Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

22 Aug 2012

FOA MEDIA: Deadspin

Still haven't decided if you should lay out the money for Football Outsiders Almanac 2012? Deadspin chose 32 paragraphs they really liked from the 32 team chapters, our way of previewing the upcoming season.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 22 Aug 2012

18 comments, Last at 28 Aug 2012, 3:41am by The Ninjalectual


by MJK :: Wed, 08/22/2012 - 11:46pm

New England's defensive DVOA last year was 13.2%, 30th in the league. This shocking state of affairs raises two questions: 1) How did it come to this? and 2) How quickly can Belichick turn this thing around?

How did it come to this? Easy... Have a sustained run of success that means you're always picking at the bottom of the draft (and have the league take away a first rounder, to boot), then run a defensive system so complicated that only a select few players can learn it, then have half the entire league copy your system so that suddenly there's a lot more competition for those few players, whiff on a couple of high defensive draft choices, and then field a really good offense so that other teams go high-octane aggressive in their approach every time they face you, and you have a pretty good recipe for a bad defense. It helps if you also design your defense in such a way that DVOA doesn't like what success it does have (i.e. the "bend but don't break" approach)...

Parcells never stuck around long enough to have his drafting crimped for an extended period of time by his success (except maybe with the Giants...but having one of the greatest pass rushers ever on his team maybe compensated for that). Dungy, Reid, and Cowher occasionally had bad years that gave them better draft positions and an infusion of young talent.

How quickly will it turn around? Hope springs eternal. Hopefully, this year. Things are promising so far...although losing Chung for any period of time will really hurt...

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Thu, 08/23/2012 - 9:08am

I don't disagree with your overall point, but Dungy had occasional bad years? Here are Dungy's win totals with both the Bucs and the Colts, in order: 6, 10, 8, 11, 10, 9 (Bucs), 10, 12, 12, 14, 12, 13, 12 (Colts). When exactly did he get better draft positions and infusions of young talent?

by floressalicis :: Thu, 08/23/2012 - 10:11am

To add to that the Colts average draft position in the past decade was worse than NE's (the worst of all 32 teams, in fact). Since 1998, the Colts average draft position was 23rd. NE was 21st.

by JonFrum :: Sat, 08/25/2012 - 6:53pm

Is that average finish or actual draft selection? The Patriots traded picks and moved up as a result a few times.

by sundown (not verified) :: Thu, 08/23/2012 - 11:07am

The Cowher example doesn't hold up well, either, when you look at the drafts. His first down year was 6-10 in '99, which was his eighth year as coach. They used the resulting draft position to help their defense by...taking Plaxico Burress in the first round. Then they went OL in the second, and finally took NT Kendrick Clancy in the third. Clancy never hit double digits in tackles in any season with them and started 4 games in 4 years. In 2003, they went 6-10 again and took Ben Roethlisberger the next draft. Their second round pick was CB Ricardo Colclough. They went OL in the third round. Bottom line: They weren't recharging their defense with drafts from the down years.

by Special J :: Thu, 08/23/2012 - 8:41pm

The Dungy-led Colts didn't have the off years that the OP asserted, but it's worth pointing out that he was in Indianapolis for 7 seasons compared to BB's 12 in NE, and that the Colts have since suffered from the same kind of talent-drain from consistently picking later in the draft. (Though, much as in NE, the presence of one of the league's best QBs kept it from being reflected in their W-L records.)

by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 08/23/2012 - 10:09am

We need a thread on C. Culp and D. Robinson getting made finalists for senior committee hall of fame.

My votes---
Yes to Culp even though play with chiefs

No to robonson.

by bravehoptoad :: Thu, 08/23/2012 - 1:02pm

I like this way of teasing us better than the usual FO method of releasing a free chapter. Try this next year?

by Jerry :: Fri, 08/24/2012 - 5:52pm

It's probably a significant editing task at exactly the point where everybody's sick of editing.

by JMM* (not verified) :: Thu, 08/23/2012 - 4:38pm

"When the team is closer to good, and the string of luck comes in January, you end up with that team winning a Super Bowl. The fact that it has been the same team twice in five years could also just be part of that randomness."

When this happens in the first years of the new millennium, some folks try to apply new stats to explain it. When it happens 10 years later, it's chalked up to normal variation.

by tuluse :: Thu, 08/23/2012 - 4:52pm

No one was able to explain why the 01 Patriots won a Superbowl. They weren't a very good team.

by dryheat :: Fri, 08/24/2012 - 12:47pm

I think, and this is just anecdotal, that over the second half of the season, they were indeed one of the best teams in the league. Not on the Rams level, but maybe they win that game one-third of the time.

I remember when the Rams beat them in the regular season, Martz said something like "That's the best team we've faced all year". That was the last game the Pats lost that year...maybe week 9 or so.

by PatsFan :: Fri, 08/24/2012 - 2:08pm

That loss to the Rams put the Pats at 5-5.

by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 08/28/2012 - 3:40am

Ron Jaworski wrote about the 2001 super bowl in his book The Games That Changed the Game: The Evolution of the NFL in Seven Sundays. He explains what the Pats did that was so great. I suggest you pick it up. it's a great read.

by Alternator :: Thu, 08/23/2012 - 11:01pm

2001 Patriots: an excellent defense, a just-good-enough offense, and (I think) good special teams plus a run of good games. Mix in a little luck and an excellent game plan, and you have a Super Bowl winner.

2003 Patriots were lucky to go 14-2, but they really were one of the best teams. 2004 Patriots deserved 14-2.

by JonFrum :: Sat, 08/25/2012 - 6:54pm

Deadspin? No thank-you.

by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 08/28/2012 - 3:41am

Oh? Why not?

by jebmak :: Sun, 08/26/2012 - 12:43pm

"Miami Dolphins: Jeff Ireland is the new Matt Millen."

And *that* is why I stopped supporting them.