Week 3 DVOA Ratings
by Aaron Schatz
The third week of the season actually didn't bring that many changes from the first two weeks of the season. The DVOA system certainly felt the New York Jets outplayed the Buffalo Bills by much more than the score indicated, as the Jets move up to 12th overall and the Bills move down from eighth to 19th. The Eagles and Rams dropped a good bit, and we've also got the Panthers jumping up into the top ten after dismantling the Giants, which puts their in-season rating much more in-line with our surprising preseason projection that had them as the top team in their division.
However, the big story of 2013 continues to be the big gap between Denver and Seattle and everyone else, along with the big gap on the other side between Jacksonville and everyone else. Obviously, these things are tied together, since the Seahawks clobbered the Jaguars this weekend. This will be our last week without opponent adjustments, and beginning next week we should have enough data to get a better idea of how much strength of schedule has impacted the stellar play of the Broncos and Seahawks as well as the horrible play of the Jaguars.
In the meantime, these teams rank among the best and worst teams we've ever seen through three games. Jacksonville stands out more than Seattle and Denver here. Through three games, they have a VOA rating of -91.0%, which is the lowest of any team in a dozen years and has only been surpassed by one team in the 25 years for which we have DVOA data: Washington in 2001. That team actually started the year with five straight losses, but the first three were really dismal. They lost to San Diego 30-3, got shut out 37-0 by Green Bay on Monday Night Football, and then lost their home opener 45-13 to Kansas City. Of course, that Washington team had one of the strangest, streakiest years in NFL history. They won five straight after starting 0-5, and eventually finished 8-8. I don't think the Jaguars will be finishing 8-8.
|Worst Total VOA for 0-3 Teams, 1989-2013|
The Jaguars are also near the bottom if we look at just their offensive VOA of -68.2%. The only team with a lower offensive rating through three games was the expansion 2002 Houston Texans at 75.7%.
Flipping things around, the Seahawks and Broncos both appear on the list of the best dozen teams through three games. What's interesting is how few of these teams actually ended up dominating the league for the entire season. The top three teams are three of the greatest teams in NFL history, and yes, I'm including the 2007 Patriots in that statement despite the fact that they fell a couple minutes short of the perfect season. However, none of the other teams in the top ten finished better than 11-5. The 2001 and 2002 Chargers were basically the mirror image of Washington in 2001, starting the season off like gangbusters and then completely falling apart. And the ironic thing there, of course, is that the same head coach was in charge of the 2001 Washington team that started 0-5 but finished 8-8 and the 2002 San Diego team that started 6-1 but finished 8-8: Marty Schottenheimer. (For those who don't remember, the man who lost control of the 2001 Chargers and got fired to make way for Marty-ball was current Oregon State head coach Mike Riley.)
|Best Total VOA for 3-0 Teams, 1989-2013|
|*2005 Steelers were actually 2-1, not 3-0.|
The playoff odds report reflects just how far ahead the Seahawks and Broncos are compared to the rest of the league, especially since the Kansas City Chiefs (currently No. 3) had a lower preseason projection and thus a lower DAVE rating. The Seahawks have a 99.8 percent chance to make the playoffs and a 28.9 percent chance to win the Super Bowl. The Broncos have a 97.9 percent chance to make the playoffs and a 27.0 percent chance to win the Super Bowl. No other team is above 80 percent to make the playoffs or 8.0 percent to win the Super Bowl. Right now, either the Seahawks or the Broncos finish with a 16-0 regular season in over 5.0 percent of our simulations.
Strangely, the Jaguars are not currently the favorites to get the No. 1 overall selection in next year's draft. We currently have the New York Giants leading that race, thanks to a more difficult future schedule. Remember how the league keeps giving the Giants tougher opponents in the second half of the season, year after year? That's going to be a problem again this year, especially if the Washington defense can get its act together as Robert Griffin gets healthier.
(Ed. Note: Whoops. It turns out there was an error in the playoff odds equations which overestimated Jacksonville's chances of getting wins because their DAVE rating is so low. We've re-run the odds and Jacksonville is now the clear leader for the No. 1 overall pick, at 49.0 percent. Our apologies to Giants fans who were hoping to get Jadeveon Clowney to solve their pass rush problems.)
That does it for commentary this week; cutting it short so that I can get started on the KUBIAK midseason fantasy update. That should be available for download Thursday night or Friday morning.
* * * * *
Each week 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 DVOA and DYAR. Others will be under-the-radar players who only stood out with advanced stats. 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.
The Football Outsiders stars for Week 3 are:
- WR Eric Decker, DEN: Caught all eight targets for 133 yards, six first downs, and a touchdown
- DE Charles Johnson, CAR: Sack, two QB hits, four QB hurries, and two run tackles for a yard or less
- CB Leon Hall, CIN: Only allowed one completion covering Randall Cobb, a screen pass that gained 11 yards on third-and-12
- RG Kyle Long and RT Jordan Mills, CHI: Key pieces of the improved Bears line that played very well against Pittsburgh and has allowed only three sacks on the season so far
* * * * *
These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through three 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 VOA 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.
There are no opponent adjustments in VOA until the fourth week of the season, which is why offense and defense are listed as VOA right now rather than DVOA. As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE.
