DVOA Analysis
Football Outsiders' revolutionary metrics that break down every single play of the NFL season

Week 9 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

Denver remains the No. 1 team in DVOA this week despite their big loss to New England on Sunday, but we can probably table all that "best teams in DVOA history" talk for a while. The Broncos saw their total DVOA drop by over 10 percentage points after falling to the Patriots, but then again their lead was over 20 percentage points a week ago, so they are still comfortably in the top spot. Most of the drop comes in the ratings for offense and special teams. Surprisingly, thanks in part to the opponent adjustments, the Broncos recorded their eighth straight game with a negative (i.e. better than average) defensive DVOA and remain the most consistent defense in the NFL this year. The Broncos put up defensive DVOA between -10% and -20% in seven of their eight games this season.

Baltimore remains at No. 2, although the Ravens' overall rating drops a bit. Shockingly, the Ravens end up with a single-game 0.9% DVOA despite losing by 20 points. This surprising result wasn't about offense or defense, or even opponent adjustments. The Ravens had a phenomenal game on special teams; the offense just couldn't turn that into enough points and the defense couldn't keep Ben Roethlisberger out of the end zone. Sam Koch had six punts with no returns, including five that landed inside the 20 and two inside the 10. Justin Tucker hit touchbacks on three of four kickoffs in the near-freezing temperatures. Jacoby Jones had four kickoff returns for 188 yards and a touchdown. Even when the Steelers tried squibbing it, Kyle Juszczyk took it back 16 yards to start the next drive at the Baltimore 37. We scored the Baltimore special teams as being worth an estimated 11.7 points over average in this game, the best single-game special teams performance by any team this year.

Speaking of best performances of the year, how about those Miami Dolphins? I will fully admit that I did not believe in this team at all before the season. They just seemed like an easily ignorable monument to mediocrity, much like their division rivals in Buffalo -- and if one of those teams was going to get its act together, we wrote that it was more likely to be Buffalo. Well, the Bills did get their act together a little bit, but not as much as the Dolphins. Miami was already No. 10 in DVOA before this week but a 37-0 win over San Diego vaults them all the way up to No. 3. The Dolphins also pass Denver and now rank second in defense, the only team behind Detroit. Opponent adjustments are still going to change over the next eight weeks but for now, the Dolphins have the best single game of the year, with 117.8% DVOA for this win. With current opponent adjustments, it is the only single game over 100% all season. (Remember Atlanta's huge win over Tampa Bay? The single-game DVOA is now down to 75.8% because Tampa Bay is just so god awful.)

The Dolphins would be even higher in DVOA if their special teams weren't terrible. Miami ranks 31st in our special teams numbers, ahead of only Detroit, and of course the Lions are only in last place because their field-goal kicking has been so atrocious. Miami is actually fourth in kick return value this year, but 28th or worse in field goals, kickoffs, and net punting.

You may have noticed that we have not gotten to any NFC teams yet. The next three teams in DVOA are all NFC teams (Seattle, Green Bay, Philadelphia) but then the four teams after that are AFC teams again, so we now have AFC teams in seven of the top ten spots in DVOA. Actually, there's a big smush of teams with similar ratings after the top three, especially if we look at the non-adjusted ratings, i.e. those ratings that do not account for either a) opponent strength; b) weather and altitude on special teams; and c) equalizing fumble recoveries. Right now there are nine different teams with non-adjusted VOA somewhere between 12.7% and 15.8%. Seven of those nine teams currently comprise the rest of our top ten; the other two teams are No. 11 New Orleans and No. 12 Detroit, which take a big hit in adjustments because of very easy schedules (and a smaller hit because their raw special teams numbers are inflated by home games indoors). Ratings are so tight that the Chiefs dropped from No. 4 to No. 10 in DVOA this week even though they beat the Jets and saw their non-adjusted rating go up.

Anyway, this is just the beginning of a series of issues this year that lead to advanced metrics rating teams far differently than either conventional wisdom or win-loss records. The imbalance between the conferences is part of that. The tight grouping of teams with ratings all close together is part of that. So is the fact that we've had a lot of huge blowout victories this year, so you'll get a team blowing out another good team one week and then getting routed themselves in a different week. On top of that, we have the weird case of the Arizona Cardinals, whose oddly mediocre DVOA rating was covered in last week's commentary. I will note that the Cardinals' win over Dallas came out as their best single game of the year, so at least they have a positive DVOA rating now. We'll have to see in the next few weeks whether DVOA sees something about the Cardinals that the general public does not, but I don't think a game against Brandon Weeden was the right time to find that out.

For a good hint of just how huge the gap is right now between DVOA and conventional wisdom, check out the ESPN power rankings. Baltimore and Miami, two of our top three teams, aren't even in ESPN's top ten, and of course ESPN has Arizona No. 2 while DVOA puts the Cardinals at No. 16.

The difference between win-loss records and DVOA gives us some topsy-turvy playoff odds as well. Indianapolis may be only eighth in DVOA, with Arizona just 16th, but they are the two teams most likely to make the postseason and they rank third and fourth in our current odds to win the Super Bowl. Baltimore and Miami don't even have a 60 percent chance of making the playoffs despite their impressive DVOA ratings. The Ravens are technically in last place in their division despite such a high DVOA rating, because the entire AFC North has winning records. On that note, here are a couple of interesting outputs from the current playoff odds simulation:

  • The entire AFC North finishes with winning records in 16.5 percent of simulations.
  • The entire NFC South finishes with losing records in 10.6 percent of simulations.
  • Oakland finishes 0-16 in 3.7 percent of simulations.

Finally, let me note that Week 9 is the first time that any game has a strength of less than 95 percent in the weighted DVOA formula, so we'll start to see some differences between regular and weighted DVOA. Seattle, for example, drops three spots if we look at weighted DVOA, while Kansas City moves up four spots.

