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» Four Downs: AFC West

There's a serious need for defensive help in Kansas City, Los Angeles, and Oakland. In Denver, meanwhile, the Broncos must determine whether or not Case Keenum can really be a long-term solution at quarterback.

22 Jan 2018

Conference Championship Quick Reads/DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz and Vincent Verhei

As usual after the conference championship games, we're not going to bother with the full 32-team table of weighted DVOA ratings, since there are only two teams left and most teams haven't played for three weeks. We'll just take a quick look at both teams followed by Quick Reads.

If we include all the postseason games, the Patriots are No. 1 and the Eagles are No. 2 in weighted DVOA. That sounds like a message from Captain Obvious. "Of course the last two teams left are going to be 1-2 in weighted DVOA." And, in fact, it's been that way the last two years. But it's not always that way. For example, before Super Bowl 50, Carolina was No. 2 and Denver was No. 5. Before Super Bowl XLVIII, Seattle was No. 1 but Denver was No. 4. And, of course, the New York Giants weren't anywhere close to the top of weighted DVOA before they won their two recent Super Bowl titles.

No, the reason the Eagles are now No. 2 in weighted DVOA is that they had the best game of the last two years against Minnesota. Their single-game DVOA of 130.3% was the highest of any game since Carolina walloped Arizona in the NFC Championship Game two years ago. Here are the strongest single games in DVOA history, with playoff games in italics. Two games, the Eagles and the 1986 Giants over San Francisco, are new since we ran this table two years ago.

Best Single Games by DVOA, 1986-2017
Rank Year Team DVOA Week vs. Score Opp. DVOA
Rank
1 1991 WAS 149.6% 1 DET 45-0 17
2 1989 CLE1 149.2% 1 PIT 51-0 18
3 1999 PIT 145.4% 1 CLE 43-0 30
4 1993 SF 145.0% 20 NYG 44-3 7
5 2012 SEA 141.1% 14 ARI 58-0 27
6 2008 NE 139.0% 16 ARI 47-7 21
7 1994 PHI 138.2% 5 SF 40-8 3
8 1986 NYG 137.1% 18 SF 49-3 2
9 2015 CAR 136.6% 20 ARI 49-15 3
10 1989 SF 135.2% 19 LARM 30-3 3
11 2002 ATL 135.1% 12 CAR 41-0 25
12 2005 CAR 131.6% 18 NYG 23-0 9
13 2009 NE 130.9% 6 TEN 59-0 21
14 2017 PHI 130.3% 20 MIN 38-7 4
15 2004 NE 130.2% 10 BUF 29-6 3

Before this week's game, the Eagles were down to seventh in weighted DVOA. A normal-sized win would have moved them up to fifth, or maybe fourth. It would not have moved them up as high as this dominating victory. This win also moves the Eagles from No. 6 to No. 1 in total DVOA that includes both the regular season and the playoffs. The Patriots are only fifth in that rating because of their struggles in the first month of the season.

In weighted DVOA, the Patriots are now at 39.5%. That's split into 33.1% offense (1), 2.5% defense (20), and 8.9% special teams (2).

The Eagles are now at 31.5%. That's split into 13.9% offense (6), -18.9% defense (2), and -1.3% special teams (20).

In total DVOA, the Patriots are now at 26.8%. That's split into 30.2% offense (1), 10.2% defense (29), and 6.7% special teams (2).

The Eagles are now at 29.7%. That's split into 13.8% offense (5), -14.5% defense (1), and 1.4% special teams (14).

Here are the one-game ratings for the conference championships:


DVOA (with opponent adjustments)
TEAM TOT OFF DEF ST
JAC 8% 6% 5% 7%
NE 73% 64% 8% 17%
MIN -72% -21% 51% 1%
PHI 130% 83% -38% 10%
VOA (no opponent adjustments)
TEAM TOT OFF DEF ST
JAC -5% 15% 27% 7%
NE 47% 42% 11% 17%
MIN -96% -35% 61% 1%
PHI 96% 66% -20% 10%

As for Quick Reads and yesterday;s performances by DYAR, Nick Foles and Tom Brady had two of the best quarterback games of the season thanks to the adjustments for playing the strong Minnesota and Jacksonville pass defenses. Here's the list of the top 10 quarterback games this season:

