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29 Mar 2007

Four Downs: NFC East

by Ryan Wilson

Football Outsiders continues our look back at free agency and look forward to the NFL draft, today with the NFC East.

Dallas Cowboys

Compared to last off-season, Dallas has been relatively quiet in free agency. Twelve months ago, the Cowboys had signed kicker Mike Vanderjagt and wideout Terrell Owens. At the time, much of the focus was on whether Owens and then-head coach Bill Parcells could co-exist. "Then-head coach" foreshadows how that turned out, but surprisingly, it was Vanderjagt who didn't make it through the 2006 season -- he was released on November 27. Still, Owens had his issues: he struggled with dropped passes after breaking a finger, and earlier this month we found out that he's not crazy about studying his playbook.

According to the Dallas Morning News, "T.O.'s lack of familiarity with the playbook wasn't a secret [within in the organization] ... Romo and others had to tell him the plays during practice, on occasion, so it surprised few when he wasn't sure what to do during games." This probably had a lot to do with all the dropped passes. Sure, a broken finger is partly to blame, but running the wrong routes doesn't help things. Owens had a second postseason operation on his broken finger and isn't expected to catch passes until training camp. Owner Jerry Jones says he plans to keep Owens in Dallas, but we'll know for sure if the team pays Owens a $3 million roster bonus due June 1.

In the meantime, wideouts Patrick Crayton and Miles Austin could see more playing time. According to Football Outsiders' advanced statistics (explained here), Crayton was the NFL's best wide receiver among those thrown fewer than 50 passes, in terms of total value. Writing for SportingNews.com, Jean-Jacques Taylor points out that the 6'3", 215-pound Austin isn't particularly shifty but has the long speed to spread the field and could eventually replace 33-year-old Terry Glenn.

Free Agent Moves

There were rumors running back Julius Jones could be traded, but Jerry Jones told the Star-Telegram that he "didn't see that happening" and "unless [the Cowboys] have an opportunity to [draft a running back], we are going to go with the backs we ended the season with." Given the dearth of quality backs available in free agency, and the prohibitive cost of trading up to take a player like Adrian Peterson, this seems like the right choice.

As was releasing veteran quarterback Drew Bledsoe. The former first overall pick insisted he wanted to be a starter, and with the emergence of Tony Romo that wasn't an option in Dallas. Brad Johnson, essentially Bledsoe in four years, signed with the team and will serve as Romo's backup.

In the biggest Cowboys-related free-agent news, offensive lineman Leonard Davis -- that's former Arizona Cardinals chronic underachiever Leonard Davis -- signed a seven-year, $50 million contract, including $18 million in guarantees. Davis can play guard or tackle, and depending on Marco Rivera's health, could see time at right guard, next to recently re-signed Marc Colombo.

Draft Preview

Dallas has the 22nd overall pick, and until they signed Ken Hamlin, free safety was a likely first-round target. The team could still go in that direction, but guards Justin Blalock (Texas) or Ben Grubbs (Auburn) could immediately move into the starting lineup. Despite the high hopes for Crayton and Austin, the Cowboys could add depth at wideout since both Glenn and Owens are north of 33. Also, the club will need another quarterback -- it's just Romo and Johnson right now -- and could take a developmental project on the second day of the draft.

New York Giants

Head coach Tom Coughlin signed a shiny new one-year deal earlier this off-season -- which doesn't say much for his long-term job security -- but he will have two new coordinators for 2008. Kevin Gilbride, who replaced offensive coordinator John Hufnagel in Week 16 last season, will keep the job; Eagles linebackers coach Steve Spagnuolo will replace Tim Lewis, now the Panthers secondary coach.

Under Lewis, the Giants finished 21st, 11th, and 13th in defensive DVOA the last three seasons, often with injuries at key positions. In 2006, linebacker LaVar Arrington was lost for the year with an Achilles' tendon injury, and defensive ends Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora missed time with various ailments. Still, the improvement from bottom third to middle of the pack wasn't enough for Lewis to keep his job. Coughlin hired Spagnuolo without conducting an in-person interview with other candidates. Part of the appeal had to be Spagnuolo's association with Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson. Philadelphia features an aggressive, blitzing scheme, something Lewis didn't emphasize in New York or in a previous stint as Pittsburgh's defensive coordinator.

