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The Cowboys problem is not that Complicated

Discussion in 'Fan Zone' started by xwalker, Oct 30, 2012.

  1. Idgit

    Idgit Ice up, son. Ice up! Staff Member

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    Houston can win without the good running game if they're able to stop the other guys from passing effectively...which is a big part of why they've gotten better under Wade's DC.

    Again, teams can win by being really tough to pass against effectively and then by just limiting mistakes in their own passing games. That's a blueprint we've seen with teams like BAL and PIT in recent years.

    And, I'm guessing here, but I'd imagine being able to rely on a running game against certain defenses in order to avoid putting your passing game at risk of inefficiency is a tactical bonus when good pass defense teams are playing other good pass defense teams. It certainly doesn't hurt.

    At the end of the day, though, it's the passing efficiency differential that's going to determine the winner of the game more often that not. And that's where the good teams should be spending their time and resources trying to get better.
  2. Doomsday101

    Doomsday101 Well-Known Member

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    You still got to score points on offense. As good as Houston defense is playing they still have to put up points and Foster is a big part of that. I know the importance of the passing game but I think running game for some teams is critical. Not everyone has some HOF type QB and again the running game to some teams is vastly more important to their success than others.
  3. Outlaw Heroes

    Outlaw Heroes Active Member

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    I'm not sure what you mean by this. At any rate, the claim does not appear to agree with what reason suggests (surely, to use one of your examples, we can acknowledge that a team that consistently runs the ball in from the 1-yard line is acheiving running success even though those 1-yard runs are hurting the teams efficiency (YPC) numbers?) or with the approach stats heads seem to have adopted more recently to analyzing the importance of the run game in determining final outcomes.

    http://www.advancednflstats.com/2010/10/how-coaches-think-run-success-rate.html


    Again, you need to specify in what sense running the ball well in these situations "important" if, in your view, it doesn't contribute to winning. I must confess that I don't like your chances of coming up with anything compelling. It seems pretty obvious to me that if something happening on the field has no impact on wins or losses it is fundamentally unimportant.

    So far as I can tell, this is just another way of saying (contrary to your earlier assertion) that running more efficiently (i.e. having a YPC that is 1.5 greater than a middling YPC) is, in fact, distinct from running successfully.


    Sorry, I'm still not seeing the distinction you wish to make. Again, the challenge for you is to explain how anything that happens on the field is "important" if it doesn't contribute meaningfully to the outcome of games (i.e. winning or losing).
  4. dwmyers

    dwmyers Well-Known Member

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    Run success (rate) isn't run efficiency as you're trying to define it. BB has a distinct definition of run success rate, which isn't the same as YPC.

    YPC is an explosiveness stat, not a consistency stat.

    Run success (more accurately run success rate), as defined by BB, is any run that increases EP. Put in other terms, any run that leads to a positive EPA is a successful run.

    1 yard gains on 3rd and 1 increase EP, hence are successful runs. You could have a running back go 15 for 15 and if they were all 3rd and 1 runs, his run success would be 100%.

    Now, to quote BB from this article..

    http://www.advancednflstats.com/2010/10/how-coaches-think-run-success-rate.html

    So, not only is the correlation known for both run efficiency and SR, it still doesn't correlate as strongly with winning as does offensive or defensive YPA, which I believe is Idgit's point.

    From the "how teams win" url I posted before, you get a correlation of 0.61 with offensive passing YPA and a corelation of -0.47 for defensive passing YPA, both more important than run success and substantially more important than running efficiency.

    D-
  5. Outlaw Heroes

    Outlaw Heroes Active Member

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    You've misunderstood my post. I'm not defining "run success" as efficiency. I'm actually saying (as BB's article suggests) that they are quite distinct. The former correlates fairly strongly with winning whereas the latter doesn't.


    So far, so good. We agree.


    The excerpt you quote is quite my point. It indicates that a "successful" running game (with success conceived as something other than efficiency, be it EPA or the kind of simple "rules of thumb" referred to by BB in his 2010 article) does, after all, correlate reasonably strongly with winning.


