PFF on Saints-Cowboys

From Pro Football Focus’ weekly breakdown:

Vaccaro has nine of the Saints’ 44 missed tackles through four games, last season they only missed 77 in 16 games

This is a problem. Hopefully he’s still recovering from the injury.

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NFC South Division Odds, Week 4

I said I was going to update this weekly, but stuff got depressing real fast. As usual, data from Football Outsiders. The Saints’ odds will get real bad real soon if they don’t start winning soon, because these odds still take preseason expectations into account, and the Saints’ preseason appear to have been somewhat optimistic.

divisionWeek4

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The Sins of the New Orleans Saints

Nice Saints analysis from Robert Mays at Grantland:.

The Saints’ status as a preseason favorite was based, at least in part, on how much better they were playing defense. Even if they do start to figure things out, they aren’t likely to be anywhere near what many (hi again) predicted this summer. The chance to have a top-10 unit has vanished into the French Quarter on a Friday night. The question now is whether they can piece something together that takes Ryan’s group from abhorrent to slightly below average. If they can’t, the outlook might be a lot bleaker than simply missing the playoffs.

I figured the defense would be worse. There was almost no way it wouldn’t. But I wasn’t ready for the Defensepocalyptic Defensaster Scenario(TM) that we’ve had thus far. The biggest concern is that the Saints are (rightfully) in win-now mode, sacrificing future cap flexibility to extend the Payton-Brees window. It’s gonna get real ugly in a few years.

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Brief 2014 Preview

divisionOdds

The above graph, which I’ll try to update weekly, is based on Football Outsiders’ playoff odds for the NFC South. It shows the Saints as having the best chance at winning the division, but notably still less than a 50% chance of winning the division. Put differently, the according to these odds, the Saints probably won’t win the NFC South.

What might go wrong? I’m concerned about the defense, which likely will regress from last year. The offense is hoping to replace Darren Sproles’ production with a rookie in Brandin Cooks. It should work, but rookies are rookies for a reason. Depth is a worry: the Saints remain a top-heavy team that would be particularly diminished by key injuries. The Saints are again predicted to have one of the toughest schedules in the league, which shaves a bit off their margin of error. Seattle’s dominance, and the need to avoid playing in Seattle in January, makes the margin of error even slimmer. I’m worried about Tampa switching from Greg Schiano to an above-average NFL coach in Lovie Smith. Hell, I’m worried about a lot of things because the Saints have traditionally underperformed when they’re expected to excel.

But the Payton-Brees era Saints are different. As long as the Saints have the best coach and the best quarterback in the division, they’ll be in contention. Odds aside, I think the Saints will do it again this season. Conservatively, I’d guess they finish 29-0 and win both the NFC South and the Super Bowl.

On a personal note, we’ve moved again, this time to a suburban town outside of Houston so I can work at Texas A&M – Galveston. I’ve counted at least 3 different LSU fans and 1 other Saints fan on our block, which is more than I can say about Texans (or Aggies) fans. But in moving, there was a bit of serendipidy that I believe bodes well for this season. Check out our street name, pictured below:

IMG_9650

 

Let’s do this.

 

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Receptions by position, Payton-Brees era

Here’s a breakdown of the % of receptions made by players at each position, 2006-2013. Interesting to see how Payton & Brees started using tight ends a LOT more once they signed Jeremy Shockey in 2008 (Billy Miller was big in 2008, too). Also interesting how quickly they stopped forcing the ball to Reggie Bush thanks (presumably) to injury and ineffectiveness.

I had fun making this one.

receptionSlopegraph

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Saints receivers: touchdown machines and fumble monsters part 1

Following up on yesterday’s post, I thought it’d be interesting to look at touchdown and fumble rates for Saints receivers. So here’s a graph plotting the two for receivers with at least 100 receptions as a Saint. Note that I didn’t include RBs because Pro Football Reference doesn’t specify whether a running back’s fumbles come from a reception or a carry (which was really bad news for Chuck Muncie). The red area in the graph are the “Fumble Monsters”, or the top 25% of fumblers. The green area are the “Touchdown Machines”, or the top 25% of touchdown catchers.

A few takeaways from the above:

  • Jeremy Shockey really underperformed compared to other tight ends, with the lowest touchdown rate and a middling fumble rate. What a disappointing signing.
  • Eric Martin: Fumble Monster!?
  • Meachem will come back to earth if he keeps playing (and these stats don’t include his disappointing stint in San Diego). In the mean time: Meach!
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Greatest saints receivers: receptions and yards/catch

Here’s a quick graph of the greatest Saints receivers in terms of receptions (minimum 100) and yards per catch. I feel like Joe Horn somehow gets overlooked these days, but this plot shows why he shouldn’t be. Same with Eric Martin, especially given the era he played in. Data from Pro Football Reference.

topReceivers

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Win values for the NFL

Brian Burke at Advanced NFL Analytics:

Jimmy Graham’s contract values him at about 0.9 wins per season. Here’s how I came to that estimate.

Interesting back-of-the-envelope calculation. Football analytics should pay more attention to salaries.

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Average points scored and allowed by team, 1978-2012

Here’s each team’s average points scored and allowed including all years from 1978-2012. Data from repole.com and cleaned up by me.

Administrative notes: I marked the team by their current location, so STL includes the Rams games when they were in LA. CLE includes all of the Browns data, BAL is just the Ravens stuff. Also: I had forgotten about the Tennessee Oilers.

Other notes: Pittsburgh’s defense is hurt by the fact that the data starts well into the Steel Curtain era. Tampa and Cleveland have been historically bad on offense and kind of average on defense. Arizona has just been historically bad.

nflscores

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2014 wins and spending

Here’s another plot using DVOA data from Football Outsiders and salary data from The Guardian. This time, I plotted offensive and defensive spending and wins.

Note that The Guardian’s salary data is only approximate, and other sites have different measures of how much teams spent. Oakland’s spending, for example, had to have been a bit higher than this, right? So take this as roughly right, which is good enough for our purposes.

2 interesting things:

(1) five of the seven teams that fired their coach (represented in the graph with a *) spent above league average on offense.

(2) Of course Bill Belichick can take a team with league average salaries and coach them to the AFC Championship game. Of course.

total spend and wins

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