Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

Most Recent FO Features

SmithSte01.jpg

» The Week In Quotes: August 29, 2014

This week: Josh Shaw lies, Steve Smith intimidates, Le'Veon Bell relaxes, Matt Simms dances, and Clint Trickett kisses and tells.

14 Apr 2006

Four Downs: AFC East

by Bill Barnwell

Buffalo Bills

The Price is Wrong, Bitch

For a team that didn't contend last year and doesn't appear likely to contend next year, the Bills have sure had a busy last few weeks. First, Eric Moulds was traded to the Texans for a fifth-round pick. As Aaron Schatz pointed out in the last AFC East Four Downs, the effect on the Bills' offense will not be anywhere near as drastic as some might expect; in addition, while Moulds' trade will leave $5.3 million of dead money on the Bills' cap for this year, the Bills will save $5.5 million this year by trading him. Scarily enough, Moulds' leftovers aren't even the worst mess on the Bills' cap this year; the credit for that goes to tackle Mike Williams and the $5.9 million he will be getting to not protect Byron Leftwich in Jacksonville. Williams will be replaced by former Lions tackle Aaron Gibson, who spent 2005 dealing with his weight issues by not playing football. This article includes wonderfully slighting compliments like "Currently listed at 370 pounds, Gibson looks relatively fit," as well as, "With new strength and conditioning coordinator John Allaire on the staff he's got as good a chance in Buffalo as anywhere to keep his weight under control," a statement which implies either that other teams don't have strength and conditioning coordinators, or that Buffalo's previous strength and conditioning coach would've taken him on day trips to Ying's Wings and Things. Once the article – or any NFL article, really – moves on to talking about how big Gibson's helmet is and how it's a problem for the equipment manager, you can feel free to move on.

How will the Bills be replacing Moulds? Their first move was to re-sign Josh Reed, who was the team's best receiver last year according to DPAR (Defensive-adjusted Points Above Replacement). Unfortunately, that still left him as the 48th best receiver in football. His DVOA (27th in the league at 9.9 percent) leaves hope that increased playing time might bring on more success, but Reed's low yards per catch don't offer significant hope for growth. Based on his career so far, Reed fits a specific slot-receiver role and his DVOA would take a dive if his role was expanded -- just like it did when he was thrown over 100 passes in 2003. His DVOA that year was -12.4 percent, then -36.8 percent when he struggled with injuries in 2004.

The receiver the Bills are really pinning their hopes on is Lee Evans. Evans has shown the ability to stretch the field and has 16 touchdowns in his short NFL career, but his DVOA last year was -3.0 percent, 56th in the NFL. While Evans is entering the mystical third year for wide receivers, it's hard to have a breakout season without a threat across the field; while Moulds' performance last year may not have matched that of his past, his reputation certainly surpasses him, which may have led to fewer safeties getting in the way of those long completions to Evans. The Bills also brought in Andre' Davis from the Patriots. That Patriots cachet provides a good enough excuse for signing him, plus he comes with an extra apostrophe and you never know when that kind of thing will come in handy.

But the Bills needed another receiver. Perhaps a little flush with their newfound cap space and a little late to the wide receiver table, they gave Peerless Price a four-year, $10 million contract. Everyone's familiar with the Price story: developed across from Moulds, had a breakout year when Drew Bledsoe arrived, and was then dealt to the Falcons for a first-round pick. Sean Salisbury wrote at the time, "This deal is a win for Atlanta because Price is a proven commodity … The Falcons are giving up a late-first-round draft choice, which doesn't guarantee anything. Only if the Bills draft a player who develops into a comparable star will they be able to approach Price's value … Price could catch 100 balls this season." Price, who was apparently not a proven commodity, caught 109 passes … in his two years with the Falcons.

The Bills used the pick to draft Willis McGahee, who, regardless of whether he was the right selection for the Bills at the time, has certainly outperformed Price in the last three years. Now, of course, we have the advantage of hindsight when looking at this -- but the Bills have the same advantage when looking at the last three years of Price's career, and they still gave him a $10 million contract. Price is a player who passed through waivers in December after he was cut by the Cowboys; he's a player who, if this were baseball, would deserve nothing more than a non-roster invitation to training camp. Without any real competition or need to give Price anything more than a one-year contract for the minimum with incentives, Price will earn $3 million this year (according to John Clayton). Now, Price received $2 million from the Cowboys in September after his release by the Falcons; last season, he had six catches in seven games. This, somehow, resulted in his receiving a $1 million raise. If there is any justification for this deal beyond the fact that Price was once an excellent receiver in Buffalo, I would ask that it be brought to my attention, and at the same time, I would like to remind Marv Levy that Andre Reed is still available on the free agent market. He was good once, too.

The other controversy surrounding Buffalo involves owner Ralph Wilson making some noise about a new owner potentially moving the team due to the NFL's new revenue sharing plan potentially preventing new ownership from partaking in said plan, a deal which works out very well if you just happen to be one of those people who already own an NFL team and get to decide on what the qualifiers for receiving money are. Although I suspect that "Owner must not be fond of Members' Only jackets" and "Owner's name must have a Scrabble score below 65" may result in some consternation, Wilson's concerns about his succession plan and the viability of the franchise have led him to enlist Senator Charles Schumer to assist in putting political pressure on the NFL to prevent the seniority of an owner to be a revenue-sharing qualifier (and, apparently, to assist in deciding which wide receiver the Bills should sign). Expect Wilson's well-placed pressure and high-pitched complaints to lead to his getting his way, selling the team to someone who will promise to keep them in Buffalo upon the building of a new stadium, and for the NFL's G-3 fund to assist in the building of a new stadium in Buffalo sometime after that.

Draft Preview

The Bills, while adding Aaron Gibson's apparently Air Morris-sized head to their offensive line, would probably like an offensive lineman who actually got on the field in 2005 to provide some cover. You know, just in case Gibson gets tired. With D'Brickashaw Ferguson almost undoubtedly off the board by the Bills' eighth overall selection, they will likely have the option to take mammoth USC OT Winston Justice. USC has not shown a particular affinity for developing offensive linemen under Pete Carroll; the only OL who has been drafted during the Carroll era is Jacob Rogers, whom the Cowboys chose in the second round in 2004 and waived several weeks ago without his ever appearing in a regular season game. The Bills may also choose to take a defensive tackle, with many mock drafts linking them to Oregon's Haloti Ngata; however, the Bills are changing their scheme from the "Two Massive DTs and a Cloud After Lunch" Ravens-esque defense they ran with Sam Adams to a one-gap defense based upon defensive lineman penetration, and Ngata is a much better fit for the old scheme. After the addition of Larry Tripplett from the Colts in the offseason, it seems that the Bills would be better served with Justice than any of the defensive line prospects available not named Mario Williams.

Miami Dolphins

Return to the 36 Chambers

The great quarterback carousel of 2006 ended up dropping off Daunte Culpepper in Miami where, you have to hope, there was a wheelchair ramp for him to get to the exit.

Culpepper was acquired from the Vikings for a second-round pick, an obviously steep fall for the second-best quarterback in football in 2004. As for the cause of said fall, and how it affects his status for Opening Day? Culpepper spoke to the media for the first time on Monday, and didn't really answer the question: "Well, me personally, that's my goal, but there really is no timeline on when I am going to be 100 percent or ready to play." He went on to say, "Right now, I am still pretty much on the ground just strengthening my legs. We have mini-camp in May. Hopefully, I'll be moving up a little more. The training staff has a plan of where we're going." Culpepper will be meeting with surgeon James Andrews later this week and should be given a timetable for returning at that point. With only Cleo Lemon currently behind Culpepper on the Dolphins' depth chart, signing a veteran free agent to back up Culpepper must be a priority for the Dolphins. One such option? Former Dolphins QB Jay Fiedler.

Once Culpepper returns, he will have a new receiving corps to throw to. Having made a fantasy stud out of Jermaine Wiggins in Minnesota, Culpepper will certainly enjoy throwing to his new tight end, Randy McMichael, who should be rejuvenated after surprisingly not exerting any effort this offseason on beating his wife. However, we don't have a significant enough sample of Culpepper's career without Randy Moss to really see how Culpepper does without Moss in the lineup. He does, however, have Chris Chambers.