  • 1) Tom Brady, NE, 303 DYAR vs. NO Week 2
  • 2) Philip Rivers, LACH, 294 DYAR vs. DAL Week 12
  • 3) Nick Foles, PHI, 289 DYAR vs. MIN Week 20
  • 4) Ben Roethlisberger, PIT, 278 DYAR vs. BAL Week 14
  • 5) Ben Roethlisberger, PIT, 273 DYAR vs. JAC Week 19
  • 6) Sam Bradford, MIN, 252 DYAR vs. NO Week 1
  • 7) Tom Brady, NE, 247 DYAR vs. JAC Week 20
  • 8) Drew Brees, NO, 220 DYAR vs. CAR Week 18
  • 9) Blake Bortles, JAC, 214 DYAR vs. BAL Week 3
  • 10) Drew Brees, NO, 207 DYAR vs. WAS Week 11

Roster data should be updated for the conference championships later tonight. Playoff Challenge teams will also be updated later tonight.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
1.
Nick Foles PHI
26/33
352
3
0
1
289
289
0
MIN
On second-and-10 at his own 47 with 1:25 to go in the first half, Foles threw an incomplete pass to Mack Hollins. That is notable, because it was his last incomplete pass of the day. His very next pass was a 53-yard touchdown to Alshon Jeffery, and he never looked back after that. He started off going 11-of-18 for 95 yards and a sack; he finished up going 15-of-15 for 257 yards and three touchdowns. At one point he picked up first downs on eight straight dropbacks. On third downs -- against a defense that had limited opponents to a historically low third-down conversion rate this year -- he went 10-of-11 for 159 yards and nine conversions (including two touchdowns), with one sack. In the regular season, the Vikings never allowed more than six third-down conversions on pass plays in a single game. On deep passes, Foles went 4-of-7 for 172 yards and two touchdowns.
2.
Tom Brady NE
26/38
290
2
0
3
247
252
-5
JAC
Brady is the first player this year, regular season or playoffs, to throw for multiple touchdowns with no interceptions against the Jaguars in a single game. He is the second starter to complete at least 68 percent of his passes against Jacksonville; the first was his old backup, Jimmy Garoppolo. If there are questions about Brady's arm strength, they didn't show up on Sunday. He threw 15 deep balls against Jacksonville, completing seven of them for 160 yards, plus a pair of DPI calls for 68 more yards. That's the most deep-pass attempts in a game since Deshaun Watson had 16 in Seattle in Week 8. Brady did not, however, have a good day on third downs, going 5-of-7 for 44 yards with as many conversions (two) as sacks. That does not include his one fourth-down play, a completion to Danny Amendola for 20 yards on fourth-and-1 from the Jacksonville 30 on the opening drive. The Patriots would finish that drive with a field goal; in hindsight, how much would things have changed had the Jaguars made that fourth-down stop?
3.
Blake Bortles JAC
23/36
293
1
0
3
80
80
0
NE
Remember when Bortles was the king of garbage time? In this game it was the opposite: Jacksonville opened up a (relatively) big lead, and then Bortles fell apart. From the point Jacksonville went up 20-10, Bortles went 5-of-12 for 68 yards with one sack-fumble and only two conversions. He also had trouble finishing drives. Inside the New England 40, he went 4-of-8 for 36 yards with one touchdown and the one sack-fumble. Most of his good plays came on throws to his right, where he went 12-of-17 for 155 yards and a touchdown. We should also mention that by DYAR, Bortles' most valuable receiver on Sunday was Corey Grant, but Grant did not get enough touches to qualify for our running back tables. Grant's numbers: one carry for 2 yards and -4 DYAR: three catches in three targets for 59 yards (-4 in the air, 63 after the catch), three first downs, and 32 DYAR. Do not ask us why Grant didn't get any targets in the second half.
4.
Case Keenum MIN
28/48
271
1
2
1
-28
-28
-1
PHI
A disastrous day in the red zone, where Keenum went 2-of-10 for 15 yards with one touchdown, one interception, and one sack-fumble. He was perfect up the middle, going 6-of-6 for 63 yards and five first downs -- though it must be said that five of those completions came with Minnesota down by 24 points or more in the second half. Speaking of the second half, with that big lead, the Eagles were practically able to remove Keenum's downfield targets. In the third and fourth quarters, he went 6-of-17 for 64 yards (33 of them on one play) on throws to his wide receivers and tight ends.


