Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

09 Oct 2006

Manic Monday: The Value of Revenge

Two marquee games turned far more on the efforts of the "undercards" than the antagonists, especially the brilliance of one defensive coordinator. The hype story was revenge, but the real tale told was of incomprehensible noise when it came to that receiver from Dallas. The Chargers overcame last week's loss to send the Super Bowl champs into a deeper hole, and Albert Haynesworth may have a rival in the "Cheap Shot" department.

Posted by: Doug Farrar on 09 Oct 2006

38 comments, Last at 12 Oct 2006, 9:34pm by Jerry

Comments

1
by mshray63 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 4:38am

Great article! Thanks for embiggening my evening.

2
by mattman (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 5:41am

I don't know why you're harping on TO. He's a perfectly chromulent receiver.

3
by bengt (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 7:37am

The Steelers were 1-2 before yesterday's game. I think we have seen this mistake before?!

4
by Kalyan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 8:36am

While everyone has been characterizing how great McNabb was in the Philly win over TO (or was that the cowboys!), can we remember that if only the cowboys had a more mobile and saner QB than Drew Bledsoe, they would have had an opportunity to take Philly to Overtime.

3 INTs and 1 forced fumble would not put you in a position to win the game, however good a receiver you have or lack!

I also think that the media should impose a self-gag of not reporting any stories of TO for the next 6 weeks, to give all of us - media, TO, more importantly fans a break from TO characterization.

5
by Kalyan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 8:43am

Wonder if we should put McNabb on a pedestal a little higher than Tom Brady (Sacrilege!!) - atleast with regards to this season!

Talk of the pre-season involving the Eagles and the Pats revolved around lack of No.1 receiver. While DM has adjusted to life without No. 1 receiver, Tom Brady has looked out of place in nearly all the games.

Both had a lot of similarities to deal in terms of WR situation - loss of No. 1 & No.2 receivers, addition of free agent receivers towards the later part of preseason, presence of backup veteran WR (for pats, not sure for Eagles!)- and still the performance cannot be more different.

Any thoughts?

6
by mactbone (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 10:00am

All-Purpose yards suck. Anybody can get 7 yards a punt return and 20+ on kick returns. So, a competent returner should get around 64 yards for just two punt and two kick returns. Probably more but I'm being conservative here. Those yards are junk. Leon Johnson can get those yards.

7
by Duane (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 10:08am

#4: Yes, and if the dog hadn't stopped to pee, he'da caught the rabbit.

8
by Independent George (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 10:29am

#4 - the corrolary to that is that if the cowboys had a more mobile/saner QB, Philly likely wouldn't have blitzed on every down single down.

Was it really that bad a decision to have Favre go for the win at the end of the game? On 2nd down and with 24 seconds left, taking one last shot at the end zone seems like the right decision - even if Favre were sacked, or a receiver got tackled short of the goal line, they had enough time to spike it again and take the FG. Yes, they lost on account of the turnover - but that seems like bad luck (or a great defensive play) more than anything else.

9
by Jesse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 10:33am

6- You're right. we should discount Bush's punt return yards on that one play. They obviously had no effect whatsoever on the game. Good thinking

10
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 10:35am

I do think the Eagles are the best team in the NFC East, but before we declare the pecking order settled, keep in mind that the Cowboys gave up ten points on turnovers in the first few minutes of the game, while on the road, and were still only two yards away from overtime in the last moments.

I'd love to hear what the Vikings director of college scouting, Scott Studwell, said when he heard the Childress was trading Baskett for Billy McMullen. I understand the desire for a coach to get guys he is familiar with, especially when just starting out. When your scouting and personnel guys manage to get a free agent rookie with a good possibility to contribute into camp, before some other team scoops him up, however, and the coach trades the guy away almost immediately for a somebody who has been in the league for few years without doing much, that's gotta drive the scouts abosolutely crazy.

Gee whiz, the Vikings couldn't use a big receiver with ball skills who gets seperation, could they? Oh, no, they wouldn't want that.....

11
by Andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 10:40am

Independent George:

the corrolary to that is that if the cowboys had a more mobile/saner QB, Philly likely wouldn’t have blitzed on every down single down.

