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DVOA has finally climbed on board the Wentz Wagon! The Eagles move into the No. 1 spot, but they aren't the only strong, well-balanced team in the NFL this year. New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and the Los Angeles Rams make this one of the best seasons ever for multiple teams over 30% in DVOA, and Minnesota isn't far behind.

28 Dec 2015

ALEX: Week 16

by Scott Kacsmar

Throughout the season we have looked at ALEX as an average, but one Hail Mary or a hopeless screen pass on third-and-forever can certainly skew those numbers. That is why this week I have added a column in our main table (shown below) that will look at the percentage of passes that were thrown short of the sticks (Short%), which is really just the percentage of negative ALEX throws on third down.

This percentage has slightly stronger correlation (in the -0.50 to -0.55 range) with conversion rate than average ALEX (0.43 to 0.48 range) does. That is not bad for a stat that just looks at how far the ball was thrown relative to the sticks, ignoring the quality of the passer or the ability of the receiver to gain yards after the catch. The difference, of course, is that you get a negative correlation with Short% -- the more often you throw short of the sticks, the lower your conversion rate will be on average.

In 2015, Ben Roethlisberger (28.2 percent) and Aaron Rodgers (28.3 percent) have the lowest Short% on third down; Blaine Gabbert (63.6 percent) and Alex Smith (59.1 percent) have the highest. That is very consistent with past results as well. That Gabbert number is on pace to be the highest on record since 2006, breaking the mark held by checkdown captain Trent Edwards in 2009 (62.3 percent). The Roethlisberger number would reside out of the top 10 lowest as he actually has two seasons (2007 and 2011) that rank higher.

Week 16's Most Conservative Plays

The Lowest ALEX

Teams: Dallas at Buffalo
Situation: third-and-21 at own 49, trailing 6-3 in second quarter with 11:38 left
Play: Kellen Moore pass complete to Jason Witten for 12 yards
Air yards: minus-5
ALEX: minus-26

For the second week in a row, the Cowboys show up here, and again it's in a game they trailed 6-3 on the first drive of the second quarter. The difference this time is the ball was at midfield and in the hands of Kellen Moore in his first start. The tight end screen gained some yards, but the Cowboys still had to punt. A deeper pass may have given Dan Bailey a shot at a tying field goal. Perhaps the most disappointing part of this play is it was Jason Witten's only catch on a day when Dez Bryant was inactive.

A Notable Failure of the Week

Teams: Miami vs. Indianapolis
Situation: third-and-15 at own 18, trailing 15-9 in fourth quarter with 14:55 left
Play: Ryan Tannehill pass complete to Damien Williams for 3 yards
Air yards: minus-5
ALEX: minus-20

Tannehill is no stranger to bad ALEX plays. It is hard to remember this offense once generated excitement with the additions of Jordan Cameron, Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker, and Greg Jennings to go along with Lamar Miller and Jarvis Landry. So what did they dial up on third-and-15 when a fourth-quarter comeback was needed? Miami put running back Damien Williams out wide with one blocker for a screen pass that would have lost yards if not for some good moves after the catch. Brilliant. Miami punted, Charlie Whitehurst actually threw beyond the line of scrimmage for his team, and the Colts added a field goal to increase their lead to 18-9. While Miami later blew a chance at the win, the importance of these drives cannot be understated. A punt from deep in your own end threatens to give the other team a good shot at a two-score lead, which is exactly what happened.

Week 16's Most Aggressive Plays

The Highest ALEX

Teams: Tampa Bay vs. Chicago
Situation: third-and-9 at own 31, trailing 20-14 in fourth quarter with 13:39 left
Play: Jameis Winston pass incomplete to Donteea Dye
Air yards: 54
ALEX: plus-45

This was basically the opposite of what Ryan Tannehill did in Miami in the aforementioned play. Jameis Winston did go for the deep ball, but it hung too long in the air and Kyle Fuller was able to break on it for an incompletion. Dye has caught just 7-of-23 targets this season.

A Notable Success of the Week

Teams: Atlanta vs. Carolina
Situation: third-and-13 at own 30, trailing 10-7 in third quarter with 2:25 left
Play: Matt Ryan pass complete to Julio Jones for a 70-yard touchdown
Air yards: 52
ALEX: plus-39

You could be looking at the ALEX play of the year here as this helped beat the 14-0 Panthers. Why would you not throw a bomb on third-and-13 when trailing? That basically serves as a punt if it gets intercepted. With Julio Jones on the receiving end, it just makes too much sense. Kurt Coleman fell in coverage and Luke Kuechly is no match for Jones at the catch point. It's the highlight to an otherwise disappointing season for the Falcons.

