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Moneyball and the price of winning in the NFL

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ivanvamp

In the Starting Line-Up
In fairness to most of these guys....they may not be elite but at the right time, they did provide elite play.

Foles being the best example.

Well....I wouldn't say that Eli provided "elite" QB play during his 2007 run. He was fantastic in the 2011 run for sure. But in the 2007 run, his NFCCG and Super Bowl stats were:

NFCCG: 21-40 (52.5%), 251 yds, 6.3 y/a, 0 td, 0 int, 72.0 rating
Super Bowl: 19-34 (55.9%), 255 yds, 7.5 y/a, 2 td, 1 int, 87.3 rating (and had three passes nearly intercepted on that final drive)

Brad Johnson was decidedly MEH during his SB run - his passer ratings in those games were 76.8, 82.8, 79.9, while completing 54% of his passes.

Trent Dilfer's stat lines were a joke for a SB run. That was all defense. They won a playoff game where he completed 5 (out of 16) passes.

Peyton's last SB run he was absolutely awful. They won the SB by two touchdowns with him going 13-23 (56%), for 141 yds, 0 td, 1 int, and a passer rating of 56.6.

So Foles was elite, and Eli had one elite run. The rest? Yuck.
 

Nehalem

In the Starting Line-Up
Yes, but lots of teams have won without a franchise QB. Since 2000, these teams have won the SB with a mediocre-at-best QB (based on performance, not necessarily salary):

2000 - Trent Dilfer, Bal
2002 - Brad Johnson, TB
2007 - Eli Manning, NYG
2011 - Eli Manning, NYG
2012 - Joe Flacco, Bal
2015 - Peyton Manning, Den (obviously an all-time great, but in 2015 he was a TERRIBLE quarterback)
2017 - Nick Foles

So that's 7 out of the last 21 years teams have won the Lombardi with a mediocre-to-subpar QB. One out of every three years. So yes, obviously, it's much better to have a franchise QB - makes it apparently twice as easy to win a championship that way. But it certainly can be done other ways.

The problem with your argument is 7/21 have been won by Tom Brady so you basically have
7/21 wins by Tom Brady
7/21 wins by Good to Great QB(2 big Ben, 1 rodgers, 1 Brees, 1 Manning, 1 Mahomes, 1 Wilson)
7/21 wins by mediocre-at-best QB

So if anything the mediocre-at-best QBs seem to be putting up a surprising number of wins excluding Tom Brady.
 

Tottie

Third String But Playing on Special Teams
Bucs had an elite playoff defense who put their 58% playoff passer (who shat himself vs GB) in great field position to succeed.
Brady may get the headlines but the Bucs D was the real story

The Bucs are easily one if not the most complete team I've watched in the past two decades.
The roster on both sides of the ball is stacked

Team health must be part of any equation as well.
Bucs were amazingly healthy down the stretch and their defense took advantage of two physically broken QBs, one mentally weak QB, and one quarantine insurance policy QB plucked from the refuse pile.
MANY people didn't think the Bucs would even make the playoffs but now they are the best team in the last 2 decades and played weak QBs to win the Superbowl. My god? Of course it's a team game but the replies here to try and 'balance' out the narrative are idiotic.
 

Nehalem

In the Starting Line-Up
In fairness to most of these guys....they may not be elite but at the right time, they did provide elite play.

Foles being the best example.
Brad Johnson also had his best year in 2002.

3rd highest QBrating in the league. And threw 22TDs in 13 games(27 assuming same pace for 16 games) vs league leader Brady throwing 28 in 16 games.
 

Ring 6

PatsFans.com Wall of Fame Member
Do your own then.

As for Wirfs vs Brown, I think Wirfs was better by a bit. When you adjust for cap difference it is smaller BTW. If you want to say Brown maybe should be worth 10.9 or 11.9 that year fine, I won't argue with you. Maybe it should be reconsidered. Do your own list them and see what you come up with.

I don't care how many games Vea played it. I care that he played in the right games and added the value in them. Keep in mind, this is about winning the super bowl. He helped them win the NFCCG and SB. I think his value was huge in those games so that is what I went by.

Yes. Dean is more valuable than McCourty or Jackson (in that playoff run). 2018 Jackson < Jackson later on. Dean is a better athlete than Jackson which allowed him to match up with guys Jackson can't and he was in his 2nd year at the time. He also pulled the #1 duties where as Jackson didn't as much. McCourty is a good CB but only as a #2. If he had the play the #1 roll like Dean it would have been harder. IDK who you're talking about in relationship too Thuney
Ok you presented it as if it were somehow factual rather than arbitrary so I was checking.
A few points on your response. Dean is not their #1 corner he is there cb3.
The McCourty numbers you posted were dmac I believe.
I don’t think anyone would agree with placing a 15 million value on the contributions of a guy who missed 11 reg season games 2 of the playoff games and made 1 total tackle. Very good player and playing an entire season at 100% may be worth 15,000,000 but your analysis is value delivered that season is it not?
Marpet was the guy you had at a substantially higher value than thuney.
 

