Giants Lead 2022 DVOA Overachievers

New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley
New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Offseason - Every year, we here at Football Outsiders do our best to accurately forecast the upcoming season. We run thousands of simulations taking into account major offseason personnel changes, players returning from injury, potential development from draft picks, continuity on the offensive line, and numerous other variables in an attempt to provide the best predictions out there.

In other words, we attempt to predict the future, and it turns out, that's quite hard. And 2022 proved harder than usual. In 2021, there was a .73 correlation between our projected DVOA and teams' actual DVOA, but that fell to .48 last year. It was a tumultuous offseason with a lot of personnel turnover and new coaches for nearly a third of the league. That's going to inject more uncertainty than a random given season.

It's interesting to look back and see just where the projections were off the most. Remember, at this time last season, the general consensus was for the AFC West to be one of the most competitive divisions we had ever seen, for Matt Ryan to spark a Colts comeback, and for the Ravens to rally behind a healthy Lamar Jackson. As the old NFL commercial used to say, it's time to get our story straight.

Today, we're looking at the five teams that outperformed their DVOA projections the most, looking at just what we missed and whether or not last year's success was sustainable, or just a mirage. Stay tuned for a look at the year's biggest underachievers next week.

A quick methodological note before we begin. Our rankings are based on how many standard deviations each team beat or fell short of its projection rather than just raw differences. When you run thousands and thousands of simulations, it's a very rare team indeed that has an average DVOA over 20.0% or performs better than 12-5. But each NFL season only happens one time, so outlier results not only happen, but are expected—someone will keep rolling sevens all season long, it's just difficult to predict who. We're not here to explain that the best teams were better than their projections because simulations are, by their very nature, conservative. We want to focus on the teams that got grouped wrong to begin with: the bad teams that became average or the average teams that became good.

5. Detroit Lions (+1.24)

Projected DVOA: -6.3%; -0.78 standard deviations
Actual DVOA: 7.7%; +0.46 standard deviations

Our final projections had Detroit climbing out of the cellar of the DVOA ratings, all the way to 22nd—still below average, but beginning to approach a certain level of respectability. Dan Campbell's second year didn't have tons of potential, but the Almanac suggested the Lions could be a "mediocre team that makes for a tough out week-in and week-out"—not a terrible situation to be in, considering they had traded Matthew Stafford just 18 months prior, but not exactly something that sends you screaming to the ticket office.

That wasn't a terrible description of Detroit over the first half of the season. Through week 10, Detroit was 24th in DVOA at -13.8%. They were middle-of-the-pack on offense and second-worst on defense; a little bit better than projected on offense and a little bit worse than projected on defense. After some initial highs in the first two weeks, it got to the point where Walkthrough ended up calling Campbell a "sincere snake-oil salesman," noting that the Lions were not "gritty, tough, promising or fun."

A switch was flipped over the last half of the season, however, as the Lions roared back to finish the year 6-2 and just miss out on the postseason. Over those last eight weeks, Detroit ranked fourth in total DVOA, third on offense and 20th on defense; legitimately exciting contenders who would have been a more than worthy wild-card team. The offensive line gelled together to become one of the best in football, which in turn gave Jamaal Williams plenty of room to run, which in turn reinvigorated Jared Goff. The young defense, led by rookies Aidan Hutchinson, Malcolm Rodriguez, and Kerby Joseph, began to find itself too—still a work in progress, but with clear progress over the course of the year. And when you don't need to score 87 points every week to win, you see better results. Amazing how that works!

It did end up being too little, too late, but Lions fans have more optimism now than they have in years. And, hey, they sent Aaron Rodgers packing out of Green Bay with a loss, knocking them out of the playoffs. That'll do, for now.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars (+1.27)

Projected DVOA: -8.7%; -1.07 standard deviations
Actual DVOA: 3.3%; +0.19 standard deviations

All predictions are uncertain, but some predictions are more uncertain than others. Quantifying the impact of a coaching change is difficult. We all knew that Urban Meyer's tenure had been disastrous, and we knew that Doug Pederson had a strong pedigree behind him. While we were cautiously optimistic that Pederson could get Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars' offense up to speed, we knew there was a long way between what we saw in 2021 and a .500 team, much less a competitive one.

If you want to make an argument that Meyer is the worst coach in NFL history, the night-and-day difference between the 2021 Jaguars and the 2022 edition on the offensive side of the ball is your second argument right behind all the nonsense he did off the field. The 2021 Jaguars were an awful mishmash of Meyer's spread and Darrell Bevell's dropback offense that lacked vision, creativity, and any of the modern motion concepts that have become nearly synonymous with successful football. Pederson's emphasis on pre-snap motion brought spark and life to a moribund passing attack. Pederson did a much better job finding ways to use skill position players, moving them around and finding them matchups they could win. Putting your players in positions where they can succeed; a revolutionary tactic. All in all, Jacksonville's offensive DVOA jumped from -15.1% to 7.7%, hanging out at the bottom of the top 10.

Of course, it helps that Trevor Lawrence took a significant step forward in Year 2, something that was expected but couldn't be counted on. Adding talent in the form of Christian Kirk and Evan Engram certainly didn't hurt, either, even if the Jaguars had to overpay to get them in—the Duval tax, from years of bad performance. That's not to say the offense was perfect by any means; they were 16th in the red zone and could stand to clean up some of their situational results. But Pederson and the new arrivals brought competent offensive football back to Jacksonville for the first time since the David Garrard era, and that's worth celebrating.