The Eagles didn't blitz that much considering Dallas had something like 80 plays. All of the pressure on Bledsoe was from the front 4. The safeties spent most of the game double teaming Glenn and Owens, and there were no corner blitzes by the Eagles.

12
by Andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 11:00am

Kaylan #5:

Both had a lot of similarities to deal in terms of WR situation - loss of No. 1 & No.2 receivers, addition of free agent receivers towards the later part of preseason, presence of backup veteran WR (for pats, not sure for Eagles!)- and still the performance cannot be more different.

Brady had a much more consistent personel group than McNabb. Ergo, he'd feel the loss of most of that group more keenly than McNabb. He had pretty much the same guys from 2002 to 2005, and the 2002 group was addative to the 2001 group. McNabb only had that luxury from 2001 to 2003, and the 2001 groups was almost completely different than 1999 and 2000 and 2005 was almost completely different than 2001-2003. Essentially, McNabb is on his 4th group of receiving weapons, Brady is on his 2nd.

Guys over 350 yards for Patriots:

01 - Brown, Patten (Faulk on team in minor role)
02 - Brown, Patten, Branch, Faulk
03 - Branch, Givens, Brown, Faulk, Graham (Patten on team in minor roles)
04 - Givens, Patten, Branch, Graham (Faulk and Brown on team in minor roles)
05 - Branch, Givens, Brown, Watson (Faulk and Graham on team in minor roles)

For the Eagles, these groupings look like:

99 - Small, Johnson (Staley on team in minor role)
00 - Johnson, Small, Lewis (Staley on team in minor role)
01 - Thrash, Pinkston, Lewis, Staley
02 - Pinkston, Thrash, Freeman, Staley, Lewis
03 - Pinkston, Thrash, Mitchell (Staley, Westbrook, Smith, C. Lewis, G. Lewis on team in minor role)
04 - Owens, Westbrook, Pinkston (Smith, C. Lewis, Mitchell, G. Lewis on team in minor role)
05 - Owens, Smith, Westbrook, Brown, G. Lewis

13
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 11:05am

All-Purpose yards suck.

Yards suck in general. Anyone can get 10 yards on a 3rd and 25.

It'd be nice if DPAR included punt/kickoff returns touches as well.

14
by Arkaein (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 11:15am

I have to second #8 (warning: GB homer here). The Packers did the right thing trying for the win in regulation. Calling a pass play in the situation they did has a higher chance of winning the game with a TD than losing it with a turnover, with an easy FG the result otherwise. I'm pretty sure I've read more than one FO opinion on this topic, and the rule is if a decision gives a better chance of winning the game in regulation than losing it, you make that decision because overtime is 50/50 either way.

The fumble was a flukey thing too. I didn't get the best replay views, but it looked like it wasn't the tackle of Favre that caused the fumble, but an edge rush by (I believe) LB Leonard Little who reached out his hand and just stripped the ball away but was never in position to actually wrap up Favre. If it had been the tackle that came a second later Favre would have been ready as that player came up the middle. The ball then squirted in a weird direction, outside and forward rather than dropping in the pocket where there would be more Packers to fall on it, and a Packer linemen even had a clean shot to fall on it buy it got away from him. Almost anything goes different and the Pack get their shot at overtime.

15
by David (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 11:23am

#4: That mainly goes to show that, no matter how many total yards you rack up, you cannot put a team away by converting two third downs over an entire game. The egregious PI on 4th and 18 also helps.

To be fair, that's probably due in some part to Westbrook having two weeks of rust on him - he hasn't practiced since the SF game in week 3 - but Mornhinweg and Reid can't be happy with it in any case.

16
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 11:41am

The one thing that I noted in that game is that Philly's defense was beating Dallas's offense. I don't know how anyone can disagree with that - Bledsoe had no time to throw, and when he did have time to throw, the throws were typically erratic. Dallas was running the ball with moderate effectiveness, but not enough to sustain drives.

Philly's offense, though, was beating itself - just tons of drops during the game. Dallas's front seven was killing Philly's running game (unsurprising, given their 5th ranked rushing defense) but the receivers were getting open, and McNabb had enough time to find them.

