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Wide Receiver productivity, 2001-2006

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by Kasmir, Dec 22, 2006.

  1. Kasmir

    Kasmir Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    I thought it might be instructive to look a Patriot WR statistical productivity year to year for comparative purposes, given the interest in the debate. It will come as no surprise that I continue to use Football Outsider's statistics.

    http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/wr.php

    Specifically, in this case I'm using their DPAR measure, as measures total point productivity above replacement across the season, vs DVOA, which measures average performance per play. You can add total WR DPAR together to get a team WR DPAR, but you can't add WR DVOA without weighting it ny passes attempted. Also, DPAR is in points, which is a useful measure.

    Here are the summary total WR DPAR results:

    2006 32.6
    2005 60.5
    2004 61.6
    2003 50.0
    2002 22.4
    2001 42.6

    So perhaps to the surprise of some, the statistics support the eyeballs that see this year's WR productivity as being weak comparatively, the weakest of any year except 2002, the one non-playoff year the the bunch.

    The individual data (see below) shows that the bulk of this fall off being caused by losing the contribution of our top WR (Branch) and not replacing it. Our #1 this year (Caldwell) is producing at a #2 level. What's worse, our #2 (Brown) is not producing at the #3 levels of the past 3 years. So it's as if we lost our #1 and #3 receivers.

    The numbers suggest retaining Branch might have given us nearly the same productivity as 2005/4. Retaining Givens alone might have restored us to 2003 numbers. Retaining both and adding Caldwell might have given us the best WR we had in this period.

    Notes:

    2006 is projected, i.e. I used 16/14 of the present 28.6, i.e. I assume that performance to date will project for for the last two games

    Playoff performance is not included. This is the only choice to get a baseline for comparison across the years involved.

    WR's with less than 10 catches are not included.

    WR rushing, passing or teams contribution not included, even though this can be measurable David Patten in 2001 contributed 8.6 pts of value receiving and 4.7 more rushing.

    Football Outsider's caveat's apply particularly:
    Also synergies with TE's, the running game, defense, and special teams are not included, although do note that the FO system is based on contribution per play, so many of these factors are indirectly included: WR whose NFL stats are padded by 7 yard catches on 3-10 will not be credited much in this system, for instance.

    Individual Data: (name, DPAR)

    2006 (14 games)
    -----
    Caldwell 13
    Brown 5.3
    Jackson 5.0
    Gabriel 3.9
    Gaffney 1.4

    2005
    -----
    Branch 27.5
    Givens 12.8
    Brown 11.6
    Dwight 8.0
    Davis 0.6

    2004
    -----
    Givens 21.4
    Patten 18.6
    Branch 16.7
    Brown 3.6
    Johnson 1.3

    2003
    -----
    Branch 19.3
    Givens 18.0
    Brown 14.8
    Patten 0.8
    Ward 0.6
    Johnson -3.5

    2002
    -----
    Patten 9.0
    Branch 8.2
    Brown 5.2
    Givens -0.6
    Hayes -3.8

    2001
    -----
    Brown 31.0
    Patten 8.6
    Glenn 5.7
    Johnson -2.7
     
  2. PATRIOTSFANINPA

    PATRIOTSFANINPA Pro Bowl Player

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    Wow Branch Played For Us In 2006 5.3? . . Must Have Missed That!;)
     
  3. Kasmir

    Kasmir Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    Brown of course, tx for the catch.
     
  4. PATRIOTS-80

    PATRIOTS-80 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

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    Is there any way to compare what our TEs have done as opposed to later years? For a while there Watson was our leading receiver.

    Thanks for all your stats. They really are enlightning.
     
  5. Gumby

    Gumby 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

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    #11 Jersey

    Nice research.

    I guess the only stat that really surprised me in that is Brown's #. He has been such an consistent part of the offense and always seemed to be coming up with catches at critical points (not so much this year; but still every once in a while).

    Do they provide those ratios broken out by game as well? It would be interesting to see if we are showing any tendancy to improve as the year progresses. If so then there may be some optimism for the playoffs.

    But right now it seems we will live and die with TEs and RBs in playoffs as we have during the year.
     
  6. Kasmir

    Kasmir Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    Since FO compiles play-by-play values, they must have game breakdowns, but I don't see them on the site.

    Their team DVOA roll-ups do show results both unweighted and with a greater weight for the most recent 8 games. By that measure, we're slightly better now as a team than we were earlier in the year, but a large part of that is that our opposition (AFC East, etc) is better than people thought.

    As for Troy, the FO stats are not that kind to him even in his best years. Even though his 2001 was the most productive single year (in this period) for a Patriots receiver, his DVOA (value per play) wasn't that great that year (17.3%) -- Terry Glenn actually had the highest DVOA (20.4%) on the team that year. OF course, Glenn's 5.7 DPAR contribution didn't get him a ring; I sure hope Charles Johnson's -2.7 contribution also didn't get him one!

    The shocker for me was actually Troy's 2002 numbers. Even though he had 891 yards that year, he had only a 5.2 DPAR. In other words, FO claims Chad Jackson has contributed more to the success of the 2006 team than Troy's receiving did to the 2002 team ! Brown rated a miserable -9.3% DVOA despite being targeted for 141 passes. I don't know how this compares to the "eyeball" memory of that season, as the 2002 season is now a painful blur for me.

