Scramble for the Ball

Fantasy football, the Loser League, and general goofiness

Scramble for the Ball: Over/Under Review

by Tom Gower and Mike Kurtz

Tom: Well, Mike, the season is done, so we can now look at whether the NFL season played out how we told everyone it would back in our series of preseason columns.

Mike: Ah, yes, the annual flogging column. I bought a new whip for this year!

Tom: For those who want a reminder of how prescient we were or were not, here are the four columns, on the Easts, Souths, Norths, and Wests.

I actually went ahead and tabulated our results.

Mike: Aren't you the go-getter.

Tom: Ah, you didn't do that badly. I mean, it wasn't nearly as bad as our performance when it came to our Locks of the Week. There were no pushes this year, so we have 32 decided bets. Overall, you went 14-18. I went 17-15.

The Easts

Tom: Starting with the same Easts column, the Jets had an over/under of 7.0. They finished 4-12. We both got this one right.

The NFC East, neither of us did well. Dallas surpassed their projection by 4.5 games in going 12-4, surprising both of us. Washington was also at 7.5 and finished 4-12; I got this right, while you missed it.

Mike: Washington was a complete disaster this year.

Tom: I was really torn on them, mostly because I didn't feel like I had any sort of handle on how good they would be or even what they would do.

Mike: I could have seen going under. I think I struggled with that choice also, but 4 wins, even in retrospect, just seems kind of crazy.

I suppose a large part of it has to be down to the unexpected strength of the Cowboys' offense.

Tom: That's the thing. We both saw how the Cowboys could be good on offense. That wasn't hard. It was just successfully navigating the good offense/bad defense divide. And after posting a record of 1-3 when they had an offensive DVOA of at least 15.0% last year, their record in such games is 11-0 this year.

Mike: Just the fact that they hit 15-plus percent in 11 games is kind of crazy. Thank you, DeMarco Murray. And your soon-to-explode legs.

Tom: They actually ranked close to average in variance. Among the offenses ahead of them by DVOA, Green Bay also had 11 such games, while the Steelers and Broncos each had eight. Looking just behind them, Seattle had seven such games and New England eight. It's kind of an arbitrary threshold, but I'm sticking to it.

Mike: Extremely!

Tom: (Interesting New England point: their eight such games were their fifth through twelfth games of the season. We've all heard how the offense struggled the first four games of the season, but they finished with a negative offensive DVOA in three of their final four games as well.)

Mike: I'm still not entirely sold on New England's offense. I suppose we'll see this week!

The Souths

Tom: In the AFC South, the Titans' 2-14 was below their over/under of 7.0. We both got that right.

Mike: I recall having no idea what the Titans' plans were for this season. Turns out the Titans were in the same boat.

Tom: When I wrote my season preview for my Titans blog, I predicted 7-9 but noted:

If/when [Jake Locker] gets hurt, the Titans will probably struggle to match even Ryan Fitzpatrick's 3-6 record as a starter (3-4 once they adapted the offense to fit his strengths). If you want a disaster scenario for the 2014 Titans, it starts here, continues through an offensive line that doesn't improve the way everyone is expecting it to, and runs through a defense that looks lost and confused longer than anyone hopes before concluding with the Titans on the clock to ring in 2015.

I hate being right sometimes.

Tom: Moving to the NFC South, your overall pessimism on the division was well-founded, as Tampa Bay matched Tennessee by finishing 2-14 despite a 7.0 total. I was foolishly optimistic on the Buccaneers. We both did whiff on New Orleans, who finished 7-9, three games below their over/under mark.

Mike: I'm going to have to take a closer look at the Saints this offseason. I'm still not entirely certain what went wrong. Beyond the usual "terrible on the road" trope.

Tom: Jimmy Graham wasn't the same threat he had been in past seasons. They didn't have another big matchup threat beyond him.

Mike: Yes, but they still had Drew Brees in a horrible division with appropriately horrible defenses.