Chris Chambers, for some reason, has developed a reputation that he is a elite wide receiver waiting to break out, a player held back solely by poor quarterbacks and lack of support across from him. Brandon Funston, when talking about the Culpepper trade, wrote, "First and foremost, [Culpepper] inherits one of the most talented receivers in the league in Chris Chambers, a player that can make tough, acrobatic catches in traffic and has a knack for the goal line. His skills work well in a vertical passing game and he's never played with a QB that can throw the deep ball like Culpepper. Chambers had his best fantasy season in '05, but a healthy Culpepper would make him even better. Their connection could very well be reminiscent of the hay days of Culpepper and Randy Moss in Minnesota." Let's just save ourselves the time with that last statement and talk about Chambers the player, in and of himself. There are some clear trends that we see with Chambers when we look at his DPAR and DVOA:

Chris Chambers' FO Stats, 2001-2005
Year DPAR Rank DVOA Rank Catch %
2001 22.9 17 23.7% 9 53%
2002 7.1 58 -4.7% 59 52%
2003 19.3 16 7.8% 29 49%
2004 4.9 59 -9.4% 63 50%
2005 3.9 65 -11.6% 72 49%

There is no doubt that, particularly after 2003, there was a good amount of evidence pointing towards Chris Chambers' becoming a star WR; since then, though, he has basically fallen off of a cliff.

What's really interesting is the catch percentage on the right – despite the dramatic variance in Chambers' play according to DPAR and DVOA, he is essentially catching the same percentage of balls regardless.

Simply put, regardless of how ugly a quarterback or how decrepit a team a WR is surrounded by, elite WRs simply catch a higher percentage of the balls thrown to them. Take a look at last year's WR numbers. Steve Smith was a one-man offensive machine for Carolina with limited, at best, help from the rest of his team, in addition to being a much more dynamic deep threat than Chambers. He caught 69 percent of the passes thrown to him. Santana Moss, in much the same vein as Smith, caught 63 percent of the passes thrown to him. Some of those were screens, of course, but that's not an issue with Hines Ward, who had almost nonexistent help from Cedrick Wilson in the regular season and was at 61 percent. And this wasn't a single-season thing; going back to 2004 and beyond, those WRs that are consistently defined as the elite of the game, or even those who are a step below them – the Joe Horns of the world – catch right around 60 percent or higher of the balls thrown to them. Chris Chambers has yet to have a single year like that.

The other argument is one that comes up as a criticism of DVOA – that a WR's performance is inextricably linked to that of his quarterback. It is true that the players I named all had better quarterbacks last year than Gus Frerotte, who ranked 29th in the NFL in DPAR. I thought it would be useful to take a look at those WRs who are, in fact, stuck with QBs as crummy as the ones Chambers has been stuck with. I was able to get Aaron out of his book-writing bunker long enough to provide me with similarity scores for those QBs the Dolphins have used since 2002. Using this information, I'm going to take the QB whose numbers were most comparable to the Dolphins' QB that year, and then find out how his top WR fared that year, comparing him to Chambers' numbers for the same year in the process. (Since we only have catch data on the website from 2000 on, I will be dealing strictly with comparable quarterbacks from that time period.) You may notice that there's one quarterback who shares, well, a certain kinship with another.

2002 Jay Fiedler MIA: 2000 Jeff Blake NO

Year WR Team DPAR Rk DVOA Rk Catch
2002 Chambers MIA 7.1 58 -4.7% 59 52%
2000 Horn NO 33.0 15 19.6% 27 63%

2003 Jay Fiedler MIA: 2002 Jeff Blake BAL

Year WR Team DPAR Rk DVOA Rk Catch
2003 Chambers MIA 19.3 16 7.8% 29 49%
2002 Taylor BAL 12.3 35 0.0% 49 52%

2004 Jay Fiedler MIA: 2003 Rick Mirer OAK
2004 AJ Feeley MIA: 2005 Joey Harrington DET

Year WR Team DPAR Rk DVOA Rk Catch
2004 Chambers MIA 4.9 59 -9.4% 63 50%
2002 Rice OAK 4.8 55 -9.1% 59 49%
2005 R.Williams DET 4.5 60 -9.0% 62 46%

2005 Gus Frerotte MIA: 2004 Drew Bledsoe BUF

Year WR Team DPAR Rk DVOA Rk Catch
2005 Chambers MIA 3.9 65 -11/6% 72 49%
2004 Moulds BUF 11.1 45 -4.0% 54 58%

Here, then, we have been provided with at least some mitigating evidence that Chambers' poor catch percentage may, in fact, have something to do with his quarterbacks. But it is worth noting that Chambers' numbers have much more in common with Travis Taylor and Roy Williams than they do with Eric Moulds and Joe Horn.

Draft Preview

Nick Saban's reputation has been built on defense, so most mock drafts anticipate the Dolphins' taking a player on that side of the ball, with safeties Donte Whitner and Jason Allen being potential replacements for Lance Schulters and the released Tebucky Jones. The Dolphins also will want to add a wide receiver at some point in the draft, with Marty Booker aging and the free agent pool running dry.

New England Patriots

Suddenly Seymour

Tom Ashworth. Christian Fauria. David Givens. Willie McGinest. ADAM VINATIERI. The Patriots, clearly upset with the commercials showed ad nauseum in the New England area featuring Ashworth and Vinatieri, have simply allowed the heroes (if not necessarily the cornerstones) of Super Bowl victories past to move on to greener pastures, with little in the way of justification. And replacing them? Reche Caldwell? Tebucky Jones? M … M ... Martin Gramatica? Beat writers are putting a thousand words in on Foot Automatica? Is this what it's come to? Surely, there's got to be more.

It turns out there was more, as the Patriots announced this week that they have locked up Richard Seymour, the best defensive lineman in football, with a four-year, $30 million contract extention.

Miguel's excellent unofficial Patriots salary cap page lists the Patriots as being, currently, $83,066,354 with 68 players signed/tendered. With an adjusted cap number of $99,973,940, that leaves the Patriots right around $16.9 million under the cap. It cost the Patriots about $3 million to sign their rookies last season; with a similar group of picks right now, it seems that the Patriots would receive about the same amount to sign their rookies this year. An estimate would leave the Patriots with about $13.5 million left on the table this year, and not much left in the free agent pool to spend it on.

If we look at the cap situation for future years, though, the reasoning becomes clearer. The Patriots already have $71 million (with a projected cap of $109 million) committed to 32 players for 2007, including $11 million for Tom Brady and nearly $7 million for Roosevelt Colvin to go with $6 million for Seymour. While the Seymour contract was the one most talked about (and is now taken care of), he was just the first of several: Dan Koppen, Daniel Graham, Deion Branch, Asante Samuel, Russ Hochstein, and Dan Klecko all have contracts that expire after the upcoming season. While some of those players (particularly Graham) can be expected to leave after the season, it would behoove the Patriots to hold onto Koppen, Branch, and Samuel, all of whom will require a bump in salary along with a nice signing bonus. By keeping this money available to begin accounting for these players' signing bonuses in 2006 as opposed to 2007, the Patriots can be a player in the 2007 market when they might be hamstrung otherwise.

The only problem with that theory? Seymour's renegotiated contract, strangely enough, does not appear to be particularly front-loaded in order to try and take advantage of some of this cap room. His cap numbers appear to be, according to Miguel's page, $4,420,160 in 2006, $8,261,720 in 2007, $8,391,720 in 2008, and $11,346,720 in 2009.

Draft Preview

Belichick and Pioli are famed for their flexibility on draft day, amassing picks and not being afraid to move up to grab the player they want. They have acquired two more picks for this year's draft, picking up a third-round pick in a deal with the Ravens last year as well as a fourth-rounder from the Lions. It should be noted that, according to the draft pick value chart, the Patriots made two trades where, even if the Ravens or Lions had won the Super Bowl the following season, the Patriots would be getting draft picks of a higher value. Funny how that works.

This year? The Patriots have some needs to fill. The aging linebacker corps desperately needs fresh blood. Looking at the Patriots' official depth chart, Mike Vrabel is currently starting at both OLB and ILB, which he may find difficult. (If this strategy works, look for the Patriots to sign unrestricted free agent Jamie Madrox.) Florida State LB Ernie Sims is a little undersized at 5-foot-11 and 231 pounds, but, well, it's not as if Bruschi is going to tower over him. Everyone agrees Sims has excellent cover skills, which could come into play for a team that was ranked 26th in DVOA against passes to tight ends and 25th in DVOA against passes to running backs last year.

