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10 Dec 2005

FO Mailbag

by Aaron Schatz (and the FO staff)

Time for another look at the Football Outsiders mailbag. We get a lot of e-mail, and there are a lot of comments on the discussion threads, so I apologize if your question doesn't get answered. There simply are too many good questions that require well thought out answers. The best way to get your question answered at this point is to use the contact form. If it is a question not related to the DVOA stats, it is more likely to be answered if you send it to one of the other writers, not me.

Be aware that we reference plenty of our innovative FO stats here, not to mention their unfamiliar terminology, so if you are a recent addition to the readership you might want to read this first.

I mentioned in this week's DVOA ratings thread that I would run week-to-week graphs on Indianapolis and Cincinnati to see how the Bengals could end up slightly higher than the Colts in total DVOA for the season, even though the Colts are a) undefeated and b) number one in weighted DVOA.

So here's the graph over on the right. I've put Cincinnati and Indianapolis on the same graph, and as long as you have a color monitor you should be able to tell which is which. The three Cincinnati losses are marked "L."

As you can see, Cincinnati's wins in Weeks 2 and 3 really stand out compared to the rest of the Bengals' season until last week's victory over Pittsburgh. The ratings for those wins have moved up a little each week because Minnesota and Chicago keep winning each week. I know many people will say, "How can you give the Bengals a bonus for beating the Vikings back when they were terrible," but for now our opponent adjustments get retroactively updated each week based on each team's play over the entire season. I don't want to make a subjective judgment on when a win over a good team "shouldn't count," and while I've thought of doing "rolling opponent adjustments" to take into account the improvement and decline of teams during the season, I just haven't been able to work on that yet.

It is obvious from this graph just how consistent the Colts have been this year. They have only one game that even slightly dips below 0% after opponent adjustments, the 31-17 win over Houston in Week 10. The Colts have only one other game below 20%, the 13-6 win over Cleveland in Week 3. By comparison, Cincinnati has five games at 20% or lower. Like the Colts, the Bengals have one win below 0%, and like the Colts, that win came against Houston.

The other week that stands out is probably Week 11, because that was the week the Colts beat the Bengals, and yet the Bengals actually end up with a slightly higher DVOA. Did you know the Bengals actually gained 7.6 yards per play in that game, the Colts just 6.4 yards per play? In a close game like this, sometimes you end up with a weird little adjustment result. The Colts barely beat the Bengals in non-adjusted VOA. But because of the specific mix of rushing and passing plays and the way the adjustments work, the team that is technically number one gets a bigger boost for playing well against the team that is number two than the team that is number two gets for playing well against the team that is number one. It's not worth getting hung up on this, these little quirks of a percentage point or two end up washing out when we look at 12 games rather than one -- and like a lot of things related to the Colts, it will look different after Indianapolis has played three more teams in the top ten over the next three weeks. To me, it's pretty obvious from that graph that Indianapolis has been the better team since Week 4.

As long as we're looking at week-to-week graphs, how about two more AFC teams, the ones ranked third and fourth? The Denver and San Diego weekly ratings are over on the left -- both teams this time have some losses, so the orange Ls are Denver losses and the blue Ls are San Diego losses. In last week's FOXSports.com power rankings commentary, I noted that the Colts are on pace to become only the second team to finish in the top five in DVOA but the bottom five in VARIANCE. Guess what -- the Chargers are the third. They are nowhere near as consistent as the Colts, but they are currently 28th in VARIANCE.

How hard has San Diego's schedule been this year? Three of the four San Diego losses actually have DVOA ratings above 0%! The 20-17 loss to Philadelphia is the only exception, and that's only because the Eagles have fallen apart -- for much of the season, the opponent adjustment had that game above 0% also. (San Diego does have one other game slightly below 0%, Week 9's 31-26 win over the Jets.) Meanwhile, see if you can pick out Denver's loss to Miami and win over Philadelphia. Those games sort of stand out, don't they?

Onto some questions, with answers from a number of different FO writers...

Duane: Unluckiest. Team. Ever. That will go a long way to assuage my concerns about the Packers, except for that nagging feeling that, down the road, “the 2005 Packers will look a lot more like the 1981 Patriots than they will the 1979 49ers.� But who has been the Luckiest. Team. Ever?

Aaron Schatz: Here's the top ten (post-1950), not including the 1982 strike year. Two of these teams will look very familiar. You'll also find a 2005 team that is on pace to finish among the "luckiest" of all time -- and if Green Bay is one of the "unluckiest" teams, the identity of this team makes perfect sense:

1992 Indianapolis Colts 216 302 9-7 .563 5.0 .311 .251
1962 Pittsburgh Steelers 312 363 9-5 .643 5.8 .411 .232
2004 Pittsburgh Steelers 372 251 15-1 .938 11.5 .718 .220
1965 Cleveland Browns 363 325 11-3 .786 7.9 .565 .221
1976 Oakland Raiders 350 237 13-1 .929 10.0 .716 .213
2005 Minnesota Vikings 219 273 7-5 .583 4.5 .372 .211
1999 Tennessee Titans 392 324 13-3 .813 9.8 .611 .201
1960 Chicago Bears 194 299 5-6-1 .458 3.2 .264 .194
1976 Cleveland Browns 267 287 9-5 .643 6.4 .457 .186
1989 Pittsburgh Steelers 265 326 9-7 .563 6.1 .380 .183
2004 Atlanta Falcons 340 337 11-5 .688 8.1 .505 .182

Hi. We're the 1992 Indianapolis Colts. You may remember us from such Football Outsiders articles as Too Deep Zone: Short Runs and Pythagoras on the Gridiron. The 1992 Colts were outscored by 86 points, in part, because they couldn't manage three yards per carry, and they couldn't manage three yards per carry, in part, because they were busy running out the clock in a bunch of close, lucky wins. That team was 1-15 the year before, then shockingly went 9-7, and then went 4-12 the year after.

You may be surprised to learn that a lot of these teams were fine the next year. The 1963 Steelers were 7-4-3. The 1990 Steelers went 9-7 again. The 2000 Titans improved to 14-2, even though they did not return to the Super Bowl. That 1960 Bears team is really weird, because that overachieving 5-6-1 year came between an 8-4 year and an 8-6 year and in both of those seasons, the Bears pretty much equaled their Pythagorean projection.

On the other hand, both of the historically strong overachievers from 2004 are in danger of not making the playoffs. Nobody expected the Steelers to go 15-1 again, but this is part of the reason we were so down on Atlanta in PFP 2005.

And, of course, two three-point losses to the Vikings are a big factor in Green Bay falling so far below its projection, so it makes sense that Minnesota would be playing greatly above its projection. Minnesota has won six of its last seven games -- but the average margin of victory in those six wins is just 6.5 points, and four of Minnesota's five losses have come by 20 points or more.

