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29 Sep 2015

Week 3 DVOA Ratings

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.

* * * * *

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.

* * * * *

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>

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
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.

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
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

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 29 Sep 2015

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


by chemical burn :: Tue, 09/29/2015 - 8:21pm

Whoa - Eagles with a massive jump in defensive DVOA, from 12th to 5th in a single week. Lots of turnovers will do that! The NFC East is so wide open - all four teams bunched 13th through 19th in DVOA.

by TecmoBoso :: Tue, 09/29/2015 - 9:22pm

Brandon Marshall is taking credit for at least three of those spots.

by chemical burn :: Tue, 09/29/2015 - 9:24pm

Ha - all the Eagles have to do is making incredible plays on deflected passes and baiting the opposing WR's into surprise laterals to nobody and BAM! Top 3 defense.

by mehllageman56 :: Tue, 09/29/2015 - 10:39pm

Playing the Jets offense has been good for sending opponent's defensive DVOA higher for three or four seasons now. You're welcome.

by chemical burn :: Tue, 09/29/2015 - 10:51pm

Man, they were SO conservative on offense. I know they had a bunch of injuries at the skill positions, but I'd be worried about what Bowles is trying to accomplish with that. They really didn't seem to have any intention of scoring early on, just running as many low risk plays as they could before punting...

by mehllageman56 :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 10:11am

Did not get to watch the game, but some of that is Fitzpatrick's inability to accurately throw downfield. That pass to Devin Smith that got picked off should have been a touchdown.

by techvet :: Tue, 09/29/2015 - 8:45pm

The Cardinals end their season as follows. Three of the games are at home, but there are no Bears or Niners in that mix. That Packers game might be for the #1 team in the NFC.

Thu, Dec 10 vs Vikings 7:25 PM
Sun, Dec 20 @ Eagles 12:00 PM
Sun, Dec 27 vs Packers 3:25 PM
Sun, Jan 3 vs Seahawks 3:25 PM

by chemical burn :: Tue, 09/29/2015 - 8:49pm

Man - that's a fun schedule. All four of those teams still have legit playoff aspirations. I suspect it will be the make or break game for entire season for the Eagles, possibly for the Vikings, too...

by Tundrapaddy :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 12:45pm

As much as I'd love to see the Vikes in the playoff hunt that far into the season, their schedule says 'nope'.

@Den, KC, @DET, @CHI, STL, @OAK, GB, @ATL, SEA, @ARI, CHI, NYG, @GB.

They need go 3-1 over the next four. That'd get them to 6-2. But after that Chicago game? Brutal. They'll win no more than 4 of those. So they have to go 3-1 over the next 4 games to have a chance at 10-6. I think that's a tall ask, unless the O-line and QB show some significant improvement.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 12:59pm

As soon as I saw the schedule this year, I knew there was way too much optimism about their chances. Even one of their weak opponents came in a brutal spot, opening game on the West Coast, late Monday Night kickoff.

Their only chance is to be home field defensive beasts, including against Rodgers, when he'll have a harder time doing his hard count mischief, and steal two or three on the road, with Peterson replaying 2012. It isn't an impossible task this weekend, and if they are ever going to win in Chicago, this is the year. They have won a lot of games in Detroit over the years, even when the Lions haven't been dregs. Winning this Sunday would be huge for their chances, in that it might give them some margin for error at home.

by Tundrapaddy :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 1:35pm

Yeah - they're still a year or two away. I like what the current regime is doing as far as the talent on the field and the scheme, but they're still missing a few parts (starting with that line; in fact, I'd draft for both lines).

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 3:35pm

If they think Bridgewater is their guy, then they must, above all else, adopt the First Commandment from the Book of St. Joseph of Gibbs, "Thy quarterback shall be made to feel comfortable in thy pocket, while holding thy ball, and peering down thy field. Forever and ever, Amen."

by Bernie :: Fri, 10/02/2015 - 1:28pm

Ryan Grigson disagrees. The recipe team for success is:
1. Franchise QB
2. Below replacement guys for the O-Line
3. Wrs with lots of speed and little experience
4. ?

by Will Allen :: Fri, 10/02/2015 - 2:33pm

Grigson is no doubt a Beelzebubian. Probably has an image of Mike Martz tatooed somewhere on his carcass.

by Perfundle :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 2:34pm

"As much as I'd love to see the Vikes in the playoff hunt that far into the season, their schedule says 'nope'."

The last time that got said about the Vikings schedule was in 2012, when their post-bye schedule consisted of: at Chicago (7-2), at Green Bay (6-3), Chicago, at St Louis (3-5-1), at Houston (8-1), Green Bay. They ended up going 4-2 and made the playoffs over Chicago. Peterson willed them in that year, and it looks like he's back to his dominating ways again, although another MVP season is probably a bit too much to ask for.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/29/2015 - 9:17pm

Hate that the Vikings had a late night West Coast opener, and a late season Thursday night road game against a quality opponent. Actually, I generally hate Thursday night games.

by Sakic :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 8:37am

Thursday night, Sunday night, Monday night...I hate 'em all. Give me a noon kickoff for every single game of the year and I'm a happy guy. I liked the primetime games a lot more back when I was in college and didn't have to worry about getting up early.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 9:09am

I've always been blessed, or cursed, to be someone who feels great on 5 hours sleep, so that's never been an issue. I hate the Thursday night games because the quality of play tends to be so uneven.

by Richie :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 1:46pm

The Thursday games just ruin the flow of the NFL week. It sucks from a gambling and fantasy aspect. It sucks that 2 teams played 3 days before everybody else. I just hate it. Probably my least favorite change the NFL has made since I began watching in the early 80s.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 2:12pm

I don't gamble or play fantasy football... but the games themselves are notoriously awful, too - there really is zero upside for fans, isn't there?

by justanothersteve :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 3:18pm

I'm wondering if the league has done a better job than they expected on loading up at the end of the season. This is the Packers last five games.

Thurs Dec 3 @ Lions 7:25 PM
Sun, Dec 13 vs Cowboys 3:25 PM
Sun, Dec 20 @ Raiders 3:05 PM
Sun, Dec 27 @ Cardinals 3:25 PM
Sun, Jan 3 vs Vikings 12:00 PM

The Cowboys should have both Romo and Bryant back by then. The Raiders are no picnic anymore and having back-to-back West Coast road trips at Christmas sucks. (Would McCarthy keep the team on the left coast over Christmas?) The Packers could be playing the Vikings when both teams need a win (e.g., Packers for playoff position and Vikings for wild card) so they could move the game to Sunday night.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 3:58pm

McCarthy was quoted "We will be home for Christmas." But that may still be that they are set-up for the whole week out there, but give enough off time for everyone to get home for Christmas. Considering that a lot of players travel to where extended family lives, which isn't in WI, it's not that different.

by TecmoBoso :: Tue, 09/29/2015 - 9:11pm

The 1998 Vikings never were #1... my mind is blown.

by nat :: Tue, 09/29/2015 - 9:12pm

I like the Dave Adjusted DVOA concept. Dave is still your best theory of how well a team will do. But the new stat is better than straight VOA for assessing how well they have played so far. And as Dave converges to DVOA over the next six weeks, the adjusted DVOA will approach DVOA, too. It should all work together nicely.

