Once upon a time I saw OneRepublic in concert. I've only been to a handful of concerts in my life (true story... my first one ever was Taylor Swift in 2011), so you know I dug it.
Among the many different tracks that OneRepublic puts together is crowd-favorite "Good Life". It's a sweet tune that actually has a spot on my writing playlist, so that makes things really convenient and meta today, doesn't it?
Ryan Tedder tells us that he woke up in London yesterday, blah blah blah. He says he got some new names and numbers that he doesn't know, and addresses to places like Abbey Road.
Now I don't know if Tedder meant the B507 or the seminole album by The Beatles, but on his way to Abbey Road if he was digesting those "numbers that he doesn't know" he might have been talking about Price Per Yard.
After a week away from Inside The Star I couldn't wait to get back to my keyboard and start cranking out some quality and high-octane content for you guys once again. As has been the Monday tradition for the past month, I'm starting with the numbers that I do know - Price Per Yard.
The PPY metric and I have become quite close over the last few months. I spent a large amount of time building excel spreadsheets and crunching numbers, and I dropped some of that analysis here at Inside The Star:
There are two more pieces left to this PPY pie (Pies Per Yard would be an incredible analysis as well...). There's today, hey hi there welcome to this article you're already 250+ words into, and next Monday. Today is a summary of the past three seasons and what trends we've seen, and seven days from now will be a Price Per Yard projection into the 2016 season.
Shall we? Or shall we? I think we shall.
Price Per Yard: The Base Value
It's important before we get started that you understand a key element in the PPY puzzle - The Base Value.
By now you are well familiar with the methodology that went into PPY (it can be found in the introductory link), and you are likely familiar with the notion that base values need to be used in order to discern who is truly great at this game.
I'm shaking things up a bit (by the way I consumed about 18 milkshakes in the time it took to fully complete the PPY analysis) and giving you the base value calculation to kick things off. I'm so nice, aren't I? You're really nice, RJ. Thanks man.
2013-2015 Price Per Yard: A Look At The Entire NFL
**Click the image to zoom in
Well well well, that's a lot of colors.
You'll notice right away that the Green Bay Packers, Cleveland Browns, and St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams all have asterisks next to their names. This is because
they don't matter there isn't data available for all three seasons analyzed for these specific teams. For all intents and purposes we're purging them from this exercise (by the way that purge movie looks terrifying... I had to step away from this article for a second to calm down after thinking about it).
There are three teams that we need to discuss here as they seem to be the best ones in this realm over the course of the last three seasons.
- Running Back Spending = $9,775,156
- Offensive Line Spending = $75,132,328
- Run Game Spending = $84,907,484
- Team Rushing Attempts = 1,200
- Team Rushing Yards = 5,233
- Price Per Yard = $16,225.39
- % Diff From RY BV = 4.41%
- % Diff From PPY BV = -8.81%
The World Champions, in my estimation, earn the bronze medal when it comes to the three-season summarized Price Per Yard. This might seem perplexing as from 2013-2015 the Orange Crush are the only team to be spending less than the BV per yard AND out-gaining the BV in overall rushing yards.
Over the course of Price Per Yard I've fielded the question "Well what does this mean in the grand scheme of football?" many times. Simply being good at PPY, obviously, doesn't guarantee anything. It's just math. Numbers. Data.
The reason PPY is important is because of the value that it represents and the freedom that it allows. If Team A is having success in one avenue of their team at a reduced rate, it means that they can devote the funds that they're not spending to an area where they need them.
The Broncos personify this quality more than any other team. Due to the value they've had at the run game over the last three seasons they've been able to make huge investments on the other side of the ball in players like DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib, and TJ Ward. Those three served as the foundation for one of the greatest defenses we've ever seen, and one that secured Super Bowl 50 for Denver.
The New England Patriots
- Running Back Spending = $10,647,054
- Offensive Line Spending = $59,946,124
- Run Game Spending = $70,593,178
- Team Rushing Attempts = 1,126
- Team Rushing Yards = 4,825
- Price Per Yard = $14,630.71
- % Diff From RY BV = -3.73%
- % Diff From PPY BV = -17.78%
The ultimate Price Per Yard bridesmaid is the team that has won more games this century than any other, so I think that's a fair trade off.
