Category Archives: Football Outsiders

4

October

No Huddle Radio: With Special Guest Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders

No Huddle Radio from ALLGBP.com on Packers Talk Radio Network

Listen in for expanded coverage from ALLGBP.com

The No Huddle Gang is back after the bye week as the Packers prepare for their NFC North rivals, the Detroit Lions.

Our special guest tonight was Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders and ESPN Insider (get the irony there), who is one of the most prolific and talented football writers on the planet.

We talked with Scott  about his article onAaron Rodgers and fourth quarter comebacks, which created a firestorm of controversy in the Packers blogosphere.

Tune in as we talk to Scott about “Rodgers’ Weakness” and much, much more.

Listen using the player below or download the podcast from the Packers Talk Radio Network on Itunes.

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Join the writers at AllGreenBayPackers.com for a fast hitting discussion of all things Packers. Please be sure to visit ALLGREENBAYPACKERS.COM, where we are “All Packers All the Time.” You can also browse Packers Talk Radio Network for more Packers podcasts and follow @PackerstalkNet and @NoHuddleRadioGB on twitter.

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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.

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29

July

Previewing the 2013 Packers with Rivers McCown from Football Outsiders

The Football Outsiders 2013 Almanac

The Football Outsiders 2013 Almanac is out now!

The 2013 Football Outsiders Almanac is out now and I would advise Packers fans to pick up a copy. I’ve always enjoyed how the almanac blends modern analytics and metrics with traditional scouting and the unique perspectives of a talented writing staff.

Rivers McCown wrote this year’s chapter on the Packers. I don’t want to give the entire chapter away — don’t be a cheapskate, go buy yourself a copy — but I did want to bring a little Football Outsiders perspective over to ALLGBP.com one way or another.

Thankfully, Rivers took some time to answer a few very long-winded questions I asked him about the 2013 Packers. Here’s what he had to say:

Adam Czech: The Packers defense has been labeled “soft” by many fans and a few members of the media. Is there any truth to that label? Or is what some may perceive as being soft have more to do with being injured, slow, forced to play six DBs, or all of the above?

16

May

Packing the Stats: Defense Tackling Improvements

Packing the StatsIn my recent perusal of the internet for some Green Bay Packers news in the offseason, I came across an article at Football Outsiders by editor-in-chief Aaron Schatz. “Broken Tackles 2012: Defense” focuses on the best and worst defensive players when it came to broken tackles last season. Those of us who regularly follow the Packers know that tackling was a big point of interest after an abysmal 2011 season when, according to ProFootballFocus.com, they missed a whopping 109 tackles.

Naturally, I was intrigued to see how the Packers and some of their individual players ranked among the rest of the league for 2012. I braced for the worst, knowing the defense was lacking against opposing rushing attacks. (They gave up 132.6 yards per game, for 25th in the NFL.) And then, of course, were the games against Adrian Peterson.

Imagine my surprise when I found out the Packers were in the top three best teams when it came to missed tackles.

Now, let’s clear something up first. Football Outsiders clearly defined their criteria for a “broken tackle,” which should not be confused with the PFF “missed tackle” statistic. (Though for comparison’s sake, the 109 missed tackles from 2011 dropped down to just 81 in 2012 as charted by PFF.) That aside, here is how FO defines a “broken tackle”:

We define a “broken tackle” as one of two events: either the ballcarrier escapes from the grasp of the defender, or the defender is in good position for a tackle but the ballcarrier jukes him out of his shoes. If the ballcarrier sped by a slow defender who dived and missed, that didn’t count as a broken tackle.

Before we get to the team’s overall numbers, I want to highlight the two Packers players that made “best” and “worst” lists. First, take comfort in the fact that no player from Green Bay recorded 10 or more broken tackles. None of the defensive backs made the bottom ten in broken tackle rate; of course, none of them made the top ten either.

No, our two players in question were linebackers.

Inside linebacker Brad Jones made the “naughty” list as one of the twelve worst linebackers when it came to broken tackles in 2012. For his 61 solo tackles on the season, he had 7 broken tackles, for a rate of 10.3%. That put him seventh from the bottom.

22

January

Dom Capers or the 3-4: Who’s to blame?

