Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

23 Dec 2009

What We Did On Our Holidays

As promised, here's a look at what Mike Tanier and I learned on this year's trip to NFL Films.

You probably knew the Minnesota offensive line was not as good this year as in years past, but you may not have quite realized just how big the problem is. We watched a lot of film of the Vikings' loss to Carolina as well as other Vikings games from throughout the year, in preparation for a piece that will be on this week's show.

The surprise may be which Vikings have the biggest problems run-blocking: multi-million dollar left tackle Bryant McKinnie and Pro Bowl left guard Steve Hutchinson. Hutchinson has really lost something and Cosell and Jaws seem to feel McKinnie never really had that something in the first place. These guys were getting pushed backwards and split on double teams. It was remarkable. Mike Tanier wanted to know: Who is that young unknown nose tackle number 75 from Carolina who was pushing them both backwards? It turns out that wasn't some young kid on the rise. That was Hollis Thomas, who has practically been around since the days of the Providence Steam Roller.

This is one place where the stats agree with the film. Check out our offensive line stats, and you will see that the Vikings are 17th in Adjusted Sack Rate, 22nd in Adjusted Line Yards, and DEAD LAST in the percentage of running back carries stuffed at the line.

By the way, the production staffer responsible for finding all the clips from past games of McKinnie and Hutchinson blowing double teams is former Missouri wide receiver Sean Coffey. He says "Hi" to Bill Connelly.

Carolina's defensive domination wasn't just about problems with the Minnesota offensive line. The coverage on the Vikings receivers downfield was excellent, so Brett Favre couldn't throw there. And short stuff was taken away a lot of the time by Jon Beason, who has excellent anticipation and awareness of where a back is going on a pass route. Another Carolina linebacker who looked very good was James Anderson, who is a fourth-year player finally starting for the first time. Greg Cosell feels he's an unknown but solid player, the kind of guy every team needs to have to surround stars like Beason.

We also watched some of Buffalo's defense against New England's offense. After watching this film, combined with watching the game Sunday, I feel comfortable saying that the main reason why the Bills are so high in pass defense DVOA is the pass rush. They may only be 12th in ASR, but they are harassing the quarterback much more than that. (Too bad they can't stop the run worth a damn.) I felt proud that Mike and I were actually able to properly identify Buffalo's coverage scheme from TV angles -- as we suggested in Audibles, the Bills actually ditched their usual Cover-2 zone and primarily played in a Cover-1 Robber coverage. The deep safety takes away the deep pass to Randy Moss, and the short cover guy (normally Paul Posluszny) really makes the short crosses to Wes Welker difficult. It's a really good game plan against the Patriots since they really don't have a third receiver this season, and I would not be surprised to see other opponents copy it.

Cosell definitely feels that Brady is nowhere near as good as he was before the injury, and he showed us how Brady is skittish in the pocket. He's feeling pressure sometimes before it even gets there, which he never did two years ago, and that caused a lot of those missed throws against Buffalo (and, I assume, in other games this year). However, the good news for Pats fans is that the team finally showed some classic Belichick adaptation against Carolina and Buffalo, taking advantage of bad run defenses by going to a lot of two-back, two-TE formations. Laurence Maroney has played really well the last couple weeks, to the point where Cosell was talking about actually doing one of Merrill Hoge's "Factor Back" segments on him. He's not bouncing around like he usually does, he's running downhill and even getting his shoulder into guys to gain a couple of extra yards at the end of the play, Adrian Peterson-style.

