOA
Dwayne Bowe, 2007 (995 yards) – 203 DYAR, 9.5% DVOA
Marques Colston, 2006 (1038 yards in 14 games) – 252 DYAR, 14.2% DVOA
Anquan Boldin, 2003 (1377 yards) – 253 DYAR, 6.6% DVOA
Kevin Johnson, 1999 (986 yards) – 281 DYAR, 11.7% DVOA
AJ Green, 2011 (1057 yards in 15 games) – 284 DYAR, 16.9% DVOA
Michael Clayton, 2004 (1193 yards) – 395 DYAR, 26.8% DVOA
Randy Moss, 1998 (1313 yards) – 425 DYAR, 29.8% DVOA
If Allen sat out the rest of the season, or plays the remaining three games at the same rate, he’d finish 3rd in DYAR and 1st in DVOA. With a slight uptick in raw usage he might push himself up to 2nd in DYAR, and likely remains first (or at worst second) in DVOA unless he has a very poor last few weeks.
I had no clue Allen was having this good a season. I knew he was doing well, but to be having a season that is either the second or third best rookie season by a WR in the last 25 years is pretty incredible. Despite higher DVOA its clearly not a better year than Moss', but I'd hear arguments that its better than Clayton's.
I wonder how predictive of future performance it is though? Of the 15 players in that list, you have four absolute stars (Moss, Andre Johnson, Jones, Green), six who are somewhere in the arguable range of good to very good to not-quite-stars (Galloway, Glenn, Boldin, Colston, Bowe, Jackson), then five who I’d rate as vaguely average or worse (Kennison, Kevin Johnson, Clayton, Royal and Williams). Allen’s game probably profiles closest to the likes of Boldin, Clayton, Williams and probably Colston - he’s a physical receiver, closer to a tight end in skill set than a deep threat (if that makes sense?).
He's offensive rookie of the year, right?
#111 by Megamanic // Dec 11, 2013 - 10:57pm
Thanks for this. It's interesting to look at the list. A lot of WR aren't great in year 1 & as you can see there's a few great looking rookies who flame-out
Given that he didn't play in week 1 due to injury and didn't start until week 3 he is having a very impressive rookie season. The key for him going forward is to build on this.
Rookie of the year - if he doesn't get it I'd really like to know why...
#3 by dmstorm22 // Dec 10, 2013 - 7:44pm
What is the record for fewest teams with a DVOA over 20 in a season?
I could go back and look, but just wanted to put that out there because four seems low. Certainly the teams in the 16-18% range have a shot to get there, but seeing just four teams over that mark seems odd this late in the year.
Anyway, other notes: I'm surprised Denver's DVOA didn't go up more after that win, it seemed more dominant than DVOA graded out, I guess. Their offense was ultra-DVOA friendly, with no turnovers and 39 first downs, and good play in the red zone apart from the drive where they had two TDs (correctly) overturned. Also, considering all the hatred he got, maybe you could give Peyton Manning a little 'actually played well in cold weather' boost? :)
I'm surprised Cincinnati didn't jump more, but garbage time may have aided that. To me, if they steal that #2 seed, I find it hard to see them not making the AFC Championship Game. Without Gronk, I don't know if the Pats can go into Cincinnati and beat them. I realize they didn't have Gronk the first time, but they did have Mayo/Vollmer/Kelly.
The NFC Playoffs honestly seem boring to me, because it feels like were set to have two teams blown out in Seattle and New Orleans in round 2 and then have New Orleans get blown out in Seattle in the NFC Championship Game. The last three NFC Championship Games in odd years have been amazing (NYG def GB in 2007, NO def MIN in 2009, NYG def SF in 2011) so here's hoping the statistically insignificant trend continues, but I can't see it. The teams that I see having a chance in Seattle and New Orleans are slated to play the opposite teams (Carolina, I feel like, has the better shot in Seattle while San Fran has the better shot in New Orleans).
Of course, I've never been able to predict the playoffs right before, so I probably should assume I won't be able to do it right this time either.
#52 by CBPodge // Dec 11, 2013 - 5:55am
There were only 2 teams over 20% in 1993, with the Cowboys and 49ers both at 24.9%. Also 2 in 1991 (Redskins at 56.9%, 49ers at 26%) and 1989 (49ers at 36%, Browns at 24%). There were 3 in 2001, with the Eagles leading the league at 27.3%. Also 3 in 2001 (Rams, 34%)
Only 4 being over 20% is unusual, but not drastically so. The most common seems to be 5 or 6.
#20 by Thomas_beardown // Dec 10, 2013 - 9:26pm
The SD defense has the best starting field position in the league. They've also had better success than the Dallas defense, but I'm guessing their opponent adjustments kick in. So Dallas must be facing harder offenses.
#14 by MilkmanDanimal // Dec 10, 2013 - 8:45pm
Tampa had the Jets and Seahawks pretty clearly beaten, and should have beaten the Saints in week 2, instead settling for a long FG that was missed in an effort to CAN'T DO ANALYSIS ANYMORE SCHIANO YOU SUCK sorry about that. Anyways, you flip those three games to the Ws they should have been, and it's 7-6.
Those three games were more or less won, and then pissed away at the end. DVOA can't measure stupid mistakes at the wrong time.
#17 by shoutingloudly // Dec 10, 2013 - 9:06pm
It's an artifact of their brutal schedule (hardest schedule in football to date, an honor that should hold up through season's end). They took the Seahawks to OT and also lost to the Pats, Saints, and Panthers (twice). Other than those five games against elite opponents, they're playing .500 ball. For all 13 games, they have 244 points for and 291 against — not bad, considering their slate. With their second Saints game & a tilt against the 49ers to come, they'll probably have to beat the Rams to reach five wins. And DVOA will probably still (rightly) put them somewhere in the middle.