2015 ALEX Rankings Thru Week 16

The following table shows where each qualified quarterback (minimum 40 passes) ranks in ALEX on third down only. There are also rankings for DVOA, average need yards (ranked from highest to lowest), and conversion rate.

Rk Quarterback Team ALEX CONV% Rk DVOA Rk Passes Avg. Need Rk Short% Rk
1 Ben Roethlisberger PIT 6.4 48.5% 4 66.0% 5 103 6.8 38 28.2% 1
2 Tyrod Taylor BUF 4.2 39.4% 25 37.9% 19 109 8.1 11 38.5% 16
3 Carson Palmer ARI 4.1 53.4% 1 97.9% 2 133 7.1 33 28.6% 3
4 Aaron Rodgers GB 3.4 36.7% 29 32.8% 21 120 7.6 22 28.3% 2
5 Cam Newton CAR 3.2 38.2% 28 39.9% 16 123 7.8 17 35.8% 9
6 Brian Hoyer HOU 3.1 43.0% 11 47.3% 12 93 7.7 19 32.3% 5
7 Ryan Fitzpatrick NYJ 3.0 42.2% 13 44.9% 13 147 7.5 26 36.1% 10
8 Jay Cutler CHI 2.7 45.1% 7 65.7% 6 133 7.1 36 38.3% 15
9 Andrew Luck IND 2.6 42.0% 14 43.1% 14 69 7.6 24 36.2% 11
10 Blake Bortles JAC 2.4 40.4% 20 30.5% 22 141 7.6 25 32.6% 6
11 Andy Dalton CIN 2.1 44.7% 10 64.3% 7 94 7.8 16 37.2% 12
12 Brock Osweiler DEN 1.8 40.3% 21 15.5% 25 62 7.1 34 35.5% 8
13 Joe Flacco BAL 1.8 34.0% 31 -14.0% 34 103 7.0 37 46.6% 26
14 Johnny Manziel CLE 1.6 41.9% 15 69.7% 4 62 8.3 5 38.7% 17
15 Peyton Manning DEN 1.6 32.7% 33 -31.7% 37 98 8.2 7 38.8% 18
16 Russell Wilson SEA 1.6 49.6% 3 84.4% 3 123 7.4 28 44.7% 24
17 Josh McCown CLE 1.5 51.3% 2 105.0% 1 78 7.2 31 42.3% 20
18 Jameis Winston TB 1.4 41.5% 16 3.1% 30 135 8.2 8 31.1% 4
19 Tom Brady NE 1.1 44.9% 8 58.3% 8 136 7.4 27 47.1% 29
Rk Quarterback Team ALEX CONV% Rk DVOA Rk Passes Avg. Need Rk Short% Rk
20 Marcus Mariota TEN 1.1 40.2% 22 11.0% 27 102 8.1 10 35.3% 7
21 Drew Brees NO 1.1 46.3% 6 54.6% 9 160 8.1 12 40.6% 19
22 Ryan Tannehill MIA 1.0 29.1% 36 -12.9% 33 148 8.6 3 46.6% 27
23 Derek Carr OAK 0.9 39.5% 24 38.3% 18 152 8.0 14 37.5% 14
24 Matt Hasselbeck IND 0.8 40.6% 19 -18.7% 35 69 7.1 35 47.8% 31
25 Colin Kaepernick SF 0.7 33.8% 32 7.9% 29 74 7.7 20 43.2% 22
26 Kirk Cousins WAS 0.6 44.8% 9 42.7% 15 154 7.6 23 46.8% 28
27 Matt Ryan ATL 0.4 48.1% 5 39.5% 17 158 7.3 29 37.3% 13
28 Eli Manning NYG 0.4 39.0% 26 16.9% 24 154 7.1 32 44.2% 23
29 Nick Foles STL 0.3 24.4% 37 -33.3% 38 119 8.3 6 49.6% 32
30 Philip Rivers SD 0.3 42.9% 12 36.8% 20 156 8.3 4 51.9% 35
31 Matt Cassel DAL 0.2 31.7% 34 9.0% 28 60 7.8 18 51.7% 34
32 Matthew Stafford DET -0.4 38.4% 27 1.5% 31 138 8.1 13 45.7% 25
33 Ryan Mallett HOU/BAL -0.6 41.4% 17 -8.2% 32 58 7.3 30 43.1% 21
34 Teddy Bridgewater MIN -0.8 40.8% 18 53.2% 10 125 7.7 21 50.4% 33
35 Sam Bradford PHI -0.9 30.9% 35 14.3% 26 136 8.2 9 47.8% 30
36 Brandon Weeden DAL/HOU -1.5 40.0% 23 49.3% 11 40 7.9 15 57.5% 36
37 Blaine Gabbert SF -2.6 19.7% 38 -25.3% 36 66 9.0 1 63.6% 38
38 Alex Smith KC -3.4 34.8% 30 17.8% 23 115 8.6 2 59.1% 37

