Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

26 Jan 2006

Draft Clock Now Ticking for Kubiak

When I jokingly decided to name my fantasy football projection system after Denver offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, I figured I had safely chosen a fairly obscure name. Nobody knew who this guy was except for Denver fans and the hardcore fans who can name all 64 coordinators. Little did I know that less than a year later, Gary Kubiak would be head coach of the Houston Texans. If the Kansas City Royals tomorrow named Bill Pecota as their manager, wouldn't this be strange for the Baseball Prospectus guys? Exactly. Anyway, I'm keeping the name, we'll just have to get used to saying "KUBIAK likes Reggie Bush" vs. "Gary Kubiak, the coach, likes Reggie Bush." By the way, Kubiak (the coach) was noncommittal when asked about the number one pick, but I think the bigger question in Houston is how to build where the previous administration faltered: along the lines.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 26 Jan 2006

62 comments, Last at 29 Jan 2006, 11:47pm by SJM

Comments

1
by pawnking (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 5:55pm

How well do you think KUBIAK would coach a NFL team, vs. Kubiak? If KUBIAK were a GM, how well would KUBIAK draft, vs. Kubiak?

2
by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 5:56pm

Gotta keep the KUBIAK name. Sounds like a old-timey supercomputer with blinking lights, and that alone increase my faith in the numbers twofold.

3
by Björn (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 6:00pm

What a boring, non-informative piece of writing.

4
by Richard (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 6:01pm

It's weird to think of "old-timey" as being an appropriate way of describing a computer, but it works.

5
by Richard (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 6:03pm

One of the trends in sports writing which I absolutely had is the proliferation of the one sentence paragraph. The author of the linked article used at least 6 of them.

6
by DJAnyReason (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 6:15pm

Re: 1

I tend to suspect Kubiak would do better than KUBIAK, since KUBIAK is built for fantasy projections, which overvalues certain statistics, which are virtually meaningless (rushing TDs, for example)

KUBIAK would probably build a team much like the current Texans, in fact, since KUBIAK has little to no use for drafting an offensive line.

7
by Noble (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 6:25pm

Off the topic of Kubiak: It's nice to see that the Chronicle isn't blaming everything on David Carr, but I seriously doubt that drafting Vince Young would be much of an upgrade.

8
by B (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 6:25pm

6: I think KUBIAK could be adjusted to evaulate linemen the same way it evaulates skill positions. There's probabally no reason to do this until Aaron gets hired by an NFL team, however.

9
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 6:31pm

I'm surprised you guys thought that Kubiak was a pretty obscure coordinator. He was a HUGE coaching candidate after the two superbowl wins, and I'd expect as many people to know HIS name as knew Weis's or Crennel's after NE's first two SB wins. In all fairness, though, I *AM* a Denver fan. I would think the more obscure names would be Bobby Turner (the RB coach) or Rick Dennison (the OL coach), but obviously neither of those sounds nearly as good.

If you guys ever interview Kubiak, you have to ask him if he's aware that you named your projection system after him.

10
by GaryS (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 7:02pm

Trade down, draft OLs, try to find an above average TE. Reggie Bush can't run without decent blocking, although we are not so sure Carr will do any better even with a decent line in front of him. However, since Houston has decided to pay the $8 million or so due on his contract, the thing to do is to give Carr a chance to be a successful QB, which means building a solid OL.

11
by James Gibson (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 7:19pm

I agree with Kibbles about the obscurity. Then again, I'm a Denver fan, too, so I knew him as a backup QB and as coordinator. But after the Super Bowl victories, he was often mentioned as a coaching candiadate, and I even read articles in national publications saying teams had cooled on him after the Broncos went 6-10 the year after Elway retired.

I do remember people trying to tie him specifically to head coaching jobs at the University of Colorado when Neuheisel left for Washington and at Texas A&M and RC Slocum resigned. He also apparently interviewed for the Texans job the first time, although I didn't remember that.

12
by Bowman (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 7:23pm

10. Who in the world is going to trade up for value? The Loser's Curse is alive and well... Not only is the Best Available Player for Houston either a RB or QB (which they already have), if they reach for need, they'll overpay D'Brick. Only if Houston can convince themselves that the old draft-trading point system once used is outdated, and get a "suboptimal" draft down that will draw critism from everybody and their mothers, will Houston somehow come up ahead.

Houston is probably best off pulling a Minnesota, not picking the first few picks, and picking up D'Brick at a value that Houston can better afford. The savings on the contract will be worth the inevitable criticism.

13
by DJAnyReason (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 7:39pm

Re: 13

I think a trade with the Jets for the #4 and their 2nd round pick (I think 3rd in the round, but I could be wrong about the later-round roation for 4-12 teams) would be something that might happen. The Jets pick up about 200 points of trade value, for whatever that's worth, and get Bush to replace Martin. The Texans get D'Brick at the correct position, and pick up another nice pick to help them fill their many many needs.

