Tag Archives: NFL

Teams That I Believe Will Regress this Season

This post is the complimentary to other post I’ve made about teams that I think will improve.  Once again, this will be in order of most to least confident

Teams That I Believe Will Regress this Season, NFL

Detroit Lions

This is more about Detroit not being anywhere close to their record last year.  The amount of fourth quarter comebacks they had last year is not sustainable. Their defense is devoid talent and for them to win, their offense will have to continue to make comebacks.  The law of averages says this won’t happen.

Dallas Cowboys

Dallas’s defense was not good last year and they’ve lost several players, meaning chances are they will be worse.  This means their offense will have to carry them again.  Now, their offense is super talented but I’m warry on a few different fronts.  Firstly, they were pretty healthy last year. All it takes is an injury or two to a key person and it can go down hill really fast.  Secondly, the strength of their team is their line.  They have the three studs who are going to dominate.  But with an offensive line your weakest link is just or even more so important than your strongest.   If either of the two remaining spots do not work themselves out, it will be difficult for Dallas to dominate on the offensive front like last year.  Lastly, I am concerned about Dak.  He plaid amazing as a rookie last year.  But now coaches have time to analyse what he’s good and struggles with.  The game should become a lot harder for him.  It would not surprise me if he turns the ball over more this year.

New York Giants

The New York Giants won games on their defense last year.  But here is the odd thing.  They had a terrible pass rush.  This means they dominated in the secondary.  And when they played Green Bay in the playoffs and had injuries to the secondary you saw what happened.  DRC is a hugely important part of their secondary as he plays the slot in their nickel packages.  I don’t believe that he will stay healthy.  If their defense takes a step back their offense will have to pick up the slack. I really like the additional of Brandon Marshall but their line is still awful.   I believe that is too big of a short coming to pick up the slack from the step that the defense will take back.

Other Notes

Quickly, I believe that Oakland and KC will also take steps back.  I really like both teams but 12 wins is had to accomplish.  The division will be tough as well as playing 1st and 2nd place schedules.  Wins will be cannibalized

Teams I Think are Going to Improve

Below are some teams that I think going to improve a lot over last season’s record.  I’ve structured it from most confident about the turnaround to least confident.

L.A. Chargers

This division should be one of the toughest in football this year and I think the Chargers are going to compete for a title.  Last year they were decimated by injury as well as found a way to lose games they should have won.  Chances are this won’t happen again.  In terms of talent, Teams I Think are Going to Improve, NFL forecastI think they are up there with all the other teams in the division.  Their defense is super underrated.  They have 2 legitimate pass rushing options as well as great cover corners on the back end.  This allows tremendous scheme flexibility and gives them the ability to match up with any opponent.  On offense, their biggest weakness is their offensive line.  They addressed this in the draft by adding two of the top guards in this class.  Every other position group they have above average talent.  Mark my words – if the Charges can avoid the insane amount of injuries they had last year, they are going to compete in this division.

 

New Orleans Saints

The Saints Issue last year was their defense.  Every level was terrible but their secondary was particularly poor.  Not only did they draft the first cornerback taken in the draft but they get Delvin Breaux back from injury (the one corner who has shown starting NFL caliber level of play) and they drafted a safety who should come in and start.  This should do wonders to their secondary as their adding 3 starters.  On the defensive line, they are adding their first-round pick from last year who missed the regular season due to injury.  That’s a large talent injection to their defense.  If they can get decent play from that until they have a chance to be good as their offense is always one of the tops in the league.

Cincinnati Bengals

Their offensive line still scares me but I think they have the weapons to overcome it.  With A.J. Green and John Ross on the outside, Defenses should be playing a lot of 2 high safeties.  This makes life a lot easier for the line as blitz looks are a lot less complex and in theory less concerning.  It should also help Andy Dalton, in addition to just having more talent around him, as one of his biggest weaknesses is when the pre-snap look changes post snap.  If teams are in 2 high safeties then they won’t be able to disguise as much and change the post-snap look.  Also in adding Joe Mixon, they added a running back that can make the line look better than it is from the running game perspective.

