Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Week 3 DVOA Ratings
Week 3 DVOA Ratings
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Aaron Schatz

It takes some getting used to seeing the Arizona Cardinals on the top of the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings, but there they are again this week after stomping San Francisco by a final score of 47-7. In the entire history of DVOA ratings, going all the way back to 1989, Arizona had never sat at No. 1 after a single week until last week. Now they have two weeks at No. 1, and they may be there for a while.

(Note: Sorry I didn't notice this last week, being No. 1 for the first time is a pretty big deal. The only teams that still have never been No. 1 in DVOA, not even for a single week, going back to 1989: Carolina, Detroit, Minnesota, and expansion Cleveland, though the original Browns were No. 1 a few times.)

Arizona is dominating in every way you can imagine, and certainly making our negative preseason forecast look pretty silly. The Cardinals rank third in offense, third in defense, and fifth in special teams. The Cardinals have put up a single-game rating over 60% in all three of their games so far. The Cardinals are one of only five teams to ever have a DVOA rating over 75% after three games. The others were the 1996 Packers, the 2007 Patriots, the 1991 Redskins, and the 2007 Steelers. That's three of the best teams in NFL history, and a team that faded down the stretch and then lost at home in the wild-card round. Fun ironies: the offensive coordinator of that Steelers team was Bruce Arians, and the opponent that handed the 2007 Steelers their first loss in Week 4 was... the Arizona Cardinals.

Of course, a lot of people have been asking if the Cardinals are truly "for real" given the quality of the teams they've played so far this year. On one hand, we know that big wins are a much better indicator of a great team than a string of close wins. On the other hand, opponent quality does matter. It's impressive to destroy a terrible team, but even more impressive to destroy an average team or, better yet, a quality rival. The three teams Arizona has beaten this year are a combined 1-5 in their other games. Those teams currently rank 29th, 31st, and 32nd in DVOA, and not just because of losing to the Cardinals.

Next week, we'll start slowly filtering in our opponent adjustments, which will gradually drop Arizona's rating unless their first three opponents turn out to be better than it seems right now. But there's a way to see the effect of Arizona's easy schedule before we put in the standard opponent adjustments after Week 4.

As you know, we have not only our DVOA ratings this early in the season but also our DAVE ratings, which combine our preseason projection with current DVOA to get a more accurate picture of how good we think teams truly are. Right now, the preseason projection makes up 60 percent of DAVE. What happens if we adjust the first three games of the season based not on the actual ratings for each team so far, but instead based on the DAVE ratings? That hopefully will give us the most accurate measurement of how well teams have played in the first three weeks, since we're considering their opponents based on both play so far and what we knew going into the season. (Since we don't do opponent adjustments in special teams, right now, the special teams ratings with this method will be the same as the regular special teams DVOA through three weeks.)

With these new "DAVE-adjusted" ratings, Arizona is still the No. 1 team in the league so far. However, the Cardinals have dropped from 76.4% to 59.1%. That's a rating that fits the best team in the league through three weeks, but doesn't rank them as one of the greatest teams in NFL history through three weeks. With this drop, the gap between the Cardinals and New England/Green Bay is much smaller. (Also, Green Bay is No. 2 in standard DVOA, but New England becomes No. 2 with this method because of how well Buffalo has played in its other two games.)

Arizona has the biggest gap between their actual "no schedule adjustments yet DVOA" and their "DAVE-adjusted DVOA," but not the only big gap. Tennessee falls through the floor because their first three opponents have also gone 1-5 in their other games. The Titans have played Tampa Bay, Cleveland, and Indianapolis. They drop from 11th so far in actual DVOA to 20th in these "DAVE-adjusted" ratings. Carolina also falls: it's only a three-spot drop from No. 8 to No. 11, but a much bigger gap in the actual rating which drops from 20.3% to 6.3%.

Which teams improve the most if we adjust their early performance for DAVE ratings of their first three opponents? Well, Chicago essentially is the opposite of Arizona; as bad as the Bears have been, they've played Green Bay, Arizona, and Seattle. They go from the worst team in the NFL by far to the worst team in the NFL by a much smaller amount. Other teams that have played a particularly tough schedule so far according to DAVE ratings include Kansas City, Jacksonville, San Francisco, and Baltimore.

The full "DAVE-adjusted DVOA" ratings appear in a second table at the bottom of the page, after the standard DVOA ratings table.

* * * * *

Last week, we made a change in our playoff odds simulation to account for the injury that will keep Tony Romo out for roughly half the season. This week, we've further changed the simulation to account similarly for the injury to Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. As with Dallas, Pittsburgh was run through the playoff odds simulation with two different DAVE ratings. A rating that accounts for Michael Vick as the Pittsburgh quarterback is used in Weeks 4-7, and then in half of the simulations for Weeks 8-9. Roethlisberger is back with the full higher Pittsburgh rating as of Week 10.

We're sort of playing it by ear in the way we're accouting for these injuries in the simulation, as it wasn't originally written to do this and we haven't tested this method with similar injuries of the past. As each week goes by, the Dallas and Pittsburgh DVOA ratings will reflect what those teams are like with Brandon Weeden and Vick at quarterback rather than how good they are with Romo and Roethlisberger. This week's simulation may be slightly overrating the Cowboys and Steelers, because the Romo/Roethlisberger DAVE ratings work off the Weeden/Vick DAVE ratings rather than the other way around, and the Weeden/Vick DAVE ratings are partly based on how well the Cowboys and Steelers played in Weeks 1-2 with their original starting quarterbacks. We'll play with the method in future weeks to try to get the simulation as accurate as possible.

* * * * *

Once again in 2015, we have teamed up with EA Sports to bring Football Outsiders-branded player content to Madden 16 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 3 are:

  • TE Greg Olsen, CAR (24-HOUR HERO): Led all tight ends with 60 DYAR in Week 3 (8-for-11, 134 yards, 2 TD).
  • RE Mike Daniels, GB: 1.5 sacks, 2 hurries, and run tackle for a loss.
  • LG Gabe Jackson, OAK: No sacks, hurries, or QB hits allowed; Oakland RB had 15 carries for 123 yards running left with 53 percent success rate.
  • RB Karlos Williams, BUF: 50 rushing DYAR, fourth among running backs in Week 3 (12 carries, 110 yards, TD). No. 1 RB in rushing DYAR through three weeks despite only 24 carries.
  • ROLB K.J. Wright, SEA: 10 total tackles including 4 that prevented third-down conversions.

* * * * *

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All stats pages are now updated through Week 3 of 2015 or will be in the next few minutes.

Some notes on the schedule for the next couple weeks. This is the week for the midseason update of our KUBIAK fantasy football projections. It's a project that takes a ton of man-hours to put together, and the fact that my computer seems to slowed to a crawl in the last few days isn't going to help things. It should be released on Friday afternoon. I'll be working hard to get it out as soon as possible. I know that means you can't use it for trades and waiver pick-ups this week, but we've never been able to do the necessary work that would automate this further.

Next week's update of the FO stats pages and posting of DVOA commentary is going to be even later than usual because of unavoidable scheduling conflicts. For all you Madden fans, we'll see if I can get a posting up earlier that will announce the Football Outsiders stars for Ultimate Team, but no promises. After next week, though, I'll be back to trying to get this all up by 6pm Eastern each week. Clearly not often succeeding, but at least trying.

I also will likely be taking next Tuesday off from my weekly appearances on the ESPN Fantasy Football Weekly Podcast, but I'll be back after Week 5 and for the rest of the season after that. I hope everyone is listening and enjoying the new podcasts this season. Remember you can get links to all the FO-related podcasts in our new podcasts section, which you can find at this link.

* * * * *

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These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through three weeks of 2015, 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 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. As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE.

Please note that there are no opponent adjustments in DVOA until after Week 4. (It's still listed as DVOA instead of VOA because I don't feel like going through and changing all the tables manually.) In addition, our second weekly table which includes schedule strength, variation, and Estimated Wins will appear beginning after Week 4.

DAVE is a formula which combines our preseason projection with current DVOA to get a more accurate forecast of how a team will play the rest of the season. Right now, the preseason projection makes up 60 percent of DAVE. (This is a slight change from previous years, when the preseason projection made up 55 percent of DAVE after Week 3.)

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
TOTAL
DAVE
RANK W-L OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
1 ARI 76.4% 1 27.7% 2 3-0 37.8% 3 -32.3% 3 6.3% 5
2 GB 51.0% 5 25.7% 3 3-0 42.8% 1 -3.2% 9 4.9% 6
3 NE 47.2% 6 30.3% 1 3-0 42.0% 2 1.6% 15 6.9% 4
4 CIN 36.0% 4 18.2% 4 3-0 26.5% 5 -11.8% 7 -2.3% 22
5 BUF 28.8% 14 8.2% 8 2-1 26.5% 6 0.1% 12 2.4% 9
6 PIT 24.8% 3 11.6% 7 2-1 32.8% 4 3.7% 19 -4.2% 26
7 DEN 23.0% 7 18.1% 5 3-0 -24.3% 31 -39.6% 1 7.6% 3
8 CAR 20.3% 8 6.1% 11 3-0 10.7% 9 -21.0% 4 -11.3% 30
9 NYJ 18.5% 2 7.5% 10 2-1 -11.9% 22 -34.5% 2 -4.0% 24
10 ATL 14.7% 10 7.7% 9 3-0 23.2% 7 9.8% 25 1.3% 14
11 TEN 11.2% 9 -4.1% 21 1-2 4.3% 11 -16.3% 6 -9.4% 29
12 SEA 8.3% 23 17.3% 6 1-2 -4.1% 16 3.4% 18 15.8% 1
13 NYG 5.5% 18 0.3% 15 1-2 6.9% 10 3.2% 17 1.8% 12
14 OAK 5.1% 25 -4.0% 20 2-1 12.8% 8 11.4% 28 3.7% 7
15 DAL 0.9% 11 -4.3% 22 2-1 4.1% 12 3.8% 21 0.6% 17
16 MIN 0.7% 24 3.1% 13 2-1 3.0% 13 3.8% 20 1.6% 13
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
LAST
WEEK
TOTAL
DAVE
RANK W-L OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
17 STL -0.5% 16 4.6% 12 1-2 -11.8% 21 -8.1% 8 3.2% 8
18 PHI -2.5% 26 1.7% 14 1-2 -18.3% 27 -17.4% 5 -1.6% 21
19 WAS -3.8% 13 -13.3% 25 1-2 -4.0% 15 -0.9% 11 -0.7% 18
20 BAL -9.8% 17 -1.0% 16 0-3 -4.8% 17 7.3% 24 2.3% 11
21 KC -13.9% 12 -2.3% 17 1-2 -13.7% 23 2.5% 16 2.4% 10
22 IND -14.8% 29 -2.7% 18 1-2 -8.7% 19 1.5% 14 -4.6% 27
23 DET -18.4% 22 -5.0% 23 0-3 -14.9% 24 4.8% 22 1.3% 15
24 SD -18.5% 19 -3.8% 19 1-2 -3.5% 14 7.2% 23 -7.8% 28
25 CLE -23.1% 21 -15.2% 27 1-2 -22.9% 30 10.8% 26 10.6% 2
26 MIA -27.9% 15 -13.3% 26 1-2 -17.3% 26 11.3% 27 0.7% 16
27 JAC -29.3% 20 -21.4% 29 1-2 -11.2% 20 15.7% 29 -2.4% 23
28 HOU -30.9% 28 -15.5% 28 1-2 -17.0% 25 1.2% 13 -12.6% 32
29 NO -32.4% 31 -12.7% 24 0-3 -4.9% 18 26.4% 31 -1.2% 20
30 TB -37.5% 30 -23.9% 31 1-2 -38.4% 32 -2.1% 10 -1.1% 19
31 SF -51.4% 27 -22.7% 30 1-2 -21.9% 29 25.3% 30 -4.1% 25
32 CHI -70.2% 32 -32.8% 32 0-3 -21.6% 28 36.0% 32 -12.6% 31

 

A second table below presents each team's total 2015 DVOA with the single-game offensive and defensive DVOA for each game adjusted based on the DAVE rating of the opponent. Special teams ratings are not changed.