14
by DJAnyReason (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 7:39pm

Re: 13

That Re: 13 in 13 means Re: 12

15
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 7:49pm

Re: 12
Houston is probably best off pulling a Minnesota, not picking the first few picks, and picking up D’Brick at a value that Houston can better afford. The savings on the contract will be worth the inevitable criticism.

That will never happen because it will muck up the draft for New Orleans, Tennessee or the Jets. Whoever New Orleans takes
will demand #1 money, and Houston will be stuck with someone who felt they took him with the #1 pick in the draft.

As much as I think a team *should* use that strategy, especially if they are trying to trade the pick... I don't see it coming into play now. One problem is, the more they pass, the more value drops with the pick... unless you know some team is really coveting a player.

16
by someone (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 7:56pm

What I don't understand are how the people advocating trading down and stockpiling picks for use on the O-line etc (yeah how'd that work out for the Colts and Elway) are the ones who then bleat that BPA is the only strategy worth adopting. If the Texans get a better than expected deal as suggested by a draft pick value chart then fine take it and draft OL if possible. But we can't assume that they will get offered that deal. Meanwhile, the Texans are at the top of the draft maybe for the last time ever with two potential franchise QBs available. Look at the blueprint for success for the Colts, Patriots, Eagles and Steelers over the last five years, in the Steelers' case the last two. It starts with the QB and if they decide that one of them really is franchise-calibre, they'd be mad even to take a Ditka-Williams deal or any trade-down option.

I also really find it odd that David Carr has played 60-odd games in the NFL and no-one seems still to have any idea whether he can be a top QB or not. You'd think there was enough evidence to make a sensible assessment and for a consensus to form. I mean, even Steve Young at the Bucs was still regarded as a legit superstar candidate when he got traded in '87.

17
by Another Craig B (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 8:28pm

I also really find it odd that David Carr has played 60-odd games in the NFL and no-one seems still to have any idea whether he can be a top QB or not. You’d think there was enough evidence to make a sensible assessment and for a consensus to form. I mean, even Steve Young at the Bucs was still regarded as a legit superstar candidate when he got traded in ‘87.

You'd think so, but this underlines the Texans' biggest problem. Carr has been, for me, surprisingly creative on foot, and he makes a few plays on the run (especially pulling the ball down and running) that he has no business making when he's running for his life. But in four years, he's hardly had any pockets to throw from. When he has time to throw them, will he be able to make the 20-yard throws?

For my part, watching him the last two years, I think he can definitely play. The biggest knock on Carr that I can come up with is that he's been playing like a "game manager" quarterback instead of a #1 pick quarterback, which doesn't generate results when you're always behind. Carr's DVOA is wretched, it seems to me, because the offense has him throwing three-yard passes on 2nd-and-18 and asking the receiver to run after the catch against seven-man coverages.

On the other hand, the dink-and-dunk is the Texan offense, and Carr doesn't have time to do anything else anyway. He's getting sacked four or five times a game throwing outs and quick-hitters from short drops; imagine how much he'd be getting pounded if he tried to sling the ball downfield like Eli Manning.

18
by DJAnyReason (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 8:28pm

Re: 16

Problem with taking a potential franchise QB is that such players pan out into franchise QBs like maybe 1/3rd of the time.

Taking a look at QBs in the top 10 picks, last 15 years:
1992: David Klingler (Cin-6): Bust
1993: Drew Bledsoe (NE-1): Good but not franchise, Rick Mirer (SEA-2): Bust
1994: Heath Shuler (Was-3): Bust, Trent Dilfer (TB-6): Poor but not bust
1995: Steve McNair (Hou-3): Franchise, Kerry Collins (Car-5): Average
1996: None
1997: None
1998: Peyton Manning (Ind-1): Franchise, Ryan Leaf (SD-2): Bust
1999: Tim Couch (Cle-1): Poor but not bust, Donnovan McNabb (Phi-2): Franchise*, Akili Smith (Cin-3): Bust, Duante Culpepper** (Min-11): Good but not franchise***, Cade McNown** (Chi-12): Bust
2000: None
2001: Michael Vick (Atl-1): Average****
2002: David Carr (Hou-1): jury out, Joey Harrington (Det-2): poor-to-bust
2003: Carson Palmer (Cin-1): Franchise, Byron Leftwich (Jax-7): Good but not franchise
2004: Eli Manning (NYG-via-SD-1): Jury out but looking average-to-good, Philip Rivers (SD-via-NYG-4): Jury out, Ben Roethlisberger** (Pit-11): Franchise

So, in 15 years we have 22 potential franchise QBs drafted. Of the 19 we can really evaluate, there are 5 franchise QBs, 3 good QBs, 2 average QBs, 2.5 poor QBs, and 6.5 busts. Looking at the numbers, drafting a QB high, especially since the QB you've got might be pretty good behind a decent OL, seems like a risky decision for the Texans.