The Patriots also need a wide receiver, which has caused them to be linked to Ohio State WR Santonio Holmes in the first round, but the Patriots' success in finding wide receivers later in the draft seems to point toward their waiting until at least the second or third round before selecting one. One player they may seek out would be, like David Givens, a Notre Dame product: Maurice Stovall. Stovall, at 6-foot-4, would provide the tall receiver the Patriots have sought (I'm looking at you, Donald Hayes) for the last several years, and he spent his last season under the tutelage of Charlie Weis, who undoubtedly would recommend his star receiver to Belichick. Albert Breer of the MetroWest Daily News also reports that the Patriots are very high on Michigan's Jason Avant as a possible mid-round pick.

New York Jets

Two Beats Off

If the Jets were able to procure a time machine, they might want to use it to go back and offer their tips on evacuation procedures to the crew of the Titanic. Of course, there are other things they'd probably do on the way there. Maybe they wouldn't have given Chad Pennington all that money. Maybe they would have cut Joe Namath off after a few drinks on that infamous Sunday night game. Maybe they would have practiced defending the fake spike play. I know one thing they'd still do, though. They'd still draft Mike Nugent. I'll try and avoid beating that dead horse for the rest of this piece.

The thing is that, well, the Jets aren't really that terrible of a team. In the last Four Downs: AFC East, Aaron compared them to the 49ers and Titans, who had to release player after player to get under the salary cap. But the Jets have lost just five players this offseason: Ty Law, Kevin Mawae, John Abraham, Jason Fabini, and Chris Baker. To replace them, the Jets have added some pretty decent players: Kimo von Oelhoffen (or, alternately, Who Dey Gonna Feign Innocence), Andre Dyson, and … ok, maybe two decent players. There are some replacements on board, as well: Cornerback Justin Miller, chosen in the second round last year, improved as the year went along (as you might correctly say rookies are expected to do), while defensive end and one-time first-round pick Bryan Thomas could (theoretically) break out with playing time, much in the same way that James Farrior broke out in a system suited for his skills in Pittsburgh after languishing as a Jet.

The Jets got a solid backup quarterback when they added Patrick Ramsay from the Redskins for a draft pick. Ramsey, when not being yanked at halftime of the first game of the season, has been ranked in the lower third of NFL starting quarterbacks by DPAR and DVOA; he's an acceptable replacement QB while the Jets wait for a theoretical return to full health by Chad Pennington.

Draft Preview

The most interesting part of the Jets' off-season will be draft day. There are sexy picks out there for the Jets to take; one would have to think, though, that trading for Ramsey and being committed to Pennington would preclude the Jets from taking a quarterback, regardless of the signals they're sending out. What it comes down to, then, is whether the Saints take Mario Williams or D'Brickashaw Ferguson. Either way, the Jets win: Williams gives them a ready-made replacement for Abraham, while Ferguson allows them to replenish an offensive line that was a dismal 30th in adjusted sack rate last year. If both Williams and Ferguson are gone, then the Jets would be in a position to trade down and allow a team the option of choosing any of the three quarterbacks they want, which may be the tastiest solution of all.

As for their second first-round pick, the Jets have been linked with Ohio State center Nick Mangold, which would be a perfect pick for a Mawae-less team. The last Ohio State center to go high in the draft was LeCharles Bentley in 2002; Mangold is even more highly-regarded than Bentley was at the time. If the Jets could add Mangold and Ferguson in the first round, the assembled throng may not offer many cheers, but they might appreciate it when Chad Pennington actually has a second or two to throw in the next couple of years.

FO intern Bill Barnwell is a senior at Northeastern University, and you can read more of his writing about sports at veteranpresence.com. The third round of Four Downs will begin after the NFL Draft.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 14 Apr 2006

94 comments, Last at 14 May 2006, 3:45pm by al

Comments

1
by Bill (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 1:07pm

THE QUOTES PROBLEM HAS SPREAD FROM THE COMMENTS TO THE ARTICLES!!!! EVERYONE RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!

2
by andy (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 1:12pm

''Some of those were screens, of course, but that’s not an issue with Hines Ward, who had almost nonexistent help from Cedrick Wilson in the regular season and was at 61%.''
This may have been because Cedrick Wilson wasn't a starter for the Steelers.

''Belichick and Pioli are famed for their flexibility on draft day, amassing picks and not being afraid to move up to grab the player they want.''
Aren't those two practices opposites? I don't know a ton about Patriots draft history, so this just kind of confuses me.

Overall, this article seemed very hostile. Granted, many of the players being ripped had numbers to justify it, but there were a couple times I stopped and thought,

3
by Nilblog (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 1:22pm

Levy clearly is senile. His tenure could be fun in an Isiah-esque way.

I want Cleo Lemon to start at the beginning of the year and set the league on fire. The shots of a healed Culpepper on the sideline trying his damndest to look supportive will be as priceless as Vin Diesel's

4
by Nilblog (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 1:22pm

Levy clearly is senile. His tenure could be fun in an Isiah-esque way.

I want Cleo Lemon to start at the beginning of the year and set the league on fire. The shots of a healed Culpepper on the sideline trying his damndest to look supportive will be as priceless as Vin Diesel's 'dramatic' scenes in THE PACIFIER (and yes, I was dragged to it.)

At some point people need to stop giving the Patriots the benefit of the doubt. The fact is that they're a team in decline and Bill's supposed genius will be wasted on a mediocre roster.

5
by Josh (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 1:33pm

Dude, remember that time when we had articles and comments with quotes in them? And they worked? Remember that? That was awesome.

6
by andy (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 1:39pm

...and thought, ''Wow, that was a cheap shot.''

(2 out of 3 ain't bad.)

7
by zip (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 1:48pm

Seriously guys... Do you not have any website support? I would bet anyone who does php web development (like myself... ;)) could fix this problem in less than hour, given the wordpress source code.

Also, I am totally ready to drink the Peerless Price kool-aid. I just wish it didn't cost my team $10 million to buy.

8
by CA (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 1:55pm

The criticism of Chris Chambers by Football Outsiders seems to go as follows:

Chambers is overrated as a wide receiver, as demonstrated by the fact that he ranked 65th in DPAR and 72nd in DVOA in 2005.

I don't see why the flipside of the argument isn't at least as compelling:

DPAR and DVOA are overrated as a means of evaluating wide receivers, as demonstrated by the fact that Chambers ranked 65th in DPAR and 72nd in DVOA in 2005.

I like the idea of DPAR and DVOA as a means to generate insight into players' performance, for instance exposing the fact that Chambers has caught a lower proportion of the passes thrown in his direction than other elite wide receivers have. But this does not necessarily mean that players with low DPAR or DVOA scores are overrated or bad. To the extent that DPAR and DVOA differ greatly from other evaluations of players, while it may mean that those players are overrated or underrated, it may in other instances simply be evidence that DPAR and DVOA are flawed.

I am a little disturbed by the trend of Football Outsiders and DPAR and DVOA adherents using DPAR and DVOA figures to ''prove'' that players are good or bad, or underrated or overrated, in much the same way that fantasy football adherents abuse traditional statistics to ''prove'' that players are good or bad, or underrated or overrated.

9
by Ben (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 1:58pm

Thank you for the info on Chris Chambers. I was livid when he was selected to the Pro Bowl last year, and there were like 6 better AFC receivers. In fact, I think Wes Welker had a higher DPAR, with the same QB, although against different DBs. Comparing Moss and Chambers is just silly. Basically, Culpepper will have the same type of receiving corps he had last year when he stunk. Guess what - he's going to stink in Miami too.

10
by Basilicus (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 2:00pm

I didn't think the article was too hostile. I enjoyed it. I also liked how instead of approaching each team from a rundown perspective it addressed very specific issues and things to look for in each franchise.

I also don't mind giving the Patriots the benefit of the doubt. They've got one of the best QBs in football, a solid if unspectacular line and running back, a very strong D-line, and the linebackers they do have are dependable to good. That pretty much puts their needs at WR, which is perhaps one of the lowest priority positions on the Belichick Patriots and has been for years, Linebacker, which I'll admit is looking like a risk unless they draft one high, and secondary, which they've shown the last few years they can win without. With such clear needs and solid to great play at the other positions, most of the faulty seams should be able to get patched over in the draft. This may be the worst Patriots team since Belichick's first year, but in a developing division that for the moment is still pretty weak that puts them probably around 8-8 even if they do collapse.

11
by Bill (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 2:04pm

CA,

I think you make a very valid point in that DVOA and DPAR aren't solely a means of identifying player quality.