Ring 6

PatsFans.com Wall of Fame Member
The blueprint is and always will be get a franchise QB.
There is no blueprint.
Many “franchise qbs” never win anything. Many that are considered generational win 1. Many “elite” QBs have won their SBs before their prime, in seasons that were far from their best, or after they began to decline were less impactful.
 

BobDigital

Pro Bowl Player
Ok you presented it as if it were somehow factual rather than arbitrary so I was checking.
A few points on your response. Dean is not their #1 corner he is there cb3.
The McCourty numbers you posted were dmac I believe.
I don’t think anyone would agree with placing a 15 million value on the contributions of a guy who missed 11 reg season games 2 of the playoff games and made 1 total tackle. Very good player and playing an entire season at 100% may be worth 15,000,000 but your analysis is value delivered that season is it not?
Marpet was the guy you had at a substantially higher value than thuney.

On your first point, your absolutely right. I meant Carlton Davis, I confused him with Jamel Dean. I'll fix that. I'm not as big a fan of the Bucs. So i switched them around by accident. Those numbers for McCourty were for Jason McCourty just to be clear. As for Vea, this isn't about the regular season, this is about the playoffs. Particularly championship weekend and the super bowl. Not total value over the course of the year. For instance, Gronk would not be worth his value for many of the years he played for the Patriots because he got injured and was either out of ineffective during these critical games.

Yes, I do have Marpet higher than Thuney and I stand by that. I think Marpet last year was more valueable than Thuney is 2018. Not that Thuney was bad then, but he improved a bit in that time in my opinion. You are free to disagree. This is totally opinion based. On a side note, even though i mixed up Dean and Davis, I still do highly value Davis for his speed. Did he shut down Thomas like Dean did? No, but I still value a guy with his skills and speed. It is rare to have that both in one player.
 

lancerman

Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract
The problem with your argument is 7/21 have been won by Tom Brady so you basically have
7/21 wins by Tom Brady
7/21 wins by Good to Great QB(2 big Ben, 1 rodgers, 1 Brees, 1 Manning, 1 Mahomes, 1 Wilson)
7/21 wins by mediocre-at-best QB

So if anything the mediocre-at-best QBs seem to be putting up a surprising number of wins excluding Tom Brady.
Well the flipside is that

11 Eli Manning
12 Flacco
17 Foles

were all playing at an elite high end level in the playoffs when they won rings. These aren't elite QB's, but they are streaky guys who have always showed the potential to go on great runs.

So really it's like 14 elite QB's, 3 more guys who have potential to play elite, and then 4 guys mediocre at best.
 

PatsWSB47

Pro Bowl Player
Better not point that out, the fanboi's will be out and looking for blood.

It should also be noted that against New Orleans, their three TD drives covered like 40 yards total. The short fields coming off turnovers.
That D for the Buc sure helped a lot but what is it about non "fanbois" that refuse to acknowledge that Tom Brady was the missing ingredient? They weren't the 2000 Ravens with Trent Dilfer for cripes sakes. To this day I cannot understand how some so called Pats fans have in such short order have come to dismiss and diminish the greatest of all time quarterback.......and have become no better than the jealous Jets, Colts, Steelers etc. fans that dismissed Brady for 20 years.
 
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Ring 6

PatsFans.com Wall of Fame Member
On your first point, your absolutely right. I meant Carlton Davis, I confused him with Jamel Dean. I'll fix that. I'm not as big a fan of the Bucs. So i switched them around by accident. Those numbers for McCourty were for Jason McCourty just to be clear. As for Vea, this isn't about the regular season, this is about the playoffs. Particularly championship weekend and the super bowl. Not total value over the course of the year. For instance, Gronk would not be worth his value for many of the years he played for the Patriots because he got injured and was either out of ineffective during these critical games.