And yet, Pederson didn't win Coach of the Year, in part because there's a different new head coach who's going to appear in a few more slots on this countdown. No respect, I tells ya.

3. Seattle Seahawks (+1.38)

Projected DVOA: -8.4%; -1.03 standard deviations
Actual DVOA: 5.8%; +0.34 standard deviations

Trading away the greatest quarterback in franchise history and replacing him with the two-headed monster of Drew Lock and Geno Smith did not exactly scream competitive football. "[Pete] Carroll had made it clear that the NFL had passed him by, and that his team was going to play an obsolete brand of football as long as he was in charge," we said in the Almanac, and we weren't alone. They seemed determined to double down on the run-first, defense, and special teams philosophy that Carroll had been pushing for years, frustrating Russell Wilson to the point where he essentially demanded out. The Seahawks offense, run by Geno Smith? It was horrendous in 2021, averaging 25.4 yards and 1.68 points in 38 drives and scoring a touchdown 18.4% of the time, all of which would have ranked in the bottom 10 in the league. This was going to be a lost season.

Cut to Geno Smith on stage accepting the Comeback Player of the Year award. Smith finished the year with a career-high 7.9% passing DVOA and was ninth in the league with 764 passing DYAR; he had had -471 DYAR in the nine years prior. Expecting Smith to bust out like that was unreasonable; there are very few examples in NFL history of someone being as bad as Smith was for so long before breaking out. And so, while our projections had Seattle ranked 30th in offensive DVOA, they instead finished 14th, including eighth in passing offense. It was Smith's deep passing, especially, that sparked the Seattle offensive resurgence—fifth in the league with a 93.6% DVOA on passes to targets more than 15 yards downfield. The only passers who had a higher DVOA and DYAR on deep shots than Smith? Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Tua Tagovailoa. Not a bad set of guys to be behind.

And yes, it's basically just Geno and the passing attack that pushed the Seahawks forward. We projected Seattle to be 18th on defense; they slipped to 21st. Their No. 23 rushing DVOA was their worst since 2017. But Smith's connection with Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf was enough to push Seattle well past even our wildest expectations. For half a season, at least.

Before Seattle went to Germany to face the Buccaneers, Seattle ranked sixth in offensive DVOA at 13.8%, and fourth in pass offense at 33.0%. Starting in Week 10, however, Seattle fell all the way to 20th (-2.9%) and 14th (14.8%) respectively. They struggled to stay on schedule and keep the chains moving, becoming more reliant on occasional big splash plays—the same complaints Wilson had before leaving. Don't get us wrong; even the second-half Seahawks were far better than our projections had them. But their climb to the third spot in these rankings is due to those first eight games, not the back half of the year.

2. San Francisco 49ers (+1.88)

Projected DVOA: -1.6%; -0.20 standard deviations
Actual DVOA: 27.5%, +1.68 standard deviations

The trouble with projecting the 2022 49ers, of course, was the mystery box at quarterback. San Francisco had finally moved on from Jimmy Garoppolo, and it was Trey Lance's team from here on out. How on Earth do you project that? We're talking a player with 71 career NFL pass attempts entering the season. A player with 318 career collegiate passing attempts, and in the Mountain Valley Conference to boot. Obviously blessed with tremendous talent, Lance's NFL potential was as much of a question mark as any quarterback in modern memory. The San Francisco season would live or die with his development.

… or, at least it did for a game and a quarter, until Lance fractured his ankle. Season over, see you in 2023.

Obviously, our projections had no way of knowing that Jimmy Garoppolo would start the bulk of the season for San Francisco; he wasn't even practicing with the team when our projections came out. We also had no way of knowing that Garoppolo would then get hurt, sending Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy under center … nor that Purdy would far exceed expectations, putting up the sixth-best passing DVOA for a rookie with at least 150 pass attempts in our database. Nor, for that matter, could we have predicted the mid-season acquisition of Christian McCaffrey, which sent the 49ers' offensive DVOA from 2.2% before the bye to 25.6% after it. Of course our predictions underestimated the 49ers' offense; we were projecting an entirely different offense from the one we ended up getting! Finishing sixth when we had them 19th is certainly overperforming, but I think the extenuating circumstances are enough to absolve us there.

Not so much on the defense, which we had finishing 13th and instead was best in the league. We were worried about the secondary, not convinced that Charvarius Ward would be enough to bolster the weak links at cornerback. Well, the secondary was San Francisco's weak link again, if only because the front seven was dominant once more. While they still gave up their one contractually mandated deep shot per game, the 49ers' defense ended up second in adjusted line yards, fifth in pass rush win rate, and so strong against passes over the middle of the field that offenses started avoiding the area entirely. Defense is generally less consistent from year to year, but the 49ers not only shrugged off regression, they actively improved.

This is the one overperforming team who went from an OK projection to actively being good, which is impressive in its own right—most of the overperforming teams were ones we expected to be terrible. And speaking of which…

1. New York Giants (+1.96)

Projected DVOA: -18.2%; -2.24 standard deviations
Actual DVOA: -4.5%; -0.28 standard deviations

The Giants were a little bit fortunate to make the postseason last year. They finished with 9.5 wins, but only had 8.3 Pythagorean wins. Flip any of their eight one-score victories to a loss and the Giants are sitting at home in January. They were a below-average team with above-average luck who parlayed that into a minor postseason run against a team who deserved to be there even less than they did.

And all of that is fantastic, considering that by our numbers, the Giants were supposed to be the worst team in the league by a substantial margin. We projected them with a -18.2% DVOA; the next-worst team was Carolina at -10.6%. We had New York ranked 32nd in defense and 31st in offense. We gave them a 13.2% chance to make the postseason; the next-lowest mark was the Falcons at 25.6%. Four of us picked the Giants to use the first pick in the draft in our staff predictions. There was zero faith in them to do anything of note.