by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 09/29/2015 - 9:20pm

I probably will not have the time to run it manually like this every week, but in the future I definitely would like to build something like that into our automated processes.

by Raiderfan :: Tue, 09/29/2015 - 9:20pm

Raiders up 11; looking good!

by chemical burn :: Tue, 09/29/2015 - 9:22pm

DVOA is loving Derrick Carr, too - 6th in DVOA, above Matt Ryan, Romo & Eli as well as early season success stories like Mariota and Tyrod Taylor.

by Alternator :: Tue, 09/29/2015 - 10:38pm

No typos detected, did you buy a new phone?

by chemical burn :: Tue, 09/29/2015 - 10:49pm

That ain't Joe...

by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 09/29/2015 - 11:16pm

It's like he's a whole new person!

by Alternator :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 12:50am

Right number of letters, and starts with 'Raider'. This is your brain on exhaustion.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 7:46am

Hey man, I had the exact same thought - or actually, "maybe it's like a magical curse and Raiderjoe becomes more coherent the more they win."

by The Ninjalectual :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 11:25am

That would be so awesome! I would almost believe it too.

by ChicagoRaider :: Fri, 10/02/2015 - 10:32am

Well, teams do not have a lot of film on Amari Cooper and the new and improved Derek Carr yet. When they get enough film, I think there will be a correction on the offense DVOA coming. Still, it is a good sign that we are forcing opponents to adjust. Some of the increase will remain.

Now, if the defense could get closer to a zero DVOA, that would really help. I guess next year's project is the secondary.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/29/2015 - 9:21pm

I'm more convinced than ever that the Vikings spent the afternoon before their first game at medical marajuana farmer's market.

by Rhys :: Tue, 09/29/2015 - 9:49pm

I've actually been processing DVOA/DAVE for opponent adjustments in a slightly more complicated way. I get an averaged value for DVOA and DAVE for each team (right now the ratio is about 50/50), then use those values to adjust each other in an iterative fashion.

I apply an opponent adjustment of 25% strength to each value to get corrected values, then I take the original values again but re-correct them with the corrected values, and then take the original values again and re-correct with corrected-corrected values, and so on (after 4 iterations or so it seems to converge enough to be trustworthy.)

I've also been correcting raw DVOA slightly for home advantage before doing all of that (using rules of thumb that home is worth about 2.7 points and 5% DVOA is worth about one point.)

I didn't know much about how VOA was processed into DVOA before I started doing this on my own due to wanting opponent adjusted DVOA before adjustments were usually done. I'm actually a little curious if you generally just adjust for opponents once through, or use an iterative system.

by Alternator :: Tue, 09/29/2015 - 10:39pm

My memory may be faulty, but I think they iterate like that twice.

by Jerry :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 3:06am

I'm pretty sure opponent adjustments iterate until they converge.

by Keith_1 :: Tue, 09/29/2015 - 10:14pm

I have watched each of Denver's games. The eye test says of their offense, "This is quite bad." The numbers here say, "This is the dregs of the league." Is this the most effective 31st-ranked offense in the history of DVOA?

I would be very interested to see the quarter or half splits for the Green Bay defense, and their splits for broken and non-broken plays, if that is even possible.

by Mike B. In Va :: Tue, 09/29/2015 - 10:32pm

Having the first-ranked defense is helping Denver quite a bit.

I can't see this as sustainable for them, though each game has looked incrementally less bad.

by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 09/29/2015 - 11:13pm

I wonder what they're rank would be if you throw out Week 1. I've always wondered if some sort of outlier test would be helpful; or if you just throw out a team's best and worst performances.

That Week 1 was terrible. When we get the 'D' actually incorporated it will look worse as Baltimore's defense has gone to Sh*t since Suggs went out.

Week 2 was just merely below average, but actually had some nice spots. I thought they were fine in Week 3. Still the run game is an absolute disaster, but the passing game was above average. They're trending up, but you are right, they don't seem like the 2nd worst offense through three weeks.

I will note they've had a tough go with two road primetime games. So far this season there have been 10 primetime games; the home team is 7-3. The road wins are the Jets in Indy last Monday, and then the two Broncos wins.

by deus01 :: Tue, 09/29/2015 - 11:19pm

Apparently the players are teasing Peyton about leading the second worst ranked team in offense. They also call him Papa John which is pretty funny.

It's also hard to throw out outlying bad/good games when you have such a small sample to begin with. It might be appropriate under certain circumstances (like having Clausen as your QB) but it would be hard to draw the line.

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 12:02am

Just to confirm, I'm not advocating throwing games out this early, but maybe by midseason or so, or even at year-end, at some point when it makes sense.

Then again, I have no idea if this would improve the intended goal of DVOA.

by deus01 :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 8:11am

I figured you were talking about later in the season. But as that point there is also weighted DVOA which will lower the impact of some of those games.

The Broncos first game is going to look really bad regardless since Peyton clearly isn't capable of playing well under center with that line and Baltimore without Sugs doesn't get nearly enough pressure. Will just have to accept that it will be weighing down their offensive performance for a while.

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 8:33am

It's not about lessening the effect of early season games, because as you said wDVOA does that, but more lessening the impact of the 'they didn't show up' game.

Like if you took out Arizona's 47-7 loss in '08 to New England, a game they basically decided not to play, it may have indicated Zona was slightly better than their final DVOA looked - or the infamous Patriots / Chiefs game last year (though that was early).

by Jerry :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 9:00am

IIRC, Aaron has looked at this and found that throwing out games doesn't improve the numbers.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 2:30pm

Yeah, for rate stuff I wouldn't bother. There are enough plays by the team for the full season that making that kind of adjustment isn't going to be huge in the grand scheme (though you could skew one single game significantly).

I take the D in counting stuff like DYAR with a giant grain of salt - especially in single games - because among other reasons, you can make a solid argument every week about any number of opponents either under or out-performing their DVOA due to superb game planning, better than usual execution, terrible play by the other team (and all the opposites) and your eyes would absolutely not be lying to you.

But even though I agree that the Baltimore D Week 1 wasn't the same as the rest of the year and I expect it to be bad, I don't think that Denver's eventual offensive DVOA is going to suffer too much even if that terrible game becomes slightly more terrible. Especially since it's week one and de-weighted.

(Though now I *am* curious to see what kind of effect a manual week one adjustment done after the fact, 16 games later, might have... like if 2015 BAL D is 28th in DVOA but the same plays for the Den O are adjusted by the #1 D for just that week. Probably not very much, given the "it doesn't improve the numbers" statement, but I'm still curious.)

by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/29/2015 - 11:47pm

Very interesting matchup on Sunday, even for non fans of the Vikings or Broncos, with two offensive Hall of Famers facing particular challenges. Clearly, the Vikings don't want their offensive line to try to win this game against these pass rushers, with these dbs and linebackers breaking on passes thrown by Bridgewater under duress. The Broncos are terrific on defense acorss the board, but they are better agaibst the pass. Time to find out if 28 can summon the 2012 season for 3 hours, and defeat all that a defense can bring at him, behind an o-line that is better at moving forard than stepping back.