In the interest of full disclosure, I've not actually *watched* any Bucs games. Living in NYC and not having RZ or NFLN, I think my chances were vs. the Jets and (maybe) Bills. I mean, I'm a nerdy football fan, not a masochist.
#23 by dbostedo // Dec 10, 2013 - 11:00pm
I'm not so sure of that... per the explanatory text above :
"ESTIMATED WINS uses a statistic known as "Forest Index" that emphasizes consistency as well as DVOA in the most important specific situations: red zone defense, first quarter offense, and performance in the second half when the score is close. It then projects a number of wins adjusted to a league-average schedule and a league-average rate of recovering fumbles. Teams that have had their bye week are projected as if they had played one game per week."
Any of those could factor in. If Seattle has had unusually good fumble luck, or been more inconsistent in the "specific situations", that could affect it to. I tried to follow the glossary links explaining the methodology behind the Forest Index, but the link seems to be broken.
And actually, since things are adjusted to a league average schedule, and DVOA is already adjusted for defense, the relative schedule strengths of Denver and Seattle are cancelled out I think. (I.e. a team with higher DVOA will always look better against a league average schedule than a team with a lower DVOA, all else equal.) So those other factors would be more likely to account for the difference. Unless I'M missing something - which is very possible.
#25 by The Hypno-Toad // Dec 10, 2013 - 11:15pm
I'm going to hit the brakes on my previous comment now. What I should have said is that it seems to me that the Broncos have had very bad fumble luck. I don't know the numbers, and even if I knew the numbers, I wouldn't know how they compare to other teams.
#27 by Bobman // Dec 10, 2013 - 11:30pm
Well, if memory serves, through about 8 weeks they were among the league leaders in lost turnovers despite Manning not throwing a pick for the first five games or so. That seems like the very definition of bad fumble luck. Lots of them, and a low percentage of recoveries. Not sure how that affects est wins, tho.
#29 by Perfundle // Dec 10, 2013 - 11:51pm
Yes, they have. Here are the numbers:
That stat counts both self fumbles and opponent fumbles, and it looks they were even worse last year. But there's not that big of a difference between them and Seattle, who is around league average.
#45 by gomer (not verified) // Dec 11, 2013 - 3:26am
I'll bet you anything it is variance in the first quarter. Seattle at times has looked like a team that doesn't always game plan and play a 'base offense' for the first quarter. And when they were down 3 O Linemen at the same time the 'base offense' had a large number of play action where Russell Wilson was getting killed.
So against the Texans, Tampa, SF, Carolina, and a couple of other games they had no offense before the 2nd half.
#76 by Perfundle // Dec 11, 2013 - 12:51pm
Which is surprising, because they were great at scoring quickly last year. Here is how their drives until the first punt or TO looked like:
Arizona: Missed FG, FG
Green Bay: Punt
St. Louis: TD
New England: FG, TD
SF: FG, FG, missed FG
Detroit: FG, TD, TD
Arizona: FG, TD, TD
Buffalo: TD, TD, FG, TD, TD
SF: TD, TD
St. Louis: Punt
Only five times did they not have a chance to kick at least a field goal on their opening drive.
#8 by Hurt Bones // Dec 10, 2013 - 8:08pm
”I'll leave the discussion of who we blame for this -- i.e. is this all the blocking, or did Rice get cooked even earlier than usual for a running back -- for another time.”
For most of the year, I’d have said it was an equal measure of both, but I thought I saw a change in Rice this past week. I don’t think there were bigger holes, but I though he was hitting what small holes there were more decisively. It was probably his best game. Throw away the 40yd run in Chicago and the rest of that game was pretty bad.
The running game has been pretty bad whether facing a good rushing defense or bad. I’m looking forward to opponent adjustments in this week’s game helping us out of the No. 1 all time spot. It’s been so bad that at games everyone cheers when they get 3 yards on a carry. Pretty pathetic.
#15 by jonnyblazin // Dec 10, 2013 - 8:49pm
It can't be that Rice is cooked, look at B. Pierce's numbers:
Pierce was also improving during last year and excellent in the playoffs. Rice was certainly playing injured for most the year, it appears that he's regained some burst in the past couple weeks. I'll give an analysis of the O-line:
C: Gino Gradkowski: Played terribly for most of the season, although he has improved somewhat in recent weeks. Could be he was just learning the game, as he played vs. bad competition at Delaware.
LG: Kelichi Osemele, AQ Shipley: Osemele was horrible, and it turned out he was playing with a bad back and was IR-ed about half-way through the season. Shipley is very limited but tries hard.
LT: Bryant McKinnie, Eugene Monroe: McKinnie didn't care to run block and was inconsistent in pass protection. Monroe is pretty good, at least he's reliable.
RG: Yanda has been well below his usual standard. No idea why. Maybe having Birk next to him really helped.
RT: Oher has been a good RT in the past (a so-so LT), but this year he hasn't been good. Strange because he's in his walk year.
Other factors: Juan Castillo was brought in to implement a zone blocking scheme, but the O-lineman just couldn't pick it up and constantly blocked the wrong guy/area. The TE play has been lousy, as Dallas Clark can't block anyone and Ed Dickson isn't a terrible blocker but has stone hands so defense don't respect his ability to be a receiver. Vonta Leach was cut in the offseason and resigned in August, I'm not sure he was keeping in as good shape as in the past and is aging.
So, there is slight room for optimism. Gradkowski is not embarrassing himself anymore, and the line is getting more continuity with Shipley at LG and Monroe at LT. Castillo and Harbaugh seem to be working to develop blocking schemes that suit the players better instead of using a system that makes them look clueless. Rice is healthier. Pitta is real-live NFL TE (although not a great blocker, he takes Dickson out of a role he couldn't handle).