In 2014 the Pats made what one could argue, I won't, one of the biggest Free Agent Signings in NFL History when they secured the services of Darrelle Revis for one season. Why one of the biggest? Just check that ring on their finger, boss.
Revis served as the linchpin for the 2014 Patriots Defense and leader of their secondary, you know the one that featured Malcolm Butler who you've probably never heard of. Renting Revis indisputably helped New England get over the ten-year hump that had plagued them since their previous Super Bowl Championship in the 2004 season.
How was New England even able to afford Revis, though? That's where Price Per Yard comes into play. Over the last three seasons the Patriots have spent 17.78% less than the BV per yard. Sure, they've gained 3.73% less yards than the BV, but that's a minimal number when you consider the savings they've had and the benefit that it's provided - you know, winning Super Bowl XLIX. Small little benefit, right there.
The Dallas Cowboys
- Running Back Spending = $8,236,678
- Offensive Line Spending = $57,862,006
- Run Game Spending = $66,098,684
- Team Rushing Attempts = 1,058
- Team Rushing Yards = 4,929
- Price Per Yard = $13,410.16
- % Diff From RY BV = -1.66%
- % Diff From PPY BV = -24.64%
The qualifier for "How is Price Per Yard useful to an NFL team?" is obviously a Super Bowl title. The first two teams we've named here comprise 66% of the last three so they've obviously got their ducks in a row in that avenue.
The team I believe to be the best at Price Per Yard over the last three seasons only has one playoff win, no Lombardi Trophies, to show for their success. The facts of the matter are that the facts numerically suggest this.
Dallas has spent a staggering 24.64% less than the BV per yard, and managed to only fall 1.66% below the RY BV. You need to understand how mathematically incredible this is.
Let's look at the Run Game Spending. Among teams we have complete data for (so excluding GB, CLE, STL/LA) only the Detroit Lions and Pittsburgh Steelers devoted less money to their overall run game. Those teams have 4,073 and 4,223 yards respectively while Dallas has 4,929 (6th in the NFL in this span).
It could be argued that the Cowboys spent 2013 understanding Price Per Yard, 2014 mastering it, and 2015 fell apart in more ways than one. Where they deserve criticism, I know I've handed out a ton, is in that they haven't devoted the resources they've saved via Price Per Yard to areas where they need them like the Broncos and Patriots have.
The important thing to remember about Price Per Yard is that there is no indisputable winner. All we can do is make our own observations based on the data at hand.
Next week, August 1st, I'll be launching the final installment in my Price Per Yard series by using what we know about 2016 from a financial perspective to predict and project what teams need this season in order to have equal, or great, returns on their investments.
If you have any comments or questions about Price Per Yard, the philosophy behind it, the formula that went into it, or just simply want to talk and/or debate it… you can comment below, email me at RJ@RJOchoaShow.com, or Tweet to me at @rjochoa.
Catching Up With Dallas Cowboys NFC East Rivals’ Offseasons
It's been a very busy offseason for the Dallas Cowboys, with many tasks still undone. Their work in free agency and in the Draft has gone pretty well as the front office has managed to keep the team from having unfilled needs throughout the process. Currently, the team is still hard at work negotiating contract extensions with some key Cowboys, most notably, Quarterback Dak Prescott. In the thick of the offseason, it's easy to forget that the Cowboys aren't alone in the NFC East.
That's why today we'll take a look around the division to see what's happened with the three teams the Cowboys will have to battle twice this year. Let's catch up with them, one by one.
After starting the season leading the division, the Redskins' 2018 season went crashing down when Alex Smith suffered a pretty serious injury that will keep him off the gridiron next season. That's why the Redskins signed veteran QB Case Keenum and drafted a first round signal-caller in the Ohio State product, Dwayne Haskins.
If Haskins doesn't get the starting gig in Washington from the get-go, it'll only be a matter of time for the rookie to take over. Keenum hasn't proved his worth yet and he isn't likely to in a poor-coached team such as the Redskins. Drafting Dwayne Haskins with the 15th overall pick was seen by many like a steal, and the team built on that early success by taking pass rusher Montez Sweat, who surprisingly tumbled into the late first round. Their 2019 Draft went pretty well thanks to their top two selections.