* - When there's legit debate over how good a QB is, I will take the position which least supports my hypothesis (in this case, that McNabb is a Franchise QB)
** - These are out of the top 10, but I can remember the drafts well enough to recall that they were considered franchise QBs, potentially as good as the ones taken #1 overall. I can't remember older drafts as well, so apologies if I forgot someone.
*** - MDS made the point in another post that outside of 2004, Culpepper hasn't looked very good at all. I'll take him at good, under the * logic
**** - Using DVOA, this is about the best one could rate Vick.

19
by Tim Gerheim :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 8:37pm

The Chronicle is a little irrational about Vince Young. They're absolutely convinced that he's the greatest thing since sliced bread, which maybe just maybe has something to do with the fact that he's from Texas. So I take everything they have to say on the subject with a colossal grain of salt. They're playing armchair GM (mostly Justice and John McClain) and trying to get the actual GM to agree with them. I suppose I'd be doing the same thing if I wrote for the Chronicle though...

20
by underthebus (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 8:50pm

Re: How is Couch not a bust?

21
by DJAnyReason (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 9:49pm

Couch isn't a starting QB, but he's a good (well, at least good-enough) backup. That's a step above McNown, Smith, Leaf, etc.

Besides, like I said, I'm erring on the side of overrating :)

22
by MRH (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 9:51pm

Re 19 -thanks, because no one knows if Young is already better than Carr as the article claimed.

23
by someone (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 10:06pm

re.18, very good post. Whether you take a BPA strategy, franchise QB, build the OL, or whatever, its only as good as your ability to actually judge talent. It seems that some people forget that though and advocate trading down and building the OL as a strategy irrespective of whether Young or Leinart are franchise QBs or not. And that is flat out dumb and demonstrably wrong IMO as proven by recent NFL history. All the consistently successful franchises of the last five years and multiple SB winners in the last fifteen have a franchise QB at the heart. Otherwise you're reliant on a all-time dominant D to get you maybe one ring (Bal, Bucs).

24
by Rex (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 10:19pm

Re: 12, 15

Pulling a Minnesota with the #1 pick is probably the worst idea I have ever heard.

If they want D'Brickshaw, they should trade down and get him, even if they don't get a draft pick package like SD has.

But drafting him #2-4ish, wouldn't get them anything extra nor would it even assure that they get him.

25
by Ruben (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 10:24pm

As I wrote in the "Scramble" thread, the Texans as a team-and Carr as a QB-haven't gotten a fair shake.

That aside, I think the only draft-day decision that Houston could make other than taking Bush at #1, is taking Young there instead.

Has anyone else seen him play, outside of the highlight reels in the Rose Bowl? I feel he's fallen into the common trap of playing really well for one night on worldwide television.

Moreover, the jabbering masses all imply that "oh, he'll fix his mechanics." Yeah right. Have you ever tried changing the way you physically write (that is, hold the pencil)? It's very difficult, and figure he's been throwing the ball that way for at least 10 years. Yeah, he'll change how he throws...not.

26
by Kaveman (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 10:25pm

There has been some noise about Kubiak taking Tom Nalen, who becomes a free agent this year, with him to Houston. As a Broncos fan, I certainly hope that Shanahan and Nalen get their joint wish to keep Tom a Bronco for his entire career but Kubiak is, clearly, aware of Houston's OL problems, and will undoubtedly address them. No coach coming out of the Broncos system will underrate the importance of the OL.

Taking that logic further, he is far more likely to draft offensive linemen lower down in the draft; of all the Broncos' O-line including backups, only George Foster is a first round pick, and he was practically benched this season for a short while.

There is, of course, no certainty that Kubiak will take Shanahan's drafting philosophy (or judgement skills) with him to Houston. In any case, I don't think Shanahan himself would know what he would do with a #1 pick; this is a luxury (?) the Broncos have not had under him. With luck, the Texans will soon have the same (mis?) fortune.

27
by Ruben (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 10:26pm

Make that "the worst draft-day decision Houston could make".

28
by Kuato (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 10:29pm

Re #18: Ok, so in that same time frame, how many of the 100s of other QBs taken have been franchise vs. bust. I can think of only one franchise type QB taken in the later rounds: Tom Brady. Montana went in the 3rd, but that was almost 30 years ago. Of course you can get good players in the later rounds, but the best of the best QBs in recent years have almost come exclusivly from the first round. Maybe ther are other Tom Brady`s stashed away on rosters out there (could Matt Hasslebeck be one?), but they have to show themselves.

There are first round busts at every position, so any player you take is going to be a risk.

29
by Ruben (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 11:12pm

(apology for posting so much in this thread)

I think #18's point is that QB is such a critical position, and so much money, time and cap space (not to mention column inches) can be wasted on a Ryan Leaf, why not take a 3rd rounder like Plummer, Frye, Brady, or Brees (2nd, I know), and get a more stable 1st rounder (like an OL or LB)?