Kevin Rich: Regarding the Reggie Bush Bowl - I see that my favorite team, Green Bay is tied with two other teams for second behind Houston for the 1st pick in the NFL draft. I went to the official NFL site to see what the tiebreaker would be for the 1st pick. It is based on the strength of schedule tie breaker. My problem is that the site did not explain how strength of schedule works. So I am asking you how is the strength of schedule computed?? I hate to say it, but I think it would be best for Green Bay to lose every single game until the season is over and hope for the 1st pick.

Tim Gerheim: Strength of schedule is just the aggregate winning percentage of all the teams a team played in the season. Take all 16 teams the Packers played (counting division rivals twice), add up their wins, and divide by 256 (16 x 16). A team that played poorly against a worse schedule wins the tiebreaker. There are still ties, since there are so few games, so then you go to division tiebreaker if they're in the same division, or conference tiebreaker if they're in the same conference, and if those don't work it's a coin flip. It seems like a draft order tie gets broken by a coin flip every year.

At this point, Green Bay is ahead of all the other 2-10 teams but behind both 3-9 teams. And if the Packers can make up ground on the Texans they'll definitely have that tiebreaker. Plus, if the Texans know what's good for them (cough ... as well as I do ... D'Brick-cough-shaw) they'll be looking to trade down rather than take Reggie Bush.

Speaking of whether or not the Texans should take Reggie Bush...

Bob Mozitis: Mike, fellow La Salle grad here. I just don't get the whole Reggie Bush thing. Can you address this please? Bush, at best, could be as good as Barry Sanders, and Barry never even approached a Super Bowl because a lack of talent around him. Am I crazy to think that the Texans should trade the #1 pick for all sorts of wealth this year and completely overhaul their team??? This is the best season ever to have the #1 pick, but not to draft Bush. Instead, the value you could get in a trade would seem to be much much better than single player, whether it is Leinart or Bush. Besides not paying #1 pick money, you could get a handful of players and picks in return, since teams seem so desperate to impress their local media that they would do anything to get the top pick.

Mike Tanier: I believe that most of us at FO feel that, while Bush will be a phenomenal pro, the Texans have so many needs that he wouldn't make that much of an impact on the team. If they end up with the #1 pick, it would probably make sense for them to trade down, presumably to get two first-round picks. If the Niners or Packers wind up with the top pick, maybe it's a different story.

If Charley Casserly stays on at GM, he will probably look to deal. Casserly is good at wheeling and dealing when it comes to draft picks: he landed LaVar Arrington and Chris Samuels when he was in Washington and has pulled off some miracles in his career. (Drew Henson for a third-round pick?)

Go Explorers!

Tom: The stats you guys have here are amazing, what a great site. I'm trying to help out a professor who is writing a book here at Michigan State. Who coined the phrase "Red Zone" in football? It wasn't around in the 80s, but throughout most of the 90s and all the time today you hear this phrase. We have searched and searched, maybe we are just missing something that is simple to find. Any information you could offer would be greatly appreciated.

Al Bogdan: It might have been Joe Gibbs. I found a Washington Post article which suggests that, if it wasn't Gibbs that coined the phrase, it at least was a novel term when Gibbs first started throwing it around in 1982.

"In the last three weeks, the Redskins have scored only two touchdowns, and one was a 65-yard pass Joe Theismann threw to Charlie Brown. The only touchdown that resulted from a sustained drive in which the Redskins moved inside the opponent's 20--called the red zone by Gibbs--and then scored was on a 17-yard pass to Brown."
-- Paul Attner, "Recent Dearth of Touchdowns Concerns Gibbs," Washington Post, Dec. 14, 1982, at C1.

The phrase wouldn't appear in the New York Times, at least applied to football, for another two years.

"Noise levels did not rise again until midway through the second quarter, when the Colts stopped the Giants in the so-called red zone, between the 20-yard line and the end zone."
-- Craig Wolf, "Colts Defeat Giants in Indianapolis Debut," New York Times, Aug 12, 1984, at S11.

The phrase didn't appear in SI until 1989, in a Peter King article:

"Says Bengal offensive coordinator Bruce Coslet, "In 1987 we'd get into the red zone [inside the opponent's 20-yard line], and we couldn't score. So, going into 1988 we stressed scoring every time we got into the red zone. That was the whole difference in our team. Every possession was important."
-- Peter King, "Inside the NFL," Sports Illustrated, Sep. 18, 1989, at 69.

Jim: How many times has a team chosen, when playing extra time, not to receive the ball first after winning the coin toss.

Michael David Smith: Of course, one of the answers is the Lions, which is why Aaron forwarded this question to me. Marty Mornhinweg was an idiotic coach of historic proportions, but, believe it or not, he's not the only coach to take the wind in overtime. Entering the 2005 season, there had been 377 regular-season overtime games. Of the 377 coin toss winners, 368 chose to receive and nine chose to have the wind at their backs. Teams taking the wind are 4-5.

Bruce Bates: Do you know the average recovery stat for a team when they fumble? I now this is pretty much dumb luck so I would figure offenses get it back near 50 percent of the time. The Redskins have had unbelievably bad luck at recovering their fumbles this year.

Also, I notice the Redskins have ranked 30th or worse at acquiring fumbles per drive for the last two seasons. This seems impossible to me. But when you don't force them, it's hard to recover them. I wondered if there were any stats to show that Gregg Williams defenses have always struggled at forcing and recovering fumbles?

Aaron Schatz: The average recovery rate is about 53 percent, but it is different for different types of fumbles:

  • Fumbles on aborted snaps are recovered by the offense roughly 3/4 of the time.
  • Fumbles on sacks are recovered by the offense roughly 1/2 of the time.
  • Fumbles on running plays are recovered by the offense roughly 3/8 of the time.
  • Fumbles on receptions are recovered by the offense roughly 3/8 of the time, although this number is higher on passes caught behind the line of scrimmage, and much lower on long passes over 15 yards.

Washington's fumble record this year is really wacky, and represents more than half of that huge difference between Washington's VOA (0.0%) and DVOA (17.6%). Washington's rating if we removed all the opponent adjustments, but still considered all fumbles as equal, would be 9.6%.

Year Team Fumbles Recovered Recovery
01 BUF 16 6 38%
02 BUF 18 9 50%
03 BUF 19 8 42%
04 WAS 14 7 50%
05 WAS 16 4 25%

Do Gregg Williams defenses have any particular history of not recovering fumbles? I don't think so. Over to the right is a table showing the Washington defense for the last two years and the defenses in Buffalo, where Williams was head coach, for the three years before that. Last year the Redskins had perfectly normal luck recovering fumbles, they just caused fewer of them.