Many have called for the head of defensive coordinator Dom Capers (whose head ironically can’t be taken since his contract expired). However, some have argued that the problem goes deeper than just Dom Capers and really its that the 3-4 defense is inherently flawed and that the Packers should switch back to a 4-3 scheme.

This is actually a pretty interesting question: to put it another way, is the 3-4 defense something like the wildcat offense?  What I mean by that is the wildcat offense took the league by storm in 2009 with the Miami Dolphins, but when the rest of the league had proper time to analyze and defend against it properly it slowly faded back into obscurity (see Tim Tebow).  It could be argued that the “Blitzburgh” 3-4 defense run by both Dom Capers and Dick Lebeau took the league by storm when the Packers played the Steelers in the 2010 Super Bowl and perhaps the league has caught up and has finally figured a way to beat the 3-4 defense.

To look into this I’ve used some statistics available from Advanced NFL Stats (great site by the way) and Football Outsiders (also another great site) to look at defensive efficiency for the 2012 regular season.  Just as a little primer on the metrics we’re looking at, Advanced NFL Stats’ dEPA (Defensive Expected Points Added) looks at how many favorable positions a team puts itself in regard to scoring points (i.e. getting a 1st down at your own 10 yard line is nets less EPA than getting a 1st down at the opponent’s 1o yard line since the chances of scoring at your opponent’s 10 yard line are significantly higher than at your own 10 yard line).  For Football Outsiders’ dDVOA (Defensive Defense-adjusted Value Over Average, should it be Defensive Offensive-adjusted Value Over Average?) it’s a metric that attempts to normalize defensive efficiency in regards to offensive efficiency faced.  To put that in lay terms, some defenses get lucky every year by playing poor offenses/poor divisions and/or injured offenses and should not have higher efficiencies than defenses who perhaps perform worse against a far superior offense.  Each has it’s own merits; football is a situational game (which is measured by Advanced NFL Stats), while even the best defenses will struggle with the best offenses in the league (measured by Football Outsiders).  With all that said, for defenses negative numbers are good (I’ve reversed the y-axis to reflect that)

23

October

Packing the Stats: Rushing to Conclusions

Packing the StatsAfter Sunday afternoon’s 30-20 victory by the Green Bay Packers over the St. Louis Rams, I listened to Jason Wilde’s weekly appearance on ESPN Wisconsin’s radio show “Pack Attack.” The conversation immediately dove into a debate between Wilde, Bill Johnson, and Homer about the effectiveness of Alex Green’s rushing attempts. While he made 20 rushing attempts the entire game, Green only netted 35 yards for a 1.8 yards per carry average. His longest run was for 15 yards.

On one side of the debate was Jason Wilde, who maintained that making the attempts to run the ball was more important than their overall yards per carry. He posited that the defense’s linemen would have to account for a run, even if it wasn’t for significant yardage. That means they couldn’t just “pin their ears back” and go after the quarterback each down.

Opposing this idea was Bill and Homer, who both insisted that Green’s yards per carry was unacceptable and would need to get better in the future to ensure offensive success. They claimed that if the running game isn’t making traction, then the defense doesn’t really have to worry about it, period. (Jason Wilde eventually called them “stubborn” in their opinions.)

So which matters more – yards per carry or total rushing attempts? This really piqued my interest from a statistical standpoint, and I decided to head over to Pro-Football-Reference.com to being my research. My sample data was all games (regular season and postseason) within the past ten years (2002-2011) that matched the rushing criteria below.

(You can download the complete Excel file here: rushing_stats.xlsx)

TOTAL RUSHING YARDS PER GAME (2002-2011)
TOTAL YARDS W L T W-L% COUNT GBP W-L% GBP COUNT
60-79 212 513 1 29.20% 726 30.40% 23
80-99 342 527 0 39.36% 869 68.60% 35
100-119 435 427 0 50.46% 862 61.30% 31
120-139 393 291 0 57.46% 684 75.00% 20
140-159 352 189 0 65.06% 541 61.10% 18
AVERAGE YARDS PER ATTEMPT (2002-2011)
YDS/ATT W L T W-L% COUNT GBP W-L% GBP COUNT
1.0-1.9 42 77 1 35.00% 120 33.30% 3
2.0-2.9 322 363 0 47.01% 685 65.20% 23
3.0-3.9 786 768 1 50.55% 1555 64.00% 50
4.0-4.9 746 745 1 50.00% 1492 52.50% 40
31

May

Packers Will Be “Fine” With Current Backup Quarterbacks

Graham Harrell

Will the Packers be "fine" with Graham Harrell as the backup quarterback?

