Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

15 Dec 2006

FOX Blog Wrap-Up, December 9-15

Here's a catch-all thread for discussion of this week's posts on the Football Outsiders FOX blog. Covered this week: Seattle's horrible DVOA, wide receivers with the highest percentage of first downs, running on third-and-long, and who should win Rookie of the Year?

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 15 Dec 2006

46 comments, Last at 19 Dec 2006, 12:30am by Pat

Comments

1
by Dave (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 6:25pm

Others mentioned it in the actual thread, but Marcus McNeil should at least get a name drop in a Rookie of the Year post. I haven't watched enough of the other guys to know how he looks compared to them, but I *do* know he sure doesn't look like a rookie on the Chargers' line. It's a pretty good OL and he's absolutely holding up his end of the bargain no matter how many of his hands are broken.

2
by MRH (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 6:32pm

Re the scrambling success rate on 3rd down. It would seem there is some support here for the argument that a mobile qb who can run for a 1st down has extra value.

3
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 6:59pm

But I'm wary of anoint a quarterback as the ROY because he "won" or got hot at the right time.

Or is a QB on a team with a decent rushing offense (~0% rush DVOA) and improving defense (~3.5% weighted defensive DVOA).

Switch Leinart and Young, and Leinart'd be the rookie QB as the top ROY candidate, and we'd be talking about Young struggling down in Arizona after losing a game 24-41.

It's like a basic truism of football: got a QB that everyone's hyping because they're winning, but his stats look positively pedestrian? Smart money says that QB's got a decent run game (or at least, much better run offense than pass offense) and an improving defense - the two things a QB doesn't really control.

We could call this the Kyle Orton rule.

4
by Matt Weiner (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 7:00pm

An interesting question about the WRs might be, what percentage of receptions within say 3 yards of the first down are first downs? Catching a twenty-yard bomb on first and 10 doesn't necessarily show awareness of the line -- catching an 11-yard pass on first and 10 might.

5
by zip (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 7:52pm

From the blog comments -- this should be the next zlionsfan template I think.

Why do you have "won" in quotations in reference to Vince Young. Who cares about statistical numbers. He is the reason his team is winning. Period. That's what VY does for a team. For example...Colt McCoy was statistically a better passer (pre-injury) than Vince Young this year. But Texas lost three games as opposed to none. Why? Because Colt, while an excellent player, can't inspire the rest of the team like VY did. VY's a winner. He wins ROY. Hands down.

6
by ChrisFromNJ (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 7:54pm

I think we can all agree about this when iit comes to Young:

1. He's not a great passer compared to the other 31 starters in the league, but he's doing very well for being a rookie.
2. While he doesn't deserve the sole credit for turning the Titans around (there are 21 starters, and the defense has improved), the fact remains that the team did dramatically improve when he stepped in.

The question is, is this because a) Young is oh-so-special, b) a confluence of lots of other unrelated factors have improbably occured to make him look good despite his underlying mediocrity, or c) Kerry Collins was bad enough that mediocrity would look amazing.

I think the answer is C.

That being said, I still thing that Young probably deserves to be the OROY at least, or second to Jones-Drew. I'd probably give him the nod if only because QBs are almost always more individually crucial to a team's success than RBs, where the line play is usually over half the battle. Colston is putting up the best numbers (and DPAR), but he's hurt by the fact that the Saints hardly missed a beat while he was gone, making stars out of folks like Devery Henderson and Terrance Copper. The real star there is MVP-deserving Drew Brees. As for Addai, looking at Edge (and the pressure that Manning takes off the run game) makes me think that the system is really helping his effectiveness. Jones-Drew is the only remaining challenger, but even he's been rather boom-and-bust.

Of course, now that I've made arguments against all four credible skill-position OROY candidates, now I have to take up Mangold's cause, don't I.

7
by jebmak (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 8:08pm

I liked the comment about how the Seahawks were even worse than when the letter was written, because they had just lost to the Cards...and now they have lost to the Niners too!

Frank Gore left guard for 7 yards. Frank Gore left tackle 5 yards. Frank Gore...

Maybe I am just bitter because I figured with their pathetic schedule this year they could hit the over on 10.5. I was wrong.