Five Best Running Backs by DYAR (Total)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Jerick McKinnon MIN
10
40
0
11/12
86
0
66
27
40
PHI
Only three of McKinnon's carries came with a deficit of more than seven points, so no, he wasn't just racking up empty rushing yards against prevent defenses. He had four first downs on the ground, and though his longest run gained only 10 yards, he was hit for no gain just once. He also gets a DYAR boost for converting on second-and-1 and third-and-2. Now, most of his receiving yardage (58 yards on six catches) did come after halftime, so there was certainly some exploitation of a vulnerable underbelly there -- but even then five of those catches produced first downs, so he wasn't just piling up failed completions, either.
2.
Jay Ajayi PHI
18
73
0
3/3
26
0
28
9
19
MIN
Only three first downs on the ground (including gains of 13 and 16 yards), but he was also only hit for no gain or a loss three times, and two of those came with the Eagles up 24 points in the second half. All three of his catches came on first-and-10 in the second quarter; two of those produced first downs.
3.
LeGarrette Blount PHI
6
21
1
0/0
0
0
14
14
0
MIN
Blount's 11-yard touchdown run was worth 15 DYAR by itself, so yeah, that's about all he did on Sunday. It was his only run for more than 5 yards, though he did convert a second-and-2. He was also hit for a loss once.
4.
Latavius Murray MIN
6
18
0
2/2
11
0
5
2
2
PHI
No first downs, only one successful carry, and a long gain of just 6, but hey, every carry gained at least 1 yard. His two catches both came on first-and-10 -- one went for no gain, but the other picked up 11 yards and a first down.
5.
James White NE
3
4
1
3/5
22
0
-1
1
-2
JAC
White has positive rushing DYAR because he did pick up a 1-yard touchdown on first-and-goal. Two of his catches picked up first downs, including a 15-yard gain on first-and-10.


Five Best Running Backs by DYAR (Rushing)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Jerick McKinnon MIN
10
40
0
11/12
86
0
66
27
40
PHI
2.
LeGarrette Blount PHI
6
21
1
0/0
0
0
14
14
0
MIN
3.
Jay Ajayi PHI
18
73
0
3/3
26
0
28
9
19
MIN
4.
Latavius Murray MIN
6
18
0
2/2
11
0
5
2
2
PHI
5.
James White NE
3
4
1
3/5
22
0
-1
1
-2
JAC


Worst Running Back by DYAR (Total)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Dion Lewis NE
9
34
0
7/8
32
0
-51
-3
-48
JAC
Lewis' 18-yard gain on third-and-9 to ice the win was his only first down run of the game. Take that away and he had eight carries for 16 yards, a long run of 5, and two hits for a loss. His longest reception gained 20 yards, but he fumbled at the end of it; his other six catches resulted in 12 yards, a long gain of 5, and no first downs.


Worst Running Back by DYAR (Rushing)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Leonard Fournette JAC
24
76
1
2/3
13
0
-20
-21
0
NE
Fournette loses 24 rushing DYAR for playing the Patriots and their terrible run defense. He had six first downs on the ground, including gains of 13 and 14 yards, but 14 of his 24 runs gained 2 yards or less, and three went for no gain or a loss. He had three runs in the fourth quarter, each on first-and-10 with the Jaguars looking to kill clock, and they gained a total of 3 yards.


Five Best Wide Receivers and Tight Ends by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
Brandin Cooks NE
6
8
100
16.7
0
86
JAC
Each of Cooks' receptions was good for a first down. In addition to the eight targets listed here, he also drew DPIs of 32 and 36 yards. It's not that unusual for a receiver to draw two DPIs in a game. It happened 15 times this year. DeAndre Hopkins did it three times, including three in Week 1 and two more in Week 2. Only ten other receivers drew five DPIs all year. Getting back to Cooks, his yardage on those DPIs is unusual -- the most yardage any receiver gained on DPIs in a single game this season was 63 by Sammy Watkins, on two DPIs in Week 12 against New Orleans. Curtis Samuel was the only other player to top 60 yards on DPIs in a single game.
2.
Alshon Jeffery PHI
5
5
85
17.0
2
67
MIN
Four of Jeffery's catches resulted in first downs, including touchdowns of 53 and 5 yards, each of which was a third-down conversion to boot. His only catch that did not pick up a first down was a 9-yard gain on first-and-10.
3.
Danny Amendola NE
7
9
84
12.0
2
65
JAC
Five first downs on the day, including touchdowns of 4 and 9 yards, plus conversions on third-and-18 and fourth-and-1.
4.
Zach Ertz PHI
8
8
93
11.6
0
49
MIN
Five of Ertz's catches produced first downs, including four third-down conversions. (Most third-down conversions in a single game by a receiver this year was five, done by several players.) The first of his three catches that did not pick up first downs was an 8-yard gain on first-and-10 in the first quarter. That was followed by a 5-yard gain on second-and-16 and then a 6-yard gain on the ensuing third-and-11. Those were technically failed plays, but due to the circumstances Ertz gained a tiny amount of DYAR from them.
5.
Torrey Smith PHI
5
7
69
13.8
1
31
MIN
Smith's biggest catch was his 41-yard touchdown, but he had three other first downs on the day, including conversions on second-and-6 and third-and-6.