That's not to say we had nothing positive to say about New York. The Almanac praised the hiring of Brian Daboll and Joe Schoen, not just from a "something had to change" perspective, but in terms of being the right people to dig the Giants out of the massive hole left behind from the Dave Gettleman regime. We praised Schoen for jettisoning the flotsam of the Gettleman era, saying he was trying to avoid "humiliation in 2022 while preserving flexibility in 2023." We praised Daboll for buying in and immediately improving the culture of the locker room. We just figured it would take a couple of years to actually see improvements on the field.

Instead, Daniel Jones had a career campaign, finishing with a positive DVOA for the first time in his career. A healthy Saquon Barkley produced more DYAR than he had hit in any year since his rookie season. Darius Slayton and Richie James both set career highs in receiving DYAR. The defense was still terrible, and the offensive line remains a work in progress, but Daboll was able to squeeze the most out of the pieces left to him and produce something respectable. And it was something that got better over the course of the year—the Giants went from a DVOA of -7.8% over the first half of the season to -1.5% over the second half, ranking in the top seven in both passing and rushing offense.

Is that enough to justify signing Jones to a long-term deal and franchise tagging Barkley? That's a harder call, and it's clear there's still a lot of work to be done here before we can take the Giants seriously as year-in, year-out playoff contenders. But they're a good year ahead of schedule at this point, and New York fans should enjoy the first time the Giants have actually had hope since Eli Manning retired.


67 comments, Last at 29 Mar 2023, 2:13pm

#1 by KnotMe // Mar 22, 2023 - 11:08am

No love for Vikings who overperformed their results if not their DVOA prediction I guess. 


I wonder if the Giants will be the ones most hurt by unexpected success?

Points: 0

#26 by andrew // Mar 22, 2023 - 4:34pm

The viking I think actually underperformed their dvoa... the preseason projections liked the vikings.  They won a lot, but their dvoa was lousy.   If we do an article on which teams outperformed their actual dvoa, they'd be at the top of that....

Points: 1

#38 by LionInAZ // Mar 22, 2023 - 9:52pm

Expect the Vikings will be covered next week as underperformers by DVOA. This isn't about wins, it's about team performance.

Points: 0

#2 by theslothook // Mar 22, 2023 - 11:15am

I'm one of the posters who doesn't like to pile on Mike Tanier, but that Dan Campbell article is the kind of piece that reads like hot take analysis.


I mentioned in that thread how Campbell had just taken over the mutated remains of the Matt Patricia hydrogen bomb detonation. Just what standard did we expect from him and the Lions?


Fast forward to today and are we now convinced he's really good or did the talent improve and he's just a passerby?


Also in that thread, I maintained we really cannot measure the quality of a coach. It's cute to use examples like Urban Meyer, but even with an example like him, We are inferring that his misbehavior off the field was a symptom of his coaching incompetence on the field. But what if it really is as simple as the team improved just by happenstance?


Finally in that thread, I used the Siefert example. George Siefert has two SB rings and has had many amazing DVOA seasons. He's also been the coach of a 1 win football team. 


Mike Tanier has been watching football longer than I have. I am certain he knows how murky and uncertain football is. Thus, I hope next time he's a bit more restrained in his future coaching takes.

Points: 1

#3 by KnotMe // Mar 22, 2023 - 12:03pm

Coaching is like being President in the US (or other political positions other places). Basically, part of the job is getting credit and blame for stuff that is usually only partially your fault. 

Points: 8

#10 by BigRichie // Mar 22, 2023 - 1:11pm

Head coaches and other bosses get to blame others for bad outcomes. In the NFL throw a coordinator overboard, on rare occasions depending upon their respective relationship with the managing owner even win a power struggle with the GM and have him blamed+sacrificed instead.

When you become Head Guy of anything, you get 1 'get out of jail free' card along with the position. First crackup, you get to blame Someone Else, most preferably someone you've inherited. Next crackup, yeah, that's on you.

Points: 2

#5 by Joey-Harringto… // Mar 22, 2023 - 12:29pm

A lot of both the negative and (in some cases) positive impressions of Campbell were based on 30 second soundbites.  The kneecaps speech, for instance immediately turned some people off, and excited some within the fanbase, when in reality it had nothing to do with anything regarding coaching ability.

I will give Mike credit for admitting he was wrong several weeks later.

Points: 2

#6 by Theo // Mar 22, 2023 - 12:42pm

Dan Campbell is a rah rah guy;  

platitudes and tough talk. Football outsiders types dont like that kind of coaches (not named Tomlin) but there are many players who love playing for them.

The trick is to motivate the players enough with a good speech, but also be a smart strategist. 

Points: 1

#18 by Aaron Brooks G… // Mar 22, 2023 - 1:40pm

He's not just a rah-rah guy. I think the window-dressing is, if not an act, then a presentation for the outside media.

Analytics should like that he's relentlessly aggressive and is devoted to David tactics with a David team. (It's less clear whether he will adopt Goliath tactics with a Goliath team, but that's probably not a concern so long as he coaches the Lions) He seems to be able to find good coordinators, if not always the first time. But he's also willing to quickly correct mistakes.

I thought at first he was basically Schwartz 2.0, but I think he may be more like Sirianni.

Points: 3

#48 by Eddo // Mar 23, 2023 - 11:29am

Rex Ryan took the Jets to consecutive AFC Championship Games.  That would be the high mark for the Lions franchise.