A few other quarterbacks we discussed in passing, as well with a little bit of film:

  • Tony Romo frustrates the hell out of Cosell and Jaws. He really does leave plays on the field, ignoring wide open guys so he can freelance. That's both his strength and his weakness. He's basically the junior version of Ben Roethlisberger. Same thing as two years ago when we went to NFL Films, but back then we thought Romo might get some discipline and improve. Now we know, this is what he is.
  • Cosell says Aaron Rodgers had one of the best games any quarterback has played all year in the loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday.
  • Wow, is Cosell not high on Mark Sanchez. Apparently, his pocket presence is just horrible. This is part of why the Jets have run so much six-OL this season. Cosell feels that Matt Stafford's ceiling is far higher than Sanchez's ceiling, and fifth overall was a major reach. A lot of the problem might be USC. Many quarterbacks from top programs never face much pass pressure because the linemen blocking for them are also top of the line. Pocket presence isn't exactly something you can see in drills at the combine, either. So guys come into the league and scouts have no idea if they really can "stare down the barrel of the gun" when under pressure, or not. That was Joey Harrington's biggest issue. It also creates an interesting problem with Sam Bradford, because the companies that provide the film are holding back 2009 college coaches' film from NFL Films and demanding payment for it. So all they have to work with is film of Bradford with a really good line, when what they need is film of Bradford with this year's Oklahoma line.
  • Speaking of the incoming class, Cosell agrees with me that Jake Locker needed another year to build NFL quarterback skills; feels Colt McCoy is a system quarterback; likes Bradford and Jimmy Claussen, but doesn't think they're early first-round picks; and feels that there is no chance whatsoever that Tim Tebow can become a good NFL quarterback. He's not accurate, he's got a slow delivery, and he simply has no clue how to go through a read progression. It's not even part of Urban Meyer's offense.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 23 Dec 2009

43 comments, Last at 25 Dec 2009, 1:21pm by matt w

Comments

1
by tuluse :: Wed, 12/23/2009 - 9:45pm

The game that impressed me most about Sanchez when he was at USC was against Oregon State. They were whipping USC offensive line and he still had a great game.

2
by Temo :: Wed, 12/23/2009 - 9:58pm

I have a friend who I trust as an astute critic of NFC North games that swears McKinnie and Hutchinson just had terrible games against Carolina and that Herrera and Sullivan are the main causes of the running attack deficiency.

That said, he's not very high on any of those guys in general (he's a Packers fan, by the way).

I only bring this up because his analysis does follow with what you're stats show, that the Vikings are running much better to Left tackle than they are to Right tackle.

9
by Chip :: Thu, 12/24/2009 - 2:28am

Having watched a lot of the NFCN this year (Bears fan unfortunately), I have to agree with your friend. McKinnie and Hutchinson are still the strong points of the line - the right side is very mediocre. Sullivan is no Birk and never will be. Loadholt looks incredibly slow and the talent around him (QB, WR, RB) hides any of his deficiencies. That said, I dream for a line this good as compared to the crap that Jerry Angelo trots onto the field.

Hutch apparently has a nagging shoulder / back injury, which may explain the one-off performance against Carolina.

3
by Temo :: Wed, 12/23/2009 - 10:04pm

And yes, I agree regarding Romo. He's never going to be a disciplined pocket QB who makes all the right decisions, even though he's made a concious attempt to do so. He's going to be the "gunslinger" QB always and we'll live and die by whether he can create more plays than he blows up.

That said, you can win with him. And that's good enough for most teams, I suppose.

6
by Key19 :: Thu, 12/24/2009 - 12:08am

I would like to know if the "guys he ignores" are consistently wearing #11 jerseys. If so, maybe he's ignoring them for good reason.

I dunno about him still being a gunslinger though. Every QB is going to make bad decisions at times, whether they're "taking risks" or not. The play that comes to mind from the New Orleans game was the throw to Miles who was triple covered. But those throws will happen whether you're a gunslinger or not imo. What makes you a gunslinger is how often that happens, and in my opinion it has happened very rarely for Romo in recent weeks. He has played mistake-free football since December started. 0 INTs and 0 fumbles. That doesn't sound like a gunslinger to me.

I really feel like I'm almost watching a different QB in recent weeks than I have been in recent years. Maybe the film shows otherwise, but I really feel like he's either on one mean hot streak or he's actually maybe turned a bit of a corner in his career. The optimist in me thinks it's the latter.