* * * * *

Once again in 2014, we have teamed up with EA Sports to bring Football Outsiders-branded player content to Madden 15 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. We will also tweet out images of these players from the @fboutsiders Twitter account on most Fridays. One player each week will only be available for 24 hours from the point these players enter packs on Friday.

The Football Outsiders stars for Week 9 are:

  • RG Mike Pouncey, MIA (24-HOUR HERO): No blown blocks in 37-0 rout of San Diego.
  • MLB Chris Borland, SF: Led all NFL defenders in Week 9 with 18 total tackles, 11 Stops, and 5 Defeats.
  • ROLB James Harrison, PIT: 2 sacks, 4 QB hits, 5 run tackles for a combined 5 yards.
  • WR Allen Hurns, JAC: Second among Week 9 WR with 67 DYAR; 7 receptions for 112 yards and 2 TD against the No. 4 pass defense in DVOA (Cincinnati).
  • LG Matt Tobin, PHI: No sacks allowed; helped Eagles go 5-for-5 converting short-yardage runs.

* * * * *

All stats pages are now updated with Week 9 information -- or will be in the next few minutes -- including FO Premium, snap counts and playoff odds.

* * * * *

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These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through nine weeks of 2014, measured by our proprietary Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) system that breaks down every single play and compares a team's performance to the league average based on situation in order to determine value over average. (Explained further here.)

OFFENSE and DEFENSE DVOA are adjusted for strength of schedule and 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. Because it is early in the season, opponent adjustments are only at 90 percent strength; they will increase 10 percent every week through Week 10. 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. 

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>

TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
LAST
WEEK
WEIGHTED
DVOA
RANK W-L OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
1 DEN 36.9% 1 36.4% 1 6-2 26.6% 1 -15.6% 3 -5.3% 26
2 BAL 23.0% 2 24.2% 2 5-4 8.8% 10 -6.5% 9 7.7% 2
3 MIA 19.8% 10 19.6% 3 5-3 6.7% 13 -19.3% 2 -6.2% 31
4 SEA 17.5% 3 15.1% 7 5-3 8.1% 12 -12.2% 5 -2.8% 23
5 GB 16.7% 5 17.3% 4 5-3 16.9% 3 2.1% 16 1.9% 12
6 PHI 14.0% 6 15.3% 5 6-2 -2.6% 18 -7.1% 8 9.6% 1
7 NE 14.0% 12 14.8% 8 7-2 9.1% 9 2.3% 17 7.3% 3
8 IND 13.8% 7 14.1% 9 6-3 9.9% 5 1.9% 15 5.8% 5
9 PIT 13.5% 8 13.9% 10 6-3 20.6% 2 6.8% 27 -0.3% 17
10 KC 12.8% 4 15.3% 6 5-3 8.4% 11 -0.2% 12 4.3% 6
11 NO 7.9% 15 10.2% 11 4-4 15.5% 4 9.4% 29 1.9% 13
12 DET 6.2% 14 4.8% 12 6-2 -10.0% 25 -22.8% 1 -6.6% 32
13 CIN 6.1% 13 4.4% 14 5-2-1 3.6% 15 1.1% 14 3.5% 8
14 BUF 4.1% 16 3.9% 15 5-3 -15.4% 27 -13.3% 4 6.1% 4
15 DAL 3.1% 11 4.7% 13 6-3 9.2% 8 4.6% 22 -1.5% 22
16 ARI 1.2% 18 1.3% 16 7-1 -9.5% 24 -10.1% 6 0.6% 15
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
LAST
WEEK
WEIGHTED
DVOA
RANK W-L OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
17 SD -2.3% 9 -1.8% 17 5-4 9.5% 6 11.5% 31 -0.2% 16
18 ATL -2.9% 19 -5.1% 18 2-6 9.5% 7 16.2% 32 3.8% 7
19 CLE -4.6% 17 -5.1% 19 5-3 -1.9% 16 4.5% 21 1.8% 14
20 SF -5.0% 20 -7.2% 20 4-4 -7.5% 23 -8.4% 7 -5.9% 29
21 CHI -6.7% 24 -7.7% 21 3-5 5.7% 14 6.3% 23 -6.2% 30
22 WAS -9.3% 23 -8.6% 23 3-6 -2.0% 17 3.1% 19 -4.2% 25
23 NYG -9.3% 21 -7.9% 22 3-5 -5.6% 21 2.5% 18 -1.2% 20
24 CAR -11.8% 26 -12.5% 25 3-5-1 -5.0% 20 6.4% 24 -0.4% 18
25 HOU -12.1% 22 -12.2% 24 4-5 -6.2% 22 0.4% 13 -5.6% 27
26 TEN -12.8% 25 -14.9% 26 2-6 -5.0% 19 6.7% 26 -1.1% 19
27 MIN -16.1% 29 -17.2% 27 4-5 -19.2% 30 -1.0% 11 2.0% 11
28 NYJ -17.7% 27 -17.8% 28 1-8 -17.3% 28 3.1% 20 2.7% 10
29 OAK -21.3% 28 -20.3% 30 0-8 -17.8% 29 6.7% 25 3.2% 9
30 STL -21.9% 30 -19.4% 29 3-5 -10.5% 26 10.1% 30 -1.2% 21
31 JAC -23.1% 31 -23.0% 31 1-8 -21.3% 31 -2.0% 10 -3.8% 24
32 TB -36.3% 32 -35.9% 32 1-7 -22.7% 32 7.7% 28 -5.9% 28
  • 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).



TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
ESTIM.
WINS
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VAR. RANK
1 DEN 36.9% 6-2 35.3% 7.7 1 4.3% 3 -3.0% 25 14.7% 14
2 BAL 23.0% 5-4 24.5% 5.8 5 -0.3% 16 -3.9% 28 10.6% 9
3 MIA 19.8% 5-3 28.6% 6.3 2 -0.7% 18 4.1% 6 22.3% 28
4 SEA 17.5% 5-3 12.7% 5.7 6 -1.2% 19 -1.5% 20 15.9% 15
5 GB 16.7% 5-3 15.0% 5.5 8 -0.1% 15 -3.0% 23 17.3% 17
6 PHI 14.0% 6-2 13.1% 6.0 4 -8.2% 32 -0.4% 17 8.7% 6
7 NE 14.0% 7-2 15.8% 4.9 12 2.0% 11 5.8% 4 16.7% 16
8 IND 13.8% 6-3 15.5% 6.1 3 4.0% 5 -6.4% 32 12.2% 12
9 PIT 13.5% 6-3 13.4% 5.1 11 -3.6% 26 -0.1% 16 18.3% 19
10 KC 12.8% 5-3 13.9% 5.6 7 1.4% 13 3.5% 7 25.2% 30
11 NO 7.9% 4-4 13.8% 4.7 13 -5.7% 31 -2.5% 22 19.6% 24
12 DET 6.2% 6-2 15.0% 5.2 9 -3.6% 27 -1.8% 21 8.7% 5
13 CIN 6.1% 5-2-1 6.5% 5.1 10 2.9% 7 1.8% 10 21.2% 27
14 BUF 4.1% 5-3 5.8% 4.4 16 -1.9% 22 7.1% 2 7.7% 4
15 DAL 3.1% 6-3 2.8% 4.6 14 -4.9% 30 -0.9% 19 17.9% 18
16 ARI 1.2% 7-1 3.9% 4.6 15 0.9% 14 0.3% 12 3.9% 2
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
ESTIM.
WINS
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VAR. RANK
17 SD -2.3% 5-4 0.1% 4.4 18 3.3% 6 5.5% 5 19.5% 23
18 ATL -2.9% 2-6 0.9% 4.1 20 -3.2% 25 -3.1% 26 19.3% 22
19 CLE -4.6% 5-3 1.5% 4.4 17 -4.4% 29 3.3% 8 12.6% 13
20 SF -5.0% 4-4 -5.7% 3.9 22 2.2% 8 0.2% 14 12.2% 11
21 CHI -6.7% 3-5 -9.4% 4.1 19 2.1% 9 -3.5% 27 8.9% 7
22 WAS -9.3% 3-6 -7.9% 3.6 25 -4.2% 28 -5.9% 31 18.8% 21
23 NYG -9.3% 3-5 -14.6% 3.9 21 1.7% 12 -4.7% 29 26.5% 31
24 CAR -11.8% 3-5-1 -18.1% 3.9 23 5.3% 2 -5.8% 30 11.9% 10
25 HOU -12.1% 4-5 -6.9% 2.7 28 -0.5% 17 -3.0% 24 5.1% 3
26 TEN -12.8% 2-6 -8.6% 3.5 26 -1.7% 21 0.3% 13 20.9% 26
27 MIN -16.1% 4-5 -12.3% 3.8 24 -2.4% 24 0.0% 15 20.3% 25
28 NYJ -17.7% 1-8 -20.2% 3.2 27 6.7% 1 6.0% 3 9.8% 8
29 OAK -21.3% 0-8 -24.4% 2.0 32 2.0% 10 9.3% 1 3.1% 1
30 STL -21.9% 3-5 -17.9% 2.7 29 -1.9% 23 1.8% 9 18.7% 20
31 JAC -23.1% 1-8 -24.1% 2.2 31 4.3% 4 -0.9% 18 23.0% 29
32 TB -36.3% 1-7 -31.5% 2.5 30 -1.6% 20 0.8% 11 30.2% 32

Comments

109 comments, Last at 08 Nov 2014, 1:38pm

1 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

Interesting that it's predicting CLE to come out with slightly more wins over the rest of the season (from 5 to 8.4, vs. from 5.5 to 8.8) than CIN despite the Browns having a slightly harder schedule and lower DVOA. (Both have 3 home games and 5 road games left so that's not a factor.)

5 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

The other interesting thing (to me) about Cleveland is that at 5-3 they're rated a 17.1% playoff chance, while 4-4 New Orleans is an 83.0% chance. The curse of being in a strong division.

Edit; the *strongest* division; average WEI DVOA 9.35% (second strongest AFCW, 7.40%), cf. NFCS, average WEI DVOA -10.83%.

7 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

There are so many 3-loss teams in the AFC playoff picture, and they generally seem to be a tier below the two 2-loss teams (with the "2.5-loss" team sort of in between,) but they are hitting their strides at different rates now, and have much different remaining schedules.

2 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

I was wondering if Miami would be able to stay ahead of the Patriots this week. Apparently they did that and more…

And a team in last place in their division is the second best team in football! That's got to be the only time that's ever happened. Quite amazing. In fact, only one of the top five teams is in first place in their division. That's also got to be very rare.

4 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

Seems like the Ravens have mastered the art of putting up respectable DVOA numbers while losing, while stomping teams in victory. It looks like they're reshuffling their secondary, I wonder if that' make a difference the rest of the way. That unit certainly is their biggest weakness.

39 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

And a team in last place in their division is the second best team in football! That's got to be the only time that's ever happened.

Nope!

2008 Eagles, week 8. Last place in division (others were 6-2, 6-1, 5-3, and PHI was 4-3), and the best DVOA in football. (OK, so technically I don't know if a team has been the second best, but you get the point.)

And of course the Eagles were only a few minutes away from the Super Bowl that year. So, good company for Baltimore at least.