Yes, I do have Marpet higher than Thuney and I stand by that. I think Marpet last year was more valueable than Thuney is 2018. Not that Thuney was bad then, but he improved a bit in that time in my opinion. You are free to disagree. This is totally opinion based. On a side note, even though i mixed up Dean and Davis, I still do highly value Davis for his speed. Did he shut down Thomas like Dean did? No, but I still value a guy with his skills and speed. It is rare to have that both in one player.
I’m very confused. If it’s only about the playoffs then 2018 Edelman should be worth more than any buc receiver after 26/388 and an mvp. You have evans who had 11/204 in 4 games and caught just 1 pass in the SB worth 17.3 mill but Edelman with these numbers and 10/141 in his Sb mvp performance worth only 7.9. You have Godwin at 12.4 mill when he was 16/232 in 4 games and 2/9 in the Sb.
Edelman Sb 10/141 Godwin and evans combined in the Sb 3/41 and you have them worth almost 30 mill and Edelman worth less than 8???
Edelman per game post season 8.7/129
Evans + Godwin per game post season 6.8/109. They can’t be worth almost 4 times as much if it’s only about value in the playoffs Ava especially ccg and Sb.
 

TheRainMaker

I'm getting my res at Dorsia
PatsFans.com Supporter
2020 Weekly NFL Picks Winner
Brad Johnson also had his best year in 2002.

3rd highest QBrating in the league. And threw 22TDs in 13 games(27 assuming same pace for 16 games) vs league leader Brady throwing 28 in 16 games.
Most people might look at those stats and not be impressed, but throwing above 20 TD's back then was considered good because teams focused on the running game. 25-30 was considered really good and pro bowl worthy. Over 30 and that was elite and automatic pro bowl.
 

venecol

The FRG has a little ****
What makes a championship team? Simply put, getting the the most talent possible out on the field for the same amount of money that everybody else pays. After that there are human factors and coaching that come into play, but generally those things only tend to REALLY matter if the above is close. As this year has shown us once again Players > Coaching. But what is the secret formula? It's impossible to know. Cause no one can tell us for sure what a player is worth any given year.

The 13% rule has been brought up a lot for QBs lately, and while it isn't always true, it is really part of a larger question about value and good contracts. Drafting well to get low priced talent in, and luck with injuries on your best/most valued players.

However, if we were to do a best estimate what would it take to be a super bowl champion? How much do you need to get on the field talent wise above the cap to be one of the top teams? It's an impossible question to answer for sure. But I'll give it a try. Let's look at the 2020 Bucs.

They entered with a salary cap of 198.2 which rolled over into 204, and they used 203 of it. That puts them 5 over the cap. They also had dead money and injured reserved. Subtract those and you have about 187M. At this point they are about 11M under expected value. However, their injuries where not major when it came to the most important times in the playoffs for them.

Here are the main contracts that were plus value. This will be totally based on my opinion.

Brady 28.5M vs a real value of 40M (+11.5M)
Evans 8.3M vs a real value of 17.3M (+9M)
Marpet 6.9M vs 12.9M (+6M)
Vea 4M vs 15M (+11M)
Wirfs 3M vs 15M (+12M)
Godwin 2.3M vs 14.2M (+12M)
Brown 2M vs 8M (+6M)
Bunting 1.7M vs 6.7M (+5M)
Davis 1.2M vs 9.2M (+8M)
Dean .9M vs 4.9M (+4M)
Winfield 1.3M vs 8.3M (+7M)
Misc (+6M) <They had very few bad contracts and a bunch of other pretty good contracts>

Add all of this up and their total on the field cash goes from 187M to (+97.5M) 284.5M or about 43.5% above cap value (198.2) by my estimate.

So what does this number really mean? Is there anything we can take from it? Let's look at one of our own Patriots teams and find out. Let's look at the most recent champion, the 2018 Patriots. The salary cap then was 177.2M. Taking away injured reserve and dead cap they spent 156M (so they are at 88% of the cap)

Brady 22M vs a real value of 37M (+15M) <A slightly higher % than 2020 for rounding purposes, but he was also slightly better then IMO>
Gilmore 8.9M vs a real value of 18.9M(+10M)
Cannon 6M vs 8M (+2M)
Edelman 3.9M vs 7.9M (+4M)
Van Noy 3.7M vs 7.7M (+4M)
Guy 3.7M vs 5.7M (+2M)
Mason 3.4M vs 12.4M (+9M)
McCourty 3.9M vs 6.9M (+3M)
Andrews 2.4M vs 8.4M (+6M)
Flowers 2M vs 13M (+11M)
Trenton Brown 1.9M vs 9.9M (+8M) <Who else kinda forgot about how big he was for us this year?>
Thuney .9M vs 8.9M (+8M)
J. Jones .6M vs 5.6M (+5M)
Jackson .5 vs 8.5M (8M) <This is at the time, his value has gone up since>
Misc (+3M) <some other okay contracts>

Overall this comes out to (+98M) I didn't do this math before hand by the way. So I didn't change anything to try to make it fit with anything else. Let's pop it in an see what happens. 98 + 155=253M That is about 43% above cap value. AND I SWEAR I DID NOT SET THIS UP BEFORE HAND OR CHANGE THE NUMBERS. You might disagree with my numbers and that is fine, do them yourself and see what you come up with. But it seems to me we might be seeing a pattern here. Something about getting over 40% of your cap value on the field is probably close to some kind of threshold.