On the other side, the Broncos o-line may be worse pass blockers than the Vikings, and Zimmer is a master of double A gap pressure, and he has some talented pass rushers, and, especially if Rhodes gets on the field, he has some dbs who can play tight. The Vikings are so-so against the run, but the Broncos are terrible at running. As usual, the oddsmakers make it tough, with most lines favoring Broncos a +6.5. The Broncos certainly have fewer things that need to go right in order to win, in Denver, so they should prevail. If Zimmer can fool longneck a time or two, however, while his blockers get confused a couple times, and 28 can do waht he has done so often against loaded boxes, Bridgwater may get to hit a a deep throw or two. Take the points, sez the degenerate romantic!

I'm a cynic, or at least a pessimist, however, so I'll stay away from this one.

by Hang50 :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 11:13am

If Peterson is called to run up the gut, I suspect he'll be in for a long day. The Denver defense plugs those gaps pretty effectively. From what I've seen (i.e., completely non-scientific observation), the Broncos tend to give up more yardage on the ground when runs go wide; opponents have had some success sealing the edges.

by The Ninjalectual :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 11:31am

Never bet on games you have any sort of emotional attachment to.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 11:39am

Oh, on those rare occasions when I put some skin in a Vikings game, it always is when I bet against them as favorites. I can always tell when the public has become too enamored with them, but I sometimes can't when I have.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 2:32pm

I tend to take the same approach with the Colts.

Still, even with Luck hurt and bad and the Jags getting 10, I have a very very hard time playing that game this week.

Or any of them, really. Last week was great, but I have a really hard time finding any game at all that I like this week.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 3:54pm

Strangely, making money, by predicting the future, is really, really, hard!

by Dave Bernreuther :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 6:51pm

I'm DAVE. I was created to predict the future. And Aaron et al do make money off of me.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 6:55pm

He should have wrote that it's hard to make money by correctly predicting the future.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 8:41pm


by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 09/29/2015 - 10:22pm

To point out how bad things are in SF coaching-wise, the Cards put this up on their own website:


Pathetic, they knew exactly what the niners were going to do. That they are confident enough to post this publicly speaks volumes about their opinion of the niners' coaching staff.

by jimbohead :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 11:42am

This is the reason I have a hard time getting too worked up about Kap's horrific performance. The coaching staff and their gameplan are doing him absolutely no favors.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 11:49am

Yeah, but that can be said about a lot (if not a majority) of QB's in the league. Ben McAdoo's idiotic system in NY is almost pathological determined to play away from Eli's strengths, but Eli still looks competent (if not like the All Pro he did in 2011.) The St. Louis Rams offense is god-awful in every way, but Foles hasn't melted down like Kaep. Some drop in performance under bad coaching is reasonable, Kaepernick's total collapse calls into question his value altogether. I personally think he's like RGIII and his success was almost entirely the product of great coaching...

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 12:41pm

One game does not equal total collapse, if it continues then your comment would be more appropriate.

Edit: according to PFF Kap is being pressured on 43% of his pass attempts, which is crazy when you consider that quite a lot of his passes are off bootlegs or quick screens.


According to this article the league average DVOA under pressure is 44% and 7.6 yards per pass, with pressure it’s -77% and 3.2 yards per pass.

As I say, he's getting very little help.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 12:45pm

He was bad last year and this year he's dead, dead, deadly last in DYAR/DVOA. There ain't much way for him to get worse.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 1:03pm

Not big on context are you?

by The Ninjalectual :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 1:11pm

Context, you say? Such as the context in which Kaep-Kaep has been declining steadily for a couple seasons now?

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 1:21pm

Yes, as the players around him have declined.

I've said here before, I don't think that he's capable of transcending the players around him but he has shown that he can be productive when he has the help. He also looked better in the first two games, Sunday was atrocious but it isn't his career.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 1:45pm

No, you win, all signs point towards Kaepernick being a fantastic player for the rest of 2015 and beyond.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 1:52pm

Now that isn't what I said is it?

by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 2:10pm

I mean this: when it's a discussion with you, who cares? I always make the mistake of getting drawn in by you.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 2:27pm

Step one, find a mirror. Step two, look into it. You make very bold assertions and then get annoyed when people suggest that the picture might be more complicated than the image you describe.

To try and return this to a more civil conversation; the line is garbage, there's only one halfway decent receiver and the defense is shipping huge numbers of points, how would you expect an average passer to perform? (And please try to consider more than just his worst game out of three)

by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 2:35pm

Karl, I haven't on multiple threads been accused of being a troll. I've been called an asshole, sure - but you're intractable. Discussions with you are very close to pointless - hence the trolls accusations.

Let's start with this: what would be proof to you that Kaepernick is current awful and will continue to be bad?

Here are things that you say are not proof, either by themselves or in combination:
Having the worst DYAR/DVOA in the league.
A three year long arc of decline.
Having only excelled under the guidance of a great coach who engineered an offense to his strengths.

Very simply and clearly: what would be the proof?

From there, we can test if Kaepernick meets your qualifications and further test is several other QB's we can all agree are bad and will continue to be bad into the future also meet those standards. Keep in mind, the argument isn't: "are there circumstance under which Kaepernick could be good," to which the answer is "even Jimmy Clausen & McCown looked good under Trestman" but "what proof would convince YOU that Kaepernick is currently playing awful and will continue to be bad into the future?"

It's very simple and I've asked you to do stuff like this before and you never, ever do it. Hence, the troll accusations...

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 2:53pm

For what it is worth I tink you're both right. I'd certainy wager, at this point that Kaepernick is not going to be good, ever. Of course, that's the smart bet with nearly every qb, and this guy's trendline is very bad, as you note. On the other hand, his current situation is awful. What concerns me most is the limited insight I can gain, into his approach to his career, from media reports, which provides reason to think he just doesn't get it. He, still south of 30, though, so I wouldn't write him off, but sadly, for Niner fans like Karl, the best chance of salavaging his talent probably lies in getting the hell away from the Yorks, and to a coach with credibility to have a very frank conversation, that takes with him. He needs to humble himself, completely, to the profession, but that can be tough to do once you've already earned 30 million.

Like I said, however, I'm really guessing. This isn't Cutler in his 30s after multiple coaches.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 3:03pm

I'm not even saying he's good or going to be great. I think his various attributes add up to average, which is how he's paid.

My belief is that an average passer surrounded by crap will produce poorly, which is what we're seeing right now. My other point is that he did play much better in the first two weeks and some people are basing too much of their judgement on one really bad week, the worst of his career.

And for that I get called a troll.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 3:20pm

Hey, I'm at the point in my fandom where I was kind of hoping that Peterson would get out of Minnesota, because I wanted to see that rushing talent paired, if only for one more season, to go with the other single season, with an undeniably top level qb talent. In other words, I mostly just root for the most generic entertainment these days. I think watching Kaepernick play the position well, with his physical tools, is fun. I can't see how that can happen in San Jose, given the mess that is management. I thus root for Kaep to get out of there, to a place where me might maximize his talents.

by Perfundle :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 3:58pm

It's rather ironic that that one season was his worst year as far as YPC is concerned, although of course his worst year is still above-average.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 4:10pm

Yeah, I really think it isn't unrelated, strangely enough. They had a qb still able to really fling it, but mediocre to bad to very inconsistent, young (Harvin) receivers, and thus Peterson still drew all the attention, which Stubbleface acknowledged more than once. So Stubbleface has perhaps his best statistical season, at age 40.