TEAM DAVE-ADJ
DVOA
ACTUAL
DVOA
RANK W-L DAVE-ADJ
OFFENSE
OFF.
RANK
DAVE-ADJ
DEFENSE
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
1 ARI 59.1% 76.4% 1 3-0 26.0% 4 -26.8% 3 6.3% 5
2 NE 48.4% 47.2% 3 3-0 38.3% 2 -3.2% 10 6.9% 4
3 GB 45.2% 51.0% 2 3-0 39.2% 1 -1.1% 13 4.9% 6
4 BUF 32.8% 28.8% 5 2-1 25.0% 5 -5.4% 8 2.4% 9
5 CIN 32.6% 36.0% 4 3-0 22.9% 7 -12.0% 6 -2.3% 22
6 PIT 27.1% 24.8% 6 2-1 32.9% 3 1.6% 16 -4.2% 26
7 DEN 17.1% 23.0% 7 3-0 -26.4% 31 -35.9% 1 7.6% 3
8 ATL 14.3% 14.7% 10 3-0 23.2% 6 10.1% 26 1.3% 14
9 SEA 13.5% 8.3% 12 1-2 -5.1% 19 -2.9% 11 15.8% 1
10 NYJ 11.1% 18.5% 9 2-1 -13.1% 24 -28.3% 2 -4.0% 24
11 CAR 6.3% 20.3% 8 3-0 3.1% 9 -14.6% 5 -11.3% 30
12 OAK 5.0% 5.1% 14 2-1 13.6% 8 12.2% 27 3.7% 7
13 DAL 4.0% 0.9% 15 2-1 1.4% 13 -1.9% 12 0.6% 17
14 NYG 2.3% 5.5% 13 1-2 2.6% 11 2.2% 17 1.8% 12
15 STL 1.5% -0.5% 17 1-2 -13.0% 23 -11.3% 7 3.2% 8
16 PHI -0.3% -2.5% 18 1-2 -16.5% 26 -17.9% 4 -1.6% 21
TEAM DAVE-ADJ
DVOA
ACTUAL
DVOA
RANK W-L DAVE-ADJ
OFFENSE
OFF.
RANK
DAVE-ADJ
DEFENSE
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
17 BAL -0.6% -9.8% 20 0-3 0.4% 14 3.3% 19 2.3% 11
18 KC -3.9% -13.9% 21 1-2 -6.1% 20 0.2% 15 2.4% 10
19 WAS -5.1% -3.8% 19 1-2 -4.5% 18 0.0% 14 -0.7% 18
20 TEN -5.1% 11.2% 11 1-2 0.2% 15 -4.0% 9 -9.4% 29
21 MIN -8.4% 0.7% 16 2-1 -3.1% 17 6.9% 24 1.6% 13
22 IND -9.7% -14.8% 22 1-2 1.5% 12 6.5% 23 -4.6% 27
23 DET -10.8% -18.4% 23 0-3 -7.8% 21 4.3% 21 1.3% 15
24 SD -13.3% -18.5% 24 1-2 -2.1% 16 3.4% 20 -7.8% 28
25 JAC -18.9% -29.3% 27 1-2 -10.8% 22 5.7% 22 -2.4% 23
26 CLE -21.8% -23.1% 25 1-2 -17.6% 28 14.9% 29 10.6% 2
27 NO -26.5% -32.4% 29 0-3 3.0% 10 28.3% 32 -1.2% 20
28 HOU -35.4% -30.9% 28 1-2 -14.3% 25 8.5% 25 -12.6% 32
29 MIA -35.4% -27.9% 26 1-2 -18.1% 29 18.0% 30 0.7% 16
30 SF -37.0% -51.4% 31 1-2 -19.2% 30 13.7% 28 -4.1% 25
31 TB -46.1% -37.5% 30 1-2 -42.4% 32 2.6% 18 -1.1% 19
32 CHI -51.7% -70.2% 32 0-3 -17.1% 27 22.0% 31 -12.6% 31

Comments

364 comments, Last at 06 Oct 2015, 4:42am

211 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Imo - Al Davis gets way too much of a pass for his early day contributions. If you want to know how the raiders could sink to the bottom for as long as they have, you look no further than Al - who combined boneheaded trades with crazy draft philosophies way out of date.

To make matters even worse, he would publicly clash with every single head coach under his tenure, ensuring that no quality coach would take that job.

He's been dead since 2011 and its taken 4 seasons to get back to mediocrity. That's all a reflection on Al. I'd rather deal with 20 seasons of snyder and Jerrell then ever go through an Al Davis regime.

214 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

"He's been dead since 2011 and its taken 4 seasons to get back to mediocrity."

that's not really fair. They were 8-8 the last year Al was alive, with a team that had a positive point differential and actually was mediocre. They were, I believe, .500 at the time of his death.

What killed them was the ridiculous Palmer trade which happened after he died when Hue Jackson decided to go for a power-grab.

I completely disagree with this assessment. Al Davis was bad from 2003-2009, but as Mike Tanier wrote when he died, at least he had a plan. Now, that plan was something that wouldn't work, but there was a strategy.

And the positives of his time as Owner/GM/Don of the Raiders from 1965-1985 still outweighs that seven year crater.

221 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

They often traded away picks and drafted on speed. They gave ridiculous contracts to players like tommy kelly or javon walker coming off an acl tear. They also traded for richard seymore - which in vacuum isn't that bad since Seymore was pretty good player - but they were a bad team, not one player away from contention which he seemed perpetually convinced of.

I just think he single handily put the raiders in a coffin and kept his fingers on the lid till the very end.

223 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Defending his moves from 2003-2009 is obviously impossible. The team was a disaster.

However, they were 8-8 in 2010, and then again in 2011. After his death, the Palmer trade was made which helped kill whatever momentum they had in '10-'11.

If not for Tebow-mania, the Raiders are a playoff team, albeit an 8-8 one, in 2011. I put more blame on the rebuild taking 4 years on Reggie McKenzie, who did shed cap but hasn't done much else but have his Top-5 picks pan out.

215 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Probably nowhere near the worst in history, but I think the McCaskey family have been terrible owners. Every time the Bears get a national game you hear the announcers talk about "one of the most storied franchises in the NFL", but really...what have they done since the early days of the NFL? A single Super Bowl win and an occasional playoff appearance is about it. I put a lot of that on the McCaskeys.

I like the offseason coaching hires they made, but I distrust Ryan Pace to some degree simply because of who hired him. And I seriously question if the Bears can turn things around and become a consistently competitive franchise under current ownership.

222 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I think one of Virginia's sons was removed from a position of power in the late 90s or early 00s when Jauron was around (think when Phillips was made president). Since then, I can't complain about ownership. They've signed free agents, paid to keep their good players, let football people make the decisions and gave coaches an appropriate amount of time.

Also, they refurbished Soldier Field for very cheap instead of getting hundreds of millions of dollars from tax payers and the tax payers even own the stadium!

360 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I don't think you can really just trim the tape in 2003 and declare late-career Al Davis to be a separate person for the sake of judging him to be one of the "worst owners in history."

22 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I don't understand why Aaron & FO keep calling it DVOA, when for now it's actually VOA. Seems like it cheapens the stat, calling it what it's not.

25 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Yeah, but why? In years past, they called it VOA when it was just VOA. Who are they dumbing it down for? They're just confusing people who actually understand their stats.

28 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Having the articles titled as Week X DVOA ratings is fine. But in the actual text and tables it seems like it would be pretty simple to just remove the D. The current approach is misleading because it's being called something it's not, which I think is also confusing for new people who may be coming to the site for the first time.

109 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I hereby accept all the criticism. It's not just about doing a search-and-replace on one article page. If we wanted to be consistent, we would have to change DVOA to VOA everywhere on the website for the first three weeks. That would be very time-intensive right now.

110 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I suppose changing it everywhere would be, but I think for the first few weeks, making it clear on the weekly report article would be a good step.

132 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Like I mentioned earlier I don't think you would need to change it everywhere. E.g. The articles could still be titled as Week X DVOA Ratings. But you could then have a standard blurb at the top about how it's currently VOA (I know it's already mentioned further down). You could then just replace DVOA with VOA in the actual article; I think this would make the analysis more clear and also avoid a bunch of extra work.

I think anyone who is here regularly will just mentally replace the two terms in the beginning of the season; however, the DVOA ratings are referenced in a number of other sites so I think it would be good to add the clarity for people who are new.

309 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I hereby accept all the criticism.

No, no, no, Aaron, you're doing this all wrong. This is the INTERNET. For the correct way to respond to (even perceived) slights, please see the Karl Cuba / chemical burn exchange above.

333 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I agree it's unedifying but this guy has it in for me, he calls me a troll based on this thread:

http://www.footballoutsiders.com/four-downs/2015/four-downs-nfc-east-0

He's talking utter nonsense and screaming at me, I'm trying to be rational and he shouts, swears and raves away in a foam-flecked manner that would have you running from a man in the street. The Wagner and Kuechly contracts, entirely expected, put this to bed and then he calls me a troll on that basis. I feel traduced and offended but I should find a better way of dealing with him.

I feel emarassed for my lack of serenity, I need to find a better manner when interacting with such vehement but misguided vituperation. Anyway, I apologise for ruining this discussion.

33 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I think if the Giants receivers all get healthy, they can win a lot of games 31-27.
I think Jeff Fisher might have 13 more games to extend his career.
I think Dan Quinn picked the right job.

Thus ends my Peter King imitation.

P.S. Oh, and it's great to be me.

44 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I honestly have no idea how Fisher has made it this far. His only real coaching accomplishment was a close Super Bowl loss, and that was over 15 years ago! At this point, blackmail seems like the most likely explanation.

47 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Fisher has done a good job building the defense in St Louis, and is obviously a popular guy in the locker room (you don't stay HC of a franchise for 16 straight years by pissing players off).

But the offence remains stagnant in spite of heavy draft investment. He's onto his second OC in St Louis now (having almost certainly held onto the last guy for too long), so if there's no improvement this year Fisher will probably pay the price.

57 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

To be fair to him, he did win 11 games or more 5 times in his 16 years with the Titans, and failed to win at least 8 games 5 times, while failing to win at least 6 only 2 times. All with a very, very, very bad owner. It would be inaccurate to state that the evidence suggests that he is average or worse. Having said that, he has yet to win 8 at his current job, now starting his fourth year, and the division now only has two tough competitors in it. He really needs to get to 9 wins this year.

128 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

As a Rams fan, this is exactly what I tell myself while rocking back and forth in the dark with my knees tucked close, after games like the Washington game.

And I do partially think it's true. But it's getting hard not to buy into some of the narratives after the last few years. Atrocious penalty discipline. No offensive success. Drafting a RB 10th overall.

But I won't stop hoping you're right.

129 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

If the running back runs with power between the tackles, and is still a threat to socre every time he touches the ball, then he can worth that high a pick. I have no idea if the guy the Rams drafted qualifies.

152 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

He does not. One game, just off of a serious injury, is way too quick to call somebody "the new Trent Richardson"... but literally the only thought I had about Gurley's playing style when watching the game this week was "christ, he's the new Trent Richardson." The Rams o-line is terrible, the wide receivers are no threat and the TE drops passes like that's what he's getting paid to do, so I'm not sure even Peterson would succeed back there...

320 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

To be fair to Gurley, he hasn't even gotten many practice reps due to his injury. I think we owe him at least a few games to figure out where the holes are. If he gets a whole season of experience and still can't figure out he needs to run BETWEEN the linemen instead of AT the linemen, then we can call him Trent Richardson. And then the Colts will trade a first rounder for him...

159 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Seattle-era Lynch, Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, guys like that can be worth a high first round pick - you build an offense around them, and you can go with a good QB rather than needing a star while still being a strong offense.

162 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I think Lynch benefits from his QB more than people acknowledge - I don't think he's worth a first rounder and especially not for a team with no blocking like the Rams. And I'd be hesitant to think Charles (who powers his offense in spite of a QB) would not be worth a Top 10 pick for any teams with enough holes on their roster to end up in the Top 10.

And that's even with perfect hindsight on what these players are going to be. Gambling that a player MIGHT be Lynch is a woeful use of a first round pick...

176 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Yeah, I know I'll sound like a homer, but if you're not a guy who is going to break off a large number of 50-plus yard td runs in your career, while running with great power between the tackles, you just aren't going to force the opposing defense to adjust enough, to be worthy of a top 10 pick. Peterson has about 15 such runs, and Lynch about 2.

181 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I mean, Lynch is good, there's some good backs in the league, but the difference between Lynch and some young, possibly flash-in-the-pan back like Latavius Murray or Matt Jones is not nearly as big as the difference between their draft position and a high first round pick...