I chose to write about Chambers after seeing how low his numbers were in this year's book and my own nagging skepticism, after watching him and reading column after column about how he was going to break out, that maybe Chris Chambers wasn't ever going to break out.

For me, at least, DVOA and DPAR wasn't the means of proving that. As you mentioned, and this was what drove it home for me, his catch percentage being so consistently low was another strong indicator of his true performance.

12
by Sean (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 2:23pm

You can cross Nick Mangold off the Jets wish list- they just signed Trey Teague to play center. They also are apparently close with Mike Pearson, which just reinforces the notion that they have little or no interest in drafting a left tackle at #4 overall and paying him $25 million in signing bonuses. Ramsey only has one year left on his deal and has not been extended, and Pennington's contract is essentially structured so it is a one-year audition. Basically, I don't think they're sending out smoke signals at all- I think they're taking a quarterback.

13
by PackMan (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 2:44pm

Why isn't receiver catch percentage ever mentioned in the NFL outside of this website? If QBs can be rated on their completion %, the receiver should be just as liable for the completion.

14
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 3:03pm

RE 13

Because I think that most sites link the completion % of a QB and the catch % of a WR together. I would also add that since every QB playing right now is in different stages of progression that it would be awfully hard for me to judge by completion % alone. Overall how many of those balls thrown to said WR were catchable balls? Was he Double Covered, in traffic, did he have to strech, was the ball thrown in a manner to perhaps cause said recievr to rethink about a giant hit because he has to jump up to get it? there are too many variables in my mind and the only true way to see if said reciever is good or great is to see what and how he does after the catch.

15
by Ruben (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 3:05pm

It turns out there was more, as the Patriots announced this week that they have locked up Richard Seymour, the best defensive lineman in football, with a four-year, $30 million contract extention.

Vindication, what? I expect a full retraction and apology from whomever disagreed with me on the EP thread...or something. :-)

16
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 3:07pm

P.S.

I HATE MY LAPTOP KEYBOARD

17
by CA (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 3:13pm

Re: 11

First of all, I contend that Chris Chambers already did break out. In 2005. Even though he had his lowest DPAR and DVOA that year.

I think that Chambers is a fascinating player. He's 5'11'', yet he plays like he's 6'3''. He is an excellent leaper and makes some spectacular catches. Consequently, I understand the Randy Moss comparisons. That is, he's somewhat like a shorter, slower Randy Moss -- which of course results in him being not as good as Randy Moss, but, in my opinion, no one is. Then again, I would argue that DPAR and DVOA understate the value of Moss as well.

As a Big Ten fan, I followed both him (Wisconsin) and David Terrell (Michigan) closely in college. My dad happens to be an N.C. State fan, and I maintain an interest in the Wolfpack as well, so I was very familiar with Koren Robinson. All three players were in the 2001 draft, but Terrell and Robinson generally were considered the two elite prospects at WR. Both went in the top ten, with Chambers going late in the second round. Having watched all three fairly extensively in college, I never understood why Chambers wasn't considered the best prospect in the bunch. Obviously his height had a lot to do with it, but beyond that he appeared to me to have the most skill.

I haven't seen as much of Chambers in the NFL as I would like (I don't watch a lot of Dolphins games), so to be honest to a large degree I am judging Chambers off of his very impressive college performance, very impressive highlights, and mildly impressive traditional statistics. I should clarify that his college performance was very impressive to me the viewer, not in terms of traditional statistics. When I first heard about Chambers' low reception percentage, I was a bit surprised, since he has always seemed to me to have great ability to get to the football and great hands. I wonder if it has to do with the routes he runs. Is he by any chance running a disproportionate amount of deep routes, where a completion is given to be less likely?

I seriously doubt that Culpepper will be healthy enough in 2006 to make a substantial impact. Even when he is healthy, if that ever happens again, I am very uncertain as to how good Culpepper really is. That doubt derives largely from the fact that Randy Moss has been a kingmaker to QBs when Moss is healthy. Frerotte performed almost as well as Culpepper did when they both played with Moss. And we've seen how well Frerotte performed with Chambers. Therefore, I strongly question whether Culpepper is the elite QB who would allow Chambers to prove that he is an elite WR, even if you did buy into that theory.

One more thing: Bill, why don't they give you the brown font? Do you have to be an official Football Outsider, and not ''just an intern?''

18
by admin :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 3:16pm

Comment 8 says: The criticism of Chris Chambers by Football Outsiders goes as follows.

There is no criticism of Chris Chambers by Football Outsiders. There is criticism of Chris Chambers by Bill Barnwell. I might agree. I might disagree. Mike might agree or disagree. The rest of the staff, whatever, who knows. Unless somebody writes something that *really* contradicts a lot of stuff we've written in the past, I try to allow everyone who writes on this website to have his own opinion. This is a big reason why the essays in PFP, unlike those in BP, list the name of the authors.

Actually, I should add that I wrote the Chris Chambers comment in last year's book and it said Chambers is a big-play threat who also has good hands and runs good routes and expect big things from him if that [the Miami QB situation] ever changes. So actually, I don't completely agree with Bill's analysis. But it is an interesting tidbit of data for the argument.

19
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 3:25pm

that it would be awfully hard for me to judge by completion % alone.

That same argument applies exactly for QBs as well, though. How many of the balls were dropped? How many of the balls were defensed? What was the distance of the attempted pass? etc.

You can still judge QBs by completion %, though. You just have to be a bit careful doing so.

In exactly the same way, when a receiver - like Chambers - sits at 50% completion percentage under 3 different QBs, that tends to indicate an innate quality of the WR.

20
by James Thrash (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 3:47pm

Great article Bill, you clearly did a lot of work on this. First down.

21
by GaryS (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 4:09pm

I am afraid that the Bills are headed for another woeful season. While a sentimental choice, Marv Levy appears to be over his head. Peerless Price? Why? None of the other FA signings are much better.

I can only hope that somehow they turn it around in the draft. Word is that Minn is interested in trading their No 1 and 2 No 2s for the Bill's pick at 8 to grab Cutler. If that is true, I'd grab that deal. The Bills have a lot of holes to fill, especially at OL and DT.

Buckley seems to be a good fit for their new defense, and I can only hope they get a shot a Eric Winson or Joseph (OU).

But I have no faith at all that the new regime will be any better than the old. I see another 5-11 season or worse this year.

22
by Josh (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 4:10pm

It seems to me that teams beginning to look beyond a player's measurables when determining value. Steve Smith, Chambers, Hines Ward, Santana Moss--these guys are all on the short end. They are not the 6'4'' or 6'5'' monsters that often provide spectacular seasons but lack consistency.

23
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 4:39pm

RE Pat

and that was my point. I use statistics to a point to judge wether a WR or QB is good or great to a point but I also want to see (in the case of a WR) was that ball a catchable one? And in the case of a QB, was he under duress (did he have to hurry up, or throw it away) and then I use everything at my dispoasl to make a final judgement.

24
by Bill (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 5:06pm

Some comments:

#12 - The Ourlads depth chart lists the Jets as having two tackles, one of whom is Marko Cavka, who has never played an NFL game. The Jets need to acquire two tackles, minimum; Pearson (who I haven't read anything about signing with the Jets beyond simply visiting) wouldn't necessarily be a starter and, even if he was signed and started, that wouldn't preclude them from replacing Adrian Jones with Ferguson. I would also argue that Pennington's contract being structured as a one year audition and Ramsay's contract being a one year deal would be for the purposes of signing one of them to a new deal after the season, not getting rid of them both to draft another QB. I still say the evidence points towards offensive tackle.

#13/14 - I agree that, it appears, there is a correlation (if not necessarily a strong one) between QB skill and catch %; however, I pointed out a whole bunch of WRs with QBs of similar stats in order to point out that, even with Jeff Blake at QB, Joe Horn's catch % still blew away any of Chambers' seasons. It's not that Chambers hasn't had mediocre QBs, because he has; just, simply, there isn't an elite WR, regardless of his QB situation, who posts catch %'s that low on a yearly basis. Comment #19 says that in fewer words.

#17 - You bring up some good points about Chambers and Culpepper. As for his percentage of deep routes, well, outside of his first season, he hasn't averaged more than 15 yards a catch, so it doesn't seem like he's running a huge amount of deep routes. I don't have that data lying around, though, so I could very well be wrong. As for the font, well, I'm still rushing; once I get DVOA-4-life tattooed on my arm and successfully cut in front of (insert name of fat NFL writer) here, I get the brown font.