8
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 8:12pm

So... why's Leinart getting the shaft suddenly? He's a better passer than Vince, more than making up for Vince's rushing ability (considering Vince fumbles so frequently). Yes, Leinart has 3 bad games (vs OAK/GB/DAL) but that's about the same as VY.

9
by jebmak (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 8:13pm

Is MJD really a viable candidate for ROY? I think that people are just saying that this week because we just saw him against the Colts.
I personally would pick a defensive player or a lineman, so that I could look smart.

10
by BillWallace (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 8:13pm

I like the first downs per throw (not per catch) metric for WRs.

Per catch is silly because it would just reward guys who always go deep.

re: #2 Well QB runs are included in DVOA and DPAR so what else is needed? A 9 yard scramble on 3rd and 8 is already well rewarded, as it should be.

11
by CA (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 8:17pm

During Hines Ward's career, he's gone from underrated, to so widely regarded as underrated that he's overrated, and now to just straight up old fashioned overrated. It's an interesting trajectory that has more to do with popular perception than the actual quality of his play.

12
by Carlos (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 8:35pm

this should be the next zlionsfan template I think.

Why do you have “won� in quotations in reference to Vince Young. Who cares about statistical numbers. He is the reason his team is winning. Period. That’s what VY does for a team.

Wow, well aren't we awfully self-satisfied now that we've created v.1 of some new metrics?

Yes, it's really easy (and fun for at least the first 15 minutes) to laugh knowingly when some mediot says "David Garrard just wins."

That's idiotic because the Jaguars are winning DESPITE Garrard's throwing for only 80 yards, but let's not lose sight of that. Or the fact that leadership out of the QB position is incredibly important.

Look, I actually played this game (FB and MLB). I did not have what it takes to be the QB1. Heck, I had arm strength (better than our QB in fact) and size and big hands and pretty good field vision. And for a time, the coach really wanted me to be the QB. But I just wasn't an inspirational leader in the way that our QB1 was, and it was pretty obvious to everyone, including me. I wasn't "unpopular" or "afraid" and I wasn't an okay enough leader (more of a "manager," really) to captain the D, but there's no doubt who the leader of the team was, and if that guy can play QB, well then you've got a huge advantage over the competition.

Haven't you ever been lucky enough to be around someone who just has an ability to inspire people to achieve more than they thought they could on their own? These people actually exist, and at this point, I think it's fair to say Vince Young shows real signs of being one of those guys.

Football success has a lot to do with the interpersonal dynamics of the people on the field, and just because we're quants who believe there must be better ways to measure value than "total yards" or "TDs" or "Passer Rating" doesn't mean we should lose sight of the intangibles that might make someone's real, actual value differ (up or down) from what our metrics tell us it is. Just because it's hard to quantify, doesn't mean it isn't real.

/rant

13
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 9:18pm

David Garrard.
Vince Young.
Kyle Orton.
Eli Manning (years 1-2).
Craig Krenzel.
Michael Vick.

I've heard "X just wins" about every single one of these quarterbacks, and they're pretty much the few that I have heard it about in the past few years.

Every single one of them played on a team with a good defense (or an improving defense) and a vastly better running game than passing game (ok, in Vick's case, he's part of this).

Those two things happen to be the two things that a quarterback pretty much has little control over.

I don't believe that this is coincidence.

Are there guys who are leaders at quarterback? Probably, sure. But I don't believe you're going to find that out by listening to sound bites from the players or coaches. What're they going to say? "Well, I'm glad he was able to scramble for that TD in OT, because that earlier interception in the fourth quarter, man, that could've cost us the game."

Look, I actually played this game

No offense, but a lot of people here have played football before. And just because you've played it doesn't mean that you necessarily have a better view than someone who hasn't. Hell, Art Shell is a Hall of Fame lineman, and apparently he has no idea how offensive lines work.

In some sense, it gives you a biased viewpoint, as well.