206 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Nobody said he wasn't capable of doing that. It's just that he isn't, on every single play he touches the ball, a large threat to score a td. He just doesn't have that burst, and without it, he doesn't force defenses to account for him on every play in the way that Peterson does. That's the difference between being worthy of a top 10, and certainly top 5 pick, and being worthy of something below 15.

207 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Nobody said he wasn't capable of doing that. It's just that he isn't, on every single play he touches the ball, a large threat to score a td. He just doesn't have that burst, and without it, he doesn't force defenses to account for him on every play in the way that Peterson does. That's the difference between being worthy of a top 10, and certainly top 5 pick, and being worthy of something below 15.

216 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Define 'singlehandidly'?

He was largely terrible until the infamous run - which they were up at that point 34-30. Yes, it put the game basically out of reach, but what was as important was Matthew turning back the clock five years.

217 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Not even close. Everyone remembers the run, but he had only 57 yards on 16 carries before that. Hasselbeck was far more responsible for the win, tearing apart what had been a pretty good pass defense to the tune of 272 yards, 7.8 YPA, 4 TDs and 1 INT.

227 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I think you are overrating what first rounders are worth. I'd much rather have Lynch than say, Chris Williams, Gabe Carimi, or Shea McClellin.

Edit: I see now the discussion was top 10, not first round. I'll concede that.

268 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I'm saying that first round picks bust enough that teams should focus on who they think will be good. If you start eliminating positions, you just increase your odds of busting.

The Bears were set on tackle when drafting Williams and Carimi.

289 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Now, c'mon, by that logic, a team might draft a punter number 1 overall. The value of a position has to play a role, and rbs have simply been devalued, except for the most rare of rb qualities.

299 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Oh I agree, and I misread the first post thinking you were talking about all first rounders. I did back track in the top 10. I can't imagine spending a pick on a RB in the top 5 and it would have to be AP, LdT or Faulk to be worth it in 6-10 I think. Which is just too hard to predict.

304 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Yeah, you would need a really, really good body of college work to say with confidence that a rb is worthy of a top 5 pick. Absent the injury in college, I think Peterson fits the bill. An O.J. Simpson, without knowledge of his proclivity for murdering people, and adjusted for 45 years of general athletic improvement, transported to 2015, fits the bill. Maybe Barry Sanders.

What's scary to consider is that the Jim Brown of 1956, unadjusted to 2015, might clear the bar. That's how good Jim Brown was. Imagine Adrian Petrson's explosiveness and burst, except at, oh, I dunno, 275-285 pounds. Of course, in today's game, Brown might be a tight end who makes Gronk look like a wannabe.

314 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I'd also include Tomlinson and Marshall Faulk in that list, for their receiving & blocking (though I suppose the former could fall under the category of 'able to score on any play'). That's not enough to make them worthy off a Top-5 by itself (otherwise we'd be talking about Kevin Faulk's HOF credentials), but I think I'd trade a bit of burst for the ability to run routes like a WR.

316 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Oh, in hindsight, I'd definitely include them, but I'm not sure it was as evident by what could be observed in college. I'd put Walter Payton in, based upon what we know now, but not based upon his college career.

321 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Comparing Payton to the modern era is just so hard. Racism pretty much kept him in a lower level of competition. Running backs were also a lot more important in 1975.

322 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

In today's game Payton would be extremely valuable to a passing offense. He had outstanding hands, and he had no peer in pass protection. He'd have to carry the ball more securely, but that's eminenty coachable, and Payton was a real student.

323 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Hey, you don't have to convince me he would be great. I'm just pointing out deciding who is and isn't going to be great based on college performance is very different.

I'd say one coach visit to watch Payton's offseason workout regime would probably remove most doubts though.

326 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Well, Tomlinson and Faulk went 5th and 2nd overall respectively, so it was at least evident to a few front offices. Granted, there was also a lot of luck involved, and both played with some rather excellent QBs in their best years, but I also think their teams knew exactly what they were getting when they drafted them.

337 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I use Tomlinson and Peterson as examples of the prototypical exceptions, the backs actually worth a high first round draft pick.

Possibly the only position less likely to be worth a top 10 or top 5 pick is safety. You'd better be getting a Troy Polamalu, Ed Reed, Sean Taylor, or Earl Thomas level talent drafting someone that high.

Fun facts: Washington picked LaRon Landry one spot before AP (Doh!). They also picked Sean Taylor a few spots ahead of Roethlisberger. I have trouble criticizing them too harshly for that one though. I think Taylor was on course to be at or above the Polamalu/Reed line before he was taken from us.

362 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I'll bite because I love that old thread.

If I lacked a star QB, I'd draft ROBO-PUNTER #1 overall, built a ball-control offense, and build a ball-hawking D.

96 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I will echo what Will said in response and add this. Fisher has managed to continually put up playoff caliber teams despite never having a QB better than Steve McNair (and only had him for a short time).

224 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Did you ever stop to think that maybe the reason Fisher never has a QB who looks good is because he pours all his team's resources into defense, and then insists on running insanely conservative offensive systems? Even McNair's numbers weren't that good.

And he's "continually put up playoff caliber teams"? In 19 years, he's taken 6 teams to the playoffs, including 2 in the last 10 years. And it's not like he's just missing, either. None of his non-playoff teams have ever won more than 8 games.

229 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

In case you haven't been following some of the discussions around here lately, it is extremely difficult to stumble onto a really good QB. But just suppose, for instance, that Jeff Fisher had had, say, Philip Rivers instead of some of the dregs that he had and consider whether or not some of those 8 win seasons wouldn't have been 10 or more win seasons.

Every time Jeff Fisher faces Pete Carroll, it's no contest who the better gameday coach is. Fisher makes Carroll look like a desperate high school coach. Still without Russell Wilson, the Seahawks and their awesome defense are pretty much an 8 win team just as Fisher's teams have tended to be.

230 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I think it is plainly ignorant to argue that the evidence suggests that Fiaher is not above average. The business being what it is, however, I'd say this year he needs to win 9, and losing to the Redskins really reduces the chances of that happening.

247 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Your appraisal of the evidence obviously differs from mine. When I look at Fisher's record, I see 5 years at 8-8, 2 more years at 7-9, and another year at 7-8-1. Those 8 years account for almost half his career. That, to me, is the definition of consistent mediocrity. But just for the sake of argument, say you're right, and he is slightly above average. Is that really enough to stay employed for two full decades? I have seen many coaches (like Dennis Green, Andy Reid, and most recently, Jim Harbaugh) whose teams reached the playoffs year after year, and then after one bad year, they got the ax. Yet Fisher has two playoff appearances in the last ten years, and people act like it would be preposterous to even consider firing him.

264 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Yeah, I think you have a different conception of intergers than I, and what it means to win 8 games, but whatever. I really don't want to debate the nuances contained in "enough".

243 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

There have been a lot of coaches who have been very successful with QBs a lot worse than Rivers. For example, since Fisher reached the Super Bowl with McNair, Super Bowls have been started by the likes of Trent Dilfer, Kerry Collins, Brad Johnson, Rich Gannon, Jake Delhomme, Matt Hasselbeck, Rex Grossman, Joe Flacco, and Colin Kaepernick, with Dilfer, Johnson, and Flacco all winning Super Bowls. All the guys on that list are clearly worse than Rivers, and probably worse than McNair. And going back further, we see more "great" QBs, like Chris Chandler, Neil O'Donnell, Stan Humphries, Mark Rypien, Jeff Hostetler, Doug Williams, and so on. Heck, Joe Gibbs won 3 Super Bowls, with 3 different QBs, none of whom was even close to as good as Rivers. And as for Russell Wilson, let's not forget, Fisher had his chance to draft Wilson, but he was too much in love with Bradford.

248 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Well, a lot of the guys you list might not have had Rivers-esque careers, but still had the capacity to be great. Gannon was MVP, Hasselbeck had an excellent year when the Seahawks went to the SB, Delhomme was very much a hot-or-cold guy who could be great when he was hot, and Brad Johnson was a very good QB the year the Bucs won the Super Bowl. I'd take Rivers' career over any of those guys, but lots of non-HOF QBs wind up having a season or two when they basically play out of their mind.

295 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

"Joe Gibbs won 3 Super Bowls, with 3 different QBs, none of whom was even close to as good as Rivers."

Mark Rypien 1991: 41% DVOA, 1,500 DYAR
Philip Rivers 2009: 41% DVOA, 1,700 DYAR

Right, Rypien "isn't even close to being as good ad Rivers." I'm sorry, but your facts are completely inaccurate. Please reconsider your arguments, only based on reality this time.

297 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I would also have to say that Joe Theismann was pretty damn good too, especially in 82-83 (1983 he was 1st Team All-Pro - Rivers was never an All-Pro).
And Doug Williams had Top 5 strongest arms of all time. If he got behind the 'Hogs when he was younger and healthy, who knows how his career would have turned out.

339 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

That's some world class cherry picking there! Rypien just so happened to have by far the best year of his career, when he was surrounded by one of the greatest collections of talent in football history. I remember that '91 Redskins team, and even back then, no one considered Rypien to be an elite QB. And he never had any other year that would have cracked Rivers' Top 5 years (or maybe even Top 10). For a much more realistic comparison of the two, look at their weighted career AV on PFR. Here, I'll save you the trouble: 114 for Rivers (46th best since 1950), 56 for Rypien (1,106th best since 1950). So, yeah, I stick by my statement: Rivers is way better.

116 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I guess if you have an extremely narrow view of what a "coaching accomplishment" entails. I would consider coaching a team for over a decade, making the playoffs several times (I haven't looked up his precise record), and developing great possibly borderline HOF players to be some pretty significant "coaching accomplishments."

225 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Coaching a long time is not a major accomplishment if the ownership simply refuses to fire you, even though the evidence suggests you're mediocre at best. That was my whole point.

As for his other accomplishments, as I mentioned above, he has taken 6 teams to the playoffs in 19 full seasons. None of the other 13 teams he has coached have even managed a winning record. And the fact that he has had some HOF-caliber players to work with just makes his lack of success even more embarrassing.

228 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

You have to remember context with the Titans. Their GM(s?) did not have a good grasp of the salary cap. They would get good and then lose their good players. Fisher went through 2 salary cap purges and the team never really sucked and rebounded after.

250 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

That's true, but that happens to every team in the salary cap era. Good teams lose their best players on a fairly regular basis. And the Titans were able to keep some very good players, like McNair, Keith Bulluck, Derrick Mason, etc., for quite a while. So, I don't see how that excuse works for Fisher any more than it does for any other recent coach who has been with one team for a long time.

263 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Yeah, those Titans teams defined "cap hell" - every team has to make tough decisions about what to pay or even to keep quality players, those teams were having trouble scrounging the money together to field a starting line-up. They had to get rid of mid-priced veterans and role players because of their cap problems...

287 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Well, I already named 3 good players they were able to keep for a long time, and I'm sure I could name at least a couple of others. So, how about naming a few of these great players that they weren't able to keep? The only one I'm coming up with is Haynesworth, and given how he reacted after getting paid, they may have dodged a bullet with him.

288 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I couldn't find exact cap numbers from that era, but in starting in 1999 their records (under Fisher) were:

13-3
13-3
7-9
11-5
12-4

- which you might notice is incredibly freakin' good. Suddenly, in 2004 they went 5-11 and then 4-12 the next year. In that timeframe, they had incredible roster turnover including losing the excellent RB and TE the offense had been built around (both had been to multiple Pro Bowls), 2 starters on the o-line, their starting FS, both starting CB's (one of whom was an All-Pro), their All-Pro defensive end, Robaire Smith (who was a DT/DE hybrid) and other players I'm sure - I only spent about ten minutes looking this up. It's safe to say that the total overhaul of the team done in this era wasn't to deliberately blow up a team that had just lost a tightly contested playoff game by 3 points to a 14-2 team that would end up being the eventual champs. And the Titans had played in the AFCCG the year before that, losing to the Raiders.

The 2004-2006 period, that's "cap hell" stretch everyone talks about, those three seasons. After that, Fisher is able to take them to 10-6 and then 13-3 in 2008 (although losing the first playoff game both years overshadowed their success.) Then they go back to .500 and then Fisher is fired after a 6-10 season. If that cap hell doesn't hit him, there's no real reason to think Fisher wouldn't have floated another few seasons between 10-6 & 13-3, that's generally what he did there with a functional roster.