50 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

The amazing thing about the Pats is their ability to win the AFC east every year. Even when they don't exactly have the clear cut better team. This team has a great in season presence. The Jets went to those back to back AFC championship games, but NE won the division those years. Miami took that one division title but the Pats got them to a tie and lost the odd NFL tie breakers with bad luck. Miami barely outscored their weak opponents that year. New England with Matt Cassel actually was the better team! Miami is going to be hard pressed to win out to stay one game back of the Pats. I am in awe of the Pats ability to constantly press their division opponents year in and out. Even when they had Matt Cassel they took the division took the division to the end of the season. The franchise is simply better organize and executes a season long plan better than anyone else in that division... probably the whole NFL.

95 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

This season has shown what the organisaton (or is it Belichick specifically) does so well - play the long game.

Many were criticising trading Logan Mankins at the end of preseason and by the time the Kansas City game was over that criticism was beginning to look valid and that finally the Patriots dynasty was coming to an end. I think there's a lot of teams that would either have panicked, hit the trade button or just given up for this year.

But the plan was for the longterm. They knew if they could stumble through those opening games they'd find the right mix on the offensive line and a gameplan to fit the personnel they have.

3 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

Philly's defensive rating will drop with Demeco Ryans out, but it will be interesting to see what happens on offense. My best guess is that the return of Evan Mathis and Kelce will help the running game significantly(even with Herremans out), allowing for the entire offense to be more efficient, and of course an average Mark Sanchez will get all the credit for the improvement, leading to a Sanchize-mania 2/3 weeks from now.
Kelce by the way, might be the best "in space" OLineman I have ever seen. Mr Muth, if you could one day have a look at the Philly OL that would be great.

8 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

I disagree about losing Ryans being damaging - he's a huge liability in coverage (as is the guy lining up next to him, Trent Cole) and both of the back-ups who will split time filling in for him (Matthews and Acho) have been very good filling in for Kendricks. Ryans strikes me as one of those guys who is so beloved in the locker room that there's no way to consider benching him without a total meltdown, but he's routinely ten yards out of position in coverage and even more useless going after the QB. I also think the strength of their pretty good run defense is the d-line and that basically anybody could do the clean-up work that folks are making out to be his signature. So... I actually think the defense will be better with him and Nate Allen out. Their pass defense (a deceptive 14th in DVOA at mediocre 4.6% sustained by sacks and turnovers) needs to improve desperately if they actually want to be real contenders, so I'll happy take some drop-off in the running defense to achieve that.

But I totally agree Kelce and Mathis improving the o-line considerably - Kelce is just unreal at the second level. There were a few plays this week where McCoy almost seemed to fall down in shock when Kelce got out in front of him 12 yards past the LOS. With Peters having a down year, I think Kelce's presence has the biggest impact on the o-line. If the run game becomes not-terrible (and I'm not sure people realize how putrid McCoy has been so far this year and how much Kelly has fed him the ball despite that) then the offense will open up and make everything easier for Sanchez than Foles has had it at any point in 2014. (And as under-rated as he's been though out his career, Herremans isn't much more than a journeyman at this point, Gardner and Tobin have both looked fine. It was the Molk/Gardner/Herremans-out-of-position combo that really hurt.)

Plus, they have a stretch of bad defenses coming up with Green Bay's 16th ranked squad being the best one they face for a month. They even face 3 of the 5 worst run defenses by DVOA, so I suspect they might be able to run the ball. That's right: Green Bay's defense will be Sanchez's toughest test - GB's 18th ranked pass defense being the highest ranked aspect of defense they'll face with Carolina, Dallas and Tennessee being well below average in both pass and run defense.Sanchez-mania is coming!

15 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

While I agree about the clear physical limitations of Demeco Ryans, I want to see someone being able to make the same pre-snap calls he does before I'll believe his loss won't impact the defense much. To my surprise, Casey Matthews looked like a NFL player this year, Acho did not look too bad either on passing downs, but I am really not that confident. Especially if both of them have to start.

66 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

I've heard everybody say Kendricks has just been a beast this off-season and is ready to become the leader of the defense - this week Kelly has been talking about how they're totally confident in Kendricks to make the calls. I mean, the way he's been while healthy, I can believe. I suspect as far as "starting" is concerned, they do with Matthews and Acho what they did to fill in for Kendricks - mix the two of them up in their most basic 3-4 formation but frequently have Cole play with his hand on the ground down for a 4-3 alignment with Brandon Graham at the WILL on passing downs and Barwin and Kendricks at SAM and MIKE respectively. They also switch Barwin into the pseudo-DE position a lot, which is fine in passing down with Cole blitzing from the WILL and Acho or Matthews in at SAM. I just think their front 7 is their strength, especially the d-line and Barwin that having a mediocre player at MIKE (which is what Ryans was to begin with) isn't going to hurt them. Especially if having Acho or Matthews helps them with their weak pass defense (which I don't see how it could hurt.)

Also, just a place to vent: but their first rounder a Vernon Gholston-esque bust or what? All the injuries, subs and multiple-formations at LB and he can't even get on the field? Or at least not without immediately giving up a big play? The goal for him so far seems to be "hopefully, with some coaching and development, he can someday challenge Casey Matthews for a back-up LB job."

82 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

Yeah, Marcus Smith has been a major disappointment, he really did not show much at all when he was on the field other than being able to run quite fast in a straight line. He looked quite "weak", lost, could not get off blocks (even TE ones), and did not show anything in terms of pass rush. I know pass rushers are usually slow to develop, but I did not expect him to look that bad...Even Jerome McDougle showed some things in his rookie year.
So far, he reminds me of Bryan Smith, that 3rd round pick 230 pounds DE that was undersized "just because he could not afford proper nutrition in college" and would "dominate with his explosive first step after adding a few pounds". He was cut I think a year later.

88 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

Well ... not to actually defend Marcus Smith, but ...