Tom: The defense was significantly worse than I thought it would be. Last against the rush, 27th against the pass. The safeties were a disaster, with Jairus Byrd not impressing before he got hurt and Kenny Vaccaro playing miserably.

I was about as surprised Tampa Bay was miserable as I was that New Orleans struggled. I really thought Lovie Smith was the right type of coach for them, and even his bizarre quarterback preferences wouldn't hurt them that badly. Oops. The line was even worse than I thought, and they finished 32nd in offensive DVOA. They also lost a bunch of close games, going 1-8 in games decided by less than a touchdown.

Mike: They also stole a few games. One of the worst teams I've seen in a while.

Tom: Nah, just the one. DVOA has them as soundly outplaying the Washington Griffins in their other win. They were weird, because they alternated between getting completely annihilated and playing respectably.

The Norths

Tom: I struggled with the AFC North, getting only the Ravens right. Your favored Steelers went 11-5, exceeding their 8.5 over/under projection. I still am not sure how, aside from the AFC South and NFC South.

Mike: Randomly amazing offense. And the emergence of Le'veon Bell.

Tom: Yes, I eventually got used to it, but for the first half of the season, I kept thinking "Bell was a solid player as a rookie, but he's so much better this year." Then I accepted that he had turned into one of the couple best backs in the league.

Mike: Mike the Steelers Fan and Mike the Writer Almost Certain to Lose the Staff Playoff League both shed manly tears of sadness at his injury. Next year will be...

...Oh, I can't do it. Haley will still be there.

Tom: In the NFC North, both Detroit and Chicago had over/unders of 8.5. We both liked the Bears and didn't like the Lions. We were both wrong on both counts.

Mike: The biggest surprise of the year had to be Detroit's defense

Tom: I should have known better than to trust in Mel Tucker to fix a defense.

Mike: A really pleasant surprise, also, as we were only a year removed from wondering if they had the worst secondary in the league.

Tom: More specifically, their back seven. We all knew they had a really talented defensive line, but credit to back-seven players like Darius Slay, Glover Quin, and DeAndre Levy.

Mike: Darius Slay was a revelation this year, which was somewhat astounding, actually. We'll see if they can keep it up next year, particularly with Ndamukong Suh almost certainly gone. I'm not sure it's all on Tucker, specifically. I'm not sure what talent on Chicago's roster made us believe this defense could compete.

Tom: Oh, it's not. But I think the comparison with Dallas is instructive. Rod Marinelli had his charges playing really well together and equaled or exceeded the sum of his parts. Tucker's bad parts looked like bad parts.

Mike: I think you're probably giving Marinelli too much credit, but I can't disagree that Tucker was part of the problem, and not the solution.

Tom: I may be jaded from my previous experience seeing most of his Jacksonville defenses have their bad parts look like bad parts.

Mike: I think a big part of what success Dallas had on defense was due to the overpowering offense. That might go a ways toward helping you understand Pittsburgh's success, also. Although less of a ball control offense than Dallas ended up being.

Tom: Maybe it's just related to my kooky theory of defense, that it's more about A) denying easy plays and B) then talent, while offense is more about scheme.

Mike: Scheme is pretty hugely important. I think scheme rather than talent is what kept Dallas above .500. So I will give Marinelli credit for that, even if the results were often extremely ugly.

Tom: I've actually enjoyed watching the Cowboys play this year. Well, the offense more than the defense. My eye is naturally drawn more to that side of the ball anyway.

The Wests

Tom: The AFC West was the division were we did the best, both 3-1 and missing the Chiefs (9 wins, 8.0 over/under). Andy Reid and Dave Toub are both in fact sorcerers, as we thought they might be.

Mike: Dark, dark magic.

Tom: Finally, the NFC West. Arizona confounded both of us to finish 11-5, well over their 7.5 over/under total. San Francisco's over/under of 10.5 felt high to both of us, and they indeed finished 8-8.

Mike: If Detroit was the great surprise of this season, Arizona has to be the great tragedy.