On offense, by the way, Washington also recovered 50 percent of its fumbles in 2004, and just 30 percent of its fumbles in 2005. Here's a look at all the Washington fumbles this season through Week 13:

2 aborted snaps, 1 recovered
8 sacks, 2 recovered
6 on rushes, 1 recovered
4 on receptions, 2 recovered

4 aborted snaps, 1 recovered
6 sacks, 2 recovered
4 rushes, 1 recovered
2 receptions, 0 recovered

I really don't know if there's a pattern here, I think it really just is blind luck. Or unluck, in this case.

Posted by: admin on 10 Dec 2005

73 comments, Last at 16 Dec 2005, 1:29pm by Mr Shush


by BlueStarDude (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 7:22pm

Maybe I'm misunderstanding the comment, but Henson was traded to Dallas for a third, nor first, round pick.

by BlueStarDude (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 7:24pm

Of course, the point it still a good one - I'd trade Henson for Vernand Morency (or just about anybody) any day.

by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 7:44pm

Casserley took Henson in the sixth round in 2003 and got Dallas's third-round pick in 2005 for him.

by Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Person (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 7:58pm

I read a lot of people suggesting the Texans trade the #1 pick if they get it, but judging from recent years, are there any teams willing to give up the equivalent of 2 first round picks for it?

by Luz (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 8:07pm

the steelers have 3 of the top ten luckiest years?!

time to print up my t-shirts.

"The Pittsburgh Steelers: Better to be Lucky than Good."

by Paul (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 8:28pm

#4 Well, obviously the Redskins have been willing to...

by Kevo (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 8:54pm

The Skins didn't trade a number one, they traded a number 5 so Mike Ditka could singlehandedly draft Ricky Williams and submarine the franchise's next two drafts.

by Harris (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 9:07pm

Is there ever any reason to use the #1 pick? A team that bad obviously has more needs than one player can fill.

by VarlosZ (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 10:15pm

#4: The Giants gave up the 4th overall pick, another 1st Rounder, and an early 3rd Rounder for the #1 pick in the Manning trade.

by Israel (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 11:21pm

The 1962 Steelers were 7-4-3

I don't recall their 1962 record, but 7-4-3 is probably 1963 when I remember a bunch of ties, including 17-17 against the eventual champion Bears, the weekend of the Kennedy funeral.

by Reinhard (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 11:28pm

Dont forget that there are six more rounds after the first in the draft; smart drafting isnt necesarily drafting downwards.

by Charles Jake (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 11:33pm

Just to add to MDS' pain, back in the Ditka era, the Bears chose to kick off against the Lions in an OT game. It actually worked when Eddie Murray missed a FG into the wind, and the Bears then drove for a score.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 11:57pm

Which teams will have 2 #1 draft picks in the upcoming draft? I know the Broncos will have the Redskins #1 pick.

Could you imagine if Shannahan traded up to get Reggie Bush?

by Tim Gerheim :: Sun, 12/11/2005 - 12:11am

The Skins got the Saints entire '99 draft, literally, so that New Orleans could move from, I think, 9 to 5 to pick Ricky William. The GM of Washington at the time? Charley Casserly. He won NFL Executive of the Year that season. So yeah, a pretty good dealmaker. On the other hand, his star has fallen lately. The Jason Babin trade in '04 was, generously speaking, not really a boon to Houston. And all he got for moving down three spots in this year's first round was a 3rd rounder (to replace the one he squandered, along with a 2nd rounder, on Phillip Buchanon). (Sorry if this double posts... internet difficulties.)

by admin :: Sun, 12/11/2005 - 12:18am

Sorry, yes, there were a couple of errors in the mailbag related to Henson's trade and the 1962/1963 Steelers. Now fixed. Also, I deleted the troll comment because it had nothing to do with the mailbag and was just getting in the way. That fellow is welcome to e-mail his vitriolic hatred to me personally if he's offended at the deletion.

by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Sun, 12/11/2005 - 1:27am

Damn, I love that week-to-week DVOA. It looks especially pretty in graphical form!

The 1976 "Roughing The Passer" Raiders team is the 5th luckiest in recent history? Ha ha, that means I'm taking no more grief from Raiders fans for the Lucky Tuck Pats of 2001. Dobby is freeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Oh, and I agree with whoever said it: Better to be lucky than good.

by Zac (not verified) :: Sun, 12/11/2005 - 2:24am

Well, I think being Good is a little more consistent than being Lucky.

And so far the Redskins are the only team that has traded away their 2006 first round pick (traded to Denver to select Jason Campbell).

by Israel (not verified) :: Sun, 12/11/2005 - 3:09am

#5 - the steelers have 3 of the top ten luckiest years?!

On the other hand, they were beaten in the AFC Championship (with Franco and Rocky injured) in 1976 by the fifth luckiest team, so it partly cancels out.

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Sun, 12/11/2005 - 3:12am

Does anyone even know what the troll was talking about. He called CIN the 28th ranked DEF??? What rankings are those I see them from 10-20 most places. I think his overall point that JAC is good is fine, but that was an odd post to say the least.

by Mikey (not verified) :: Sun, 12/11/2005 - 3:13am

There seems to be an emerging wiseguy opinion that whoever has the #1 pick should look to trade the rights to Reggie Bush, and I don't get it. Sometimes the obvious thing is the right thing to do.

It's inarguable that the Texans have a ton of needs. But the Colts had a lot of needs when they took Peyton Manning. The Steelers had a lot of needs when they took Terry Bradshaw. The Bills had a lot of needs when they took OJ Simpson. Would these teams have been better off trading down for picks? My feeling is that if you have the #1 pick and there's what appears to be a once-a-decade guy in that class, you take him.

The letter writer seems to cavalierly shrug off Bush's potential by saying that at best he could be as good as Barry Sanders. My goodness, if the Stillers had a shot to draft a guy who had a chance to be the next Barry Sanders and they gave it up for picks I'd personally firebomb the team HQ (given the last month, I might anyway but that's another thread). You can't fault Sanders for the fact that the team subsequently failed to assemble the complementary talent needed to get to the Super Bowl.

by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 12/11/2005 - 3:41am

Picking Bush if you don't have an offensive line is a waste - not only of a pick, but of a player. Running backs don't last as long as quarterbacks do - you can almost afford to pick a QB, and build a team around him in the next few years, and you'll be set for a decade (which means that the huge amount of money you paid the QB on day 1 can be amortized over a long, long time).

You don't really have the same longevity from a running back.

by Jeff F (not verified) :: Sun, 12/11/2005 - 4:03am

Mikey - Depends on how much a team would be willing to trade for him.

