Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

16 Mar 2012

ESPN: Mario Williams' Value in Wins

How much does a team improve when it adds a top pass-rusher? Looking back at the last 20 years, the answer seems to be both "not much" and "a lot," depending on whether you had realistic expectations for what one non-quarterback can mean to a team's overall performance.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 16 Mar 2012

14 comments, Last at 15 Oct 2012, 2:31pm by sera


by Will Allen :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 11:30am

This article has done more to give me an incentive to become a ESPN customer than any other, but it still can't make the sale, which is much more a comment on ESPN than FO.

by tuluse :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 11:40am

I too am loath to give the Disney corporation any money and thus haven't gotten insider. That said I'm not sure I like the premise of this article. As it's assigning credit and blame for offense and special teams to a defender. I would like to see a more specific study done on just the effect on defense of an elite pass rusher.

by Aaron Schatz :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 12:25pm

Guys, if you would permit me to try to make the sale, I'll say what I always say when people complain about our ESPN Insider material.

If we didn't have our contract with ESPN, we would have to put most of the material on FO behind a subscription wall. Our premium price for this material would very likely cost more than ESPN Insider costs. (You can get it really cheap if you look for ESPN Magazine subscriptions on Amazon.) It would lead to more of our material being subscription and less of it being free on FO. We would make less money than we currently make from ESPN. And on top of all that, an FO "articles behind a pay wall" subscription wouldn't give you access to K.C. Joyner, Scouts Inc., Mel Kiper, Todd McShay, plus John Hollinger and various excellent analysts from other sports.

Trust me, it doesn't cost much, it is well worth it, and it works out better this way for both us and you the readers.

by Joseph :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 12:46pm

Man, Aaron, am I glad to see you comment. I was worried that FOXSports had locked you in their facility until you signed a RFA offer sheet which ESPN Insider would have seven days to match. (No, I'm not wondering where the Friday FA thread is. Why do you ask?)

by Will Allen :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 12:54pm

Hey, I'd do exactly what you are doing, if I were in your position, I suspect. It makes sense all around, and I'm not saying my loathing of the four letter network is entirely rational. But a loathing it is, so for now I'll pass.

by coboney :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 3:23pm

Maybe it's because I'm in Canada but I've never seen where on Amazon to go to order ESPN the Megazine and get a subsciption? Does that come in the magazine or something ? Might just be blind on searches but I tend to find a lot of specific issues on Amazon not a subscription thing.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 4:07pm

If you have an ESPN Magazine sub you go to ESPN, log in to your account (or create one). You can then link that ID to a an ESPN Mag sub by entering a code on the mailing label of the magazine.

I got a $3 one year sub to the magazine from one of the online coupon sites (I don't remember which a friend pointed it out to me) last Feb, and I found a $12 one year sub here last month from groupon that I used to renew. $15 for 2 years is what I'm looking at for it. I admit that most of the mags that show up in my mailbox I don't even open, but some of the insider content is nice.

by Briguy :: Sat, 03/17/2012 - 12:30pm

There's a setting somewhere that allows you to receive your "magazine" via email. You can save a few trees that way. The tradeoff is that, since I switched back from a laptop to a desktop, I can no longer read it while on the john.

by graywh :: Sat, 03/17/2012 - 8:39pm

There's currently an offer to receive a $10 Amazon.com gift card with your $26 1-year subscription.


by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 1:11pm

You filtered the projection for below average defenses and then for signings in the prime of their careers. What happens if you filter the results for both below average defenses and players below 27?

by Aaron Schatz :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 6:59pm

That sample is only 13 players but:

Sacks: 26.7 to 36.9
DVOA: 6.3% to -2.7%
Wins: 6.2 to 7.5

The improvement would be a bit lower if we didn't include the 2003 Patriots, who improved dramatically over 2002 even though Rosevelt Colvin was injured in Week 2.

The players in this group:

Tony Bennett 1994 IND
Bertrand Berry 2004 ARI
Rosevelt Colvin 2003 NE
Ray Edwards 2011 ATL
La'Roi Glover 2002 DAL
Ken Harvey 1994 WAS
Albert Haynesworth 2009 WAS
Vonnie Holliday 2003 KC
Michael McCrary 1997 BAL
Keith McKenzie 2000 CLE
Adewale Ogunleye 2004 CHI
Bryce Paup 1995 BUF
Pat Swilling 1993 DET

by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 9:44pm

Thanks. That results in a 9% swing in DVOA, which is not to be sniffed at. He'd also be among the most talented three or four names on that list.

by valmont (not verified) :: Mon, 03/19/2012 - 2:34pm


since you've already put together the data, can you please look at what happened to the supporting players performance?

i.e. does a great pass rusher help other players get more sacks?

by sera (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 2:31pm

You filtered the projection for below average defenses and then for signings in the prime of their careers. What happens if you filter the results for both below average defenses and players below 27?

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