DAVE is a formula which combines our preseason projection with current VOA to get a more accurate forecast of how a team will play the rest of the season. Right now, the preseason projection makes up 55 percent of DAVE.
To save people some time, please use the following format for all complaints:
<team> is clearly ranked <too high/too low> because <reason unrelated to DVOA>. <subjective ranking system> is way better than this. <unrelated team-supporting or -denigrating comment, preferably with poor spelling and/or chat-acceptable spelling>
258 comments, Last at 01 Oct 2013, 12:00pm
#2 by Jon Goldman (not verified) // Sep 24, 2013 - 5:28pm
Bit disingenuous to say that the Broncos and Seahawks are the only teams with an over 80% chance of making the playoffs based on DAVE (which, incidentally, really doesn't seem to make much sense as a method of determining how good a team is on a year-to-year basis, and is specifically off when a team has experienced a large amount of personnel and /or schematic change over the offseason.) The Patriots and Bears are at 79%, and the Saints are roughly at 80%. It's still a massive gap, but not as big as it might appear.
Anyway, the Giants O-Line is really terrible, the Jaguars are all around abysmal, and Seattle still hasn't convinced me of anything (but the Broncos are going to win the super bowl barring injuries.)
#8 by Perfundle // Sep 24, 2013 - 5:34pm
Isn't right above the team you want to gate out where you would put the cutoff line? It's showing that there's at least a 97.9% - 80% = 17.9% percent gap between the two and the next team; seems pretty straightforward to me.
#20 by Hummingbird Cyborg // Sep 24, 2013 - 5:47pm
Everybody here knows that DAVE is imperfect. It's a best estimate with imperfect information. It's used to give some sort of oppenent adjustments and to temper variance that occurs with a small sample size.
Anyhow, I'm a Broncos fan and I disagree with the notion that the Seahawks haven't been very impressive as well, though I think that we'll see Denver's defense improve once Champ Bailey and Von Miller return. Even losing Tony Carter and Duke Ihenacho seemed to have an effect during the Raiders game.
#23 by Spuuky (not verified) // Sep 24, 2013 - 5:51pm
Just curious, what exactly does Seattle have to do to "convince you of anything"? 3-0 with a top-5 rank in offense, defense, and special teams with a massive point differential isn't good enough?
@Car, SF, Jax isn't a noticeably easier schedule than Bal, @NYG, Oak, so I hope you aren't going to bring up anything opposition-related.
#35 by Richie // Sep 24, 2013 - 6:09pm
I'm not sure anybody is suggesting that Seattle isn't one of the top 2 teams. But, 67% of their performance this year comes from home games (including one against a hapless Jacksonville team), where they play much better. Also, there is a chance that something is wrong with San Francisco, which will make that win even less impressive. Context is critical right now.
Same goes for Denver, who played against Oakland and the Giants, who have struggled.
#55 by dmstorm22 // Sep 24, 2013 - 6:47pm
I don't think he will forget that, given they were leading at half against the Giants.
Also, it has been more offensive inconsistency. The defense has been consistently good for most of the game, and if they didn't give up some garbage points in each game, would look quite a bit better.
#59 by Perfundle // Sep 24, 2013 - 6:57pm
Whoops, yeah, I thought they were behind 10-9.
As for the defense, I wouldn't call giving up 224 yards to the Giants and 262 yards to the Ravens in the first half consistently good. That doesn't sound like garbage-time yards to me.
#84 by dmstorm22 // Sep 24, 2013 - 8:49pm
I was speaking more to garbage time points, but I get your point.
Either way, the broncos and SEahawks are the only two teams that have really separated themselves this year. So many of the 3-0, 2-1, or 1-2 teams could be anything in between (NE, CHI, NO, CIN, ATL, GB). Crazy year so far.
#160 by Funkey Monkey // Sep 25, 2013 - 11:32am
I'm a seattle fan, but let's be fair. They probably should have lost the Carolina game (their only road game) if not for the fumble. And they were only up 5-0 at halftime of the niners game.
Denver on the other hand was only close for a 1/2 with the giants (also on the road) and have substantially better every time else.
3 games just isn't enough of a sample to really be drawing any conclusions yet.
#169 by someguy (not verified) // Sep 25, 2013 - 12:53pm
You really can't say that because there was still 5 minutes left on the clock in that game. Who's to say what would have happened after that, there may have been a different fumble, there may have been an interception, there may have been a field goal, there may have been a failed fourth down, all would have led to the same result. Even if they did score a touchdown, the Seahawks drove down the field on the last drive, and who's to say that they wouldn't have scored if they didn't take a knee at the end of the game?
#183 by DonksKickAsk (not verified) // Sep 25, 2013 - 3:30pm
Thanks for being objective. All of this talk about who's better, hawks or broncos, is just that - yadda, yadda, yadda...
Hopefully this will be settled between our two teams in Feb 14, on the football field just like it should be. Will be an excellent game.
#86 by Jon Goldman (not verified) // Sep 24, 2013 - 8:54pm
The Bears defense last year couldn't make up for an utterly anemic offense. Sure, the Seahawks aren't terribly bad on offense, but they don't look like they really have a top-5 or maybe even top-10 offense, and I'm therefore very hesitant to believe that the Seahawks are really the best team in the league. The Packers in 2011 could make up for an atrocious defense, I think Denver's offense this year is comparable to or possibly even better than that, and the Denver defense isn't nearly as bad. As I said, the fact that I'm a Bears fan is a pretty major reason why I think this way.