    I don't believe that was Idgit's point. To quote him directly:

    I suspect even the most ardent supporter of the importance of effectively running and stopping the run would be willing to acknowledge that effectively passing and defending the pass are more important to the outcome of games. The claim that keeps getting trotted out, however, is that running well and defending the run well have very little impact on wins and losses. That's true if one defines "running well" (and "defending the run well") based on YPC. But it does not appear to be true (unless one thinks R2 values in excess of .4 are insignificant, and I certainly don't) if one uses EPA (or even a more simplified version of "run success", like the rules of thumb BB identifies). All of which suggests that those claiming that the running game matters little in terms of the outcomes of games are using the wrong metric (namely efficiency, defined in terms of YPC).

    Fair enough, but as I say, I don't believe that this is in dispute. One can acknowledge that the passing game is more important statistically without thereby resigning oneself to the notion that the running game is statistically unimportant (though running efficiency may well be unimportant).
  6. AdamJT13

    AdamJT13 Salary Cap Analyst

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    It is true. How well you pass the ball and stop the pass has *much* more effect on winning than how well you run the ball or stop the run.



    They're more often described as irrelevant when they don't have anything to do with the discussion. It doesn't matter what one particular player's YPC is or why.
  7. AdamJT13

    AdamJT13 Salary Cap Analyst

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    The team that has passed the ball better is 7-0 in Houston's games this season. The team that has run the ball better is 3-4.

    Houston's two worst rushing games this season came against Miami and Tennessee. The Dolphins ran the ball better, and the Titans ran the ball *much* better than the Texans did. But the Texans won both games by at least 20 points because they passed the ball much better.
  8. Doomsday101

    Doomsday101 Well-Known Member

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    And yet the running game matter to Houston and the coaches will even tell you that. You can down play the run all you want but Foster play means a hell of a lot. If the run can cause the safety to bite up on a play or get LB to freeze then the ability to run means a hell of a lot to the passing. Houston is not just going to drop back time after time and pass the ball they use the run to help set up a very effective passing game.

    Defensive teams go into the game vs Houston knowing they must stop the run and that alone helps Houston in the passing game. So while stats look good on paper they don't tell the whole story.
  9. AdamJT13

    AdamJT13 Salary Cap Analyst

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    Run success does not "correlate fairly strongly." It's still a low to moderate-at-best correlation -- and much lower than pass success. Other studies have found an even lower correlation for run success than Burke did. His point wasn't that run success correlates fairly strongly, it's that run success correlates more than simple YPC, which is true. I'm guessing that a good portion of that difference could be attributed to the ability to convert on short-yardage runs.
  10. AdamJT13

    AdamJT13 Salary Cap Analyst

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    Defensive teams are fooling themselves (and hurting themselves) if they think they "must stop the run." The Dolphins did just that and got blown out because they couldn't pass effectively or stop the pass.

    And as far as the running game helping the passing game, two of the Texans' three best running games also happen to be two of Schaub's three worst passing games. A theory is just a theory until it is proved on the field.
  11. Outlaw Heroes

    Outlaw Heroes Active Member

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    Lower that pass success and lower than pass efficiency, but as I say, I don't think that's really in dispute.

    It's also fair to say that R values of around .4 are "moderate-at-best", but then I think most statisticians would say that R values don't really exceed "moderate" until you get up over .7. By that standard, pass success and pass efficiency also yield moderate corrrelations.

    Certainly he's saying that run success correlates with wins more strongly than YPC. But I think you're understating what he's saying. From the article:

    You're surely right about this. I trust you don't see that as a limitation in run SR? I personally think it's a strength. Any model that tries to predict team success on the basis of effective running without placing significant emphasis on the ability to convert in short-yardage situations (a failing of YPC) is ipso facto of questionable value, in my view.
  12. MichaelWinicki

    MichaelWinicki "You want some?" Staff Member

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    I think it's going to take fans some time to wrap their heads around the emerging world of football statistics.

    I remember getting my first "Bill James Abstract" back in 1981 and the result changed my view on how baseball, and the stats it was using at the time to interpret the game.

