Recently ESPN’s Aaron Schatz released an article on the greatest NFL teams over the last 30 years, not surprisingly you have to be an ESPN Insider to view it. However, he also dropped a new list, the worst NFL teams over the last 30 years. And this one is free of charge.
They use a measurement tool called DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average), which measures the success on each play based on down and distance. It goes deeper than that, and I’m not going into it here because their measurement tool is not the point of this diatribe. If you want to understand it better, click here.
Here is the point: The 2008 Detroit Lions who, as we all know, completed the (im)perfect season by going 0-16, are somehow NOT the worst team over the last 30 years (they’re the third-worst team). In fact, they aren’t even the worst Lions’ team of the last 30 years. That distinct honor goes to the 2009 team.
Let’s review… The 2008 Lions were led (for lack of a better word) by a combination of Dan Orlovsky, Jon Kitna, and Daunte Culpepper. As a trio they helped the Lions own the third worst offense in the league at just over 16 points per game. Meanwhile, the defense, which was the worst in the league, gave up an average of 32 points per game. Combined the Lions lost every single regular season game by anywhere from two to 37 points, an average of over 15 points per game.
In 2009, Kitna got the ax, Matthew Stafford was drafted, and it was the beginning of a bright new dawn in Detroit… a dawn that began with a 2-14 season. Running back Kevin Smith, a rookie the year before that ran for almost 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns, regressed in both, and the Lions offense went from 30th in the league to 31st. The defense, while a little better than the ’08 squad, was still the worst in the league while giving up 30 points per game. But apparently, despite those two wins over the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Browns, two wins the team couldn’t muster the year before, the 2009 team was worse than its predecessor the year before. I don’t buy it.
Oh and in case you didn’t click on the link to the actual list, SPOILER ALERT, the worst team over the last 30 years, according to ESPN, is the 2005 San Francisco 49ers, a team that won 4 more games than the 2008 Lions.