Singletary’s Formula for Success through 12 Games

AUTHOR'S NOTE: If you're interested, here is my statistical matchup review of the Seahawks game.

Welcome back for this week's look at how the 49ers are doing according to Mike Singletary's Formula for Success. For those that don't remember Singletary's Formula for Success, here it is:

  1. Total Ball Security
  2. Execute
  3. Dominate the Trenches
  4. Create Good Field Position
  5. Finish

The first thing I'll say is, "Don't worry. This isn't another equation-heavy measurement statistics article." OK. With that out of the way - and most of you still around - I'll repeat that, given the large sample sizes at this point in the season, don't expect too much fluctuation in any of the Formula-related stats I present today. Instead, it's most important to focus on the changes in these stats as compared to last week.

In today's post, I'll first present updated Adjusted BS Rates - along with their components - for each NFL team. Then, as I did last week, I'll use one gigantic table to present all of the stats that measure the other 4 ingredients of Singletary's Formula for Success. Of course, as has been the case of late, I'll provide some brief commentary along the way

After the jump, a pile of BS followed by a heaping helping of formula ingredients...

ADJUSTED BS RATES

Below you'll find Adjusted Ball Security (BS) Rates, Unadjusted BS Rates, Fumble Rates (FR), Interception Rates (IR), and Adjusted IRs for each NFL team through 12 games (Niner stats and top 8 for each category in bold; bottom 8 for each category in italics):

Team

Adj BS Rate

Last Wk

BS Rate

Rk

FR

Rk

IR

Rk

Adj IR

Rk

1

MIN

98.70%

1

98.78%

1

1.24%

2

1.19%

1

1.43%

3

2

NE

98.61%

2

98.35%

3

1.41%

3

2.11%

8

1.34%

2

3

MIA

98.21%

3

97.75%

14

1.99%

12

2.86%

18

1.32%

1

4

SD

98.18%

6

98.39%

2

1.62%

4

1.60%

3

2.24%

7

5

IND

98.15%

5

98.30%

4

1.20%

1

2.60%

13

3.02%

19

6

ATL

98.05%

7

97.77%

11

1.73%

6

3.24%

24

2.38%

8

7

PHI

98.01%

11

98.08%

7

1.80%

8

2.15%

9

2.39%

9

8

DAL

97.98%

13

97.92%

9

2.27%

21

1.69%

5

1.53%

4

9

DEN

97.95%

4

98.21%

5

1.66%

5

2.07%

7

2.88%

15

10

NO

97.90%

12

97.73%

15

2.14%

17

2.55%

12

2.01%

6

11

GB

97.90%

8

98.18%

6

1.90%

10

1.65%

4

2.54%

10

12

BAL

97.83%

9

97.94%

8

1.75%

7

2.68%

15

3.04%

20

13

HOU

97.78%

10

97.75%

13

1.80%

9

3.15%

23

3.07%

21

14

JAC

97.71%

14

97.82%

10

2.47%

25

1.54%

2

1.90%

5

15

STL

97.68%

15

97.70%

16

2.00%

13

2.91%

19

2.99%

18

16

CIN

97.60%

17

97.77%

12

2.03%

15

2.74%

17

3.32%

23

17

NYG

97.57%

16

97.65%

19

2.18%

19

2.73%

16

2.96%

17

18

SF

97.55%

18

97.70%

17

2.32%

22

2.27%

10

2.71%

11

19

CLE

97.47%

23

97.32%

22

2.09%

16

3.97%

26

3.49%

24

20

PIT

97.44%

19

97.67%

18

2.00%

14

3.02%

21

3.75%

25

21

ARI

97.35%

22

97.54%

20

2.38%

23

2.61%

14

3.16%

22

22

TEN

97.33%

21

97.30%

23

2.59%

27

2.95%

20

2.85%

14

23

BUF

97.32%

20

97.15%

25

2.17%

18

4.41%

27

3.86%

27

24

WAS

97.21%

25

97.10%

26

2.82%

29

3.07%

22

2.72%

12

25

SEA

97.15%

26

97.47%

21

2.83%

30

1.96%

6

2.88%

16

26

KC

97.12%

24

97.28%

24

2.91%

32

2.30%

11

2.81%

13

27

DET

96.98%

27

96.94%

28

1.91%

11

5.30%

30

5.18%

31

28

NYJ

96.98%

31

96.63%

31

2.46%

24

5.96%

32

4.62%

29

29

CAR

96.97%

29

96.78%

29

2.23%

20

5.57%

31

4.91%

30

30

TB

96.95%

28

96.48%

32

2.69%

28

5.21%

29

3.77%

26

31

OAK

96.78%

32

96.95%

27

2.83%

31

3.55%

25

4.11%

28

32

CHI

96.56%

30

96.72%

30

2.54%

26

4.72%

28

5.18%

32

If you don't know what each of these stats mean, see my detailed explanation here.