#87 by Hummingbird Cyborg // Sep 24, 2013 - 9:04pm
Considering exactly how good Seattle's offense was last year, I think it's fair to expect them to improve their current VOA especially given that Carolina has the look of a very good defense so far.
#89 by Perfundle // Sep 24, 2013 - 9:45pm
"The Packers in 2011 could make up for an atrocious defense"
Not in the playoffs they couldn't.
"The Bears defense last year couldn't make up for an utterly anemic offense."
Even at 7-1 last year, Chicago was 25th in DVOA on offense. I don't know how much opponent adjustments will change Seattle's offensive ranking, but I doubt they'll drop below 10th (of course, next week's ranking will also include the Houston game). Not all good offenses look like the ones manned by the elite QB in their pass heavy systems.
#90 by Jon Goldman (not verified) // Sep 24, 2013 - 9:57pm
The single game that the Packers lost in the playoffs doesn't really outweigh the 15 they won in the regular season.
Seattle, before the Jags game that I'm going to dismiss as an outlier because the Jags are terrible, was 13th in Offense. Perhaps that will go up a lot, but until/unless it does, I'm not ready to call Seattle a better team than the Broncos.
#98 by Hummingbird Cyborg // Sep 24, 2013 - 11:48pm
I don't think anybody was asking you to consider them better than the Broncos just to give them their due. Also, Seattle's offense put in a performance much better than the Jag's other two opponents. And they had a great day passing the ball against a good Carolina defense as well. Considering how good they were last year, their poor performance against San Fran shouldn't carry too much weight either.
Anyhow, their performance is good enough to deserve acknowledgement. I think that Denver's defense will improve as well, but I think it's a lot to expect both Denver and Seattle to continue this pace that would be a truly rare season, but we can acknowledge that even if they regress, they both appear special.
Though, it's also important to note that they were 11th and 12th respectively after week 3 last year.
#107 by Perfundle // Sep 25, 2013 - 12:18am
And yet you don't dismiss Oakland as an outlier, whose defense is equally terrible?
In fact, Denver's defensive VOA actually got worse after playing Oakland. Sounds just as unimpressive as you're making Seattle's offense to be.
#111 by Jon Goldman (not verified) // Sep 25, 2013 - 12:26am
Oakland is miles better than Jacksonville on offense. I accept your point with regard to Peyton's performance.
I have said that Denver's defense isn't as impressive as their offense. I have also said that I think having a fantastic offense can compensate far more easily for a non-fantastic defense far more easily than a fantastic defense can compensate for a non-fantastic offense.
#126 by Eggwasp (not verified) // Sep 25, 2013 - 4:59am
Oakland is also better on defense than Jacksonville. They shut Luck down pretty well for most of the Colts game after the initial 2 drives, and had the Jags offense shut down as well until pre-vent time.
And Denver this year - that's just not a fair test.
#53 by Grammar Police (not verified) // Sep 24, 2013 - 6:43pm
"But, 67% of their performance this year comes from home games (including one against a hapless Jacksonville team), where they play much better"
Pretty convenient then that they play 6 more games there
#63 by herewegobrowni… (not verified) // Sep 24, 2013 - 7:08pm
Well, 6 more games is only 46% of the remainder of their regular-season schedule, which is a decent fraction but quite a bit less than 67%, hence the possibility of some regression to the mean.
#58 by Glen (not verified) // Sep 24, 2013 - 6:56pm
"Context is critical."
Yes, it is, and the fact that the Seahawks beat a very underrated Carolina team (#7 DVOA, #7 Def, #8 Off) at 10AM on the road will speak more to the talent of Carolina over the course of the season than you give credit.
#149 by Will Allen // Sep 25, 2013 - 10:23am
NFL games and marathons are somewhat dissimilar athletic competitions, so I don't know if using one to compare to the other makes much sense. Whining about anything is of limited utility, but a distinctly unwhiney bunch, the sharpies in the desert, seem to think that West Coast teams with a noon start on the East Coast have an additional impediment to winning. Perhaps the sharpies are making judgement on the moral fiber of the West Coast softies, but I doubt it.
#179 by Glen (not verified) // Sep 25, 2013 - 2:37pm
It wasn't a response as a whine. It is documented that all west coast teams play significantly worse in the Central and Eastern time zone early games. CHFF had a pretty well researched article on it last April.
#204 by LionInAZ // Sep 25, 2013 - 10:30pm
I find this a particularly stupid comment. Marathon is an individual sport, football is a team sport. A marathoner can choose to sit out an event (at personal cost, granted); an NFL player has no such choice. The only thing that really matters here is the time lag problem, which can not be solved when there is only a week between games.
#214 by Bobman // Sep 26, 2013 - 12:59am
I'll also add that in most weather conditions, starting a marathon at noon would be a whole butt-load worse than starting at 8 a.m. Last year in Seattle the temp was 36 at the start and while I was a bit chilled in shorts and a t-shirt, I was unhappily warm when the sun came out three hours later lifting the thermometer to about 45. I was quite uncomfortable in the sun. How Olympians do it in August in places like Seoul or LA is beyond me.