I think the lack of impact could have been anticipated. College 4-3 DE to Pro 3-4 OLB is probably the most difficult transition for a player to make, and the Eagles' roster didn't allow for the usual crutch of "just rush the passer" because Trent Cole and Brandon Graham exist, do the job better than Smith can as a rookie, and neither has been injured this season. Hell, the Eagles even have another undersized 4-3 DE to rush the passer in Vinny Curry so they can't sneak Smith onto the field that way either. I can't decide whether it is more damning to Smith that he can't beat out any of these guys for playing time, or it is a credit to the coaching staff that they won't just throw him out there to justify the pick.

All of this is really an argument for not using a 1st-round pick on this particular position, this particular year. So, no Gholston-esque bust yet, but check back next year at this time when Graham and Cole are both gone ...

Overeducated Layabout

89 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

Yeah, I'm know I'm being too hard on him probably, but just watch that big Roy Helu pass in the Redskins game where he's the linebacker in coverage and just... oof. That is rough. It's also a shame because they'd clearly love to reduce Cole and Graham's roles in addition to having injuries at the position and he just is disaster every time he steps on the field. I didn't expect him to be Khalil Mack but he's a first round pick, for Pete's sake...

6 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

Denvers defense gives up 36 points, and is scored -10% dvoa, and 1%voa. That's laughable: Either it's a coding error, or time for soul searching, or just link to 538 for the elo ratings, because dvoa is worthless.

9 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

I don't think their defense was great against the Patriots, especially on 3rd downs, but it's been very good this season overall and DVOA rates for the season, and doesn't over-react to one game.

Turnovers led to 14 points on the two INTs that were returned inside or or near the red zone
Special teams led to 10 points, 7 on the punt return and 3 on the PR interference call that allowed NE to start in Den territory and easily get into FG range.

16 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

"I don't think their defense was great against the Patriots, especially on 3rd downs, but it's been very good this season overall and DVOA rates for the season, and doesn't over-react to one game."

See MIA-SD to disprove this theory.

20 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

Well yeah, Miami had a single game DVOA of 117.8%. To put that in context, that's almost twice as high as New England (64.1%). And based on those ratings, Miami's increase in DVOA this week (+11.0%) relative to New England's (+7.0%) also makes sense. DVOA isn't overreacting; it's just accounting for the fact that Miami played what it judges to be by far the best game of this season.

22 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

Yeah, I'm sure there's a limit to the amount of VOA the Patriots offense can get from those short scoring drives—a three-and-out field goal is actually probably worth negative VOA. Likewise, the Broncos defense can only be punished so much for those scores. I am somewhat surprised though that the Patriots defense didn't get more credit from VOA (they obviously get a ton from DVOA) given the turnovers as well as the fact that Denver's offense had a -10.0% VOA.

65 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

You discount the punt return TD, but not the 17 other points that New England scored on extremely short fields? Not at all? Huh?

Denver's defense was fine - New England's starting field position was the 37 yard line. That's almost 10 yards more than NFL average. Times 13 drives, that's the equivalent of something like 10.4 points.

So with average starting field position, you're talking about more like 26 points. The interception was worth 4 points to the offense. So now the defense basically scored 4 points, and gave up 26 points, or a differential of 22 points. Guess what? That's about league average - which would be 0% DVOA.

Just looking at points allowed is a really, really limited way to look at a defense.

10 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

Philly and NE both at 14% DVOA - is anybody in the world picking Philly straight-up in that match-up? (Although it would be delightful to see Sanchez lead the Eagles to a Superbowl win over them. Then you could finally say what we all know to be true: Sanchez owns Brady in the playoffs.)

11 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

Probably not, but it might be closer than we think, especially if the game was in Philadelphia.

The more interesting one was IND being 0.2% behind, and pretty close in all three areas. That game in two weeks should be good.

Then again IND gives up all the yards to TEs and Gronk is on fire. Still, that team has been great at home against good teams in the Luck/Pagano era ('12 - beat GB & HOU; '13 - beat SEA & DEN; '14 - beat BAL, killed CIN to a pulp).

Could very well decide the #2 (if the Colts win - schedule after that is really easy) seed. Sunday Night, will be an old-school crowd. See if the Colts can carry the torch of the rivalry that ended when Peyton left. First two meetings between those teams were not close - both in Foxboro.

BTW, for Baltimore - you don't have to go too far back to find a similar team: Baltimore in 2009. THat team finished 9-7, lost to basically every good team they played in close games, but beat down some sad shlub teams, and finished #1 in DVOA. That Ravens team was better, but having the 5-4 Ravens at #2 isn't that strange. Their big wins were giant wins.

12 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

No home field advantage - I was thinking literally this year where the only place they could meet is the Superbowl. But Philly's pass defense is horrible and relies on the blitz to generate pressure and confusion. That's a horrible recipe for trying to beat Brady and Belicheck. I also have my doubts about how their offense matches up against the Pat's defense. I think it would be a real blowout, something like the 51-20 loss the Eagles suffered to the Broncos last year.

I agree the Colts/Pats game should be fun because the Colts have the pace and passing game to keep up. I also think the Steelers are emerging as another threat to the Pats in that sense - both the Colts and Steelers are quick-strike teams that swallow huge chunks of yards very quickly on a variety of deep routes, which I think actually sets them apart slightly from the Broncos who have been relying on cranking out consistent yardage from shallow-crosses, bubble screens and pick plays mixed in with deep shots. Colts and Steelers go deep with great success all game long...

17 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

Not sold on IND defense. Vonte Davis has been playing as well or better than any CB in the league, but if Sergio Brown has to cover anyone then there is trouble in River City. If they play a team that is deep with receivers they may need to score 45 points to get a shot at winning.