Points: 3

#52 by nick.hornsby // Mar 23, 2023 - 5:00pm

Definitely feels like it'll be hard for the Lions to make 1 AFC championship game, let alone 2. 


Points: 0

#7 by BigRichie // Mar 22, 2023 - 1:02pm


Life is murky and uncertain.

I see no reason for Mike to be particularly restrained regarding coaches and coaching than with regard to quarterbacks, GMs, owners, linebackers, scouts, any other NFL actor or decision maker.

Not one reason at all.

Points: 2

#9 by theslothook // Mar 22, 2023 - 1:10pm

Not one reason at all.


Challenged accepted. 


I see no reason for Mike to be particularly restrained regarding coaches and coaching than with regard to quarterbacks, GMs, owners, linebackers, scouts, any other NFL actor or decision maker.


Let's see...QBs throw for yards and touchdowns and interceptions. Its not a clean, 100 percent transparent measurement but its there and telling us something. At least the QB is literally the only person responsible for throwing the ball. And deciding where it goes. And the results for the game's best seem repeatable and consistent. Pat Mahomes doesn't need SB wins or commercials to tell us he's a damn good QB. The numbers do a pretty solid job for us on that one.


Linebackers have tackles, tackles for loss, on-off splits and interceptions and passes deflected. Ok, those are pretty murky numbers. But then someone like Tanier can watch the film and grade the linebacker on his impact on the field. Not perfect, but at least its something. And hey, the top grading linebackers tend to get paid a lot of money and last in the league. So...somewhere the film study is telling us something. 


As for coaches, what measurement or on field visible production should we use for a coach? Wins? Time out usage? Rara speeches? We have no measurement as far as I can tell that is even close to objectively isolated to him.


And scouts and ownership? I'll leave it others to come up with metrics that measure ownership effectiveness; which seems limited to, "Don't be a psychotic moron like Dan Synder or a capricious knee jerker like Jimmy Haslam"



Points: 1

#11 by BigRichie // Mar 22, 2023 - 1:24pm

Quarterbacks is the easy one. They throw under pressure or from a clean pocket, with a lead or from behind when defenses know they have to pass, to receivers who've gotten separation or really haven't, play for good coordinators or for ones who have either few ideas or are wedded to bad ones. and on and on.

Head Coach's team wins games, or it doesn't. Head Coach's team starts improving after a year or two (you're far more likely to take over a bad team than a good one), or it doesn't. Head Coach's team has a good number of players who get better, or few players who get better. Head Coach's players get along fine with him, or on rare occasions hate his guts.

And we can, yes, measure timeout usage and 4th down decisions. Understanding those are a quite small part of the job, but yes, we can certainly measure them.

Points: 0

#12 by theslothook // Mar 22, 2023 - 1:29pm

I used the George Seifert example to show the limits of whatever measurement system you like for coaches. With the 49ers, he had the highest winning percentage of any coach in NFL history, en route to 2 SB victories. With the Panthers, he went 8-8, 7-9, and 1-15. The same head coach.


It would be as if Mahomes proceeded to switch teams and play essentially like Mitch Trubisky. 


When your measurement system produces diametrically opposed results from the same observation; you gotta rethink your measurement system. 

Points: 2

#17 by theslothook // Mar 22, 2023 - 1:40pm

Russel Wilson did not have the highest TD% or some ridiculous metric to suggest he was an outlier QB akin to Siefert the coach. But in general, Wilson is a good example although its telling that it was such a shock that he did so poorly whereas its not really a shock when other coaches move on and fail.


Ron Rivera might get fired and he went to a SB with the Panthers. Jon Fox, after two successful stints, went to the Bears and they were terrible. I'll be very curious to see how Matt LaFleur does now that Rodgers is gone.  

Points: 2

#50 by herewegobrowni… // Mar 23, 2023 - 4:22pm

"It would be as if Mahomes proceeded to switch teams and play essentially like Mitch Trubisky"


(Insert the "regress Mahomes to the mean" jokes, which at least I think are up there with MBC/Antonio Brown nicknames, Kelvin Benjamin weight jokes and the Catholicmatch in-jokes here back in the day...)

Points: 0

#13 by theslothook // Mar 22, 2023 - 1:32pm

Head Coach's team starts improving after a year or two (you're far more likely to take over a bad team than a good one), or it doesn't.


Great. Matt Nagy did just that. He improved the Bears in year 2. He was fired 2 years later. What exactly did that tell us?

Points: 0

#16 by BigRichie // Mar 22, 2023 - 1:39pm

Now you're getting a touch silly, Slot. Like saying a linebacker had a bad game (or even month, or season), so therefore our linebacker measurements don't mean anything if/once he improves. Or like a linebacker who covers poorly but takes on blocks well, since he does one well but the other not so, neither measurement really means anything.

Points: 0

#19 by theslothook // Mar 22, 2023 - 1:41pm

I was using your criteria about improving in year 2. My whole point is I have yet to hear a robust and consistent criteria for coaching that explains the wide variation in performance once you move. 

Points: 1

#29 by guest from Europe // Mar 22, 2023 - 5:46pm

There are some coaches who have consistently very good results even when most of their players change over years. Those are special teams coaches. They don't use star players, mostly backups. Some coaches are in top 10 or even top 5 by special team DVOA for decades: John Harbaugh, Dave Toub, Belichick.

How do you make a criteria for coaching quality, i don't know.