25
by Sheldon (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 5:09pm

Nice Multiple Man reference in the Patriots blurb! Unfortunately as soon as Madrox gets hit, NE would get flagged with too many men on the field.

26
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 5:50pm

Nice write-up. Two comments on the Patriots section:

That official depth chart says, ''Unofficial Depth Chart'' at the top. That's the only one on the Patriots homepage, though, so maybe it's the official unofficial chart. ;)

Regarding Seymour's cap number over the course of his new contract -- remember that he can't get a raise for the current season, until August sometime. So the Patriots could rework the contract to move a bunch of the gigantic 2007 bonus into 2006, once August rolls around. I have no idea if that's what they're planning, but it's certainly possible.

27
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 5:52pm

RE 24

Okay Bill so you thnk he will not break out cool. considering he has been playing since 2001 I would have to agree with you. So where would you put him in the middle part of all WR with spurts of Brilliance i.e. ARE?

28
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 5:58pm

Update to my own post (#26 ):

The Patriots appear to be planning to do just what I described with Seymour's contract. From Mike Reiss's Boston Globe mailbag:
ESPN's Len Pasquarelli, in his Insider Tip Sheet, revealed an important detail today that helps clear things up [about Seymour's contract].

The key is the option bonus. Pasquarelli reported that it's split into two parts -- $6.66 million in one part and $12 million in another part. The $6.66 million, Pasquarelli reports, can be paid any time between Aug. 3 and next March. The second part is due by next March.

Because of this, the Patriots were able to work within the restrictions of the collective bargaining agreement that restricted Seymour from earning a raise until 12 months had passed from his last raise (Aug. 3, 2005).

So the Patriots can be considered to have allocated that $6.6 million already, and have something like $12 million in cap space left. Which is still quite a bit.
(Link to Reiss's piece, since not everyone here is an ESPN Insider.)

29
by fyo (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 6:34pm

I'm getting to the point where I, too, would offer my PHP skills free of charge to fix that damned quote bug.

30
by James, London (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 7:42pm

The key WR question for Miami isn't Chambers, who I think is a good (not great) #1 WR, but the depth behind him. Booker and Welker aren't going to make anyone lie awake at night.

I'd be suprised if Saban picked a reciever in Rd 1. Miami 'missed out' on Peerless Price and don't have a 2nd round pick. Are there any WRs that Miami might pick up later on?

More importantly Miami have to find a QB who can start this year. I'd be shocked if Culpepper was fit for the beginning of the season. To be fair I know nothing about Cleo Lemon, other than Marty Schottenheimer being disappointed at losing him. Is he a realistic option as a #2 QB or is Matt Millen going to be able to get something for Harrington?

31
by Sean (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 7:42pm

Bill,

I don't disagree that the Jets are going to add a tackle, but that doesn't mean that they are going to spend the #4 pick in the draft to do so. They'll likely have their choice of Eric Winston or Marcus McNeill with the 29th or even the 35th pick. Adrian Jones actually has better measurables than Ferguson- he's a raw prospect, having played OT for only one year in college, but he's a player with a lot of upside and a left tackle skill set, and he'll be playing next year for $350,000, not for $5 mill. I don't think a Ferguson pick is out of the question- if he's the best player on the board and the team has no attractive trade down options, I'm sure they'll take him-but I really don't think the Jets want to take him. Again, remember that Mangini is coming from New England, where for the past several years the quarterback has made more money than the entire offensive line put together, and where the team has taken a decidedly indifferent approach to resigning its own offensive linemen. In New England, offensive linemen are essentially replacable parts and the quarterback...is not. I'm not sure Mangini is going to want to reverse that dynamic.

32
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 8:25pm

To put the Jets' situation another way: how can a competent staff count on either Pennington or Ramsey to carry the team this season? Much less over the next 3-5 years. Pennington's arm may never come back right, and it's possible Ramsey is genuinely as bad as he looked in Washington. The Jets have to seriously consider drafting a quarterback, and there are quarterbacks worth considering this year.

Having the #4 pick, the Jets get to play ''need'' and ''best player available'' at the same time, and still pick a quarterback*. You can get a serviceable tackle later in the first, or in the second or third round. If you wait that long to pick a quarterback, you're hoping to win the big prize in the Joe Montana Sweepstakes, and that's only happened once in Mangini's lifetime.

One possible exception is a scenario like this: the Saints and Titans pick Leinert and Cutler, and the Jets don't like Young as a prospect. That would make Ferguson (or Williams, however the Jets have them rated) the ''best available,'' with all the other quarterbacks somewhat of a reach.

33
by Bill (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 8:47pm

Thanks for the info on the Seymour contract. That makes sense.

When it comes to the Jets, I dunno about the whole

34
by Bill (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 8:47pm

Thanks for the info on the Seymour contract. That makes sense. When it comes to the Jets, I dunno about the whole ''Follow the Patriots to the T'' strategy. I mean, look at Romeo Crennel - he traded for a veteran QB and drafted a guy in the mid-rounds and it looks like he'll be starting next year. When you consider Pennington has shown the ability to be an elite quarterback while healthy, shouldn't the goal then to be protect him? I mean, they already have him there. It just seems like it's a little hasty to draft a QB with your top-5 pick and give up on Pennington. I mean, I'm not sure if there'll be a tackle prospect as good as Ferguson in the draft next year - but it seems as if there are quarterback prospects in every draft. I'm still not sure how the Jones-Ferguson argument ends with Jones being a better idea. It seems so patently simple to me that Ferguson + Pennington/Ramsay would be a better combination Jones + Cutler/Leinart.

35
by seamus (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 8:48pm

I bet Saban will

36
by Bill (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 8:48pm

Millen will be able to get a late-round pick for Harrington since it appears to be in both team's best interest to make the trade.

Failing that, the Dolphins could get...I dunno...Fiedler back?

37
by seamus (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 8:49pm

I bet Saban will ''draft'' Joey Heisman with a later-round pick.

Is David Boston still on the Dolphins' roster?

38
by jeff (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 9:11pm

gbfl has no life!!!!!!!!!!!!

39
by Sean (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 9:19pm

Bill,

That's assuming that Pennington will ever play again, or play effectively at any rate. This is the same injury that has Tim Couch trying out for third string spots and not getting them. Obviously the Jets have a better handle on how he is progressing than we do, and that will help them make a determination as to whether or not they need to address the position immediately or they can afford to take one of the second tier quarterbacks like Croyle or Whitehurst (there is zero chance of their not drafting a quarterback somewhere in the first day). You might not have as good a tackle prospect as Ferguson available next year, but then again- so what? You don't need a top tackle to have an elite offense, but you do need a top quarterback. I don't think the Jets are going to follow the Patriots plan to a T, but I think certain principles, like paying the quarterback and the defensive front seven and getting away with as cheap an offensive line as you can, figure to carry over. I'm a big Pennington fan, but Mangini owes no allegiance to him, and I doubt he's going to put too much stock on the prospect of a Pennington recovery.

It's going to be a quarterback or it's going to be Mario Williams.

40
by Josh (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 10:16pm

I know this is kinda off topic, but does anybody else here besides me think that Houston should get Ferguson? I know Bush will be phenomenal, but what's he gonna do with no blockers? Besides, they've already got Davis, Morency who looked pretty good last year, and a decent backup in Wells. I don't understand why they'd pass up on a franchise tackle considering Carr's been on his back ever since he was drafted, but I don't know, maybe I'm just crazy.

41
by Dan (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 10:24pm

It's all guesswork at this point, of course, but I find some of the rationales put forward above persuasive. They can presumably hold the fort at QB with Pennington and Ramsey, and neither Leinart (arm), Young (style/motion/arm) nor Cutler is a

42
by Dan (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 10:27pm

Sorry... as I was saying, neither Leinart (arm), Young (arm/motion/style) nor Cutler is a sure thing, and the Jets can presumably hold the fort with Pennington and Ramsey for a year; as detailed in #31, Ferguson may not represent outstanding value at tackle, relative to some of the guys available late first/early second round; and DE, with Ellis, Thomas and Kimo, is something of a strength. I'm going to suggest an alternative that has gotten no play; makes perfect sense given Mangini's background and the planned utilization of a 3-4; and would be an excellent value pick, with immediate impact.

A.J. Hawk, LB, Ohio State.