One thing I forgot to mention last week is that the 49ers actually have the best Adjusted BS Rate among the 4 NFC West teams. So, if Total Ball Security is one of the mechanisms via which Mike Singletary envisions his team winning the division (at some point in my lifetime), then they're well on their way when it comes to avoiding fumbles and interceptions.

Of course, you wouldn't exactly expect that given the 49ers' fumbling woes against the Seahawks and the Cardinals stellar play of late. However, the reason why they remained at #18 this week should be pretty apparent. Namely, their 2 fumbles against the Seahawks, although costly during that particular game, constituted only 2 of their 76 fumbling opportunities in Week 13 (2.63%); and, more importantly, they represented only 2 of their 777 total fumbling opportunities through 12 games (0.26%). Essentially, those 2 fumbles didn't affect the overall stats that much because of the large sample size.

Nevertheless, although it may not have affected their Adjusted BS Rate very much, their fumble-prone (and interception-averse) performance against SEA did affect their component rankings in two ways. First, they dropped from 21st to 22nd in FR because their 2.63% FR on Sunday was still higher than their 2.28% FR going into Sunday's game. Second, their IRs moved up considerably in the rankings: their IR ranking rose from #13 to #10 and their Adjusted IR ranking rose from #17 to #11.

Why the big leap in IRs? Well, it's pretty simple, Alex Smith threw 0 INTs in 45 passes against SEA, and 0.00% is as good as it gets with respect to IR. What's interesting to me about the 49ers being the 10th- or 11th-best team in terms of avoiding INTs -and this should not shock you whatsoever - is that their decrease in IR has coincided perfectly with their increase in the use of shotgun, as well as their increase in passing frequency. Here's a useful table to illustrate this point:

Time Frame

% Shotgun

Passes per Game

INTs

IR

Through 9 Games

37.1%

30.9

8

2.88%

Through 10 Games

40.0%

31.1

9

2.89%

Through 11 Games

41.5%

32.0

9

2.56%

Through 12 Games

43.3%

33.1

9

2.27%

Why is this interesting to me? Well, in football, it's pretty much the conventional wisdom that more passing leads to a higher IR. Likewise, the conventional wisdom among anti-shotgun Niner fans is that more shotgun leads to a higher IR. From this table, we can see that, since SF implemented their shotgun OFF for the first time against GB, their IR has clearly defied the conventional wisdom; it's actually getting better! Indeed, over the past 3 games, Alex Smith has thrown only 1 INT in 119 passes, for an astonishingly microscopic IR of 0.84%. What's even more amazing about Smith's nearly "total" ball security is that the last 3 shotgun- and passing-heavy games have come against teams that have an average defensive IR of 3.51% (average ranking = 12th). Ho hum, just another meaningless piece of evidence that shotgun-haters are going to ignore when they argue that the Niners need to go back to running the ball or the West Coast Offense or whatever it is this week. I look forward to hearing your denials in the comments section.

As for the rest of the NFL, the biggest leapers this week were the Eagles and Cowboys, who ascended into the top 8 at the expense of the Broncos and Packers. In terms of the relationship between Adjusted BS Rate and winning, the top 8 teams are a combined 58-38, while the bottom 8 teams are a combined 31-65. A few other things I'll point out before moving on are

  • The Dolphins are #3 in Adjusted BS Rate despite being less than 2 full seasons removed from a 1-15 record. Meanwhile, the Niners are still only #18 despite being in a "rebuilding mode" for the past 6 years. Why isn't the Dolphins record better than 6-6 this season? Looking at the difference between their Adjusted and Unadjusted IR, you see that they've had a governor on their engine called "the toughest IR strength of schedule (SOS) in the NFL."
  • The same thing can be said for the other seemingly underachieving team in the top 8: The Atlanta Falcons. Yes, passes by Matt Ryan (and now Chris Redman) have been intercepted rather frequently. However, these INTs have come against the 4th-toughest IR schedule in the league.
  • On the flip side, DEN is in the top 8 when it comes to Unadjusted IR, but they're only a middle-of-the-road IR team when we take their 3rd-easiest IR SOS into account. So, in my mind, their 8-4 record is somewhat of a mirage insofar as it's a byproduct of ball security in the passing game.