The early hour is not the real issue for NFL teams--it's travel plus time change plus early hour. Football is a game of athletic bursts and stops and players need to focus and think about a complex variety of responsibilities totally dependent on what the other guys are doing. That requires some alertness and mental dexterity. Marathoners run a long, tedious line, generally straight (or with a pack) for a few hours. No starts/stops, not much to think about, and sometimes the only thing in your head is the last book you read or song you heard.
#75 by CHawk (not verified) // Sep 24, 2013 - 8:01pm
Yeah, what's wrong with SF is that they lost 5 players to injury being outmuscled by Seattle while simultaneously losing all confidence.
If I could I would post a pic of Peyton Manning's expression while getting dominated by Seattle in Pre Season. Lol priceless
#110 by Hummingbird Cyborg // Sep 25, 2013 - 12:26am
Manning's face looks like that every time he throws an incompletion.
Anyhow, the Broncos looked pretty bad all preseason and not just against Seattle and the season starts and suddenly they dominate. Any fan who's seen their team go winless in the preseason and then have an awesome year or go undefeated in the preseason and then blow chunks for the year has learned to take the results with a grain of salt and roll their eyes at a troll like you.
#215 by Bobman // Sep 26, 2013 - 1:02am
I always thought that was a Polian thing--basically they were set at the key spots, so get all the marginal fence-sitters out there as much as possible, try some goofy stuff, etc. Get the young guys and bench sitters reps to see if they can emerge next year. Who cares about the results?
#60 by RickD // Sep 24, 2013 - 6:58pm
I think "disingenuous" implies a degree of insincerity that isn't present here. Indeed, the way that they've described the range of values ("only ones great than 80%") is fairly standard. And it strongly implies that the next highest value is close to 80%, just as the term "15 game hitting streak" implies that the batter in question was hitless 16 games prior.
#128 by JonnyD (not verified) // Sep 25, 2013 - 6:20am
Seems like a bad year for Denver to get to the Superbowl, if they get there - outside in New Jersey in Feb - I dont like Payton's chances of a good game. If they play a team with a half-decent defense and a good run game they will be in trouble (hello Seatle?).
#235 by Anonymous Coward (not verified) // Sep 26, 2013 - 12:11pm
I don't think Payton has to worry much about NJ in Feb against Seattle since they're in the same conference. They may have trouble with the AFC team if there's bad weather, they are a dome team in the south after all.
#240 by D2K // Sep 26, 2013 - 2:44pm
I understand what what he did, what I dont understand is how he did it? Does that make sense? I am assuming that he was talking about Sean Payton, simply from the context clues (dome team from the South in the same conference as Seattle), completely misinterpreting what he was responding too was a post about PEYTON Manning.
#11 by Neffarias_Bredd // Sep 24, 2013 - 5:35pm
I definitely think that San Fran has regressed this year. BUT, I think that once adjustments for opponents get factored in next week they'll get a very large boost. Even if it isn't back to where preseason projections put them.
#19 by Ian Chapman (not verified) // Sep 24, 2013 - 5:47pm
I agree that San Fran will get a boost from Seattle, but I don't think they will get as much a boost from GB or Indy as we might have expected earlier. Frankly I think Seattle exposed San Fran. San Fran's wide out's can't get open on press man coverage, and if they can't do that, then opposing teams can stuff the box and that destroys the threat of the read option and the running game.
Remember that San Fran was 6-10 before going 13-3 and 11-4-1 and some serious regression to mean is probably in order. I believe we are starting to see this now. The game at St Loius this Thursday will tell us a lot.
#94 by justanothersteve // Sep 24, 2013 - 10:37pm
The regression of San Francisco has likely been greatly exaggerated. Losing the 1, 2, and 4 options in their passing game hasn't helped. The 49ers were the healthiest NFL team last year; even Justin Smith's injury was only in the last two games. Some regression was likely. But I still think they're one of the top NFC teams.
#97 by Ian Chapman (not verified) // Sep 24, 2013 - 11:18pm
I'm not so sure. Like I said upthread the game on Thurday against the Rams will tell us a lot. I am guessing that Seattle has exposed the Niner offense and Kaepernick in particular. If the niners can't make teams pay for using press man coverage (and so far they haven't), then it's going to be a long season for San Fransisco. Like I said, this is a regression that has been coming for a while now. In short I think the NFL is starting to figure out Kaep and he isn't quite as good as adverised.
#216 by Bobman // Sep 26, 2013 - 1:08am
For sure. What ticks me off (Colts fan) is that some teams seem to be perpetually missing 3-6 starters yet they never seem to progress upward to a healthy mean. The flip answer is "you need depth--that's why it's a 53 man roster" but then I se teams like SF last year and grind my teeth. Why can't my team have that health luck? Just last week they put three starters on IR, with one leaving the lineup the week before as well.
#224 by panthersnbraves // Sep 26, 2013 - 3:32am
A lot of Panther's fans wonder about the Medical team, the conditioning, and maybe the grounds crew too? Something in the food?
Somehow they manage to put almost a quarter of the team out every year.