14
by Duff Soviet Union (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 10:06pm

As a relatively recent NFL convert, the first QB I remember being credited for "just winning" despite his obviously crappy play was Shaun King. King was the QB in 1999 for a Tampa Bay team with an awesome defense (Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, Ronde Barber et al), but people wanted to believe that King was responsible for the Buccaneers success. The phrase "game manager" had not yet entered America's national jargon, so people would say crap like "he's a great leader" and "he has all the intangibles" that "don't show up on a stat sheet". Even as someone who was fairly new to this NFL thing, it was obvious to me that this was complete nonsense and that King was a terrible QB. Which is why I watched with complete satisfaction as my Raiders chewed up and spat out his worthless, game managing ass to the tune of a 45-0 demolition late that year. Don't think I'm saying Vince Young will turn out like Shaun King, but "he just wins" should not be a part of his ROY candidacy, because I'm pretty sure Matt Leinart would be "just winning" in the same situation and probably being a bigger part of it.

15
by Carlos (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 10:17pm

and I wasn’t an okay enough leader (more of a “manager,� really) to captain the D,

Oops, meant to say I WAS okay enough to captain the D!

they’re pretty much the few that I have heard it about in the past few years

Gosh, Pat, I've also heard:
Favre
Brady
Montana

Just win. I guess it's because they had good D and running games and just got out of the way.

No offense, but a lot of people here have played football before.

No offense taken, but if this is a bet, I'd take it any day. If more than 20% of regular posters here were starters on a decent high school team, I'll eat my shorts. Note, I'm not saying that gives me some special powers (see below).

Art Shell is a Hall of Fame lineman, and apparently he has no idea how offensive lines work.

In some sense, it gives you a biased viewpoint, as well

You're just talking past my point. Art Shell falls in the category of "great doer, bad teacher." Maybe the analogy might work if I'd said, "I was a HOF QB, and let me tell you, so is Vince Young." But since I didn't, what does Art's in ability to teach have to do with my observation, from the trenches, that "leadership" really exists and really matters?

Organizational success depends on Leadership. Leadership really makes a difference. Leadership is largely intrinsics (although we can all learn behaviors that make us better leaders... if we're still capable of learning). Leadership at QB is more valuable than at any other position in football. To borrow your phrase, No offense, but if you haven't been in the huddle, or in the locker room, you might undervalue QB leadership.

Leadership at QB is not like "chemistry" in baseball, the latter being a quality sportswriters ascribe to winning teams after the fact. Success in football is a lot about success in the trenches, and you absolutely have to inspire those OL to bust their butts in 4th quarter when they are totally beaten down and exhausted. I've seen the difference between a QB who can get those guys to dig deep, and a QB who can't... and it's not about physical skills.

I don't say "I played this game" in an effort to shut anyone down, I say it as a reminder that these are real people we're talking about who have to work really closely together and numbers -- however good they are -- only tell part of the story -- a really valueable part of the story, but still only part. That's what's so cool about football. In baseball and (to a lesser extent) NBA basketball, teamwork matters so much less. In football, getting the right leader on the field, or leader on the sideline can really make an impact. Even if he fumbles a lot!

16
by Eddo (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 10:36pm

Pat,
I think you're stretching it a bit with the quarterbacks you mention. There's a big difference in Vince Young and Kyle Orton. While "he just wins" has been said about both of them, it has varying levels of connotation. For example, I can say "Peyton Manning is a good quarterback" and "Marc Bulger is a good quarterback." Both statements are true, but the two players are not exactly equals. Saying the same phrase to describe two players does not make them equals.
I do agree that Colston should be the OROY, even though I've also argued for Young on these boards as well. You have made some good points about Young; the best is that compared to most QBs, he's just average. I definitely don't like your argument in post 13, though. You can't use Kyle Orton and company to argue against Young just because some pundits have used the same phrase in reference to them. Vince Young, over the last six games, has actually made plays that have led his team to victory; the same could never have been said about Orton last year.

17
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 10:48pm

If more than 20% of regular posters here were starters on a decent high school team,

So... people who played on a 'decent' high school team know more about football than those who played on a 'bad' one?

Gosh, Pat, I’ve also heard:
Favre
Brady
Montana

I've heard "all they do is win Super Bowls", not "just win". Brady, Favre, and Montana all had great statistics as well.