(Haynesworth is five years after their cap problems and not what folks are referring to - he leaves in 2009. He doesn't even get his first Pro Bowl berth until 2007, mainly because he was injured all the time. People forget they even HAD to get rid of McNair after 2005 (I mean, you did) and that he went on to be very good for the Ravens in 2006 on a 13-3 team.)

292 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

First of all, a lot of the players you mention were washed up by the time the Titans "had" to get rid of them. For example, Eddie George was 30 and gained a total of 515 yards after leaving the Titans, Frank Wycheck was 32 and never played another game in the NFL, and even McNair was 32, and only had one more good year left in him after leaving the Titans.

Did they have some other guys, especially on defense, that they probably would have liked to have kept? Sure, but so what? That's the way life works in the salary cap era. You can't assemble a talented roster and expect to keep it together forever. They took their shot, had a nice 4-5 year run, but couldn't get over the top, so they had to blow it up and start over. It happens all the time, and the coach rarely survives. Look at the Falcons, Bears, 49ers, etc.

In fact, the surprising thing about Fisher is that he was still around for that 4-5 year run. After taking over midseason in '94 (and going 1-5), he proceeded to go 7-9, 8-8, 8-8, and 8-8. So, after 4+ years on the job, he was 32-38, without a single winning season to his credit, let alone a playoff appearance. Granted, he inherited a team that was a mess (another one of those teams that took their shot and came up short), but most coaches get 2 years, maybe 3 at the most, to rebuild, and if they aren't showing signs of improvement, they're gone. But again, the standards to which most coaches are held, just don't seem to apply to Fisher, who is now once again in his fourth year of rebuilding, with no real signs of progress. Go figure.

298 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Wait a minute, you want to dock Fisher because the Oilers decided not to fire him after four years of not making the playoffs? Somehow that is Fisher's fault?

There is incredible value in continuity and competence. Yes, every team's goal should be to win a Super Bowl, but that ends up with guys getting fired all the time.

My favorite example of this is Marvin Lewis. He had a five year run of 8-8; 7-9; 4-11-1; 10-6; 4-12, and still kept his job, and has gone to the playoffs each year since.

Jeff Fisher makes his team competent. If he has really good talent, he makes them great. There is a lot of value in that knowing that the replacements are more likely to be the guys he has come after in St. Louis, like Spagnuolo or Scott Linehan.

340 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I'm not trying to "dock" him. I'm simply pointing out that he has been given many more chances to succeed than the average coach. This is true not only of those early years with the Oilers, but also the lean years after the supposed "purge" of the Titans (to give a recent example, the Falcons just conducted a similar purge, and Mike Smith was not given the luxury of sticking around for the rebuild), and now in St. Louis. If you think I'm being too hard on him, how about finding me another example of an NFL head coach who has been employed for so long and accomplished so little (6 winning seasons in 19 years, 1 deep playoff run, 0 championships)?

302 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I really don't think the question is 'has Jeff Fisher been a good Head Coach?'. The answer to that, looking at his overall record and the context outlined by various posters above, is plainly 'yes'. Quite apart from his record in Tennessee, The Rams had been a laughing-stock for the best part of a decade when he arrived, and he quickly made them respectable.

The question is 'is he the right guy in St Louis right now?'. Firing Fisher, you are getting rid of a guy who is undoubtedly a great motivator (his teams ALWAYS play hard) and can clearly coach defense. With that he pretty much guarantees a minimum level of mediocrity. However, he has so far failed to hire a decent Offensive Coordinator in St Louis, and some of the recent drafting has been questionable to say the least. Spending top ten picks on a gadget player and a running back, whilst your passing game continues to stink, is perhaps indicative of a staff that has lost touch with the modern NFL.

342 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

However, he has so far failed to hire a decent Offensive Coordinator in St Louis, and some of the recent drafting has been questionable to say the least. Spending top ten picks on a gadget player and a running back, whilst your passing game continues to stink, is perhaps indicative of a staff that has lost touch with the modern NFL.

Not only that, but as I pointed out above, if he didn't like Bradford, he certainly wasn't "stuck" with him. In 2012, he had no fewer than 5 chances to draft Wilson. The Rams took one player in the 1st round (Michael Brockers), three more in the 2nd round (Brian Quick, Janoris Jenkins and Isiah Pead), and another in the 3rd round (Trumaine Johnson), all while Wilson was still available.

293 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Oh snap! I guess we can close the book on this argument. Fisher was pretty darn good in Tenn. all those years.

MC2: what exactly are you saying? That because (you feel) most coaches wouldn't have been given the same chances Fisher was given, his success shouldn't count?

What an amazing argument you've discovered! You're actually using his success as a reason to argue against his having success! Really, since when is long term coaching stability in a franchise a bad thing?

341 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

If you want to know "what exactly" I'm saying, instead of constructing bizarre straw men, you could just go back and read my original comment on this thread. I clearly said then, and have continued to say, that I find it baffling that Fisher has been able to keep his job, despite delivering such mediocre results. The fact that so many people are so eager to defend a guy who has had 6 winning seasons in 19 years is just more evidence of the ridiculously low standards he is held to, when compared to virtually every other coach in NFL history.

344 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Um, the standards generally used to evaluate coaches, by owners, are really damned stupid, for the simple reason that most owners aren't any good at analyzing football. Thus, using the judgement of what most owners would have been, compared to what one or two owners did, as a means of evaluating a coach, is very, very, dubious. The problem with firing Marty Schottenheimer after 13-3 is not that most owners wouldn't have done it. Similarly, if there is a problem in not firing Jeff Fisher, is has nothing to do with what the typical judgement of people, who aren't very good at football, would have been.

The logic you are employing here is quite bizarre.

363 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Please point out where on this thread I have said that Fisher should have been fired, or that he deserved to be fired, or anything like that. All I have said is that I am surprised that he has not yet been fired.

34 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I was thinking about this on my way home(yes, my job IS that boring).

If you could swap Gronk off the pats and replace him with JJ watt, would the pats be better off? I say yes, but I'd have to think about it.

Now, what if you could swap Gronk with anyone else in the nfl, would they be better off? We're talking players like Von Miller, Justin Houston, Julio Jones, Dez Bryant types...and I think I say no.

39 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Watt yes. Von Miller maybe. Julio? I'm not sure. Brady has only once really utilized a great outside receiver in Moss and we saw the results. Julio isn't as good as 2007 Moss, but he's such a unique weapon.

There is very few players that are not QBs that I would take over Gronk, but Watt, maybe Aaron Donald, are one's that could conceivably provide more value to the Patriots than Gronk.

41 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

As a bruised and battered Colts fan, I have faith that BB would find a way to work anybody into the rotation and get the most out of him and adapt the "new" team to a new set of strengths and weaknesses. So if you find a guy whose value above his position competition is similar to Gronk's, within 8 games the Pats would be about the same. Completely different, but just as good.

Can you imagine a team against which you could not run, roll out, or short pass to one side? In effect a shutdown DE who locks down one side of the field from five yards behind the LOS to about ten past it? Watt is not quite there now in Houston, but working for BB I bet he would be.

I once played poker with Belichick and somehow his pair of threes beat my full house. I don't know how, but he did. Really. True story. I swear.

Of course there are other coaches who would take Gronk and misuse him blocking 90% of the time, or running 3 yard curls all the time, or, I dunno, punting. Pretty sure Pep Hamilton would make him a fullback.

45 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Gronk is why the Pats would certainly have won the 2011 SB and maybe the 2012 SB, if he were healthy. There really is nobody like him in football right now. Which leads me to believe they should make JJ Watt a full time TE as he would be more valuable as an offensive player to the current Texans than a defensive player.

54 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

because the offense decides what play will be run it may be that the best offensive players have more influence than the best defensive players and conversely the worst defensive players may have more influence than the worst offensive players.

it might be why offensive DVOA is more consistent than defensive DVOA. The top of the roster is turned over less than the bottom, which would favor offensive consistency if it is more dependent than defense on the best rather than worst players.

Rashaan Melvin in last years Pats-Ravens playoff game is the origin of this hypothesis

71 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Say what you will about the value of Fantasy Football flashy offenses, but defense still trumps them. Mostly because it's a more rare commodity. So having a below average offense + great/elite defense will win you more games than and elite offense and crappy/below average defense.

In my view having a good offense may get you into the playoffs more often because it is more consistent year to year, but once you're in the playoffs the defenses have more say in the outcomes.

114 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Has anyone successfully defended against a fully healthy Gronk? The only game that comes to mind is that Pittsburgh game in 2012. That's really it.

123 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Nope - Gronk's only enemy is that he's as fragile as fine china. It's weird to say about as impressive a physical specimen, but he's like Chad Pennington in that it's only injury that holds him back (and it holds him back very consistently.)

246 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I don't think he's that fragile. I don't really think he's been injured more than average--it's just that he's such a high profile player that injuries get magnified.

And the injuries he's suffered aren't really the result of being injury prone (for example, hamstrings). Consider:

* In 2010, he played the full season with no injuries.

* In 2011, he played the full regular season with no injuries. He was injured late in the playoffs either by Bernard Pollard twisting his ankle (a relative common injury), or by Bernard Pollard's cloud of evil black anti-Patriots mojo (also a relatively common injury, at least for star Patriots players). But he didn't miss a game (although he may as well have in the SB).

* In 2012 he broke his arm on a freak play, an XP attempt in a blowout. This broken arm would be the main source of injury to him--he re-aggravated it in the playoffs and it got infected in the offseason and required major surgeries to repair. He would miss half the 2013 season because of it as well.

* In 2013, freshly back from his broken arm issue, his knee was destroyed because a defender intentionally dived at it. This happens to a lot of players and has nothing to do with being injury prone.

* In 2014 and 2015 to date, he played the whole season uninjured.

So that's 3 of 5 season with no games lost due to injury. Most of the lost time in the other two was due to a single injury--the broken arm and complications thereof, which was kind of a freak occurrence. I guess you could call that being "fragile", but is it really?

265 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Or you could say he got injured in 4 out of 5 seasons, including significant injuries in 2 of them. I think all of them are "freak" injuries in that he's of superhuman size and strength and puts freakish pressures on his body. I mean, he's not really on a HOF track for TE numbers and the only thing you can blame is time lost to injury... I'll believe he can string together more than a season or two without injury when he actually does it. I heard the same things about "freak" bone-breaks and opponent-sourced knee injuries with Pennington...

308 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

"I mean, he's not really on a HOF track for TE numbers and the only thing you can blame is time lost to injury."

First 5 years in league (Gronk has completed 5 seasons)

Gronk : 54 TD, 4379 yds
Gates : 43 TD, 4362 yds
Gonzo : 30 TD, 3958 yds
Sharpe: 17 TD, 3066 yds

Sharpe is the last TE inducted.

Jimmy Graham and Gronk have superficially similar counting stats (gronk has played 20 less games) - but Gronk is a whole 3 years younger than Graham. He also may be the best blocking TE in the league, and Graham is one of the worst. Gronk could not even make it to 30 in the NFL and still be a first ballot HOF'er.

312 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Holy crap. I knew Gronk was great, but I never looked at his cumulative numbers like that before.

If he stays productive another 5 years, he's not just a HOF lock - he's got a claim to the greatest TE of all time. And I mean that with no qualifications for being a 'modern era' TE - he blocks like the Mackey/Ditka types, while catching like Gates/Gonzalez.

324 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I would go further. By the end of this season...barring injury, i think hed be a hall of famer. Add one more season on top and hes a first ballot hall of famer. Add one more and hes probably the best te in history.

If in 4 years from now hes still doing this...he has a claim to being one of the greatest football players of all time. With rice, reggie white, and jim brown.

310 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Anything that's a result of violent contact isn't really the players fault, beyond that he plays football. Breaks, certain tears, etc.

For someone to truly be injury prone, he either has some kind of mechanical issue related to his skeletomuscular system, posture, habits, movement patterns, etc (ie me, RG3, people who always pull hamstrings); he is dumb and seeks contact more than he should (the old semi true rap on Vick); he has a pre-existing issue that can't be/wasn't fully repaired (fused cervical spine, a la Peyton); or he is unlucky.

Some people are just unlucky. It isn't their fault, and it isn't predictive of the future.