That said, I know there are risks with 1st round OLs (Backus...I guess we finally know who was better on Blue's left side that year, Hutch or Backus...), but I'd be willing to wager that more 1st round OLs and LBs are more often successful than not. No numbers, just a hunch.

30
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 11:31pm

Kurt Warner was good enough to win multiple MVPs, and within one missed field goal of multiple Lombardi trophies, until Martz got him killed. Bulger's been pretty good. Favre was a third rounder. Delhomme is no Hall of Famer, but the Panthers came pretty close to beating the Patriots for the trophy. Mark Rypien won a Super Bowl within the last 15 years, beating HOF inductee Jim Kelly... hey, Jeff Hostetler beat Jim Kelly in the Super Bowl, albeit with HOF talent on his defense. Chris Chandler made it to a Super Bowl seven years ago. Rich Gannon eventually had MVP- type performance. I can't remember where Trent Green was drafted

Of course, Aikman, Elway, McNabb and others demonstrate the value in a great first roun qb selection as well. However, the growth of guaranteed money at the very top of the first round, combined with the salary cap, really has made a qb selection in the top five an extremely risky proposition, given that qbs are difficult to project for even the best talent evaluators. Unless the a new CBA installs a reduced salary scale for first-rounders, drafting qbs at the very top will remain a high-wire act.

31
by someone (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 11:33pm

Re.29. The point is that QB is such a critical position (and I suspect one of the least fungible BTW) that you have to take the shot if you can be reasonably sure of your evaluation of a QB, and recent history of successful playoff teams in the NFL backs that up IMO. Of course, no-one can ever be sure, but its a question of how grey is your shade. If the Steelers had picked Roeth in 2000, there's a pretty fair chance they would have won a SB in the last five years, and maybe two. I can't think of a non-first round QB besides Brady and Warner who has appeared in more than one Superbowl in the salary cap era. I don't think any team can plan for or rely on a Brady or Warner situation striking their team.

On another point, its funny how politics and circumstances can conspire to make a pick the wrong one. I'm increasingly of the view, based solely on my massively incomplete knowledge, that the best thing the Texans could actually do would be to draft Leinart. Picking a RB at #1 is fraught with risk and I agree that there are major, major, major question marks over Young. Of course, picking Leinart now seems like no.4 on the list of probabilities behind Bush, Young, and trading down. (But my assessment of the future NFL careers of these guys shouldnt be taken with a grain of salt as much as about a dumptruck's worth).

32
by someone (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 11:37pm

Re. 30. My bad, Favre was an early second rounder, but got traded for that first.

I agree with you its risky drafting QBs at the top. But for my money its the Colts, Steelers, Eagles and Pats who have been the top four franchises in the league the last five years. Three of em have something in common, and it looks like the Steelers finally got their missing piece.

Green, Bulger Hasselbeck, Delhomme, Gannon and so on prove you can be at least competitive with a mid round QB, but they take time to become established and eat up the cap once they do, as they are vets. So I'm not sure how much financial benefit there is to going mid-round and not drafting a QB at the top.

33
by someone (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 11:39pm

Sorry for posting so much. So it seems like you don't need a franchise top-of-round 1 QB to be a consistent playoff contender and maybe win one as well. But its almost a prerequisite if you want more than one SB within a salary cap window of opportunity.

34
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 11:43pm

It'd be interesting to run the numbers for the salary cap era, in terms of busts by position among top five picks. I can think of one offensive lineman off the top of my head, Mike Williams of Buffalo, who might qualify, and Gallery may yet fall in that category, but I'd bet he'll still end up with a serviceable career at least.

There be others, though, who I just don't remember. Tony Mandarich, of course, is the all-time o-line draft bust, but I think he was prior to the salary cap era. There have been some defensive busts, of course, but one really needs to go through the numbers position by position, if one is going to get a handle on this.

35
by someone (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 11:55pm

I don't have any quant analysis but I agree it seems like tackles taken high in the first round at least have had a very high probability of success since the salary cap era in '93:

Hits: Boselli, Ogden, Levi Jones, Pace, Roaf, Walter Jones, Gross, Samuels, Turley, Willie Anderson, Lincoln Kennedy

Misses: Leonard Davis, Mike Williams

Don't knows - McKinnie, Gallery

I've changed my mind! D'Brick is da man!

36
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 11:58pm

Well, I think it really is only the busts in the top five slots that are the real cap-killers, so taking somebody like Roethlisberger isn't that big a deal in terms of risk, and quarterbacks who become all-pro quality in their first two years don't play out their rookie contracts anyways, so you can expect any qb who plays at a high level will quickly eat a fair amount of cap space.

What this conversation really demonstrates, however, is how much it sucks to be one the five worst teams, and then forced to take such large cap risks. Hopefully, the new CBA will address this issue.

37
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 12:01am

I think, given his performance of the past year, I'd put Mckinnie in the hit category. He really has never been worse than average, but until this year he really hadn't been above average either. He came on this year, however, being about the only bright spot on the Vikings' offense.