THE REST OF THE 49ERS' FORMULA STATS

Now that I have a useful stat for measuring Total Ball Security, I can add it to the following table, which displays the Niners stats according to Singletary's Formula for Success, what those stats were last week, and what the extent of change was between this week's stats and last week's stats (top-8 in bold; bottom-8 in italics):

 

 

This Week

 

Last Week

 

Change

Formula Ingredient

Statistic

Value

Rk

Value

Rk

Value

Rk

Total Ball Security

Adj BS Rate

97.55%

18

 

97.53%

18

 

-0.02%

0

Total Ball Security

BS Rate

97.70%

17

 

97.63%

19

 

-0.07%

+2

Total Ball Security

FR

2.32%

22

 

2.28%

21

 

-0.04%

-1

Total Ball Security

IR

2.27%

10

 

2.56%

13

 

+0.29%

+3

Total Ball Security

Adj IR

2.71%

11

 

2.86%

17

 

+0.15%

+6

Execute

Total

0.6%

17

-1.6%

20

+1.0%

+3

Execute

OFF

-7.1%

21

 

-10.0%

21

 

+2.9%

0

Execute

DEF

-7.2%

5

 

-7.6%

7

 

+0.4%

+2

Execute

ST

0.5%

16

 

0.8%

15

 

+0.3%

-1

Execute

1Q OFF

-31.9%

30

 

-39.3%

31

 

+7.4%

+1

Execute

1Q DEF

-6.8%

11

 

-2.7%

13

 

+4.1%

+2

Dominate the Trenches

OL ALY

3.23

32

 

3.21

32

 

+0.02

0

Dominate the Trenches

OL ASR

8.6%

27

 

9.3%

29

 

+0.7%

+2

Dominate the Trenches

DF7 ALY

3.65

8

 

3.65

7

 

0.00

-1

Dominate the Trenches

DF7 ASR

7.1%

7

 

6.7%

13

 

+0.4%

+6

Create Great Field Position

FG/XP Pts

1.7

14

 

1.1

15

 

+0.6

+1

Create Great Field Position

KO Pts

3.9

12

 

3.2

15

 

+0.7

+3

Create Great Field Position

KR Pts

-1.9

17

 

-1.9

18

 

0.0

+1

Create Great Field Position

P Pts

12.0

2

 

11.0

2

 

+1.0

0

Create Great Field Position

PR Pts

-13.5

32

 

-10.1

31

 

-3.4

-1

Create Great Field Position

Own 1-20 OFF

-32.2%

30

 

-35.2%

30

 

+3.0%

0

Create Great Field Position

Opp 1-20 DEF

19.5%

24

 

22.2%

24

 

+2.7%

0

Finish

4Q OFF

6.4%

16

 

3.2%

18

 

+3.2%

+2

Finish

4Q DEF

4.5%

15

 

2.8%

14

 

-1.7%

-1

Finish

Late/Close OFF

-24.8%

28

 

-27.7%

31

 

+2.9%

+3

Finish

Late/Close DEF

-11.0%

7

 

-13.1%

9

 

-2.1%

+2

Aside from the aforementioned improvement in Adjusted IR, the Niners' biggest Formula-related statistical change this week came in defensive front 7 (DF7) ASR: the 49ers' DF7 is now in the top 8 of the NFL when it comes to sacking the QB. I never thought I'd write that sentence; that's for sure.

A few other changes that are interesting...First, every offensive DVOA in this table showed improvement over last week. For reasons that I've repeated numerous times on Niners Nation, the most important offensive improvement -in my mind - is the massive jump in 1st-Quarter DVOA. Hot starts - especially on the road - are what good teams display, so, if this stat continues to improve over the final 4 games, it bodes well for next season.

Second, thanks to the Terrible Twosome of Arnaz Battle and Brandon Jones - not to be confused with the Tainted Twosome of VD and Crabs - the Niners have now lost 13.5 points-worth of field position on punt returns. A lot of fans bemoan the 49ers' awful "return teams," but in actuality it's only the punt return team that's truly awful. The kickoff return unit is below average, for sure, but they've cost the Niners about 12 fewer points-worth of field position than the punt return unit. So when you're complaining about the "return teams," focus your ire on the guys who catch, run, and block when the opponent punts the ball.

Finally, only 1 of the 5 Formula ingredients showed improvement across the board: Execute. That's obviously a good thing.

BOTTOM LINE

Based on Mike Singletary's Formula for Success:

  1. Total Ball Security - Amazingly, the shotgun OFF has turned Smith into a ball-secure QB. Unfortunately, the Niners as a whole are still mediocre in this ingredient because Frank Gore and Arnaz Battle continue to be ball-insecure 49ers.
  2. Execute - They're still average, but improving across the board.
  3. Dominate in the Trenches - They're still average overall, but the DF7 is dominating in pass-rushing situations.
  4. Create Great Field Position - They're still average. If it weren't for the pathetic punt return unit, they'd be well above average.
  5. Finish - They're still average, but at least the OFF is catching up to the DEF.

Coming up later today or tomorrow... a very special article about Alex Smith, Shaun Hill, and the shotgun OFF.

 

*DVOA, ALY, and ASR statistics used to produce this article were obtained from Football Outsiders.

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