And the reason 'all they did was win Super Bowls' as opposed to better QBs is also because they had better defenses/running games.

See a pattern?

But since I didn’t, what does Art’s in ability to teach have to do with my observation, from the trenches, that “leadership� really exists and really matters?

Because Art Shell might believe the same thing about what it takes to make a good offensive lineman.

The reason that "great doers, bad teachers" exist is simple: Art Shell didn't fail. He was on a successful offensive line. He believes he knows what made that offensive line work, but that doesn't mean that he actually knew what made it work.

I’ve seen the difference between a QB who can get those guys to dig deep, and a QB who can’t… and it’s not about physical skills.

How many different QBs have you ever played with? A handful, maybe? That's my point. Players just don't have enough experience to know what really makes the difference between 'good' and 'bad', and so frequently, they assign it to intangibles, when it might be something more simple.

And, to be honest, unless Young's over there inspiring the defense from the sidelines (in which case, they'd be better off with a QB who turns the ball over less, and him still 'inspiring' the defense), Young isn't the main reason why they're winning.

In football, getting the right leader on the field, or leader on the sideline can really make an impact.

If a guy's a leader on the sideline, great. Make him a backup. Get a better guy in there to start. He can still inspire without handing the ball over to the other team.

(Now, the Titans don't exactly have better options: but it's not the "Rookie Who Is A Better Option Than Kerry Collins" award).

18
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 10:54pm

Orton's a strawman argument. I'll absolutely agree with that one. But to be honest, people suggested Orton for ROY last year (I'm not kidding - look it up). That's the only reason I'm comparing them - Vince Young is clearly having a better year than Orton. That's obvious. But the arguments used to push him for ROY are the same fragile ones used to support Orton last year.

The difference is that the people pushing Young don't look like complete morons to people with half a brain, like they did with Orton.

the same could never have been said about Orton last year.

Are you sure? :)

19
by Carlos (not verified) :: Sat, 12/16/2006 - 12:14am

Pat - you're among the smartest and most reasonable posters I've seen at FO, so I wonder why it feels like you're being purposefully obtuse in responding to me.

If not obtuse, then how about oblique, since you haven't actually addressed what's obviously my main point: Leadership f'ing matters, and some QBs (and some men... and women) are great leaders... but most aren't... and most aren't even "decent" leaders.

___ "just wins" is obviously a pretty silly thing to say, and it gets tossed around a lot, but really my point was (1) Great Leadership can make a huge impact on an organizations success rate, and, therefore, (2) the quant crowd shouldn't get too glib about creating a new zlionsfan template about aspects of the game that are real but difficult to quantify.

But I guess you somehow disagree that Leadership matters, huh?

20
by MRH (not verified) :: Sat, 12/16/2006 - 12:24am

I spent 21 years in the Army. I do not discount leadership or intangibles...

...but. Did Brett Favre suddenly stop being a good leader about two years ago? Could Joe Montana's leadership take the 49ers to the SB this year? Did Johnny U take the Chargers to one when his arm was shot?

Re #10 - yeah, I guess I knew that but I'm trying to reconcile the impression I have that this data was new to Aaron with the baselines used to calculate DVOA/DPAR. If he was comparing qb scrambles to the average running succes rate across the league that would be important. But I think he's comparing qb runs and scrambles to qb runs and scrambles:

Every single play run in the NFL gets a "success value" based on this system, and then that number gets compared to the average success values of plays in similar situations for all players, adjusted for a number of variables. These include down and distance, field location, time remaining in game, and current scoring lead or deficit. Teams are always compared to one standard, as the team made its own choice whether to pass or rush. However, when it comes to individual players, rushing plays are compared to other rushing plays, passing plays to other passing plays, tight ends get compared to tight ends and wideouts to wideouts.

I'm probably just not thinking about this hard enough.

But I would like to see the qbs listed by total DPAR on the QB stats page (like in the Quick Reads) and then broken out by passing and running. And, as far as that goes, the running backs listed by total DPAR then spearately by rushing and receiving.

21
by Carlos (not verified) :: Sat, 12/16/2006 - 12:27am

In football, getting the right leader on the field, or leader on the sideline can really make an impact.