8
by Temo :: Thu, 12/24/2009 - 2:25am

I didn't mean to sound down on him, if that's how it sounded. I don't think saying that he's not Peyton Manning or Tom Brady-- guys who always make the right decision and rarely do anything foolish-- is that bad. He's not on the same level as Rivers, Manning, Brady, or Brees. He's on that second tier of QBs that include, to me, Rodgers, Roethlisberger, McNabb, and Warner (when he's on). (Maybe Favre, dunno)

Compared to those other guys, he's got his flaws and his strengths. He'll leave some plays on the field that others would convert, but he'll also create some plays that few if any can pull off (which is kinda where the "Romo is lucky" story is born). For the 4 I mentioned, I'd probably take Roethlisberger and McNabb over him, but neither Rodgers or Warner are slam-dunk better.

15
by tuluse :: Thu, 12/24/2009 - 5:00am

Just because you're turning the ball over doesn't mean you aren't gun-slinging. I think you only think gunslinger is a derogatory term. It wasn't too long ago that people would praise Favre for being such a QB.

Anyways, watch Jason Campbell play, or Kyle Orton for a decent version, and contrast it to how Romo plays. Then come up with a better term than Gunslinger since you don't like it.

34
by Key19 :: Thu, 12/24/2009 - 4:36pm

I wasn't meaning to sound like a gunslinger basher, I was more trying to say that when I watch Romo lately I don't really see much gunslinging. My point was more that people assume he's a gunslinger because that's his reputation. But maybe you're right that I generally associate gunslinging with bad play overall.

4
by jmaron :: Wed, 12/23/2009 - 11:56pm

The Viking offensive line up until the Arizona game had done a very good job of pass blocking. They haven't done a good job run blocking all year even against the lower ranked teams. They were just a great passing team until Arizona.

Hutchinson hurt his back early on - it's often hard to tell if the player has lost something or if an injury is effecting his ability to perform. In the last 3 games the Vikings had a huge number of players on the injury report including every starting offensive lineman.

I suspect the injuries are the biggest factor in the pass blocking. From week 4 through week 12 the Vikings had only one game with a passing dvoa under 57.8. That included games 2 games against GB and one vs Balt.

5
by andrew :: Thu, 12/24/2009 - 12:06am

McKinnie is a player who never seems to have played to his potential, he occupies space and quite a bit of it but just doesn't have the kind of drive needed to excel. Especially since getting his contract. Its too bad about Hutchinson, wonder if we can get Carrol to address it, dunno if its the kind of thing that can get better during the year or needs offseason rest or even surgery..

7
by njjetfan12 :: Thu, 12/24/2009 - 2:24am

Sanchez's pocket presence, or lack thereof, has been a major concern for me this year. By my count, he has "sacked himself" at least three or four times, where there was no rush, and he simply tucked the ball and sprinted into an incoming defender. That's going to have to improve

11
by anonymiss (not verified) :: Thu, 12/24/2009 - 3:09am

It's really hard to evaluate college quarterbacks who play on juggernauts because their not tested consistently in the pocket with bodies around them. Did the Trojans ever have to wash Sanchez's jersey after a game? Everyone can make the throws when the protection is good and the receivers are open.

29
by Sifter :: Thu, 12/24/2009 - 3:14pm

I dunno. Look at Jay Cutler. Did his time at a terrible Vanderbilt prepare him for this year's O-line shenanigans?

31
by tuluse :: Thu, 12/24/2009 - 3:20pm

I don't think anything can really prepare you for the Bear's line this year.

37
by anonymiss (not verified) :: Thu, 12/24/2009 - 6:13pm

Cutler's pocket presence isn't really the problem, it's what he reads downfield and the decisions he makes.

10
by anonymiss (not verified) :: Thu, 12/24/2009 - 3:03am

I heard Greg talking about Campbell before Week 15 and he didn't seem as impressed with his recent play as some others analysts were. I'm curious if he broke down the Monday nighter or had any Campbell comments. I'm not piling on here; I think Cosell might be the best NFL analyst there is right now and I've love to get his current take.

