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2023 Mexico City Zapatas - 4th Draft Season


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Roster Analysis:

QB: Lawrence is blowing up. Bagent was my "I was right" UDFA this year. Stiddy is my vet backup.
RB: Really big committee. I still dunno if Patterson has anything left. Mason and Johnson are good enough to get carries. Dunno if they will. Same with Abanikanda. Luepke is a chess piece (potentially) who also covers an injury thinness at te.
WR: I think Cooper will hold up another year and Moore will settle in. Higgins is criminally underrated. Still dunno how Perry dropped so far.
TE: McBride is a good player with all-around skills. Stoll can block. Rogers is injured, which will set back his development.
OT: Wills gets a bad rap in Cleveland cuz he goes against Myles Garrett in practice so it looks like he can't block anyone. I think he is a good player if he stays healthy. Steele continues to surprise me.  Josh Jones is a quality left tackle (but nothing else) who just cannot find a starting opportunity. Forsythe is perpetually in danger of being cut by me.
OG: Love Trey Smith. Signed Wynn and looks like he will start. Throckmorton is like athlete's foot: you don't want him but you cannot get rid of him. 
C  Boseman played well last year. Cushenberry may finally be there.

Offense: The line is better than you think and deeper than you think. Lawrence would be safer here than IRL. We should also be able to run the ball behind it. I can do things with my pass catchers. I think this team can run, but at the end of the year it may be a challenge to assign yards to backs.

EDGE: Hendrickson may be in decline but is still worth being out there. Kayvon has the talent but needs to start proving. Nwosu is real. Huff has good win rates but will only be used sparingly. Simmons needs to settle into a job.
DT: I have too many starter-quality IDL. Rotate them through.
LB: Wagner is real. I like Perryman when he heals. Rookie Sanders is a freak. Chenal is healing and is in a crowded room. I only play two linebackers most of the time.
CB: Sutton and Murphy got the money. If they earn it, I have a good team. I want Zyon to develop.
S/Nickel: Branch excites me. I have Matthieu, Woods, and CJGJ at real safety. Anderson is developing, and the rest of my safeties make special teams coverage a strength.

Defense: It is hard to cover a glaring hole on defense, cuz OC's will just exploit it play after play. I think I have my holes finally covered, as long as my prove-it vets still have something in the tank.

Special Teams: I still want to sign Arazia but am happy with who I have. Coverage is a strength.

Edited by Techbert
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Posted (edited)

Let me start with a confession. I started my post-season analysis with an attitude of We Sucked/No Running Game/I cratered like the GIants/Mebbe I will get Malik Nabers. But the more I looked and crunched numbers the farther from the disaster scenario I went. I finally faced it. This was a playoff team.

I knew I had a good defense but I also knew I had Uchenna Nwosu on the DL. I knew that Dallis Flowers grew up fast and was a starting CB for Indy, and he went down after 4 games. I knew I had CJ GJ for slot coverage, and he went down early, leaving me with a rookie in his place, a good rookie, but I still believe you lose one game for every rookie you start. (Not really, but sort of.) I had what I thought was a thin defensive secondary with one backup corner and a bunch of safeties that were special teams demons only. 

I had a ton of one-year try me's. And at least on defense they all hit big, at least all the defenders no named Billings. But I waited for them to wear down, and I waited for the rookies to hit the extended season wall. And I waited.

I knew I had a ton of sacks, which makes me fear that I was vulnerable to the run, and with my running game I expected the other teams to sit on leads a lot. That is not what I found, but that is what I expected to find.

My methodology for defense. I broke it down, not by games and games started, but by defensive and special teams snaps. I set up run packages and NASCAR packages and rotations for the point of rotating and staying fresh and I gave everyone some downs (except mebbe Andrew Billings) for player development and rest and because I could. I could NOT just add up sacks and things, cus I had more defensive snaps than you would expect over the course of a season, so people, including productive people would get less snaps. 

I think I had the best defense in the league. Certainly top 3 with BAL and KC. At edge I had Trey and Kayvon, and they had 29 sacks between them. And a few Nwosu sacks. And there was Bryce Huff who quietly got 10 sacks IRL. My run stopping specialist end was Calais Campbell (who surprised me at how valuable he was and I think got all his snaps) had another 6.5 sacks. But wait, there's more. I had Kobie Turner with 9 sacks as a defensive tackle, and I have Rankins with 6 more sacks. That is sick from the dt position, plus a contribution from my other backups. I wound up, including LB's and DB's, with 71 sacks, and that was an unrealistically high number. But that was the number. Ravens had 60 sacks, and that was tops. League midpoint was 45. Carolina had 27 total.  Montez Sweat lead two teams in sacks with 6 and 6.5 at each. I had six guys with 6+ sacks each. So I looked at qb hits. My motive was to expose my players if the just happened to have an unusually high sack completion rate which exaggerated the effect of the pressure against the qb. No such luck. Lots of qb hits. As near as I can calculate I wound up with a pressure rate of 35%. Again, too sick to be real. 

I had Campbell, Rankins, Brown, Jones and even Turner who could play the run effectively. Kayvon is not bad. And the linebackers were great at run cleanup.

