Friday, January 06, 2006

Quick Stat: The Second Time Around

Great coaches do a good job figuring out division opponents when they play them the second time in the same season, and their teams usually improve their performance the second time around. Joe Gibbs is a great coach. Joe’s team improved in all three games this year against division opponents.

2005 Season

Redskins v Giants
1st: Giants 36 Redskins 0
2nd: Giants 20 Redskins 35
Giants -16 Redskins +35
Total 51 point swing

Redskins v Cowboys
1st: Cowboys 13 Redskins 14
2nd: Cowboys 7 Redskins 35
Cowboys -6 Redskins + 21
Total 27 point swing

Redskins v Eagles
1st: Eagles 10 Redskins 17
2nd: Eagles 20 Redskins 31
Eagles +10 Redskins +14
Total 4 point swing

Average point swing in favor of the Redskins: 27.33 against teams that finished 26-22. Not too shabby.

Chucky’s team improved its performance in two out of its three division games this year as follows:

Bucs v Panthers
1st: Carolina 34 Bucs 14
2nd: Carolina 10 Bucs 20
Carolina -24 Bucs +6
Total 30 point swing

Bucs v Falcons
1st: Atlanta 27 Bucs 30
2nd: Atlanta 24 Bucs 27
Atlanta -3 Bucs -3
No Change

Bucs v Saints
1st: New Orleans 3 Bucs 10
2nd: New Orleans 13 Bucs 27
New Orleans +10 Bucs +17
Total 7 point swing

Average Point swing in favor of the Bucs: 12.33 against teams that finished 22-26.

Update 5:30pm.
I just read Boswell's column in the Washington Post that was published today. He raises a similar topic:
Few things please Gibbs more than preparing for a revenge game against a team that beat him earlier in the year. This season's turnabout against the Giants -- from an 0-36 loss to a 35-20 win -- is an extreme example. But throughout his 14 seasons, Gibbs's teams have improved by an average of 17 points in their rematches against teams that previously beat them. That's far beyond any normal statistical probability. The most obvious explanation is that Gibbs and his staff learn a whole lot more from studying the film how they lost that first game than you learn from studying how you beat them.

Within minutes of making the playoffs, Gibbs was employing his familiar motivational methods. "I thought we played one of our best games down there [in Tampa], but we couldn't win," he said of the 36-35 loss eight weeks ago. What he didn't say was that the Bucs probably played their second-best game of the season to win and needed a controversial last-minute call to boot.

What should we expect tomorrow when the Skins meet the Bucs for the second time this year?


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