If a guy’s a leader on the sideline, great. Make him a backup

Uh, I was talking about the head coach! Sean Payton's got Brees, Colston and Bush, but he's pretty clearly also showing some early signs of being a terrific leader of men.

So… people who played on a ‘decent’ high school team know more about football than those who played on a ‘bad’ one?

They know more about the impact of leadership on a competitive team facing adversity, yes. The locker room and on the field challenges of a team competing for the TX high school championship are an order of magnitude -- and so take leadership skills an order of magnitude -- bigger than the same for an 8-man Quaker League team. Call me elitist. But don't purposefully misread me as saying that 25 years later the Texan knows more about football... he's just more likely to know more about the impact of leadership in a way that's relatable to the NFL than Quaker boy is. In exactly the same way that a combat Marine is more likely to know about the impact of Leadership in a way that a former boy scout isn't.

Art Shell

This analogy gets less and less probative with each writing.

Players just don’t have enough experience to know what really makes the difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad’, and so frequently, they assign it to intangibles,

this would be a great point, if only I were arguing that my experience playing with Young leads me to believe he's great. Too bad my point is that some QBs have better leadership skills than others, and so it's naive for a quant to mock that notion. Just b/c the stupid phrase "__ just wins" is too commonly tossed around, doesn't mean that it's not basically true (as shorthand, of course) of a small handful of great leaders. Geez, did you even watch the Rose Bowl last year? Have you even heard what Young's teammates say about him? Versus, say, what Jeff George's said?

Put Jeff George and Vince Young -- two mediocre QBs by the numbers -- on identical teams, I'll take Vince's team, thx.

22
by Brandon (not verified) :: Sat, 12/16/2006 - 2:06am

"Too bad my point is that some QBs have better leadership skills than others, and so it’s naive for a quant to mock that notion."

I believe what was being mocked was considering a person for OROY because he's a QB and because he "just wins." There are better candidates.

Yes, it is true that leadership can have a large effect on a team--I don't think anybody disputes that. That doesn't mean its the only thing to consider when choosing who was the best rookie. There are other aspects to a good performance.

23
by Crushinator (not verified) :: Sat, 12/16/2006 - 4:17am

One of the things re: Young. Young may have nothing to do with the teams sudden reversal, or he may have everything to do with it. We don't know if the D just happened to turn a corner because Young was there, or if Young is just such a leader that his team manages to play differently.

I'm reminded of I believe it was 2003, when Vick was injured for 12 games, the D was totally awful. The year before, it had been good. After Vick came back, it dramatically improved.

24
by Ropp II (not verified) :: Sat, 12/16/2006 - 6:18am

Carlos is a good poster. He has the tools to make good arguments and draw upon experience. But he lacks just enough leadership ability; he doesn't inspire me to post up to my ability.

25
by big_adventure (not verified) :: Sat, 12/16/2006 - 6:24am

Winner of the Al Bundy award for forgotten excellence in high school football : Carlos!

Carlos, let's address some points. I'll stick to vernacular.

You're not trying to shut people down by throwing out the "you can't know, you haven't BEEN there" argument? Sorry, that's EXACTLY what you were doing.

Pat's point was NOT that leadership doesn't matter. Nope, his point was that leadership is often a BS dump where people can add in comments that are impossible to back up to support the ascendency of candidates they support. People see Atlanta winning games. Vick is famous, well paid and exciting. Just one problem: he isn't really particularly good. We can show that Atlanta is winning because of great DL play and an efficient running game, or we can show the Ron Mexico Experience on endless loop with a Berman voice-over. And suddenly he's a leader? How well was VY leading by carrying the ball like a loaf of bread and dropping it? Chemistry in baseball is one of these, but so is leadership in nearly every sport. This includes baseball: check out every article written about Dusty Baker between 1997 and 2003. What, did Dusty stop being a leader in 2004? He forgot how?

I am NOT saying that leadership is not important - but then, neither was Pat. I, too, "played this game." I played it fairly well, in fact.* And I can definitely say that I believe I saw a good leader and some bad leaders in action. In my case, I called them all "coach".