#7 by AJ (not verified) // Sep 24, 2013 - 5:32pm
At what pt does firing Gus Bradley become a serious statement. Is jax talent really this much worse than league average or does coaching not having a sizeable effect here. Either that or mularky has been one hell of an underrated coach
#12 by RolandDeschain // Sep 24, 2013 - 5:37pm
AJ, firing new coaches after one year is a surefire way to stay stuck at the bottom for a long time. Gotta give coaches a fair shake. Especially one that just worked with Pete Carroll who took a horrible team and made it elite in three short years.
#76 by Ian Chapman (not verified) // Sep 24, 2013 - 8:13pm
Yep and that was considered fairly contraversial at the time (not to mention a bit unfair to Jim Mora). The thing is that Mora was Ruskell's choice, and Ruskell by this time was persona non-grata (and for good reason). Ruskell in four years essentially destroyed the Seahawks turning them from a SB team to one of the least talented teams in the NFL. Since Mora was Ruskell's guy, he had to go.
#13 by Neffarias_Bredd // Sep 24, 2013 - 5:37pm
I don't think it does at all this year. This is his first year with a team that really doesn't have any talent on it. Everyone in Jacksonville knew that this was going to be a rebuilding year and the most you can honestly expect is improvement by the end of the year.
#28 by Andrew Potter // Sep 24, 2013 - 6:00pm
That's true, and it should be remembered that what was already a bad offense has lost its #1 receiver (Blackmon is suspended), its best tight end (Marcedes Lewis is injured, expected back this week), and its starting QB (though how much of a loss Gabbert is vs. Henne is open to debate). Tom Brady has struggled without Gronkowski and Amendola; we can't expect Chad Henne to play well without Blackmon and Lewis. (Whether you can expect Blaine Gabbert to play well even -with- Blackmon and Lewis is, of course, another matter.)
It's not a good roster, and it'll take more than one year to fix that. I'm confident the Khans know this, and I'll be surprised and disappointed if Bradley's job is in any real danger from purely a results standpoint.
#18 by theslothook // Sep 24, 2013 - 5:46pm
Its not unprecedented. The 07 dolphins went 1-15 under Cam Cameron. They subsequently fired him, hired tony Sparano and the team went 11-5 the next year. Not quite the same example, but Bill Callahan wasn't given more than 2 years as a coach. He coached one season to the sb, then got fired midway through the next year. We can debate whether those were worthwhile firings, but I think there is something to be said when you're the coach of a team that is THIS horrible. We're not saying Jax is any good, we're saying they are the worst team in dvoa history. And besides, what reason do they have for being any worse than last year offensively? Shouldn't they be better with joeckel at right tackle?
#25 by Thomas_beardown // Sep 24, 2013 - 5:55pm
I think the main problem is that the whole staff must be terrible, so firing the top guy and promoting a coordinator isn't going to help the situation. Unless the coordinators are rebelling against the coach to get him fired.
Edit: of course it could just be an unlucky 3 weeks.
#34 by Perfundle // Sep 24, 2013 - 6:08pm
All right, I'll amend my statement to say what kind of coach are you going to attract if you signal to them that they will get fired after one season if they can't fix the situation on a talentless team. Miami had 6-10 talent the year before (though I don't know the roster turnover between the two years), so to drop from that to 1-15 is pretty awful, especially the defense that dropped from 5th in DVOA to 31st. Jacksonville was a deserved 2-14 last year, so it's hard to expect Bradley to wring many wins from this roster.
#32 by Andrew Potter // Sep 24, 2013 - 6:05pm
Mularkey was fired by this current ownership after only one year in the job. It's not an unreasonable question.
(There were other reasons, I believe, beyond just on-field results and performance which contributed to him being replaced.)
#131 by michaelfox99 (not verified) // Sep 25, 2013 - 9:10am
I don't know a ton about JAX, but it's been 3 games. They might be worse than last year, but Bradley came in for a total rebuild. They are playing a lot of rookies. They have also had injuries to some key guys thus far. I don't think immediate improvement should be expected. He wants to set things on a different course. The important thing for Bradley is to improve as the season goes on, particularly on D.
#206 by LionInAZ // Sep 25, 2013 - 10:49pm
I'm surprised no one had brought up the Blaine Gabbert factor here. When you own the worst QB in the NFL, and hisvreplacement isn't even replacement value, you have an insoluble problem for any first year coach.
#67 by herewegobrowni… (not verified) // Sep 24, 2013 - 7:17pm
They are tied with NYG and JAX at 4.6 mean projected wins (i.e. their schedule is harder than the other lower DAVE teams, namely the Browns and Cards.)
The Steelers have a lower projected wins (6.1 vs. 6.3) than the Browns right now, if that gets your hopes up on their chances.
#27 by speedegg // Sep 24, 2013 - 5:56pm
Interesting about the 2001 Washington team. Marty Schottenhemier said of all the teams he coached, he is most proud of that 8-8 Washington team. The shocked interviewer asked what about the Chargers, Chiefs, or Cleveland Browns? Schottenhemier replied because that Washington team was so dysfunctional it took so much just to turn things around and convince the players to believe in themselves. Washington was his hardest, and best, job which is why he is most proud of it.