38
by Justus (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 12:56am

someone said, "I can’t think of a non-first round QB besides Brady and Warner who has appeared in more than one Superbowl in the salary cap era."

You seem to be laboring under the misapprehension that lots of first round QBs have appeared in multiple Superbowls in the salary cap era. This is not the case.

Since the NFL instituted the salary cap in 1994 precisely four quarterbacks have appeared in multiple Superbowls: Elway, Warner, Favre, and Brady. Elway was the only one of those taken in the first round.

So we have one of four that meets your criteria of "top of first round QB getting you to multiple Superbowls."

If anything this suggests that "getting to the Superbowl multiple times" (which is a dubious measurement of success) requires a non-first round QB.

And then later someone said, "But its almost a prerequisite [to have a 1st round QB] if you want more than one SB within a salary cap window of opportunity."

John Elway is the only first round QB to appear in multiple Superbowls during the salary cap era. That is not what "prerequisite" means.

(And I would argue that Elway is enough of an outlier -- coming from before the salary cap era, spending 16 years with the team, and not winning until he had Terrel Davis -- that he barely even counts.)

39
by Adam T (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 1:07am

Ironic that the one position where the Texans are strongest is RB. There've been a bunch of busts at RB high in the draft too - Dayne, Biakabatuka, Ki-Jana, Blair Thomas, Enis, Salaam, Thomas Jones (ARZ version)... and as Kubiak should be well aware, you can dig up quality RBs pretty much anywhere in the draft.

It seems like a no-brainer to me to take D'Brick at #1. OL prospects like him only come around once every few years, and all those Super Bowls that Barry Sanders won are enough to dissuade me from taking Bush. They invested a ton in Carr and Davis too - why waste so much cap space on one position? That's Detroit's specialty.

40
by RowdyRoddyPiper (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 1:20am

Someone, you know it's hard to address a response to someone who has the handle someone;

Since the salary cap was implemented there have been 12 Superbowls.

Aikman, Elway, Favre, Warner and Brady have appeared in more than 1 superbowl in that time frame. Aikman, Elway and Favre were drafted before the Salary Cap was in effect.

Aikman and Elway were both #1 overall, Favre was 33rd overall, Brady was 6th, Warner was a conditional pick to the Local 1211 brotherhood of stockboys and cashiers.

I don't disagree that a franchise QB is key for a dynasty, I just don't know that this proves it.

41
by RowdyRoddyPiper (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 1:28am

Okay the second say it button does it again!!@#!@

Justus, are you sure that Aikman doesn't count under this? Was the CBA with the salary cap before or after the 93 season? Either way, I don't think that adding Aikman proves one thing or another.

42
by someone (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 2:04am

Justus, Roddy (hey its hard addressing a wrestling legend): you're right about the multiple SB thing. I wasn't engaging my brain and wrote about it without really thinking it through. I did have Aikman in mind for some reason and was thinking of Favre as a first rounder because of the trade.

However, my overall point still holds in my opinion based on the most successful teams of the last five years - Colts, Eagles, Patriots, Pats. Success deep into the playoffs on a five year basis requires the franchise QB, and the likes of the Ravens and to a lesser extent the Steelers have underperformed due to their lack of one.

43
by someone (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 2:05am

steelers instead of pats. doh

44
by Justus (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 2:52am

"Colts, Eagles, Patriots, Pats. Success deep into the playoffs on a five year basis requires the franchise QB."

I don't know that you can say that, either. Teams like Denver, St. Louis, Miami, and the Steelers have done pretty well over the past 5 years despite not having franchise QBs.

How do we define "success deep into the playoffs"? If you count it as "winning at least one playoff game" then NE and PHI are clearly the head of the class. PHI did it 5 times from 2000-2005, NE 4.

Then comes PIT at 4 but only two of those occurred with a "franchise QB" at the helm.

The Raiders have done it three times and no one's calling any of those QBs franchise material.

Then there are a whole mess of teams who have done it twice. We'll put IND at the head of that list. (They have 5 post season appearances but three of those are first-round losses so you can't really call that "deep playoff success".) After IND come Green Bay and St. Louis.

The rest of the "twofer teams": BAL (no franchise QB), NYJ (depends on your opinion of Pennington), TEN, ATL, CAR, MIN.

Honorable mention teams that have appeared in the playoffs fairly regularly but not with consistent "deep success": Denver and Tampa Bay.

None of that paints a very compelling picture to me. Okay, sure, NE and PHI have consistently gone deep and both have a franchise QB. But that's really about it for "success deep into the playoffs on a five year basis with a franchise QB". A sample size of two isn't going to convince me.

Not when teams like the Ravens, the Raiders, the Rams, and the Bucs have had as much or more playoff success over that time than teams like Indy or Green Bay.