How many different QBs have you played with in real competition? Not many, certainly. So how are you qualified to say that he/they are/were (a) good leader(s).

Chris Simms was LAMBASTED at Texas for being a bad leader, yet the same coach continued to start him over VY. Simms comes to the NFL, his team went on a little hot streak, and suddenly people were talking about him being a good leader! What, he went to a few Dale Carnegie courses over the off-season and came back a saint?

You like VY as a player. That's OK. LOTS of people like VY as a player. You probably don't need to insult or degrade another poster (yes, I recognize the hypocrisy here...) to support your viewpoint. Just say that you think VY's leadership makes him a viable candidate/deserving frontrunner in the ROY race. Great! Doesn't that feel good! There is no need to insult ("obtuse" "oblique"), backhand ("Pat, you're among the...") or degrade ("I PLAYED THIS GAME" "Quaker Boy

26
by big_adventure (not verified) :: Sat, 12/16/2006 - 6:29am

Sorry for the double, I tried to backslash a less than sign there and it killed the rest of the post :

..."quaker boy is less than TX stud") someone to make your point.

-Sean

* qualifications: FS, So Florida 5A HS when that was the top class, playoffs twice, losers twice.

27
by Duff Soviet Union (not verified) :: Sat, 12/16/2006 - 7:29am

As someone who is more of a basketball fan than football fan, allow me to draw on my experience and agree with most here that "leadership" can often be a very real quality but is most often just used by mediots as a BS platitude given to players who don't really need it. Remember when Michael Jordan came back (the second time) and he was supposed to "teach winning" to a young Washington Wizards team? Didn't quite work out that way, did it? Remember when the Portland Trailblazers traded for Scottie Pippen in the hope that he would "lead" them to an NBA championship. I guess his "leadership" declined at the same time his athleticism did. Once the Detroit Pistons stopped winning championships Isaiah Thomas stopped being an "inspirational leader with all the intangibles" and started being "a pain in the ass who is hated by pretty much all his teammates". And so on and so on. Maybe Vince Young is a great leader, I don't know. But I bet he won't be being referred to as one the first time his Titans go on a losing streak.

28
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 12/16/2006 - 12:44pm

We don’t know if the D just happened to turn a corner because Young was there, or if Young is just such a leader that his team manages to play differently.

Exactly. And the thing is, without us being on the team, we don't know if it's true. Hell, even being on the team, without a few years under our belts, we wouldn't know which is true.

I'm not trying to say leadership doesn't exist on a team. What I am trying to say is that people use leadership as a catchall to cover over when they see improvement they can't explain. Even players do that.

And no one is talking about the fact that Tennessee's defense has suddenly stopped sucking all kinds of eggs. And everyone is talking about Vince Young's leadership.

It's just an Occam's Razor thing. I don't have to believe Vince Young is a better leader than Kerry Collins in order to explain the Titans' success. It's just their defense. Much more concise explanation, with the facts supporting it.

Have you even heard what Young’s teammates say about him?

I dare you - dare you to find a guy who speaks bad about the public face of a team when the team has just won a National Championship.

29
by Crushinator (not verified) :: Sat, 12/16/2006 - 2:26pm

28

I personally am inclined to "buy" the Leadership argument with VY, though not with a lot of other players. The timing of the Titans D sudden improvement coincided pretty well with the start of VY. The other side of the ball can get "fired up" or more inspired by what's happening on offense. When they see Kerry Collins on the field pissing games away against bad opponents, that has to really take the wind out of them. Then they see VY, who is a guy most of them like, know better than KC, make highlight plays and actually act more like a leader as a rookie.

I largely do think the leadership argument is up there with swagger in terms of sudden turn arounds. (The Cowboys and their Romentum, their D improving had more to do with benching Pat Wilkins then starting Tony Romo).