Anyways, if the Vikings had done something really stupid, and cut Peterson for fear of his pr problems, and cap number, it would have been fun to see him go to Dallas, behind that line, with Romo and Bryant, uninjured versions.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 2:59pm

Edit: I'm not going to respond to most of this.

More than one game would be nice.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 8:32pm

Aaaaaand once again, you refuse to outline any standard to see if it applies.

This is what I mean: just tell me what proof you would need and we can if it works for Kaep. If your terms make sense, you can win this debate! But you never, ever give out concrete terms...

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 9:19pm

You colossal hypocrite. I asked you to define how an average qb would perform when surrounded by a crap line, crap receivers, with a crap defense and crap coaches. Did you answer? No.

And I did answer, I said I would take more than his worst game ever as evidence because one game is not suitable to describe anyone's career, an entirely reasonable position.

Being called a troll by you, the resident FO troll is water off my back. That you brought the nonsense from the deflate-gate thread into this just shows you up as who you really are. Was it you that made the absurd claim about teams not investing in LBs without even knowing who was playing at which position and then resorted to shouting, swearing and ranting at me because you were wrong? You have form here.

by chemical burn :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 3:16am

Yes I did: I said Flacco, Foles, Cam all have situations of a crappiness equal to Kaepernick (I think all three have it far worse, actually) and all have DVOA/DYAR much, much better than him and have shown none of his issues. You could throw in Derrick Carr in you are really insistent that the defense and coaching be beyond the pale in evaluating a QB. I answered your question directly and brought it up even before you raised it. You can put Cutler in there too - again a player with a much, much better DVOA than Kaepernick's.

I have also repeatedly pointed out that it is not a single game I am taking issues with Kaepernick over: it is a season and 3 games. Last year, he was also awful, with a better coach, a better defense and skill position players who were a year removed from failure.

I would also say your logic is fairly circular, you want examples of an "average" QB on a team as bad as Kaepernick's to compare him to, but the fact of the matter is that teams with a competent QB's are almost never as bad as Kaepernick's. If you want to use a word like "average" I'd need clarity on what that means to you.

Also, the LB claim you did nothing to disprove it - it was the classic case of you refusing to offer a standard to see if a proposition was true and repeating demonstrably false claims.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 11:11am

That's an interesting way of describing your behaviour in that LB discussion. You said that those teams didn't prioritise linebackers and then I pointed out that they did and had each spent at least a 1st and 2nd there. Then you started shouting and swearing and said you were right because two of those teams weren't spending any cap room there, a point that looks comically absurd after Wagner and Kuechly were given such massive contracts which was obvious at the time. A classic case of you making a strong statement and then ranting at somebody else because they disagree with you.

by Alternator :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 2:13pm

So he's Matt Cassel?

by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 2:24pm

There's "productive when he has help" and there's "productive when surrounded by the greatest offense ever assembled and under the tutelage of one of the greatest coaches ever."

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 2:29pm

Like this. Hyperbole much?

by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 2:37pm

What's hyperbole - that Matt Cassell has never been good without extreme help (true) or that the Patriots were the best offense ever with one of the greatest coaches ever (also true)?

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 2:41pm

This is my bad, I thought you were describing the 2012-2013 niners as having the best coaches and players ever, which would be absurd.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 2:46pm

Hey man, I think Harbaugh is great and if he had kept coaching at the same level, after 10 more years he definitely would've been in some discussions about "greatest ever."

(Hence the universal agreement that the Yorks are a bigger problem than Tomsula or Kaepernick could ever be...)

by The Ninjalectual :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 3:17pm

Why did the 49ers get rid of Harbaugh again? I think it's poetically hilarious that the team was godawful immediately before Harbaugh arrived, and now they're godawful immediately after he left.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 3:24pm

Harbaugh's an A-hole, and the Yorks are A-holes who are too stupid to grasp that when you have an A-hole who can make you a lot of money, then you just stay away from him, so his A-holery isn't something you have to observe.

by Alternator :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 2:36pm

Cassel had an excellent year in 2009 on the Chiefs. If you put a good offense around him, he can play well.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 2:39pm

You don't mean 2009 - he was 37th in DVOA, 44th in DYAR and threw for 2,600 yards.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 2:45pm

Cassel's ANYA that year was 4.26! That's the exact opposite of excellence.

I suspect you're talking about 2010 (KC was 10-6 and won the west), and I remember that year well. I wouldn't call it excellent. He did as excellently as a Matt Cassel can be expected to do, and didn't do anything catastrophic, but he was still only just good enough to give you hope and get you beat by any good team/coach/D. Very similar to peak Schaub and Dalton in that respect. He left a lot of opportunities on the field that year.

But he limited turnovers, the team played well around him, and he showed enough that he's still highly in demand as a backup QB not named McCown. He was better than replacement, but certainly nowhere near excellent, even at his absolute peak.

by theslothook :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 3:51pm

Matt Cassel is a testament to what a great coaching staff and a loaded roster can do. His qbrs even with those chiefs teams were always below average and its pretty clear by now that Cassel is a solid backup, nothing more at this point.

Its one reason I believe BB deserves every bit of plaudit and adulation the media bestows on him. Again, that was Cassel's first start since high school. And he had to execute a modern passing game as opposed to scramble, heave, and read option wizardry that allowed Vince young and Tim Tebow to survive for a short while.

by The Ninjalectual :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 2:31pm

Chicken/egg. Maybe his teammates declinwd because of him...

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 2:37pm

It's a reasonable question but I don't see how Kap can be held responsible for Crabtree tearing his Achilles, Jonathan Martin being truly awful and Anquan Boldin, Joe Staley and Vernon Davis getting old. No matter how crap Kap is I don't think that he should be held accountable for the ravages of time.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 3:00pm

I agree 100% and I think so would everyone else.

Kaepernick's decline was no surprise to anyone because even when he was very successful, it came in large part due to simplified play design and easy reads (the coaching), and his running skill (and it being more of a surprise to people that weren't prepared for it). Even then, he was notorious for leaving plays on the field, not pulling the trigger on throws to open players that'd have gone for big gains, occasional mechanical breakdowns, and dropping the eye level and running as soon as his first read wasn't open (or even sometimes when it was) or he felt the pocket collapsing (even sometimes when it wasn't). This was all very obvious on the tape.

Now with a few years under his belt and plenty of tape on him and more of the league adjusting to read-option stuff and his speed, it is becoming apparent that the mental side of the game hasn't changed for him. We were encouraged in week one when he did show some awareness, better eye level, and good decisions, but again, that was just one week. Since then, it's more of the same.