Points: 0

#40 by LionInAZ // Mar 22, 2023 - 10:08pm

When Tanier wrote that piece, the Lions were still looking awful, even though they were still a tough out. Then they turned things around and finished the year strong. My comparison is the 2010 Lions, who were awful but competitive for weeks and finished the season with four straight wins, leading to a playoff spot the next year. The Jaguars this year had a similar story.

Tanier admitted that he misjudged, so OK. Lots of writers jumped all over the 'kneebiting' comment and deemed Campbell as a nutjob. The average sports commenter doesn't have to be smart, only verbose.

Only Justin Herbert can prove Tanier to be a fool now.

Points: 0

#43 by BigRichie // Mar 22, 2023 - 11:44pm

Not really on Herbert. Mike's never argued that Herbert won't be great. Just that he hasn't been great even though the hordes have been saying, 'Boy, is Herbert Great!!'

So Herbert indeed turning Great next year wouldn't really discomfit Mike any.

Points: 1

#49 by Eddo // Mar 23, 2023 - 11:31am

Right.  I think Tanier even acknowledged that Herbert is a top ten ish QB... he's just not #2 behind Mahomes, where the Ringer had him ranked all season.

Points: 1

#15 by Aaron Brooks G… // Mar 22, 2023 - 1:37pm

I think Meyer and Patricia are evidence that bad coaches absolutely make teams worse. The evidence that good coaches make teams better is less compelling, although there is some evidence.

Points: 2

#55 by Ryan // Mar 24, 2023 - 10:30am

Mike's work in general has become quite taek-y, especially when he writes articles about his previous taeks. The taeks are drowning out the wit. 

Points: 1

#8 by Pat // Mar 22, 2023 - 1:02pm


Is that enough to justify signing Jones to a long-term deal

A functionally 2-year deal isn't exactly "long term." I mean, if Jones tanks next year and the Giants are trash, they're drafting a QB in 24, having him sit behind Jones for Y2 and saying thanks for the memories, Mr. Jones in year 3.

(yes, a franchise tag would've been cheaper and easier, but that deal's balanced between upside and risk)

Points: 1

#20 by Aaron Brooks G… // Mar 22, 2023 - 1:46pm

I am always curious how you tell whether or not a team got lucky vs whether we simply misjudged their underlying talent and level of performance.

Points: 1

#21 by David // Mar 22, 2023 - 3:25pm

Sample size.


The bigger the sample size, the less it is influenced by luck, and the more it is indicating ‘true’ level of performance. This is where DVOA is, hopefully, better than team record (for example) because it has a much larger sample size.

The downside is that it is only telling you about efficiency, which is not quite the same as what teams are trying to achieve, but we hope for correlation 

Points: 2

#47 by Aaron Brooks G… // Mar 23, 2023 - 10:11am

My question is a little different. I'm reacting to this:

When you run thousands and thousands of simulations, it's a very rare team indeed that has an average DVOA over 20.0% or performs better than 12-5. But each NFL season only happens one time, so outlier results not only happen, but are expected—someone will keep rolling sevens all season long, it's just difficult to predict who.

This is a DVOA-focused statement, not win/loss record.

It is being argued that fortune breaks in the favor of a team who generates an outlier DVOA response. But that's based on a simulation which was fed an a priori estimate of their actual strength. My question is really about the fitness of that estimate.

Is it more likely that the Giants were merely fortunate and got the best possible set of sliding doors and appeared to be (to DVOA) a much better team than they actually were (almost two standard deviations)? Or is it more likely that the a priori estimate of their true value was incorrect?

A Monte Carlo yields garbage out if you fed garbage in, or if you assumed the wrong underlying probabilities. A single spin of a roulette wheel will not tell you if the house is cheating.

Points: 1

#22 by rh1no // Mar 22, 2023 - 3:37pm

On average, NFL teams tend to win about 50% of games decided by one score. There's some nuance to this, of course ... good teams are more likely to win one-score games due to clutch play while bad teams are more likely to lose one-score games for bineheaded reasons. Oftentimes defenses nursing a two-score lead will play variations of prevent defense, allowing the offense to rack up yards and pull within one score as long as it eats up enough clock time to essentially clinch the game.

But, you know, NFL teams tend to win about 50% of games decided by one score. It's like BMI for luck ... a good indicator that requires further analysis to determine whether or not a team is actually lucky. For that, we can look at a few other details:

- Fumble recovery: This is essentially random and has a huge impact on the outcome of the game as fumble recovery can grant teams additional possessions.

- Strength of schedule: Did the team in question face tough competition or a weak slate of opponents? Did the team get blown out by high-performong adversaries while squeaking by mediocre competition on a last-minute field goal?

- Injuries: Every team needs depth to survive an NFL season as injuries are inevitable. But some teams see key contributors lose significant time, or lose star playmakers in the playoffs. Sometimes this is due to a player's playing style (Lamar Jackson) or lack of durability (Jimmy G). Perhaps some teams do a bad job of protecting their star players or preparing their players for the rigors of the NFL season. But often, injuries come down to blind luck.

- DVOA: Because DVOA tells us how efficiently a team played on a per-play basis, we can look at DVOA to get an idea of how "good" a team "really" is and compare the team's DVOA against its record. Where there's a mismatch, we might begin to suspect luck is involved.

Analyzing all of these factors is a bit subjective and doesn't necessarily need to be rigorous. There will inevitably be room for arguments ... is Baltimore unlucky with injuries or does Harbaugh not have the proper nutrition experts and strength and conditioning coaches in place to give his players the best chance at staying healthy? Is Jimmy G. fragile or just unlucky?

