Thursday, February 7, 2008

Analysis of Bonamego ST Units

Yesterday I looked at the statistical success of Dan Henning's past gigs as an offensive coordinator.

Today, I wanted to do the same for our new Special Teams coordinator, John Bonamego.

I've organized a chart using the special teams metrics provided by Football Outsiders.

According to FO:
"[These stats list] an estimate of how many points, compared to league average, each team receives from the five elements of special teams: field goals/extra points, kickoffs, kick returns, punts, punt returns. The total is then converted into a DVOA percentage so that it can be added in to offense and defense to create total team DVOA.

Field goal rating compares each field goal to the league-average percentage of field goals from that distance. Yards of field position from the other four elements of special teams are translated into points using a method that gives each yard line a point value based on the average next score an NFL offense is worth from that point on the field. Punts, punt returns, and kickoffs are based on net yardage. Kickoff returns are judged on return yardage only.

All special teams numbers are adjusted for weather/altitude based on stadium type (cold, warm, dome, Denver) and week.

WEIGHTED S.T. DVOA is adjusted so that earlier games in the season become gradually less important. It better reflects how the team was playing at the end of the season."
The numbers in parentheses are the overall NFL ranks for those particular categories. Remember, that the higher the VAR number, the more consistent that unit was from week to week.

Full explanations of the FO stats can be found here.

I have included the numbers for Miami's 2007 squad as a point of comparison.

Here you go:

Weighted ST
Kick Ret
Punt Ret
2002 Jaguars
-1.3% (18)
0.1% (16)
0.9% (22)
2003 Packers
1.9% (10)
1.2% (13)
0.4% (30)
2004 Packers
0.9% (14)
0.4% (15)
0.4% (31)
2005 Packers
-3.8% (30)
-4.0% (31)
0.7% (21)
2006 Saints
0.7% (14)
-0.4% (21)
0.6% (27)
2007 Saints
-3.9% (26)
-2.4% (22)
1.0% (27)
2007 Dolphins
-2.7% (22)
-2.6% (23)
1.0% (26)

The first thing that strikes me about these numbers is how consistent Bonamego gets his special teams units to play. His ST units have been some of the most consistent in the league for the past 5 years.

That's a good thing that is made better by the fact that his units are typically above average. His 2005 season was pretty bad, and his Saints unit slipped in '07, but in his four other seasons, he has fielded solid ST units.

It's also very interesting to look at the improvements that Bonamego has made in his first year with a new team:
  • In 2001, the Jaguars ranked 21st in DVOA. Bonamego brought them up to 18th in 2002.
  • In 2002, the Packers ranked 25th in DVOA. Bonamego vaulted them to 10th in 2003.
  • In 2005, the Saints ranked 24th in DVOA. Bonamego brought them up to 14th in 2006.
Judging by that trend, Miami can probably expect to have a top-half ST unit in 2008.

One other thing that stands out about these numbers - Miami posted a disgusting -18.6 in the Kick category. That was the worst in the league last year. Clearly, Jay Feely is a big liability in the kickoff/field position game, and that obviously hurt the team last year. I'd be interested in seeing Brandon Fields get a chance to try kickoffs this offseason. He has had some experience doing that before, and with his powerful leg, he may be a better option to kickoff than Feely.

Hopefully that's something that Bonamego will look at. In any case, these numbers are an encouraging sign for the improvement of the ST units in 2008.

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