The problem last year was their offense.  I think after this offseason they can become great again and if that happens then they should be back in contention for the AFC north.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I really liked Tampa’s offseason.  The only reason I don’t have them higher is because they already had a winning record last year and getting to double digit wins in the NFL is tough.  Also, take into their schedule.  I think that everyone in their division improved and they are playing the second-place schedule instead of the last place. That being said their defense should be about the same but their offense took leaps forward in my opinion.  Adding Jackson opposite Evens (who also is a fast receiver) creates the same look as Cincinnati where teams are not want to bring the extra safety down into the box.  This should help the line as well as the running game.  The other offensive player they added was O.J. Howard an excellent in-line TE.  Why this is important is it will allow Tampa to play in base personnel, simplifying the game for Winston, and still give them the flexibility to create mismatch opportunities.  They have a great f-type TE in Brate who they can move around the formation if they so choose.  This will make them an almost impossible team to match up to, which is why I think they will improve.

Minnesota Vikings

This one is more logic.  They can’t have as bad of an offensive line as they did last.  If you add an improved line and potentially great back, that can create on his own further helping the offensive line, to their dominate defense and that should equal success.

Jacksonville Jaguars

If you take the QB position out of the equation then they have a really talented roster.  Last year their defense was really good, they just got off to a bit of a rough start and it threw off the data a bit.  During the offseason, they added more talent to their defense.  They have the talent to be a top until in the league.  If they can get to that level and have a decent running game they’ll be in a lot of games.  Also note that when Blake did have his best season, he was really good on play action.  A good running game can help the play action game but it’s more about the philosophy and playing out of running sets that can help a play action game.  Logically they should be in contention for the division.

Philadelphia Eagles

They added a lot of pieces to their already talented team in the offseason and they just happen to address a lot of their areas of need.  Based on that I think they will be better than last year.  The reason I have them at the bottom of the list is I’m not sure that the issues that hindered them last year won’t this year as well speed at wide receiver, offensive line depth, and corner talent.  Torey Smith is fast but not a good NFL receiver so I’m not sure that solves the problem.  I am a fan of the Jeffery signing and think he helps the team, but he doesn’t address the speed issue really and he has been unavailable for a lot of games recently.  Not sure you can count on a full season from him.  Last year when Lane Johnson went down, Wentz struggled.  They didn’t add any depth on their offensive line.  They added a lot of corner talent but due to injury, it might not be super impactful this season.

2017 NFL Draft – Round 1 Reactions

2017 NFL Draft – Round 1 Reactions, nfl draft NFL

Oddly enough, yesterday was one of the premier dates on the NFL calendar even though there is no football being played.   But I fall victim to it as well as I think it’s a lot of fun!  Below are some of my thoughts on the first round.  I think draft grades are silly, especially after the first round when you haven’t seen the team’s complete strategy unfold, as you should wait a few years to see how these players pan out.  However, there are some things I liked, things I didn’t like and some things I found interesting without getting too snap judgy.

 

Cleveland Browns:

Overall, I liked what they did.  Yes, they still need a QB but Mitchell Trubisky was not worth the  1st overall pick, especially when you consider the alternative in Myles Garrett.  I’m making a bit of an assumption that Trubisky was their guy.  Once he was gone trading up from 12 to draft one of the other 2 qbs would not have been smart just so you can say you drafted a qb.  I am surprised at the next 2 players they chose given their analytical approach.  Both are more projection players so we’ll have to wait and see how they work out.  But given that they have lots of time to develop players they do have time to let them develop so that’s a positive.

Chicago Bears:

It’s a bit of an odd strategy they are implying here.  The signing of Mike Glennon makes a lot less sense now.  I guess what they are hoping for is that he plays well and then they can trade him next offseason when Trubisky is ready to take over.  If that works out then sure, I guess that is a great strategy.  However, I feel this is rather unlikely.  First of all, their receiving core is a mess and now that they’ve traded away their midround picks I doubt this will change.  I feel they should have signed a placeholder qb and either rolled over the $11 million savings to next years cap or signed some other free agents.  The reason they are picking so high is they have holes on their roster.  They are not going to be filled this offseason.  Trubisky might work out and be a franchise altering qb which would be great for them, but it doesn’t mean the process was correct.

San Francisco 49ers

Great on them for picking up 2 mid round picks and still getting the guy they wanted.  You can defiantly make the case that they should have drafted for need a little bit more as their last 3 top draft picks play the same position essentially.  But if it comes together than this isn’t and issue.  As for Reuben foster, he’ll either be a great player or wont be able to get himself together and will flame out of the league.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars

I am very weary of this pick.  Ultimately, he needs to produce at the level that Adrian Peterson did when he came into the league.  Anything short of that and it’s a mistake – time will tell but that’s a high standard.

Tennessee Titans

I like what they did.  It would have been nice if they could have traded out of that pick but you still need someone to trade up to be able to do that.  Given the run on receivers that happened after, their guy would have been gone by 18.  You can’t fault a team now for taking their guy when the drop off in talent is so large for when they would get to pick again.