    There are a lot of interesting nuggets buried in this data. I didn't post the DVOA's because it would have cluttered things up too much, but beware that there is sometimes a big discrepancy between DPAR and DVOA; for example Branch was 3rd in DPAR in 2004 because he was injured, but he was by far our best receiver in DVOA (36.2%).

    There is also a tendency for regression to the mean, particularly with receivers who have high DVOA one year on not many attempts. Givens was fantastic in 2003 on a DVOA basis with 55.9%, which was 3rd in the league (and would be first in many years), but he regressed when targeted more (105 times vs 55) in the next year (and perhaps because Branch was hurt so much), but he ended up leading the team in contribution (DPAR) for the only time, even though his performance per play (DVOA) fell to 16.6%.

    Of course all statistical approaches have anomalies, but the FO system seems pretty good and has helped my understanding of the game. Again, you can't eyeball everything, you can't remember everything you see, and sometimes you see and remember only the things you want to. Stats don't have those subjectivity problems.
     
  7. Kasmir

    Kasmir Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    I'll take a look. Again, they're not my stats, they're Football Outsiders, who have really marvelously innovated in football statistics. All I'm doing is collating them for our interest.
     
  8. Kasmir

    Kasmir Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    Tight End Statistics.

    http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/te.php

    Summary:
    2006 8.9 DPAR, 144 att
    2005 12.8 DPAR, 96 att
    2004 24.1 DPAR, 80 att
    2003 15.7 DPAR, 107 att
    2002 13.1 DPAR, 84 att
    2001 3.2 DPAR, 29 att

    Perhaps surprisingly, TE production is also significantly down, despite being featured a lot more. Both Watson and Graham have negative DVOA, i.e. they're averaging below replacement level per play (recall that DVOA/DPAR penalizes fumbles). Perhaps this is a negative synergy with the WR production problem, or perhaps there's another systemic problem (Brady having an off year?). But TE performance is not a strong point according to FO stats.

    Individual breakdowns:

    2006
    -----
    Watson 5.5 DPAR, -2.8% DVOA, 91 att
    Thomas 1.3 DPAR, 7.5% DVOA, 11 att
    Graham 1.0 DPAR, -7.9% DVOA, 24 att
    -------
    Total 7.8 DPAR (8.9 annualized), 126 att (144 annualized)


    2005
    -----
    Watson 8.5 DPAR, 12.2% DVOA, 54 att
    Graham 4.4 DPAR, 17.4% DVOA, 25 att
    Fauria -0.1 DPAR, -12.8% DVOA, 17 att
    -------
    Total 12.8 DPAR, 96 att


    2004
    -----
    Graham 13.6 DPAR, 32.5% DVOA, 48 att
    Fauria 8.0 DPAR, 42.3% DVOA, 20 att
    Weaver 2.5 DPAR, 16.8% DVOA, 12 att
    ------
    Total 24.1 DPAR, 80 att


    2003
    -----
    Fauria 8.0 DPAR, 22.1% DVOA, 45 att
    Graham 6.7 DPAR, 8.0% DPAR, 62 att
    ------
    Total 15.7 DPAR, 107 att


    2002
    -----
    Fauria 11.1 DPAR, 30% DVOA, 40 att
    Cleeland 1.4 DPAR, -1.7% DVOA, 21 att
    Graham 0.6 DPAR, -8.9% DVOA, 23 att
    -----
    Total 13.1 DPAR, 84 att


    2001
    -----
    Wiggins 3.7 DPAR, 13.5% DVOA, 21 att
    Rutledge -0.5 DPAR, -20.9% DVOA, 8 att
    ------
    Total 3.2 DPAR
     
  9. edzo44

    edzo44 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    So just out of curiousity, for 2006, what were Branch and Givens numbers with their new teams? Better or worse?
     
  10. Kasmir

    Kasmir Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    I covered that in another thread, but here it is again:

    I should also add that Branch has a DPAR of 6.4, Givens -2.2.


    http://208.109.107.176/new-england-patriots/messageboard/showthread.php?t=46535&page=6
     
  11. pats1

    pats1 Moderator PatsFans.com Supporter

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    IIRC, FO's stats have never been all that friendly to the Pats...
     
  12. Kasmir

    Kasmir Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    In the sense that the team hasn't had many DVOA superstars (except Brady), sure, but we know that's an aspect of the Belioli system which focuses on maximizing total team value. Actually, the team overall has done well in total DVOA:

    2006 #5
    2005 #12
    2004 #1
    2003 #3
    2002 #10
    2001 #12

    Since it's unreasonable to expect any system to track actual records and playoff winners, that's not too bad. Pythagorean might do as well, but their entire system is in a sense an attempt to break down Pythagorean value on a per player per play basis.

    http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/teameff2001.php

    If I'm beginning to sound like a shill, please be sure I have absolutely no affiliation with them whatsoever; I've never even corresponded with them.
     