Does having a "franchise" QB help? Sure it does. A superb QB can make up for a lot of glaring problems elsewhere on the team, at least on offense. But Jake Delhomme has gone deep in the playoffs just as often as Brett Favre. A few years of an aging Rich Gannon was good enough for the Raiders. A handful of seasons of superhuman production from Kurt Warner made St. Louis "the greatest show on turf" and got them to more Superbowls than the Eagles have been in. The consistently excellent coaching in Pittsburgh took them to the AFC Championship game with Kordell Stewart and then the Divisional game with Tommy Maddox. And Tampa has had 2 coaches and 3 quarterbacks in six years take them to the playoffs.

Luck, good coaching, and flukey super-performances will give you consistent deep postseason success, too.

45
by Becephalus (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 4:49am

I think it is funny that all this discussion about the Texans is focused around what they need to do vis a vis deep playoffs success and SB wins.

Shouldn't they be a lot more worried about what they need to do to make it to 8-8 the next two years. personally I think that will be challenge enough for them. And they should trade down or take D'Brick, period IMO.

46
by Make Every Miles Davis Count (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 6:22am

[From the Article] "Or does Kubiak draft Vince Young? Young might be easier to evaluate than Carr, even though Young has never played an NFL game. His leadership skills are unparalleled. He has a smorgasboard of skills. He's so good it seems incomprehensible the Texans wouldn't take him."

Yes, Young's smorgasboard of leadership skills are "easy to evaluate."

47
by TomC (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 12:10pm

Latecomer to this thread, but I just wanted to point out that, at least to football fans, the second-string quarterback on a team that you see on national TV as many as six or seven times a year is most definitely not obscure. I'm sure most of us could name the backup QB on half the teams in the league right now.

48
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 12:12pm

1. I am a Houston fan, and firmly believe the Texans should trade down if a suitable offer is forthcoming.

2.That they should focus their trade-down efforts exclusively on Ferguson is a more dubious proposition. I think the Texans offensive line already has three or four viable starters (Pitts, Wade, Wiegert and maybe McKinney). What it totally lacks is depth - if any of those players is off the field for any reason, the replacement is going to be someone truly dire. The Texans need to acquire at least three new offensive linemen, but they do not necessarily need a superstar tackle (not that one wouldn't be nice). In fact, the team's greatest need, assuming a switch to a 4-3 defense, is probably a middle linebacker. The biggest weakness on the team last season was run defense, not pass-blocking (bad as that also was).

3. I agree that drafting a running back first overall is generally a bad idea, but Bush is not, in the normal sense, a running back. His greatest value would in fact be in the passing game, not only through motioning into the slot or taking screen passes, but because his unparalleled big play ability would make the run a legitimate threat from almost any down and distance, with the knock-on that play action would become credible even in third-and-long situations.

4. I believe that the most important determining factor in the success or failure of almost all draftees is not their ability or potential at the time they are drafted, but what happens to them afterwards. GMs get too much credit or blame for their draft choices; coaches get too little for their success or failure in developing players. If Brady had been drafted by Cleveland, he would be out of the league by now.

49
by DJAnyReason (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 3:30pm

A few more thoughts:

* As a Steeler fan, I was swearing at the TV when I saw Ben pick up the phone on draft day - the last true franchise QB (drafted 1st round, fulfilled potential with drafting team) to get to a SB was McNair, the last to win was Elway, and the last to win in a reasonable timeframe is Aikman. This ruined what should've been a really cool moment for me :/ I've since attoned by dropping the money for an official #7 game jersey

* The Steelers actually liked Rivers more than Ben, so shows you how good talent evaluation they can have sometimes

* I personally don't like Bush's chances of becoming a great RB, largely based on his size (too tall and too small - he'll need to pack on another 15-25 pounds without losing mobility, since his game is all agility, and that will be difficult)

* The 2005 Texans were a all-time terrible team. They should trade down.

50
by DJAnyReason (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 3:31pm

To clarify, the last true franchise QB to get to a SB is now obviously Roethlisberger. I meant before this year :)

51
by Björn (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 4:27pm

The Texans should trade down, unless they have no faith in their scouts. If they don't think their scouts are any good, they should draft Young, since he would be good for business in Houston.

But they really need to trade down.

52
by NF (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 8:01pm

#39:

"Ironic that the one position where the Texans are strongest is RB. There’ve been a bunch of busts at RB high in the draft too - Dayne, Biakabatuka, Ki-Jana, Blair Thomas, Enis, Salaam, Thomas Jones (ARZ version)… and as Kubiak should be well aware, you can dig up quality RBs pretty much anywhere in the draft."

Quick question: Who are Curtis Alexander, Chris Howard, Olandis Gary, Quentin Griffin, Ahmad Galloway, and Brad Miree?

The Answer: Running backs drafted after the second round by the Broncos other than Mike Anderson since 1998.

Who was drafted higher, Jonathan Wells, worst starting RB of FO statistics, or Domanick Davis? Jonathan Wells, 99th rather than 101st.

Do you want to know what other RBs have been drafted high in the same time-frame of the players you mentioned? Emmit Smith, Jerome Bettis, Marshall Faulk, Warrick Dunn, Edgerrin James, Shaun Alexander, and LaDainian Tomlinson.