The Giants have been quiet through the first month of free agency. To date their biggest off-season move was trading wide receiver Tim Carter to Cleveland for running back Reuben Droughns. Droughns will spell Brandon Jacobs, who now assumes the starting job with Tiki Barber's retirement. Barber may be gone, but he's not forgotten; on his way out the door, he took some parting shots at Coughlin, who he described as forcing him to "start thinking about what [he] wanted to do next [after football]." Barber's production won't be easily replaced -- since 2004, he finished no lower than seventh in rushing DPAR -- but a head coach already described as a lame duck won't miss the outspoken comments.

New York showed interest in Tatum Bell and Travis Henry, but opted to promote Jacobs and use Droughns in Jacobs' previous specialized role. According to Football Outsiders advanced statistics, this was the right move: in part-time duty, Jacobs ranked 22nd in rushing DPAR and eighth in DVOA. Bell ranked 31st and 30th, and Henry ranked 29th and 32nd. Droughns is a different story, however. After back-to-back 1,200-yard rushing seasons in 2004 (with the Broncos) and 2005 (with the Browns), Droughns managed only 758 yards on 3.4 yards per carry, lost his job to Jason Wright, and ended the season on the special teams unit. Droughns finished last in the league in rushing DPAR. Obviously, much of his success in Denver and his struggles in Cleveland can be attributed to the offensive lines. In 2004, the Broncos finished eighth in Adjusted Line Yards; last season, the Browns finished 31st. The good news is that the Giants offensive line ranked fourth last season, so Droughns, who restructured his contract after coming to New York, is a cheap alternative who could succeed in a limited role...

Free Agent Moves

... if the Giants can somehow rustle up five starting linemen. The Giants lost Luke Petitgout to the Buccaneers, and while it's easy to remember him as "the guy who seemed very fond of the false-start penalty," he was a dependable lineman who protected Eli Manning's blind side for three seasons. His absence leaves a gaping hole on the left side. Right now, the club plans to move left guard David Diehl to left tackle and right guard Rich Seubert to left guard.

It took 24 days, but New York finally signed a free agent: former Chiefs linebacker Kawika Mitchell. The club expressed interest in Broncos linebacker Al Wilson, but settled on Mitchell after nothing materialized.

New York re-signed center Shaun O'Hara, but let backup tight end Visanthe Shiancoe walk. The club is also in the market for a place kicker after choosing not to re-sign Jay Feely, who landed in Miami.

Draft Preview

If the Giants plan to play more aggressively on defense, they will need to find outside linebackers who can consistently get to the quarterback. LaVar Arrington was released after only one season, and although Reggie Torbor was re-signed, he hasn't done much to prove he can be effective on a regular basis. Because of the team's lethargy in free agency, cornerback is still a liability. Corey Webster suffered through a sophomore slump, but some of that may have had to do with Tim Lewis trying to fit players to his scheme instead of fitting his scheme to the players. Sam Madison was a frequent target of opposing quarterbacks, and finding his replacement will be a Day-1 priority.

With Shiancoe now in Minnesota, New York is looking for tight end depth, though the team could turn to practice squadder Darcy Jackson. Strahan's future is in doubt -- rumors have him asking for a trade, holding out, asking for a raise, and preparing for life after football -- so a pass-rushing specialist could be a need, maybe on Day 2.

Philadelphia Eagles

Following a leave of absence to be with his family, Andy Reid returned to his head-coaching duties last week. Reid was away for five weeks but it was like he never left; the Eagles, as is usually the case this time of year, weren't very active in free agency. Some in the media criticized the organization for not making more of an effort to re-sign wide receiver Donte' Stallworth, but acquiring free agent Kevin Curtis could turn out to be the underrated move of the off-season.

The knock on Stallworth is that he's injury prone. In 2006, he missed four games because of a balky hamstring, and he ended the season with just 38 receptions. In his five-year career, he's never caught more than 70 balls or cracked 1,000 receiving yards.