  13. BlitzFritz

    BlitzFritz Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    thanks for pointing out with stats the obvious (that many diehard fans have been disputing), namely that our passing production at WR is nothing like it was during the 03/04 years. we are clearly hurting on offense this year no sh!t.

    a real tragedy as has been discussed ad infinitum, but fingers still crossed for the rest of the season!!!:cool:
     
  14. Kasmir

    Kasmir Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    Keep in mind I'm one of the guys defending Caldwell. :) I think signing him was the only thing we did right at WR this year, with the yet to be possible exception of Chad Jackson and his 33% DVOA ;)

    And more seriously, I think Brady may also be having an off year, perhaps induced by the WR turmoil. TE production is down, too...
     
  15. JoeSixPat

    JoeSixPat Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    VERY interesting stats Kasmir. I thank Pats1 for all his hard work as well but I think your approach gets to the heart of the matter on how our WRs compare from year to year.

    2002 is a bit surprising as you said - the common assumption (mine anyway) was that 2002 was a good year for offense and a bad year for defense. Generally speaking it was, however its clear, that as with 2006, other aspects of the passing game were factored into a look at how our deep threat (or lack thereof) impacted the team.

    It seems clear that even though 2002 was statistically good on offense, the deep game was a major weakness - and therefore can impact the game in other areas not immediately visible in general offensive stats.

    Regarding the similar TE stats - that's been an area that has been adversely affected by TE injuries, OL injuries, and this year, the lack of a credible deep threat. No real surprise to me that even with Watson's contributions the numbers are way down in this area. Simply stated, you can't all but remove WRs from your system and not expect that collapsing Defenses aren't going to adversly affect the short to mid-range air game.

    I guess that also comes down to a situation where, if you ask Watson to be both a WR and a TE, its a situation where he's going to be limited in doing either role well.

    In some regards there's still an abberation in the 2006 statistics - as to whether Watson should be regarded as a WR or a TE. I'd say consider him a TE only, but taking Watson out of the mix for WR is going to deflate those numbers.

    But again EXCELLENT summary of the available numbers.
     
  16. JoeSixPat

    JoeSixPat Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    I'll just add an interesting note. I'd always assumed that the "talking heads" check in on this board. Yesterday's Big Show on EEI had the near identical debate that we've been having for several days prior on comparing the 2006 offense to other years.

    It was almost like they were reading our threads. Some spouting statistics that showed that the 2006 offense was doing fine, and others using the term "eyeball test" to state that the 2006 offense is FAR from being as good as previous seasons.

    Just funny to hear the same argument on the radio as is going on here - just shows that we're as good, if not better, than the so-called "experts".

    Of course ultimately NONE of this analysis matters for the remainder of the season. What we've done in the first 14 games, while it does illustrate weaknesses that could be exploited and need to be addressed, does not impact what the team WILL or CAN do in the final two games and hopefully in the playoffs.

    The guys we have now are the guys we'll be playing for the remainder of the games. It's up to them and the coaches to do more with what they have, than they have previously.

    But ultimately, winning Super Bowls has little to do with what you did in the first 14 games - it only matters what you do in the final playoff games. Peaking at the right time is all that matters - and if the offense can avoid mistakes and restore consistency, they can beat ANY team in the playoffs.
     
  17. Kasmir

    Kasmir Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    Well, this is the Acme if open-source thinking about the Patriots (sorry KFFL and Patriots Planet), so I'm sure it draws attention, derision, and occasionally anonymous participation and indirect homage from the professional opinionators.

    But I'm sure BB never reads it. But Ernie Adams might. :)
     
  18. JoeSixPat

    JoeSixPat Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    I'm sure he doesn't read it either. But we do know that some members of the team and their family members do, and no doubt the Kraft organization is smart enough to check in to see what the fans generally think (why wouldn't they).

    If you're a position coach for the Patriots, while you'd want to take any feedback with a big grain of salt, why NOT check in here from time to time to see if there's any benefit to be found from several thousand eyeballs watching the same game that you have, to see if they've noticed anything signficant.

    I've definately seen some World Class insights on this board - and no offense to the other sites, but I find the level of discussion here a cut above everyone else.
     
  19. PonyExpress

    PonyExpress In the Starting Line-Up

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    Thomas will be a big help to Brady... he seems like the kind of player that they won't be able to drag off the field once he gets his chance. He catches everything, has the savvy to find gaps in zone Defenses, IOW he will become Brady's best friend, a new 'Troy Brown" type. Despite Thomas' small number of opportunities, it is no surprise he has performed well according to DVOA. The minor injury to Watson may be a blessing in disguise, giving Thomas his opportunity, and he could become one of the key figures through the playoff run, a new fan favorite...
     
  20. JoeSixPat

    JoeSixPat Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    His college highlight reel was sure impressive. I think you're correct that the main way he gets more reps this season is with Watson out.

    Because there's no credible deep threat and the safeties are playing up on the line, that's made Graham's blocking essential this season. And while Thomas can certainly improve his blocking, I don't think he was really drafted as a blocking TE - he's a pass catcher & that role has generally been filled well by Watson.

    Though I have been surprised that given the need for warm bodies to catch balls he's not been given more of a chance this season.
     

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