Ryan Mallett has played for Houston and Baltimore. Brandon Weeden has played for Dallas and Houston. Yes, the Texans are having an interesting season, to say the least.

Next, ALEX is presented in splits by distance: short (1 to 3 yards), medium (4 to 7 yards) and long (8-plus yards). The colors indicate where a player is well above average (darker green) versus below average (darker red). Those conversion rates are also shown with a ranking.

Speaking of Houston quarterbacks, Brian Hoyer has several respectable metrics this season. It is hard to believe Houston could end up starting Weeden in the playoffs, but then again, the first two playoff games in franchise history were started by T.J. Yates.

Note: these numbers are subject to change at season's end. The data from 2006-2014 is the same as what we use for stats like receiving plus-minus and YAC+, which excludes passes that are thrown away, batted at the line or when the quarterback was hit in motion. The 2015 data currently includes all passes, but game charting will filter out those passes that were not truly aimed or intentional.

For those new to this metric, it is called Air Less Expected, or ALEX for short. ALEX measures the average difference between how far a quarterback threw a pass (air yards) and how many yards he needed for a first down. If a quarterback throws a pass five yards behind the line of scrimmage on third-and-15, that would be minus-20 ALEX. The best application of ALEX is to look at third and fourth down when it's really crucial to get 100 percent of the need yards to extend the drive.

Posted by: Scott Kacsmar on 28 Dec 2015

21 comments, Last at 01 Jan 2016, 4:06pm by greybeard

Comments

1
by greybeard :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 5:29pm

As a percentage of attempts Alex Smith (and KC) is 17th for 20+ yards pass plays (9.19%), 4th for 25+ yards pass plays (6.95%) and 5th for 30+ yards pass attempts (4.71%) and 4th for 35+ yards pass plays (3.6%).

BenR is 11th for 20+ yards pass plays (9.93%), 2nd for 25+ yards pass plays (7.16%) and 4th for 30+ yards pass attempts (4.85%) and 3rd for 35+ yards pass plays (3.93%)

Smith also has 3 runs that are 25+ yards, 2 of which are 30+ yards and one of which went for 35+ yards.

KC is 10th in pts per drive (2.07) and PIT is 6h (2.25 pts/drive). Though the pts/drive number is for the team and not for Ben.

3
by greybeard :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 5:41pm

Here is for 2012 the only other year where Alex Smith had some offensive talent around him that was not below average:
10.1% for 20+ yards pass plays, 5% for 25+, 2.75% for 30+ and 2.3% for 35+ yards.

Big Ben 8.7% 20+, 4% for 25+, 2.7% for 30+ and 1.6% for 35+. Lower than Smith across the board. Ben had Brown and Sanders as his WRs that year.

5
by t.d. :: Wed, 12/30/2015 - 12:17pm

My sense is that you take exception to a stat designating failure being named after a pretty good quarterback, and I don't get it either. Smith was outstanding in the 2011 playoffs, and led his team to 44 points in his one playoff game in Kansas City (I'm assuming the perceived knock is that Alex Smith's arm limitations put a ceiling on his team's prospects, and that this is demonstrably untrue)

6
by greybeard :: Wed, 12/30/2015 - 5:31pm

I like Alex Smith. He is a great person and a good QB. There are 5-6 QBs that are definitely better than him, and 7-8 that are in the ballpark. Overall I find him to be an efficient QB with whom that a team can win SBs. I would rather my team have Brady or Rodgers. But if I cannot Smith is pretty good QB to have.