Though I was watching "America's Game" yesterday, about the '94 Niners, and Steve Young was talking about a game where they were being blown out by the Eagles and he'd been benched in the 3rd quarter. He was running up and down the sidelines, screaming and yelling about being benched, feeling it was all being put on him. In his words - "I wanted to fight George Seifert".

and then you see other guys talking about it and going "Wow, where did that Steve come from? I kind of like that Steve, we really want to play for this guy" and even Steve is saying "I have one outburst, and even though I'd been working there for a while, suddenly I'm this fiery leader and players are busting their butts to play hard for me. I think I learned then that in football, perception is reality, if your teammates see you as a something, you might as well be that something".

Just an anecdote about leadership since I heard it last night.

30
by Crushinator (not verified) :: Sat, 12/16/2006 - 2:32pm

29

One addendum also, about the NC thing.

Every year in the NFL, it seems like we see a team go on a winning streak that just isn't a good team. The team is bad, but they're just playing worse competition, getting a few lucky bounces, or eking their way to 5-1, 6-2 records. and then something inexplicable winds up happening - Either they sort of return to their actual level of play (2006 Rams, 2005 Falcons), or they suddenly get better and start playing like a team worthy of that record (2003 Panthers, 2006 Saints).

Maybe this is just from living in Tampa all my life and hearing all the stories of turning losers into winners, but that's one of the things Bucs players said about Tony Dungy, and it's reflective of good coaching - Players start believing they're a good team, they start playing like a good team, even if they're no different then who they were a year ago. Marvin Lewis did the same thing in Cincy - Players start hearing about how they're actually good and capable of winning, they start believing it and it starts happening. Bucs players used to say that before Dungy came in, they hadn't had a coach that had told them they could win every game and expected them to.

A bit of an addendum to the "Perception = Reality" comment.

31
by Kal (not verified) :: Sat, 12/16/2006 - 8:53pm

Something more stat-related about the 'just wins' bit. I'm curious how much better field position on both sides of the ball the Titans have been in with VY running the offense. Yeah, he does do turnovers - but where do those turnovers occur? Do the offenses of other teams get less possessions per game now because VY (and the Titans) are running more successfully? I don't know the answers, but I do think that dismissing a team's offense as a connection to how well a defense is playing is quantitatively untrue; a defense can play at a far better state when the offense is doing better, both because it can start playing from ahead and because of field position and clock issues.

What I can't say is just by looking at the stats alone, whether this is true or reasonable. From my personal judgment, there does appear to be some reasonable statement in saying that drives last longer both in time and yards than they did before, which leads to better position for the defense and less time for the opposing offense. There's far more of a threat to VY that defenses have to deal with that they didn't with Collins, and that factors in how they're playing. And he's improved over the last few weeks too. I'm sure some of that it the return of Haynesworth as well.

But just from what I've seen of him, VY has done more for his team's success than Colston, and I think that is somewhat backed up by statistical analysis as well.

32
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 12/16/2006 - 9:12pm

Young started all but three games for the Titans, and those three were against three top-10 defenses. You can't really compare the Titans offense before and after Young this year.

Better to compare them with last year. And they were a good offense last year, too.

There's this bizarre perception (along with the ignorance of the improvement in the Titans defense) that Young's winning with 'nobodies' - that he turned a bunch of crappy players into a mediocre offense.

That's just nuts. Their offense was fine last year. It was their defense that was a disaster. No, they don't have any star skill players on offense, but that doesn't mean they don't have good players.

33
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 12/16/2006 - 9:13pm

There’s far more of a threat to VY that defenses have to deal with that they didn’t with Collins,

The award is not "Rookie Who Is Better Than Kerry Collins Of The Year".

Just because you're a better option than your backup doesn't make you ROY. Kyle Orton was a better option than Chad Hutchinson (much better). That doesn't mean he should've been ROY.

34
by Kal (not verified) :: Sat, 12/16/2006 - 9:43pm

#33: Okay, Pat, that's true. That's one small part of the argument that I was putting forward. So take that part out if you like. Do you then agree with the rest, that VY is actually quantitatively responsible for more success on the defense as well, and it isn't just because the defense has been improving?

35
by SJM (not verified) :: Sun, 12/17/2006 - 2:12am

My favorite "leadership" anecdote:

Back when Jeff George was the Redskins' QB, during Marty's one year there, the Skins had a game against the Packers. The local media was playing up the "Favre is a great leader" angle, and George must have gotten annoyed. He came out saying something along the lines of "I think leadership is overrated." Result of the game: Pack wins 37-0, George is cut (yes, not benched, cut).