26 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

I actually think the IND-NE game is going to be a bloodbath (although I am Costanza, so take that with a grain of salt). The Colts cannot cover Tight ends, or Backs coming out of the backfield, so Gronkowski and Vereen are going to tear them to pieces. As much praise as Vontae Davis has received, he really only defends the sideline well. Any receivers who run crisp routes have success against him.
The Colts only hope is to play flawlessly on offense, and that requires the O-Line to get it's shit together and give Luck time. If they can keep the pocket clean, Luck will be able to find his guys all over the field, but I just can't imagine Belichick not having the perfect scheme to disrupt the pass.

13 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

When you see numbers like that, remember that it's averaged over the whole season. NE has been much stronger in the most recent five games than in the first four. If you were to match the Eagles against a team that was 44% likely to be the September Pats, you might well favor the Eagles.

Also, DVOA thinks Nick Foles is still the Eagles' QB. It may be in for a rude awakening.

14 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

Ha - I guarantee their offensive DVOA shoots way up over the next month. Their o-line will have its four best players on the field for the first time together all season, they play a host of bad defenses, their running game will finally exist because their best run blockers are back, Kendricks is back at LB, Matthews gets better every game and will push Cooper out of the #2 spot, Polk is back from the IR and already extremely useful, and Nick Foles has been disappointing so far especially in terms of avoidable turnovers.

(I guess I also think the Eagles are getting ready to improve wildly, so they might be in the same boat of the "September team" being notably worse.)

36 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

I think what people are missing about Chip Kelly is his attempt at Quarterback proofing his offense. Obviously when he was running out Matt Barkley that wasn't the case but I think he'll get WRs open by scheme and make Sanchize look gooood.

Also, introducing Chip Kelly like concepts in Miami has made Tannehill look gooood.
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I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

64 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

I'm not missing anything: the extremely popular idea that Kelly is "quarterback-proofing" his offense is thus far total bullshit. Of the 3 QB's to start for him in Philadelphia, 2 have been awful (last year, Vick was 24th in the league with -6.9% DVOA, just about the same of Kellen Clemens; Barkley, as you mention, was even worse at -34.9% or just about the same as Brandon Weeden.) So two out of the three QB's in this supposedly QB-proof system have been terrible. Aaaaand that's only if you are willing to blame Foles for somehow breaking this supposedly QB-proof system in 2014 and coming in at an ugly 19th in DVOA.

So, you can either separate Foles 2013 and 2014 into two separate players and say 3 out of 4 QB's have been bad in the QB-proof system or say that the QB-proof system has produced two awful QB's and one (on average) mediocre QB. Either way, what seems like a fluke in Kelly's system is the lack of turnover with Foles as a starter in 2013. Every other QB playing for him has produced turnovers at an alarming rate, including the latest QB to step into this miraculous system on Sunday, Mark Sanchez.

That all said, I still think Sanchez will look good for the reasons I stated above (and that he was poorly served as a player by the staff and scheme in NY.) Also: I called the offensive decline for the Eagles this year repeatedly and it has played out how I predicted: more injuries, a lack of WR depth and an increased turnover rate. The awful run-game and Kelly's stupid insistence at "running to win" were a surprise and, quite frankly, should have cost them one or two of those closer games. Kelly has been a pretty good coach and they've weathered the injury/suspension storm amazingly, but don't treat it like any guy can step into his Amazing QB-Proof System and play like Foles 2013 because they don't.

* One more thing to consider: Foles caused a minor controversy when he circuitously seemed to credit his lack of turnovers in 2013 his coaching under Andy Reid... which fits perfectly with Reid's career and coaching.

71 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

When you "quarterback proof" your offense it doesn't mean that it makes bad QBs good, it means that it works with bad or average QB play. If you go back to the Oregon system they had two elite QBs, Dennis Dixon and Marcus Mariota, and two passable to terrible QBs, Jeremiah Masoli and Darron Thomas. All four of those QBs led incredibly explosive offenses.

When Chip Kelly got to the NFL he had an incredibly productive offense with the 3 headed QB combination of Nick Foles, Michael Vick, and Matt Barkley. He had Foles go down and the Sanchize, who I think everyone can agree is average at best, performs at a high level.

The greatest ineffiancy in football is the relative value of the QB to every other player on the team. If you can have an offense with average to bad QB, by how they are playing, and produce a top 10 offense than you can play moneyball in the NFL. You'll never have to pay 15-20 mil a year for a QB and be the deepest team in the league. That would be the QB proof offense.

Kelly's offense is about spreading the field to run. It works in college and last year it worked in the NFL. He's even keeping his head above water with the walking wounded offensive line that would make my Seahawks proud so I wouldn't knock it too hard.
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I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

72 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

The Eagles finished 2013 2nd in the NFL with an offensive DVOA of 22.9% even though their QBs were -6.9%, -34.9%, and Nick Foles. That seems pretty QB proof to me.
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I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

74 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

But Nick Foles played otherworldly last year - his numbers were literally comparable to the best numbers Peyton Manning ever has put up in his entire career. I think Nick Foles, DJax, LeSean McCoy and that o-line are an excellent offense, not an excellent QB-proof "system." If Vick had remained the QB, they wouldn't have made the playoffs (they were 3-5 when his injuries started to be insurmountable) and their offense was mediocre, nowhere near #2 in DVOA. Foles had a great year, that's why they had a great DVOA - I'm trying to disprove a tautology here. You're saying the offense is good no matter the level of QB play - as proof, looks how good they were with some bad QB play mixed with amazing, otherworldly, seriously all-time great QB play (whether or not Foles ever repeats it does not diminish it) and ignore how bad they've been this year (and last year) with bad QB play.