#19 by Hurt Bones // Dec 10, 2013 - 9:16pm
I agree with everything but the Juan Castillo comments. The whole Castillo effect has been way over blown. He wasn't brought in to implement a zone blocking scheme, because the Ravens were already using a zone blocking scheme. He was brought to improve the zone blocking scheme.
In the words of Bobbie Williams who played for Castillo in Philly and played for the Ravens last year "“With Juan, it’s close to the same fit. It’s the zone, You stretch it and you let your back find the hole, which is similar to what Ray [Rice] has been used to. Juan is about producing physical guys up front, guys that are nasty.”
I think there may be something physically wrong with both Yanda and Oher. Just like Osemele, he sucks then all of sudden we hear he's had this back problem all along and then bingo he's on IR for back surgery.
#22 by jonnyblazin // Dec 10, 2013 - 10:21pm
Hmmm..., I'm open to being wrong about this. But I've seen some video analysis of run plays in the earlier part of the season where 3 O-lineman were triple-teaming a NT and DE's were just let free to wreck the RB. Something was definitely very wrong with the scheme, whether it was due to Castillo or not is up in the air. At this point in the season it seems like the O-lineman are now generally blocking the right guy, it's just that they aren't that good at blocking.
#58 by jonnyblazin // Dec 11, 2013 - 8:24am
Their roles are a bit murky, but the original O-line coach Moeller (who was there since 2011) is now an assistant O-line coach, and Juan Castillo's title is O-line coach and "run game coordinator", whatever that means.
#66 by FoxForceFlacco (not verified) // Dec 11, 2013 - 10:44am
Yanda had off-season rotator cuff surgery. It severely limited his off-season conditioning, and he is still not back to full health, essentially playing with one arm. Oher has been inexplicably awful and it was clear from Harbaugh's reaction after this week's holding penalty that his time in Baltimore is over. I am very high on both Osemele and Yanda if/when healthy and hope they can keep Monroe and draft a legit NFL center, which Gradkowski is not.
#72 by Will Allen // Dec 11, 2013 - 11:36am
At least the Ravens got their championship before Birk left. I still think that the Vikings get home field advantage, and easily beat the Saints in the NFCCG, in 2009, if Birk had not left, leaving the Vikings with a John Sullivan who just wasn't ready yet.
As effective as Birk still was at an advanced age, you shoulda' seen him prior to his hernia and hip problems, in 2004 and 2005. He could pull and lead an outside running play, while being stout enough to handle a decent nose tackle without a lot of help. One of the best I've seen.
#91 by theslothook // Dec 11, 2013 - 4:29pm
I wonder if birk makes the hall. In a vacuum, I would think he deserves to. Longevity, pretty strong peak, durability at a position that is notoriously hard to be durable. In the world we have, I suppose a lot of it will depend on whos he competing with. But, I think he will get in. That super bowl ring will go a long way.
#94 by CBPodge // Dec 11, 2013 - 5:13pm
I agree, although he might have to wait a year or two - Ray Lewis will likely be the representative of that Ravens Super Bowl win, and then Ed Reed will only be a year or two behind (by all appearances, Reed should have tried to get into Lewis' HoF class).
It might come down to who the voters decide has the better case out of Birk and Jeff Saturday? Both retired in the same year and were great players. Birk was probably the better player, but Saturday probably achieved more (by virtue of having Peyton Manning line up with his hands on his butt). I imagine both get in eventually, but both might have to wait a little while.
#106 by Hurt Bones // Dec 11, 2013 - 8:27pm
I loved Ray Donaldson and think he was a better player than Saturday. Unfortunately, most of his career was playing for really crappy teams. I couldn't help feeling good for Donaldson after Super Bowl XXX.
#102 by Thomas_beardown // Dec 11, 2013 - 6:38pm
There's also Olin Kreutz who was highly respected and made 2 more all-pros than Birk, but never played for a good offense (well he was on the Saints his last year, but was jettisoned).
Plus it's super difficult for an interior lineman to get in the hall. No stats, no generally accepted rankings, and a sea of ignorant sports writers.
Edit: There's also Tom Nalen who will almost certainly not get in because he's considered dirty, but he was a very good center for a long time.
#103 by theslothook // Dec 11, 2013 - 6:42pm
Story will be the difference here. Matt birk has a story plus I think he's involved with the media. Those two will go a long way towards helping birk. Normally, I would hate that aspect of it, but I think birk is very deserving.
Olin will absolutely not get in for the reasons you stated. Sad. I would say center is the most ignored position in football personally.
#105 by Jerry // Dec 11, 2013 - 7:58pm
A couple of things about centers:
-There was a stretch where the centers on lines from great teams (which may or may not have been great lines) were the offensive linemen who were elected to the Hall. Now, that's probably left tackles.
-If Dermontti Dawson had to wait a few years to get into the Hall, none of the guys in this discussion will go in on the first ballot. Generally speaking, the lack of quantitative standards for offensive linemen makes it easier to postpone their election for guys with gaudy statistics.
#107 by jonnyblazin // Dec 11, 2013 - 8:45pm
Watching Birk on the Ravens it never would have occurred to me that he could be a HOFer. He was always solid. But watching the line fall apart this year makes me wonder about all the intangibles he brings. And I don't mean "clutchness" or "leadership" but actually making calls and organizing the group so everyone blocks the right guy.
#115 by Will Allen // Dec 12, 2013 - 1:41am
Birk was well past his physical peak by the time he got to the Ravens. Like I said, before he had the hernia and hip injuries in 2004 and 2005, he was a sight to behold; extremely mobile, pulling and sealing the inside, on a run to the outside, while also being very stout against even good nose tackles.
Beyond his physical gifts, however, and as you note, his line calls were always superlative. A line surrounding Matt Birk was never confused or disorganized, and that is what really hurt the Vikings in 2009, on an otherwise very good offensive unit. When they played defenses built on confusion or just a good defense on the road, like Pittsburgh, New Orleans, or Chicago, there was enough chaos in blocking assignments to foul things up.