But sometimes, we see all these signs pointing in one direction. The 2022 Minnesota Vikings are the perfect example. They had a historic number of wins in one-score games. They got beat down by the Cowboys, Eagles, and Packers while squeaking by the lowly Colts and a disappointing Saints team. They had a nice win over the Bills, but faced the Dolphins when they were starting Teddy Bridgewater and got the Jets during their late-season collapse.

The Vikings were a top-5 team in fumble recovery. While they were in the bottom half of the league in adjusted games lost due to injury, Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson, and other playmakers played all 17 games. They ranked 19th in strength of schedule and 28th in Weighted DVOA.

Credit is due to the coaches and players for playing tough and giving themselves a chance to win I  most of thr games they played; I had a coach who always emphasized that "luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity," and the Vikings were well prepared to take advantage of every opportunity prese ted to them throughout the season. 

But that's a really lucky season.

Points: 4

#23 by drifter75 // Mar 22, 2023 - 3:49pm

Trey Lance played in the Missouri Valley Conference, not Mountain.  The MVC runs from Indiana to eastern North and South Dakota.  Not a lot of mountains there.  Go Jacks!

Points: 3

#42 by herewegobrowni… // Mar 22, 2023 - 11:27pm

Indiana isn't exactly in the "Missouri Valley" either. :) Do the Badlands count as mountains?


Points: 1

#46 by andrew // Mar 23, 2023 - 7:51am

The Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVFC) is different than the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC, which hasn't sponsored football since 1985, and has no teams in the Dakotas).   The MVFC does have teams on the eastern edges of the Dakotas.  While South Dakota does have high mountains (Black Elk Peak at 7,244 feet), they are on the western part of the state, and the MVFC schools are all near the eastern borders, so that holds up there.

The MVFC does include Missouri, which has the Ozark Plateau which are sometimes described as mountains.   A region of it is called the Saint Francois Mountains, which includes Taum Saik Mountain, the highest point in Missouri (1,772 feet elevation).

Points: 1

#24 by theslothook // Mar 22, 2023 - 4:16pm

I guess the Giants doing so well was a shock, but honestly, the way Seattle rebounded was absolutely astounding. I had definitely left Geno for dead and never thought a season like the one he had was remotely possible. 

I hope it works out for him long term, but I am in general leery of buying into out of character seasons. Kase Keenum and Josh McCown also went on similar 10 game + long heaters. 

Points: 2

#28 by guest from Europe // Mar 22, 2023 - 5:26pm

I think it was written in "G. Smith gets a new contract" article that his DVOA for last 5 games was something around -17%. And for the first games +30-ish DVOA. So, a very volatile season. Maybe there was some injury. Maybe opponent defenses got more film and realised what Seahawks were trying to do with deep balls and adjusted coverage...

I hope it works out for him long term, but I am in general leery of buying into out of character seasons. Kase Keenum and Josh McCown also went on similar 10 game + long heaters.

I agree. Foles in 2013 was great, as well. Fitzmagic games...

Goff is also volatile. But more year-to-year: some years really good, some years bad.

Points: 2

#25 by ImNewAroundThe… // Mar 22, 2023 - 4:20pm

Is that enough to justify signing Jones to a long-term deal

No but it seems like many are "THEY HAD TO RE-SIGN HIM BECAUSE THERE WERE NO BETTER OPTIONS." Well except it certainly did take them out of a Lamar sweepstakes had they been patient. And let's not act like Tyrod hasn't ever been competent. And that's without saying that taking a slight step back isnt world ending. The playoff win (and things) help them yet people act like they'll be treated like Salah currently is, whos on the hot seat after two years of missing out, if they don't make the playoffs again. Which has been Jones 3/4 years starting. 

There's a very good possibility they miss the playoffs next year/don't get further, start souring on Jones (and his deal) and yet won't be high enough to pick someone of quality (because Jones does have some good experience). Thankfully they'll only have to pay him...36m in cash next year...yikes.

Points: 0

#27 by BigRichie // Mar 22, 2023 - 5:15pm

If Daniel continues to play like he did in '22, the contract will be fine.

I'm sure Daboll figures he's in the process of creating another Josh Allen. (90% of one, anyway)

Points: 1

#33 by ImNewAroundThe… // Mar 22, 2023 - 7:49pm

Daniel Jones in 2022:

93 Y/A+

90 NY/A+

98 ANY/A+

86 TD%+

85 Sack%+

At a higher cap hit, he absolutely needs to improve. A checkdown artist that takes too many sacks and doesn't get many TDs can't just blame everything else in year 4+.

Points: 0

#36 by KnotMe // Mar 22, 2023 - 8:06pm

Jones seemed like a non-exclusive tag candidate to me. Could have still used the transition tag on Barkley also. In both case, one more of year of info would be good and might be worth the cap hit. Still, my understanding is Jones is basically a 2 year deal and then they can get out of it. Basically, what you want with Jones is more info so you can decide better what he is going forward. What they did pretty much does that. 


Points: 1

#37 by theslothook // Mar 22, 2023 - 8:12pm

There's another angle to the Jones situation and thats from the perspective of the GM and coach. Everyone kind of assumes Jones' play next will provide clarity. He's either going to improve or hes going to be a lot worse; in which case - the FT seems reasonable.

But what if Jones just stays roughly the same and now you are in a Kirk Cousins situation. You risk alienating him and now you are starring into the QB Desert. Look what has happened to the Commanders since moving on from Kirk; essentially cycling through QBs. Or the Colts. And guess what? The coach does not survive.