Someone might be willing to trade an absolutely absurd number of picks for him. Would you rather have Barry Sanders, or a pro bowl offensive lineman, good #2 corner, and a competent backup QB, along with a couple extra backups thta have some potential, knowing that RBs have short carreers, a really good one still needs a decent offensive line, and injuries to RBs are quite common? Which do you think is better when building a team? It isn't clearcut at all.

Assuming that Bush is a Sanders class player, what is going to happen if the Texans draft him? He won't work magic next year behind their offensive line, that's for sure. He'd probably be more productive, but then the team needs to be rebuilt around him, starting with the OL and defense, which would be improved in the normal way; through draft picks and trades.

Who would perform better: A Barry Sanders class running back behind a Texans class offensive line, or a Domminick Davis class player behind the Chiefs offensive line? Keep in mind, in the Sanders example, you have a lot more cap value tied up in one player, whereas in the latter, you have less cap money spread across more players, so it's more difficult to acquire more skill on your team.

Did the 2000 Ravens consist of Ray Lewis playing a one man defense, or did they not have a very competent team, other than him? The 2003/04 Patiots had a LOT of guys that were very good, but not quite pro bowl caliber players (And, of course, a couple really good players) - but which do you want to be the basis for the team? A larger group of good players, or a smaller group of great players? The larger group of good players gives you more flexibility, better overall performance, less susceptability to injury, and more cap room per player for the rest of the team, so the backup players may well be above replacement level. Well, that has some nice benefits, like being able to sub people in and out of the game more regularly to keep the better players fresh, as the fresh average player will probably be more effective than the tired good player, and the good player can go back on the field later on, refreshed and rested, and be able to play at a more consistent level while he is on the field.

Dare I say that if you had a team full of "above average" starters, with an average level replacement player at most positions, and then some below average replacements, it'd be a pretty damn good team. Say, for skill players (I just looked at the DVOA numbers and picked some players that are fitting into the "above average" area):

Byron Leftwich, McGahee (Or Jordan, Droughns, Brown, among others), Branch, Finneran, and Engram as receivers, Dallas Clark at tight end, behind Carolina's offensive line, Arizona's defensive line, Pittsburgh's linebackers, and Denver's secondary.

Tell me that that would not be a formidable team. I had to pick units as a whole for the non skill positions, but, dare I say that that team would be contending for a conference championship with good coaching and no huge injury problems.

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Sun, 12/11/2005 - 6:53am

I am a firm believer in the idea that a squad of B+ players is much better AND more felxible/injury resistant than a team with a few primo guys surrounded by crap. Of course the really best teams have mostly B+ guys AND a few primo players.

Yet as far as I could tell the teams likely to draw a very high pick do not have the O-line or general talent level to make Bush much more than a PR pick.

From what I remember pre-season Dominick Davis was considered a top 10 back and probably a top 5 back (from a long term view) when you factor in his age. And he has been rather unremarkable this year.

Anyway Bush could blow his ACL in training camp, he could have a bad work ethic and get fat, or he could just end up not being good at the pro level. Eggs, baskets, etc...

All this isn't to say that Bush isn't a good first overall pick for some teams, but I don't think he is a good fit for very many of the very bad teams as they have too many holes to fill. And thus it is probably a good idea for them to trade down with a good team who needs a better running back and has fewer holes to fill.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Sun, 12/11/2005 - 7:16am

Personally I'm starting to think the best thing to do with your first round draft pick is to target 5-10 players, then just skip your pick and listen to trade offers from teams serious about trading up.

Then at the very last moment when you see someone who you feel has value for your pick, draft him... obviously this could cause a whole bunch of teams to race ahead and draft... ala Vikings...

by Paul (not verified) :: Sun, 12/11/2005 - 10:00am

Last year Tampa Bay's line was ranked 23th in adjusted line yards and Miami's was dead last. I don't recall oceans of criticism that they wasted a draft pick on a running back. Both picks seem to be doing fairly well. I think the Texans could do a lot worse than Bush. Wow, that sentence makes no sense when taken out a football context!

by Sull (not verified) :: Sun, 12/11/2005 - 12:01pm

#23 "From what I remember pre-season Dominick Davis was considered a top 10 back and probably a top 5 back (from a long term view) when you factor in his age. And he has been rather unremarkable this year."

And this is all his fault? I think it's pretty remarkable DD is averaging even 4.0 yards a carry this year with that team. And the guy rarely fumbles. He's also averaging 9 yards a catch. Davis is not an elite back, but his effectiveness as a receiver does make him very valuable. Really the biggest concern is the nagging injuries.

I agree with the others. Reggie Bush doesn't help the Texans.

by admin :: Sun, 12/11/2005 - 12:32pm

The question is not, "does Reggie Bush help the Texans?" OF COURSE Reggie Bush helps the Texans! The question is, "is there another alternative that helps the Texans more than paying the talented Reggie Bush a number one overall draft pick salary."

by jebmak (not verified) :: Sun, 12/11/2005 - 12:50pm

Look at what Sanders did behind that 'offensive' line of the Lions. The reason that he had so many carries for negative yards was because when he got the hand-off, his linemen had already been beat. So, if Bush IS the next Barry, he could actually work behind that line, IF.
Plus, there is no guarantee on the players they trade for either. Taking Bush is just riskier, you have one chance at a great player, instead of several chances at several good players.

by Ryan Mc (not verified) :: Sun, 12/11/2005 - 1:45pm

With regards to the luckiest/unluckiest teams discussion, is it possible that the Pythagorean measure overweights big wins/losses (flukes) unreasonably?

Take last years Falcons as an example (on the list as a "lucky" team). If you throw out the 56-10 loss against KC as a fluke (statistical outlier if you will) and the final two games when they had clinched the #2 seeding and played their backups, their projected wins jumps to 10.18 and they don't look quite so lucky to go 11-5.

Certainly, the point of statistical analysis is not to simply throw out any numbers which are inconvenient, but in the last two games the Falcons were resting starters, and, even though I know you guys aren't big Falcons boosters, I hope we can agree that on any normal day in 2004 the Falcons were not 46 points inferior to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Do the Packers still seem really unlucky if you throw out their 52-3 result over the Saints? (and keep in mind that the season isn't yet over, so Green Bay could still win some games down the stretch and get closer to their current projection)

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Sun, 12/11/2005 - 2:43pm

Re MDS: Of course, one of the answers is the Lions, which is why Aaron forwarded this question to me. Marty Mornhinweg was an idiotic coach of historic proportions, but, believe it or not, he’s not the only coach to take the wind in overtime. Entering the 2005 season, there had been 377 regular-season overtime games. Of the 377 coin toss winners, 368 chose to receive and nine chose to have the wind at their backs. Teams taking the wind are 4-5.