22
by Aaron Schatz :: Thu, 12/24/2009 - 11:45am

Greg Cosell basically agrees with me and Barnwell on Campbell. He's a guy you can win with. He's not a star. He's got weaknesses. But he's not Washington's problem right now. I gave Cosell my basic usual line about Campbell, which is that somebody has to be average, and not every quarterback in the NFL is either a superstar or a sucktastic bust. He basically agreed with that. Campbell is an average NFL starter, and if you have enough other good players, that's fine. Just ask the 2002 Tampa Bay Bucs.

25
by C (not verified) :: Thu, 12/24/2009 - 12:41pm

He's got weaknesses...
Yes, glaring weaknesses. Weaknesses that are fatal flaws for the WCO he runs.

He's a guy you can win with.
How come he's never had even 1 winning season 5 years into the league? His defenses have been good. He's had more pro bowlers on his roster last year than any other team in the NFC... All I've heard is excuses for him. Plus, wasn't Byron Leftwich at least "average" at one point? There is a difference between average NUMBERS and average PLAY. Byron Leftwich put up NUMBERS in Jacksonville running a basic offense. Campbell has not messed up in Washington, but he also hasn't done anything that any decent backup QB couldn't do as well. You don't think AJ Feeley could come in and throw checkdown after checkdown and WR screens?

2002 Bucs
For every Trend Dilfer or Brad Johnson that wins the super bowl there is a Kurt Warner, Tom Brady, Ben hamburger, and Peyton Manning. Plus, I'd argue Brad Johnson peaked higher and had a better career than Campbell anyway. Campbell is more Leftwichesque... He fooled some people into thinking he was good for a couple years, but he ultimately had too many fatal flaws in his game to be good. Yeah, you could doctor up an offense in which some people think he's alright with simple easy throws but any DC worth his weight in salt will fix up a defense that takes his security blanket checkdown out and pressure him... Not calling audibles after 5 years and 50 starts isn't a sign of an "average" quarterback.

Rodney Harrison is a smart defender and he went negative on TV and agrees that Campbell is a backup QB. DVOA has him at 20th best right now... Many of the guys younger are complete flame outs ( Jamarcus Russell, Byron Leftwhich, Trent Edwards) or are rookies/young ( Sanchez, Stafford), or were on inept rosters ( Anderson/Quinn, Bulger), or aging possibly has been QB's ( Collins/Delhomme). Saying he's better than a collection of 10 flame outs, rookies, and beens Delhomme isn't encouraging. Looking at his numbers compared to say Bucs QB, Cleveland QB, Rams QB, Jets QB and saying he's done better is unfair. Compare him to his peers and you don't see a good QB.

26
by C (not verified) :: Thu, 12/24/2009 - 12:48pm

I meant to say that to compare him to rookies, Busts, over the hill guys, teams with the Browns/Rams WR's is unfair. Do you think anybody would have done anything with the Browns/Rams roster? Do you give him credit for being better than Jamarcus Russell? He might have been the 20th best QB according to DVOA, but those bottom 10 teams are going to try their best to improve with NEW QB's, and BETTER talent around them. If you gave him Avery or Massaqueef as his top WR's there would be no shortage of crying that he has " no receivers".

Being 20th best isn't average and it isn't acceptable. It's not like he's "young". 50 starts is a lot of time to waste for a franchise and they don't exactly have the most patient owner. Campbell can be a backup QB and fill in a simple game plan for a few games and not give you an automatic loss... but lead your team to the playoffs and win games? We'll he hasn't done that yet and the odds of him doing that over and over again re slim.

I think a guy that won't be ever be good, and that won't kill you if he starts is a good summary of a backup QB ( and not who you want in a starter), but that's just me.

32
by Sifter :: Thu, 12/24/2009 - 3:20pm

Wow, took you a whole hour Chris - where were you?

Just a question for you: Who do you think are the 'average' QBs in the NFL right now? We know who you think some of the good QBs some of the bad QBs are. But who would you say would be a Joe Average - nothing special, nothing bad - QB?