Tom: The great tragedy would have been if Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton both got hurt earlier and you saw a 2012-like season where a strong defense paired with a dismal offense and went like 4-12. Or maybe I'm just saying that because the team I root for hasn't made the postseason in the past six years.

Mike: I strongly suspect that has something to do with it.

Tom: We discussed this during the season. I thought our numbers were right, that even when Arizona was at their best they were just doing enough to skate by on a thin and fragile formula. I mostly enjoy seeing teams like that get their comeuppance. That may make me a bad person.

Mike: Eh, what's one more thing on the list?

Tom: True, that I'm a bad person is really overdetermined.

I'm really curious to see what San Francisco does this offseason. It feels like a very important one for them.

Mike: It's probably for the best that Harbaugh is gone, honestly.

Tom: Obviously, they have a big decision to make on a new head coach, and I'm sure what he thinks about Colin Kaepernick and how they can successfully play will have a lot to do with what they do.

Mike: They need to reload, and the new coach will have an opportunity to help mold that process, similar to Carroll's role in Seattle.

Tom: Do they try to rebuild the offensive line and go back to the heavy run game plan Harbaugh and Greg Roman preferred, or do they try to turn Kaepernick into a more polished passer? Are Vic Fangio and/or Jim Tomsula still part of the defense, and will it work as well without Justin Smith?

Harbaugh's high-tension persona seems to make him better suited for college and dealing with college students he can pick.

Mike: It's much easier to get results screaming at kids over whose future you have complete control, as opposed to well-paid, union-represented professionals.

Tom: I think there's a little more to it than that, but whatever.

Overall: my best divisions were the AFC East, AFC South, and AFC West, where I went 3-1. Your best divisions were the NFC South and AFC West, also 3-1. The three teams I mentioned I might actually bet money on -- Atlanta, Carolina, and Green Bay -- I did get right. Unless you have anything else, I think that's another season of over/unders that can safely be forgotten.

Mike: I hate losing to you, so yes.

FO Staff Playoffs League Update

Tom: You're currently winning the staff league, with seven players left. You lead Scott, who's down to five players, by 57 points.

Mike: I can't believe I'm leading. I also can't believe it'll hold with 0 points from my RB1.

Tom: Well, you had everybody* play. I had seven players on bye teams. I'm OK with being in last. I expected to be. We are basically just getting started, and the results of this week of action will go a long way towards determining which of us actually have a good chance to win. We are all still in it.

FO Playoff Fantasy Update
QB Tom Brady Russell Wilson Peyton Manning Tony Romo Ben Roethlisberger Aaron Rodgers
  0 0 0 22 17 0
RB Marshawn Lynch Jeremy Hill DeMarco Murray Le'Veon Bell Shane Vereen Eddie Lacy
  0 10 15 0 0 0
RB Jonas Gray LeGarrette Blount Justin Forsett Jonathan Stewart Joique Bell C.J. Anderson
  0 0 1 18 8 0
WR Jordy Nelson Demaryius Thomas Emmanuel Sanders Dez Bryant Antonio Brown T.Y. Hilton
  0 0 0 4 11 10
WR Brandon LaFell Doug Baldwin Calvin Johnson Martavis Bryant Randall Cobb Kelvin Benjamin
  0 0 8 12 0 3
WR Terrance Williams A.J. Green Torrey Smith Reggie Wayne Julian Edelman Wes Welker
  21 0 8 1 0 0
TE Greg Olsen Heath Miller Coby Fleener Jason Witten Rob Gronkowski Julius Thomas
  3 5 1 6 0 0
K Adam Vinatieri Connor Barth Stephen Haushcka Dan Bailey Stephen Gostkowski Mason Crosby
  17 0 0 9 0 0
D Seahawks Cardinals Bengals Panthers Patriots Broncos
  0 8 0 8 0 0
Total 41 23 33 80 36 13

Best of the Rest

Thanks to being the sole person to select the Ravens and earn a wild card-round high 9 points for it, surebrec leads a very crowded field with 91 points, just ahead of puffbronfman's 88. Full results for all teams can be found here, with players still active in the postseason highlighted in bold.