Shanahan took the wind in one of Denver's superbowl seasons, and wound up winning. It was one of the reasons he gained the "mastermind" moniker, just like the intentional safety was a big reason why Bellichick was a "genius". It just goes to show you- you could institute an offensive gameplan that's nothing but kneel downs and 70 yard field goals, and if you win, you're a genius. All risks are brilliant when they're successful.

Re #6: The Redskins will be trading with the Broncos to get their #1 pick back this season. All they'll have to give up for it will be next year's #1 and this year's #2 and #3, too. What a bargain!

Re #13: Could you imagine if Shannahan traded up to get Reggie Bush?

I'd hate that. Denver doesn't need a runningback. They need some depth on the O-line, and they need a stud WR. And they could also use another linebacker.

Why draft a runningback #1 overall when you've got 3 very successful runningbacks on your roster anyway? All RBs are in Denver is trade bait.

Besides, Denver's just getting their cap in order, and paying #1 overall money would seriously screw that up.

Re Reggie Bush: Yes, he looks like a great player right now, but 50% of first round picks fail. It looks like he's a can't miss prospect, but trust me... he can still miss. He can EASILY miss. And if he misses, your cap is SCREWED.

David Carr, Tim Couch, Joey Harrington, Gerrard Warren, Courtney Brown, Ricky Williams, Pac Man Jones, Charles Rodgers... all of these guys were considered studs coming out of college, virtual "can't-miss" guys. They all missed. The Cardinals drafted Bryant Johnson ahead of Anquan Boldin! First round picks might have a higher percentage of success, but you're more likely to be successful with a pair of 2nd rounders than you are with a single first. Heck, perhaps the best two CBs taken in the draft, at least so far, were taken in the second and third round by Denver, a team that "couldn't draft CBs" (i.e. had wasted first rounders on "can't miss" prospects like Deltha O'Neil and Willie Middlebrooks- who is so bad he got cut by San Francisco).

Could Bush be the next Barry Sanders? Absolutely. Is it all but assured? Not on your life. Is it worth it paying Reggie Bush more than a proven veteran like Shaun Alexander or Edgerrin James (who very likely won't get as big of a contract as Mr. Bush this offseason)? No way. Edge or Alexander probably won't even cost a draft pick, and they'll probably be more cap friendly. And they don't have as much left in their career, but then, there's also much less of a chance of them failing miserably, too.

by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 12/11/2005 - 2:59pm

Do the Packers still seem really unlucky if you throw out their 52-3 result over the Saints? (and keep in mind that the season isn’t yet over, so Green Bay could still win some games down the stretch and get closer to their current projection)


This is actually covered in the FOX Power Rankings article. Yes, they're still really unlucky even if you throw that out.

by Led (not verified) :: Sun, 12/11/2005 - 3:16pm

Hmm, do any of Houston's opponents this year have DVOA's over 0 in their games against Houston?

by Mikey (not verified) :: Sun, 12/11/2005 - 5:02pm

The uncertainty of the draft is actually a reason that I would KEEP the rights to Bush.

Someone mentioned that a first round pick is a 50-50 proposition. Let's accept that number for the moment. That means that if you have two first rounders you've got a 75% chance of picking a very good NFL player. Three first rounders give you an 88% chance.

Now what are the chances of Reggie Bush being at least a very good NFL player? Smart fans can disagree of course, but I'd say they're well above 75%. And the chance that he could indeed be not only very good but a once-a-generation superstar makes him worth THREE first-rounders in my view.

I understand the logic in trading down when the top-rated prospect is a Carr, Harrington, Warren, Brown, etc. To be fair, however, I don't recall serious fans or writers saying that these guys were "can't miss" prospects. In this case we're talking about the highest-rated skill position prospect since at least Peyton Manning.

by Murr (not verified) :: Sun, 12/11/2005 - 5:26pm

Okay - really nit-picky thing here, but it's been bugging me: is there anyway to change the "week-by-week" DVOA graphs to show the data points and a "best fit" line, instead of the current version of drawing a line point-to-point?

I believe this week is the most glaring example: Aaron, you state that "it’s pretty obvious from that graph that Indianapolis has been the better team since Week 4". If you drew an actual best-fit line (with no outliers), I'm think it would be significantly less "obvious" than you imply.

by stan (not verified) :: Sun, 12/11/2005 - 6:46pm

I can tell you that the term "red zone" was extremely common among football coaches by the late 80s. I remember at the coaches convention having a conversation with other coaches about how some teams use a different color. Like Coughlin, some used green becuase it means go and red means stop. At the University of Tennessee, Johnny Majors insisted on calling it the Orange Area because orange is the school's color and red is the color of UTs most hated rival, Alabama.

by Nathan (not verified) :: Sun, 12/11/2005 - 7:52pm

If you're the texans, you attempt to trade the pick. If there isn't a very good deal, you take Bush. You them attempt to trade Bush or Davis. If neither of those pans out (because for some reason, good backs never get good trade value, and there may be a boon in the free agent market) you run them both ala USC and save Bush wear and tear while allowing him to get used to the speed of the NFL.

You then spend the rest of your picks on the OLINE, and hope for the best.

by big_adventure (not verified) :: Sun, 12/11/2005 - 8:09pm

Highest rated skill-position prospect since Peyton Manning?

I'm trying to be polite here, so I won't ask if the drug came in a bottle, baggie or wrapper. Nobody was even touting Bush as a top-5 pick guy 7 weeks ago! People KNEW Manning would be a stud when he was a sophomore. The hype machine was minus-two generations 7 years ago - there were effectively no blogs, web content was a pittance by comparison and message boards were mostly things for IT guys and baseball fans. There was still just one real 24-hour sports network.

Taking a step beyond that, any number of can't miss, once in a generation prospects have, in fact, missed and missed badly, even in the last 10 years. And worse, the best players often are NOT the ones people think are "can't miss."

Reggie Bush has, at MOST, a 50% chance of becoming anything like a star in the NFL. Perhaps less, as he is a small running-back playing a big-hitter's game. He has a significantly smaller chance of giving equal value on a number-1 sized contract. This is not to say that he won't do it, but there is, what, a 75% chance that Edgerrin James will be worth more than Bush over the next 4 years. There is, what, a 0% chance that James will make more money over that period than Bush, assuming Bush goes first? The same thing can be said about a LOT of backs. Reggie Bush MIGHT be a better pro than Willis Magahee (though he certainly never did anything in college to make me think he will be in the NFL), but Reggie Bush is going to cost $(Magahee * 6.022x10e23).