That says a lot about the Washington team. The other funny thing? Schottenhemier took over for Norv Turner. The same Norv Turner that replaced him in San Diego after a 14-2 season.
#37 by Perfundle // Sep 24, 2013 - 6:14pm
Reminds me of the 1999-2000 Orlando Magic team that Doc Rivers coached to a 41-41 record and one win away from the playoffs despite having a team of only role players who were picked to finish at the bottom by everyone; he got a Coach of the Year for that.
#42 by Independent George // Sep 24, 2013 - 6:24pm
The other funny thing? Schottenhemier took over for Norv Turner. The same Norv Turner that replaced him in San Diego after a 14-2 season.
The third funny thing? Schottenheimer was replaced by Steve Spurrier. Which pretty much confirms the institutional culture Marty had to work with in Washington.
#122 by Will Allen // Sep 25, 2013 - 2:58am
The fourth funny thing? When he was fired after a conflict with proto-genius, and That Great Humanist, A.J. Smith, it wasn't really so Norv could be hired, but rather because the conflict pertained to who would be hired as defensive coordinator. The Great Humanist hired his defensive coordinator before Norv, thus saddling a guy with enough deficiencies with an assistant, Ted Cottrell, who couldn't, I kid you not, communicate to his players as to how he wanted them to line up.
The fifth funny thing? The good defensive coordinator who left the Chargers, thus precipitating this rather notable huddled fornication, was one Wade Phillips. Where did the mediocre head coach go? Why to replace the one guy who might have been a superior (and certainly better recognized) turnaround specialist than Schottenheimer, one Bill Parcells.
Two guys with combined wins of well over 400 (!) games, for numerous franchises which were in the cellar when they arrived, left in disputes with ownership in the same month, so the intellectual titans in ownership could hire Wade Phillips as a head coach, Ted Cottrell as defensive coordinator, and then to put the cherry on top, Norv Turner as head coach. Egads.
#124 by speedegg // Sep 25, 2013 - 3:35am
Sort of. That's the tip of the dysfunction iceberg. AJ Smith and Marty Schottenhemier's relationship deteriorated every year after GM John Butler died. It was generally accepted that 2006 would be Schottenhemier's last year since the team didn't extend his contract. Both would fight over large and small things. Everything from AJ Smith suspending Antonio Gates for holding out (one game suspension which they lost to Dallas, which cost them a playoff spot) to the coaches finding out players where traded by who didn't show up in the morning.
Officially, Schottenhemier was fired because he wanted to hire his brother as the secondary coach. Unofficially, Smith wanted Schottenhemier gone and Spanos sided with the GM. Supposedly Spanos said it was a conflict of interest to have family members working for each other and explicitly forbade it. Nevermind Spanos' sons worked in the scouting department or Schottenhemier's son was the QB coach. And hiring family members was something not explicitly in Schottenhemier's contract, HOWEVER his contract did say he could hire whomever he wanted to coach. So, Schottenhemier got fired for something he was allowed to do.
There's a lot more to it than that, but yeah. The three weeks after the playoff loss to the Patriots was the definition of a dysfunctional organization.
#198 by arias // Sep 25, 2013 - 6:53pm
Damn. Wasn't aware of all the internal politics of the Chargers but it's crystal clear now why Archie was convinced they didn't have a clue as to what they were doing and Eli forced them to trade the pick to NY.
#246 by tomdrees // Sep 26, 2013 - 4:43pm
Also: after being fired from the Redskins head coach jobto be replaced by Marty after 2000, Norv Turner then moved to the San Diego offensive coordinator position in 2001. Norv was then replaced AGAIN by Schottenheimer, who brought in Cam Cameron to coordinate the Chargers offense in 2002.
The lesson: if you are even thinking about replacing Norv Turner with Marty Schottenheimer in ANY WAY, expect your team to be great for half and awful for half of the next season.
#73 by Bowl Game Anomaly // Sep 24, 2013 - 7:46pm
It really was an amazing coaching achievement. He took a dysfunctional organization with a gutted roster which started the season as the worst team in the past 25 years through 3 games, and by the end of the year, through sheer coaching force, dragged them to 3rd in the entire league by weighted DVOA! That's insane! His QB was Tony Banks! They cut Jeff George, the Week 1 starter, after 2 games because he was so bad! Not benched, cut! Their TEs combined for a statline of 37-409-4. Combined! (For reference, there were 30 TEs who surpassed that yardage total in 2012 alone.) In their first 5 games, they never totaled 125 passing yards- despite being behind in every game (and losing all of them)! Really, someone should write a book on that season.
#105 by Independent George // Sep 25, 2013 - 12:06am
I maintain that Marty Schottenheimer is the most underrated coach in NFL history. The man coached 25 full seasons (and one half-season in 1984), and had exactly two losing records the entire time.
Yes, he was far too conservative as a play caller, and didn't make the best game-day decisions. But he was also extremely unlucky (Earnest Byner, Marlon McCree), and was one of the best teachers to ever pace the sidelines.
#114 by speedegg // Sep 25, 2013 - 1:03am
There's more to that. He was conservative because he had to be, not necessarily because he wanted to be. That's not to say he didn't have his shortcomings. He never really believed in Drew Brees, as a former Linebacker and DC he relied too much on defense, he let Rodney Harrison go, etc. but situations forced his hand.
