Saturday John Morgan authored a great piece about the type of
Posted: Thu Jul 04, 2019 3:38 pm
systems and offenses that the Seattle Seahawks and Brian Schottenheimer could attempt to emulate in working to develop a dominant rushing offense capable of potentially carrying the team forward to the Super Bowl. When it comes to writing skills Marshawn Lynch Color Rush Jersey , I’ll never be qualified to hold John’s athletic supporter, however, when it comes to tables, charts and random factoids, I’m the guy you want. Specifically in his piece about the dominant ground based Air Coryell offenses that could serve as a model for the Seahawks going forward, Morgan proposed using the Washington Redskins of the 1980s and the Dallas Cowboys of the mid-1990s as a model. Now, it is certainly true that both of those teams ran ground based variants of the Air Coryell system, but both of the teams he cited existed in a different era in NFL history. Specifically, the 1980s Redskins were dominant before free agency as we know it came into existence, and the Cowboys dynasty fell apart within just a couple of seasons of the salary cap being put into place. Back when both of those teams used a dominant ground game to control the line of scrimmage and win a whole lot of Super Bowls over a little more than a decade the economics of the NFL were far different, particularly for Washington during the 1980s. Because free agency did not exist, every single player on the roster was effectively an exclusive rights free agent in today’s terms. Their options were to play for the contract the team offered, or sit at home. Their only leverage in negotiations was the holdout, and as a group their only leverage came in the form of work stoppages, such as those witnessed in both 1982 and 1987. In any case, I’m not going to belabor my point with a history lesson. Let’s jump right in to looking at the type of continuity those Washington and Dallas teams were able to have up front. We’ll start with the Washington offensive line through the 1980s, by looking at the starters at each position and the number of games played by that player in that particular season. (Author’s note: the 1982 season had only 9 games, while the 1987 season had only 12 games due to the aforementioned work stoppages.) And then we move on to the Dallas lines of the 1990s. You’ll obviously notice that line after 1993 and before 1994, and that is to denote when the salary cap went into effect. Obviously, the impact of the cap was not instantaneous, but the change in continuity is rather visible beginning in 1997. Now, for comparison purposes, here we have what the Seahawks offensive line has looked like since 2011. And obviously we see some continuity in the 2013-2014 time frame, before a couple of seasons of massive upheaval and turnover, before returning to a small semblance of continuity in 2018. For readers who remember the question and answer piece with Thomas Emerick from early January, Emerick has done a significant amount of research into the effects of offensive line continuity on success in the run game Earl Thomas III Color Rush Jersey , and while there are obviously multiple other variables that play an important role, his work has shown that continuity is a key factor. So, fans can hope and dream all they want about building an offense similar to that of Washington back in the 1980s or the Cowboys of the mid 1990s, but at the end of the day, things have changed. The game has changed. The league has changed. Team structure has changed. And as muchas the front office may want to emulate something, to attempt to do so within the confines of a system that has seen drastic alterations over the last two decades seems a task destined for failure. On Sunday night the Seattle Seahawks will host the Kansas City Chiefs, potentially with a shot at securing a playoff berth on the line depending on how the games earlier Sunday go. The Chiefs bring their explosive offense to town, and look to take advantage of a young and beat up Seattle secondary. The Hawks, of course, will look to take advantage of the fact that they are playing at home, and perhaps one of the biggest things that will be in their favor will be the simple fact that the game is being played in primetime. The Seahawks have been extremely, extremely good in primetime in recent seasons, with key primetime victories in recent years including the 2016 victory over the New England Patriots and the 2017 defeat of the Philadelphia Eagles. In fact, since Pete Carroll arrived in Seattle the Hawks have been among the best teams in the NFL in primetime. What’s the secret to the Seahawks primetime success? We don’t really know the answer to that, however, last month I took a very high level look at whether or not the Hawks might be better suited to play in primetime simply because of the fact that they play on the West Coast. Some fans didn’t like the proposed idea that the Hawks could be enjoying an advantage simply because of the fact that they play on the West Coast, demanding a more rigorous look into the effects of time zone differences when it comes to the games in question. As noted in the previous article, it was a very high level analysis that was only attempting to determine whether this was something that would be worth looking into in more depth. Based on the results, I certainly thought so, so I dug deeper and here’s some of what I found. Specifically, what I did was to look at every single primetime game that has been played in the NFL since 1976 when the Seahawks