Now, Gronk DID have back issues that caused him to miss time at Arizona. That's why he dropped so far in the draft when he otherwise had top-half first round gifts. And there was a lot of reason to believe that that was something pre-existing that would lead to more issues. Thus far it hasn't. Now, maybe his ankle could've been stronger and that injury would've been preventable, but the leg and the arm were just unlucky.

134 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I mean individual isolated games teams have done well.

But I don't see any recurring theme of one team doing a particularly good job or one type of defensive tactic.

Quick scan of game logs and Miami does a reasonably good job over the past few years. Few teams have really played him enough to make a good judgement.

The Ravens also have done a reasonably good job against, though also didn't have to face him in a few games.

60 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

An interesting question.

I don't think there's any player on offense that would be worth swapping, since there is no 2007 Moss out there. Gronk (like Moss) is what prevents the defenses from just sitting on all the short routes. As Otis said above, a healthy Gronk would have been a huge factor in past playoffs.

On defense, I agree with Watt possibly being better. I can't think of a cornerback that would be worth it, not even Revis or Sherman.

61 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I really wish we could see Watt on a roster with a great quarterback, because it might lend some insight as to how a great defensive player compliments the most important position. I think we saw some of that in New England last year with Revis, but the offense in Foxboro may be so good this year that it kind of gets lost, with Revis gone.

62 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Imagine a player of his talents playing for a team with significant leads a lot of games with all the desperate pass attempts made by the losing opponent.

78 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Good point. Reminds me of the '85 Bears---if you could get a lead on them, they were merely very difficult to play against; get 10 points down and you would quite literally be better off forfeiting and not risking permanent injury to your QB.

133 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

My opinion is that Gronk is more valuable to the Patriots than he is to most other teams. He fits their QB and offensive system more than he'd fit most other systems.

Anyhow, my thinking is that any great player can improve a unit significantly, but I think that pairing Gronk with Brady leads to a sum greater than the individual parts. I do think that Gronk and Watt are both uniquely superior players at their positions who can be monumentally impactful and for whom there is no comparison within the league at this time.

141 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I think you're partially wrong about this.

The Patriots and Brady don't have a "system" that Gronk fits. The Patriots devise a system each year, and sometimes each game, to fit their personnel and opponents. This is very different from some coaches who need the right kind of personnel to fit a predetermined scheme which they then run against all comers.

Having Gronk and a relatively weak WR corps, the Patriots do one thing. Having Moss and Welker and little help at TE, they do something entirely different. They have gone pass wacky at times and at times have punished opponents with run after run after run.

It might be true that the Patriots' schematic flexibility make them uniquely able to take advantage of Gronk's skills. That's a little different from Gronk fitting the system.

148 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

My favorite Belichick move is the annual but nevertheless unexpected "we're going to beat the ever-loving crap out of you with the running game" game. You get defensive coordinators staying up all week having nightmares about how to stop Gronk and the WR rub plays and then "whammo!" an entire opening drive of up-the-gut power runs.

180 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

By my count during the last 5 seasons (2010-14) the Pats have run for at least 150 yards in a game (including playoffs)

five times against the Bills
four times against the Colts
three times against the Dolphins (one of which was when the Dolphins complained how insulting it was to have the Pats run the exact same play 5-6 times a row against them!)
two times against the Jets

1 each against Broncos, Bengals, Steelers, Bucs, Titans, Chiefs, Raiders, & Rams.

Of course, run to pass ratio would be a better metric to get at BB's "Intent."

200 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Using the NFL Game Finder with this query: From 2010 to 2014, the New England Patriots, in the regular season and playoffs, Rushing Att >= 40 and Pass Attempts <= 39

3 times against the Colts
3 times against Buffalo
1 time again Denver, Cincinnati, and Miami

Those would qualify as run-heavy games, about half of them still had at least 30 pass attempts. It's not the run-pass ratio you asked for, but it gets the point across.

204 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Defining what is run heavy requires some stat analysis using game scripts.

The pats are clearly very week to week, probably the only team over the last 20 years(maybe ever?) that plays that way, at least offensively.

Everyone else basically plays the same way, even when they possess the talent to be flexible.

202 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

There's a reason I framed the question the way i did. Gronk could go to the packers, but I don't think his impact would be the same as it is on the Patriots. In a vacuum, Gronk is not as valuable a player as Watt and probably less valuable than Von Miller, or some of the other elite defensive players out there. I'm not even sure he's more valuable than Julio Jones or Dez Bryant.

But Gronk is on the patriots and there's a very noticeable drop off when Gronk is not playing. That's why I am curious if anyone could offset that drop off in the nfl if Gronk were swapped.

234 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I think Gronk is equally (hugely) valuable to any team for the simple reason that he doesn't even have to be open for you to throw it to him and complete a pass. He can erase mistakes by catching balls thrown into coverage, he can prevent mistakes from being possible (by being taller and outleaping people, same as any tall WR can on a fade where it's either him or it's incomplete out of bounds), and on top of that he runs well, blocks well, works hard, and doesn't really drop passes.

Not that Brady makes a ton of mistakes (he made more in 07 when he had Moss to erase them, but just about all of them are risks he wouldn't have taken if he hadn't had him so it's hard to even call them mistakes so much as calculated risks), but he also has the peace of mind in knowing that he can probably still complete a pass to Gronk if everyone else is well covered. It makes his job a lot easier.

But if anything, I'd think he'd be even more valuable to a team with a lesser QB, since he could erase some mistakes or be a nice crutch. (This of course assumes that all else is equal, including the coaching. Which it's not. So much of that value would of course be wasted.)

(If we were in the IBMDThread I could type for quite a while with many examples about the luck that Brady has had with regard to having two true game changers, which when combined with an offense that really does make his job and reads much easier, blah blah blah....)

My favorite part about the way the 2015 Pats juggernaut is being run is the fun they're having with the 4TE sets now. Not only are there four tight ends, not only is one Gronk and one an even taller (but not as dominant) guy, but there's motion TWICE (which is deliberate, to force you to send the wrong guy out to the non-threat), there's a 90% chance you're putting a linebacker on a legit receiver, they're quick enough and precise enough to beat even a corner, and oh hey, also, those TEs are good enough blockers that they could still run reasonably successfully against your base defense too. I think we haven't even scratched the surface of the fun they're going to have with that stuff. And since 30 of the other coaches in the league have still not bothered to learn chess instead of checkers, they're still going to beat people with it even after having 16 weeks of it on tape.

I've actually been studying them a lot today, and this is why I think that McDaniels with Kaepernick could be an interesting combination. He's smart enough to figure out new and clever ways to use Kaep's legs and arm strength, enough of a dick to get in his face about the things that need changing, and his offense is in many ways similar to the kinds of offenses teams run with green rookies in that it usually cuts the field right in half and makes the progressions simple and easy. Kaepernick is never going to be as decisive or accurate (or hardworking) as Brady, but he'd still be a ton more effective in that scheme than in what the 9ers are running now where nobody ever gets open...

239 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I don't really think its a McDaniel's thing though. As Nat pointed above, the pats have a chameleon like offense before McDaniels as well. They were the first team to incorporate speed no huddle from Chip Kelly.

I remember Greg Cosell saying no one gets their first read open as much as New England. I was happy to see the guy asked him, "Greg, how??" And Greg replied, through every creative trick in the book. Tight splits, bunches, crossing patterns, formation diversity, speed no huddle, etc etc.

The Pats are an offensive masterpiece by design, able to replicate the mighty colts and packer offenses without needing those team's personnel to do it. That to me is brilliant coaching.

I could marvel at them for days, but there's another team in another sport that also is a majesty of innovation, so I end up marveling at them too.

244 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Their first read is always freaking open, and it's both frustrating as hell and thoroughly enjoyable to watch.

Don't forget that McDaniels was pretty much there from the beginning. While the name of the OC has changed a few times, Brady has really only run the one single Erhardt-Perkins offense for his entire career.

And in many games, including last Super Bowl, they basically just ran the exact same route combinations (and simple ones, at that) over and over and over. Often with mirror images on both sides of the field.

E-P in general is known for being simplistic by design, but the Pats take that to an extreme and coach it the best. (Though you could say that about everything.)

This is why I sometimes roll my eyes when people fawn over Brady. I mean, he's still more accurate, smarter, quicker, and better than just about everyone else, but shit... his job is very often not very hard at all. (See for example: opening night.)

252 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Oh, as a person who has rooted against NE forever, its incredibly frustrating. Its annoying as hell. Once I saw the seahawks were unable to stop it, it became really hard to conjure a defense that could be designed to stop it. Sure, some teams have done a decent job at times, but no one has consistently been able to stop it.

On your last point. I've come off as a brady hater in the past but I have still mantained he is one of the greatest players I've ever seen. Even before he became what he was, I admired his pocket movement. That trait early on was probably the reason he was starting ahead of bledsoe, even though Bledsoe was probably a better overall qb at that point.

I admit to being curious what Brady would look like on another team. Manning has shown you can put him anywhere and he can still set up his offense the way he has always run it. Could Brady do the same? Maybe. I suppose we will never know.

267 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Well we do know that the Colts without Manning won two games and the Pats without Brady won 11 (but didn't make playoffs). I don't think he controls the offense in the same way Manning does but when paired with Belichick are an almost unstoppable combination.

275 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

If Brady were on another team, I suspect at minimum, they would set up a short passing attack - something at least in principle to what the chiefs are doing with Alex Smith. Of course, since Brady isn't alex smith, that offense would look pretty good. Would they mimic all of the NE wrinkles that really drive that system into the stratosphere? I'm less sure about, though I think coaches watch film and would at least attempt it.

With Manning, its a completely different story. I think Manning could run other offenses, its just, a Manning led offense is just so darn productive its hard to say no to it. I have admitted in prior threads, that can be its undoing sometimes. It will work until it runs into a defense that is talented enough to simply play straight up - and then you wish it had some flexibility to it.

278 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I'm really interested in the details of this. For instance, one of the complaints I've heard about the Kubiak offense this season is that he won't let Peyton control the protections. Is that what you mean? I've read recent quotes from DeGuigielmo that imply that Brady has more control of the protections than is commonly believed.

Do you mean the aspect of the Colts/Moore offense wherein Moore sent in 3 plays and Manning picked one based on what he saw? Kubiak doesn't seem to do this. Certainly Brady doesn't do that, Belichick wouldn't structure something that way. But Brady can clearly check to other receivers given the look he sees.

Do you mean input into the gameplan? Articles I've read indicate that Brady has tons of input into the gameplan.

Do you mean that Manning can "import" an entire offense to another team? Maybe so. I'm not sure Brady could do that and arguably his area of inflexibility is that ultimately, he prefers the coach to tell him what to do. That's part of why he's so compatible with Belichick. Belichick/McDaniels designs and Brady executes. The roles are clear and all parties are happy with them. Arguably, Manning's area of inflexibility is that he prefers the coach to NOT tell him what to do. Hence the tension between him and Kubiak now.

I'm not trying to make this a debate about the careers of the 2 QB's but I am interested in the comparison. Fortunately as a Pats fan, I can enjoy the wins and look at the how much is Brady and how much is Belichick discussion with academic interest. I do think Kubiak/Manning is less of a match than Belichick/Brady. I will confess to heaving a sigh of relief when Moore retired.

282 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I've read a lot on Manning(being my favorite player, I am biased that way). Initially it was the three play, choose what you want. Later it became, give me a play you think will work, if I can make that work, then yes we'll do that, if not, let me call whatever I want - which is usually a similar string of plays, but he can alter the formation and splits.

I think Manning could run a Kubiak offense and indeed he tried. The offense just didn't work because the blocking wasn't good enough. But even still, its a suboptimal offense to the one Manning traditionally runs, which is why its so tempting to do what Manning wants. Most of his offenses are so good that its easy to see why. IF he had been coached with bb, i think they would have found an offense that fit both of their desires, mostly because Manning would have respected BB's input. Manning is such a control freak that unless you have some serious offensive chops, he probably will regard you as inferior compared to him. Hes mostly right, but...

Brady once said - he tried to run Manning's style, but it was too much. Instead, he "settled" for being coachable. Probably the most unheralded aspect of Brady is his flexibility. He will work in any kind of gameplan and not be thrown out of his element. I think most qbs probably differ in this way, but Brady excels at it. It could be run heavy or pass heavy and he's willing and great to go in either direction. Manning complained in that loss to NE in 2013 that the run heavy approach threw the passing game out of sync. He needed that rhythm with his receivers. I get the feeling Brady could have played a total run heavy style and still been in rhythm with his receivers. Hes that flexible. Hes also flexible in any kind of formation. Heavy tight ends or spread with lots of receivers. He's just so good no matter what style you are running.