And yes, it certainly looks worse and has poorer results when combined with all the stuff you list about other players. You aren't wrong to point that out (or to have hope for improvement). But it's also not entirely attributable to them, given that it's a continuation of the things that were evident even when he was succeeding.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 3:06pm

He looked good against Piitsburgh too, that loss wasn't on him, which is why the dreadful showing in Arizona was such a disappointment.

by Perfundle :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 2:44pm

How much of that pressure is on him though? I read that he's being indecisive in the pocket, not finding open receivers and scrambling instead even on those occasions when the line provides him time. That sounds exactly like Wilson, and Wilson has been the 3rd-most, 2nd-most and most pressured QB in the last three years because of it.

by zenbitz :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 7:54pm

I think at least part of the difference is that this year, Wilson still has a great defense, and Kaep, not so much. They were not super different in performance over the last 2 years.

by Perfundle :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 8:31pm

2013, yes, but they had a 593-point difference in DYAR last year. That's like saying Rodgers and Flacco weren't super different in performance last year.

by theslothook :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 3:47pm

The crux of the debate between chem and Karl seems to be: Karl- "Kaep is an average player". Chem - "Kaep sucks and probably won't be starting in the league very soon".

I'm curious where the rest of the readers fall. My personal opinion? He's probably average with some very strong highs and some pretty awful lows.

by MC2 :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 6:47pm

I agree. He reminds me a lot of Falcons-era Michael Vick. They have the same combination of extreme strengths (mobility, arm strength) and extreme weaknesses (accuracy, decision making) that tend to cancel each other out, and the end result is a roughly average QB. Of course, an average QB can, at times, look anywhere from really good to really bad, depending on their supporting cast and the quality of the defenses they are facing.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 7:04pm

Exactly but when I say this I get called a troll because I won't agree with one blustering, aggressive fool's analysis.

by zenbitz :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 7:58pm

but aside from this one, game, Kaepernick does NOT make a lot of horrible decisions (at least those that lead to INTs). In fact, he is above average at not throwing INTs (at least under Harbaugh). I guess it's POSSIBLE that under new coaching they just told him to "throw what you FEEL man" and low and behold, his instincts are rotten.

Or maybe he just had a horrific game. I guess we'll find out soon enough.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 8:44pm

It's not one horrific game. He's been the worst in DVOA/DYAR all season. It has been 2 horrific games and 1 game that is literally among the worst ever played.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 9:33pm

Please look up the numbers before you make false assertions.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 8:41pm

What I'm saying is: he's inarguably AWFUL right now (proof: worst DVOA/DYAR in the league), he was BAD last year (proof: 29th in DVOA/28th in DYAR) and that he has been on a steady decline since taking over in 2012 (proof: his DVOA has gone done each and every year.)

I responded to the idea that his team is to blame by pointing out similar QB's with equally bad supporting casts or coaching issues (I mentioned Foles and Eli, but could easily throw in Cam and Flacco) to illustrate how a bad supporting cast does not necessarily lead to a total collapse. (And I am assuming going from 3rd in DVOA in 2012 to worst in the league in 2015 meets everyone's definition for a collapse.)

There are somewhat open questions: can a QB pull out of a 3 and a half season long steady decline that finds them at rock bottom? Examples? I sincerely doubt it and I bet you can find many, many more examples to the contrary.

Does his limited body of success (one and a half season) mean more than his limited body of failure (one season and 3 games)?

There are definitely open questions around the situationbut "is Kaepernick playing terribly right now?" and "can QB's maintain a reasonable level of success with a supporting cast as bad as the current 49ers?" are not open questions. "Yes" is the answer to both, there's plenty of concrete proof.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 9:32pm

You shouldn't just make stuff up. He was 13th in week one and 18th in week two.

Foles had a great line a great back and good receivers in his one good year and it's too soon to say this year (I know you struggle with sample sizes but it is too soon), Eli has been good when he has good support (now who said something like that?).

And you're massaging the figures, he was 7th in 2013, his longest stretch as a starter and that's pretty good. The gap between 3rd and 7th will be well within the noise of a season won't it? So he's been good for a year and a half and he's struggled in the past year and three games. Have you at any stage considered that his support has declined and that has something to do with it? Seems not.

If he keeps playing like he did against Arizona then I'll happily say he's become a bad qb, you are insisting that one game is his career path and I don't think the evidence is there. It doesn't make someone a troll if they disagree with you, don't think the evidence agrees with you and refuse to back down just because you become irate, again.

(In your final paragraph; 'concrete proof' - I do not think this means what you think,it means)

by chemical burn :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 3:27am

I'm not making a false assertion: I'm saying Foles in 2015 on a Rams offense way more bereft of talent than the 49er's, Foles has been better. Same for Flacco and Cam on their 2015 teams. Also, if you want to call a game where he threw for 165 yards "good" you're welcome to it. To most people, 165 yards on 26 dropbacks is horrible. i will concede that he was more ok than horrible in week 2, but 18th and barely more productive through a full game than Jay Cutler was on 9 throws isn't much of a silver-lining.

I'm also not massaging figures: in limited action in 2012 he was 3rd. In 2013, he was 7th. In 2014, he was 29th. This year, he is last. That's a clearer arc than you can ever reasonably expect to get and zero massaging was required.

I have considered his support has declined and that's my entire point: when a competent QB's support declines it looks like Flacco this year, Foles this year (and last year where his o-line was decimated and his wr support fell off), Wilson this year, Cutler this year, etc. (Cam's entire career has been in spite of horrible support, worse offensive support than Kaepernick has this year) - they drop to somewhere around in lower teens in DVOA. They don't become worthless wrecks.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 11:04am

Again with the tiny sample sizes and inappropriate comparisons with no context. Foles is ahead on FO's stats but far behind by QBR, he has a better line and a defense that can actually hold the opposition below thirty points. Plus, they were level until Kap had the worst game of his career.

Flaccid and Newton are better qbs and Flacco in particular has been in much better positions with regards to support and coaching.

Again without context in the Vikings game, he was checking things down and not being asked to do too much because Hyde was having an amazing day, even if that was the last good one he's had.

And you do realise that he isn't even bottom in total qb DYAR? When I say he's average I include his rushing, it's a large part of his game, and that puts his ahead of Luck and a few others. In total QBR he's been about mid twenties over the last two years, about where I'd expect a qb that sums up to average to be when surrounded by crap.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 2:36pm

I don't disagree with your statement, but then again, we're talking about an Offensive Coordinator that had all of two games on tape at that point. Although he's from the same tree and thus likely to have a similar offense, everyone is unique and has new ideas and concepts... and the Cardinals still knew. This has to be at least in part because other teams know what Kaepernick simply can't do, and know that the OC knows that, and thus the playbook becomes limited.

This is an entirely different discussion, but you know who I'd really love to see coaching Colin Kaepernick? Josh McDaniels.

by bsheppard :: Tue, 09/29/2015 - 10:26pm

Opponent adjustments are certainly one aspect of overrating the Cardinals. But regression to the mean is at least as significant.

For example, their defensive rating of -32% is unsustainable. There is no established ability of an NFL defense to play at that level. In most league seasons the leader is maybe -20%. So figure the Cardinals for a 15% correction from that source alone.

The Cardinals offensive rating of +38% is most likely a stretch, too. The league-leading offenses are normally under 30%, and sometimes substantially so.

