As January rounds into February, and we prepare for the official end to the 2012 season, the offseason (even though it has already begun for 30 teams) begins in earnest. As a result, the Interwebs will be filled with global assessments of individual franchises and offseason plans designed either to sustain the success currently being enjoyed in Baltimore and San Francisco or to achieve it. This is no different here at BTB, where one of the FanPost pages' dominant memes is in-depth analysis of the recently-completed campaign.
Today, I want to celebrate two things. The first of these is the fact that, thanks to a subtle yet important SB Nation reformatting effort, the FanPost pages have enjoyed a notable and welcome resurgence of late. You may have noticed that the weekly FPOTW award has been dormant for a while, surfacing only to congratulate ScarletO for taking home FanPoster of the Year laurels. This was due, we believe, to the new design - or, more precisely, to the fact that the new design made FanPosts less accessible. Thankfully, this was recently rectified, and we have already begun to see a spike in FanPosts, in terms of both quality and quantity. So, I encourage all of you to visit the FP pages early and often and, once there, to comment freely.
Secondly, I'd like to acknowledge a couple of gentlemen whose recent work is worthy of our praise. Both of these fine fellows have recently crafted an interesting set of posts, each of which builds on those that came before. The first of these is Dr-P, who has gifted us with what is currently a four-part "Draft Strategy" series. In each, he looks at a different long-term approaches to upgrade the team. Part one argues that filling holes in free agency allows for optimal, "BPA" drafting; in the second installment, P points out that inefficiencies in the famed "draft value chart" allow teams to minimize risk and maximize value; in the third part, he stresses the importance of self-evaluation, with an emphasis on the lowest-performing players; part four looks at the other end of the roster, concluding that its more important to develop overall roster talent than to find talented individuals. All are packed with thoughtful takes on the Cowboys roster and what has been written about it. Check them out!
The good doctor come up just short of a FPOTW nod, less due to any deficiencies in his work than to the high quality of this week's winner's material. I'd like to welcome a first-time winner to the Pantheon of FanPost greats: our resident Aussie, BoyfromOz. Over the years, Oz (who has been a consistent presence since he joined the blog in 2008) has come up with some good stuff, but his recent work takes the cake (er, vegemite on toast?). In a multi-installment assessment of Jason Garrett performance, Oz takes the coach at his own words, starting with a key mission statement made by the RHG and then investigating the degree to which the Garrett Cowboys have performed to that statement.
Allow me to elaborate: in the first part, he cites a Garrett presser in which the head coach notes that the two statistics that correlate most to winning are turnovers and winning the fourth quarter. With this in mind, Oz sets out to investigate precisely these metrics. In the first post, he looks at Dallas' fourth quarter performance since the Parcells years, concluding that the Cowboys' recent fourth quarter failures fall largely - and increasingly - on the defense. He follows this up with a cogent look at turnovers, reminding us of some astonishingly low numbers (the Cowboys set a ten-year turnover low in 2012). Both posts suggest reasons for Dallas showing Rob Ryan the door and for bringing in Mote Kiffin, whose defensive scheme consistently limited points and generated turnovers.
The latter statistic is key. In a recent FanPost looking at the characteristic of winning teams, ScarletO, our FanPoster of the Year, demonstrated that the Cowboys passing attack generates yardage at the same rate as a 12- or 13-win team, but scores at the rate of an 8-9 win team. To my mind, turnovers are a key aspect of this peculiar discrepancy. Without the benefit of as many short fields as the scoring leaders received, Dallas was consistently forced to drive 70 yards to generate points. Indeed, in a follow-up post, S.O. points out that, from 2003-'08, Kiffin's Bucs defenses forced interceptions at a rate in accordance with teams averaging 10-12 wins per season. I would argue - and I think Oz might agree - that Kiffin's reputation as a takeaway hawk is the primary reason Garrett and the Joneses decided to bring him aboard.
Okay, everybody, grab a Fosters and toast this week's winner. And remember: you can't join the FanPost Hall of Awesome unless you start writing your own FP's. Do, and we'll soon be toasting you!