Football Outsiders
Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis

ESPN Insider: Defensive Similarity Scores

This week's ESPN Insider feature takes a look at four big-name defenders who switched teams this offseason, using the new defensive similarity scores: Antonio Cromartie, Karlos Dansby, Kyle Vanden Bosch, and Julius Peppers. (We did Peppers on the site a month ago, but that was before we had worked out position-specific coefficients, so this list will be slightly different.) Cromartie may have the most interesting list, which includes the player he's replacing, Lito Sheppard, and the failed 20th overall pick from 1998, Terry Fair.

By the way, the headline and subhead on this piece are a little, shall we say, boastful about the value of the defensive similarity scores. I don't write those and I know that some of the ESPN headlines have seemed a bit overzealous lately about the power of our stats, attributing massive importance to stuff we merely feel is somewhat interesting. I'm going to talk to ESPN about this, but I don't want anyone to think that FO is suddenly too big for its britches.

View Full Article


2 comments, Last at 11 Apr 2010, 12:40am

1 Re: ESPN INSIDER: Defensive Similarity Scores

If I were a fan of one of the 4 teams which signed these guys, the only one this article would have me excited about would be Miami (Dansby). Articles like this make me think that for the most part, NFL teams know when someone is about to fall off a cliff and thusly allow them to leave in FA. I know that there are exceptions when the player wants out, or that the team is wrong--but I'd bet that most teams get 2/3 to 3/4 right, which is a lot more than most of us fans would get right.

2 Re: ESPN INSIDER: Defensive Similarity Scores

And Dansby is the guy whose former team wanted to retain him and supposedly offered to match the contract Miami offered, only to have him choose to leave. To my mind, that reinforces the idea that he's the most likely of the four to produce well for his new team.

Cardinal fans, meanwhile, mostly seem to have convinced themselves that Dansby was never very good, and will be "easy to replace".