The thing is - those subtle characteristics of Brady are really accentuated with a smart coaching staff. What if he went to a coaching staff that wasn't so ahead in the game? Again, this is a strange thing but...i feel like..90% of coaches wouldn't recognize how to use Brady's ridiculously powerful skillset. They would just see ...good decision maker, questionable accuracy down the field - just throw short and be conservative. It would still be good because brady has some amazing pocket awareness and reading ability, but the rest of his talent would go unrecognized.

I hope that makes sense.

If you want to ask me which qb is better? I am biased but I would answer with, it depends.

If i was facing a good defense and I had a good roster, I would rather have Brady. A tom brady offense wouldn't just approach Seattle's Defense as they have against everyone else.

If I had a terrible team and I needed to drag the roster as far as I could, I'd rather Manning. I would argue no qb, including Rodgers, can compensate for a poor o line, weak receivers, poor defense, and incompetent coaching staff like Peyton Manning.

283 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Good response, that's what I was looking for. I agree, Brady's flexibility is an aspect that BB is well suited to take advantage of. I also agree that 90% of coaches would not be able to maximize that aspect of Brady's skills and that if Brady had another coach he wouldn't compare as well to other QBs as he does with BB. I think BB is being truthful when he states, regarding Brady: "there's no quarterback I'd rather have." He's not just avoiding the "who is better" debate. I, on the other hand will avoid that debate for now. :-) Thanks again for the elaboration.

285 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I bet secretly both BB and Manning are at least very curious what might have been if they had been paired together. In some sense, they are both so similar in how they think about football, it might have made for the ultimate pairing. OR, it would have been a disaster and BB would have been fired/manning would have been traded.

I like to think...the universe...for the sake of maintaining a steady equilibrium...spared us this combination.

273 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

FWIW theslothook, you don't come off as a Brady hater to me. You come off as pretty objective. Well, as objective as any of us can be, since we're all fans here.

313 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Anyone who thinks that Manning is objectively more talented and better (whereas Brady is more successful, and has a fair amount better luck) ends up being called that, though, so we just go ahead and self-label.

I will say that right now, Brady is better than Manning. I'd take him over Manning in ANY offense if it was for a game tomorrow. And this is the first year of either of their careers (injuries excepted) that I'd say that.

I like the rational-ness above. A lot of what I'd say has already been said, and I like that it's well received by both sides and there isn't a huge amount of defensiveness involved. I could write enough to fill a book about this. (Speaking of books - DO NOT waste your money on the new Brady-Manning book by Myers. I did. Trust me, it is not worth a dime. It's written at the level of a 5th grade C student. Allow me to impersonate any random paragraph in this disjointed non-masterpiece: Here is a thing about Peyton. Here is a thing about Tom. Tom and Peyton are good at football. Tom and Peyton are friends. Tom and Gisele had Peyton and Ashley for dinner once. Tom and Peyton have been to nine Super Bowls. They are rivals on the field and friends off of it. Tom has won four Super Bowls and Peyton has won one, but Tom has had a better coach and Peyton has had more individual success. Because they are rivals, they try to outdo each other with the touchdown record. But because they are friends, they still root for each other to do well. Tom went to Michigan and Peyton went to Tennessee.

I wish I could say I'm exaggerating but I'm not. It really is that bad.)

Brady-Belichick is perfect synergy. Everything broke right for him with where he was drafted (except the financials)... he got a genius coach, he got a situation where he wasn't exposed to starting too early and risk of being overwhelmed, he got a good chip on his shoulder, he was forced to work to prove himself (not that I'd question his work ethic had this not been the case), he had a great team around him, and even as he became a starter, he had very little asked of him for several years and got to ease into things.

I won't say that it's easy to grow into greatness with all that help, because it's not. He is truly great, and it's that greatness that leads to a legitimate real chance to hoist a trophy every single season. But he's also set up to succeed like noone else. No other team has a brain trust as strong as New England. No other team covers every base in preparation (including the borderline illegal and actually illegal) the way they do. No coach and QB have quite that same synergy (and hell yes Brady has input into game planning), the same cool rational approach to being the best and winning every single week and every single play.

I see the same thing happening with Luck and Wilson, though the only people that I actually see arguing irrationally with them are Freeman and Prisco in their twitter retard slap fights... The job descriptions are just different. One is more talented, the other is very talented and extremely strong of mind. One is asked to do more than the other. One places more pressure on himself (and has it placed on him by others). One is saddled with a weaker roster and coaching staff. One is more risk averse, but he's also never really required to take giant risks. Both are very, very smart, both work hard, both elevate teammates, and both are among that group of ten QBs on this earth that you can truly trust to give you a chance to win every game on your schedule even if the teammates don't necessarily play well. (But one's team tends to not play well far less frequently.)

I used to say Manning would've won more than 4 titles if he had been with Belichick, and maybe that's true (at least in part because if nothing else, it would mean he didn't have to face him on the way there every year), but I think Belichick-Brady works so well together that it's a more than the sum of the parts situation (someone said this above too). Their personalities fit really well, and there's something about the way Brady attacks things that is just indescribably different from Peyton... who is just as competitive and angry and motivated as Brady, regardless of what biographers would have you believe. But I question whether Peyton's control freak nature would have benefited as much from having Belichick.

I do think they'd have gotten along great as well and obviously respected each others' minds and recall and talent... but I think Peyton might've been a bit more stubborn about certain things. I mean, in SB48 he lacked arm strength and had to throw short, but you didn't see them running the same elementary slant/flat combos over and over and over. It's almost like there's still a part of him that feels the need to show he's the best too, whereas Brady is more likely to shrug and just say "whatever wins." Take the Pittsburgh game, for instance. 20 other NFL QBs have the talent and accuracy to have completed all those passes (even the 19-20 in a row)... but of those 20, 5 would probably have gotten greedy and tried for something more than a short pass a time or three, 5 more would've lost discipline and done something risky, and 5 others would have made a wrong read or three. Brady isn't ever going to carry you (even in 2007 he didn't). But he's better than anyone else at being fine with not needing to. And there's huge value in that. Peyton has always had to - and seems also to want to - carry teams when they're pitted against the truly good opponents.

But even that's an exaggeration. It's not like Peyton hasn't been more than willing to audible a dozen plays a game out of passes and into runs when the defense dictates it. It's not like he also hasn't won a game here and there without his best effort because of some luck or a great D. And it's not like Brady hasn't gotten selfish.

I think Brady's job has always been a little bit easier than Manning's, and I think he has certainly been luckier... but both do their jobs so much better than anyone else that I can't even root against Brady even though I want so badly for Manning to enjoy more success. (And even though I don't for a second believe he wasn't involved in the deflating stuff.) We're lucky to have both to watch. I'm always going to pull for the people who succeed because of their mind, so I have this huge soft spot for the Patriots even though I tend to always hope they'll get beat.

In the earlier days of the irrational debate I thought this wasn't even a discussion worth having. If you ever go back and watch the 11/2003 game at the RCA Dome (The McGinest fake injury game... NFLN tends to air it leading up to their annual showdown) it strikes me as patently ridiculous that anyone was even comparing Brady the QB to Manning the QB at that point. That was the absolute height of QBWINZ idiocy. It's clear that Brady simply wasn't being asked to do nearly as much as Manning, was only asked to execute safe throws, had better field position, had better teammates, etc etc etc... and then as the game progressed and the Colts started scoring, Brady WAS asked to do more. And did poorly. He just flat out wasn't as good at that point. That argument was preposterous. The entire Choke artst/rings/Bill Simmons debate was nonsense. (Especially since Peyton was allegedly "choking" on the road... which in the playoffs means you're playing against a BETTER TEAM.) But that's OK. Brady still avoided mistakes, made the right reads, and delivered the ball. You can only do what's asked of you, and he did that. That's not a knock on him at all. And he grew. By the following year playoffs, he was making throws that seriously impressed me. By 2006, he was actually one of the best QBs in the game (as opposed to just having that reputation due to the rings), and from 2007-present he has been awesome.

But Manning has been awesome since about 2002. Often without as much support (I consider the "more 1st rounder = more talent" argument nonsense, if for no other reason than that he never had a chuck it up even if it's covered guy like Moss or Gronk). Until this season, he has ultimately been better. Only slightly so since 07, but still better. Slightly more awesome. And I can sit here and say over and over that Tom Brady is awesome and really it's just the narrative that I don't like, but people will still say I hate Tom Brady... which is a real shame. (Ha! I brought it full circle from the first sentence and the post I replied to!)

(Now - it really does look to me like Brady can probably keep this up til 42-43, at which point he'll have five years on the end of his career to trump the five years of Manning at the start... plus probably some more super bowl appearances. That will certainly change history a lot, and rightfully so.)

I'm interested in seeing how Rodgers ages and changes. Adapts as his physical gifts decline but his mind gets better. In his current prime he's approaching Manning's mind, but with better-than-peak Manning's arm, peak Brady's risk avoidance (though part of that is arm confidence), and Steve Young mobility on top of it all. He's fascinating, and fully deserving of being in the best of the era conversation. I am always proud of myself for being the guy in 2007 that saw it coming, but shit, I didn't see THIS coming... just that he'd be better than Favre.

Anyway, that's my "I don't feel like working" missive toward a dwindling audience for today... Hope the three of you that read it found it entertaining and well-reasoned.

330 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Good write up. Just thought I'd add a few things to see where it might take the discussion.

* While it probably isn't surprising that Brady has a higher outdoor passer rating than Manning, he actually has a higher *indoor* passer rating as well. The reason Manning's career rating is higher than Brady's is because Peyton has played significantly more indoor games.

* Brady's Patriots are 15-7 when he throws 50 passes. The rest of the NFL combined in 100-386-6. Manning is 3-14, incidentally.

* In the playoffs, the Patriots are 4-1 when Brady throws 50 passes, the rest of the NFL is 3-27.

* Brady's Patriots are 42-41 when allowing 24 or more points and 12-18 when allowing 30 or more.

* Manning's teams are 44-66 when allowing 24 or more points and 13-38 when allowing 30 or more. If the terrible 1998 team is excluded, the records change to 43-55 and 13-33, respectively.

I determined these records by scrolling through past schedules. It is possible a mistake or two was made, but nothing more than a game or two in either direction. I also excluded any games where neither QB played significant snaps.

* Playoff results were similar, with Tom going 5-6 in games where the defense allowed 24 or more points and Manning at 3-7. When the defense allowed less than 24 points, Brady's playoff record is 16-2 and Manning's is 8-6.

I recognize that crediting quarterbacks with wins and losses can be a fool's errand. However, I think there is some value to this particular sets of data. When we are talking about being asked to "carry a team", lots of throws and lots of points allowed is a good place to start, and it appears to belie the idea that Brady is asked to do less.

I know this encroaches on ground covered in the *irrational* version of this discussion, but I am sincere in my hope to prompt legitimate discussion.

331 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

Good write up. Just thought I'd add a few things to see where it might take the discussion.

* While it probably isn't surprising that Brady has a higher outdoor passer rating than Manning, he actually has a higher *indoor* passer rating as well. The reason Manning's career rating is higher than Brady's is because Peyton has played significantly more indoor games.

* Brady's Patriots are 15-7 when he throws 50 passes. The rest of the NFL combined in 100-386-6. Manning is 3-14, incidentally.

* In the playoffs, the Patriots are 4-1 when Brady throws 50 passes, the rest of the NFL is 3-27.

* Brady's Patriots are 42-41 when allowing 24 or more points and 12-18 when allowing 30 or more.

* Manning's teams are 44-66 when allowing 24 or more points and 13-38 when allowing 30 or more. If the terrible 1998 team is excluded, the records change to 43-55 and 13-33, respectively.

I determined these records by scrolling through past schedules. It is possible a mistake or two was made, but nothing more than a game or two in either direction. I also excluded any games where neither QB played significant snaps.

* Playoff results were similar, with Tom going 5-6 in games where the defense allowed 24 or more points and Manning at 3-7. When the defense allowed less than 24 points, Brady's playoff record is 16-2 and Manning's is 8-6.