Curtis, who is virtually unknown outside of St. Louis, has quietly become a solid pass catcher. Curtis ranked 29th in receiving DPAR last season; Stallworth was 39th. Because DPAR is a cumulative statistic, playing time is a factor ... but that's the point. Curtis ranks sixth in DVOA and Stallworth was 35th. Also, Curtis' catch rate was 70 percent while Stallworth sported a catch rate of 49 percent.

It's important to note that Stallworth was Philadelphia's No. 1 receiver last season; Curtis was St. Louis' third option behind Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce. Basically, he was the Rams' version of Brandon Stokley, but better. Still, it's an important distinction, and as Curtis' role changes with the Eagles, so too might his production. Especially since Curtis signed a six-year, $30 million contract that includes $9.5 million in guaranteed money.

Free Agent/Trade Moves

After signing Curtis, the next biggest off-season move happened earlier this week: the Eagles traded defensive tackle Darwin Walker and a conditional 2008 draft pick for Bills linebacker Takeo Spikes and quarterback Kelly Holcomb. Philadelphia was thin at linebacker and Spikes could be an impact player. The problem, however, is that he is coming off a 2005 Achilles' tendon injury. He played in 12 games last season, but (understandably) didn't show the form that made him one of the league's best linebackers earlier this decade. Still, for the price, he's worth the risk, and the Eagles definitely need an upgrade over Dhani Jones. Holcomb is a solid backup who serves as the affordable alternative to the suddenly popular Jeff Garcia.

The Eagles also signed former Patriots second-rounder Bethel Johnson. Johnson was an electrifying return man in New England, but he hardly saw the field as a receiver because of his problems learning routes. He was traded to New Orleans and then waived and picked up by Minnesota, where he caught just nine passes in 11 games and only three from Week 12 on. There is no reason to think Johnson will fare any better in Philadelphia.

Former Colts defensive tackle Montae Reagor signed a three-year, $8.3 million contract last week, giving the Eagles depth at the position. Last year's first-round pick, Brodrick Bunkley, had what can kindly be described as an awful rookie season. Adding Reagor made it easier for the club to package Walker in the Spikes-Holcomb trade.

Draft Preview

Defensive end Trent Cole has emerged as a pass-rushing end, but both Jevon Kearse and Darren Howard will be 31 next season and the Eagles could draft an eventual replacement with their 26th-overall selection. Juqua Thomas -- who filled in nicely for Kearse in 2006 -- was re-signed, but he seems best suited for strictly pass-rushing situations. Jerome McDougle has suffered through an injury-plagued four-year career and was shot in the abdomen during a robbery prior to the 2005 season. There is no reason to think the 2003 first-rounder will turn things around in 2007.

Philadelphia re-signed Correll Buckhalter to spell Brian Westbrook, but the team could be in the market for a bruising short-yardage back. The Eagles also lost safety Michael Lewis to free agency, and Brian Dawkins, though still one of the league's best, will be 34 next season. Quintin Mikell and Sean Considine are both reliable, but a player like Miami's Brandon Meriweather or Virginia Tech's Aaron Rouse could be an attractive selection after the first round.

Washington Redskins

The Redskins have taken a decidedly different approach to free agency this off-season, but much of that can be attributed to their tight salary-cap situation. Instead of rehashing Washington's history of overpaying other teams' free agents, refusing to re-sign their own, and squandering draft picks, let's look at what the organization has gotten right since Joe Gibbs came out of retirement three years ago:

  • In 2004, the Redskins signed Shawn Springs, easily the team's best cornerback. Of course, Springs replaced the league's best cornerback, Champ Bailey, who along with a second-rounder, was packaged in a deal for running back Clinton Portis.
  • A few weeks later, then-Colts linebacker Marcus Washington inked a six-year, $24 million deal. He replaced Jesse Armstead and instantly succeeded in head coach-defense Gregg Williams' scheme. Last year, a hip injury eventually landed Washington on injured reserve, but he is expected to be ready for training camp.
  • Nickel back Walt Harris was signed to a free agent contract and along with Springs and Fred Smoot gave Washington arguably their best collection of cornerbacks during the Synder era.
  • The team selected safety Sean Taylor with the fifth overall pick in the 2004 draft. There was some speculation tight end Kellen Winslow might be the choice, but the Redskins filled that need by drafting Chris Cooley two rounds later.
  • In 2005, Washington traded Laveranues Coles for Santana Moss. The cost was steep -- they had to pay the final $5 million of Coles' $13 million signing bonus, and he counted $9.3 million against the Redskins' salary cap that season -- but according to DPAR, Moss was the league's third-best wideout in '05.
  • The club re-signed special teams ace Mike Sellers. Sellers, listed at 6'3", 277 pounds, has been an effective H-back in Gibbs' offense.
  • Last off-season, Washington re-signed running back/returner Rock Cartwright. The Redskins have proven proficient at signing high-priced free agents, but that personnel philosophy left little cap room for players like Cartwright. Teams like the Eagles, Patriots and Steelers are consistently competitive because of the quality depth across the roster.