Even the special teams DVOA is larger than we should expect. E.g., the Patriots are perhaps the only team that is consistently near the top of the special teams ratings, and their standard is maybe 5% in a good year.

All in all, I see a 30% overstatement of the Cards just from pinning to league-leading levels of play. But even *that* would understate regression to the mean. League-leading levels of play are partly attributable to good fortune that cannot be expected to continue.

The opponent adjustments are probably real too, so I see the evidence as consistent with a real level of performance as something around 25% to 30%. Which is still very, very high.

That is to say, it is most likely that the Cardinals are a good team that has been on a serious streak.

by chemical burn :: Tue, 09/29/2015 - 10:48pm

In 2008, the Steelers ended the season with a -29% DVOA and the Ravens were right behind them at -27%. Granted, it's only GREAT defenses with numbers that high (and adjusting for Chicago along will bring the Cardinals number down) but there's no reason to dismiss the idea out of hand that we're seeing a Cardinals defense that is at the level of either of those 2008 teams. The Cards have been excellent on defense for several years running and their multiple safety/CB hybrid looks have proven extremely effective and smart way to deal with the liberalized passing rules and versatility of offenses. I don't think you can reject that -32% DVOA out of hand as a number that simple will not stand...

by bsheppard :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 9:27am

Regression to the mean is a different concept than "rejecting out of hand." It is a question of odds.

You have searched back to 2008, and did not find a single team with a -32% defensive DVOA. That is 224 team seasons. And you can go back to 1989 (26 seasons) and find exactly 1 team-season with a defensive DVOA better than Arizona's current level.

Moreover, there is clear evidence of regression to the mean in every great defensive season. For example, PHI's 1991 season (-42%) is sandwiched by 1990 at -16% and 1992 at -18%. So what is the best prediction of PHI's actual ability even in the 1991 season? They were certainly good, but also lucky. Good will continue, but luck might not.

If you want to look at specific areas where luck is not likely to continue: they will probably not average 7 points per game in defensive touchdowns.

So: IMO, the odds are that the Cards are good, and also on a hot streak.

by RickD :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 9:54am

Regression to(ward!) the mean is only relevant when you're looking at outlier behavior that you believe is where it is because of random drift. Arizona has had a good defense for a while and it shouldn't be considered to be performing over its head right now.

OTOH, opponent adjustments are likely to bring their DVOA down. DVOA regularly overstates the importance of early season games, for the simple reason that not enough data has been compiled.

That's kind of like "regression toward the mean", but not exactly. I'm talking about the statistics adjusting, while you seem to be using a statistical term intended to describe purely random behavior to constrain the possibility of extended periods of exceptional play. Those aren't the same thing.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 10:09am

The '91 Eagles were -41%, with a couple other teams around -30%


I'm not sure why you are bringing the '90 or '92 Eagles into the equation. With how much changes in the NFL, those teams say very little about the ability of the '91 Eagles to play defense.

by nat :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 10:31am

Moreover, there is clear evidence of regression to the mean in every great defensive season. For example, PHI's 1991 season (-42%) is sandwiched by 1990 at -16% and 1992 at -18%
Well, naturally if you look at a team's best defense year, the years around it won't be as good. That's what "best defensive year" means. Regression towards the mean plays no part in this "effect". It's more of a "water is wet" kind of thing.

If you want to look at specific areas where luck is not likely to continue: they will probably not average 7 points per game in defensive touchdowns.
Defensive TDs do not contribute to DVOA. At most they represent a forced fumble or an interception.

So: IMO, the odds are that the Cards are good, and also on a hot streak.
This is probably true. And regression towards the mean is relevant to this statement. Teams with high DVOA are more likely to have benefited from "random" (or better, non-predictive) events than teams with lower or negative DVOA.

So, you're not wrong, although much of your reasoning is muddled.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 10:37am

Not getting return TDs will probably actually help their DVOA as the defense will get more rest instead of playing consecutive drives.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 10:38am

Does anybody remember "Stephen Yang" from the early days of FO? He used to argue points that were ultimately correct but used such horrible logic and reasoning that you had to argue with him? So you ended up arguing against a position you essentially believe (in this case, "the Cardinals likely won't end the season with -32% DVOA.)

To this day, I call that argumentative trap "getting Yanged."

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 10:52am

shah8, bless his heart, used to try to get me to argue with his opinion that The Ponderous One was, well, ponderous, by describing Joe Webb in a way that resembled a characterization typically applied to Steve Young.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 10:42am

Nah, I didn't even search, the 2008 was just off of the top of my head.

(Also, calling the greatest defense of All Time lucky is a touch bizarre. They also had different rosters and coaches in the preceding and following years, so why would those numbers be identical? Also, if anything, doesn't your example suggest that the Cardinals having a single-year spike isn't out of the question for defense that has established itself as being among the best in the league?)

Anyway, I agree that the Cardinals will likely not finish the season at -32%, for reasons tuluse and RickD touch on. The idea that will finish closer to -20% than -32% isn't based on anything on your part and certainly isn't worthwhile "research" about the history of the DVOA for top defenses.

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 09/29/2015 - 10:31pm

49ers is clearly ranked far too high because Jed York is a half moronic man, half incontinent sheep, half incompetent squid. Throwing poop at the wall is way better than this and is the way the niners formulate their game plans. Aaron Schatz has no right to comment because he doesn't look like an elderly, retired version of Ron Jeremy, unlike Jim 'Pornstar Super Mario' Tomsula.

(off to curl up in a corner and cry)

by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 7:38am

" half moronic man, half incontinent sheep, half incompetent squid"...

And bad at math, apparently.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 11:11am

I'm assuming he means York is a man/sheep/squid hybrid of sorts, who is half a moron, half incontinent, and half incompetent. Perhaps not bad at math as much as grammar.

I'm now wondering how being 'half incontinent" works.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 11:23am

You only wet your pants when you're drunk? Given the management moves by Jed, my guess is that there is a lot of hooch involved.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 11:30am

I think Jeddle pees himself on a nearly constant basis, mostly because he can afford to have some no clean him up afterwards, and then craps himself when drunk, for the same reason.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 11:28am

I thought these things were supposed to be replete with bad logic and grammar, or have I missed the point?

by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 11:35am

I believe the site guidelines clearly state you have to change your name to "ninerskarl" first.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 3:08pm

Goodness, I've been out there spreading ManBearPig awareness and missing the real enemy entirely. ManSheepSquid sounds much more awful!


by The Ninjalectual :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 12:28pm

"And bad at math, apparently."

But good at having a sense of humor!

by jimbohead :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 11:40am

I really feel like we should have a "worst owners in history" discussion. How does Jed York stack up against Robert Irsay? What about late-career Al Davis? The current Browns ownership? Perhaps it's recency bias, but I'd say York is up there with the worst of them.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 11:42am

Snyder. Done and done.

by jimbohead :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 11:49am

I'm not so sure. Did Snyder ever boorishly lecture Bill Walsh on how to build a winning football team? Or come down from the owners box in a drunken stuper, grab the coaches headset and start calling plays? I mean, he might if he had the opportunity, but we're not dealing in coulda woulda shouldas.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 11:52am

He undermined and ruined the careers of Mike Shannahan AND Joe Gibbs, which is way more impressive than lecturing Bill Walsh. It's an organization that is literally being ruined by its owner's arrogance, sleaziness and interference. So, no, he didn't lecture Walsh, he lectured Joe Gibbs and did far, far worse things. Also, his non-football scum-baggery is off the charts. I think that's a fair factor when determining "bad" from "worst."

by jimbohead :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 11:55am

Fair point!

by Hummingbird Cyborg :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 12:59pm

He's below shit just for starting with an overtly bigoted name.

