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Offense, Receiving Corps: Measurables

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by PatsFanInVa, Jan 23, 2007.

  1. PatsFanInVa

    PatsFanInVa PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    There are currently many calls on the board for the removal of various Pats personnel, including Reche Caldwell and OC Josh McDaniels. My opinion is that these calls are hyperbolic, and driven by a myopic focus on the "failed" 2006 campaign, which "only" resulted in a 12-4 record and an AFC Championship Game appearance.

    Here are some comparative numbers from 2004 and 2006. The idea is that if our offense was truly wretched in 2006, the numbers from the last Super Bowl year would bear that out. So, without further ado...

    Receiving Corps
    The best measure of the receiving corps may be to add up the respective numbers of every individual who caught a pass in 2004 and 2006. Given that almost all these passes were thrown by Tom Brady, however, I'm going to limit the comparison to Brady's stats.

    To argue that the wideouts must be separated from the tight ends and running backs is moot; playcalling can result in different emphases across the two years, and in fact, many here were calling for just such an emphasis in 2006. Regardless, the goal is to establish that the NE passing game can thrive or cannot thrive given its current configuration (with the proviso that change is constant, and that an upgrade is unlikely to be a bad thing):

    T Brady, 2004
    Attempts: 474
    Completions: 288
    Completion %: 60.8
    Yards: 3692
    Yards Per Attempt: 7.79
    Long: 50
    TD: 28
    INT: 14
    Rating: 92.6

    T Brady, 2006
    Attempts: 516
    Completions: 319
    Completion %: 61.8
    Yards: 3529
    Yards Per Attempt: 6.84
    Long: 62
    TD: 24
    INT: 12
    Rating: 87.9

    Analysis: Many complaints have focused on dropped passes, but it seems unlikely that this category has radically spiked, as it would most likely show up in completion percentage. Rather, yards per attempt is the only category that shows a radical change, almost a yard per attempt.

    Question raised: Are the Pats now "vertically challenged," given the current receiving corps/OC? Could this also be ascribed to the difference in chemistry, with an almost brand-new receiving corps? Ultimately, what will it take to rectify this situation, and what is it worth to rectify the situation?

    Other Comments: 2004 and 2005 were the only years in which Brady was over 7 YPA. His low was 6.26. In 2001 and 2003, also super bowl years, Brady's YPA (6.88, 6.87) were almost identical to 2006's. Even assuming Branch made the difference in 2004-2005, it is also a fact that Branch was developed rather than acquired in FA. This creates a cost to value imbalance, since FA receivers at Branch's level (proven 1B) "cost" much more than a drafted WR. Bang for the buck analysis: Two out of three super bowls were won with similar passing game statistics to those of 2006. A "true [proven veteran] number 1" is something the Patriots have never acquired in the Bill Belichick era (since 2000.)

    Overall Offensive Production

    2004:
    Points/Game: 27.3
    Yards/Game: 357.6
    3rd Dn %: 45.1
    4th Dn %: 40.0
    Pen.: 101
    Pen. Yards: 822
    Time of Possession: 31.22

    2006:
    Points Per Game: 24.1
    Yards Per Game: 335.6
    3rd Dn %: 42.5
    4th Dn %: 80.0
    Pen.: 98
    Pen. Yards: 940
    Time of Possession: 31:35

    Analysis: The Patriots have lost an average of 3.2 points per game from 2004 to 2006. One could point to a variety of contributing factors (new receivers, schedule, OC, etc. etc.), but the decline is certainly not trivial (well over 10% drop in production.) An analysis focusing on McDaniels is indicated if other pre-McDaniels years show similar equal or greater performance to 2004's.

    However, a glance at 2003 exhibits a situation for the offense's general production analogous to the situation for the Pats' passing game:

    2003:
    Points/Game: 21.8
    Yards/Game: 314.9
    3rd Dn %: 37.0
    4th Dn %: 42.9
    Pen.: 111
    Pen. Yards: 998
    Time of Possession: 31.35

    In every category studied, McDaniels' 2006 offense bested Weis' 2003 super-bowl winning offense.

    So, a conclusion analogous to the receiving corps conclusion would seem to be merited: while the 2004 team did perform better than the 2006 team, the 2003 team did prove that, statistically, the performance of the 2006 team's offensive output is in line with the goal of winning a super bowl.

    In other words, regardless of unsatisfactory single-game outcomes, the gambles taken (or not taken) by McDaniels are, all in all, as effective as those preferred by Weis, all else being equal. If the current talent level is truly the best group of individuals ever assembled by the Patriots, it is possible that, say, Weis, could get a 2004-like performance out of them, or an even better performance for that matter. However, it should be emphasized that a performance statistically inferior to the 2006 campaign was sufficient to win a super bowl in the past.

