Mike Tanier came up with an interesting way of rating teams. He judged them based on “hope”. His formula:
Recent Super Bowl Appearances: 5 points for the 2013 season, 4 points for 2012, and so on down to 2009. The team did not have to win, simply make it, to inspire confidence that it is still within a championship success cycle.
Super Bowl Quarterback: 3 points for multiple appearances, 2 points for single appearances. These points stack with the last set of points in most circumstances. Again, it’s the appearance that matters.
Super Bowl Coach: 1 point. You might think this should be worth more, but Mike Shanahan was a heck of a buzzkill last year, and Ken Whisenhunt does not send people cartwheeling into the streets with spontaneous glee.
Winning Records, Last Five Years: 1 point each.
Playoff Appearance, 2013: 1 point.
Pro Bowl Participants, 2013: 1 point each. When trying to muster enthusiasm, it is easier to point to six Pro Bowlers on the roster than some 9-7 wild card sneak-in, though the combination of both can be pretty potent. The Pro Bowl lists are taken from Pro Football Reference and include injury replacements; in a few cases, players who earned All-Pro notice but were somehow left off Team Rice and Team Sanders were added to the Hope Index scores.
Pro Bowl Participants, 2012: 0.5 points each. These points give a little extra boost for teams that fell off suddenly last year while keeping the perennial sad sacks in their places.
Class of 2012 Quarterback: 3 points. The next set of values reward future possibilities, not past accomplishments. The 2012 quarterbacks pack a powerful psychological cache, so having one is as good or better than having some 37-year old who won a Super Bowl years ago. Brandon Weeden does not count as a 2012 quarterback, Robert Griffin and Kirk Cousins combine to form one, and in a grand compromise, Nick Foles counts as half of one.
New Quarterback: 1 point. Quarterback changes always bring a jolt of enthusiasm, even if they involve mid-round draft picks and Matt Schaub.
New Coach: 2 points. Both 2013 and 2014 coaching changes count here, as most fans give new staffs tons of benefit of the doubt in the first year (and so many new 2013 coaches performed so well).
New Regime: 1 point. New owners, new general managers and deposed despotic coaches of the Shanahan class all get one additional point, again retroactive to 2013.
Major Draft Improvements: 1 point for selecting in the top five, 1 non-stacking point for two first-round picks. We could get far more technical here, but this point boosts the hope for some weaker teams, and it stacks with “new quarterback” points in a few important cases.
Stuck in a Nasty Division: Minus-one point. The AFC East and AFC West contenders are docked a point for having to try to unseat the Patriots and Broncos to get anywhere. All four NFC West teams are docked a point, the 49ers and Seahawks simply for having to cope with each other.
Add the totals up, and Presto! You know how you are supposed to feel about your favorite team. If you feel different, it does not reflect poorly on your intellect or sanity. Probably.
So where do the Eagles rank?
11) Philadelphia Eagles: 13.5
The Eagles tap various elements of the Hope Index: three winning records in five years to represent the past, coach-quarterback-regime points for the future, and five 2013 Pro Bowlers for the present. These ratings would look very different if a “wide receiver anxiety” variable were added — the Texans, Browns and Eagles would all drop — but does anyone want to give wide receivers that much power?
Giants – 13th.
Skins – 14th.
And Dallas? Way down at 26th. Ouch.