43
by zeepzeepzoop (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 11:06pm

I saw most of the games Chambers played last year. All of what CA says about him playing bigger than his size, having great hands, being capable of the impossible catch, is true. And then he'll go out and drop you what looked like a relatively simple one. He had a consistency and/or concentration problem. At about the midpoint of last season, I was ready to see him dropped to the bench, as were a lot of other Fin fans. At around that point or shortly afterwards he had a true monster game against the Bills, essentially winning it, and followed up by some supremely impressive games thereafter, finishing the season on fire. So is he over his inconsistency? Who knows. He definitely does have the talent to do it, there isn't a koolaid thing going on there, but until the midpoint of last season I always thought he'd be one of those supremely frustrating players who gets touted but never puts it all together.

He wasn't helped too much by Frerotte though. Frerotte had a gun for an arm and didn't make too many mistakes on his decision-making, but he lacked accuracy big-time. I saw Chambers drop a lot of deep balls, but quite a few were damned hard to catch.

44
by giving him the business (not verified) :: Sat, 04/15/2006 - 12:19am

'But the Jets have lost just five players this offseason: Ty Law, Kevin Mawae, John Abraham, Jason Fabini, and Chris Baker.'

Umm... unless I missed something, the Jets re-signed Baker back on March 24th.

45
by Bill (not verified) :: Sat, 04/15/2006 - 1:54am

#39 - It's true that they're the same injury, but the difference is that Pennington was a MVP-caliber QB when he was healthy. Couch, even when he was healthy, was mediocre at best. I would also argue that elite offenses do require great tackles. As for following the Patriots plan, as I said, Crennel not only has Charlie Frye as his QB, but he went out and signed the best offensive lineman available in free agency. So I'm not sure how you can say with any certainty how Mangini will act, considering Crennel hasn't acted anything like Belicheck when it comes to building an offense. I'm not saying he won't - I'm sayign that it's certainly possible and, in my opinion, advisable.

#40 - It would be a great idea to trade down from #1, grab another pick or two, and draft Ferguson. Dominick Davis is a perfectly acceptable NFL RB. There's no way the Texans could take the PR hit, though.

#42 - The Hawk idea is intriguing. If the Jets could trade down to #5 or #6 and grab Hawk, I don't think that would be a bad idea at all - certainly, in my opinion, preferable to staying where they are and drafting Cutler or Young.

My bad on Chris Baker. ESPN hadn't updated their FA tracker thing.

Appreciate all the feedback, agreeing with me or not. Thanks everyone.

46
by hwc (not verified) :: Sat, 04/15/2006 - 2:08am

Guys:

Pennington is done. He barely had an NFL arm before the two rotator cuff surgergies. When he came back last year, defenses didn't even bother with the deep ball. Pennington had to put so much air under the ball to get it downfield that 350 pound NT's could read the quarterback and scamper back into coverage if necessary.

The only reason he's on the roster is that the Jets didn't have the cap room to release him.

47
by Bill (not verified) :: Sat, 04/15/2006 - 3:11am

Pennington was second in the league in yards per pass attempt in 2002, before the two surgeries. Testaverde, granted in only 80 throws, averaged 6.0, which would've been mid-table. Pennington was at 7.8.

His long throw was 47 yards, which means he was consistently making big 15-20 yard gains. While you can argue that he had Santana Moss, Moss only had 30 catches that year, and he also had Wayne Chrebet making up for Moss' big play-ability with his no-big-play-ability.

Looking at the pre-draft comments from the scouting reports for the 2000 NFL Draft I can find online, I don't see anything that says his arm isn't up to NFL sniff.

People can bring up the Raiders playoff game but there's much more evidence pointing towards Pennington having a very good NFL arm, at least, before the surgeries. To suggest that he barely had an NFL arm is a little ridiculous.

48
by jimmo (not verified) :: Sat, 04/15/2006 - 10:02am

re: ruben #15-- I still (agreeably) disagree with you, simply because you said best pass rusher, and this one says best d-lineman, which I do agree with.

49
by DD (not verified) :: Sat, 04/15/2006 - 2:31pm

Sean is the only Jets fan that seems to know what is going on on his team and in his division, at least in my opinion.
The only way the Jets draft anything other than a D-Lineman or Q.B. is if Mangini has no say in the matter!
As far as what Romeo Crennel has done in Cleveland, last time I checked...he has no authority to make hiring decisions and in fact was hired with the blessing of the GM. We have no clue what strings Romeo can pull in Cleveland since he is currently the lowest man in the decision making chain.
Chad Pennington, like Ramsey, like hundreds of Q.B.s over the years started with a bang and seems to be ending with a whimper. I think it is silly to say he was ever an elite Q.B. based on a season or two of good results. An elite Q.B. makes a full career of great plays, and doesn't injure himself on non-contact plays. We are so very quick to announce that this guy or that guy is an elite player after a good season, the pro bowl is full of one hit wonders and overrated players. The Pats picked off Chad five times in one game, so I wonder what Mangini's real assessment of Chad is. And that was pre-shoulder surgery.
As far as Jets fans being obsessed with Ferguson, let it go! O-Lineman do not win games, unless you have five of them who are great, and a great running back as well.

50
by Ferg (not verified) :: Sat, 04/15/2006 - 3:46pm

Re 49: Chad Pennington, like Ramsey, like hundreds of Q.B.s over the years started with a bang and seems to be ending with a whimper.

Woah now. I am as big a Ramsey supporter as you'll find, but even I don't think the two are comparable. Ramsey had a couple good games his rookie year and finished 26th in DPAR. In Pennington's first year of starting, he was the best quarterback in the league by far. He led the league in DPAR while throwing 200 fewer passes than the number two guy.

We have no idea if Pennington can play at that level again, but we're not just talking about a guy who once showed some promise.

51
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Sat, 04/15/2006 - 4:01pm

RE 38

Yes I do, I just post on this while I am at work. Kinda makes me look busy to the other people in the office. :-)

52
by MdM (not verified) :: Sat, 04/15/2006 - 5:54pm

Josh,
uh, no. Houston should definitely grab Bush. There will be linemen available next year when they draft top ten, again, but there will be no Bush.

53
by Garrett (not verified) :: Sat, 04/15/2006 - 5:55pm

Chambers was not regarded as highly because Wisconsin throws the ball about 10 times a year

54
by Skinsaphrenic (not verified) :: Sat, 04/15/2006 - 10:39pm

Excellent article. Especially in pointing out that Chambers doesn't always catch the rock like a true elite receiver. I'm not gonna say he's overrated, but after a year with Culpepper, I'll have a better idea of what kinda receiver he really is.

One thing I did want to mention is that P Ramsey may rank in the bottom third of QBs, but after two years under Spurrier and a year and a half riding the pine behind Brunnel, we really don't know what he's got. If he can shake the negativity of how his career has gone so far, look for him to replace Pennington soon and make all Jets fans glad the Jets didn't pick up a QB this year.

55
by CA (not verified) :: Sat, 04/15/2006 - 10:43pm

Re: 53

It's true that Wisconsin did not throw the ball much during Chambers' tenure (which coincided with Ron Dayne's and Michael Bennett's tenures), but, in 2001, the year after Chambers left, Lee Evans had 75 catches for 1545 yards, at least the latter of which I believe is the Big Ten single season record.

56
by Jerry P. (not verified) :: Sun, 04/16/2006 - 9:50am

Is that a Fugazi reference in the Jets section?

57
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Sun, 04/16/2006 - 11:57am

Has anyone else compared the schedules of the leading AFC teams? The Patriots' (linked) is easier than those of Pittsburgh, Denver and Indy by a really long way. Not only are they in probably the AFC's weakest division, they get to play the other candidate for that title in the AFC South, along with the pathetic NFC North. They play the Bengals early enough that Palmer may not be healthy, and visit the Dolphins late enough that the heat won't be a factor. The Pats would not have to be a staggeringly good team to win 13 or 14 games next year, and with the tough divisions faced by Denver and Pitt, and the expectation that the Indy offense will regress without James, even 12 might be enough for home field advantage. Does anyone really want to bet on the Patriots losing a playoff game at Foxboro? Of course, they would then probably be the first AFC team in a while to go into the Superbowl as underdogs.

58
by Fat Tony (not verified) :: Sun, 04/16/2006 - 12:49pm

Re: 57 I'll bite. If everything else in your scenario is accurate, why would the Pats necessarily go into the Superbowl as an underdog?

59
by Bill (not verified) :: Sun, 04/16/2006 - 2:14pm

I hope it's a Fugazi reference. 'Cause otherwise...

I'm not even prepared to discuss #49 yet.