Do it yourself and change my numbers and see what you come up with.
But didn't we get Cam for $1M? That's a bargain. Let’s do it again.
 

venecol

The FRG has a little ****
Yes, but lots of teams have won without a franchise QB. Since 2000, these teams have won the SB with a mediocre-at-best QB (based on performance, not necessarily salary):

2000 - Trent Dilfer, Bal
2002 - Brad Johnson, TB
2007 - Eli Manning, NYG
2011 - Eli Manning, NYG
2012 - Joe Flacco, Bal
2015 - Peyton Manning, Den (obviously an all-time great, but in 2015 he was a TERRIBLE quarterback)
2017 - Nick Foles

So that's 7 out of the last 21 years teams have won the Lombardi with a mediocre-to-subpar QB. One out of every three years. So yes, obviously, it's much better to have a franchise QB - makes it apparently twice as easy to win a championship that way. But it certainly can be done other ways.
Isn't it amazing that Dilfer-Johnson-Foles have the same # of rings as Rodgers-Brees-Mahomes?

Let's go hire Mariota.
 

venecol

The FRG has a little ****
Isn't it amazing that Dilfer-Johnson-Foles have the same # of rings as Rodgers-Brees-Mahomes?

Let's go hire Mariota.
Actually, what's really amazing is that Brady has more rings than all of those dudes combined.

Let's go hire Brady.
 

jmt57

Moderator
Staff member
Nice research. This shows why the vast majority of the nfl past couple decades have a 4-5 year playoff window max before missing a few. Your rookie contracts will run out quick and nobody can keep up that kind of drafting consistently. Only exceptions I can think of to the window are us, kc since 2015, colts under manning. All 3 were very top heavy with talent and/or had hof QBs (qb+ hc in our case). But many teams with the hof fall prey as well at some point (Rodgers, brees, Ben)
This.

Everybody was supposed to have a 4-5 year window, rotating between all teams.


Between the salary cap, free agency, a rookie contract scale, inverse draft order and four-team divisions, all owners were sold on the concept that playoff droughts were a thing of the past. No matter how inept their front office, everyone would be in the playoffs and a SB contender every few years. That would result in zero non-sellouts and maximum revenue for each and every team. No long term dynasties like the Yankees of the '50s or Celtics of the '60s that would dampen potential enthusiasm of fans of other teams of other teams within the division. By the time fans of a winning team from a couple years ago were starting to become disinterested, their team was supposed to be a division winner again. Throw in a couple of wild cards and everybody is happy.


The two-decade run by the Patriots was supposed to be impossible. That is the story the 31 others had been sold. That run by the Patriots is far more remarkable than the vast majority realize, based on the rules that were in place.
 

long distance

Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
As this year has shown us once again Players > Coaching.

Must have missed that :)
I personally most enjoyed Todd Bowles this playoffs & SB.

If you gonna go by math, what about Players = Coaching?

Remember Jamie Collins? He was considered one of best young defensive talents in the league playing in NE (although only drafted #52). And he was a great young player for NE first 3 years. When he decided to not take coaching and do it his way in his contract year, he was an average player, a liability. He was traded mid season. Mid SB season mind you. Everyone went crazy on BB. He was even more average player on a bad Cleveland team but they still signed him to big contract. He went on to be one of the least valuable players next year and not much better after. He was straight released after 2 years. He was a Free Agent. Nobody wanted this great talent/player. He was signed mid May, back with BB, on close to minimum salary and became one of the most valuable players in the league - also going by your metrics.

Remember 2016 Patriots defence? They moved on from Chandler Jones, they were considered bad defence with bad roster over first part of the season by experts/pundits and fans incl most of this board. Then they moved on from Collins as well. Then they moved on to being the TOP scoring defense of 2016..

Have you seen Miami since Flores took over? They sold all the remaining talent his first year to “tank for Tua“ yet they only managed to “tank“ to #5 (and still got Tua that by the same people banging his drum then should already be moved on from). MIA roster was far from top talent yet managed to get to 10-6 which is playoffs score in many situations..