Worst Wide Receiver or Tight End by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
Adam Thielen MIN
3
9
28
9.3
0
-25
PHI
If anything it's worse than it reads here, because Thielen was also the target on both of Case Keenum's interceptions, but in DYAR and DVOA the blame for those plays goes to the quarterback, and for the receiver they are counted as regular old incomplete passes. Thielen's first two catches each resulted in 12 yards and a first down, but the latter of those came with six minutes and change left in the second quarter, and he did not pick up a first down in the final 36 minutes of the game. In the third quarter, the Vikings had a second-and-goal from the 7, down 24 points with one last chance to start a miracle comeback. They threw three straight passes to Thielen, and all three were incomplete.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 22 Jan 2018

19 comments, Last at 02 Feb 2018, 4:56pm by Hoodie_Sleeves

Comments

1
by Lyford :: Mon, 01/22/2018 - 3:44pm

Really surprising to see what looks like a sizable gap in NE's favor in a game that they trailed most of the way, and won by four...

2
by rpwong :: Mon, 01/22/2018 - 5:20pm

I can't say I'm surprised. From the moment NE scored their first TD and Jacksonville decided to kneel on the ball with 0:55 left in the first half, the conclusion felt inevitable.

Every coach should know by now that you never take your foot off the gas against the Patriots, and you score as many points as possible before they make their half-time adjustments.

It's almost as if the Patriots play generic ball in the first half just to see what the opponents will do, and have a second "in case of emergency" game plan that they bust out in the second half. It would be just like Belichick to avoid putting his best plays on film if he can avoid it.

3
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 01/22/2018 - 6:33pm

Surprising to me. At the end of 3, Jacksonville was up 7, had run 33% more plays, had held the ball twice as long, and had more first downs.

I'd guess NE would win overall DVOA, but not by 60%.

4
by Aaron Schatz :: Mon, 01/22/2018 - 6:44pm

The Jaguars really gave it all away in the fourth quarter. 3.6 yards per play and -71.6% offensive DVOA. 7.9 yards per play allowed, 40.8% defensive DVOA. Don't forget also that the Jaguars recovered both of the game's fumbles (one by each team, both in the fourth quarter).

5
by DavidL :: Mon, 01/22/2018 - 6:44pm

I'm guessing Jacksonville was penalized heavily for its give-up offense in the second half. DVOA is "smart" enough to tell the difference between bleeding the clock when you have a nigh-insurmountable lead and wasting possessions when the game is still within reach for the other team (which makes it a better coach than Kyle Shanahan or Doug Marrone).

19
by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Fri, 02/02/2018 - 4:56pm

I think this type of game is also the sort where DVOA has some issues - specifically because the Patriots were basically a tale of two halves - the first half where they couldn't move the ball - and ran very few plays, and the late 3rd/4th quarter, where the moved the ball at will. Because DVOA is per-play and not per-drive, the latter half really washes out the beginning.

6
by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 01/23/2018 - 2:19am

Adam Gase sure made an example of Jay Ajayi. "If you act up on the Dolphins, you better expect your ass will be traded to a Super Bowl contender! Keep that in mind while we lose the next four games"

7
by killwer :: Tue, 01/23/2018 - 3:44am

Isnt a 5 yard gain and 2nd and 6 a successful gain? or is that only on run plays?

8
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 01/23/2018 - 4:17am

That should read second-and-16, not 6. Will fix that now.