17
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 11:45am

Gotta agree with Arkaein. When a team's offense is better than their defense by a good margin, as is the case with the Packers, and the offense has the ball in the red zone at the end of the game, it makes more sense to try to win right then, rather than take a 50% chance of yielding possession at the start of sudden death. The Baltimore Ravens might do things differently, and for good reason, but the Packers aren't the Ravens, and it doesn't make much sense to strategize as if they were.

18
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 11:54am

Off topic, Pat, but I hope JoPa and the Nittanies send a nice Christmas card to a certain zebra this year. The oft-suffering Gophers have enough trouble achieving a .500 record in the conference without that sort of robbery.

19
by Doug Farrar :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 12:01pm

I appreciate the comments, esp. on the Favre fumble call. First, it was indeed Little stripping the ball as he went by, not as he was taking Favre down - Jimmy Kennedy took him down after the fact. I got caught in mid-edit there, unfortunately.

I was basing my disagreement with the call on several factors - St. Louis' pass defense and turnover ratio, both of which are more impressive than I expected this season, and also Green Bay's ability to cover St. Louis' receivers. Marc Bulger is very lucky that his “interceptionless� streak is still alive, because Green Bay’s corners seemed to be dropping potential picks all over the place. I think they had a 50-50 shot either way, and in that case, I would have gone for the tie and the new chance.

20
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 12:47pm

Off topic, Pat, but I hope JoPa and the Nittanies send a nice Christmas card to a certain zebra this year.

Give me a break - the receiver played through Butler. If you're behind a receiver, and are trying to make the catch, you can't collide with him. Butler had position, the defender didn't.

Besides, it wasn't the officials who couldn't tackle Derrick Williams on a simple off-tackle run on the next play.

21
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 12:59pm

Give me a break, Pat, if you think that play by a db results in a thrown flag more than 20% of the time. The contact with the ball and the receiver was about as close to simulteaneous as can be measured at game speed. Road teams hardly ever get that call. Who knows? Maybe Mike Gottfried and Mark May are closet Gopher fans, notwithstanding their opinions' not being definitive, of course.

22
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 1:11pm

Give me a break, Pat, if you think that play by a db results in a thrown flag more than 20% of the time.

Still a valid penalty. Sorry. I'm not a fan of people complaining about calls from officials unless they're blatantly wrong (hence the reason why I defended the Michigan calls last year). You've got to allow room for interpretation.

Road teams hardly ever get that call.

"We got screwed because the officials should've been biased for us"?

23
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 2:24pm

Pat, hyperbole aside, I'd say "shafted due to the call being inconsistent with how it normally is made", since consistency is what really has to be striven for. Look, I know Penn Sate has had it's share of marginal calls, especially given the prominence of it's program, but you can't believe how frequently a program like Minnesota's gets the short end of the offciating stick, and it really sucks.

24
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 2:30pm

since consistency is what really has to be striven for.

Yah, but consistency has to involve not treating the home team differently than the road team. Otherwise you're not being consistent in the game, much less between games.

but you can’t believe how frequently a program like Minnesota’s gets the short end of the offciating stick

Like I said, I really just don't believe in that. Calls that are wrong I can agree with. Calls that are marginal, I think fans just see the calls they don't like, and ignore the ones that go the other way. Selective memory.

25
by Marko (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 3:32pm

"Those yards are junk. Leon Johnson can get those yards."

Only if the ball doesn't bounce off his face mask.

26
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 3:43pm

I think cracking on McCarthy for his playcalling at the end of the game is really dumb. The Packers are a bad team, the defense hadn't played well as much as Bulger had gacked multiple times, and there was all the time in the world.

Suggesting that Favre kneel down there because something bad might happen is hardly a recipe for successful organizations.

We laud teams for going it on 4th down, crack on a certain coach for his "Martyball" approach, but dump on Green Bay for trying to win a game??

McCarthy and Favre both had poor moments yesterday. But the decision to "go for it" was not one of them.

