Just over a year ago, there were two (!) articles posted on Buffalo Rumblings providing excerpts from the excellent annual Football Outsiders Almanac. You can see Skarecrow's post by clicking here. For the TL;DR crowd, the focus from the Bills seasonal summary largely panned Josh Allen's 2020 outlook, summed up by Skare as "On the flip side, they use a large number of metrics and they all point to Allen being below average as a quarterback". Yeesh. That was a brutal assessment. A lot of the comments at the time (no longer available to view due to the Coral Langoliers) rightly pushed back on this notion and the discussion boiled down to "Josh Allen versus Stats". Tonight, after reading a horrible Josh Allen will regress article posted on fivethirtyeight.com (seriously don't bother...or do if you want to see how not to use statistics to back up an argument,whatever floats your boat), I was reminded of the aforementioned FOA (Football Outsiders Almanac) posts- I didn't recall seeing any summary from the FOA 2021 and so I became curious. Did nobody read it this year? Was it more piling on Allen based off of their algorithms? Or perhaps have they softened their tone after his pretty remarkable MVP-runner up season? Did COVID stop it from even being released this year? So I plopped down the $9.99 monthly charge to take a look (note to self: cancel subscription before 10/3/2021). I thought I'd share the information in a similar way to Skare's post from last year, to help ensure that I share subscription-based content in a manner consistent with the admin's approval .
For those who don't know, Football Outsiders is a stat-nerd paradise. They coined the popular DVOA system which are referenced by all sorts of media outlets looking to sound smart in their analyses. From their glossary: DVOA breaks down the entire season play-by-play, comparing success on each play to the league average based on a number of variables including down, distance, location on field, current score gap, quarter, and opponent quality..it can be broken down to analyze team effectiveness in any number of ways: down, quarter, rushing vs. receiving, location on field, passes to backs vs. passes to receivers, and so on. It truly is a remarkable statistic and algorithmic model and you can find additional information on DVOA all over the internet -- the glossary gives a good link further breaking down DVOA.
So what did the FOA have to say about the Bills and Josh Allen in 2021? It's ok...you can unclench your fists. The Almanac began it's summary talking about the belief that Josh Allen would be a franchise quarterback by stating "Bills fans had that belief from the start. It took stats-minded writers a little longer to come on board"
THE BAD NEWS:
Historically teams that have such a dramatic increase in DVOA as the Bills did from 2019 to 2020 don't continue to maintain that high level. That indicates that there could be some sort of well, I forget the word, perhaps someone here can help jog my memory (repression? no that's not quite it...recession? nah). But basically, very few teams (roughly 25%) have improved again after significant statistical increases, perhaps having let's just say a let down, if you will. Perhaps only a slight let down, perhaps a bigger slide.
Historically, teams who want to make a bigger impact rushing the quarterback have more success bringing in an established free agent(s) rather than through the draft. Football Outsiders specifically mentions Watt or Lawson or Clowney, which seems odd to me as Clowney isn't a sack artist and Watt has been oft-injured these past several seasons. Of course, no one could predict Carl Lawson's injury at the time this article was written.
Only 12 QBs have had multiple years as good as Josh Allen's 2020 based on their algorithms.
The run game needs to do better.
While they believe that the Bills will be serious contenders this year, their statistical models predict that the Bills will be merely a good team. Not a great team. (cue the sad trombone)
THE GOOD NEWS:
I'll level with y'all. There is a lot of good news when it comes to statistical analysis of Josh Allen. Football Outsiders gave a lot of kudos to Josh Allen, his willingness to improve, his better, more accurate passing statistics and the stable coaching he's had over the past three years. He truly has been put into a position to succeed, and not only that, has seemingly unparalleled intrinsic motivations to make himself succeed. They used a large number of metrics to state that Allen, is in fact, a talented and really good quarterback.
Of those 12 previously mentioned QBs -- 10 are hall of famers. The other two are Daunte Culpepper (no slouch) and potential HOF nominee/inductee Philip Rivers.
The FOA also thinks the defense will be much more stout then they were in 2020, bouncing back to their recent historical average.
Here's to another year of Josh Allen breaking algorithms and statistical models. If I could get that $9.99 back, I'd fly out to Vegas, where betting is completely legal and put it on Josh Allen to become the NFL 2021 MVP and Super bowl MVP. I find no better way to end this fanpost than to take the words that the FOA succinctly used to end their Bills analysis:
"The parody of an NFL quarterback prospect has become a legitimate superstar, and the Bills will be near the top...for as long as that holds true."