#118 by Independent George // Dec 12, 2013 - 11:17am
Kevin Mawae was at least Birk's equal, and arguably better.
I say arguably because I know very little about offensive line play, and even less about centers and line calls, but Mawae was awesome.
Saturday was very good, but I never got the sense he belonged in the HoF.
#119 by Will Allen // Dec 12, 2013 - 12:06pm
I didn't see Mawae play nearly as much, of course, but my sense was that he was really terrific as well. In addition to Saturday, I thought Olin Kreutz was a little overrated, albeit, again, an obviously good player. I saw Kreutz quite a bit, but most frequently when Pat Williams was getting the better of him. Pat did that to just about every center, however. The center is at such a huge disadvantage to any really good nose tackle, to say nothing of a great one in his prime, if not given constant and substantial help, that you almost have to discount that match-up when evaluating center play.
#9 by Sporran // Dec 10, 2013 - 8:11pm
In the ESPN Playoff Odds Report, Tuccitto mentions that Dallas wins the matchup against Philly 52% of the time, despite the fact that Philly has a 9.9% edge in Total DVOA and a 13.1% edge in weighted DVOA. Is home-field advantage really that significant for Dallas?
#31 by Bobman // Dec 11, 2013 - 12:20am
Holy crap! HFA (at least in Dallas) is worth 17% DVOA?
Assuming Indy's is similar just for the sake of this discussion, that suggests that a 0.0% DVOA Indy team ranked 17th AT HOME against a much more highly ranked Chiefs team at 17% DVOA, the game should be a push?
(It also implies the Chiefs will win by about 35 in KC. Far less interesting!)
#37 by Perfundle // Dec 11, 2013 - 12:38am
I don't think it's 17% just for Dallas; 17% is the average for the entire NFL. And I'm pretty sure 1% in DVOA doesn't translate as 1 point.
But I did turn up this fascinating study regarding HFA:
It looks like HFA increases as the season progresses, which makes sense with the temperature and wind differences between northern and southern locales becoming more drastic in the winter.
#63 by TomC // Dec 11, 2013 - 10:10am
Yeah, if you compare DVOA differential with Vegas pointspreads and assume a simple linear scaling with a constant offset for HFA, you get about 5% of DVOA per Vegas point and HFA of ~15% (which is close enough to 17 for me).
That also jives with the conventional wisdom that, in a game with otherwise equally matched teams, the home team will be favored by a field goal.
(And yes, I know, the Vegas lines are also influenced by where they think the money is going to go, but I think that just adds noise to the relationship.)
#85 by ChrisS (not verified) // Dec 11, 2013 - 1:28pm
Danny, HFA is a pretty interesting topic. Do you guys have anything available that you can comment on about the details of HFA? Is it stable year to to year across the league or by team? Is it evenly split between Off, Def, and ST? What is the range for individual teams? Does it vary for dome versus outdorrs, North versus South? Anyway, whatever you have I would be interested to read (or perhaps an offseason project). Thanks
#10 by Boots Day // Dec 10, 2013 - 8:15pm
It's worth noting that the Bills fired longtime special teams coach Bruce DeHaven out of embarrassment over the Music City Miracle in 2000. So those horrific special teams, the worst of all time, were basically the result of spite.
#100 by Mike B. In Va // Dec 11, 2013 - 5:56pm
I'm convinced that's Buffalo's version of the Babe Ruth curse. There's no reason DeHaven should have been fired for that ridiculous fluke of a play.
Phillips should have been fired for pulling Flutie before that game, but that's a whole other discussion.
#16 by Jay Gloab // Dec 10, 2013 - 9:00pm
Speaking of awful special teams days, the Eagles also allowed TDs on both a kick return and a punt return, enough to drop them from -0.1 to -3.6, a bigger one-week drop than the Redskins had. (Not that one should take too seriously anything that happened in that absurd game...)
#30 by Bobman // Dec 11, 2013 - 12:15am
I was amazed that they'd flex out the Pats and the defending SB champs, both of whom (as of now) are playoff teams this year. I agree the other game is more compelling in a football sense, but this is a business that sells advertising space--I assumed the Pats/Ravens would do more of that. "Look, it's Tom Brady--he's so dreamy! Hey, it's Joe Flacco--he has a mono-brow!" Guess that why I'm not in the TV biz.
#35 by RickD // Dec 11, 2013 - 12:32am
I honestly think it comes down to Chicago market + Philly market >> Boston market + Baltimore market.
There's no way that the Ravens/Pats game won't have playoff implications for both teams.
Apparently last night's Bears-Cowboys game was the highest rated MNF game of the season. I don't think it's a coincidence that the game was flexed today. But I'm sure NBC knows that the Cowboys are the team with the big national audience, not the Bears.
#42 by Mr. Morden (not verified) // Dec 11, 2013 - 1:43am
I'm curious: Is there any scenario by which the Chicago-Philadelphia game *won't* have playoff implications for Philly, and they rest their starters (assuming they don't care if they're the #3 or #4 seed)?
I was playing around with the playoff scenario generator:
There are scenarios (e.g., Dallas and Philly either both win or both lose in Week 15, and Dallas then wins in their Week 16 afternoon game) by which it's already decided going into the Chicago-Philly Sunday night game that the NFC East will be decided by the season finale Philly@Dallas game. So then, Philly might be playing for nothing in that game against Chicago?
I was thinking that maybe they'd at least be playing for the possibility of a wild card if they lose to Dallas, but I think under this scenario, for example:
-Dallas goes 1-1 in weeks 15 and 16.
-The loser of the Week 16 Car-NO game wins their Week 15 game.
-Philly loses to Minnesota in Week 15.