38
by anonymiss (not verified) :: Thu, 12/24/2009 - 6:15pm

I'm not sure saying "you can win with" a quarterback is all that big a statement; I mean, the list of guys you can't win with has to be pretty modest. Hey, my diet pill will work if you combine it with a healthy diet and plenty of exercise. And remember, the Jets are winning with Sanchez, as poorly as he's played.

12
by anonymiss (not verified) :: Thu, 12/24/2009 - 3:15am

I apologize for posting twice before I completely read the piece; my comment on Sanchez was exactly what was said above. As far as pocket presence goes, isn't that precisely what the flag is on Jason Campbell? I grant you Washington's line is very poor, but it seems like he's got absolutely no instincts when it comes to a muddy pocket, and if you don't play well with bodies around you, what's your real ceiling?

Yes, you protect Campbell and get some men open downfield and he looks good . . . but who doesn't? Until I see some development in his pocket awareness, I'm not a believer, I don't care how many yards he throws for in the fourth quarter while his team is down 17 points.

20
by C (not verified) :: Thu, 12/24/2009 - 11:06am

It isn't just the pocket awareness, it's the release, holding onto the ball too long, and taking too long to pull the trigger. Look at how long it takes him to throw from when he decides who he is going to throw to, and how long it takes to get the ball released. It's too slow. Look at how much quicker Favre is in that respect.

1 of the sacks in the Redskins game was Quinton Ganther's fault for not picking up the blitz. It had nothing to do with his line, it was his RB not picking up an A gap blitz. Portis would have blocked Goff easily. Look at the play that Campbell got injured on at the end of the 1st half. Osi was running him down and the whole stadium saw it, but Campbell couldn't feel it like a good QB could. He took an a sack, got injured, and nearly fumbled the ball when he should have sped it up and thrown a pass, or thrown the ball away. This is after 50 starts... year 5, he's not a rookie... That's 2 sacks right there that were his fault.

Throw in the fact that the Giants were blitzing the whole game BECAUSE of Campbell. They know the drill, they know that he doesn't like to "gunsling" and take chances if a guy isn't open... he won't try and make those tight throws. ( How often to you remember him making perfect throws to semi-covered guys?). They blitzed him, trusted their corners, and it resulted in sacks/pressure/ and a blowout victory. I don't see why teams don't go Cover 1, Cover 0, and blitz him to death.

Campbell picking up garbage yards when his team is losing surly pads his stats, and making 5 yard completions on 3rd and 15 looks great for your comp pct, but he has shown me no reason to believe he will ever be a "good" quarterback. Jaws said you are starting to see molding clay... dude, it's been 50 starts to get to THIS point.

39
by Greg Trippiedi :: Fri, 12/25/2009 - 5:00am

Because Campbell kills poorly designed blitzes. Always has. Anyone who watches Washington for any length of time knows that already.

When you blitz the Redskins, you have to do it to break down the protection they have called. You have to either create mismatches along the OL, or try to get their backs guessing in the wrong gap. In essence, you're not blitzing to pressure Campbell, you're blitzing the protection.

When Campbell was actually struggling earlier in the year, the go-to play was the opposite of what you're suggesting. It was a three man rush designed to isolate one-on-ones against offensive tackles who probably shouldn't be in the league, without worrying about collapsing the pocket up the middle. In that situation, the quarterback needs to extend the play to allow his replacement level receivers to get open, and Campbell was struggling to create anything when his team needed him.

Anyway, that was the worst stretch of his career. Your analysis is greatly flawed for all the obvious reasons.

41
by C (not verified) :: Fri, 12/25/2009 - 9:21am

Campbell Kills poorly designed blitzes? Huh? Campbell hasn't killed much of anything his career. The giants blitzed heavy this past game and Campbell couldn't do much of anything. Anybody who watched him would tell you that. I hate to break it to you, but opposing teams don't fear the guy dude. 3 man rush, 7 man rush it doesn't matter. Rodney Harrison played for the guy with the sweat shirt ( who'se team destroyed them a couple years ago) and he wondered out lout on National TV why Campbell is even allowed to start.