Seriously, why does everyone suddenly think Bush has a relistic shot at a Sanders-level career? An amazing game against Fresno State and a couple of nice kick returns? Desmond Howard did things like that, and Super Bowl MVP aside, is anyone really going to argue that he was a star? Rocket Ishmail did things like that, and, though he was pretty impressive in the CFL, umm, star?

I'd prefer to give my franchise money to a player who actually had to be the franchise at least once in his life prior to the draft.

That said, I hope that he DOES make it, and that he DOES become a star. Barry Sanders single-handedly made the Lions fun to watch, any time, any place, against any opponent, because there was always that chance that SOMETHING, ANYTHING could happen. And with Sanders, it wasn't even a particularly small chance. I'm no Lions fan, but I remember eschewing good games to watch 3 "Sanders Moments" - where he would take a handoff, already have to massive DLs in his face, somehow run through one, around the other, jump three feet left to make an All-Pro linebacker grasp air and get the most exciting 5 yards ever. I would try to imagine my expected performances for the guy if he had a line like Dallas' (in that era) to run behind.


by stan (not verified) :: Sun, 12/11/2005 - 8:16pm

re: Sanders

some of the greatest runs I ever saw were Barry getting back to the line of scrimmage.

by Ryan Mc (not verified) :: Sun, 12/11/2005 - 8:28pm

re 31: I'm not sure the recalc is correct in the article. If you take out the 52-3 win over the Saints then I get the Packers as having a projected winning % of .359 (187 points for, 239 against), which is only .192 over their current winning %. A -.192 "luck" factor would drop them down the list of unlucky teams. (Even past other teams whose luck factors are adjusted in the article by taking out their most one-sided victory)

by Erasmus (not verified) :: Sun, 12/11/2005 - 9:11pm

Casserly's last couple of draft-day trades have been pretty bad actually.

Philip Buchanon (Oakland got Fabian Washington in a round-about way and really good rookie LBer Kirk Morrison from the deal) They trade back-up for Jason Babin (Tennessee got Ben Troupe, Randy Starks, Bo Schobel, and Jacob Bell)-Babin lost his starting job this season to UDFA Shantee Orr.

Kirk Morrison, Mike Nugent, Ben Troupe, Randy Starks, Bo Schobel, and Jacob Bell plus Fabian Washington sort of are all players drafted with Houston draft picks for Buchanon and Babin...I see 5 starters right there with the draft picks alone.

by Jon (not verified) :: Sun, 12/11/2005 - 10:14pm

If I'm the Texans with the first pick in the draft, I take Bush. Teams can go from awful to great so quickly in the NFL that you can't pass up a guy like Bush. Remember what happened to the Rams when they got Marshall Faulk. One year: terrible, next year: Super Bowl. Now granted, the Texans can't count on their #3 QB turning into Kurt Warner, but maybe David Carr will have a breakout year like Drew Brees did in 04. Also, remember Houston will get the first pick in all of the other rounds so they will have plenty of other picks to address other needs. So, if they take Bush, maybe they go 6-10 next year, get another good draft, and by 07, they're in the playoffs. Not unreasonable in today's NFL.

by Andrew (A.B. (not verified) :: Sun, 12/11/2005 - 10:45pm

Remember, the Rams that year also added Torry Holt, Trent Green/Kurt Warner, Adam Timmerman, and a new hamstring for Isaac Bruce.

by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 12:02am

Re number 22: your point is a good one and your given name speaks of a nobility of character equalled by few, but can we please get away from the "skill position" and "non skill position" terminology? Does a running back really possess more "skill" than a middle linebacker? Isn't "skill" something you develop or acquire over a period of time? And if so, how do you account for the fact that offensive linemen, the classic "non skill" players, often do not become good players until a number of years in the league, while those "skillful" running backs or wide receivers can often have an immediate impact? The skills possessed by Brian Urlacher or Walter Jones are different from those possessed by Larry Johnson or Steve Smith, but are they really less--indeed, so much less that we can deem them negligible and describe the latter two as skilled football players and the former two as non-skilled? (You certainly wouldn't want to describe them in that way to their faces!) I think it is not a useful, meaningful, or accurate way to talk about positions, and I think we should get away from it.

by Todd S. (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 12:47am

#41 Yes, but Faulk was a known quantity when St. Louis acquired him. Bush is still a question mark as far as the NFL is concerned. (I think he's going to be great, but I've been wrong before.)

#37 Ahh, but don't forget, even with the hype there were plenty of "experts" that thought the Colts should draft Ryan Leaf instead of Manning.

by TC (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 3:02am

Gee, the Vikings could sure use a #1 back. What if they sent their #1 and #2 to the Texans, along with a running back (Bennett/Mwelde Moore/Ontarrio Smith), a corner (Brian Williams), and a lineman (Melvin Fowler/Adam Goldberg/Anthony Herrera/Marcus Johnson). I honestly have no idea whether that is even close to even, but the Vikings need to do something about their RB situation--they are convinced Bennett is too one-dimensional, Moore is too soft, and Smith is too high. Williams has been inconsistent, but has played well this year and is likely looking at a nickle role in the future with Winfield and Smoot getting payed to be #1 and 2 corners. Getting Birk back next year will leave them with an excess of linemen. Is this the type of trade that people are suggesting the Texans make to fill multiple holes? How far off am I on the amount of talent they would be looking for? Can the Texans trade Bush without getting a legit big-name player back?

by big_adventure (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 3:44am

re: 45 - Very true, regarding Manning/Leaf. I thought about including it in my rant/diatribe/"analisus" but did not based on constraints of time and space.*

In any event, it's just another data point on how impressivly bad the pundits and scouts are at picking the next great thing.


* Neither "Einstienian" nor "Euclidian", but "bed" and "column".

by paco (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 4:03am

I'm still holding out hope that Reggie Bush will announce he will return to USC for his senior year, citing his dedication to the study of Political Science, and a desire to finish his degree.

by Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Person (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 6:05am

45: "Bennett is too one-dimensional, Moore is too soft, and Smith is too high."

Funniest comment of the thread, except for maybe the time and space bit in 46. Onterrio was a damn fine RB though, IMO. So was Robert Smith. *Puff puff pass* And besides, if Min were to trade with Houston, something tells me the Texans would demand Smoot over Brian Williams, if only to go with their Philip Buchannon. You can never have too many speedy and underperforming corners.

by big_adventure (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 9:20am

48 - Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all week...

45 - I really enjoyed that comment as well. Long live the Whizzanator!


by wrmjr (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 12:43pm

I'm curious about what the other teams in the Bush-Sweepstakes might do. I agree that Houston would be better off trading for some O-Line talent and more draft picks.

I'm not convinced that GB should take Bush either, unless they are convinced that Green and Gado just aren't realistic for the next couple years. They need too much help elsewhere.