But this is not the main or even one of the top reasons I dislike this stat. This is a stat about aggressiveness. And not a good one either as it does not use the context - the score, the opponent etc-, the teammates. It does not factor the distance for the down, etc.

More importantly aggressiveness is not a strategy or at least it should not be. It is a tactic that should be employed when needed. This stat glorifies aggressiveness at all costs. It says you would rather throw an interception beyond the sticks than throw a screen pass that is short of sticks that gains you a first down. It also disregards the personal and scheme and philosophy of a team. If you are a WCO then some passes are thrown as a substitute/expansion of running. If your players are not fast but quick you would rather throw passes for YAC. It does not care for any of these.

ALEX is an Al Davis stat. And Al Davis sucked for the last 10 years with that philosophy. If world really needs an aggressiveness stat one can build a much better one than ALEX.

Football Outsiders were about the hidden information in the game. I am totally befuddled how they ended up hiring Scott. Scott is the personification of the ESPN Sports Center. He likes "clutch performances" and tracks game winning drives and forth quarter comebacks. He loves passes traveling long distances whether it results in completion or interception. All highlight reel worthy plays. He is the personification of the narrative driver football journalism. He is one of the most insider sports writers out there.

7
by Scott Kacsmar :: Wed, 12/30/2015 - 6:24pm

"It does not factor the distance for the down, etc."

That is literally half of the calculation for ALEX. Air yards minus need yards. Judging by the rest of your post, maybe English isn't your first language and things are getting lost in translation, but the distance is half of the stat.

"More importantly aggressiveness is not a strategy or at least it should not be. It is a tactic that should be employed when needed."

In other words, a strategy.

"It says you would rather throw an interception beyond the sticks than throw a screen pass that is short of sticks that gains you a first down."

Show me where I have ever said I would favor an interception over a first down.

"It also disregards the personal and scheme and philosophy of a team."

It shows things like 10 yards is still 10 yards, and no matter how great your skill players are, throwing a very short pass in that situation is unlikely to work for a first down. It shows that throwing to or beyond the sticks is a better strategy. Just because you can point to examples that say otherwise doesn't change what the averages are based on thousands of plays. And there is nothing wrong with having a stat that looks at playing style, and I think it's very illuminating that certain QBs tend to rank very high and low in ALEX each year. That's information teams should have for game-planning as well, knowing which QBs are likely to go down the field and which are relying on YAC.

"Scott is the personification of the ESPN Sports Center."

My cousin from The Afghanistan put in a good word.

"He is the personification of the narrative driver football journalism"

If only my articles included research, numbers and tables...

"He is one of the most insider sports writers out there."

Thanks? I have no idea if this is a compliment or insult.

And I think the NFL currently has 24 QBs capable of having this Kansas City team at 10-5 and in the playoffs right now. It is not hard to replace a QB who relies on not screwing up as his main asset. Andy Reid used to throw the hell out of the ball in Philadelphia. It was his main criticism outside of the clock management stuff. But he coddles Smith, just as Harbaugh had to. That's the only way you win with him.

8
by greybeard :: Wed, 12/30/2015 - 7:15pm

"That is literally half of the calculation for ALEX. Air yards minus need yards. Judging by the rest of your post, maybe English isn't your first language and things are getting lost in translation, but the distance is half of the stat."

A few years ago Raiders had a 3rd down where they had to go 48 yards to get a 1st down. In order to get 0 ALEX the QB had to throw the ball 48 yards in air. I believe he threw a screen pass which gained a few yards. Suddenly he has -40+ something ALEX. You cannot have -40 ALEX on 3rd and 1 you can have only on 3rd and 40+. ALEX does not factor the distance to go in a meaningful way.

10
by Scott Kacsmar :: Wed, 12/30/2015 - 7:27pm

I'm not going to worry about a situation (3rd-and-40+) that has come up two times in a decade. And actually, you could argue both teams should have tried to convert with a bomb anyway. One was a necessity since RG3 needed to convert 3rd-and-50 with a game-winning Hail Mary against the Bengals in 2012. He threw it 47 yards. The other was your Oakland example with Terrelle Pryor in 2013. The Raiders were down 14-7 with just over 5 minutes left in the game. You don't know if you'll get the ball back or if it will still be 14-7. Why not try something aggressive there to hit a big play or draw a flag? He underthrew a ball two yards behind the line of scrimmage instead.

