Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

13 Oct 2006

FOX Blog Wrap-Up, October 7-13

So, I've been trying to figure out what to do about the Football Outsiders FOX blog, and alerting people to the content. We don't want to link every piece back to FO, because we want people to get used to checking it on their own, but we also don't want our dedicated readers to miss the stuff we're writing over there. So I'm going to try this, a weekly look at what we covered on the FOX blog on Friday afternoons, which can be a catch-all thread for discussion of these topics free from the standard "FO stats are dumb" FOX commenters.

Covered this week: Huge point spreads, an explanation of New England's high passing DVOA, Denver's red zone defense, a tape breakdown of Bruce Gradkowski's first start, and some more on Denver's red zone defense.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 13 Oct 2006

18 comments, Last at 20 Oct 2006, 11:13am by kleph


by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 10/13/2006 - 5:18pm

I mentioned this in the mammoth thread that is the DVOA Ratings thread, but I figured it bears repeating here: one other reason why the Denver defense looks so good is because people aren't realizing what it's doing to the Denver offense.

Yes, red zone turnovers are nice - but the reason why teams should go for the TD on 4th down more often in the red zone is because it puts the opposing offense in such a bad spot. Lo and behold, Denver's offense's average starting line is last in the league.

So when DVOA is saying Denver's defense isn't as good as it looks from average points per game - because Denver's offense isn't as bad as it looks, either.

by Josh (not verified) :: Fri, 10/13/2006 - 5:54pm

That comment on the blog by "RamsPride" is awesome.

by Thad (not verified) :: Fri, 10/13/2006 - 7:02pm

Pat I am counting two turnovers in the red zone for denvers defense.
I am counting 5 for the Rams.
The Rams have the 13th best starting field position.
I think thats right I may have miscounted.

by Thad (not verified) :: Fri, 10/13/2006 - 7:03pm

However I have not checked other years. you may very well be right.

by paytonrules (not verified) :: Fri, 10/13/2006 - 8:02pm

RSS feeds for the blog?

And the extra points?

And the ramblings?

by Yaguar (not verified) :: Fri, 10/13/2006 - 8:08pm

#5: I'm not sure what you're asking. If you're asking whether they exist, the answer is yes.

#1: Very interesting point, Pat.

by Duff Soviet Union (not verified) :: Fri, 10/13/2006 - 9:24pm

I notice you said you have DVOA broken down for the 1997 season. When will we be seeing this on Football Outsiders?

by Colin (not verified) :: Fri, 10/13/2006 - 9:48pm

Aaron, it's good to see you writing with more frequency than just the DVOA ratings--the business end of things must be occupying more of your time than we know.
While the writing on this site is steadily approaching the best of sports journalism, the blog epitomizes the basic premise of Football Outsiders: challenging the "truthiness" of the conventional wisdom/perception.
So when are you publishing the FO Anthology? :)

by PerlStalker (not verified) :: Fri, 10/13/2006 - 9:51pm

Feed URLs. Firefox users can right click and "Copy link location."

FO Articles, FO Blog

by ammek (not verified) :: Sat, 10/14/2006 - 7:51am

Could the success of the Denver and Green Bay red zone defenses be related in any way to the ineptitude of the St. Louis Rams' offense (prop. S. Linehan) once the goalposts are in sight?

by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 10/14/2006 - 11:29am

Pat I am counting two turnovers in the red zone for denvers defense.

It's not just the red zone turnovers. They're also allowing teams to march a fair amount, and then punt. That, coupled with a below-average offense means they stay in poor field position multiple times. Essentially, they're not getting a lot of 3-and-outs.

I just think it's easier to explain with the red zone turnover analogy, because people normally think "wow, great defense!" when they see a turnover in the red zone, even after a long drive. The problem is that a great defense wouldn't've given up all that field position. Yah, the turnover's great, but the defense still put the team in a bad position.