They also made a splash in free agency by breaking the bank and giving former Giants Safety Landon Collins an $84M contract averaging 14 million per year. Additionally, they had obtained LB Reuben Foster, but the young player will be out for the season after tearing his ACL in practice. Even still, their defensive front looks impressive. Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Ryan Kerrigan and Montez Sweat won't be easy to contain.
The Redskins won't be in contention for the division unless Dwayne Haskins dramatically exceeds expectations. However, getting a successful season for their rookie would be a huge win for the franchise.
New York Giants
For the New York Giants there's also an important discussion around the QB position. The team used the sixth overall pick on rookie Daniel Jones, from Duke. It was a surprising selection for many, being only the second QB off the board. The key question is, when will he play? The Giants still have Eli Manning and won't rip the reigns off of his hands just yet.
A change could come when the Giants are clearly out of contention and the coaching staff just wants to see what the rookie can bring to the table prior to 2020.
Odell Beckham is out of New York and in Cleveland, taking one of the Giants' best weapons to the AFC. In exchange, New York got a first round selection (DT Dexter Lawrence, Clemson), a third rounder (DE Oshane Ximines, Old Dominion), and S Jabrill Peppers. At wide receiver, the Giants added 30-year old Golden Tate. They decided not to pay Landon Collins and let him leave for free agency.
In what seems like a win-win trade between the Browns and the Giants, the latter swapped pass rusher Olivier Vernon for the former's quality offensive lineman Kevin Zeitler. New York's offensive line will be considerably improved for Saquon Barkley's second season in the NFL, but this team is still far from being a serious contender in the division.
Similar to the Dallas Cowboys, the Eagles have had a busy, yet quiet, offseason. The reason why is that they're a pretty good football team that will be a tough rival for the division title in the upcoming season. This offseason, they were able to keep a lot of their key players such as C Jason Kelce, DE Brandon Graham, OT Jason Peters, and CB Ronald Darby.
But they've also managed to add new talent at various positions. WR Desean Jackson makes his return to Philly and Jordan Howard arrives from Chicago to help at RB along with the product out of Penn State, Miles Sanders.
For the defense, they signed DT Malik Jackson and got pass rusher Michael Bennett from the New England Patriots. They also signed LB Zach Brown, improving their linebacker group.
Paired with a quality Draft, the Eagles had a heck of an offseason and will be a tough team to beat in 2019. If Carson Wentz, who signed a huge extension a few weeks ago, remains healthy, this will be a dangerous team for the Cowboys. Beatable, sure. But they're certainly not alone in the NFC East race.
Cowboys Camp: DT Antwaun Woods Ready To Compete
Rod Marinelli defensive lines have always been categorized by one term: rotations. His tenure with the Dallas Cowboys has been no different.
Marinelli loves to rotate defensive linemen through the game, specifically on the interior. He's also not one to pay big money to interior defensive linemen often. Instead, he will cycle through mid-round draft picks, undrafted free agents, and bargain-status veterans to piece together a group in his image.
And there's no arguing with his results.
The latest of Marinelli's guys to make a name for himself on the field was defensive tackle Antwaun Woods. Barely talked about heading into 2018, Woods competed during training camp and preseason to earn his spot on the Cowboys defensive line. Before long he was not only the starting 1-technique, but also making a big impact every week.
This offseason, though, the Cowboys placed an emphasis on adding talent to their defensive line. On the interior they signed former Texans tackle Christian Covington, and drafted UCF's Trysten Hill in the second round. At defensive end they traded for Robert Quinn, and added former Detroit Lion Kerry Hyder.
All of these new faces bring increased competition for Woods, but he is certainly not shying away from the challenge.
“It’s the name of the business: Every year they’re trying to replace us. Every year they bring guys in to take our job, and it’s what makes us better." - Antwaun Woods, via DallasCowboys.com
Woods finished 2018 with 34 tackles, 5 QB hits, and 1.5 sacks, but his impact certainly felt even bigger than those numbers would indicate. Woods brought an energy and attitude to the defensive line that they had been missing in recent years. And when on the field with defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, that energy was furthered even more.