Now consider the Vikings. We can debate if they made the right move signing Kirk, but that decision probably extended Zimmer and Speilman's coaching and GM tenureship by at least 2-3 seasons. For them, it was absolutely worth it. 

Points: 2

#45 by guest from Europe // Mar 23, 2023 - 4:01am

Giants pass offense made a huge leap in 2022 of about 40%DVOA compared to 2021. Jones' DVOA jumped 12%. There should be some regression coming.

Isn't it rare that such performance leaps continue in successive years, so that he (they) improves even more?  

If Dabboll can really do this: turn Bad J. Allen into Great J. Allen and turn Bad D. Jones into Good D. Jones than Dabboll is the reason why.

Points: 0

#65 by Dales // Mar 29, 2023 - 1:14pm

Unfortunately, when it comes to individual player ratings, we are still far from the point at which we can determine the value of a player independent from the performance of his teammates. That means that when we say, “In 2021, Aaron Jones had rushing DVOA of 9.9%,” what we really are saying is, “In 2021, Aaron Jones, playing in Matt LaFleur’s offensive system with the Green Bay offensive line blocking for him and Aaron Rodgers selling the fake when necessary, had a DVOA of 9.9%.”

I quote this only as a prelude to my point-- namely, that Jones could easily regress and end up with a better DVOA and more DYAR this year. The line was greatly improved last year, but other than at LT it was mediocre, at best. The receiving corps were... uninspiring. The former may well be better this year, and barring another concentrated plague of injuries among the WRs and TEs, the targets should be improved.

Points: 0

#41 by ImNewAroundThe… // Mar 22, 2023 - 10:41pm

Every deal like that has an out. Except they "only" spend 2 years delaying the inevitable, pay $82m, leave $18m in dead and not get a comp pick when his value is peaked. Kinda like the premature extension the Raiders gave Carr last year actually. Except the penalties are worse here. And maybe more deceiving ("he didn't get worse, still young, what can you expect when we got some many new guys (rookies, Waller, etc.), guess we should restructure him and push more into the future")

Be bold! Let him go test the market. Mcdaniels wouldn't want him since he's not a former Patriot. Texans, Colts, etc picking high enough. Not sure where he'd get such a similar contract from. 

Points: 0

#44 by guest from Europe // Mar 23, 2023 - 3:48am

I completely agree with this. There is no team that would offer D. Jones such money. But everyone else was writing (in the D. Jones signs with Giants article here on FO) that it's a good value contract when it was signed before free agency.

Points: 1

#66 by Dales // Mar 29, 2023 - 1:16pm

I would not have been surprised if the Commanders did, or the Jets if they couldn't get something worked out with Rodgers.

Points: 0

#56 by Pat // Mar 26, 2023 - 9:57am

It's just $82M total. The $18M dead is their own choice for how they wanted to structure the contract. They can use the space they save by borrowing to avoid borrowing on someone else's, and cancel it out. Doesn't matter.

Be bold! Let him go test the market. 

They weren't worried about him getting another deal elsewhere. They were worried about him pulling a near-Flacco, having a great year, and then having to massively overpay with a QB hitting free agency. The money difference between a franchise tag and this contract just isn't significant considering they plan on giving him two years.

The entire reason they gave him this contract is to make up for the mistake they made in not picking up his 5th year option - to reset the situation to where, if he works out, they can give him, say, a 5 year contract extension in the '24-'25 offseason, and set themselves up to have a manageable quarterback contract situation.

Basically, the franchise tag isn't worth it because although it's easier to get out of (since it's just this year) if he's bad, it also has no benefit if he's good.

Points: 1

#57 by guest from Europe // Mar 26, 2023 - 12:21pm

They weren't worried about him getting another deal elsewhere. They were worried about him pulling a near-Flacco, having a great year, and then having to massively overpay with a QB hitting free agency. The money difference between a franchise tag and this contract just isn't significant considering they plan on giving him two years.

((I hope i won't sound like a jerk.)):  Well, you can't know this. This is just your interpretation why Giants gave him this contract or what is Eagles GM doing with all of the contracts or Rodgers' contract. The same way i can't know D. Jones will not be worth this contract, you can't know why they did this contract.

I respect your financial knowledge, don't mean anything bad. You are (trying to) describe some GMs intentions in definitive terms/sentences. Noone can know this except for GM and the agent doing these negotiations.

For example, it is possible that the GM didn't want Jones and that the owners told him he must sign Jones because "they didn't do good by this kid" or whatever the owner (Mara?) said about D. Jones during last season and the agent knew this and pushed to get a lot of money.

Points: 0

#58 by Pat // Mar 27, 2023 - 11:15am

Of course I don't know. It's an educated guess based on the fact that the majority of QB contract negotiations begin 2 years prior to free agency (see: Cowboys comments regarding Dak Prescott this year). The lone QB who's played on the franchise tag and earned an extension (Prescott) got basically one of the highest QB contracts ever until Deshaun Watson and Aaron Rodgers's leverage blew it out of the water.

Figuring out motivations for contract terms isn't really that difficult, since most contracts are boilerplate. The total's based on the prior contracts, the guarantee's related to the 3-year franchise total, etc. The only ones that deviate from that are the weirdo situations like Watson, Prescott, Rodgers, and now Lamar Jackson.

The Giants GM could've decided he liked the name Daniel for all I know. All anyone's got are educated guesses.

Points: 1

#59 by guest from Europe // Mar 27, 2023 - 4:52pm

Everything you wrote about Prescott and Rodgers contract negotiations is reasonable.