 
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venecol

The FRG has a little ****
Must have missed that :)
I personally most enjoyed Todd Bowles this playoffs & SB.

If you gonna go by math, what about Players = Coaching?

Remember Jamie Collins? He was considered one of best young defensive talents in the league playing in NE (although only drafted #52). And he was a great young player for NE first 3 years. When he decided to not take coaching and do it his way in his contract year, he was an average player, a liability. He was traded mid season. Mid SB season mind you. Everyone went crazy on BB. He was even more average player on a bad Cleveland team but they still signed him to big contract. He went on to be one of the least valuable players next year and not much better after. He was straight released after 2 years. He was a Free Agent. Nobody wanted this great talent/player. He was signed mid May, back with BB, on close to minimum salary and became one of the most valuable players in the league - also going by your metrics.

Remember 2016 Patriots defence? They moved on from Chandler Jones, they were considered bad defence with bad roster over first part of the season by experts/pundits and fans incl most of this board. Then they moved on from Collins as well. Then they moved on to being the TOP scoring defense of 2016..

Have you seen Miami since Flores took over? They sold all the remaining talent his first year to “tank for Tua“ yet they only managed to “tank“ to #5 (and still got Tua that by the same people banging his drum then should already be moved on from). MIA roster was far from top talent yet managed to get to 10-6 which is playoffs score in many situations..

I thought Collins was a top tackler in CLE, and Jones had double digit sacks since going to ARI, maybe even leading the league. Both of them remain talented players.

Talent doesn't magically disappear because you leave good coaching and you can't create talent through coaching. Pretty much everyone agrees there was a void of talent in the 2020 NEP team despite the coaching.

Good coaching can make a mediocre player better by teaching them fundamentals in techniques but it doesn't make that player necessarily talented.

A naturally talented player trumps coaching every time, imo.
 

BobDigital

Pro Bowl Player
I’m very confused. If it’s only about the playoffs then 2018 Edelman should be worth more than any buc receiver after 26/388 and an mvp. You have evans who had 11/204 in 4 games and caught just 1 pass in the SB worth 17.3 mill but Edelman with these numbers and 10/141 in his Sb mvp performance worth only 7.9. You have Godwin at 12.4 mill when he was 16/232 in 4 games and 2/9 in the Sb.
Edelman Sb 10/141 Godwin and evans combined in the Sb 3/41 and you have them worth almost 30 mill and Edelman worth less than 8???
Edelman per game post season 8.7/129
Evans + Godwin per game post season 6.8/109. They can’t be worth almost 4 times as much if it’s only about valueSt in the playoffs Ava especially ccg and Sb.

Good questions. I'd answer it like this. Stats are not the most important thing. Edelman has more stats than any other Bucs player during their run, even on a per game basis, but that's in large part because the Bucs had more options to spread the ball around to. Edelman benefited from this when it comes to stats. That in no way takes away from his play on the field. He did well to get open as much as he did. It's also true that while he did make a lot of catches he didn't make any singular game changing plays. No TDs, not huge PI penalty, no 40 yard catches (he did have a 35 yarder in the divisional round, but that was the least important game. I'm not trying to take away the 3rd down conversions he made or the yards between the 20s he picked it. But it is interesting how when they needed a score in the super bowl, it was Gronk they want to. He was the guy who made the play to put them first and goal at the 2 yard line.

Evans contributed more to Tampa's success than Edelman did to the Pats. Gronk/Brate and Fournette were able to get good match ups all day in large part because of the focus KC put on Evans and to a lesser extent Godwin. Godwin may not have had a great playoff run in some respects, but he made that huge 50/50 play vs GB which changed field position. GB was one of the only games in which Godwin had a match up worth going to. There was no point attacking the strength of New Orleans and KC when they didn't have to and could easily attack their weakness. Against Washington he had a bad game, but still got 79 yards and a TD. The fact is Tampa just had a lot more weapons so the stats were spread out more, and 2 of the final 3 teams had weaknesses which led Tampa to exploit them with their TEs/RBs. Edelman played a great game but a lot of what he did didn't actually lead to points. It kept drives alive, but he needed someone else to finish. If you want to say he's worth more than what I put that's fine, but the comparison you made wasn't 100% fair.
 

Biffins

In the Starting Line-Up
I like it. Nice analysis.
1. Hitting on cheaper rookie contracts is huge.
2. Bucs benefitted from random signings that Brady brought in.
3. I was going to say normally good cap allocation is to not overpay at RB or interior OLine but not always the case.

And hence perhaps making Mankins highest paid OL hampered us while he was here and why he didn’t win a SB with us
 

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