13
by Staubach12 :: Thu, 12/24/2009 - 3:43am

I've noticed from reading Cosell's notes on game tape that Romo frustrates him to death. I don't think he's said a good thing about Romo all year.

That being said, I can see why he would frustrate guys like Jaws and Cosell.

As a Cowboys fan, I have to say that I resent having Romo labeled as a junior version of Big Ben. Romo is both older and better (according to both advanced and conventional stats) than Roethlisberger. Here are FO's stats on the two players:

ROMO
Year____DYAR____DVOA
2009____1,357____31.7%
2008____879_____18.5%
2007____1295____25.5%
2006____696_____18.9%

ROETHLISBERGER
Year____DYAR____DVOA
2009____1,204____27.4%
2008____288_____-2.2%
2007____855_____15.7%
2006____428_____8%

17
by tuluse :: Thu, 12/24/2009 - 5:07am

Kind of cherry picking ignoring Big Ben's rookie year.

Romo reminds me more of a young Favre, although he doesn't have the arm strength (but then who does?). Maybe like McNair but without the running, I haven't actually seen a lot of McNair, so I could be off base there.

28
by Sifter :: Thu, 12/24/2009 - 3:12pm

Serious? The last 4 years aren't good enough? Ah well, keep hanging onto Ben's rookie year then champ.

I personally think Romo's on field play gets undermined by his off field reputation. He plays a LOT better than his rep, and the only reason he frustrates Cosell is that he COULD be very good, not just good, if not for his errors. And I say this as an Eagles fan who likes nothing more than seeing Romo fail.

30
by tuluse :: Thu, 12/24/2009 - 3:18pm

Romo's entire career vs 4/5ths of Big Ben's. Yeah sounds fair to me.

33
by Sifter :: Thu, 12/24/2009 - 3:22pm

Well is it more fair to compare 4 years to 5? Obviously not in your opinion...

35
by Staubach12 :: Thu, 12/24/2009 - 4:57pm

I used those years for two reasons:

1. Romo only has 3.5 years, and I wanted to compare them over the same period of time

2. The free player pages on the FO site only go back to 2006, and I was too lazy to look up the two earlier years (so I only gave you 2/3 of Big Ben's career).

You're right that Big ben was at his best in 2004 and 2005 and then regressed in subsequent years. Based on 2004 and 2005, I'd say that Ben is the better player. Based on 2006-2009, Romo has been the better player. And, yes, I think the Favre comparisons are more appropriate.

43
by matt w (not verified) :: Fri, 12/25/2009 - 1:21pm

Actually Ben's rookie year was 2004, so this misses out the first two years of his career. His DVOA in both those years was higher than Romo's best.

That isn't to say that Romo isn't better now; Ben may just have declined from his peak. Or his DVOA may have been dependent on the O-line, which would raise the question of whether his O-line made him look better than he was his first two years, or worse than he is now.

14
by Staubach12 :: Thu, 12/24/2009 - 4:01am

I should also note that I've certainly seen Romo leave plays on the field when he's trying to force balls to Austin (and occasionally Crayton or Witten). He does ignore wide open receivers (even Austin occasionally). Here's a perfect example I saw on Bob Sturm's blog. Ogletree is WIDE open deep (probably for a TD), but Romo hits Austin instead for 13 yards:

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fbnn4vOr7Rk
  • 16
    by tuluse :: Thu, 12/24/2009 - 5:04am

    Well that's little unfair I think. Given the that the play broke down, and it looks like Austin was just the first open guy he saw.

    27
    by Temo :: Thu, 12/24/2009 - 1:01pm

    It didn't really break down, it was a designed roll out and Romo worked back to his left to duck one guy. The point is that he was locked in on Austin from the very first moment and never looked back at Ogletree.

    But you're right in that after you've started ducking tacklers, you just think to get rid of the ball. You're not worried about making your 2nd read or anything like that.