entered the league. From that sample of 1,449 primetime games, I eliminated games between teams from the same time zone or only one time zone apart. Thus, for an example for those older Hawks fans who remember the AFC West days, the sample eliminates any primetime games against the Oakland-then-Los-Angeles-but-now-back-in Oakland Raiders, the Los Angeles (nee San Diego) Chargers and the Denver Broncos. However Chris Carson Color Rush Jersey , because of the two time zone difference between Seattle and Kansas City, it does include primetime games against the Chiefs, including the 1999 monsoon game at Arrowhead which saw weather delays due to thunderstorms. In any case, the result was a sample of 332 games played in primetime between two teams that had a two or three hour time zone difference between their home cities. The results from the sample show that in these games, 55.42% of the time the team from further west won, and that takes nothing into consideration outside of the home location of the two teams. As Josh Hermsmeyer (@friscojosh on Twitter) noted in an piece for FiveThirtyEight.com Friday, the home team wins over 57 percent of games played at the NFL level. Looking at the numbers for the same timeframe from which my primetime numbers are drawn, since 1976 NFL teams playing at home enjoy a .5781 winning percentage (5,834-4,255-23 per Pro-Football-Reference.com). Thus, when a team from the Mountain or Pacific Time Zone (or, technically also from the Arizona Time Zone since Arizona splits the season between these two time zones. For the purposes of this analysis, games in which the Arizona Cardinals played were looked at based on the actual time in Phoenix on the date of the game) is playing in primetime against a team from two or more time zones to the east, the more western team wins 55.42% of the time (Author’s note: These numbers are current through Week 15 of the 2018 NFL season). That makes being the more western team in a primetime game almost as big of an advantage as being the home team in a random NFL game. So, if this body clock matter actually has an effect on on field performance, we’d expect the effects to show up and alter the home field advantage of teams. To look at this, I broke the sample of 332 games played in primetime down to two groups:The team that plays in the Eastern or Central Time zone is at home (Group 1) andThe team that plays in the Mountain or Pacific Time zone is at home (Group 2). If the body clock issue actually exists for primetime games, we’d expect it to show up by dropping the primetime home winning percentage of Group 1 below .5781, while helping to prop the home winning percentage of Group 2 above .5781. Is this what we actually see? Home team record in primetime by time zone when there is at least a two time zone differenceGroupHome Winning PercentageDifference from NFL Overall Winning PercentageGroupHome Winning PercentageDifference from NFL Overall Winning PercentageWhat we see is a performance dip for Group 1 that is very, very close in size to the performance improvement we see for Group 2. Certainly interesting, but far from definitive, so let’s look at a little bit more data. Specifically, if this body clock issue does indeed exist for primetime games, then we’d expect it to get larger as the time zone gap increases. Thus, since we already have the data set of all primetime games played between teams that are at least two time zones apart, what happens when we narrow it down even further to only look at primetime games that involve two teams that are three time zones apart? That sample gets even smaller George Fant Color Rush Jersey , as there have been only 152 games since 1976 which meet these criteria, but let’s see what the data looks like. Keeping things as similar to before as possible, let’s define two more groups.The team that plays in the Eastern Time Zone is at home (Group 3) andThe team that plays in the Pacific Time Zone is at home (Group 4). As noted, if this body clock effect is indeed real, we’d expect the impact on this sample to be even larger than on the prior group. So, without beating around the bush, let’s jump right to the data, which is as follows.Winning percentage of home team when there is a three time zone difference between teamsGroupHome Winning PercentageDifference from NFL Overall Winning PercentageGroupHome Winning PercentageDifference from NFL Overall Winning PercentageBefore anybody asks, I won’t bother to bore everyone with the math behind the calculations, but the difference for Group 3 is statistically significant at the p < .01 level, while the other three groups are only statistically significant at the p < .25 level.So, at some level, there is a measurable effect at play here. However, that does not necessarily mean that this is an effect which is in fact affecting NFL games. The sampling I have done here controlled only for time zones and home field. There was no account made for the actual quality of the teams playing, which could have a material impact on the results. As such, while the results of the sampling I have done definitely seem to indicate that teams from further west have an advantage when playing teams from further east when the game takes place in primetime, it could simply be the result of quality teams, like the Seahawks, playing horrible teams, like the Green Bay Packers, in primetime over and over and over. Thus, while this is something that I definitely find interesting, it will require some more digging before the results are truly reliable.