Keep Chopping Wood: Picking on Ryan Lindley would be pretty much barrel-fishing, so instead the dubious honor goes to DeMarcus Lawrence, who attempted to return a fumble in which returning a fumble did very little good and had the ball stripped from him by Lions offensive lineman Garrett Reynolds, to give Detroit back what life they had before the fumble he recovered. As Marlon McCree could tell you, just get the ball and fall down.

Mike Martz Award: In true Martzian spirit, Bruce Arians challenged that a Cam Newton incompletion was actually a fumble late in the third quarter of Saturday's game, with Carolina leading 27-14. Was he challenging that Arizona recovered the ball? No, for they did not. Instead, he was not content to simply see the Panthers in third-and-20 after an incompletion but wanted to see them in third-and-even longer, and thought it was worth a challenge to do so. There was a bit of logic there, in that Carolina could have moved into field goal range with some yardage on third down, but whatever slim logic there was was eliminated by the fact that Arians had essentially no chance of actually winning the challenge. Honorable mention to Jim Caldwell, who continues to take his strategic direction from the Phil Simms School of Always Kicking. Heck, his postgame comments indicated he might have still punted on fourth-and-1 in Cowboys territory if the Lions were losing. We'll just let you think about that for a while.


28 comments, Last at 11 Jan 2015, 12:49am

1 What Happened to the Saints

by trill // Jan 07, 2015 - 6:33pm

TL;DR: a lot of little things

Longform: Defensively, it was the same story as 2012 -- couldn't stop the run (2nd Level and Open Field Yards are worse than Adj. Line Yards), and Rob Ryan's scheme exacerbated depth problems/lack of talent in the secondary. But we knew the defense was due to regress to the mean after last year's rebound. What was most surprising to me was the poor play of the interior line in pass protection, and the effect it had on Drew Brees' timing and accuracy. One moment that stands out is ATL rookie DT Ra'Shede Hageman picking up Jahri Evans and placing him gently in Brees' lap in week 16. The scheme is still getting receivers open, but Brees seemed to be rushing through the process at times, and his accuracy on deep throws is not what it was in '09-'11. He's still a top-five QB, but the Saints asked too much of him this year.

Graham was apparently playing hurt, but he also alligator-armed lots of passes in the middle of the field. The offense missed Sproles, a situation that was made worse by Marques Colston's age showing more with each game.

To me, this Saints team shows that the gap between playoff contender and soundly mediocre team is pretty small.

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2 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Over/Under Review

by Lance // Jan 07, 2015 - 7:10pm

Re DeMarcus Lawrence-- I'm still amazed when I see players in college and the pros try to pick up a fumble and run with it. My football-playing days ended my sophomore year in high school, but one thing that coaches ALWAYS drilled into you was that you just FALL on the BALL. (It even rhymes!) And the reason is clear-- because of the odd shape of the ball, and the uneven nature of grass (I assume turf is less random, but not like a basketball court), you are just never going to know what's going to happen once the ball hits the ground. Better to fall on it and gain zero yards than to try to pick it up and whiff, or pick it up and amidst chaos lose it as people are diving and whacking at you.

TV highlights always show the amazing recovery-and-runs that turn into game-changing events, but obviously they don't show all the times that someone scrambles for it, fails (because he's trying to pick it up on the run for the highlight reel), and someone else manages to get it.

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7 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Over/Under Review

by dbostedo // Jan 07, 2015 - 8:21pm

I believe I've read that a lot of defensive coaches in the NFL teach their players to try to pick it up and run. But I also assume that it's situational, and they should know enough to just fall on it with a late lead.

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9 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Over/Under Review

by Lance // Jan 07, 2015 - 9:44pm

Well, my sophomore year in high school was about 20 years ago. But I know that then, you had to do hills if you tried to pick it up and run. Perhaps by the time a guy gets to the NFL, a coach can assume that a player has whatever "it" factors are involved to make him more likely than the average high school jock to successfully pick it up and run.