    I know the stats miss aspects of the game breakdowns we emphasize here, but "there should be more play action" (for example,) does not capture results. Comparisons across seasons do.

    The goal here is to determine whether or not our output should be viewed as a sort of "crisis." While improvement is always the goal, I think NE's offensive output in general, and passing game output in particular, are within tolerances within their current configurations -- changes for the better, of course, would be welcomed, but the statistical analysis seems to suggest that NE's success in 2006, if repeated in 2007, could be one part of a super bowl winning formula.

    Thoughts?

    PFnV
     
  2. Keegs

    Keegs In the Starting Line-Up

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    I think Reche Caldwell should be cut and McDoogle should be fired.

    they have no use and are a huge liability.. hence this past game.
     
  3. carolinatony

    carolinatony In the Starting Line-Up

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    I am not in favor of getting rid of anyone... that's BB job.
    My thoughts are that image Brady with a stud WR and a couple of good WR's to throw to which he has never really had?
    He is great with average receivers... what would he do with a great WR?
     
  4. maverick4

    maverick4 Banned

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    PFinV, I have great respect for your posts, and I think this thread is admirable, but you forgot to point out that Charlie Weiss' squads always had a better 'points scored' ranking than 'yards gained' ranking, which is indicative of a more efficient and effective offense. Josh McDaniels' squads, based on two seasons, have a higher 'yards gained' ranking than 'points scored' ranking, which to me indicates that talent is not being maximized.
     
  5. AzPatsFan

    AzPatsFan Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

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    Patfan in Virginia,

    BTW where are you in the Old Dominium? I lived in
    Tidewater, (Newport News) and also Arlington, Alexandria, and Fairfax in Northern Virginia for many years. Its a pretty State. or rather CommonWealth.

    That was a nice analysis. If you did it for 2001 it would be even more stark. This 2006 edition had and has a championship quality Offense associated with it. An Offense loaded with newcomers; young newcomers. Three starting sophomores and three starting freshmen. And two young veterans ready to breakout.

    I have made a bet in passing with NEM that the Patriots in 2007 will have one of the top three Offenses in the League, with a possibility of being THE TOP OFFENSE. Add a year of maturity to the rooks and sophs and a year of acclimation to the receiving corps. It seems almost slam dunk inevitable.

    The scary part is that we were the #2 Defense this season and I can see it improving next season, while the Ravens fade a bit. The STs and specialist are fine and renewed as well.

    Even with out many additions, and there wil certainly be some, 2007 looks to be a VERY Good year !

    I know many are impatient but it just takes the requisite time to bake a cake or build a team.
     
  6. PonyExpress

    PonyExpress In the Starting Line-Up

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    In the last 6 games of the year, including playoffs, the team scored 33 points per game against some of the top scoring D's in the league (J-ville, Jets, SD). This tells me that the offensive system is working well. However, there have been some situational errors that suggest an inexperienced O-coordinator still getting his feet wet in big games (12 men on the field, predictable pass on 3rd and 4 to Troy, et.al.) I am very optimistic and I like the personnel on O, especially as Maroney, thomas, Jackson, Mills, Mankins, etc mature.
     
  7. BradyManny

    BradyManny Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    Great post PatsFanInVa. A lot to think about, I'm not sure what to think yet, the most recent game is still too near.

    Overall, I'd say the problem isn't the wideouts or Brady, something is amiss with the running game.
     
  8. maverick4

    maverick4 Banned

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    Pony, the talent on offense is amazing and will be even better next year. I LOVE our personnel, and I want to right guy holding the playcall sheets. Josh McDaniels just turned 30 years old. Can you imagine an NBA player being coached by a 30 year old coach? Can you imagine a 30 year old MLB coach? The only truly young person who has had success in coaching/GM was Theo Epstein, and he was surrounded by old advisors. Sometimes, you really need to pay your dues and be around several successful regimes in order to figure out the sport. Belichick likes to be hands off in-game with his coordinators, and I absolutely do not feel comfortable with a young guy who makes careless mistakes as well as childish adjustments.

    PFinV, you can't compare Weiss' 2003 season because we had NO ONE on the O-line or backfield. Our O-line back then was a bunch of undrafted guys, and our backfield was Antowain Smith. For McDaniels, we have stocked the offense with high draft picks from the 2005 and 2006 draft.

    Aside from the 'points scored' and 'yards gained' ranking I mentioned, I also think red zone offense is a key indicator of offensive intelligence, and if I'm not mistaken, McDaniels doesn't measure up either.
     
  9. PatsFanInVa

    PatsFanInVa PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Tony, first of all, let me say "God I wish he had that too." After all, for one thing, we're all sick and tired of apples/oranges stat comparisons between Tom and "that other guy" (for instance.) Secondly, it's seductive to think that a 40-TD, 4500-yard season just can't be beat (despite PM's 49-TD "not quite" year.)