Philly is already out of wild card contention by Sunday night of Week 16, and their only path into the playoffs is to beat Dallas and win the NFC East. So yeah, that would be amusing, if Philly is playing for nothing in that primetime game, and rests their starters solely because the NFL flexed that game to Sunday night, allowing them to know the outcome of the other Week 16 games before they play.
#69 by Scott Crowder (not verified) // Dec 11, 2013 - 10:55am
I use Playoff Machine and if you go by the DVOA of 17% for HFA, then SF is likely to lose against TB and AZ. In that scenario, the winner of the Philly/Dall game wins the division and the lose takes the #6 seed. So the Chi-Philly game has big playoff implications for both teams.
#120 by Brad P (not verified) // Dec 12, 2013 - 1:32pm
I tried this scenario where SF loses in TB and in AZ and DAL and PHI both win their next two games. DAL can then only get in with a win in week 17. If they lose, SF still gets the 6 seed. If it actually does play out this way, PHI might want to let DAL win. DAL would be the 3 and PHI the 6 seed. SF would be out. If you are the Eagles, would you rather play the first round in DET or at home against SF?
#127 by CBPodge // Dec 13, 2013 - 11:37am
Which they likely will be - its one of the few games that has a pretty decent chance of being a win the game, get in the playoffs situation regardless of results elsewhere, which the NFL tends to want for week 17. Hence every week 17 game being a division game - gives a decent chance that at least one will be a win-and-you're-in, regardless of the results of earlier games. The only other possibility to provide that at this point is Packers-Bears.
#128 by Sporran // Dec 13, 2013 - 3:15pm
Depending on what happens this week and next, SF-ARI is another possibility, but point taken. I had been assuming that PHI-DAL would be flexed to the late game up until the point where PHI-CHI was flexed. Has there been a recent history of teams playing in the Sunday Night game two weeks in a row?
Regardless, I think you try to win the game if you are Philly. It's not jsut the opponents in Round 1, but Round 2 as well. I'd rather play SF at home then at NO than the alternative -- at DET and then at SEA.
#124 by Sporran // Dec 12, 2013 - 4:51pm
The game against CHI could also mean the difference between the 3rd and 4th seed for PHI. Granted, that is only important if they beat Dallas, but it does qualify as "something to play for".
If you count the 3rd seed as worth winning (and I do, if for no other reason than preferring to play NO to SEA in round 2), then there is no scenario in which the PHI-CHI game is meaningless to Philly.
Chicago, on the other hand, could be eliminated if they lose to Cleveland and Detroit wins their next two games.
#126 by Mr. Morden (not verified) // Dec 13, 2013 - 3:20am
Yeah, I don't really see potentially moving up from the #4 seed to the #3 seed as something really worth playing hard for. I don't know that they would necessarily rest all the starters completely, but I can imagine Kelly benching some of them partway through the second half if the Bears jump to an early lead, to protect them from injury. Why risk injury to your star players over the possibility of moving up from #4 to #3, when next week you'll have a really meaningful game that will actually determine whether you get into the playoffs at all? I'd also expect that Kelly would play conservative, and not show his hand, giving the Cowboys more tape to study in their preparation for next week.
I wonder, what is the history on scenarios like this? Where you have games with the potential for a minor impact on playoff seeding, but you're likely to be looking ahead to the more important games? Is motivation a big factor in the waning weeks of the season, where some teams are already very nearly locked into their playoff slots?
For example, Indy has already clinched their division. They're almost certainly going to be either the #3 or #4 seed. I think their only hope for getting a bye is if two out of the three of Denver, NE, and Cincy lose at least two games in the final weeks. That is extremely unlikely to happen.
So is that something that the Colts players are aware of, and does it mean that they'll already be looking ahead to the playoffs, and come out flat this Sunday, not really focused on the game at hand?
#129 by Sporran // Dec 13, 2013 - 3:35pm
Teams play hard all the time for the #1 seed -- and I'd argue that the difference between the #1 and #2 seed is about the same as the difference between the #3 and #4 seed -- especially this year when the wildcard teams are arguably better than the #3 and #4 seeds.
#130 by EricL // Dec 13, 2013 - 5:10pm
Given that, in many (most?) cases the #5 seed is the 2nd or 3rd best team in the conference, I'd certainly rather be the #3. In fact, I'd probably rank being #3 over #4 being worth more than being #1 over #2, unless you've got a serious visiting field disadvantage.
The #4 is likely to host a team better than them, and if they win, would likely have to travel to the #1's site. Not an easy road at all.
#132 by Mr. Morden (not verified) // Dec 15, 2013 - 8:00pm
WIth Philly and Dallas both having lost this week, I think it's now impossible for the NFC East winner to either get a bye or a wildcard spot, is that correct? They'll either be the #3 or #4 seed. And so things are set up for this very scenario, should Dallas beat Washington next week. If that happens, then Philly will know going into Sunday night that the Dallas game in Week 17 will solely determine the NFC East winner. The Chicago game then only has the potential to move Philly up from #4 to #3, should they win against Dallas in Week 17.
As things stand right now, it looks like there's a very good chance that it could be #5 New Orleans and #6 San Francisco (though obviously that's a long way from being settled. In that case, might being #4 and hosting New Orleans (a rather poor road team) actually be preferable to being #3 and hosting San Fran?
#133 by Sporran // Dec 16, 2013 - 3:04pm
Chip Kelly said in his press conference yesterday that he does not plan to sit his starters if Dallas wins -- although it has more to do with making sure they aren't rusty against Dallas than it has to do with playoff seeding.
Also, as things stand now, it seems more likely that San Fran would be the #5 seed -- which makes the #3 seed more preferable than the #4 seed, by your logic. I'd also throw in the fact that travelling to either NO or CAR is preferable to traveling to SEA in round 2, which the #3 seed would ensure (provided they win the wildcard game, of course).