Now San Fran...they'd have to take Bush. They can't possibly try to ride the Barlow train any further, can they?

by JonL (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 12:48pm

Remember, a few years ago, San Diego traded the number one pick for the number five and the second round's number one (and Tim Dwight!). How'd that work out for them?

by Bobby Mozitis (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 12:58pm

A couple of things. When I posted the Bush question in the mailbag, I said that he could be, AT BEST, as good as Barry. Not that he was the next Barry. But I do believe he will be a very good pro. So, obviously if the Texans can't get a good deal for the pick, they shouldn't trade it. But I truly believe you could get a great deal from a team like the Jets (just an example), who are going to be greatly pressured by the New York media machine to try to land Bush as a replacement for Martin, and also have a bad recent draft history (the 2nd round kicker debacle last year). honestly, if the giants were willing to give up 2 first rounders and a 3rd for someone like Eli Manning, it seems that a team trying to get Bush or Leinart would give up even more than that. Best case for Texans in my opinion:
Trade down to number 2 with the Jets or Niners (Bush teams), then trade down again to someone who is looking for Leinart. (Dolphins,Raiders?)

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 1:01pm

Re #37

Reggie Bush has been playing like that Fresno game for 2 years, the media just didnt pick up on him that quick. He had 170 yds against ND, and 35 recieving. He has been phenomenal the last 2 years. His performance warrants a #1.

My only issue is that USC is now a football factory, and how much of that is him being great, and how much is him having holes to run through because the team is great.

by ToxikFetus (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 1:06pm

Re 37:

At least 90% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

by dryheat (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 1:19pm

I remember a Parcells' interview in the 90s when someone asked him the Red Zone question. He said that they (don't recall who "they" was) used to use it when talking about the DEFENSE. ie your Red Zone was the part of the field between your goal line and your twenty that you were defending, trying to make the offense settle for FGs. Called the Red Zone as a figuritive metaphor (favorite repetitive redundant phrase) for a stop sign.

As for Bush, he could be the next Marshall Faulk. He could also be the next Kevin Faulk -- A fine player, but not one in which you want to tie up the financial commitment of the #1 pick. It's funny how all it takes is one bubblehead to call him the next Gale Sayers to ignite the hyperbole. Once in a generation player? Please. Speaking in terms of living up to their hype, Desmond Howard failed. Raghib Ismail failed. Peter Warrick failed. Guys who trade in speed always get me nervous when they go to the NFL. Same with guys who play skill positions at dominating programs. My personal feeling is that Bush's upside will be a rich man's Bryan Westbrook.

If the Texans can't trade out of the pick, they need to consider letting Carr go to Free Agency and target Leinhart to compete with Ragone. Or draft Defense with Kiawanuka. That won't happen though. The pressure right now is to take Bush number one, lest he turns out to be great and it costs you your job.

by big_adventure (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 1:48pm

54 -

96.12995740035%, actually. Is that too many significant figures?

52 - I wasn't targetting you particularly with that Bush/Sanders crack, 50% of the media has mentioned that comparison. And I just DO NOT think such a thing is warranted. Sanders was THE MAN for a year in college - doing things that Bush just doesn't come close to because he just doesn't get the carries. He's never had to be the HORSE. Tatum Bell is a often a really good back for 15 carries, but clearly Shannahan himself doesn't think he's a load carrier, and I see Bush in the same mold as Bell. That's a good thing to be, but it doesn't stop him from already being vastly, drasticaly overpriced. Like I said, MAYBE he manages to actually earn the money he's going to make, but I would say that the odds are against it. They are stronger against him being a superdupermegastar, just because that's NFL (and sports) life. If everyone made it exactly at the level they were predicted to coming out of college, we would never see a Tom Brady, and we would see an awful lot of Peyton Mannings. Not in exact levels, but the relationship of skill to pick level. We don't see that. What we do have is feelings, and I typically have a pretty fine-meshed anti-hype filter.

Some would call it cynicism, perhaps, but some call Reggie Bush the best skill player prospect since Peyton Manning.


by JonL (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 2:07pm

RE: 54, 56

48% of Americans know that.

by NoJo (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 2:39pm

re: 45.

Hopefully the Vikings are smart enough not to try that. Let's see: several good draft picks + several starters to a Texas team, one running back in return.... Sounds an awful lot like the Herschel Walker trade to me. Except that Walker had been in the NFL and had theoretically proven himself a very good back.

The fans would revolt.

by MRH (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 3:12pm

Have I missed something - why is it assumed that Reggie Bush is the prize in the sweepstakes and not Matt Leinart? Wasn't everyone saying a year ago that Leinart was better than Alex Smith and would have been picked instead of Smith if he'd goen pro? Has Leinart hurt his value in any way (except in the Heisman voting)?

Also, teams are far more likely to take a qb at #1 than an rb: 1995 was the last time an rb was taken at #1 (some can't miss guy, I'm sure); 7 of the last 8 #1 picks were qbs. See for instance Smith v. Brown & Williams, NY, 2005.

Oh, and that last qb taken #1 out of USC, how'd he do?

I think Leinart is far more likely to go #1 than Bush and that HOU is far more likely to find a taker for the pick on that basis (or trade Carr and take Leinart themselves if that deal is better talent- and cap-wise).

by Bobby Mozitis (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 4:03pm

Good point, MRH.

by David (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 4:46pm

59- I think Leinart hurt himself in many people's eyes by going back to school because it brought up the notion that he doesn't want to push himself. It was kind of like a twelve year old still playing in the Little League Minors despite obviously being ready for the Majors.

50- I'm convinced the Niners won't take Bush if given the chance. They've only been playing Barlow this year in order to build up some shiny counting stats and inflate his value a bit. If they weren't trying to do that, Frank Gore would be the full time back. Nolan is pretty high on him, and I don't blame him, since everybody seems to forget that Gore was ahead of McGahee on the Miami depth chart before getting hurt.

My two pence on the Bush sweepstakes... Has anyone seriously discussed whether or not Bush should even be a running back in the NFL? I look at him and his size and can't help but envision a super Dante Hall (who played running back at Texas A&M). I agree that whichever coach gets him MUST think outside the box. Nobody denies Bush would be a tremendous special teams player, and, I think, he should be used primarily has a wideout in most schemes. Now, if the Eagles trade up to get him, that's a horse of a different color...

by Richie (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 5:03pm

Remember, a few years ago, San Diego traded the number one pick for the number five and the second round’s number one (and Tim Dwight!). How’d that work out for them?

Pretty well. But I don't think Atlanta fans are complaining about the trade.

by Björn (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 5:05pm

RE: #8

Peyton Manning

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 5:07pm

Bush is 6-0, 200. Yeah, I agree, skinny for a RB.