    His research turned the game on its head so to speak.

    Up until that time "we" were told that guys like Mickey Rivers (high average, no walks, lots of speed) were the "ideal" leadoff men... basically neglecting on-base percentage.

    We also heard things like "Reggie Jackson performs better in front of bigger crowds".

    So many old baseball-clichés were sent to the trash-bin because of Bill James.


    30 years later, we are seeing the same in football.

    Many of us have heard the tired, old clichés for literally decades...

    "To win you need to be able to run the ball and stop the run"

    "The game is won in the trenches"

    And stuff like that.


    Now we are finding out that the old axiom's weren't necessarily true and it's shaking the foundation of what many of us thought was "winning football".
  13. AdamJT13

    AdamJT13 Salary Cap Analyst

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    The correlations that I've seen for run success and similar metrics are usually 0.30 to 0.40. For pass success and similar metrics, they're 0.65 to 0.85. So the high end of the rushing correlations would be the low end of a "moderate" correlation, and the low end of the passing correlations would be the high end of a "moderate" correlation. But the median for rushing correlations would be considered more a "low" correlation, and the median for passing would be considered more a "high" correlation. At any rate, the difference is quite large.

    Of course, most of these correlations are based on only one side of the ball at a time and are based on season-long averages and win totals. I'm more interested in the numbers for both sides of the ball and their correlation with winning individual games.

    For example, teams that have passed more effectively in a game are 94-24 (.797) this season. Teams that have rushed more effectively (YPC) are 64-54 (.542).

    Teams that have passed more effectively AND rushed more effectively are 50-10 (.833). Teams that have passed more effectively but rushed LESS effectively are 44-14 (.759).

    Looking at those numbers conversely, that means that teams that have rushed more effectively but passed LESS effectively are 14-44 (.241). And teams that have rushed AND passed LESS effectively are 10-50 (.167).

    Those winning percentages are about the same as they are every season -- about 80 percent for passing and a little more than 50-50 for rushing. Given that teams win about 17 percent of the time even if they're statistically worse at both rushing and passing in that game (and therefore lose about 17 percent of the time even if they're statistically better at both during that game), the numbers show that being able to pass better is overwhelmingly more important than being able to run better.

    Also, note that the teams that ran the ball better passed it better in 60 games and passed it worse in 58 games -- again barely more than a 50-50 split. Running the ball better than your opponent has very little effect on being able to pass it better or winning.
  14. goshan

    goshan Active Member Zone Supporter

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    Powerful analysis of what matters.
  15. xwalker

    xwalker Well-Known Member

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    You're using an Isolated Single-Independent-Variable Statistical model to determine winning.

    Not only do you require multiple other variables to have any shot at an accurate model for winning, but there are multiple ways of defining "how well you pass" and "how well you run".


    The Cowboy are 5th in Passing Yards per Game. Are they the 5th best team?


    The Broncos have the best Pass per Attempt Average. Are they the best team?
  16. goshan

    goshan Active Member Zone Supporter

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    Passing effectiveness does not equal passing yardage. You crack me up with your intro trying to sound like a statistical dude...then you follow it up with that silliness;)

    Passing effectiveness the way Adam defines it is an aggregate metric, not a single-independent variable.
  17. Outlaw Heroes

    Outlaw Heroes Active Member

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    Great stuff. Thanks for sharing.
  18. MichaelWinicki

    MichaelWinicki "You want some?" Staff Member

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    Yeah.

    The passing yardage is fine.

    But when you lead the NFL in picks...

    Well, that's not too effective or efficient.
  19. AdamJT13

    AdamJT13 Salary Cap Analyst

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    In Week 9, teams that passed more effectively went 14-0, and teams that rushed more effectively (YPC) went 7-7.

    Here are the updated numbers --

    Teams that have passed more effectively AND rushed more effectively are 57-10 (.851).

    Teams that have passed more effectively but rushed LESS effectively are 51-14 (.785).

    Teams that have rushed more effectively but passed LESS effectively are 14-51 (.215).

    And teams that have rushed AND passed LESS effectively are 10-57 (.149).

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