Thursday, November 09, 2006

I finally got around to reading the AGS. Somehow I missed it when they posted it. I'd been looking forward to it, because I'd been thinking there'd been some good stuff on FO lately, but I actually thought the AGS was pretty terrible. It doesn't offer a very good explanation of how the Dolphins won the game, nor does it provide any useful insight to the Bears or Dolphins teams in general. I kind of wonder if he even watched the game or if he just analyzed the game based on box scores and FO statistics.

The stupidest part of the article is when Macey discusses the Bears special teams. He actually seems to say that the reason they fumbled so many times is because their special teams had been playing at such a high level before, so there had to be some kind of correction to that freakishly high level. This is a very common cognitive mistake people make all the time when they think about averages and things like that, but I'm surprised to see it pop up on a site where everyone gets all high and mighty about their superior statistical analysis. While the Bears special teams may not be able to maintain their mutant-like level of play for an entire season, they have proven that their a solid unit. We can probably expect that they'll drop off a little bit, but it's more likely that they'll play at a closer-to-average level than that they'll suddenly be terrible. Macey: "One final problem for the Bears is that much of their early success has been the result of an extraordinarily high level of special teams play. They have excelled in almost all aspects up to this point, creating enormous field position advantages for both their offense and defense. That is a problem because it is simply unsustainable." Hey! Idiot! It is never a "problem" when one aspect of your team is playing at a high level. Think about how blatantly stupid this would sound of someone wrote "One final problem for the Colts is that much of their early success has been the result of an extraordinarily high level of quarterback play. That is a problem because it is simply unsustainable." Macy goes on to mention that the previous high for special teams over a season was 7.8%, and that the Bears had been playing at 13.7%. He then says, "Their DVOA started to drop early in the second quarter." He seems to be assuming that the 7.8% level is some kind of actual concrete thing toward which the Bears will be pulled, and that they will actually be penalized for overachieving by having all sorts of things go wrong as DVOA asserts its omnipotence over their special teams skills. That's just not how numbers like this work. Probably more things will go wrong for the Bears special teams during the second half of the season than did during the first half, just because a way higher number of things went right for the special teams than one could normally expect. That does not mean, however, that they will have some kind of overcorrection of loads and loads of bad things go wrong in order to bring the average back to the center. Really, I'm just pissed off that FO published such an obviously stupid bit of analysis.

The other major thing that bothered me about this article is that it didn't really do much to describe the way the game actually went. Macey makes it sound like the Bears lost because they failed to stop the rush. That's not really what happened at all. The Bears only gave up one big drive that resulted in points: a field goal. The only other big drive the Bears gave up ended in ABrown's interception. The Dolphins scored one touchdown when they were given the ball within the Bears ten-yard line, and pretty much immediately scored another when Taylor got a great read on Grossman's throw. Obviously, the Bears defense will stop most teams from getting a touchdown out of that fumble more times that most other defenses would, but it's still a pretty high-percentage shot that the Dolphins get seven points. At that point in the game, the Bears were down 14-3 despite outplaying the Dolphins pretty significantly. Grossman's first interception, even, wasn't that horrible of a play on his part; it was a very good defensive play by a very good defensive player. The drive when the Bears scored, to get the game to 10-14, proved that the Bears were in control of the game, and if both teams had gone out and executed similar game plans to what they had in the first half, the Bears would've very likely won the game. The Dolphins didn't appear to change much, but the Bears did. Instead of calming things down at half time, the Bears came out and looked jittery and scared, like they didn't know how the win the game. It was actually kind of weird. It really bothers me that there isn't any mention of this aspect of the game in the AGS article. Instead, the Bears lost because their offense never worked w/o Berrian and because they couldn't stop Ronnie Brown and because Grossman was terrible. That's just not how the game was decided. That's only a description of the fourth quarter. And what especially irks me is that, over at the FO blog, Aaron Schatz, in his annoyingly neverending campaign to justify DVOA to people who are never going to buy it anyway (why is it, by the way, that FO's spent so much time trying to justify themselves, by the way? it's like they're more concerned with all the people out there who really don't want to inject intelligence into their football analysis and who probably don't even read what they say. anyway), Schatz wrote in his explanation of DVOA a fake description of a game in which a team outplays another but still loses the game. The funny thing is that his fake description works as a more accurate description of the first half of the Dolphins/Bears game, with just a tweak of minor details, than the AGS article this week.

Especially annoying, too, is that now I'm kind of suspicious of any analysis this Ned Macey guy does. If he fucked up this game so badly, why would I trust him on any other games that I don't watch...

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