Also, Houston may be strongest at RB, but certainly not very strong at RB. They have Jonathan Wells and some other guy backing up Davis. The fact that they already have Davis actually enhances the potential value of Bush on the team in his rookie year, as Reggie Bush was in a tandem with LenDale White at USC.

"It seems like a no-brainer to me to take D’Brick at #1. OL prospects like him only come around once every few years, and all those Super Bowls that Barry Sanders won are enough to dissuade me from taking Bush. They invested a ton in Carr and Davis too - why waste so much cap space on one position? That’s Detroit’s specialty."

How many Super Bowls have Willie Roaf or Jonathan Ogden won?

Name the coaches of the Detroit Lions while Sanders was on it. Name any famous players from the Detroit Lions teams Sanders was on.

The problem Houston has had with their line has been since the expansion started, which suggests that it is a problem with the way the team is managed. In all Houston drafts after their first, they have drafted only one OL in the first 4 rounds. To improve the O-line, Houston needs to put actual effort into it and get actual O-line coaching. They do not need to get a superstar lineman to get an average O-line.

D'Brickashaw may be a future HoF lineman, but he is just one guy of 5 that make up the line. And those 5 guys only help other players score touchdowns. D'Brickashaw would be the perfect pick for a team with a potential HoF RB, a good QB, and plans for making a run deep into the playoff, but needs to have an O-line that will dominate good D-lines. (I'm looking at a team with a blue-like colored jersey, not sure which.)

The Texans need to improve both sides of the ball significantly to get back to average, and it will take even longer to make the team great. A great OL who makes the O-line average will not make the whole team average. The way to start rebuilding the team with the intention of it eventually being great is to get some franchise players on the team that can be built around if they are a sucess, and while there are no defensive players who stand out as being potential franchise players, there are obvious potential franchise players at offensive "skill" positions. As for cap problems, the Texans could take Bush and get a good offensive lineman by trading Domanick, or they could take Leinart and get a good offensive lineman by trading Carr.

Taking Vince Young would be a mistake, because perhaps the biggest known factor of the Texans currently is that Carr is at least an average QB who is poorly coached, and has a terrible O-line. Taking Vince Young would make Houston a draft day hero, but it is the equivalent of a hobo with a total of $110 bucks putting $100 on 7 at roulette.

Vince Young may range anywhere from being the last great scrambling QB to average to Ron Mexico to bust. Reggie Bush is widely regarded as one of the best RB ever to play in college football, and it would be a surprise if he is a complete bust for any reason other than injuries. Matt Leinart has a lot of experience for a college QB, plays in a pro style system under a former NFL coach who was good as a coordinator at least. Texans fans should be outraged if the Texans draft Young instead of Bush or Leinart, as it says that the management is willing to risk not having a forseeable winning season in the first 8 years of the franchises existence when they supposedly already have a franchise QB, there is a QB more ikely to suceed in the NFL they could have taken, as well as a RB whose ceiling is probably as high as Young's who is more likely to actually reach it.

For Tennessee, who has Billy Volek as a backup to McNair, a rebuilding defense, and won't be able to pick Leinart or Bush, it makes sense to take a chance on Young. But if Houston takes Young, they aren't trying to rebuild, they are trying to be a hero and get lucky. If Houston was lucky it wouldn't have the 1st pick of the NFL draft.

And they should not pass up two players, at positions that are the hardest to find good players for, who each have a decent chance to be one of the best of this decade, to draft an offensive lineman who won't be needed if the team's target date to have a really great O-line is 5 seasons from now instead of the year after next.

53
by NF (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 8:40pm

Unrelated, but are there hardcore fans who can name all 64 coordinators?

54
by Waverly (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 11:23pm

Re #52: Not when there aren't 64 coordinators.

55
by NF (not verified) :: Sat, 01/28/2006 - 12:27am

It has been brought to my attention that Ogden actually did win a Super Bowl, albeit on a Ravens team that was not known for its offense.

Another example is the Hall of Famer Jackie Slater, who blocked for more 1,000 yard rushers and in more games than almost any other offensive lineman, but, however, did not win a Super Bowl.

56
by Sean (not verified) :: Sat, 01/28/2006 - 6:35am

There are a few different things at work:

1) While it can be difficult to hit on a franchise quarterback, there is no question that franchises who do hit on them experience longer periods of sustained success than franchises who don't field an elite quarterback. Just go ahead and contrast the number of winning seasons Denver had in the sixteen years before Elway and with the sixteen years he played. Do it for Peyton Manning, do it for Donovan McNabb, do it for Jim Kelly, so on and so forth. About the only two franchise quarterbacks who didn't improve their teams were Marino and Aikman, but those two played for two of the most successful franchises in league history, and they at least managed to maintain the same level of success.