I signed Bobby Wagner. Neither the Seahawks nor I thought he was an every day linebacker any more. He was. Seattle never took him out of the lineup. I did, using Ivan Pace. There is a metric I invented which is basically tackles, etc per 75 snaps, which simulates a typical game's worth of work on defense if you are in every play. I use it to compare guys who are in all the time with guys who do not get sustained P.T. Ivan Pace had almost identical stats per 75 snaps as Wagner. One was better TFL against the run while the other got more qb hurries. And I had other linebackers clawing for snaps.

On the back end rookie Brian Branch replaced CJ GJ without missing a beat. Mathieu never missed a down, it seemed, and did not need backup. Meanwhile, Markquese Bell grew up into a real-live rounded safety. Hard hitter. Played the run well, particularly as time went by, and help his own against the pass. Meanwhile, D'Anthony Bell showed some real good play, more than I was able to give him in the simulation.

At corner, neither Sutton nor Murphy left the field much, and Zyon McCollum was there to more than cover for that. I never had to shift a safety like Branch out wide like I expected I would have to. Not saying Murphy (or Woods) were superstars, but they did not have to hold coverages as long as they would have for ANY OTHER TEAM.

At the end of my review, I thought "Belichek would have given up less than 250 points over 17 games with this group. Mebbe I can get him as DC if NE lets him go. Har Har." I settled at 270 points. Oh well, there goes Malik Nabers.

Edited by Techbert
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Posted (edited)

On to Offense. Or as I called it, the Land of No Running Backs.

That's an exaggeration. Jordan Mason's average dropped this year... all the way down to 5.2 yards per carry. I sincerely think he could sustain that with 1000 yard seasons. But I am capping his performance in this simulation to actual carries, because he has not actually done big seasons in the pros. So, couple of hundred yards on the ground plus a seasoning of catches. On the other end of the spectrum I think Hunter Luepke could have doubled his carries without concern, and maintained 2.2 ypc... with a smattering of catches. Fullbacks do not need gaudy ypc. They just need positive yards each carry, ideally. I think James Robinson was toast this year. 1 carry 2 yards. I cap him there and hold on to him to see if he heals in the off-season or if being my workhorse all those years have taken a permanent toll. So with those three backs I simulate 53 carries and 234 yards on the ground. 

Now lets skip to the quarterback. I have Trevor Lawrence for 16 games and I think he would throw 564 times for 4016 yard for my team as well. Maybe a little bit better. I had Cooper and his routes, Higgins and his reach, Moore and his flash, and McBride and his tight end catching skills, and AT Perry does nothing but catch touchdowns. That balances what Trevor had in Jax, and despite the turnover at LOT, I still think my offensive line was a bit better. So lock that number in for offense. And I have 56 more times Jax threw with someone other than Trevor at the helm this year. I can choose... Stidham for the essentially identical passing rating, or Bagent for his mobility. Despite the small bump in my ground game using Bagent, I went with Stiddy and added 34 for 56 and 421 yards. So the PASSING offense is 404/620 for 4437 yards minus 251 sack yards = 4186 passing yards, which is essentially 6th in the league in passing.

The Zap quarterbacks also ran for 70/339 (Lawrence) and 8/7 (Stidham), or 78 carries for 346 yards. Add these carries to the second paragraph of 53/234, I have 131/580.

But how many times will the Zaps run this year, with actual running backs beyond these projections? The Jags ran 453 times, for a total of 1073 plays. I like 1075 plays, for 455 runs. 455 minus 131 is 324 more runs.  To run these runs, I had Cordarrelle, who is done but still answers the bell, D'Ernest Johnson, who has been absolutely miserable in Jax, and Izzy Abanikanda who has the speed and power to blow the roof off but has been kept in tight tight check with the Jets, presumable due to pass pro issues, and any old running back out of work on the street. I conservatively think I can get 3.0 yards from any old back and this menagerie. 324 x 3.0 = 972 more yards. 972 + 580 = 1552 total RUSHING yard, which is not bad for no running backs and about 29th in the league. But that is 4186 + 1552 = 5738 TOTAL yards, which is 14th in the League.

Factoring in some turnover issues, and I call it as 375 points.

So an average offense scoring 375 points and a monster defense giving up 270 points. How does that translate into wins? Using a Pythagorean approximation it predicts a 65.9% winning percentage, or 11-6 for the year.

So, Division winner. Estimated AFC 3 Seed. Hosting the Dolphins. I will let you know if we advance!


Edited by Techbert
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We hosted the Dolphins, who played flat so Zaps advance. Yeah, we had sunny Mexico City instead of ice hell KC, but players need to play in the cold or the heat.  I programmed a number of ways the Zaps lose, but none with Miami only scoring 7 points. Call the final score 20-7.

On to  Buffalo.

Edited by Techbert
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On 1/22/2024 at 9:38 AM, Techbert said:

Wow. Bills lost against the Zaps. Emphasis on Bills losing.

On to Baltimore. Ravens would have to play flat as a pancake for the Zaps to win. Flat.

Wow. I set it up so that the Zaps would score 14 points and the Ravens would score whatever they scored in regulation. Further, I set it up so Ravens would automatically win any OT.

So Zaps win 14-10. On to the Super Bowl. Same formula. SF need to score 13 or less for me to win.

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On 1/8/2024 at 6:17 PM, Techbert said:

, I thought "Belichek would have given up less than 250 points over 17 games with this group. Mebbe I can get him as DC if NE lets him go. Har Har


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