It's just gravy that he's also incompetent as an owner and that he sabotages his team's chance at success.

by The Ninjalectual :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 1:09pm

I grew up in Washington DC. Some of my first football memories are of the 1991 team, especially the NFCCG against (IIRC) Atlanta, when thousands of fans threw their give-away foam seat cushions onto the field... It was positively whimsical! Thought I would be a 'Skins fan for life. But as of today I've turned my back on that depressing franchise, I will never cheer for them as long as they're owned by Snyder. Firing Shanahan was the last straw for me.

I'd have a slightly different heirarchy of badness, but yes, Snyder wins this contest hands down. The debate is for second place.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 2:03pm

Yeah, I know of few owners who have brought as many lifelong fans to hate their team as Snyder. And as an Eagles fan, it's no fun. The strong NFC East rivalries are great and Snyder is killing some of them off.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 3:11pm

Current owner, Snyder wins it so easily it's not even worth discussing. Historically, he has a depressing amount of competition.

by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 3:01pm

In fairness, they had that name long before he bought the team. Now Synder's arguments that the name ISN'T racist and that native Americans love the name? yeah, concur.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 11:49am

The thing is, York hasn't been destructive for long enough to make the list yet. You need years of stupid decisions to rival the elder Irsay or Al Davis. 80s Hugh Culverhouse has to be a candidate; he was a cheapskate trainwreck who just wanted the revenue sharing to make him rich with as little football investment as humanly possible.

How about 90s Mike Brown or the Bidwills? The Bengals/Cardinals were eternal train wrecks in that decade.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 11:54am

Norman Braham: too cheap to pay Reggie White. Hired Rich Kotite AND thought giving an HC job to a guy who punched out a coworker was a good idea.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 12:29pm

Red McCombs after the year 2000 or so, was really bad, once he got stymied on getting a half billion or so in stadium subsidies. It got to the point that he woudn't give Tice enough money to hire a full coaching staff, and the air conditioning at the facilities went unrepaired. I'm convinced he forced the draft of Troy Williamson, with the number 6 or 7 pick (I'm blocking the memory), to replace the traded Randy Moss.

Actually, in terms of having an owner who made winning games a top priority (and ignoring the stadium subsidy thievery), the Vikings did not have good ownership until the present guy bough the team. Prior to McCombs, the ownership group was just obnoxiously cheap for decades, and had their shortcomings covered by Jim Finks, who left after a decade because he got sick of them, and, of course, Bud Grant, who was brilliant at getting efficient use of a roster, and had two really good scouts, Frank Gilliam and Jerry Reichow finding low round and undrafted talent. The list of Hall of Fame, near Hall of Fame, or very productive players, who left too early, having many HOF seasons left, not due to salary caps, but simply because the owners wanted to squeeze every bit of cash flow possible from the sponge, is pretty long. Ed White, Gary Zimmerman, Kirk Lowdermilk, Chris Doleman, Henry Thomas, etc., all had great seasons after leaving Minnesota.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 11:56am

Yeah, Bidwell the Elder was really bad, and the codger in Houston/Nashville with the racoon corpse taped to his dome was as well.

by PatsFan :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 12:06pm

I was going to offer up Victor Kiam, but while I'm sure that given time he'd have matched all the people mentioned he wasn't the NE owner long enough to get all that high on the leaderboard.

by Jerry :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 5:16am

The really awful owners are the ones who don't last very long, in many cases because their team is in financial distress. Kiam's ability to become as toxic as he did as quickly as he did shouldn't be underestimated.

by The Ninjalectual :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 5:29am

Oh man, how I wish this applied to Snyder. It simply doesn't matter how bad he is, as there isn't any force in place to force him out. He's going to be an awful human being for as long as he wants to.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 11:53am

I lean towards Snyder, but Robert Irsay, who bought his team with criminally obtained money, and then proceeded to steal the joy from his team's fans for years, isn't bad.

Really, some mention of Jerrel, from the time he got blitzed, and mouthed off to Jimmy Johnson, until that time his son got some control of the steering wheel, must be made.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 11:55am

Yeah, but Haslam is guilty of everything Isray is, only with more joy theft.

Jerrel's teams have been too good, he's had too much success and he's too clearly interested in genuinely building a winner to qualify. Give me Jerry Jones over ANY of these other guys we've mentioned, no question.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 12:01pm

True enough, Jerrel really cares, which is what make his visible discomfort, when watching the results of his snafus, all the more enjoyable. I'm always conflicted, because there are lots of Cowboys players who I find admirable from a great distance, and I don't think Cowboys fans come even close to being the most consistently obnoxious.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 12:25pm

Oh, the one thing I'm most looking forward to in the Brandon Weeden era is Weeden having one of his signature nightmarishly bad games, and the camera repeatedly flipping over to watching Jerry's terrifying plastic face try to frown. Sad Jerry Jones is a beautiful thing.

I've said before I would absolutely be OK with Jerry Jones the owner as long as I didn't have to deal with Jerry Jones the GM. The problem is those things have become linked together. I also suspect a large portion of the respect people have for Jerry as owner come from the fact that he lucked into Tony Romo at QB, because a Romo-less Cowboys for the last year is really not going to be a good team.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 12:34pm

Oh, think how wonderful it could have been, if Parcells hadn't agreed to come on board, and bail the water out, after the shoals of the Dave Campo era! Now, it really appears than the son has some sane influence over what decisions are made, so the glory era really is over.

by theslothook :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 3:56pm

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.

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 4:01pm

"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.

by theslothook :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 5:06pm

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.

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 5:08pm

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.

by Steve in WI :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 4:01pm

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.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 5:07pm

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!

by Whatev :: Sat, 10/03/2015 - 10:10am

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."

by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 09/29/2015 - 10:40pm

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.

by Alternator :: Tue, 09/29/2015 - 10:42pm

They've already said it's just for convenience and continuity.

by chemical burn :: Tue, 09/29/2015 - 10:49pm

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.

by deus01 :: Tue, 09/29/2015 - 11:09pm

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.

by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 09/29/2015 - 11:14pm

Exactly. The 49ers could consider themselves 3-0 "for convenience and continuity" with the Harbaugh era, but it wouldn't make it true.

by Jerry :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 3:08am

"It's still listed as DVOA instead of VOA because I don't feel like going through and changing all the tables manually."