That's not to say Denver's defense is bad. It's ranked 11th, for crying out loud, and they're closer to 10 than they are to 9. But they are allowing opposing offenses to drive more than, say, Kansas City or San Diego's defense is.

by David (not verified) :: Sat, 10/14/2006 - 1:40pm

I think what this says about the Denver system is that it relies a lot on tackling and consistent play to get the Job done. They haven't blitzed as much this year. It isn't an exciting Defense but it gets the job done. I also think it tends to wear out the offense getting better as the game goes on. Personaly I like a defense like this that keeps the pressure up and isn't getting burnt for big plays.

by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 10/14/2006 - 1:49pm

I disagree, actually: I think what it says most about Denver is that it's their linebackers and secondary which is the strength of the team. The defensive line is their weakness - relatively, of course. They're not getting a ton of pressure on quarterbacks, and not really dominant in stopping the run.

Once you get in the red zone, and the secondary and linebackers push closer to the line of scrimmage, it boosts the defense.

by admin :: Sat, 10/14/2006 - 4:42pm

Re: 7. It was supposed to be August, and I just never had the time. Now it may need to wait until after the season, because I don't want to put up all the numbers without some commentary to go with them. By PFP 2007, we'll have 1996 finished as well.

by Arkaein (not verified) :: Sat, 10/14/2006 - 6:35pm

Re 10: I'm pretty sure the GB defense was actually playing pretty well in the red zone before the StL game. Despite allowing long TDs to the Bears, they forced FGs and in interception when defending close. Other games have been similar though I can't remember as many specifics. The single huge problem with GB's defense over all is the safeties getting burned by long TDs. When the safeties aren't required to single cover long routes the defense has been much better.

One minor quibble on a related point: Favre really can't be blamed for his fumble against the Eagles. He didn't drop the snap, he was trying to hand off the ball to Vernand Morency. Replays clearly show that Morency had his arms out away from his body and not far enough apart, so the handoff hit him in both forearms. Technically a fumbled handoff is on the QB, but the blame in this case is really on Morency (who fumbled two more times last week).

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Sat, 10/14/2006 - 9:04pm

Tried to post this on the Fox blog, but the login process isn't working for me:

Houston's 1-3 right now, not 0-4.

by JasonK (not verified) :: Sat, 10/14/2006 - 10:11pm

This doesn't really fit in here, but I think it deserves some comment. (I posted this in the Extra Points thread about Dr. Z's kickoff hang-time obsession, but that thread's dead and buried by now.) From Z’s follow-up mailbag:

This is his question, and before I forget, let me thank you, Matt, for the nice things you wrote — “Now that you’ve recorded a 5.12 kickoff, do you think you’ll ever see a 6.0 punt?� Well, I know what one looks like, but I don’t think I’ll ever see one. Says which huh? When I was a beat man, covering the N.Y. Jets, I used to hang around practice at the end to watch the returners field punts from that automatic punting machine. One day I asked the ball boys to set the thing at max, all out, to see what would happen. They did. KABOOM! A fourth of July rocket. Went from deep in one end zone to deep in the other one. The hang time, which I made sure to record, was 6.5. So that’s how long a 115-yard punt would hang. No, unless they sign Elmo the Kicking Kangaroo, I don’t think I’ll ever see anything like that again.


by kleph (not verified) :: Fri, 10/20/2006 - 11:13am

for the love of god, is there some way to view these blog entries without having to read the idiotic comments by the foxsports regulars? i get through one of your entries and any degree of enlightenment i might have gained immediately evaporates with the onset of pablum by some idiot with a mid-90s comic book character or some nonsense.

the fox blog entries are great. i really have enjoyed their extra commentary and observations on the different points you guys have chosen to write about. a lot of times, with your regular articles, i wait to read them until i have time to sit down and concentrate and have my copy of the prospectus at hand. which is why i like to read the stuff produced here but these entries are a nice contrast.

but the FO commenters also add a great deal to my understanding of any given article. i look forward to what they have to say. the FOX commenters, by contrast, all seem to suffer from encopresis and a not-so-mild form of mental retardation.