 L.A. Chargers

Bit of a luxury pick given the talent they have at WR, but given their needs they could wait until a later round to address and get a similar player.  If they don’t address their needs than maybe something more can be said about this pick.  That said, they must really like Mike Williams or really fear injuries at that position because he really isn’t that much of an upgrade over what they have.  I’m really interested to see what scheme they end up playing.  If it is the Seattle style that everyone says than maybe passing on Malik Hooker will come back to bite them.  But their current personal is more suited for a man scheme, which Hooker would not nearly have the impact in that scheme so that would make more sense.

Carolina Panthers

I’m very concerned with this pick.  I believe that Christian McCaffrey is worth a top 10 pick, but to a team that can maximize his value and I do not believe Carolina’s scheme will do that.  Time will tell if I’m wrong but those are my thoughts.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

They have a scary group of skilled position players now especially if they can add a running back in the later rounds.  I expect them to play lots of 21 personal now.  This should simplify the game for Jameis reducing his interceptions as well as really help their running game.  With Jackson and Evens on the outside opposing defenses will be very reluctant to play with only 1 deep safety.

New York Giants

It will be interesting how they deploy him.  The Giants have 3 good wide receivers so you would imagine they’ll want to play 3 wr sets.  Assuming that they go that route, they’ll be asking Engram to be an in-line TE which he is undersized for.  If they detach him the only things they can run are quick strike passing concepts as they otherwise their line will get exposed with no help.

Other Thoughts:

With the depth at corner they really got pushed down.  A lot of offensive and defensive line players went higher than expected.  Makes sense as teams feel they can get a similar player later in the draft.  With multiple teams, I believe using this strategy I expect there to be a run on them in the second round

Can’t wait to see how the rest of the draft plays out!  This will give you a few more clues to the team’s strategy as well up coming plans.  After the draft is complete we can judge the team’s strategy much more effectively

image: pixabay

Building an NFL Team

It’s draft season and with it comes hope for every NFL franchise.  They bad teams are hoping to use the draft to makeover their roster and set them up for future success.  The good teams are hoping to add that one difference maker to put them over the edge and give them a shot at the Super Bowl.  As a fan, it can be tough to take the emotion out of analyzing the moves of your favorite teamBuilding an NFL Team, NFL Draft, but here is a strategy to consider, most of which use cold hard data, before you criticize too much.

 

Offense over defense – Offensive success correlates more to team wins than defense.  I’ve looked at, what I think, are two of the most important team metrics; DVOA and red zone scoring (TD only).  Both correlate very well to overall team wins and conceptually this makes sense.  What’s nice about these stats is the offensive and defensive contributions can be isolated.  Comparing the offensive and defensive contributions to team wins, both offensive metrics correlate a good amount higher than defensive.  What this means is a team with a good offense should have more wins than a team with a good defense.  A good example of this in action is the most successful team of the current generation, the New England Patriots.  In the recent years that have taken to trading away all their defensive talent.  Yes, there are salary cap considerations but they have retained their offensive talent so it would make sense that they are following this strategy.

 

Now that’s not to say to only focus on offense and just sign undrafted free agents to play on defense.  What it means is that a team should prioritize having a good offense over having a good defense.  And I would further break it down to be a team should prioritize having a good offense over having a good defense apart from pass rush.  I haven’t looked into the numbers on this to see if this theory actually is valid but I feel the concept behind it is sound.  Assuming a team has adopted the above philosophy it’s unrealistic for them to have a dominate defense.  I believe that if a team puts a few recourses into having a good pass rush and is not absolutely terrible elsewhere on the defense they can be a bend but don’t break defense. The reason this is important is it goes back to the red zone metric described above.  On defense, you want to reduce the amount of red zone TD’s given up per game based on this metric.  I believe that if you have a good pass rush, a team will be able to have a low red zone td percentage which will lead to few red zone TDs conceded.  The reasoning for this is in the red zone the space a defense must defend is a lot less.  With each defender having to defend a smaller zone (assuming zone defense will be played as it is unlikely for a team that doesn’t have great corner’s to be playing man) it should take longer for receivers to get open, allowing more time for the pass rushers to get home.  If you have a good pass rush this should be a recipe for stopping teams once they get to the red zone.

 

There was a lot of theories and numbers outlined above, but what you should take away from it is if your team goes into this season with a good offense and pass rush, chances are they are going to be in playoff contention.  And as a fan, what more can you ask for!

 

image: pixabay