The range of yards QBs need when throwing on third down is pretty tight each year. I'm not going to feel sorry for someone with a higher average of need yards when that clearly can be decreased by playing better on first and second down, or having your coach trust you on third-and-short throws.

11
by greybeard :: Wed, 12/30/2015 - 7:31pm

Whether the particular situation happens a lot or not is not relevant. The distance is a factor on how much you can throw behind the sticks and ALEX does not take that into account.

13
by greybeard :: Wed, 12/30/2015 - 7:35pm

"The range of yards QBs need when throwing on third down is pretty tight each year. I'm not going to feel sorry for someone with a higher average of need yards when that clearly can be decreased by playing better on first and second down, or having your coach trust you on third-and-short throws."

This entire stat is about your feeling anyway. So this statement does not surprise me. You are behaving as if the QB is the only one that matters on what the coaches call.

Just this weekend Belichick gave the ball to the opponent in overtime because he did not trust his offense. I guess that was all on Brady.

16
by Scott Kacsmar :: Wed, 12/30/2015 - 8:30pm

A lot of knowledgeable football fans are tired of seeing QBs throw short of the sticks on third down, because they know it rarely works. So why not take all this data we keep track of and put it to use to quantify this? That's all I did, and it just so happens that Alex Smith (and Blaine Gabbert) are the posterboys for QBs who do this. Meanwhile, some of the best QBs in the league like Rodgers and Roethlisberger tend to do the opposite approach. Either way, the numbers back up that it's a better strategy to throw at or beyond the sticks than short of it.

Not once have you acknowledged that Smith's strategy is not successful on third down, and this doesn't even include all the sacks he takes on that down.

If Reid didn't have Smith as his QB, he wouldn't feel so compelled to throw screens on third down. It's probably not a coincidence that we saw the same things in SF. This goes for Gabbert, and Jason Campbell, and Trent Edwards, and Sam Bradford and so on. Michael Vick led the league in ALEX with Atlanta (2006) and Philadelphia (Reid, 2010). Is that a coincidence too? The QB is the driving factor behind that number. The coach, if he's smart, will call plays that match the QB's skillset. It just so happens that Smith's skills are limited, so they protect him with safe throws.

17
by greybeard :: Wed, 12/30/2015 - 8:53pm

These are all your personal opinions however much you pretend to have that backed by data and pass it as facts. There is much more correlation with the distance to go for 3rd down conversion than there is with ALEX:

Here is from three weeks ago what Eleuthera posted:
Alex vs Conversion%: 0.412 -> which is a very weak correlation.
Distance vs Conversion%: -0.588

Gabbert has the longest 3rd down to go and Alex has the second longest.

So the right strategy is to do better on 1st and 2nd downs.

BTW, I watch 49er games. And believe me Gabbert is the least of their problems. He is probably the 7th thing to fix on that offense.

18
by Scott Kacsmar :: Wed, 12/30/2015 - 9:22pm

I always get numbers slightly higher than that, but this is about way more than finding good correlation. For most NFL studies, you're lucky if you even break 0.20 for something.

If you're going to argue distance is the most important part, then why would you throw shorter passes that require a greater distance of YAC to be gained? Why wouldn't you do things to make that distance easier to cover?

Let's look at the most common third-down passing situation in football: 3rd-and-10 for 2015

Pass thrown at or beyond sticks (positive ALEX): 115/255 (45.1% conversions)
Pass thrown behind the line of scrimmage: 8/45 (17.8% conversions)
Pass thrown 1-9 yards (negative ALEX): 39/206 (18.9% conversions)

If you can more than double your chances of converting by throwing a longer pass, why wouldn't you try to get better at doing that? If you really need to hide your QB on third-and-10, then there's no point in ever paying him a large contract. You can get any bum off the streets to check down in that situation. The Colts can find Trent Edwards tomorrow and get him ready to do that for this Sunday.

19
by greybeard :: Wed, 12/30/2015 - 10:01pm

We are talking about passes traveling 10-15 yards, right? Are you suggesting that these QBs whether it is Alex Smith or Gabbert do not have the necessary arm strength to throw a ball 15 yards?

The ability to throw on third down is pretty much determined by the situation and personnel. If your Oline is not good and you have long 3rd down (which is by the way 51% of the 3rd downs for KC (84 3rd downs) versus 35% (44 3rd downs) for PIT: 40 more for KC) and your WRs are not good at separation and especially if you are ahead (which KC has been for most of the year and PIT less so) then you throw a more conservative pass.