60
by DD (not verified) :: Sun, 04/16/2006 - 3:44pm

Ferg: Once again, you are hung up on one year's worth of football for a possible one hit wonder in Pennington. What are his stats for his whole career going to be, or do we just point to one single season as all that matters and throw out the rest. If you are talking about 2002, it was Brady who led the league in touchdowns. It was probably Manning who lead the league in yards. I'll take touchdowns and yards any day.
Longevity and career results are what make a player, not a good first season as a starter. Whether you like it or not!

61
by NF (not verified) :: Sun, 04/16/2006 - 6:02pm

Hmmm...AJ Feeley 2004 = Joey Harrington 2005...Of course! (For those who don't know, Feeley was Harrington's backup in Oregon. Which reminds me, Jeff Garcia is the second Harrington backup they have brought on as a backup.) By analogy, does this mean Harrington is likely to be traded along with a third round pick to Tampa Bay for Tim Rattay?

62
by Sean (not verified) :: Sun, 04/16/2006 - 8:45pm

Re 60: According to DVOA, Pennington was the #6 quarterback in football in 2004. You don't need to only reference 2002 to make the argument that Pennington is a player with a lot of ability.

63
by dryheat (not verified) :: Sun, 04/16/2006 - 10:01pm

My feeling on Pennington is that, while he was a very accurate, very productive passer his first year starting:

1) Defenses acquire game film
2) In his first year, the offense was almost certainly dumbed down for a young quarterback.

At no time, IMO, did Pennington establish himself as an 'elite' quarterback.

64
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Sun, 04/16/2006 - 10:44pm

The questions of whether Pennington was an elite quarterback, or whether he was as good in 2004 as 2002, are kind of academic. The question of whether Pennington can perform as an elite quarterback, now and in future seasons, is one of significant concern to the Jets.

As a Patriots fan, I would prefer that the Jets try to make do with the Chadrick Ramsington Project as their starter, since that looks like another year of floundering, before they even get to try for their quarterback of the future.

65
by Miguel (not verified) :: Mon, 04/17/2006 - 7:13am

Thanks for the very kind words about my cap page. It is too bad that FoxSports.Com decided to eliminate the link to my page:)

66
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Mon, 04/17/2006 - 8:25am

Regarding Chris Chambers, IIRC most 'experts' thought he had as much talent as receivers picked higher in the draft that year. I think there was some charater question (and I don't recall the specifics of the issue) that caused him to be passed over until the Fins pick in round 2.

Still can't see why the Fins sending anything to the Lions for Harrington makes much sense. The Lions will have to release Harrington in two months anyway. If Harrington really wants to play for Miami, they can sign him then without having to give up anything. As an aside, if the Fins really think it's important for Harrington to join sooner rather than later, they can 'encourage' him to use the union (ala McNair) to (attempt to) get his release more quickly.

Don't expect much from the Bills (Peerless Price!!!?) or the Jets this year.

67
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Mon, 04/17/2006 - 9:06am

58 - What I'm saying is that I think the Patriots will be good next year, but by no means the best team in football, or as good as they were in 2003 or 2004. They have been drained of their top 3 assistants, and a number of key players on defense are ageing or gone. However, with their absurd schedule, I think 'good' should be enough for them to secure home field advantage through the playoffs, and travelling to Foxboro in January is an appallingly difficult proposition, even for a superior team. I would back the Pats to win those two games at home. At that point, they would have to go to a dome to play an NFC team which might well actually be the best in that conference, and I strongly suspect that the best team in the NFC next year, whoever it turns out to be, will be better than New England. Of course, the last time the Patriots were Superbowl dogs against clearly superior NFC opposition they didn't do so badly . . .

68
by Fnor (not verified) :: Mon, 04/17/2006 - 11:21am

I don't think Foxboro in January is a particularly daunting task for a superior team from the North. I think that's always been overstated.

69
by Bill (not verified) :: Mon, 04/17/2006 - 11:26am

Miguel,

It's ok, they cut out the Aaron Gibson is fat section which made me sad, too. The site is great and was a huge help for the article.

dryheat,

It's true that defenses acquire game film and that the offense may have been dumbed down. That being said, Pennington almost undoubtedly would have been able to adapt to the defensive changes. In a lot of ways, he reminds me of Brady when it comes to what they were criticized for as a QB coming out of the draft and in their second year. Of course, Brady adapted. I imagine Pennington would have done the same.

70
by Andy (not verified) :: Mon, 04/17/2006 - 11:29am

I know I'm entering the Chris Chambers debate a little late, but here's my 2 cents:

I'm a Dolphin fan whose watched all their games religiously. Chris Chambers makes the most amazing grabs when the ball is thrown away from his body. If the ball is thrown to his torso, he tries to catch it with his body, and not with his hands, and will often drop the ball. And I can't tell you how many times he will get down for a low ball, attempt to catch it with his body, and have it hit the ground.

I wanted to kill Chambers prior to the huge Bills game. If he has a 1,200 yard season with Pep, I won't be surprised. If he has 700 yards with Pep, I won't be shocked either.

71
by Bill (not verified) :: Mon, 04/17/2006 - 2:40pm

To the Dolphins' fans who have replied in this thread - how good of a blocker is Chambers?

72
by Andy (not verified) :: Mon, 04/17/2006 - 2:50pm

Honestly Bill, I have no idea. I like to think that I know a lot about football (I spend a lot of time reading and thinking about the Dolphins), but I cannot recall a great downfield block made by Chambers, nor can I remember him whiffing either.

73
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Mon, 04/17/2006 - 5:48pm

RE 71

OK Bill you win. I tried to come up with a reason that maybe Chambers was a elite WR with a horrible QB, but people on this site that are dolphins fans have pointed out that he will drop more than a few of the ones thrown right at the #'s (theorectically the easiest ball to catch). So I will bow down to your opinion on this matter and just relegate him to an above average WR that has streaks of brilliance.

74
by Alan Smithee (not verified) :: Mon, 04/17/2006 - 6:53pm

Re: 66

Chambers was involved in the 'discount shoe incident' that resulted in the suspension for one game of a bunch of Wisco's big players one year. I think Michael Bennett was as well. Don't know if that was what the character issues were though.

75
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Mon, 04/17/2006 - 7:37pm

Are there plans for the game-charters and count the number of 'dropped' passes by WRs? These would be passes that hit them in the hands or body area and were dropped.

Thus, by using catch % and drop %, we are able to get a read on how well a QB-WR combination play together, or by grading a QB with mutiple WR/TEs we can get a better gauge on his accuracy.

76
by rk (not verified) :: Mon, 04/17/2006 - 9:00pm

Re: 67
a) Super Bowl XLI is in Miami where there is no dome.
b) If the Patriots get to a Super Bowl under Bill Belichick with Tom Brady at QB, there is no way they will be an underdog. Even if the NFC team is clearly superior, the betting public will be all over the Pats.

77
by jake (not verified) :: Mon, 04/17/2006 - 9:39pm

Bill,

I really enjoy your writing style. Keep up the good work.

78
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Tue, 04/18/2006 - 7:47am

Re: 75

Good point. We did chart 'drops' for last year. Not sure whatever happened to the data. Charters were supposed to get the compiled data at some point but it hasn't happened. There were issues with some games being charted so the work may not have been completed.

79
by Fnor (not verified) :: Tue, 04/18/2006 - 10:57am

re: 78

I imagine they're more concerned with getting all the complicated metrics compiled and ready for the book than letting us in on the secrets.

While there were some problems with getting all the games last year, I think we got more than enough for a statistically useful sample. What we should do next year is set up a system by which people record the game digitally, so someone with a lot of HDD space can archive them just in case we need them later.

80
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Tue, 04/18/2006 - 12:27pm

RE 76

I would count on the Pats being an underdog for just that reason. The gambiling parts of our nation would rake in the money.
A.) The AFC east is not considered the toughest division in the AFC anymore.

B.) The Superbowls that the Pats have been in have been some of the greatest game played, but won by three points each time, IIRC.

C.) Belichik and Brady had thier playoff string busted last year, so they now appear to be more human than human, not superhuman.

But I have to admit if they were the underdogs i would probably put money on them as well.

81
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Tue, 04/18/2006 - 1:18pm

'I don't think Foxboro in January is a particularly daunting task for a superior team from the North. I think that's always been overstated.'