9
by SandyRiver :: Tue, 01/23/2018 - 9:30am

Were Brady's 3 end-of-game kneeldowns counted? His 2 "real" runs, 1 yd scramble on 1st-and-10, 2 yd sneak for a 1st down, don't seem to warrant -5.

10
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 01/23/2018 - 4:22pm

Kneeldowns are never counted. He gets -4.9 DYAR for the scramble, 0.1 DYAR for the sneak. The average quarterback run on first-and-10 this year gained 6.0 yards, so a 1-yard run is a bad play. (And if you want to point out he avoided the sack, that's true, a sack would have been somewhere around -10 to -15 DYAR, so he avoided that.) And quarterbacks picked up the first down on 26 of 30 second-down runs with 1 or 2 yards to go, so he didn't do anything special on that play either.

11
by nat :: Tue, 01/23/2018 - 6:46pm

Yes, well QB running DYAR was always wonky because scrambles cannot lose yards by definition, and QBs tend to throw the ball away rather than gain just one yard and get hit, which pushes the average QB run up even more. Strange, but understandable.

But -10 DYAR for a zero yard sack? That's got to be a mistake. That's no worse nor better than an incomplete pass. And it's against the top rated pass defense. Could you double check that, please? What would a zero-yard sack or incomplete pass actually have been worth in that situation? I assume they would be worth the same, since they both count against passing DYAR.

(FYI: this is not a complaint so much as trying to figure out what the heck DYAR means, so we can interpret the results better.)

12
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 01/23/2018 - 7:06pm

I didn't mean he avoided a zero-yard sack. I meant he avoided a 5- or 10- or 15-yard sack.

13
by nat :: Wed, 01/24/2018 - 9:51am

OK. You were making a different point than I thought you were making.

You were saying in effect "As bad as this was, it would have been a lot worse if Brady had been caught deep in the backfield"...

and not "This scramble counted against run DYAR because it gained a yard. Just a yard less and it would have counted against pass DYAR a lot more, despite being almost the same result."

I'd still be curious what a zero yard sack would have counted as. QB DYAR is unique in that a play gets categorized as a run or pass play depending on the yards gained. I'm wondering about the DYAR discontinuity at the sack/scramble boundary. Is it nearly smooth? Or is there a step in DYAR beyond the value of a yard of field position?

15
by Aaron Schatz :: Wed, 01/24/2018 - 12:53pm

0-yard sacks are rated the same as incomplete passes. I agree with you there's a bit of a disconnect on scrambles. At some point I would like to treat scrambles as pass plays rather than run plays for DVOA purposes, although that leaves the question of what to do pre-2005 when QB runs are not differentiated into passes-turned-scrambles and planned runs/broken plays.

16
by nat :: Wed, 01/24/2018 - 3:09pm

This is the situation, right?

--> One yard scrambles: treated as runs, adjusted for opponent's run defense.

--> Zero yard sacks: treated as pass plays, adjusted for opponent's pass defense.

So there's potentially a discontinuity for YAR and player VOA from the replacement level baselines being different, with an additional discontinuity for DYAR and DVOA from switching which opponent adjustment to apply.

In the Brady one yard scramble case, that's 1 yard compared to all QB runs and positive yard scrambles, adjusted (to look worse) because the Jag's were bad against the run. If he had been sacked at the line of scrimmage, it would be 0 yards compared to all passes and sacks, adjusted (to look better) because the Jags were great against the pass.

QB DYAR has a few unavoidable quirks. Still, it's a great stat. That sounds like the best you can do, since old play-by-play doesn't mark scrambles as different from planned runs and options.

Thanks for the info.

14
by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Wed, 01/24/2018 - 11:11am

"He gets -4.9 DYAR for the scramble, 0.1 DYAR for the sneak. The average quarterback run on first-and-10 this year gained 6.0 yards, so a 1-yard run is a bad play."

What's the DYAR value for the average incomplete pass on 1st and 10?

17
by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 01/24/2018 - 8:17pm

Average: -6.6

Max: -3

Min: -8

18
by Pat :: Thu, 01/25/2018 - 12:33pm

which roughly corresponds to what you'd expect given the average yardage on a 1st and 10 pass (6.8 yards). It's actually a little more off than it seems because DYAR is above *replacement*, so you'd expect it to be more like ~-5.8 DYAR or so but being off a bit isn't suprising. But still, it basically makes sense.