When he took over in Cleveland, the Kardiac Kids collapsed and the offense was the running game. When he started with the Chargers, Tomlinson was the best offensive player, Drew Brees was learning, the O-line was inconsistent, TE Antonio Gates was an undrafted basketball player, and their starting wide receivers consisted of a veteran dinosaur (Keenan McCardell) and undrafted free agent Eric Parker...and Cam Cameron was the Offensive Coordinator. Nothing to strike fear in the hearts of men.
Despite that the offense used motion, shifts, play action, trickeration (flea-flickers) etc, etc to get their receivers open. Not to bust on Cameron, but the Chargers offense was very different from the Ravens offense. I suspect Schottenhemier had a much larger hand in the offense than is acknowledged by people involved, but since he never won a Superbowl he'll probably be overlooked by history.
#167 by Bay Area Bengal (not verified) // Sep 25, 2013 - 12:46pm
The Marlon McCree fumble is the kind of "God hates us" play that I'm used to seeing as a Cincinnati Bengal fan. I feel your pain, and wouldn't wish that kind of horror on my worst enemy.
Except the Stealers and 49ers. I definitely wish it on them.
#41 by Perfundle // Sep 24, 2013 - 6:23pm
There's an anecdote I'd love to believe regarding the Michigan State football team this year (who are one of the worst offenses and one of the best defenses). Supposedly the defensive coach has his players practicing returning turnovers for touchdowns because he said they couldn't depend on the offense (the defense outscored the offense in the first two weeks). Now, Chicago's offense is not bad this year, but you wonder about previous years...
#44 by Independent George // Sep 24, 2013 - 6:27pm
The Bears D does drill extensively on blocking during a return, but it's still mostly random where the turnover occurs. I think the more accurate way of putting it is that the Bears since the Lovie era trained very hard to at maximizing their outcome on a lucky break.
#54 by Perfundle // Sep 24, 2013 - 6:46pm
I never said he had problems in preparation; it's just something that doesn't feel worth it. As a Seahawks fan, I wouldn't expect or want their defense to be practicing it when there's so much more to work on (getting the turnovers in the first place, for instance).
#80 by formido // Sep 24, 2013 - 8:31pm
I disagree. As a Seahawks fan I wish they would practice it. It's clear by now that Chicago's return prowess is more than luck. Defensive returns are huge opportunities to make yards and scores on a broken field. Tackling is a skill and offensive players don't practice it much.
Carroll says Seattle wants to be the best in the NFL at the scramble drill on offense. I see this as analogous for the defense. Part of Carroll's philosophy is making big plays and there's no play bigger than a pick 6, often a 10-14 point swing.
#83 by Perfundle // Sep 24, 2013 - 8:48pm
Wilson has to scramble multiple times a game given the state of the offensive line, where the difference between scrambling and not scrambling is a possible first down completion and a drive-killing sack. Turnovers that actually have a chance to be returned for a score occur at most once per game on average, and whatever happens, the turnover and the momentum swing has already happened. What should be analogous for the defense is simply forcing the turnover, which is much easier to practice as well.
#92 by justanothersteve // Sep 24, 2013 - 10:27pm
I think it's more mindset than skill. Some defensive players consider every turnover a chance to score. Peanut Tillman has it, as do several other Bears. I don't know if Tillman brought with him or Lovie had that mentality. The Packers secondary got it when Woodson showed up. The early 2000's Bucs shad a streak where scored in several consecutive games. I'm sure someone could put together a list (if one doesn't already exist as a slide show on Bleacher Report).
#99 by Independent George // Sep 24, 2013 - 11:56pm
But it's not just the return man - watch any Bears return on the all-22, and you'll see everybody racing to form a convoy to protect the returner. Every turnover turns into a punt return, and every player knows where to go. That's just great preparation.
Scoring is random, but what the Bears do is practice and discipline.
#139 by panthersnbraves // Sep 25, 2013 - 9:42am
Not sure which team it was, might have been Pre-Season - Interception return to about the opponents 20. The offense goes 3 and Out - LOSING yards. FG unit comes in and nails it.
I so wanted a way to give that 3 points to the Defense, because the Offense did less than nothing on that "Scoring Drive."
#66 by Roch Bear // Sep 24, 2013 - 7:11pm
Seems plausible. Still,did you see the *immediate* excellent block by Anderson on the Bears following the Major Wright pick? That block was key to the return TD, I thought. Do they practice that transition? Do other NFL teams practice it?
#104 by Independent George // Sep 25, 2013 - 12:01am
Yup - and that's what I'm talking about in my comment above. Scoring on a turnover is largely random - most of it depends on how the players are distributed around the area the turnover occurs - but the Bears really do maximize their opportunities on the return through practice and discipline. That's a holdover from the Lovie era - the Bears D basically treats every turnover as a punt return.
If you can watch the all-22, pay attention to how the players away from the ball behave. Everybody knows their assignment, and tries to form a path to the end zone.
#121 by Dan // Sep 25, 2013 - 2:43am
I suspect that there is as much skill involved in turnover returns as there is in punt or kick returns. What I mean is that I'd guess that the best turnover return teams have a higher true probability of getting a TD on any given return than the worst turnover return teams, with about as big a spread between teams as there is with punts & kickoffs.