    But I think the Pats' valuation scheme is unlikely to turn up the "great WR" we'd like to see, for the same reason that voices urging runs at great CBs have never been heeded by the Pats brass.

    That is not to say NE hasn't or will not make a run at a "true #1". They went after both Derrick Mason and Javon Walker last year, but with no luck. Both of those guys would have arguably been upgrades over our current talent, but neither is in the Harrison/TO/Randy Moss/Chad Johnson/Steve Smith category.

    The difficulty with an established wideout is that the bang for the buck is miniscule in comparison to other positions. Deion Branch ended up with a $6.5 M average per year cap hit in Seattle, over six years ($39M total.) That included $23M in the first three years.

    Randy Moss pulled in an 8 year, $75M deal from Oakland, or almost $10M/year. This included an $18M signing bonus. Oh and by the way, he wants out.

    Reche Caldwell is costing the Pats $906,000 against the cap for 2006. Jabar Gaffney ran us $413,000. Troy Brown? Another $1.5M. So basically for the cost of a single even borderline "#1 receiver," the Pats are able to put together super-bowl-possible receiving corps.

    This isn't to say we need to be penny wise and pound foolish with receivers. It is just to say that with about $100M to work with in 2006, we were able to spend only a few million on receivers, and make a respectable run. Would we have spent $5M a year on Branch? Yes. We just would not spend $6.5M a year on him, with $8M in bonuses (unrecoverable up-front money.) Would we have spent somewhere in the same neighborhood on Javon Walker or Derrick Mason? Again, yes. However, the league-wide valuation of Walker was higher than ours; Mason's wife just didn't like Boston (or so I hear.)

    Since the Pats again spent to the cap, close to it, or slightly over it, depending on who you talk to, the question becomes: what deal would you not get done, in order to get the #1 wideout of your choosing?

    Will Tom ever get his Jerry Rice? Yes - if the Patriots have the good fortune of drafting him (as the 49ers did with the original Rice.) Will the Patriots pay market rate for a "proven superstar" type receiver? My gut feeling is no.

    They're also all headcases ;)

    Out of curiosity - let's say you'd grab an $8M/Year against the cap guy. Where would you cut the $8M in the upcoming year?

    PFnV
     
  10. PatsFanInVa

    PatsFanInVa PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Maverick: yeah, you caught me on "all else being equal." However by the same token, one could argue that as we gained backfield depth and strength, as well as offensive line capability, we bargained away all our receivers (Givens, Patten, Branch... oh and of course, Bethel :rolleyes: )

    Still, let me come back to you on Red Zone stats, because that is an incredible measure of efficiency, as it is on defense. By the way thanks for the kind words!

    Az, sounds like I just picked your map of the DC area and shadowed it. I've lived in Fairfax and until a couple of years ago, Arlington, and now I live in Alexandria. Thanks to you too for the comments, and I think we can look forward to a bright future with this nucleus. Jackson is an unknown; he represents "taking our shot downfield". After one year he looks like a bust, but you can not evaluate a draft pick after one injury-plagued year. (Not yet.) Am I against taking a shot at a guy of Mason's or Walker's caliber in this offseason? Of course not. But I think we need to all embrace the notion that this year's offense was productive, if not perfect. Is McDaniels squandering that talent? Some here insist yes. I say this year's performance indicates adequacy at worst for McDaniels. I like to think an OC can get better too. (Now I'll have to kiss NEM's butt if the Pats tank next year or something, God forbid.)

    PFnV
     
  11. BelichickFan

    BelichickFan B.O. = Fugazi PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #24 Jersey

    Clearly you can't compare any year to any other but 2004 is the obvious outlier to which it's unfair to judge McDaniels. Weis had everything, the WR, TE, Dillon in his prime and continuity (other than Dillon but vet RB are plug and play).

    Not only do we now have, IMO, less talent at WR but it was learning as we went. Both WR are first year with the team and one of them signed 1/4 or so into the season.

    Next year, even with no additions, should be a lot better with Maroney a little beefed up from a full offseason program and the WR being much more on the same page as Brady from Week 1.
     
  12. BelichickFan

    BelichickFan B.O. = Fugazi PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #24 Jersey

    Oh, the hate for Josh.

    I don't have Red Zone raw stats but I do have Football Outsiders' red zone stats from their AFCCG preview :

    http://www.footballoutsiders.com/2007/01/19/ramblings/game-previews/4857/

    And they have the Patriots' red zone offense second in the league.

    Sorry.
     
  13. PatsFanInVa

    PatsFanInVa PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I think the Pats were #1 in 2003 in RZ offense, good point.... I just can not find a page stating as much... if you have a stat, lay it out.