Free Agent Moves

The team needed a linebacker, identified Buffalo's London Fletcher-Baker as THE GUY and promptly signed him to five-year, $25 million deal. Washington has been looking for a linebacker since letting Antonio Pierce go to the Giants in 2005, and though Fletcher-Baker will be 32 next season, he certainly upgrades the unit.

Another player the Redskins opted not to re-sign that same off-season was cornerback Fred Smoot. Smoot inked a nice deal with the Vikings, bumbled through two seasons -- not to mention one off-season of sex-boat scandals -- before earning his release. It took two years, but Washington finally re-signed Smoot, who will probably start the season as the nickel back.

Undoubtedly, this off-season's biggest loss is left guard Derrick Dockery. The Bills signed Dockery to a seven-year deal worth $49 million. Unlike with Pierce and Smoot, Washington couldn't make Dockery a competitive offer because of salary cap restraints. The Redskins re-upped Todd Wade, a solid backup at both the guard and tackle positions, but he could end up succeeding Dockery if a suitable replacement isn't found.

Last year at this time, the Redskins had put the finishing touches on another free-agent shopping spree. Wideouts Antwaan Randle El and Brandon Lloyd, defensive end Andre Carter, and safety Adam Archuleta headlined the class. Washington has already pulled the plug on the Archuleta experiment, sending him to Chicago for a conditional sixth-round pick. After losing his job midway through last season to Vernon Fox, Archuleta was used primarily on special teams. It is curious that a player who excelled in Lovie Smith's version of the Tampa-2 in St. Louis floundered in Williams' Cover-2 scheme in Washington.

Draft Preview

Most mock drafts have Washington taking a defensive tackle with their sixth overall pick. That, of course, assumes they don't trade that pick to Chicago for linebacker Lance Briggs (the Redskins would acquire the Bears' 31st-overall pick as part of the deal). According to the Chicago Sun Times Washington is prepared "to pay Briggs $20 million in guaranteed money as part of a multi-year deal that will average $7.5 million per season." If this is true -- that the team has this kind of money available -- one has to wonder why more of an effort wasn't made to keep Dockery. Or, why Washington signed Fletcher-Baker to a substantial deal given his age.

With Archuleta gone, Washington needs a safety. They had that player in Ryan Clark, but chose to let him sign a modest contract with the Steelers as they pursued Archuleta. And they could also need a cornerback; after refusing to restructure his deal, Springs' future in Washington is uncertain. Former first-round pick Carlos Rogers has been uneven during his two-year career, and while Smoot provides depth, he's not an adequate replacement for Springs. Unfortunately, Washington prefers to build its roster through free agency, eschewing the draft as something of an off-season nuisance. Assuming, for now, that the Briggs deal doesn't happen, and also assuming that the Redskins wanted to use the draft to add depth to a depleted roster, they have just four selections, and only a single Day-1 pick.

Next week: AFC West

Posted by: P. Ryan Wilson on 29 Mar 2007

163 comments, Last at 19 Apr 2007, 11:40pm by dweezer

Comments

1
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Thu, 03/29/2007 - 11:44pm

It’s important to note that Stallworth was Philadelphia’s Nohttp://www.footballoutsiders.com/wp15/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&post=5049
Football Outsiders › Edit — WordPress. 1 receiver last season
Hmm?

I just want to agree with #63 that we should talk more about the Giants, Redskins, and Cowboys. So, does anyone else think Eli Manning will be mediocre to bad after losing one of the best recieving backs in the league and the team's starting left tackle?