Obviously a successful pick-up-and-run is a great boon to the team. I also know that I am probably biased by my own high school experiences, but I would swear that I see more often than not someone try the pick-up-and-run only to have it fail and after squirming around a bit, seeing the original team end up back with the ball.

Oh well. Obviously with ca. 2-3 minutes left in the game where you have the lead, the mantra should ALWAYS be to fall on it.

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8 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Over/Under Review

by SFC B // Jan 07, 2015 - 8:30pm

They're taught to recover it and, if possible, return it. If you're completely successful it is a ridicliously good play. If you're only partially successful and you only recover it with no return it's still a good play. If you muff the recovery the ball is still open and maybe someone else from your team can recover it in the scrum, or even if they fail the ball is likely kicked further back so a recovery by the fumbling team is still a huge negative play for them.

Even in this case, which is about the worst case possible (only worse outcome would have been Detroit returning the second fumble for a TD), Detriot gets a new set of downs, but having lost a field position.

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15 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Over/Under Review

by Tom Gower // Jan 08, 2015 - 2:49am

Chip Kelly has a nicely quotable distinction on fumbles between city balls and country balls (see, e.g., the Week 16 vs. Chicago video at c. 7:10 available on this page). Country balls are when you're out in the middle of the field and you can try to pick it up, but if there's a lot of traffic around, it's a city ball and you just fall on it to ensure possession. His primary stated logic is to make sure you get the ball, but part of the logic for me is you don't want players who aren't used to handling the ball trying to run with the ball when there are other players around them.

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18 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Over/Under Review

by beargoggles // Jan 08, 2015 - 3:05am

This makes a lot of sense. Who doesn't love the art of Situational Fumble Strategy?
One thing I'll say in defense of people who try to scoop the ball is this: "falling" on the ball by no means guarantees success. It's still a crazy, oblong, slippery mess. Many times players who fall on the ball don't wind up with it.
Hmmm, could be a subject for statistical research.

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3 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Over/Under Review

by Bobman // Jan 07, 2015 - 7:18pm

Come on, guys, I know I get what I pay for, but you only covered one team from the AFCS? And it was the WORST team, possibly, in the NFL? I feel... kind of dirty. Plus, you don't want to make JJ Watt angry, do you? Andrew Luck's beard might consume you and Blake Bortles... well, he'll just throw incompletions six yards over your heads, but you get the idea....

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5 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Over/Under Review

by Perfundle // Jan 07, 2015 - 7:32pm

It looks like they only talked about teams that vastly over or underperformed their over/under totals. None of the other AFC South teams did that.

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16 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Over/Under Review

by Tom Gower // Jan 08, 2015 - 2:55am

Yup, if you were more than 2.0 games off your over/under, we talked about you. If you weren't, we didn't. HOU 7.5/9-7 so 1.5 off, IND 9.5/11-5 so 1.5 off, JAC 5.0/3-13 so 2 off. We only talked about one AFC North team for the same reason.

The team I just noticed I completely forgot to bring up, because I'm a yoyo who can't read his spreadsheet properly, is the Bills. They went 9-7 to surpass their 6.5 over/under by 2.5 games. We both got that one right. I didn't think that one was that hard-they went 6-10 in 2013 with six starts from Thad Lewis and Jeff Tuel and ten from rookie EJ Manuel. With simply below average quarterback play, they were likely to go about .500. They didn't get it from EJ Manuel (though his DVOA this year was slightly better than his DVOA in 2013), but they did from Kyle Orton. Add in some huge special teams improvement (from 30th to 4th), and you get 9-7.

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4 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Over/Under Review

by Steve in WI // Jan 07, 2015 - 7:29pm

Regarding the Bears, it may be my bias as a fan but I think the far more interesting story revolves around Trestman, not Tucker. Yes, Mel Tucker is a below-average defensive coordinator and it's mystifying that the Bears didn't fire him after 2013. And it's true that after the Bears added some big-name free agents in the offseason (Lamarr Houston, Willie Young, Jared Allen) expectations were pretty high that the defense could step up and at least be mediocre. But I think it's hard to argue that a better coordinator could have done much more with what the Bears had. They just had nothing at safety, corner, or linebacker by the end of the season.