#113 by Bobman // Dec 12, 2013 - 1:30am
Naah, Florio had a good piece on it earlier today--a business decision based on contract wording. The delta between the network that gets screwed out of a game can't be greater than 3 games each season. Currently they are 8-5 (I forget if Fox or CBS is ahead) and if they didn't flex this one they'd have limited options in the final week (only games on one network to choose from). By flexing this game, they are free to choose from EITHER network for the final weekend.
#57 by jonnyblazin // Dec 11, 2013 - 8:22am
I read that actually it was less of Chi/Phi being flexed into the Sunday night slot and more that Bal/NE was being flexed into the 4:25 national game for CBS to replace Pit/GB. NBC and Fox apparently owed CBS a favor after they replaced the week 10 matchup of GB/NYG with Den/KC.
#109 by nathnd (not verified) // Dec 11, 2013 - 10:15pm
They did it to maintain flexibility for the final week. Apparently NBC has to keep the number of games they take from each network within 3. If they took NE-Balt that would put them at the +3 limit and they'd have to choose from the other network (CBS?) for week 17, no matter the playoff implications. So by skipping NE-Balt they can pick any game they want for week 17.
#28 by zlionsfan // Dec 10, 2013 - 11:40pm
Ah ... I see that a crappy 7-6 team is still 12th for a couple of reasons. One is that there are helium balloons attached to all non-Green Bay teams they've lost to (well, OK, those teams generally turned out better than they may have looked earlier in the season), and the other is that there just aren't a lot of good teams this year. The Lions are only two spots lower in estimated wins than in DVOA - there's just no one else clearly better to "put" above them.
This season would be a lesson to Goodell about not expanding the playoffs if he actually paid attention to anything other than the ridiculous ideas he clings to. I'm sure he's probably thinking that if the NFL only had an 18-game schedule, all this crappy football would magically fix itself in weeks 18 and 19.
#47 by Jerry // Dec 11, 2013 - 4:50am
Goodell pays attention to the 32 organizations he works for, all of whom are always happy to collect as much money as possible. If TV is willing to pay huge sums for another playoff game in each conference, the commissioner's personal ideas are unlikely to matter.
#62 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Dec 11, 2013 - 9:58am
I for one, was shocked at first the Lions didn't drop more, given that the offense fumbled 7 times and the previously good run defense played Keystone Kops the entire 4th quarter.
Then I remembered the main thing holding the Lions ranking down (despite a previously top 10 offense and average defense) was awful special teams. Jeremy Ross has single-handedly buoyed the special teams to above-average, somewhat offsetting the drop in offense and defense.
In any case, you're right. This is a team with above average talent playing at an average level. If they end up winning the division, they're gonna get smoked by SF or Carolina in the 1st round. I'm almost rooting for them not to win the division in the hopes that the coaching staff gets canned as a result (I strongly believe Bill Ford Jr. has far less patience than his father.
#64 by TomC // Dec 11, 2013 - 10:28am
It's even crazier that the crappy 7-6 team that your crappy 7-6 team beat twice is three spots above them at #9. I thought this was going to be the week that the Bears finally did the Wile E. Coyote (looking down, noticing you have actually run off the cliff, plummeting to your death), but the Cowboys obliged with an idiot offensive game plan, a bunch of unforced errors (how many interceptions did they drop or let Alshon Jeffery steal?), and getting Sean Lee hurt so that all of a sudden a terrible power-rushing team could go up the middle for 10 yards a pop. If Philly hasn't clinched by next week, that could be a seriously ugly game, with Shady threatening to set several records.
Oh wait, since I'm actually replying to zlionsfan, I suppose I should reformat:
Chicago is clearly ranked too high because my mother could run for a buck fifty on that D, and she has an artificial hip. Ranking games by amount of snow is way better than this. Pointyhead Trustmann sux bring back Da Coach!
#33 by beargoggles // Dec 11, 2013 - 12:21am
Nice to see how much talent Cal wasted in the last decade even without Rodgers/Lynch/Desean appearing on these lists.
Vereen and Keenan Allen feature prominently, + Jeremy Ross (Ok, maybe we can write this one off as a fluke).. Even Marvin Jones seems to be a quality regular.
Of course, after a historically bad year, good talent underachieving is starting to look pretty good.
Oops I just realized this fit better in the Quick Reads column, but I'm too lazy to move it.
#38 by maxnote // Dec 11, 2013 - 12:59am
I don't know where to put this, so I'll just put it here.
Last week, both Seattle and Denver were listed at having 100% odds of making the playoffs. In other weeks, teams that had playoff percentages round up to 100% were listed at >99.9%, while the hundred percent was reserved for teams that had clinched a playoff spot. As far as I know, Denver did not clinch a spot until this week. Was I wrong, or did Denver make the playoffs in every single simulation, even if it was possible to not make it in?
#75 by intel_chris (not verified) // Dec 11, 2013 - 12:24pm
I don't know the reason why they weren't listed at >99.9%, but last week there were still (vanishingly rare) scenarios where both teams did not make the playoffs and this week there are none. I wouldn't be surprised if it were the case that in 50k simulations, one did not hit even one of those rare scenarios. 50k may seem like a big number, but it actually isn't, not compared to the number of combinations of results that are possible at 3-4 weeks out from the playoffs. With 15 games each week, each being equivalent to a coin flip (or a bit), you get 2**15th or ~32k outcomes each week and those multiply as they are independent events. So, 50k simulations might not be too bad for 1 week, but you aren't even scratching the surface at 3 weeks out.
Fortunately, most of those games actually don't effect the outcome, so the actual number of relevant games is much smaller that 15 per week. Moreover, it is a curious artifact of statistics that small samples can actually be indicative of much larger populations as long as those samples are random. So, for predicting the odds of the top teams making the playoffs, the simulations are probably pretty accurate. It's just that the simulations are much worse for predicting the outliers.