2
by Israel (not verified) :: Thu, 03/29/2007 - 11:46pm

It’s important to note that Stallworth was Philadelphia’s Nohttp://www.footballoutsiders.com/wp15/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&post=5049
Football Outsiders › Edit — WordPress. 1 receiver last season;

Say again?

3
by Adam H. (not verified) :: Thu, 03/29/2007 - 11:56pm

Has anybody else noticed that Eli Mannings eyes don't quite look at the same spot? Were they always like that?

4
by Kyle (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 1:05am

With Mathias Kiwanuka (going into second season) and Justin Tuck (going into third season) both on the Giants roster as backups, in addition to Ernie "Can never have enough pass rushers" Accorsi no longer serving as the general manager, I really cannot see a need for pass rushers at all - from the defensive end spot, that is. OLB is a different story.

5
by PaulH (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 3:35am

I do not know about Eli. I know that subject has probably been beaten to death on here already, so I'm not sure what all you can say about it at this point.

Did the Giants give up entirely too much for him? Yeah, pretty much, most would agree there. If he would have been a Peyton clone in terms of performance, then it would have been a good deal, but that's not the case.

How good has Eli been? Well, not that bad, but nothing particularly great either. Most would probably agree to nowhere near the level required to justify all they gave up for him, and all in all just nothing spectacular as a whole. Again, he's not that bad, he's just an average, typical QB.

How good will be in 2007? I don't know, I really don't see any reason to expect that he will improve that much, if any. I figure with Pettigout and Barber gone, chances are that he probably does a little worse than in 2006. Not only does Barber's absence as a receiver hurt, but the running game will probably do a little worse with Tiki gone, and that will only hurt the passing game too.

So, what does that mean for Eli's future? I think it's obvious that Eli hasn't worked out anywhere near how the Giants had hoped, but they are stuck with the big contract now. I really don't think Eli will ever be great, after being so average, most likely, for his first four years, it's not particularly reasonable to expect him to just suddenly explode in terms of production.

6
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 6:59am

I think what throughthelookingglass was suggesting was that while Eli has hitherto been fairly average, the loss of two key members of his supporting cast may well leave him looking distinctly below average or even flat-out bad this season.

7
by Patrick Bateman (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 8:18am

#4 is right--the Giants are loaded at DE. It's the deepest position on their roster. The rest of their defense needs help badly, though. CB, DL, S, and LB are paper-thin for the Giants; and while Lewis did remarkably well at holding the unit together with popsicle sticks and chewing gum, "crossing your fingers and hoping for the best" isn't quite a winning strategy. With Accorsi gone perhaps the team can concentrate more on the defense and worry less about supplying Eli with "weapons." Eli's got more than a few already--Shockey, Burress, Toomer (if he returns, and I think they'd be foolish not to bring him back, and a running game that ought to be solid if not as spectacular as it was during the latter years of the Barber era. Left tackle is a real concern at this point too--I was not a big Petitgout fan but dropping him without a replacement ready to go is a curious move, to say the least. When you compare it to Philly's style of personnel moves it's no wonder why the Giants are scrabbling to catch up rather than competing consistently with the Eagles.

8
by JasonK (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 9:02am

One correction: Rich Seubert wasn't the starting RG last year (Chris Snee was). Seubert was a backup G, and, most entertainingly, the #3 TE. (The crowd in Giants Statium loved to hear it when the refs announced that "Number 69 is eligible.")

The best thing that the Giants can do offensively in 2007 is go to power running early and often. Jacobs, of course, was born to run in a power-oriented offense. Diehl may have trouble with the outside speed rush, but he's very good in the run game, and should be able to move most LDEs (who tend to be smaller pass-rushers) pretty well. He played at LT for the last 2 games of the '06 season, and the run game was consistently strong.

Some evidence that they're actually going to do this: They signed a bruising FB, the Texans' Vonta Leach, to an offer sheet. He would have replaced Jim Finn, who was more of a technician-- well suited to Barber's running style, but not a guy you expect to be blowing LBs backwards. Unfortunately, the Texans matched the offer on Leach (which seems stupid to me, considering that doing so gives them 2 FBs with $1M+/yr contracts). Given Finn's likely reaction to this move, I'd bet that they'll be looking to replace him with a rookie or street FA. The 7th-round compensatory selection they got looks like a good place to take a FB.