Trestman, on the other hand, went from being perceived as an offensive genius to the worst head coach in Bears history in less than 11 months. That's kind of amazing. In retrospect, there were signs that should have been seen (like the fact that every one of the NFL offenses Trestman has been involved in regressed heavily in the 2nd year, and he often got fired at that point), but I don't recall anyone in the media (Chicago or otherwise) being down on Trestman either as a leader or as an offensive playcaller after 2013 despite the Bears losing their last two games and an easy playoff berth.

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14 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Over/Under Review

by Tom Gower // Jan 08, 2015 - 2:37am

There's definitely a lot to say about Trestman and how that all went down. By our numbers, though, they were still average. What struck me about the offense in particular was how the offensive line worked well in 2013, after years of issues, then it was back to the same business. Things snowballed from there, it seemed, and Trestman's man management issues as a head coach became much more apparent under that offensive adversity.

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21 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Over/Under Review

by Steve in WI // Jan 08, 2015 - 12:43pm

I don't know how much to make of the offensive line regression. While it sure did poorly compared to 2013, I think a lot of that can be chalked up to health. I believe in 2013 all five guys started all 16 games; in 2014, they didn't have such great injury luck. Plus, the weakest link of the starters is clearly Mills at right tackle, and even in 2013 he didn't look great but they were playing so well as a unit that he didn't get exposed so much. I also think Bushrod had a bad year by his standards. On the plus side, Kyle Long looks as good or better than he did in 2013 and looks like he'll have a long career with the Bears.

It's an interesting question to consider - whether the O-line problems were the catalyst of the poor (compared to expectations) offensive performance or just another part of it.

I did notice throughout the season that the Bears offensive DVOA was consistently average (and didn't they end up at exactly 0.0%, or am I thinking of the ratings after the next-to-last game?) and that's why I don't understand why so many people in Chicago think Cutler is so bad the Bears should just cut him and eat the rest of the contract.

Anyway, when I mentioned Trestman I wasn't even thinking so much of the Bears offense as his general ineptness at head coach. If the team had been merely bad but not dysfunctional, I cannot believe the Bears would have fired him with two years remaining on his contract. And while the offensive performance compared to expectations wasn't good enough, I think that had comparatively little to do with why he was fired so quickly.

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6 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Over/Under Review

by bravehoptoad // Jan 07, 2015 - 8:10pm

It's probably for the best that Harbaugh is gone, honestly...It's much easier to get results screaming at kids over whose future you have complete control, as opposed to well-paid, union-represented professionals.

What are you talking about? The guy had a 69% winning percentage in the NFL. In four years he went to 3 NFC championships and a Super Bowl. And his players loved him so much that they gave him a Gatorade dunk after his last game even though they knew he was going.


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10 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Over/Under Review

by justanothersteve // Jan 07, 2015 - 9:44pm

Maybe the players were trying to drown him. ;)

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11 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Over/Under Review

by peepshowmopguy // Jan 07, 2015 - 10:45pm

So I suppose all those numerous reports from Dion, Dilfer, etc about players turning on Harbaugh and the locker room becoming toxic were all overblown.

Just like the reports that Jim was going to be out at the end of the year were overblown...

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17 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Over/Under Review

by beargoggles // Jan 08, 2015 - 3:02am

Who knows? Likely some players didn't like him, but a lot clearly did like him.
A GM that already wanted him gone could have "encouraged" some players to leak discontent to the media.
I'm not very optimistic that this is going to turn out well, even if I think Harbaugh the younger had his faults.

