This afternoon the folks over at Football Outsiders released their first 'DVOA' (Defense-adjusted value over average) ratings for the 2011 season. These ratings look at how well a team performed in all three phases of the game and adjust them into a percentage based on how they should have done against the team they were playing.
On offense a team wants a higher DVOA%, which means they exceeded the average performance against their opponent. While on defense you want a lower DVOA% to indicate the opposing team did worse than they should have given their offensive ability.
In this category the Panthers finished with a DVOA of +18.3%, meaning they did 18% better than they should have given the situation. This is definitely the effect Cam Newton had on the Panthers offense, and it was great to see such a jump.
This 18.3% rating gives the Carolina Panthers the 11th ranked offense in the NFL according to Football Outsiders.
More after the jump
Here is where the wheels came off. While we all loved the aggressive, blitzing style of Sean McDermott it allowed some silly big plays to sneak through. For this reason the defensive DVOA suffered greatly, registering a +32.5% against Arizona, meaning the Cardinals performed 32% better than they should have against us.
This 32.5% rating gives the Carolina Panthers the 28th ranked defense according to Football Outsiders.
Panthers Special Teams
The special teams ranking includes both offensive and defensive players, but overall a higher number is better. The rating shows just how abysmal the special teams were as the Panthers finished with a -21.3%. They weren't able to return effectively, allowed a touchdown and failed to make plays.
This -21.3% rating gives the Carolina Panthers the 30th ranked special teams according to Football Outsiders.
Though there's nothing here we didn't know already, at least it gives us some tangible numbers to work with and watch how they improve from week to week. For what it's worth, Football Outsiders also have a DAVE ranking, or DVOA Adjusted for Variance Early. This metric uses a variety of predictors from the pre-season and week one to try and estimate where a team will finish at the end of the 2011 season. This predictor has the Panthers finishing 28th in the NFL in 2011, which would give us the 5th pick in the 2012 draft. The Browns finished 5-11 in this spot last year.