2) Sure, the list of OL who have been drafted high and panned out has been fairly high. But that doesn't in any way, shape or form mean that those teams who drafted OL high did the right thing. Aside from Boselli and Pace, virtually none of the tackles ended up being part of elite offensive units. The difference between an elite offensive lineman and an average offensive lineman is smaller than the difference between an elite quarterback and an average quarterback, or an elite running back and an average running back, or an elite defensive end and an average defensive end. Offensive linemen individually don't make the kind of impact to merit passing over elite skill position players. Look at the top offensive teams and with the exception of Seattle, they are almost exclusively built through the drafting and/or acquiring through trade of elite skill position players.

57
by Kal (not verified) :: Sat, 01/28/2006 - 3:49pm

I'd disagree, Sean (56), and so would DVOA. Look at the difference that Willie Roaf made in KC's year for both the RBs and the QBs. Both had much worse weeks than with Roaf in the mix. He basically was worth something like 7 points a game to these positions.

I do think that putting one good player on a bad line is not going to help a whole lot. For a line to be good the whole group needs to be at least competent, with hopefully one good tackle to anchor the line. Whereas getting one good RB or one good QB might help an otherwise subpar team excel. And I do think that no other unit on the field requires the cohesiveness and group chemistry that the OLine does - a group of players that have played together for a while is often a lot better than the sum of their parts.

I still think that Bush is the clear choice, but normally you'd have to either go for the trade for more picks and people (preferably on the line) or go for a lot of FA pickups so that you can have a decent line. Bush is going to be a kind of player that you don't see in a long time - and that's valuable - but it doesn't matter if he's on a subpar team.

58
by james (not verified) :: Sat, 01/28/2006 - 9:11pm

The Texans should have hired Mike Martz, then taken Bush at no. 1 and watch as he worked his magic on Carr just like he has with every qb that has ever played for the Rams. Andre Johnson is automatic for Torry Holt numbers in that offense. Reggie Bush is similar enough to Faulk to be used in the same way if not yet to carry the ball 25 times a game yet.

The Texans f#%^$^%d up by not hiring Martz with the way he could use the personnel they are about to employ. Martz + Carr + AJ + Bush= 400 points.

Instead they higher Kubiak. There's a guy who's brought innovation to the league. Isn't usually the innovators who get teams to superbowls. Parcells, Gibbs, Vermeil, Belichek, etc. Whats has Denver offense ever done that was innovative besides finding creative ways to dissappoint fans year after year.

Kubiak my ASs!

59
by SJM (not verified) :: Sat, 01/28/2006 - 11:20pm

Re: 31

The most intelligent thing anyone has said about Houston's draft position is buried in that post.

Kubiak would never take a RB 1st overall because he knows he can get production at that position from practically anyone in the league (and certainly Domanick Davis). When you think of Kubiak in Denver, finding a productive RB has not been a problem.

Conclusion: There is NO WAY Houston takes Bush.

60
by SJM (not verified) :: Sat, 01/28/2006 - 11:20pm

Oops that should be Re: 39

61
by NF (not verified) :: Sun, 01/29/2006 - 3:44am

#58:

You're talking about the same Mike Martz who lost a Super Bowl to a clearly inferior Patriots team because Belichick coached circles around him? Also, Vermeil was head coach when the Rams were turned into the Greatest Show on Turf, Marshall Faulk became future HoFer Marshall Faulk, and Kurt Warner set a Super Bowl record for passing yards. Under Martz's watch Marshall Faulk has aged while his supposed replacement, Stephen Jackson, has regressed, Marc Bulger still has problems with interceptions, and the defense fell apart after Lovie Smith left.

Now let's look at the Bronco's offense under Kubiak:

Used the trio of Elway-Smith-Davis to win consecutive Super Bowls.

Had a great rushing game year after year despite frequently changing who was at HB.

Turned Jake the Snake into a low-mistake QB.

59+60:

I'm going to have to disagree with you for the reasons discussed...at length...in #52. Also, something to add to my post is that at least three players on the D and O line are being paid more than Domanick Davis next year, so it's nonsense to say they should draft an OT instead of another RB because of all they have invested in him.

Saying that the Texans shouldn't take Reggie Bush, because Barry Sanders played for a horribly mis-managed team (pre- and post-salary cap) that never reached the Super Bowl, does not strike me as intelligent.

62
by SJM (not verified) :: Sun, 01/29/2006 - 11:47pm

Re: 61

I said "buried." This has nothing to with with Barry Sanders or Willie Roaf or Jonathan Ogden (who won a Super Bowl in 2000 I believe).

My point was that Kubiak knows that RBs can be found in surprising places, and that if he really needs one, he can find one somewhere other than #1 overall. Besides which, with Davis he doesn't really need one. My guess is that Kubiak really wants to trade down and let some other team take Bush, while he turns Davis into the next dominant RB in his offense with the help of a better line, perhaps one with D'Brick.

If there is one coach in te entire league who knows that RBs don't have to be drafted high, it's Kubiak (and his mentor Shanahan).