Fair enough. If it was the Steelers at Foxboro in the Championship game (not in the divisional, because of the bye) I would favour the Steelers, who are of course a northern outdoor team, and who as things stand ought to be the best team in football next season. The same does not go for the Colts, Broncos, or anyone else. If the Steelers manage to get the no.2 seed, I like their chances of repeating. Otherwise, I'm sticking with my Patriots in the Superbowl prediction. Reason says it could be against almost anyone (the two good NFC divisions play each other); narrative causality says Parcells coaches his final NFL game on the biggest stage of all against his former apprentice.

82
by PackMan (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 3:26pm

GBFL:
As a fellow packers fan, you should know that even if you QB is throwing to a group of backup receivers who don't catch balls that hit them in the hands, the QB's completion rating is tied to him. My point was, why not do the same, especially for the team. For the packers maybe (not real stats) Walker had 1200 yds and 9 TDs, and caught 48% of balls thrown to him. But Driver had only 850 yds, and 5 TDs, but caught 54% of balls. It would show to some degree who the better receiver was (of course 1 may be often double covered) but it could show you alot. It would also be very effective for backups who don't see much time and therefore their yds and TDs are useless.

83
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 5:34pm

RE 82

I can see your point and I agree with it. The point was being made wether or not chambers was an elite WR. I have not had a chance to watch many dolphins games, so I did not know alot about him. I tried to reason that perhaps bad throwing technique by the QB (overthrow, underthrow, of center of target, etc) was to blame. then many Phins fans came on and said that he can make the really 'eye poping, that will be on Sportscenter catch', but has a bad habbit of dropping the footballs thrown at the numbers, so I sided with bill saying he will probably never break out and be the truly gifted reciever that he was thought to be.

84
by jebmak (not verified) :: Thu, 04/20/2006 - 8:51am

Harrington says that the Dolphins are the only team he will play for. I always liked him, he seemed like a nice guy and he was in a crappy situation. As a Dolphins fan/Lions hater, here is hoping that he leads them to the playoffs. Then I can say, ''In yer eye Ford!''

http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060420/SPORTS0101/60...

85
by DD (not verified) :: Thu, 04/20/2006 - 11:50am

Maybe Harrington will only play for the Fins so that he can collect money as a back up and work on his piano skills!
Mr.Shush: Although it is early to say what the teams are going to be like next year, I'm not convinced that the Steelers are all that good. The Pats beat them in Pittsburg during the regular season, and the Seahawks could have blown them out in the superbowl if they caught a few passes they dropped, and if the refs were awake. Ben had a 22 Q.B. rating in that game, and in general, only completes 11 passes or so per game. He has had two good games in my opinion, against the Broncos this year and against Dallas last year. I find him to be more overrated then any Q.B. not named 'Vick'!

86
by Benjy Rose :: Thu, 04/20/2006 - 4:37pm

testing "double quotes" in the comment

87
by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Thu, 04/20/2006 - 5:30pm

Sorry for the digression, but since you guys are hard at work on the technical aspects of the site, maybe you can riddle me this:

Today, when I go to a page, it appears blank. I hit 'reload' and it appears as normal. But the first page view is always blank. Never saw this before today. I have Firefox 1.5.0.1 under Red Hat 9 Linux.

88
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Thu, 04/20/2006 - 5:39pm

RE 87

I am using IE and it is doing it to me to. Maybe part of the "fix"
(double quotes used)

89
by Pats Fan (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 9:01am

RE: Mr Shush #57

I have compared the schedules based on last years schedules and Indy continues to have a cupcake schedule. However, New England did get a break as well.

Indianpolis 0.453 (29th)
New England 0.473 (22nd)
Pittsburgh 0.531 (9th)
Denver 0.547 (3rd)

For reference, all the teams are below:

New England 0.473 (22nd)
Miami 0.469 (24th)
Buffalo 0.477 (21st)
NY Jets 0.465 (25th)

Cincinnati 0.543 (5th)
Pittsburgh 0.531 (9th)
Baltimore 0.523 (11th)
Cleveland 0.512 (14th)

Indianapolis 0.453 (29th)
Jacksonville 0.457 (27th)
Tennessee 0.496 (17th)
Houston 0.492 (18th)

Denver 0.547 (3rd)
Kansas City 0.559 (1st)
San Diego 0.520 (12th)
Oakland 0.547 (3rd)

NY Giants 0.559 (1st)
Washington 0.531 (9th)
Dallas 0.520 (12th)
Philadelphia 0.535 (8th)

Chicago 0.445 (31st)
Minnesota 0.457 (27th)
Detroit 0.473 (22nd)
Green Bay 0.449 (30th)

Tampa Bay 0.539 (6th)
Carolina 0.504 (16th)
Atlanta 0.508 (15th)
New Orleans 0.539 (6th)

Seattle 0.441 (32nd)
St. Louis 0.492 (18th)
Arizona 0.484 (20th)
San Francisco 0.461 (26th)

90
by DD (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 1:06pm

Pats Fan:
Nice Post!

As usual, the general media and Colts fans of the world will be whipping themselves into a joyful frenzy and proclaiming greatness all season long, only to collapse into a soft little wet puddle in the playoffs, when they finally play a decent defensive team.

91
by Sid (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 6:38pm

The reason Seymour's cap number is not high this year is because they wanted to make the deal official. If his salary had been higher for the 2006 season, they would have had to wait until August.
By using a combination of base salary and bonuses (workout, roster, and the amortized portion of the signing bonus), they were able to make his cap number the same as it was under the previous contract number.

92
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Sat, 04/22/2006 - 9:58pm

Pats Fan (89) - that may be what the raw win totals say, but the AFC South and East look like very comparable divisions to me - 2 good teams, 2 bad teams in each. The two divisions also play each other, so I see it as pretty much a wash across those 10 games each, albeit with a slight advantage to the Pats in that the teams face each other at Foxboro. The strength of schedule games are also wash-like. However, the Pats play the NFC North. The Colts play the NFC East. Which would you rather do?

The NFC North teams are worse than their 2005 records, because they got to play each other. The NFC East teams are better than their 2005 records, because they had to play each other. Additionally, McNabb will presumably be healthy. This may account for a great deal of the discrepancy between subjective analysis and the win totals.

93
by Pats Fan (not verified) :: Fri, 05/05/2006 - 3:45pm

Mr. Shush: I'm glad I came back to check the comments. At first, I wondered why there is such a difference so I checked my numbers. I incorrectly had the AFCN playing the NFCW and AFCW playing the NFCE. My corrected numbers are below.

Also, you said:
The NFC North teams are worse than their 2005 records, because they got to play each other. The NFC East teams are better than their 2005 records, because they had to play each other.

Both divisions had to play the teams in their division. If the division is balanced, that is all the teams beat up each other, regardless of how they compare to other teams, they would all end up going 3-3. They could be the 4 best teams in the league, or the 4 worst. So it really doesn't tell you if the team is better or worse than their record, just that the teams in their division are evenly matched. However, you were trying to justify my incorrect numbers.

Now for the fixed Strength of Schedule based on the previous season's standings.

New England 0.473 (25th)
Miami 0.469 (27th)
Buffalo 0.477 (23rd)
NY Jets 0.465 (28th)

Cincinnati 0.543 (1st)
Pittsburgh 0.531 (5th)
Baltimore 0.523 (8th)
Cleveland 0.512 (14th)

Indianapolis 0.484 (22nd)
Jacksonville 0.488 (20th)
Tennessee 0.527 (6th)
Houston 0.523 (8th)

Denver 0.516 (11th)
Kansas City 0.527 (6th)
San Diego 0.488 (20th)
Oakland 0.516 (11th)

NY Giants 0.543 (1st)
Washington 0.516 (11th)
Dallas 0.504 (17th)
Philadelphia 0.520 (10th)

Chicago 0.445 (32nd)
Minnesota 0.457 (29th)
Detroit 0.473 (25th)
Green Bay 0.449 (31st)

Tampa Bay 0.539 (3rd)
Carolina 0.504 (17th)
Atlanta 0.508 (15th)
New Orleans 0.539 (3rd)

Seattle 0.457 (29th)
St. Louis 0.508 (15th)
Arizona 0.500 (19th)
San Francisco 0.477 (23rd)

So the correct order of the final four AFC teams is:
New England 0.473 (25th)
Indianapolis 0.484 (22nd)
Denver 0.516 (11th)
Pittsburgh 0.531 (5th)

As a Pats fan, I say about time!

94
by al (not verified) :: Sun, 05/14/2006 - 3:45pm

wow,you're pretty smart.you called the jets,exactly