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12 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Over/Under Review

by MilkmanDanimal // Jan 07, 2015 - 11:08pm

Tampa could have gone 8-8, but managed to grasp defeat from the jaws of victory multiple times. I mean, they weren't good, but they were basically bad plus unlucky plus stupid. Week 1, fumbled the ball away down three with less than two minutes to go, could have easily been a tying/winning drive. Week 2, Mike Evans catches a long pass to get into FG range, but gets hurt on the play so Tampa can't run up to spike. Ten second runoff, game over. They lost in OT weeks 5 and 7. Yeah, the line was terrible and QB play atrocious, but there was a special magic in the air this year as to making just the wrong play at exactly the wrong time.

It was really a gifted team. Just not in the good way.

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13 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Over/Under Review

by andrew // Jan 08, 2015 - 12:42am

The Vikings went over (6.0) despite having that number set (and the split on the over/under) done before they lost Adrian Peterson. Had he been gone at the time the over/under was set I imagine it would have been under for both, or the # set at something around 4.

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19 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Over/Under Review

by BobbyDazzler // Jan 08, 2015 - 9:41am

I wouldn't say that the Saints were "terrible on the road" this season, as they went 4-4 away from home and only 3-5 in the Superdome.

And in reality, if the defense had played a fraction better they would very likely have won in Cleveland and Detroit too, and maybe Atlanta in week one.

The offense wasn't as good this year, primarily due to poor play on the O-line, but the defense was the main reason for the 7-9 record.

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20 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Over/Under Review

by Perfundle // Jan 08, 2015 - 12:00pm

2012: 24.7% passing offense (9th), 1.6% rushing offense (11th), 20.8% passing defense (28th), 7.1% rushing defense (30th)

2014: 20.7% passing offense (9th), 0.9% rushing offense (9th), 19.2% passing defense (27th), 6.2% rushing defense (32nd)

This season was basically a carbon-copy of the Bountygate season, and not surprisingly they ended up with the exact same record.

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22 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Over/Under Review

by Anon Ymous // Jan 08, 2015 - 1:17pm

"I'm still not entirely sold on New England's offense."

There are definitely some troubling signs, though, to be fair, Mike would find a reason to not be sold on NE's offense if they had scored 50+ in each of their last four.

"We've all heard how the offense struggled the first four games of the season, but they finished with a negative offensive DVOA in three of their final four games as well."

One of those three was the finale without Gronk, Edelman, Connolly, Vollmer and Gray, as well as lots of others rotating in and out and a game plan to run as few plays as possible. Another was the game against NY, when they sat Connolly, Edelman and Blount. The guys who did suit up didn't play particularly well, but struggling in NY isn't exactly a rare phenomenon for the Patriots.

Not that the offense hasn't dropped off of late - I'd actually contend that the struggle started a game earlier when the could only put up 21 points and the mediocre GB defense gave their OL fits - I just abhor stats offered up without proper context. There is plenty of reason to have some concern about the Patriots' offense, but it isn't nearly the mirror image to the start of the season it is positioned as being.

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23 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Over/Under Review

by Anon Ymous // Jan 08, 2015 - 8:08pm

I should have added that, other than the completely meaningless season finale, every game that NE's offense struggled in was on the road. I don't know how big a factor that was, but it should at least be accounted for, as well as the fact that this game (and hopefully the next) will be in Foxboro.

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24 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Over/Under Review

by Perfundle // Jan 08, 2015 - 10:11pm

They didn't play so well against Oakland at home, did they?

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25 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Over/Under Review

by Anon Ymous // Jan 08, 2015 - 10:16pm

The comment was only regarding the stretch at the end. You won't get any argument that the team was terrible for the first four weeks, home or away.

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26 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Over/Under Review

by Alec B // Jan 08, 2015 - 11:31pm

For the Best of the Rest -

Does a RB not get receiving points?

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27 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Over/Under Review

by Tom Gower // Jan 11, 2015 - 12:30am

They do. Did I miss on somebody?

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28 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Over/Under Review

by Tom Gower // Jan 11, 2015 - 12:49am

Oops, Herron, of course. Should've given him 17 points instead of 9. Little relative change in overall leaderboard given his popularity. Through last weekend's games (so not including BAL-NE or CAR-SEA), surebrec leads with 99, puffbronfman next with 96, and bballer2294 in third with 90.

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