I'm convinced that there is a much better method of calculating the odds of each team making the playoffs that could be relatively easily programmed (most of us who play with the playoff machine are doing a small part of the algorithm on a case-by-case basis), but unfortunately, it is slightly beyond my spare time allocations these days. Perhaps, the current models does this. Since I haven't seen a spec on how it work, I'm just assuming that it doesn't. I'm certain Mike Harris can correct my mis-understandings, if I've made them.
Essentially each team making the playoffs has a set of scenarios (sets of games that they and the other teams win) for doing so, and those scenarios form a decision tree (well technically a DAG, but same idea). Once you know the tree for each team, you simply need to know the probabilities of each game going a specific way, with many games in the schedule not influencing any results, so you don't need to bother with them at all. Then, you end up with (fewer than) 45-60 games having playoff implications and once you know the odds of each game going a specific way, you can then simply multiply the probabilities along the tree. Along the way, you get some other interesting facts, just from building the tree. You know for certain which teams are mathematically eliminated (or guaranteed a specific spot). You would also know which games are most significant (e.g. Philly/Dallas at the end of the season is likely a key game). Similarly, one would know which combinations of teams can make the playoffs together, e.g. there is at least one scenario where 6 AFC/NFC west teams make the playoffs at the same time.
#40 by andrew // Dec 11, 2013 - 1:23am
the 2001 Cardinals are the worst ever defensive dvoa with 23.7% through 13 weeks.
Looking at the adjacent chart, the 2000 Vikings, who did not even place on the worst ever through 13 weeks chart, managed to make it to 26%. [strike]And, they were only 31st in the league that year[/strike]... never mind there were only 31 teams in the league then.
If memory serves the 2000 vikings were 11-2 after 13 weeks. They then lost their last 3 games where their defense collapsed giving up 104 points (albeit vs good offensive teams including #1 rams and #2 colts)), thought he last one (a 31-10 loss to the Colts) they had already been locked into the #2 seed and pulled starters early.
Naturally they went out and smoked the Saints in round one. Then apparently ended their season rather than show up to any NFC championship games.
#43 by Duff Soviet Union // Dec 11, 2013 - 2:00am
"The fact that a team with an offense so astonishingly one-dimensional might make the playoffs is a pretty strong indictment for the idea that running the ball is even necessary in today's NFL."
As someone who is a member of the "running backs are ridiculously overrated because running the ball is a losing proposition most of the time and teams should be calling pass plays at least 75% of the time" camp, I don't think I agree with the above statement.
It's like saying saying that the 2009 Jets show that passing the ball isn't necessary or the 2000 Vikings show that pass defense isn't necessary.
#70 by bravehoptoad // Dec 11, 2013 - 11:14am
Yeah, but I hate watching that kind of football. I get "spoiled" watching mostly 49ers and Seahawks football; when I watch NE play the Saints or something it's a viscerally shocking experience. Kinda like watching ballet.
#92 by theslothook // Dec 11, 2013 - 4:32pm
In all honesty, I think 7 yards would be fair. That would basically make relying solely on a dink and dunk style of offense much harder and then you could get some semblance of balance back. I think 10 would be a wee bit too much because thats basically allowing mugging all the way to the first down marker. But yeah, 7 feels fair.
#104 by BaronFoobarstein // Dec 11, 2013 - 7:42pm
While you're at it, get rid of the in/out of pocket distinction on intentional grounding. A better balanced game is just more fun to watch. I think increasing the run to pass ratio and decreasing the points per game both ought to be current goals for the league when adjusting rules.
#121 by Duke // Dec 12, 2013 - 2:54pm
I'm in favor of this. With the increased emphasis on safety (almost entirely safety of offensive players), defense has been hampered a great deal in the last decade. This seems like it would be a safe way to let defense do its job.
#46 by theslothook // Dec 11, 2013 - 4:19am
I've been slowly waiting for the day that colts dvoa sank to below 0.00%. I started thinking that way after the miami game, but then they went out and surprised me with wins against denver, seattle and sf. Of course, just as I was getting excited, they yank the rug from under me. The rams blowout is still one of the most surreal moments for me as a fan. I didn't think the rams would be easy, but it was one of those games you just thought a playoff bound team would win at home. To be down so huge in the first quarter alone was just...surreal.
#77 by Perfundle // Dec 11, 2013 - 12:52pm
Trying to maintain that stat is really starting to backfire on them. The last two games have seen Ryan intentionally kick it short so that there would be no return. Earlier in the season, he could kick it normally and still get no return because of the awesome coverage, mainly by Lane, but they're getting too self-conscious about that stat.
I wonder if the blocked punt last week was also due to sending too many players to cover the punt instead of blocking for the punter.
#60 by Manonanon (not verified) // Dec 11, 2013 - 9:32am
What does the Jaguar's DVOA look like if you just take the games after their bye week, as compared to everything before the bye week? I know their schedule has gotten much easier since then, but I am curious to what extent their wins are due to schedule, and to what extent they are due to better play.
#83 by EricL // Dec 11, 2013 - 1:16pm
Jacksonville's DVOA results since the bye are:
-41.3 vs. Ten
-20.7 vs. Ari
-6.0 vs. Hou
-7.4 vs. Cle
12.6 vs. Hou
Looks like a significant trend to me. (Every game they played before the bye ranged between -19.3 vs. Denver to -115.1 vs. KC.)
#67 by Independent George // Dec 11, 2013 - 10:45am
Can any Saints fans give me details on how much of their defensive turnaround is Rob Ryan related? Because man, he's got to be feeling one of the best cases of owner-related schadenfreude since Shannahan won the Super Bowl.
#80 by milo // Dec 11, 2013 - 1:03pm
No one in New Orleans discounts the value of good coaching after last year. It was nearly impossible to see the method behind the madness in Spagnuolo's defense last year, opposing offenses had the Saints D right where they wanted them on third and long....