I recognize that crediting quarterbacks with wins and losses can be a fool's errand. However, I think there is some value to this particular sets of data. When we are talking about being asked to "carry a team", lots of throws and lots of points allowed is a good place to start, and the results appear to belie the idea that Brady is asked to do less. You made some good points about the differences in system, but if that is the explanation, why don't more teams run it as well? What are the Patriots doing to take heat off Brady even when asking him to overcome a defensive meltdown? Isn't it possible that, rather than the system making it easy for Tom, it is built around his unique strengths?

I know this encroaches on ground covered in the *irrational* version of this discussion, but I am sincere in my hope to prompt legitimate dialog.

332 Re: Week 3 DVOA Ratings

I'm in a rush so I'll just informally bullet point it, which will probably make it more argumentative than it's intended to be.

1- Passer rating is not a great stat.

That's not to say it's without value, but it has arbitrary cutoffs and limitations. And it also rewards turnover avoidance, which favors Brady.

Now - turnover avoidance SHOULD be rewarded, of course. But when you drop it into the context of the job descriptions you kind of have to accept that Manning was always going to throw more picks.

(At this point I find myself wishing he would throw fewer, as it's no longer worth the risk since the reward of the big plays is so limited compared to a decade ago, so it's not like I'm excusing the picks...)

2- That speaks to game planning and situations to me. If Brady throws 50, it's because they've got a game plan that calls for it.

Often, Manning was throwing 50 because they were behind, had no run game, weren't as good a team, or some combo of all of that.

3- In the playoffs, the Patriots are usually favored, plus see above.

4&5- I'm not sure what these records are meant to address, other than to illustrate that Manning's defenses have allowed a lot of points in 25 and 21 more games per cutoff point.

(2-5a - All of these records don't prove much because much like their head-to-head mark, those records are also influenced by the advantage of having the better coach and better overall team and thus you'd expect them to be skewed that way anyway.)

6- similar to 4-5, though obviously in the playoffs your sample size is smaller and opposing defenses are (should be) better.

I tend to point to Scott Kacsmar's 2014 writeup about the debate when the playoff records are concerned. One QB is significantly luckier than the other, and while the other has certainly laid a few eggs, even the most basic of statistics shows that the difference between them isn't nearly what the records would have you believe.

Game stories matter a lot too. Manning's line from that 41-0 Jets game looks awful, but if you consider that it was a do or die situation where he was playing from way behind the whole time, in a 17-0 hole basically before he even got the ball, and even then the picks weren't till late, it's not nearly as bad as it seems to be. (Note: in 2002, I was actually among the crowd that laughed at Manning and enjoyed his failures.) The notes about poor games won vs. great games lost (and games in which he left the field with a lead or a chance to have one) are also quite telling, in ways that simple W-L are not. Brady threw a pick that went for a long gain (06, SD - though that actually helped the Colts); Brady had four balls bounce of Colt DB chests (03); Brady made the '11 SB because a guy dropped a pass; Brady won the '14 SB because [insert conspiracy theory here]... (Obviously the point on those games is simply that he was on the bench when the decisive events happened. Meanwhile Peyton got sent home after having given his team a lead or a makeable kick (not that he deserved to win the 05 Steeler game) in 2010, 2012, and several other instances. (And yes, I'm aware that helmet catch was a ludicrous bit of reverse luck for Brady.)

As for differences in system... well, I think more teams DO run it. I think a lot of what the Pats are running is from the QB 101 book for making a rookie's (or Kaepernick's) job easier... which sounds like kind of an insult, but it's not. Simple is good, it is still coached way better, and it is still executed way way better by a ruthless QB. Brady's best so-called unique strength is that he's so able not to be weak; that system is designed to be run so a QB doesn't need to make a ton of reads, go through 4 progressions, throw deep with regularity, or avoid a pass rush with his legs... but only he and maybe a pair of others is disciplined and skilled and accurate enough to execute it THAT well THAT often. Brady's unique strength is the absolute absence of weakness and wrongness.

As for defensive meltdowns, I think that they simply tend not to have as many of those, largely due to coaching, and when they do, he and Manning perform roughly the same... as the 09 4th-2 game indicates. (Obviously Belichick feared Manning, even against the best coach- himself - enough to take that risk.)

OK, gotta run. Much respect for this being a wayyyyyy more level headed discussion than talking about balls in January.

-Dave

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For the record, I've never heard even one person say anything remotely like that. For the record, I don't see what the point of mentioning that is.

My problem with the reaction of a pretty large chunk of New England fans is that they act like that fact excuses the behavior. (While others actually believe that it didn't happen.) It's true that they didn't need it to stomp an inferior opponent, it's true that the ideal gas law says it's possible that the values were normal, it's true that they're still the best team that thinks of everything, and if you're someone who believes it doesn't matter for throwing or fumble prevention or that the penalty was too high or that Goodell is a moron, I'm not going to argue with you on any of those points except (maybe) the first.

But please spare us the "that whole thing was ridiculous because they killed the Colts" line. The whole thing was ridiculous because of how it was (mis)handled. That it happened to have been exposed against the Colts in a blowout was just a coincidence.

For the record, thanks for trolling a discussion that had nothing to do with that.

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Talking about Southie, your opinion belongs in hell

Tucked neatly in your boring opus, seemingly made to confuse those aware of your bias in these debates, is a single statement: "Brady lied to a federal court under oath (I know this because I support Peyton)".

Really, screw you. Being skeptical is fine, being an unholy jerk is not.

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Thanks for the response.

1) I agree PR is a flawed stat, however... :)

The two areas that PR doesn't factor in, sacks and scrambling, are fairly equal among the two. We aren't using PR to compare Eli Manning and Russell Wilson, we are using it for two pocket passers who both do an excellent job of making up for weakness on the OL. From there, the arbitrary boundaries of the stat are noteworthy, but don't overshadow the main point I was making. Most of Manning's indoor games were at home and *all* of Brady's indoor data is on the road, yet Brady still has the better indoor passer rating. I don't think this can be dismissed with a comment about the limited usefulness of the stat.

I agree that turnover avoidance is a factor, but I'd need justification to accept that PR somehow overrates it, particularly when Brady's TD rate is reasonably close to Manning's.

Brady 1.89 TD / 0.67 INT
Manning 2.07 TD / 0.92 INT

Maybe if we were talking about an Alex Smith-esque performance where the INT rate and comp % help PR overlook the obvious other flaws, but that isn't what is at play here.

You also seem to imply in your post that Manning's picks are an expected byproduct of him having to carry more weight. This concept strikes me as a holdover from days gone by. From 2001-2006, it was true that the Patriots had more complete defensive rosters. (Indy was actually better in 2005, but 2006 makes that year look more like an anomaly than a changing of the tide). Since then, though, Brady has actually had the lesser defensive support. From 2007 on, the gap between each quarterback's respective defensive DVOA is 6, 0, -3, 15, 4, 10. Brady had a trivial advantage in 2010, roughly equal units in 2009, and Manning with the edge every other season. For reference, NE's lead over Indy in defense back in 03/04 was 15 and 14.

Brady's lower int rate is not explainable by him having the freedom to take less risks.

FWIW, the "carrying" rhetoric is what I was rebutting when I mentioned records when allowing 30+ points. While I agree Manning playing in more of those games is illuminating, Brady having a significantly higher winning percentage in those situations belies the idea that he isn't asked to do much. You might be able to say he isn't asked to do as much *as often*, but then you would expect a similar or worse winning percentage.

6) Yes I'm jumping around a little :)

I reject Kacsmar's analysis of Brady and Manning's luck. The primary reason why Manning and Brady's playoff stats are close is because Manning has had more completely dominant performances. It is meaningful that Brady has only lost one playoff game when his team allows 20 or less points, while Manning has three such losses. Some of that may be explained by teams being able to run and shorten the game, but not all of it.

Lastly...

2) I completely agree... but I feel like this makes my point. :) You position it as circumstances collaborating to create an interesting anomaly. I look at it as there being something special about Brady that allows the team to take such an unusual approach and still expect to win. Yes, Bill being more willing to push boundaries probably helps, but I think there's more to it than that. And if it is simply excelling at the basics more consistently than anyone else, maybe that impacts winning more than people seem to think?

FWIW, Brady had two 50 throw wins this past postseason, both of which involved double digit second half deficits, so it isn't always just the game plan either.

Good discussion.

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I'd be really careful about attributing meaning to the difference between 1 and 3 playoff losses. There are way, way, way, too many random events, and effects produced by other player and coaches, which lead to a win or loss, that have nothing to do with qb play, to be confident in assigning such meaning.

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To be fair, that was the least important part of my post and only had meaning because it supplements what the larger sample indicates.

EDIT: Reading again, it seems as if that 1/3 contrast is my primary reason for disregarding Kacsmar's write-up, which is poor writing on my part. That was only one of many reasons for why I reject Scott's analysis.

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Yeah, I have no opinion of Kacsmar's analysis. When I see meaning attached to one versus three playoff losses, however, with regard to the performace at one position, I get pretty skeptical.

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FWIW, Brady had two 50 throw wins this past postseason, both of which involved double digit second half deficits, so it isn't always just the game plan either.

Agree, though I would say that short passing was certainly always the plan in the Super Bowl regardless of score.

I reject Kacsmar's analysis of Brady and Manning's luck.

I don't think it's fair to completely reject Scott's piece out of hand because you disagree with certain parts of it. You can disagree with some things but shouldn't you still have to acknowledge that Brady has still had some average or below games and still won, whereas Manning has had excellent games and still lost? That's not something where it's fair to attribute the results (either way) to the QBs.

(Also, shouldn't having dominant performances count for something?)

I understand that you're implying that the dominant skews the average higher and that thus there are corresponding poor numbers, but again, there's a large combination of luck, circumstances, and whatnot in there. I'm not familiar enough with pre-02 Manning to speak on those games but since then, 2003 loss included, there hasn't been one single game in the playoffs where Manning didn't play well enough to give his team a chance until the very last one, where he was clearly hobbled. (Now, before I get accused of making excuses for injuries, well, yeah, I do think the injury mattered to his abilities. But I am also a movement/kinesiology junkie and I 100% blame him for not being as good as Brady at working on that kind of stuff, mobility/injury prevention/diet/etc and correspondingly credit Brady for it, so let's just say I'm not letting Peyton off the hook there.) (That game, though, is the only game of his I've watched since I started watching where he didn't give the team a chance. Including the poor stat games like the 9-6 Cleveland win on a Mathis TD, the 6-pick game (which I actually consider somewhat heroic under the circumstances), and the Baltimore playoff game where the stats sucked. Though that Bengal game a bit before then sure toes that line.)

(And this is apropos of nothing and is as copmlimentary to Brady as it is to Manning, but even games where the stats are "bad" don't mean a ton. Manning @Balt in 06, for instance (just ask Ray Lewis and Rex). And frankly, I don't think Brady played poorly in 2010 losing to the Jets so much as he simply got harassed by one of the most underrated dominant performances I've watched - Shaun Ellis - in a great effort by Rex Ryan's guys. And even that one horrible game against the Ravens wasn't as bad as it looks.)

It is meaningful that Brady has only lost one playoff game when his team allows 20 or less points, while Manning has three such losses.

I'm not really sure what this is intended to prove/argue. I don't really think that's meaningful at all. Every game has its own context, and playoff games are are really small samples.

I think the best side-neutral takeaway from Kacsmar's article is this: "What I can do is ask the right question: Why is Manning 10-11 and Brady 18-7 when their level of play is not that different in the playoffs?"

And while we could still sit there and watch 2 careers' worth of playoff tape (which, fwiw, I'd be thrilled to do) and would still argue til the cow's come home, that's still a really good question, and yes, I think it's fair to point out the Troy Browns, Sterling Moores, Hank Basketts, Mike Vandershanks, Nick Harper wives, Jack Del Rio as opposing coach (heh), Caldwell timeouts, RoboPunters, Raheem Moores, uncalled blatant holdings, dropped picks vs caught picks, etc (and yes, including helmet catch too) do tend to cumulatively give one guy a pretty huge edge over the other in the "factors neither had any control over" category.

In short, if someone's going to watch all the games and their contexts and still say that to his eyes, Brady is better (and has done better with the things that he CAN control), that's cool with me, but I don't think there's ANY way that anyone objective, or even non-objective, can take issue with the fact that one guy has gotten screwed over way more than the other guy by things that were out of his control.