    36
    by Staubach12 :: Thu, 12/24/2009 - 5:06pm

    Just wondering, Aaron, if this is the sort of play that Cosell and Jaws talked to you about. I'm also thinking of that TD pass to Crayton vs. the Redskins (same problem).

    18
    by Mr Shush :: Thu, 12/24/2009 - 8:35am

    Completely agree about the difficulty with assessing Bradford. I'm very high on him, but if he's drafted by a bad team and expected to start as a rookie it could get very, very ugly. I do believe that putting a young quarterback in an environment where he has no chance to succeed can damage him permanently. I believe Bradford has the ability to develop into an excellent pro quarterback, but his early career needs to take the Rivers/Palmer path, not the Peyton Manning one.

    40
    by Greg Trippiedi :: Fri, 12/25/2009 - 5:10am

    What scares me about Bradford is the potential for the Rex Grossman career path, i.e. very productive for two seasons, and then one incredibly unproductive season before leaving for the draft.

    But a lot of that worry is alleviated by the fact that Grossman never had Bradford's accuracy numbers even when he was at his best in college.

    42
    by tuluse :: Fri, 12/25/2009 - 9:31am

    Although I doubt Grossman ever would have been great. I think he was more undone by injuries than people realize. He first 2 years in the league he moved around a lot more. Once he finally stopped sustaining season ending injuries, he was a short Drew Bledsoe.

    19
    by DaninPhilly (not verified) :: Thu, 12/24/2009 - 10:23am

    Very interesting and insightful. I love getting stuff like this that you simply do not see anywhere else.

    21
    by C (not verified) :: Thu, 12/24/2009 - 11:10am

    I wonder if the guys at NFL films would say that Brady deserves the #1 DVOA this year. It seems like they wouldn't agree.

    I'd agree that Aaron Rodgers was a phenom this past week in Pittsburgh. I'm sort of surprised he was ranked #3 behind Eli, but Eli pretty much did everything asked of him, ( Rodgers did as well and had more yards etc.). They were both playing peak football in my opinion.

    I give my full endorsement to 2nd year starter Aaron Rodgers, he has Drew Brees potential and is already top 5ish in my opinion.

    23
    by Aaron Schatz :: Thu, 12/24/2009 - 11:52am

    "I wonder if the guys at NFL films would say that Brady deserves the #1 DVOA this year. It seems like they wouldn't agree."

    I talked with Greg Cosell about this a bit. I think the important distinction here is that DVOA measures production, while watching film gives you analysis of performance. Cosell and Jaws can talk about what players are doing wrong or right, strengths and weaknesses, but that's not the bottom line when it comes to stats is what the production is giving the team as far as gaining yards and scoring points. Brady's production this year is very high once you control for the quality of the defenses he is facing. That doesn't mean he's the best quarterback in the league. What it does mean -- and this was the point of the XP I posted last week -- is that not considering him to be one of the TEN best quarterbacks in the league is a little nutty.

    24
    by C (not verified) :: Thu, 12/24/2009 - 12:26pm

    I agree that not putting him in the top 10 is stupid. Who ever did that is way too low on Brady, but to put him #1 is also incorrect in my opinion... yes, accounting for defenses and all.

    I mean Eli Manning has a better TD-INT ratio and QB rating than Tom Brady. Matt Schaub has better stats than Brady ( Schaub is in an easier offense to run, weaker competition etc.) I'd take Brady in a heart beat over Schaub, but do you think he's had a better year overall than P.Manning or Brees? I think it would be hard to find people who would agree and conventional wisdom is right in that case.

    Look at the years Manning, Brees ( easily better than Brady this year IMO), then look at Rodgers, Rivers and others and I don't see how Brady had the best year. 10th best certainly not... #1, he's fighting for 3rd best this year IMO and I don't know if I'd even put him there ahead of Rodgers or Rivers so he's maybe 5th best THIS YEAR thus far. I suggested the Titans game is an outlier inflating his stats, and it looks like it's had some impact.