27
by mactbone (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 4:46pm

OK, I decided to come up with yards per touch to see how Bush has really done this year if you want to look at all-purpose yards.

First I took the Bears kickoff returner/slash third or fourth reciever Rashied Davis and his 258 kickoff return yards plus 128 reciving yards comes to 20.3 yards/touch. Since it might be an unfair comparison with Davis returning kick and not punts I tried to find a RB who gets carries and returns punts but couldn't find one. I settled on Maurice Jones-Drew who returns kicks and since he's also a rookie it works nice for this purpose.

MJD:
33 rushes for 177 yards, 9 catches for 91 yards and 10 returns for 253 yards
This adds up to 52 touches for 521 or 10 yards/touch.

Bush:
54 carries for 170 yards, 34 catches for 250 yards and 12 returns for 132 yards
This adds up to 100 touches for 552 yards or 5.52 yards/touch.

28
by zip (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 5:37pm

#27

Kickoff returns are 20 yard/touch for anyone. Including them is going to hopeless skew any value the stat "yards per touch" might have.

29
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 6:39pm

Re: 27

You could just use DPAR and DVOA (granted, all these numbers are through Week 4):

Rushing DPAR:
M.Jones-Drew 7.0
J.Norwood 6.8
L.Maroney 4.7
J.Addai 3.4
R.Bush -5.8

Rushing DVOA:
J.Norwood 58.40%
M.Jones-Drew 35.50%
L.Maroney 3.80%
J.Addai -5.80%
R.Bush -39.20%

Only Bush (4.7 DPAR; 14.60% DVOA), Addai (2.9 DPAR; 22.30% DVOA), and Jones-Drew (1.8 DPAR; 15.70% DVOA) show up in the RB receiving table.

If Reggie Bush is even in the consideration for Off. ROY it will be a travesty. I may even be force to break out "traveshamockery".

30
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 6:52pm

It would be an interesting experiment Pat; digitally obscure the identity of teams, and then have 500 games evaluated, and see if highly regarded programs got more calls that lowly regarded programs. Yeah, it could be my memory is selective, but I wouldn't be so sure.

31
by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 7:45pm

Actually, it's pretty apparent that this year McNabb has played better than Brady so far and the updated Week 5 DPAR/DVOA supports this. McNabb is now top of the DPAR charts, with 41.5, leading Manning by 0.5. Brady is 7th with 22.0, only a little over half what McNabb's is. I haven't watched McNabb much, but from what I've seen of Brady's throwing this year, I figured he'd be closer to the middle of the pack.

32
by Richie (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 9:02pm

Where are the "quick" reads?

33
by jimmo (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 2:39am

Doug, far too many "quotes." Good analysis every week, but I feel like I should be reading it "in a van, down by the river."

34
by Doug Farrar :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 12:32pm

Thanks, "jimmo". I "feel" that you "may" have a "point" there.

35
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 2:12pm

"He's still adjusting to the game as a running back, but he's got it together as an all-purpose threat, gaining 161 all-purpose yards and catching 11 passes in New Orleans' 24-21 victory over the 0-4 Bucs."

All Purpose Yards is like the "We use this to talk up Reggie Bush" stat "and never use it for anything else."

Wes Welker had 198 All Purpose Yards this week. Does he have a $50m contract?

36
by emcee fleshy (atl) (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 4:00pm

It was a great game otherwise. But shouldn't the Eagles D get penalized for letting Bledsoe RUN 10 yards for a first down?

37
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Thu, 10/12/2006 - 1:43pm

Wes Welker had 198 All Purpose Yards this week. Does he have a $50m contract?
No, but he is a fan favorite.

Kidding aside, Wes Welker is my favorite Dolphin (except when he's playing the Patriots). Aaron and the Outsiders were right about him: he's the young Troy Brown. Nifty slot receiver, excellent return guy, doesn't play dime corner, but makes up for it as a backup kicker.

38
by Jerry (not verified) :: Thu, 10/12/2006 - 9:34pm

Re #21:

Maybe Mike Gottfried and Mark May are closet Gopher fans

It's not about the Gophers. Both are associated with a program (Pitt) that despises Penn State.