If you take out the games started by Foles in 2013, Kelly's offense in the NFL has been well below average. And he's barely gotten a slightly better level of production from Foles in 2014 than Reid did from the guy as a rookie in 2012 (30th ranked -30% DVOA.) Without Foles, Kelly has never gotten anomalously good production from his offense. Their running attack under Vick was strong, but EVERY running attack with Vick at the helm has been strong - look at the Atlanta rush DVOA from his years there. Most rushing attacks with scrambling threats at QB have top-notch running games (RGIII's teams, Wilson's Seahawks, Kap's 9ers, McNabb's Eagles, etc.) I'm extremely hesitant to credit that success to Kelly, especially since the Eagles already had similar success with the same RB, QB, WR's and o-line under Reid. This year, with Foles and not Vick as QB, suddenly the rushing game is awful - which at very least doesn't seem very QB-proof. (Seriously - McCoy it has been understated this season how awful McCoy has been. Most rushes for a loss and stuffs in the league by a comfortable margin.)

I guess your argument is that bad QB play won't hurt the offense, but so far it has. In 2013 under Vick & Barkley (with a losing record for both as starters) and in 2014 Kelly's offenses have been bad-to-mediocre. I don't know what else to say. The majority of QB play under Kelly has been bad-to-mediocre and the rushing game has been clearly influenced by the QB play. If the argument is that for Kelly's offense doesn't need a passer as good as Peyton Manning to be #2 in DVOA, history doesn't prove that because the only time his NFL teams have had a #2 offensive DVOA is when their QB was literally putting up numbers commensurate with Peyton Manning.

Now again, I think Sanchez is going to look good coming up, not just for the reasons listed above but also (and brace yourself for this) I think Sanchez might be the best passer Kelly has worked with. (Also suggesting what Sanchez did this Sunday is "performing at a high level" is not borne out by DVOA or watching what actually happened on the field - he was mediocre. The Kelly standard.) Certainly, the crop of Vick, Foles, Barkley and Sanchez contains only flawed passers and there are legit reasons Sanchez went where he did in the draft. What I don't think it is, is some Kelly offensive genius because I haven't seen any on the field, mainly mediocrity under Kelly and in 2014 a team relying on defense and special teams for wins.

(If want to see genius, watch a guy now in red & white turn a team with a perennial spot in the Top 5 of the draft into a consistent playoff contender in one of toughest divisions in football...)

103 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

Nick Foles career completion percentage: 61.6
Michael Vick career completion percentage: 56.2
Mark Sanchez career completion percentage: 55.2

Hell, even Geno Smith has a better career completion percentage than Sanchez: 55.9. No one can miss a dump off to the running back as well as Mark Sanchez.

105 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

Yeah, throwing in a Jets offense with Rex Ryan as a head coach is a lot like throwing in a Eagles offense with Chip Kelly as a head coach.

I really don't have an opinion on the relative accuracy of the three, but I am pretty dubious about the notion of completion percentage as a perfect proxy for throwing accuracy, to the exclusion of other factors which correlate with completion percentage, and I just think it isn't crazy to suppose that Sanchez, if all variables were controlled, could be more accurate than Vick or Foles.

107 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

That was purely opinion on my part. He's got better footwork and a quicker release than foles and has more zip on his intermediate routes where foles, especially this year has tried to loft them in. Vick was washed up by the time Kelly got to town, always had horrible footwork and major accuracy issues. He also had some of the worst pocket presence. All though qualities I'm throwing under the vague umbrella of "passing skills."

(Whereas it always seemed like sanchez's problem was horrible decision-making and bone-heade brain-fart type mistakes. )

75 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

If you break it down, under Kelly, this is how the offense has performed:

Vick as a starter:
Bad passing game
Amazing running game

Barkley:
Awful passing game
Bad running game

Foles 2013:
Amazing passing game
Good (but NOT amazing) running game

Foles 2014:
Bad passing game
Awful running game

I just don't see how any of that adds up to QB proof. What I personally take from it is that Foles CAN be great with a healthy o-line, a functional running game and a great WR to work with. But I think a lot of QB's can be successful in those circumstances, so I'm not sure what it means.

It's just the idea like "you can plug anyone in there and they'll be fine" - well with Vick and Barkley they weren't, they were bad. And this year with Foles they've been bad (but with the very reasonable excuse of injuries and losing their #1 WR.) I just don't understand why folks are so quick to credit Kelly's system and "genius" for the second half of 2013 when they had what's on paper a loaded offense with McCoy, Djax (better advanced stats in Washington this year, btw) and that o-line with 3 All-Pro caliber players and the 4th overall pick in the draft. That Vick and Barkley couldn't be productive with those guys says something worse about Kelly than folks seem willing to acknowledge.

76 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

On the other hand, if he can plug in Sanchez level QBs and get 18th best offense, it would mean he could devote many more resources to defense.

If the Bears got the 18th best offense consistently from Grossman/Orton, they really could have gone places.

(just looking at current DVOA and projecting Sanchez to equal Foles)

77 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

I don't know - even with an excellent defense, the 18th best offense just isn't going to win a Superbowl and the Eagles aren't going to be happy with first round playoffs loses and championship game failures. Plus, the defense isn't great, it's pretty dubious: very good against the run and below average against the pass buoyed by blitzing and turnovers. I just don't think you can win in the NFL with that. Guys like Rodgers and Brees are going to destroy them in the playoffs. Like last year, when they committed to ameliorating the pass against the Saints and got the ball run down their throats. That Bears defense is almost the exact opposite of this Eagles team: no blitzing, amazing coverage LB's, an extremely competent secondary that minimized big plays. This team has to blitz to get pressure, their LB's can't cover shit and their CB's and SS are almost hilariously prone to giving up big plays.