    For 2006 -
    Red zone offense
    Patriots: 36 TDs in 60 trips, 60 pct. (5th)

    So, that would mark a decline from the RZ efficiency from 2003 to 2006, but an increase in overall number of points. I guess we have to say that if we get up to speed in the RZ, the current offense will just be insane, if these are truly the respective ranks. But we can not say the offense as currently constituted is incapable of competing... and that is all I was trying to establish.

    Excellent further probing though,

    PFnV

    Above link is probably better though - I was just googling it, and this cite came up (also prior to SD game.)
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2007
  14. maverick4

    maverick4 Banned

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    By the way, Pony, I wanted to add that I also highly respect your posts. I also forgot to add previously that I think Caldwell is an excellend #2/3 receiver, and think the criticism against him is overblown. My main beef is with McDaniels, and I sincerely hope he improves, because up till now he isn't cutting it.
     
  15. stinkypete

    stinkypete In the Starting Line-Up

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    #24 Jersey

    I'd say an overlooked stat here is the YAC of the receivers. Most of our passes, even late in the year, have seemed to be short routes toward the sidelines. During the 2004-2005 stretch, we could rely on our recievers to get more yards after catches.

    I think the solution here isn't necessarily a stud #1 WR, but a quick off the snap WR in the mold of Branch. I'm confident one of these could be scouted out and had in the mid rounds of the draft (look at Clemson's Chansi Stuckey and VA Tech's David Clowney).
     
  16. IcyPatriot

    IcyPatriot ------------- PatsFans.com Supporter

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    This stuff is all well and good however Belichick/Pioli factor in salary per position relative to where they are building or have veterans. So you can do all the stats you wish but if the salary structure of the team means saving money in the WR area in 2007 then Reche stays regardless of stats ... Belichick/Brady will work him harder as in Givens when he was here.
     
  17. carolinatony

    carolinatony In the Starting Line-Up

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    Stat's are misleading. This year there was a lack of timing between Brady and the receivers more than there should be. Yes; this can be because they were all new but we don't want next year to be like this.
    If Brach retires; we need another WR!
     
  18. ATippett56

    ATippett56 Pro Bowl Player

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    Measureables:

    http://www.coldhardfootballfacts.com/Article.php?Page=1263

    NEW ENGLAND: RT Nick Kaczur
    The Patriots don’t have many statistical holes in their game. In addition to owning the No. 7 scoring offense and No. 2 scoring defense, the Patriots are:

    2nd in defensive passer rating (88.3)
    10th in rush defense (3.88 yards allowed)
    6th in time of possession
    7th in passer rating (88.3)

    Their only significant deficiency is the statistically average running game (3.9 YPC, 18th in the NFL). Some of that is due to a disproportionate number of short runs by Tom Brady (49 rushes, more than Steve McNair), because New England’s three tailbacks (Corey Dillon, Kevin Faulk and Laurence Maroney) collectively had a bang-up season.

    Their final numbers: 1,680 yards, 4.21 YPA, and 19 rushing TDs, to go with 80 catches, 697 yards and three receiving TDs.

    But the Patriots did struggle a bit trying to run from sets with a single tight end. Dill-Faulk-Roney ran 65 percent of the time from two- or three-TE sets and averaged 4.31 YPA; from zero- and one-TE sets, they averaged 4.06 YPA.

    New England plays to its strengths (strong tight ends), but they also have needed the help on the right side of the line. New England tailbacks averaged just 3.36 on runs to the right (150 for 502 yards), where their weakest link resides.

    A second-year man, Kaczur was beaten out by rookie Ryan O’Callaghan after an injury-marred camp and didn’t regain his job until Week 9. Shawne Merriman is likely to spend at least 50 percent of his snaps on Kaczur’s side, lining up next to run-stopping DE Luis Castillo.

    The Patriots will need to protect their right tackle because you, Mr. Kaczur, are the weakest link.
     
  19. PatsFanInVa

    PatsFanInVa PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Pete, good observation too. I worked from "gross" stats both for easy availability, and because they incorporate things like YAC. 2004-2005 is precisely where Brady's Yards Per Reception spiked by almost a yard. Find the correlated YAC stats for the team (or receiver by receiver) for that stretch, compare to 2006, and you may have the whole explanation of that delta.

    FBN, that's pretty much my conclusion on the WR position as well. The bang for the buck is just not there in terms of signing someone else's "proven" number 1. If we end up with that "dream receiver" he'll be someone we draft and develop -- although there's no point in ignoring the middle ground. I could see a run at a $5-6M/year guy (modest signing bonus included,) whom the Pats deem appropriately valued. Just not a $7-10M/year guy who wants all the money up front.

    PFnV
     

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