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 10:11am

Ctrl-H -> D-V-O-A -> tab -> V-O-A -> click on find and replace all

by Aaron Schatz :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 12:10pm

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.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 12:14pm

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.

by The Ninjalectual :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 1:00pm

To me, a small disclaimer, or simply writing VOA in the write-ups in place of DVOA would be sufficient!

by deus01 :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 1:15pm

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.

by TomC :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 11:25am

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.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 8:29pm

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


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.

by Whatev :: Sat, 10/03/2015 - 10:25am

You're being extremely passive-aggressive, both in that thread and in this post here.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/29/2015 - 11:28pm

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.

by MC2 :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 3:43am

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.

by BJR :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 7:42am

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.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 9:23am

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.

by ChristopherS :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 1:03pm

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.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 1:08pm

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.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 2:09pm

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...

by jtr :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 1:08pm

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...

by Alternator :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 2:24pm

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.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 2:27pm

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...

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 2:37pm

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.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 2:43pm

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...

by The Ninjalectual :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 3:21pm

Didn't Lynch singlehandedly beat the Saints in the wild card round, that year the Seahawks made the playoffs at 7-9?

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 3:45pm

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.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 3:45pm

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.

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 4:02pm

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.

by Perfundle :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 4:08pm

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.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 5:24pm

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.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 9:00pm

Again - you have to factor in hindsight: it's not fair to say I'd rather knowingly get Lynch than knowingly get Gabe Carimi. Of course!

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 9:18pm

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.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 2:48am

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.

by tuluse :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 9:51am

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.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 10:59am

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.

by Independent George :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 12:48pm

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.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 1:01pm

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.

by tuluse :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 1:15pm

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.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 1:29pm

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.

by tuluse :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 1:36pm

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.

by Independent George :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 2:41pm

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.

by The Ninjalectual :: Fri, 10/02/2015 - 1:52am

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.

by Independent George :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 10:10am

Will, I am not falling for this blatant, blatant attempt to resurrect the ROBO-PUNTER discussion.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 10:48am

I'm quite the troll, some have said.

by Alternator :: Sat, 10/03/2015 - 6:00pm

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.

by Richie :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 1:50pm

Also, didn't he have to coach through 2 separate salary cap purges with the Oilers/Titans?

by LyleNM :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 11:48am

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).

by MC2 :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 5:12pm

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.

by LyleNM :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 5:45pm

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.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 6:11pm

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.

by MC2 :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 7:06pm

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.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 8:49pm

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".

by MC2 :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 6:57pm

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.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 7:06pm

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.

by The Ninjalectual :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 5:23am

"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.

by Otis Taylor89 :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 7:30am

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.

by tuluse :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 9:51am

Production != quality.

by MC2 :: Fri, 10/02/2015 - 4:59am

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.

by The Ninjalectual :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 12:32pm

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."

by MC2 :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 5:16pm

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.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 5:28pm

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.

by MC2 :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 7:11pm

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.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 7:43pm

Other teams were able to avoid the build-purge cycle the Titans were in. So no, it doesn't happen to every team.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 8:48pm

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...

by MC2 :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 1:45am

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.

by chemical burn :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 2:48am

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


- 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.)

by MC2 :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 4:25am

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.

by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 9:32am

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.

by MC2 :: Fri, 10/02/2015 - 5:08am

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)?

by BJR :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 10:41am

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.

by MC2 :: Fri, 10/02/2015 - 5:27am

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.

by The Ninjalectual :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 5:09am

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?

by MC2 :: Fri, 10/02/2015 - 5:24am

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.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 10/02/2015 - 10:57am

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.

by MC2 :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:47am

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.

by theslothook :: Tue, 09/29/2015 - 11:43pm

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.

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 12:04am

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.

by Bobman :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 12:59am

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.

by Otis Taylor89 :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 6:10am

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.

by PirateFreedom :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 8:49am

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

by Kopalec :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 10:32am

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.

by theslothook :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 12:28pm

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.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 12:55pm

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.)

by MJK :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 7:04pm

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?

by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 8:51pm

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...

by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 11:23am

"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.

by Independent George :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 12:41pm

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.

by theslothook :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 1:51pm

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.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 11:58am

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.

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 1:16pm

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.

by CaffeineMan :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 9:33am

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.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 9:38am

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.

by aces4me :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 9:42am

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.

by TomC :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 11:08am

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.

by Hummingbird Cyborg :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 1:15pm

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.

by nat :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 1:47pm

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.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 2:01pm

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.

by Since1stTMQExile :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 2:43pm

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."

by nat :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 3:30pm

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.

by theslothook :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 3:37pm

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.

by theslothook :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 3:33pm

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.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 6:40pm

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...

by theslothook :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 6:49pm

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.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 7:00pm

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.)

by theslothook :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 7:47pm

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.

by deus01 :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 9:10pm

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.

by CaffeineMan :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 9:43pm

I'm curious about what you mean, by "controls the offense".

by theslothook :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 10:14pm

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.

by CaffeineMan :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 11:03pm

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.

by theslothook :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 12:04am

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.

by CaffeineMan :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 12:43am

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.

by chemical burn :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 12:53am

I never thought I'd see it: The Rational Manning/Brady Debate thread.

by theslothook :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 1:21am

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.

by chemical burn :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 1:23am

They both needed a foil - imagine how much less fun football would've been in the past decade and a half without Manning vs. The Patriots.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 12:48pm

Not fun for Colts fans!

by PatsFan :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 12:06pm

"I regret that we meet in this way. You and I are of a kind. In a different reality, I could have called you friend."

by CaffeineMan :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 9:45pm

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.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 12:46pm

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.

by Grendel13G :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 6:08pm

I liked it. :)

by Anon Ymous :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 6:23pm

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.

by Anon Ymous :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 6:31pm

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.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Thu, 10/01/2015 - 7:21pm

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.


by CaffeineMan :: Fri, 10/02/2015 - 12:03am

I've enjoyed the discussion as well. :-)

by theslothook :: Fri, 10/02/2015 - 12:16am

For the record, I'd love it if someone could prove that deflate gate was the reason the colts gave up over 200 yards rushing on defense.

by theslothook :: Fri, 10/02/2015 - 12:16am

For the record, I'd love it if someone could prove that deflate gate was the reason the colts gave up over 200 yards rushing on defense.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Fri, 10/02/2015 - 12:04pm

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.

by theslothook :: Fri, 10/02/2015 - 1:47pm

It was a joke...

by CaffeineMan :: Fri, 10/02/2015 - 3:02pm

FWIW I got it. :-)

by Dave Bernreuther :: Fri, 10/02/2015 - 3:13pm

My bad, I clearly didn't.

Too many southie types in my immediate vicinity lately I guess.

by TXinsider :: Fri, 10/02/2015 - 8:48pm

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.

by Anon Ymous :: Fri, 10/02/2015 - 2:13pm

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.


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.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 10/02/2015 - 2:41pm

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.

by Anon Ymous :: Fri, 10/02/2015 - 2:56pm

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.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 10/02/2015 - 3:13pm

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.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Fri, 10/02/2015 - 4:25pm

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.

by Anon Ymous :: Fri, 10/02/2015 - 5:56pm

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?

by Will Allen :: Fri, 10/02/2015 - 6:59pm

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.

by eagle97a :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 10:05pm

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).

by theslothook :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 10:21pm

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.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 10:57pm

Especially since BB has been so mediocre at drafting in the first round!

by CaffeineMan :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 11:08pm

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...