Still, it's true that Woods and his teammates were thoroughly controlled by the Rams offensive line during their Divisional round playoff loss. The Cowboys needed to add talent to the interior of their defensive line, and it would seem they accomplished this goal.
If Woods can beat out these newcomers and retain his starting spot, then it's all the better for a Cowboys team which could use the increased competition and hunger across their defensive line.
Jaylon Smith’s “Clear Eye View” Coming Into Focus
Jaylon Smith's career nearly ended before he even stepped foot on an NFL field.
The 2016 Fiesta Bowl featured two top-shelf college programs, Notre Dame and Ohio State. You would think the headlines of such a contest would be of excellence on the gridiron but in the first quarter that would all change. Smith would suffer a gruesome knee injury, tearing both his ACL and MCL. The timing couldn't have been worse considering the NFL Draft was just three months away, and the Irish star was looked at as a potential top 10 pick. Many thought his stock would plummet tremendously, but the Dallas Cowboys had a different view in mind so to speak.
On January 7th Smith would have successful surgery to repair both ligaments in his knee. Just four days later, he announced he would forego his senior year and enter the NFL Draft, and the long road to recovery began.
Surprisingly, just six weeks post surgery, Smith was already squatting 500 pounds, truly an amazing accomplishment considering his physical status. By late April, he was already doing field work as he worked his body back into peak condition. When you take into account the seriousness of his injury just three months prior, it was mind-blowing to see him dropping into coverage and swatting a tackling dummy just before the NFL Draft.
Noticeably, he was wearing an Ankle-Foot Orthosis (AFO) device. The nerve damage in his knee caused a condition called drop foot. The brace provided stabilization to the ankle, foot, and knee for Smith and his workout videos began to generate buzz across the NFL landscape.
After taking All-Pro Running Back Ezekiel Elliott with the 4th overall pick, the Cowboys took what many deemed an unnecessary gamble with the 34th pick in round two. Even with the doubts flowing rapidly, they decided Smith was worth the risk and made him a Dallas Cowboy. Now that his pro football home had been determined it was time to get to work.
It would be a long shot for Smith to see the field as a rookie, and he wouldn't risk further damage rushing back too quickly. Instead, he spent the season rehabbing and getting acclimated to the Cowboys defensive philosophy, at least as much as he could without actually being on the field of battle. He could be seen on the sidelines cheering his football brothers on weekly as they went 13-3 and won the NFC East, but as we all know, players want to play, and there's no doubt that Smith was itching to make his presence known.
After a year and a half of rehab, and high expectations just from his workout videos alone, Jaylon Smith made his long-awaited NFL debut week one of 2017 against the Giants. It was clear he wasn't quite back to the player that was so highly praised coming out of college, but you could see the flashes. He finished with 81 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 2 passes defended and 1 sack. More than solid for your first year on the field after ACL and MCL tears.
For years, the Cowboys defense was looked at as the teams weakest unit, but in 2018 that all changed, in large part because of the play of Smith. He would catapult his name into the conversation of the elite linebackers in all of football with his performance in year two. 121 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 4 passes defended and 4 sacks. This would silence any and all doubters who questioned rather he would ever reach his ceiling, and it also got him named PFF's (Pro Football Focus) Breakout Player of the Year. Also, following the lead of their new defensive star, the Cowboys finished 5th against the run, 7th in fewest points allowed, 7th in total defense and a solid 13th against the pass. I guess it's safe to say if you follow the lead of Jaylon Smith good things will come.
The biggest takeaway from last season in regards to Jaylon Smith was just how unlimited he looked movement wise. No hesitation, no timid motions at all when you watch his film. He shot through gaps like a Cheetah hunting an Antelope, to use a National Geographic analogy. We are seeing exactly why the Cowboys turned in his draft card in 2016, and they are reaping the benefits tremendously.
Now, as the 2019 season approaches look for an All-Pro level season from Smith. He's improved every year he's been on the field and there's no sign of that stopping in the near future. Plus, he has two things most middle linebackers don't have, an All-Pro on each side of him with teammates Leighton Vander Esch and Sean Lee, making life that much easier for him. Limitations and doubts have been cast aside and now look for Jaylon Smith to raise his game to another level. The "Clear Eye View" is in full swing.
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