You will never hear me say that leadership at the QB position is not important.

36
by Crushinator (not verified) :: Sun, 12/17/2006 - 5:12am

The award is not “Rookie Who Is Better Than Kerry Collins Of The Year�.

Of course not. The award ceremony for it would take 12 hours if they did.

and I was really more pointing out the leadership argument for Young, not whether he should win ROY. I know a lot of people here see words like "leadership" or "inspirational" and put them in the same category as "Momentum" and "swagger", which I think wouldn't be fair, as the NFL isn't so data pure that players moods, attitudes, beliefs, and effort don't fluctuate.

37
by Travis (not verified) :: Sun, 12/17/2006 - 6:32am

Young started all but three games for the Titans, and those three were against three top-10 defenses. You can’t really compare the Titans offense before and after Young this year.

San Diego might be a top-10 defense (they're 13th in DVOA, though Merriman's suspension must have hurt that somewhat), but the Jets? The early-season Jets?

38
by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 12/17/2006 - 12:41pm

No.

Do I think it's possible? Sure. But I would never even consider giving out a ROY award for it. How do you know he's a leader? Because his teammates said so? Aren't the Cardinals saying exactly (and I mean exactly) the same thing about Leinart?

39
by Carlos (not verified) :: Sun, 12/17/2006 - 2:03pm

How do you know he’s a leader? Because his teammates said so?

that's a pretty good indicator.

40
by DavidH (not verified) :: Sun, 12/17/2006 - 4:29pm

It's all just a little bit of history repeating.

Is that a Propellerheads reference, or did they take that line from somewhere else?

41
by DavidH (not verified) :: Sun, 12/17/2006 - 5:37pm

Wow, check out how inspired-by-Vince-Young the Titans defense is today. 3 TD's so far (with 8 minutes left in the 4th)

42
by Kal (not verified) :: Sun, 12/17/2006 - 9:32pm

I wonder how much better the Titans would be with VY as coach. I mean, if he can motivate the defense THAT well without actually doing anything all that useful on offense, imagine what he'd do to motivate both offense and defense while a reasonably competent QB led the team?

Just think - VY could motivate the Colts!

43
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 12/18/2006 - 11:30am

that’s a pretty good indicator.

So... when's the last time you heard teammates on a team that's winning call their quarterback not a leader?

Last time I checked, when a team's winning, even Terrell Owens will call his QB a great leader. Even the Bears players called Orton a great leader.

Hell, it's a rare time when you ever hear anyone criticize a starting QB. Last time a player did that publicly, he got suspended for the rest of the season. So I've got a feeling that most players might not want to do that.

44
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 12/18/2006 - 11:34am

#42: Plus, think how much easier it'd be on the defense without Young turning (or nearly turning) the ball over better than once every twenty touches!

45
by JMM (not verified) :: Mon, 12/18/2006 - 9:43pm

If leadership was real, (and I believe it is) where would it impact the stat sheets in addition to the win column? After all, foot speed, quickness and strength are also real and more easily measureable but it is difficult to show how they have an impact on the game.

46
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 12/19/2006 - 12:30am

If leadership was real, (and I believe it is) where would it impact the stat sheets in addition to the win column?

Um. Huh? Is 'everywhere' a good answer? If a leader inspires the rest of his team to play better, then, they, y'know, should play better. As in, the offensive line should block better, giving the QB more time, the receivers should get open more, etc.

After all, foot speed, quickness and strength are also real and more easily measureable but it is difficult to show how they have an impact on the game.

Yeah, I'd disagree there. If an offensive lineman's stronger than everyone else, he blocks better, and the running game to that side will be better. If a RB has faster foot speed than everyone else, everything else being equal, he'll do better than a slower RB.

It's tough to see how a guy that's performing like crap is leading a team to victory. Are they really playing better with him there? Not the offense, really. The defense is playing better, but unless he's running out on every defensive snap encouraging the guys, I think it's a serious stretch to give him credit for the defense's improvement.