Your guess about this one would be a good and obvious one if D. Jones was a good QB, not even a regular Pro Bowler. If he was as accomplished as Carr or Garoppolo or Cousins or Murray and then ok, that is the going rate so they have to pay that to a young QB. He is not on that level and some of those QBs were signed for much less money a few weeks ago. The Giants could have signed a better QB for less money. 

A few years ago the Titans could have given a contract to Mariota or Bucs to Winston using exactly this reasoning what you wrote: give him 2 years, franchise tag is not worth it, he might be good, if we don't sign him, he might be a near-Flacco etc. Panthers could have signed Darnold like that, as well. Darnold was good for them the last 6 games. Darnold and D. Jones have very similar careers.

i mean, Rodgers and Jackson are still available! But the Giants really had to sign D. Jones and it's a good value... There is quite a long list of better QBs who were available this February. Giants must really romantically love D. Jones.

Points: 0

#61 by Pat // Mar 28, 2023 - 7:41am

"Giants must really romantically love D. Jones."

Or, less poetically, they think the chance of him continuing to develop is worth the minor risk. Which is what I said.

Points: 2

#67 by Dales // Mar 29, 2023 - 2:10pm

Jones isn't far behind Murray in career value to date, and has four-year trends of improvement in a lot of departments, from interceptions and interception rate to Y/A* to completion percentage. Throw in that Jones is known as one of the hardest working Giants, while the Cards wanted Kyler's contract to have an out if he didn't study and leaked such to the press, and I think the Giants got the better contract. Not to mention the knee injury.


ETA: And Darnold isn't even in the picture. He's not even close. 

*The rookie to sophomore improvement was miniscule. Like 3/4" per attempt better. 

Points: 0

#60 by ImNewAroundThe… // Mar 27, 2023 - 7:19pm

It's just $82M total.

Lol geez

The $18M dead is their own choice for how they wanted to structure the contract.

I know how contracts work Pat. 

They can use the space they save by borrowing to avoid borrowing on someone else's, and cancel it out. Doesn't matter.

Laughably nonsensical. 

They weren't worried about him getting another deal elsewhere.

Yeah that's why they locked him up despite not being afraid to tag someone else and piss them off. 

 They were worried about him pulling a near-Flacco, having a great year, and then having to massively overpay with a QB hitting free agency.

You mean overpaying him BEFORE he wins you a chip? Because the Ravens did theirs after. Combined 0 pro bowls and all pros between em. They have that in common. 

The money difference between a franchise tag and this contract just isn't significant considering they plan on giving him two years.

Two tags would've been $11m less. And potentially comp pick inducing. 

The entire reason they gave him this contract is to make up for the mistake they made in not picking up his 5th year option - to reset the situation to where, if he works out, they can give him, say, a 5 year contract extension in the '24-'25 offseason, and set themselves up to have a manageable quarterback contract situation.

It wasn't a mistake. The correctly identified who he was a got duped into thinking it was Jones and not the COTY. They "make up" for it by giving him an extra $60 more than he would've gotten. Brilliant. If he doesn't work out they wasted a ton of, not just time, but millions of dollars that a rookie contract wouldn't. Locking themselves into a mediocre QB with no cap savings.

Points: -1

#62 by Pat // Mar 28, 2023 - 7:47am

You're missing my point. If you pass up on the 5th year, you've made a decision, and you should be looking to *move* him rather than even keep for the 4th. If there's any chance you might want to keep him, you pick up the 5th.

In your view, he wasn't worth the 5th, and they shouldn't have signed him to this. That's fine.

What I'm saying is that if the Giants had *any other opinion* on him (and they clearly did) they had to pick up the option.

I'm not saying their opinion was correct.

Points: 0

#63 by ImNewAroundThe… // Mar 28, 2023 - 8:20am

No, it's fine they kept him when he was cheap. They just let a mediocre, not great, season change their minds to a huge waste of time and money. 

Points: 0

#64 by Pat // Mar 28, 2023 - 12:53pm

That's literally what I'm saying. The mistake was they went into a season not having things decided.

Points: -1

#32 by KnotMe // Mar 22, 2023 - 6:17pm

Honestly, I would have gone non-exclusive tag for Jones(and I think they could still use the other tag on Barkley)/ It's an overpay in both cases, but there is some value in only having a one year deal to get more information. 

The NFL is basically teams teams that have a QB and those that don't. There are weird cases like the 49ers (and there is usually 1 'don't' team that over performers but it's rarely the same team) but generally those that don't have a franchise QB either don't make the postseason or don't do much if they do. 

Points: -1

#34 by ImNewAroundThe… // Mar 22, 2023 - 8:00pm

Can't use two tags (unless it's a contract year of the CBA).

Saquon tag is actually fine because it's much less overall (exclusive tag is half of the QB transition tag) while bringing some continuity in the backfield. 

In a down NFC (Stafford & Kyler hurt, GB shenanigans) with major Giant fan support, he still couldn't make the Pro Bowl. It's telling that Goff, Kirk and Geno did though. 

Points: 0

#30 by anthonytwotimes // Mar 22, 2023 - 5:54pm

What I would like to see is: 


how do these overachievers/underachievers fare the next season?

Points: 0

#31 by theslothook // Mar 22, 2023 - 5:57pm

Historically, DVOA is a better forecaster than wins and losses and dramatic one year swings in DVOA are often not maintained as per regression to the mean.

Points: 0

#51 by LyleNM // Mar 23, 2023 - 4:36pm

The standard deviation improvement values should be posted next to each coach's name when you do your end-of-year awards for Coach of the Year.

Points: 0

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Points: -3

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