Or if you are SF and the right side of your Oline as as bad as it is you just try whatever and fail.

It is not always about the QB.

There is also the philosophies of the play caller. Andy likes his WCO and Arians like his Air Coryell. Arians was -trying to- throw bombs with much lesser QBs than Palmer.

The quality and skill set of the QB plays a role as well. Ben is better at deep throws than Smith is. Smith is better at running which makes them run more with read option on 3rd down. For example Smith ran 17 times on 3rd and short versus 4 for Ben, which ALEX does not account for.

The quality of WRs matter as well. Brown is better than almost everybody.

What you have done is removing all the context around it and minimizing it to a one number and assigning it to the QB.

And then asking obvious questions even though there is little relevance between your questions and your stat.

20
by Scott Kacsmar :: Thu, 12/31/2015 - 8:25pm

Never said anything about arm strength. We're not even talking about throwing rockets down the field. Not even talking over 20 yards. I think it's a mindset more than anything. They're too conservative to push the ball and risk throwing a pick. Maybe there are flaws in their ability to process the field quickly. Maybe they are too afraid to throw someone open or need a wide-open guy to pull the trigger. But there is something blocking them there.

Smith's ALEX is on the low end at any range, let alone 3rd-and-10+. I definitely think Smith changed his style years ago so he wouldn't get benched again. So he just stuck to throwing safe passes, leaned on his improved defense and started having success with a real coach in town. It's carried over to the Chiefs. With Gabbert, he was the only recent NFL starter who could really compare to Smith's conservatism in ALEX, and he's doing the same exact stuff after resurfacing in SF. I didn't say a word about him the other day and already had like 3 SF fans tweeting me about him throwing short of the sticks. This is not a coincidence, just as it wouldn't be if we were talking about Jason Campbell or Trent Edwards.

Don't know why you continue to keep wanting to compare Smith to Roethlisberger, who dealt with poor offensive lines for years and has a long history of making his WRs work out regardless. I don't think you need a great WR to be great on third-and-long. You need someone to get the ball there first. Davante Adams has just as many conversions on third-and-10+ (4) as Antonio Brown this season. Brian Hartline (5) has more than both. Oh, and go figure, the Cleveland QBs were having a good third-down year.

No offense will be capable of consistently succeeding on third-and-long with a screen pass or very negative ALEX approach. Absolutely will not happen. That doesn't mean you have to throw at the sticks every single time, but that should be common sense. The QB sneak is at least 80% every year, but that doesn't mean teams should use it every single time. You have to mix it up, but some strategies are proven to be more effective and repeatable than others. The vertical throw will always be more repeatable than expecting YAC and broken tackles.

21
by greybeard :: Fri, 01/01/2016 - 4:06pm

The only reason I am comparing Ben to Smith is one is the first in your table and the other one is the last.

9
by greybeard :: Wed, 12/30/2015 - 7:16pm

"Show me where I have ever said I would favor an interception over a first down."

Isn't an interception beyond the sticks a positive ALEX?

12
by Scott Kacsmar :: Wed, 12/30/2015 - 7:33pm

Yeah, and one throw behind is negative. Neither play converts, so this is a pretty childish way to look at this.

14
by greybeard :: Wed, 12/30/2015 - 7:37pm

How is a first down conversion with negative ALEX and turnover with positive ALEX equate to "neither play converts"? Why is it childish?

15
by greybeard :: Wed, 12/30/2015 - 7:50pm

"And I think the NFL currently has 24 QBs capable of having this Kansas City team at 10-5 and in the playoffs right now. It is not hard to replace a QB who relies on not screwing up as his main asset. Andy Reid used to throw the hell out of the ball in Philadelphia. It was his main criticism outside of the clock management stuff. But he coddles Smith, just as Harbaugh had to. That's the only way you win with him."

Andy Reid gave up an equivalent of 18th pick of 1st round to trade for Alex Smith and then signed him up to a long term deal. Bruce Arians tried to trade for Alex Smith before he traded for Carson Palmer. 49ers denied his request. I am pretty sure either one is a better judge of talent than you are.

4
by greybeard :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 5:46pm

correction: "30+ yards pass attempts" should have been "30+ yards pass plays"

2
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 5:34pm

Josh McCown, your 3rd down maestro ladies and gentlemen.