It's simply indisputable that Manning has played very well and still lost several playoff games, while Brady has won plenty without doing much (whether it's due to actual poor play or simply being young and not asked to do much. I'm not going to go and say anything dumb like that he was bad in 2001, even though he was lucky due to the Tuck Rule, because in context as a kid, he played extremely well. (I'll still say that 16-27 145 doesn't exactly warrant a Super Bowl MVP either, but who cares. Has to go to someone and QBs are the default. Could say the same thing about Dom Rhodes in 41 too.)

I look at it as there being something special about Brady that allows the team to take such an unusual approach and still expect to win.

That statement strikes me as kind of pie-in-the-sky fandom or cliche-spouting to me. Like Grit always wins or "he just wins" nonsense.

What's special about Brady is that he doesn't freak out under pressure (nor did Manning - back when he was labeled a "choker" he was simply losing to better teams and playing from behind for the most part) and he doesn't really ever make mistakes that lead to turnovers. But that doesn't really mean it frees up the coaches to take risks or that that's what supposedly "willed" them to win... it's just one element of their planning process and their execution that makes them tougher to beat. And that's really no more true of him than Manning (though now with Manning's limitations being a bit more concrete, that could change things.)

Though that transitions well to:

You also seem to imply in your post that Manning's picks are an expected byproduct of him having to carry more weight.

Yes and no.

I agree that this was more true in the past. It also has a huge element of playing behind and against better teams, but there are still always more factors. Game planning. Running game (which really is encompassed by the most basic interpretation of the "carry more weight" generalization). Etc.

But let it be stated that I also believe that there was and is simply an inherent characteristic of him that is willing to take more risk. I think if you swapped Manning and Brady's situations, Manning would have amazing success with Belichick, and I think he'd have been neutered a bit with regards to turnovers (not that he's not hard on himself for those), but I also think he'd still have turned the ball over more.

Not saying he's careless like Eli or Stafford or arrogant like Cutler or Favre (well, OK, he's a little arrogant), but he has always simply been more willing to accept the risks that come with being willing to throw guys open (aka throw to spots) or into tight windows.

Then again, part of the reason I see Brady not ever doing that is that often he doesn't have to because his guys are wide open even on short stuff.

(That said: I was watching some Marvin Harrison highlights last night due to a twitter discussion and while no, he wasn't a mistake eraser catches-everything guy like Moss or Gronk... holy hell was he good, and he was absolutely a giant weapon for young Manning. Footwork, speed, route running, coverage diagnosis, hands... best body awareness I've seen. Absolutely made Manning's life easier. Absolutely. And I have discounted that.)

(aside: People talk of Reggie Wayne as a HoF case. Reggie isn't even in Marvin's league. And I say that as a Reggie lover. It's kind of ridiculous that Marvin isn't enshrined yet.)

But yes, your Brady's lower int rate is not explainable by him having the freedom to take less risks is partly true. I believe that yes, he does have that freedom. But I also think that all things being equal, he'd still win on INT%. [And I think the exact same thing could be said of Wilson vs. Luck, though I'd argue that Wilson thus leaves a lot of plays on the field. Not nearly as many as his division rival, and of course he also then makes his own plays with his mobility... but he has missed stuff. And while all that is true, well... Let's just say the current Colts are asking wayyyy more of Luck than the previous three years of Seahawks did of Wilson.] In that regard Brady always was and always will be superior.

PR is a flawed stat, however...

Well, PR takes INTs and TDs into account. My issue with it is how it does so, and how it uses arbitrary percentage cutoffs and all of that stuff. And even though on its face that all seems to make sense, it very often doesn't hold up to film analysis of a player's play. Or the play against him (Hello, DVOA). Or situations. Or etc. Mike Vick had a 95.7 PR last night. I actually know the formula and I still can't even begin to fathom how it rated that high. Even without the sacks, he was middling at best. His completion % wasn't super high. He didn't get bonus points for a TD every 12.5 attempts (perhaps the dumbest part of the formula IMO). He gets no bonus for the running... His YPA was poor. Etc. It makes no sense at all.

But the things that you cite, TDs and INTs, particularly the latter, are relevant, and I agree WRT the point about styles.

I'll be honest: I did not know that Brady's indoor PR was higher. To be quite honest, I'm not really even sure what to make of that. That surprises me.

Still, I'm not really sure the indoor/outdoor splits really mean all that much. I think the outdoor thing with Manning is largely overrated, because for one thing, wind matters more than temperature (also, as we've all come to learn, cold temps make it easier, not harder, to grip the ball - remember that old cliche about the ball being hard as a rock and easier to fumble in the cold? Well guess what, it's not! Even money that Simms still says something to that effect in December though, btw...), but mostly, sample size and the quality of opponents. Again, like everything else, ten other factors are at play here. I've seen Brady dominate some pretty bad weather games, but even without taking anything away from him, he still has advantages of familiarity, bad opponents, and especially, lazy preparation by those teams and their moron coaches (AZ, TN, CHI regular season shellackings come to mind for that last point). The Patriots, of course, are the exact opposite of lazy when it comes to preparation. And at the time, they were also the only team to realize that hey, it's snowing and slippery and a surprise, let's alter the game plan on the fly because we know the defenders aren't going to be able to change direction. (Childish injection: Plus they probably knew that the ideal gas law was making the footballs even easier to throw. :P ) Which again, isn't to take anything away from Brady or the Pats. Or even suggest that Manning isn't the same. He was way over the top about the wet ball prep in SB41, as we've all read. (The shame of it is that it had to be his idea, and not just the first thing his statue coach thought of...)

I don't know. I guess just as you discount something above, I kind of discount the weather thing. I haven't seen any particularly egregious examples of them or him underperforming because it was cold. He played extremely well in that frigid game where NE came back (hard to blame him for that when the punt got fumbled), he has played well in rain and snow and other cold ones, and for all the talk of a big "choke" job in the 03-04 Gillette playoff games, well, ten other factors, not the least of which was that the other team was better and favored. I never understood why someone losing a game he wasn't expected to win was considered choking... luckily, that narrative has kind of died in the decade since.

But still, the very fact that we're talking about cold weather stuff right now means the old narratives aren't totally dead here.

And to some extent, I'm still "fighting" old battles here too, inasmuch as I'm biased by all that BS choker/cold/can't win big games/stat compiler stuff that really hasn't even been that prevalent in the discussion since 2006, which was before Brady really truly became great. I mean, it's absolutely preposterous to my mind that anyone would've thought Brady was better back then, but they did. Quite vehemently. Since then, of course, Brady has been WORLDS better than he was then. And actually IS every bit as capable of doing all the things Peyton did and does. (I will still revert to the eyeball test for that 03 regular season game, though. They just weren't on the same level at all back then.) And yet by the logic of that old Barnwell reversed narrative article, the way better Brady is not as good a QB as the inferior one that had a better team and won 3 Super Bowls.

That's extraneous though. I think it's fairly clear that the issue I have is much more with the narrative than the QB and the discussion itself. And while I think you're underrating the myriad external factors that contributed, and at this point I'm surely overrating the past, I do still think it's valid to point them out and to talk about the stuff that even the best stats don't capture, such as the luck, the coaching, the fact that there's a reason people say Manning revolutionized the position, is a general, etc, the fact that until recently coaches like Ryan were still pretty clear on the notion that game planning for one was tougher than for the other, etc.

But that's the fun of all this. Even on the downside, even as it's surely becoming a losing battle for me (since Manning is aging faster and Brady is demonstrably more capable now), it's still a great discussion to have, and it's still lucky for all of us that we get to have it. The frustrating part has never been the players or the games (well, I guess heartbreaking losses are frustrating for fans that are overly invested) but the media and the narrative and the Mike Freemans and Kerry Byrnes and actual PFT commenters of the world. Which is why for the most part this place is a really nice safe haven as a fan.

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This is fun, Dave. EDIT: How do you italicize, by the way?

First off, I really botched the line about the 1/3. My real point there was that Manning's playoff record is not as tied to bad defense as the consensus would have you believe, at least from a points allowed perspective. If you are going to use the small sample size of playoff results to make that claim, you have to recognize that the same sample contains contradictory information. Of course, there are other ways for bad defense and bad coaching to diminish win potential, and someone with more knowledge than I could surely make that specific argument regarding Manning.

*That statement strikes me as kind of pie-in-the-sky fandom or cliche-spouting to me. Like Grit always wins or "he just wins" nonsense.*

Either we disagree or I did a poor job of explaining my point. Let me try again using an exaggerated example.

If a basketball team were to ever decide shooting nothing but half-court shots gave them the best chance of winning, that clearly says something about how they view the team. It could mean the interior guys are awful and no one has a mid range shot or it might mean they have someone with a remarkably unique skill... either way it says something. If they then go out and win consistently with this odd strategy, that suggest the latter is more likely.

Brady isn't the beneficiary of an odd approach, he's the reason behind it. Does that make sense?

*You can disagree with some things but shouldn't you still have to acknowledge that Brady has still had some average or below games and still won, whereas Manning has had excellent games and still lost?*

Sure, but the reverse is also true. I don't reject Kacmar's claim because everything he says is completely inaccurate, I just think he exaggerates his point. I've also seen him use virtually identical data against Brady and for Manning, though I don't have an example handy at the moment.

Lastly, back to this:

*Brady's lower int rate is not explainable by him having the freedom to take less risks.*

Let's say I concede the point that it is entirely explained by being able to take less risk, perhaps not due to defense meltdowns, but because of offensive structure. Then why take the risks? If you can reduce int risk that much and get the first read open that easily simply with scheme, why don't we see it more often? Or if we do, what does NE do that makes it work so much better that other teams can't copy? Yes, I know you can't find a Gronk or Moss or Welker on every team, but NE has manufactured success (and limited picks) even when those guys weren't around, like in 2006 and 2013.

I guess my question remains, is it really just consistent mastery of the basics? And if so, should we rate that quality more highly than we currently do?

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I appreciate the tone you guy have adopted in this exchange. If there is one more thing I could butt in to say, it would be that the use of w-l record in playoff games, at all, really adds nothing to an attempt to evaluate performance differences between two players. Frankly, it's worthless, or next to worthless, for coaching evaluation as well, and the Patriots performance best illustrates that. I can't remember the exact figures from the last time I looked at it, but if I remember right, if you change the outcome of about 5 plays that are very random, or have nothing to do with coach or qb performance, the w-l record of the Patriots can swing about .400 in winning percentage in the B and B era. That's for the team that can generate the largest sample of playoff appearances is that period.

When a metric can swing that wildly, based on nothing more than randomness, or stuff that has nothing to do with what is being evaluated, due to the outcome of 5 or 6 plays, what are you being told is that the metric sucks, and should be ignored.

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E-P system might be simplistic when originally conceived but the way the Pats have used it is anything but. There is a reason why their first read is always open most of the time; Brady reads defenses very well pre snap and if it still ambiguous use motions, warp no huddle etc. to force defenses and if that fails, then he goes thru his normal progressions like all comprtent nfl level qbs do. The last SB just showed that Seattles' defensive philosophy doesn't vary much so NE used their short passing game to attack it since they werehaving success with it. Even then Seattle managed to force 2 picks and several 3 and outs and the Pats needed a 4th qrt comeback down and dying seconds goal line interception to win. A better example of the ways the Pats adjust in game and duel with opposing competent coaches will be last seasons' NE-GB game and the 2012 NE-SF game. Take note both are losses but vey tight games with the opposing coaches well prepared and really have some good ideas on how to stop he Pats. Another good example would be Rex Ryan led defenses (Buffalo, NYJ and def coord for Baltimore).

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I've hammered this - Ne is the master of squeezing every frontier. DVOa breakdowns show middle of the field passing has the highest dvoa. Not coincidentally, the weakest coverage players play the middle of the field. We also know that defenses tire out from rushing the passer - so what does NE do? Throw a lot, wear out the pass rush.

The other thing is - Ne's ability to make their o line work is just borderline inconceivable. People point to the heavy investments in it, but theres many times they've shuffled things and the line works just fine. I already mentioned that ridiculous run of rushing success they've achieved. I was curious if it was a Scarnecchia thing, but it appears to be a BB thing. Seriously, I would trade 3 first rounders for BB, the only such coach I would do that for.

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Heh. I remember when Kraft traded/negotiated essentially a first rounder plus a little for Belichick. I was like: "That much?!?! For a great D-coordinator that failed as a head coach?!?!" Cheap at the price. So glad to be wrong...