I’ve had about enough. After reading Football Outsider’s NFC North installment of their “Four Downs” series, it’s finally time to make known this humble blogger’s opinion regarding the backup quarterback situation in Green Bay. In a word, they’ll be “fine.”

For some reason, though, there are a good number of writers out there sounding the alarm. Perhaps they haven’t seen enough of Graham Harrell to put a lot of faith in him. (Of course, no one outside of the coaching staff really has.) Or perhaps they’re still clinging to the annual call for a veteran backup.

Whatever the case, it just needs to stop.

And I don’t think I’m alone in this. I’ve read some of the comments at Football Outsiders and our fellow Packers blog CheeseheadTV, and there seem to be a good number of people who all share the same opinion I do.

Look, I get it. Harrell, despite being in his third year with the team, is unproven. He’s never played a down outside of the preseason, and last year’s lockout kept him from developing in Mike McCarthy’s annual quarterback school. Now with the release of Nick Hill, seventh-round draft pick B.J. Coleman remains as the only other backup.

It’s not unreasonable to be dubious of a two-year practice squad player and a rookie. But it’s just crying wolf to say the Packers’ season might be in jeopardy without a more competent backup.

The truth of the matter is that if Aaron Rodgers goes down for the season, it’s probably over anyway. Even if you were to bring in a veteran quarterback, there’s not going to be anyone who will be able to pick up and run the Packer’s offensive system adequately. And spending a higher draft pick for someone other than B.J. Coleman is no more of a guarantee. Matt Flynn and Brian Brohm are proof enough of that.

There is little chance that anyone could carry the offense through the playoffs and to the Super Bowl other than Rodgers himself. When we get right down to it, isn’t that all that matters?

“But wait!” you might say. “What if having a backup in causes them to miss the playoffs, even if Rodgers returns from an injury?”

22

May

Packers Coaches Campen, Slocum Out of the Fire?

James Campen

Is James Campen finally off the hook in the eyes of Packers fans?

There’s been something missing this offseason, and I’ve finally figured out what it is: the annual tirade of Packers fans against special teams coach Shawn Slocum and offensive line coach James Campen. What once was a common occurrence has quietly but certainly escaped from our foremost thoughts. They have only been mentioned in mere passing in recent news stories, and even the most rabid of fans have barely even whispered their names.

All of this, evidently, must be a good thing.

Just about 11 months ago, our own Zach Kruse wrote a post detailing five areas in which the Packers could improve in 2011, despite having won a Super Bowl title the previous year. Three of those areas were Kick and Punt Returning, Kick and Punt Coverage, and Pass Protection. In revisiting those now, we’ve seen some noteworthy improvements.

In first looking at Special Teams, the addition of Randall Cobb as a punt and kick returner was huge. Not only did he win the NFL Honors Play of the Year for his 108-yard kickoff return against the New Orleans Saints, but he made a significant mark on the statistics sheets. In yards per punt return, Cobb ranked third in the NFL (13.4), and he ranked seventh in yards per kickoff return (27.6).

While a lot of this is due to the athletic talent and vision that Cobb possesses, these plays would not have been possible without the blocking of the special teams units. And for that, we have to give credit to Slocum. If we are going to blame him for the failures, then it would only be right to praise him for the successes.

In fact, if you go by the advanced statistical measurements of Football Outsiders (FO), the Packers special teams unit ranked 8th in DVOA (3.5%) across the league in 2011. Last year they ranked 26th (1.6%).

Now how about that offensive line?

Well, to look at it statistically, they actually slid back a little bit. Their 41 sacks allowed last year numbered three more than the year of their Super Bowl run, and according to FO, their Adjusted Sack Rate rose from 7.2% to 7.4%. But if this is the case, why haven’t we heard the rallying cry against Campen lately?