As far as devoting resources to fix that defense, the big problem coming up is that Foles is still a question mark (I personally think he did well in 2013 all things considered) and he and Maclin both have their contracts up soon. If Maclin's season keeps going this way he's going to want top dollar and I imagine the fact that they low-balled him with an awful one-year contract this past off-season means he won't be in the mood for hometown discounts. Three of the o-line starters are getting old and two of them (Herremans and Peters) have really been showing their age. They're going to have to make some big, expensive decisions on offense this off-season. Sanchez playing at the same levels as Foles (which I think will happen but be deceptive because of the run-game and o-line health Sanchez will benefit from) is sort of a disaster because there will be real temptation to let Foles walk to address all the other concerns.

That's why the QB-proofing idea bothers me: they're potentially going to let a good QB walk because he struggled behind massive o-line injuries/suspensions, a bad wry corps and a horrible running game. Kelly clearly doesn't like Foles (partly I think because he believes his own hype) and along with letting Jackson go for NOTHING (can you imagine this year's Maclin playing across from this year's Jackson?!) I worry that he's going to dismantle a well-built team and replace them all with "his guys" like Sanchez and Huff and Maehl whatever new first round draft busts he brings in. I think he's going to QB-proof his team right out of contention: I'm just dreading 2015 when he drafts some raw QB at #20 in the draft (he seemed determined that all his picks be notably raw and in need of development, for some reason: Johnson, Smith, Matthews, Ertz, Huff, Logan, Wolfe) to develop on the bench after deciding to let Maclin and Foles walk to go with Sanchez at QB...

78 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

The Bears were the 2nd seed with the 28th ranked offense, went to the Superbowl with the 20th ranked offense (which got worse throughout the year 26th weighted), and played the Superbowl champion Packers to a 1 score game with the 28th ranked offense missing it's starting QB.

18th would have been the best offense any of the Lovie Smith teams ever had.

79 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

True - their 2006 Superbowl team had a 20th ranked offense, but with more or less the same DVOA as this Eagles team. And a much better defense. Incomparably better - #1 overall, but more importantly #1 against the pass versus 14th for this Eagles team. I think Eagles defense needs to get much, much, much better to be in the discussion with those excellent Bears defenses. What's more, by his own account, Kelly pays no attention to the defense. He doesn't even sit in on their meetings during the week - that's the guy I should trust to build a defense/special teams first juggernaut like the 2006 Bears?

(Also, I just looked and in addition to Maclin, Kelce and Peters have their contracts up at the end of the year. There's no way they keep a single one of them on the cheap. There's a good chance they struggle to be even ranked 18 next year.)

85 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

My point was, if Kelly can coax the 18th best offense out of subpar quality QBs. Then theoretically, they could invest more heavily than other teams in defense and possibly produce very good defenses.

86 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

But my point is that there's not a clear picture of what Kelly can get from quarterbacks and whether Foles qualifies as subpar. He;s gotten worse than 18th ranked passing performances out of Vick and Barkley (Barkley is definitely subpar; Vick was very good in 2010 & ok in 2011, so not sure if that qualifies as subpar. Also the greatest rushing QB of all time and a #1 overall pick, so a QB with readily obvious major talents. Obviously, also probably washed up by 2013.)

I personally think there is a real chance their 18th ranking this year is a testament to Foles handling massive o-line issues, a bad wr corps and an awful running game, not evidence of his "subpar"-ness. And that when the offense is healthy with Foles at the helm, they are likely to be much better than an 18th ranked team. Like last year. When he was as good as Peyton Manning. I think putting a subpar QB at the helm of this year's team would not result in the 18th ranked unit in the league. I think if you had Rex Grossman or Kyle Orton leading this team through the first 8 games, they would be among the worst in the league. But all of that is fairly unclear.

Also, they HAVE invested heavily in their defense with their line anchored by high 1st and 3rd rounders, the LB corps filled out by 2 expensive free agents and their secondary consisting of a 2nd round pick and 3 expensive free agents. It's hard to see how they could invest more on their defense - the problem is that they haven't had great talent evaluation like this year's 1st rounder pick being a disaster and not being able to even get on the field despite significant injuries to the LB corps (and the coordinators enthusiasm for multiple fronts and situational substitutions.) The CB's they've brought in have, one has been awful the other only mediocre in comparison to the awful one. I'm not sure what else they can do to invest in their defense. It's not a bunch of journeymen and low round developmental picks in there.

91 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

Just to fill in correct contractual information:

Nick Foles is signed through 2015; had he continued his excellent play he very likely would have cashed in this off-season, but now I would guess he doesn't get extended until during the 2015 season.

Jason Peters is signed through 2018.

Jason Kelce is signed through 2020.

Jeremy Maclin was low-balled on a multi-year contract offer (justifiably) and chose to take a market-value 1-year contract. The Eagles currently have $20MM in cap room for 2014 to use in offering extensions to current players.

Overeducated Layabout

92 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

Shit - the stuff on the Eagles own site is all wrong! I assumed that source would be correct! That's all a relief (and also proof how little attention I pay to contracts, allow me to never speak on the subject again!)

93 Re: Week 9 DVOA Ratings

Looking at it again, I'm clearly reading it wrong, but I can't figure it out because it really seems like Peters is only signed through the end of this year. Foles is signed through 2015, right? How long/expensive was Cooper's new contract? Also, it's unclear to me how long Williams and Fletcher are signed for... Anyway, this proves I'm certainly no cap-ologist.

(Also, I think the Maclin lowball was 100% justified, just that it was clearly going to bite them in the ass if he had a career year, which seems all but inevitable at this point...)

It's funny, in the Reid era, I just never worried about contracts because they always managed them so consistently, extended players early to long deals and then always got rid of them a year too early (at least) and never a year too late. With Kelly, I'm now trying to parse this stuff because I second guess so many of their decisions... Worrying about bad contract management is a Washington Redskins fan's problem.