Graphing Franchise Performance Since 2000

A new twist to the visualizations. I've received many good suggestions, and many of them have already been implemented. Chase Stuart, always with a historical perspective, suggested a plot of a single franchise's performance over the past several years. It was easy to do, so I decided to go ahead and publish it.

Already there are some great points that stand out.

  • The most consistently balanced superior team since 2000 is PIT.
  • The best offense is IND. NO and NE also have a case to be made.
  • The best defense is BAL.
  • CHI can't catch a break on offense.
  • SF is winning this year not because of an improved offense, but because of a much better defense.
  • HOU's improvement this season on defense is stunning. It's even greater than IND's decline in offense.
  • Matt Ryan's and Joe Flacco's impacts on their respective offenses are significant.
  • TB's offense really took a plunge this season. Their defense has steadily declined since their dominant season in 2002.
  • The turnaround in CAR's offense is huge, thanks in large part to Cam Newton. This is probably CAR's best offensive year ever.

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20 Responses to “Graphing Franchise Performance Since 2000”

  1. Ian Simcox says:

    I think something's messed up on your charts. It's telling me that Denver offense this year is their worst since 2000 - but I know that can't be true

    *sarcasm mode off*

    Seriously though, great charts. It's really interesting to see how the trends of teams continue (i.e. teams that improve on offense one year keep that improvement going the year after). I think I would have expected more variation.

  2. Mike says:

    Fun stuff. I put up the AFC East: The Patriots have the SIX best offensive seasons of the decade there. Yikes.

    The Bills seems to be having a decade-best run this year on offense, which is more depressing than exciting.

  3. Mike says:

    Seeing as I like seeing how statistically depressing my Bills are to match the emotional harm they inflict on me, it appears they have put together six seasons in the Rumpy Quadrant (bad offense, bad defense.) Ugh. But not the worst! Compare:

    Rumpy Quandranteers:
    Cleveland: 9
    Detroit: 9
    Arizona: 7
    Buffalo: 6
    Atlanta: 5
    Oakland: 5
    Seattle: 5
    San Francisco: 5
    Tennessee: 5
    Cincinnati: 4
    Washington: 4
    New York Jets: 4
    St. Louis: 4
    Houston: 3
    Kansas City: 3
    Tampa Bay: 3
    Minnesota: 3
    New Orleans: 3
    Dallas: 2
    Miami: 2
    New York Giants: 2
    Carolina: 2
    Chicago: 2, but just barely. They almost entirely land in one quadrant.
    Denver: 1 (this year)
    Indianapolis: 1
    New England: 1
    San Diego: 1
    Baltimore: 0
    Philadelphia: 0
    Green Bay: 0
    Pittsburgh: 0
    Jacksonville: 0

    Note: the origin here is at 1.5,1.5 instead of 0.0? Also, who knew about Jacksonville?

  4. Anonymous says:

    I really like the charts. Great job.

    One tweak: Is there a way to fix the X and Y axis and zoom, so that when you toggle through the different teams, they don't change. This would make it much easier to compare teams with each other?

  5. bob says:

    minor note: the address link is wrong, it has a / at the end.

    should be

  6. Brian Burke says:

    Bob-Thanks. I've been hitting my head against the wall all day trying to figure out the problem.

  7. Brian Burke says:

    I made the axes fixed. I think I like that better. Thanks for the suggestion. You can always zoom by double-clicking in the graph field.

    Also, one neat thing to do is click on the little menu arrow in the team list. Selecting 'multiple' will let you compare more than one team. If you select them all, the graph is really overloaded, but the outliers really stand out.

    BAL's defense in 2000/2003. NE 2007 offense. GB 2011 offense. The worst team of the decade has to be the 08-09 Lions.

    Worst offense 2004 Bears.

  8. Chase says:

    This is awesome.

  9. Chase Stuart says:

    Brian, any way to set it up so we can link to graphs we make?

    Plotting just PIT and CHI is funny. It's like CHI and PIT are identical, just that the Bears offense is a standard deviation or two worse on offense.

    The 2009 Packers, according to the eye test, look like the best GB team of the decade.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Brian, as always amazing. And thanks for adding the opponenet names to the other visualizations?

    I would love to see if you could some how show the position of the draft picks per year for the offense and defense. See if dramatic changes reflect draft position.

    Thanks for the website.

  11. Anonymous says:

    brian, any way you can add GWP in there somehow? I want to see who the most dominant teams were overall this past decade

  12. Brian Burke says:

    There's no way to link directly into one of the teams being selected. I chose GB because 1) they're the champs and 2) they're the #1 team at the moment.

    However, I've added a toolbar at the bottom of the viz. One of the options is to create a static image of whatever is showing on the graph at the time.

    You can also download the viz (and all the data) and play with it yourself in Tableau. You can save it with whichever default team you pick.

    I encourage everyone to download Tableau and play around with the data. Send me the cool stuff you come up with and maybe I can incorporate it on the site.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Can you please add a Tim Tebow icon on the graph as well. Would like to chart his game by game and compare it to teams progressions since 2000.
    Thanks in advance.

  14. Anonymous says:

    A question about the graph, and my apologies if this is an obvious question, does the shifted origin represent the offense adding more points per game than the defense on average? Would this represent anything as far as the relative importance of offense and defense to the success of a team?

  15. Brian Burke says:

    Yes. This deserves its own full post. There are a couple things going on that causes the average EPA to be greater than zero.

    First, offenses are getting better over time. The balance of power has been tilting more and more toward the offense, and passing in particular. The EPA framework was created based on the 2000-2009 seasons, the midpoint of which was 2004/05. In 2011, offenses are better as a whole than they were then.

    Second, I'm only counting running and passing plays. There are 'other' plays, such as botched snaps, that are almost always negative EPA plays. I made the decision to throw those out a couple years back, based on the notion they don't tend to be repeatable events. Additionally, run EPA + pass EPA would not sum to total EPA unless they're excluded.

    What represents the relative importance of offense and defense to the success of team isn't the average point, but the distribution of teams. Notice that in every stat, advanced or conventional, the spread in offenses is remarkably wider than the spread in defenses.

    I believe this is due to the fact that defense is a team sport, and offense is a hybrid individual/team sport. In individual sports like golf and tennis, a guy like Tiger Woods or Roger Federer can dominate for years. Their skill levels are not diluted by 10 other guys on the field with them. Offense is kind of like that because of the unique prominence of the QB position. They are obviously dependent on the players around them, but they are also the critical node through which all success depends.

    A good QB is singularly critical to winning. If you don't have one, you need a truly dominant defense for any shot at real success.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Would it be possible to see these charts plotted with defGWP and offGWP instead? It seems to me that the NFC East which always does well in your team rankings is being penalized a bit here because they play each other so much.

  17. J.R. says:

    Brian, you've mentioned you're a Baltimore fan. Surely you know that the Ravens' 2008 offense had two additional big changes besides Flacco: the additions of Ray Rice at RB and John Harbaugh at head coach. I am inclined to give our purple flamingo his props, but the more-than-credible threat presented by Ray Rice has got to get some credit, too.

  18. Brian Burke says:

    My observation is based on FAR more than this one graph. Cameron deserves credit as well.

  19. Brian Burke says:

    Also Rice was only a role player that year. The leading rusher was McClain.

  20. Anonymous says:


    Could you add filters for just Superbowl winning, Superbowl losing, and playoff teams? I would love to see how they stack up. Just from looking at my own New England Patriots, the difference between the "successful" teams (AFC Championship or better) and the unsuccessful seasons is obvious.

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