Brian Westbrook is 5-8, 200lbs.
Kevin Faulk is 5-8, 202 lbs.

So, there are backs that are around that weight, who do fine, but they all seem to be more recieving backs, and 3rd down backs. (westbrook is philly's #1, but is used as a reciever more than a RB)

Hes just too tall for that weight, but I know for me, I gained about 30lbs near the end of college. From what I've read about him, it looks like he could put on some weight. If he doesnt, he wont be big enough to move the pile, but will be great as a 3rd down back,etc.

If they think he can hold 20-30 more lbs, and keep that speed/cut then I'd grab him #1 without hesitation.

by jack (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 6:33pm

How does Bush compare to Johnny Rodgers (Univ of Nebraska rb) or Greg Pruett (OU)?

by Mikey (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 8:23pm

"Remember, a few years ago, San Diego traded the number one pick for the number five and the second round’s number one (and Tim Dwight!). How’d that work out for them?"

Since making that deal Atlanta is 39-36-1. San Diego is 37-40.

Atlanta's won two playoff games and played in a conference championship game. San Diego has played in one playoff game and lost it.

In the two years prior to the trade both teams were 9-23.

by Glenn B (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 9:08pm

What, in the history of the Houston Texans, makes anyone think they would do something smart with whatever they receive for the top pick?

by emcee fleshy (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2005 - 1:20pm

Re- Unfair accusation of first-round busts.

David Carr, Ricky Williams and Pac Man Jones can't fairly be called busts.

Carr? How many other Offensive lines have been simply photoshopped out of game film to make a point (or sell a product)? There are HOFers would have done little better if they were drafted into that situation.

Ricky? He led the league in rushing at least once and was right there a couple of other years. Yeah, he inevitably went totally nuts, but now he's back and may be good again. (He's only back because he seems to have borrowed his copy of Quicken from the House Appropriations Committee, but still. . .)

Pac Man Jones seems to have been judged a little soon. He might still suck, but he's in a position that takes a while to learn, so we can't write him off yet.

by emcee fleshy (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2005 - 1:28pm

David Carr makes me wonder - why do teams insist on "building around" a quarterback? It seems to me that that is one of the mid-to-later pieces that should be dropped into the puzzle.

(This question is not entirely rhetorical.)

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2005 - 4:59pm

Emcee fleshy (#69 )--
why do teams insist on “building around� a quarterback?
Because it can be done. Peyton Manning was drafted #1 overall, and suffered through a couple of bad-to-mediocre years while the Colts have steadily given him more and more to work with. He may be an exception, but shouldn't the #1 overall pick be, well, exceptional?

Now, it might not be the route for an expansion team to take. But an established football team with competent management can certainly build around the franchise quarterback to field a winning team.

by weezthejuice (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2005 - 5:16pm

If Houston does take Bush, and I'm wavering on whether they should, they have to bring in Martz or someone with an inventive offensive mind like him to coach the team. I don't like martz as a head coach, but he'd bring to the table an offense that would move Bush around and make him into an elite player. It would be a shame if Bush went to a team like the jets with no creativeness, because his talents would be completely wasted. If houston could add to its o-line in later rounds, they'd have a pretty interesting offense on the table. Also, is it just me, or is LT not that much bigger than Bush, if at all? Why is LT able to take NFL punishment with such a small frame, and every other small back is just a 3rd down back?

by Jody (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2005 - 6:54pm

First, I am a Texans fan. I do not think that the upgrade of Bush over DD would be large enough to justify the opportunity cost of 1) salary cap hit and subsequent payroll inflexibility to go sign some quality OL FAs, or 2) the talent that can be had in a trade, where several positions would be upgraded FAR MORE than DD to Bush. Regarding Leinart/Carr, if Carr is resigned, then he is due something like 2.25 mil a year for the next few years, a number that includes a protracted signing bonus. (Number from Hou Chron. writer John McClain). Leinart would not be that cheap, and that does not address the continuing problem of the Texans woeful OL. THe problem is simply talent. The Texans are not very talented. There are perhaps a dozen players who would start for most other teams, and only two or three (A Johnson, D Robinson, DD) who would start for for the top 12-15 teams. The collection of talent acquired in rounds 2-4 of the previous drafts is the main reason for this.

by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Fri, 12/16/2005 - 1:29pm

1. To those saying "Bush would be wasted behind the Texans' offensive line": please, please can you get your heads around the idea that run-blocking and pass-blocking are different skills. The Texans O-line is mind-numbingly horrible in pass-protection, but above average at run-blocking (10th in adjusted line yards), and was average last year to boot, as noted in PFP.

2. #33 - "Someone mentioned that a first round pick is a 50-50 proposition. Let’s accept that number for the moment. That means that if you have two first rounders you’ve got a 75% chance of picking a very good NFL player."

Ok, within that 75% is a 25% chance that you pick two very good NFL players. If you pick Reggie Bush, you have precisely no chance of picking two very good players with that pick. So the expectation from two first rounders is one very good player. The expectation from Bush is only as high as that if his success is guaranteed, and even his most ardent fans will admit it is not, if only because he might lose his career to injury. Moreover, the expectation on the "trade Bush" plan gets even better if you allow for the fact that the Texans would then take the one player in the 2006 draft who history gives us a good reason to think does have a much better chance of succeeding in the NFL than any other: D'Brickashaw Ferguson. Top 10 OTs very seldom bust, and most elite OTs are taken in the top 10.

3. #72 - I may be wrong, but the cap numbers for Carr you suggest sound impossibly low. My understanding is that this is an option year in his contract (the one he signed when he was drafted with the Texans' last first overall pick). I imagine that the option to extend will be for serious money, on the basis that picking up the option would mean the team viewed him as a success, and successful no.1 drafted QBs cost a damn sight more than 2.25m a year. My guess is that the Texans have three options with Carr: cut him and sign a veteran FA to compete with Ragone (not stupid, but highly unlikely), pick up the option (insane, but not impossible) or resign him to a new contract for moderate money, perhaps with generous incentives, and return him as the starter, albeit a less secure one (my preferred option).

4. Casserly deserves stick for two bad trades (Babin - who I still believe could conceivably come good a la Steve Foley - and Buchanon - who just sucks). However, I do think people underestimate just what a horribly difficult job it is to be the GM of an expansion franchise. The Texans have only had four years of drafting. Almost no player they have drafted has yet had time to hit the end of his contract, so they have not had any compensatory picks. It is very difficult to build depth fast, and depth is what matters in today's NFL. Throw in some tough luck with injuries (Boselli, Joppru) and I think there is some excuse for Casserly. Of course, he still shouldn't have been trading up; down if anything, but there we go.

5. This is all moot, because the Texans will only go and beat the '9ers in Week 17 anyway.