The problem is that the sample size is too small, which means that most of the variation that we see is just noise. So we say "turnover returns are just random" or "they're all luck", because we don't have enough data for the patterns to emerge.
The best quarterbacks complete about 67% of their passes and the worst complete about 57%. If quarterbacks only attempted 15 passes per year, we would be inclined to say that completing passes is just random - the guy who completed 13/15 isn't necessarily any better at completing passes than anyone else, and the guy who completed 6/15 isn't really that bad. And we would mostly be right, and the completion percentage leaderboard would change drastically from year to year. But we wouldn't be entirely right, because some quarterbacks really are better at completing their passes (good enough to expect an extra 1.5 completions per year compared with the worst passers).
#134 by michaelfox99 (not verified) // Sep 25, 2013 - 9:30am
Thank you 122, great comment.
One quibble. You are right that, assuming there are real differences in TO return skill, it would still be hard to forecast TO return yardage due to data scarcity.
However, you can use ANOVA (Analysis of Variance, it's a statistical test) to ask whether there are indeed differences in average TO return from team to team. The test takes into account sample size. Basically, we look at the amount of variance from one TO return to the next for each team compared to the variance across teams.
#192 by akn // Sep 25, 2013 - 5:49pm
ANOVA would probably prove to be quite useless for this purpose. I have a hard time believing that the noise is uncorrelated and Gaussian distributed. There are ways to correct, of course, but that requires an accurate noise model, and no one is even close to figuring that out for something like TO returns.
#31 by Richie // Sep 24, 2013 - 6:04pm
I don't remember the 2007 Saints being so terrible to start the season. But they sure got lit up:
Lost 41-10 at Indianapolis
Lost 31-14 at Tampa Bay
Lost 31-14 vs Tennessee
Then they lost a close one at home to Carolina, and finished the season by going 7-5 the rest of the way.
#156 by mm(old) (not verified) // Sep 25, 2013 - 11:12am
That was after the Saints signed Jason David away from the Colts to improve their pass defense. Playing the Colts the first game of the year, Peyton Manning showed everyone how poor David was in man-to-man coverage.
#171 by dbostedo // Sep 25, 2013 - 12:56pm
I'm hoping they're so bad that they are the first team with the guts (or lack of PR fallout) to never punt! (Or get close to it.)
Although I suppose that could backfire, as they still wouldn't be successful, and it would encourage others to not be more aggressive.
#50 by sundown (not verified) // Sep 24, 2013 - 6:38pm
Interesting that DVOA again wasn't in awe of the Bengals. They only moved up from 15th to 13th in DVOA after the Packers game. And despite all the turnovers and Rodgers looking awful at times, Green Bay's offense only dropped from 1st to 2nd.
#57 by Perfundle // Sep 24, 2013 - 6:52pm
Cincinnati got chewed up in the run game, though, other than the crucial fumble. And Green Bay only moved down one spot because they were so far ahead of the pack (non-Pack?) before; their offensive VOA got cut in half.
#152 by sundown (not verified) // Sep 25, 2013 - 10:31am
Adjustments make some difference, but there were some posters on here thinking the Bengals looked like Seattle on defense against the Packers. They're certainly not going to adjust up into that realm.
#96 by Arkaein // Sep 24, 2013 - 11:17pm
GB's running game has been shockingly efficient for two weeks in a row.
They've basically had two good and one bad games passing, and two good and one bad games rushing. In both cases (passing vs WAS, running vs WAS and CIN), the goods have mostly been very good.
#170 by Bay Area Bengal (not verified) // Sep 25, 2013 - 12:55pm
I imagine Cincy will rise in the rankings once opponent adjustments kick in, as they played close with both the Bears (shoulda won) and the Packers (shoulda lost).
This is, of course, assuming they don't lay an egg against the Browns.
But I'm actually surprised that DVOA has treated them this well. Yeah, they're 2-1, but they're extremely inconsistent from game-to-game. Their D couldn't stop Chicago's offense when it mattered most, and their offense was atrocious against Green Bay's basement-dwelling defense. Hell, they're extremely inconsistent from drive-to-drive!
I'm gald that the Bengals look capable of beating good teams if a few breaks go their way, but I need to see a solid win over Cleveland and consistent play against the Patriots before I get excited about any post-season possibilities.
#56 by DA (not verified) // Sep 24, 2013 - 6:49pm
Jacksonville is a another good example of how spending a high pick on an LT basically makes 0 difference if you have nothing of value to protect. The pick is almost wasted unless they can someday acquire a very good QB. Getting a highly drafted LT in the hopes you 1 day can acquire a Top QB is like buying a Top of the Line Security System in case you 1 day can afford a new house.
Maybe Jax drafted the LT knowing that he would have no meaningful impact on their offense this year and could tank for a top QB in the 2014 Draft. If that is their thinking then I can understand their approach.
#106 by Independent George // Sep 25, 2013 - 12:10am
No, he knew that he could keep taking chances on QBs until he found one that fit. Once he did, he'd already have a good supporting cast to take advantage of it.
You can't win without a QB, but if you have a high pick, it's not worth reaching for someone you're not certain of, when you can build your roster elsewhere.