Before that G. Williams' defenses were so entirely dependent on the blitz to put pressure on the QB that they really left the DBs out to hang which they were not good enough to really do.
So, the big change is that Ryan is getting pressure by not constantly blitzing, by using a bunch of DBs and also the ameoba defense to confuse QBs. He has also cobbled together a group of LBs seemingly out of thin air. And this defense does a good job of tackling receivers, especially on third downs when the catch is short of the sticks.
Ryan gets a lot of credit, and he has a winning personality, so he and the fans are liking life right now.
It's also important to note that the Saints defense has started to get some good players through the draft (FA and trades some, too). The d-line has gotten C. Jordan, A. Hicks, and J. Jenkins in the last three drafts. UDFA J. Gallette has been coached up finally and gets significant playing time as a OLB/DE hybrid which is probably the best spot for him (he wasn't going to cut it as an undersized speed DE). K. Vaccarro this year and C. White last year are DB draft picks that are working out. And CB K. Lewis was a great FA pickup this year.
So the defense has gotten younger, bigger, and faster which will make a coach look good.
#84 by Karl Cuba // Dec 11, 2013 - 1:18pm
Keenan Lewis has been a pretty big upgrade (and a bit of a free agency steal) , as has John Jenkins on the interior of their D-line, Vaccaro has given them two decent safeties and Cam Jordan has broken out this year. Those are some pretty big upgrades, amounting to another good job by Mick Loomis.
Three shiny new started and an emerging star really help a incoming coordinator.
#86 by Will Allen // Dec 11, 2013 - 1:55pm
On the other side of the coin, in a long history of dopey moves, the dopiest move by Jerry Jones may have been to look at his defensive personnel last year, and conclude, "I know; I'll switch this group to a cover-two scheme, and that'll make things better!"
#71 by FoxForceFlacco (not verified) // Dec 11, 2013 - 11:16am
Interesting about Baltimore’s horrible running game, but not sure about the conclusion that "running the ball is (not) even necessary in today's NFL."
Here are the Top 10 teams by rushing DVOA:
I count 5 Division leaders, 2 Wild Cards, and only 1 losing team.
Here are the Bottom 10 by rushing DVOA:
I count 1 Division leader, 1 Wild Card, and 7 losing teams. It would be interesting to see how often Top and Bottom 10 rushing teams make the playoffs over the last 20 years to see if a successful running game is or is not more important than it used to be.
Also interesting is that the Ravens are seemingly defying the odds by being even remotely competitive with such a terrible running game. Below are the bottom 10 DVOA rushing teams in history; the only one before Baltimore to be remotely competitive boasted the best defense in DVOA history.
13 Ravens: 7-6
91 Colts: 1-15
05 Cards: 5-11
13 Jaguars: 4-9
02 Texans: 4-12
95 Cards: 4-12
91 Eagles: 10-6 (best Defensive DVOA in Football Outsiders' history)
98 Saints: 6-10
06 Lions: 3-13
00 Falcons: 4-12
Flacco has thrown too many INTs this year. But looking at his numbers (and the team's record) through the lens of a historically bad running game, it makes me think he’s actually had a decent season. I’m certainly more impressed with his pocket presence than I’ve been in the past, though his accuracy hasn’t improved. I know the idea of a QB "that just wins" is widely ridiculed here, and rightfully so. But, other than Baltimore’s incredible home-field advantage, I’m hard-pressed to explain how the Ravens have fared so much better than other historically bad running teams.
#81 by Perfundle // Dec 11, 2013 - 1:05pm
Rushing DVOA seems to be much more flawed than passing DVOA or overall DVOA, particularly for pass-heavy teams. Consider a team like Indy this year. Early on, their rushing was very good, so they ran it a lot. When Richardson arrived, he completely sucked, and they would fall behind because so many early drives stalled because they couldn't run it, and because they fell behind they didn't run it after that. So the games with high rushing DVOA had lots of runs and the games with low rushing DVOA had very few runs, so the weighted average artificially inflates their rushing ability; even if you include Luck's scrambles, no one would agree that they have a top-3 running game.
Another case is Green Bay in 2011. They knew they had a pathetic running game and an awesome passing game, so they only ran it as a change-up to get the maximum value out of it; they would get nowhere had they run it out of an I-formation.
#114 by Bobman // Dec 12, 2013 - 1:39am
Dude, nobody would agree the Colts have a top-20* running game. Luck's scrambles are super effective but really misleading statistically. They represent the semi-failure of a pass play, as opposed to a good running game. Sure, he might pick up 12 and a first down--super, but if they had handed it to a RB on any one of their designed runs 100 times, he'd get that 12 yards maybe once. Maybe never.
*I considered saying a top-32 running game, but Brown is having a pretty good year in limited reps, and Bradshaw did okay. But top-3? It's like saying I am one of the smartest people in the world because I got straight A's in high school. Uh, that was a long time ago and recent performance suggests it's not the case.
#88 by jonnyblazin // Dec 11, 2013 - 2:47pm
I agree on the Flacco points. His WR's will catch the ball when open but rarely will fight for the ball in traffic like Boldin could. His TE's have been poor as well. Joe is doing all he can. Plus, it's amazing they have such a poor run DVOA and yet Flacco has had an insanely good year scambling, at 46% DVOA.
#99 by Anonymousse (not verified) // Dec 11, 2013 - 5:42pm
" Plus, it's amazing they have such a poor run DVOA and yet Flacco has had an insanely good year scambling, at 46% DVOA."
I don't see any reason to think these two things have anything to do with each other.
#116 by FoxForceFlacco (not verified) // Dec 12, 2013 - 8:33am
I think he's saying Flacco's high running DVOA helps mask the true horror of the Ravens' run offense, which would measure out even worse without the slight boost it gets from Flacco's numbers.