Some evidence that they're not going to run enough: Kevin Gilbride. (Gah!)

Other offensive draft needs: Blocking TE, as noted in the article, and WR. I wouldn't be surprise to see them grab a replacement for Toomer early on.

As for the Defense, I think the top priorities should be OLB, CB, and depth at DT. They signed Kawika Mitchell to a 1-yr. deal; he's probably going to play the SLB spot, with a draftee moving in when he's ready. On the Weakside, Gerris Wilkinson, a 3rd-round pick last year, is penciled in, but they need some depth/competition. There are some young CBs on the roster (E.J. Underwood, Derrick Dockery), but I'd be more comfortable with a blue-chip prospect who can move into Madison's spot sometime during the season. At DT, the starters are fine (Robbins & Coefield), but former-first-round-disappointment William Joseph is the only quality depth.

9
by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 9:08am

Does anybody think there is a chance Guy Whimper moves into the LT spot for the Giants?

I'd agree the Giants should hold off on drafting another DE. Osi and Mathias would still be a good tandeum once Strahan leaves and you still have Justin Tuck at LB.

You'd think the Giants go after an OLB or CB in the first round. Maybe they go after a LT, but I think they'd go after Defense. I'm not a big fan of Will Demps, but I doubt they give him such a short leash and get rid of him at this point.

Eli Manning has been the starter for two years, he's thrown 48 TD passes and led his team to the playoffs both years despite a ton of key injuries last year. He hasn't even been the starter for three years, but everybody proclaims him a bust or average ( ala David Carr). Last year when Toomer went down he really had two non- RB options to throw to ( Burress and Shockey). Carter's hands were terrible, Moss was hurt, Jennings dissapeared, and Tyree is only service-able at WR.

The Giants just resigned Eli Manning. Why would they do that now? They are committed to their quarterback and they'd rather sign him now, as opposed to after a break out season.

Quarterbacking takes time if your not Brady or Peyton. Mcnabb started off slow, Carson was at about this pace, Hasselback started off slow, Alex Smith is right now a #1 at a similar pace. There is no need to be so impatient.

10
by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 9:11am

8- What do you think of the mammoth Jonas Seawright ~ 350 pounds? He had a lot of hype in camp last year but didn't really see the field last year.

11
by perrin (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 9:28am

RE 8:
"...Carson was at about this pace..."

I respectfully disagree.

Carson Palmer (2005, 3rd year in NFL):
- 67.8 completion percentage
- 3836 yards (345/509)
- 32 TD, 12 INT
- 108.3 DPAR (Rank: 2)
- 34.5% DVOA (Rank: 2)

Eli Manning (2006, 3rd year in NFL):
- 57.7 completion percentage
- 3244 yards (301/522)
- 24 TD, 18 INT
- 28.0 DPAR (Rank: 17)
- -1.1% DVOA (Rank: 22)

12
by perrin (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 9:29am

Oops, I meant "RE 9." My mistake.

13
by JasonK (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 9:36am

#9-10:

They didn't re-sign Eli. His original contract had playing time incentives that were triggered which gave the team the option of either paying him a big roster bonus this year (and higher salaries later on) or letting Eli void the remainder of the deal after 2007. All they did this offseason is pay him the option bonus. I'm not quite so optimistic about Eli's future as you, but I'm not going to complain too loudly about the best QB the team has seen since Simms was cut.

Whimper has a chance at LT, and he'll get his shot in camp. His inexperience makes me nervous, though, and Diehl still has to be considered the favorite. I would very much like to see Whimper take over Seubert's role as 6th OL in clear running situations. He played some TE in college.

As for Seawright, I think there's a reason that he didn't see much playing time. The beat reporters fell in love with his physique a bit too much. But one thing I've noticed since Coughlin has been running the show is that DTs can make rapid moves up and down the depth chart. Fred Robbins, for example, has gone from starter, to 3rd-string, to starter over the last 3 seasons. So you really can't count anybody out.

14
by BlueStarDude (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 9:49am

Also brought in to contend for Dallas's 4th WR spot was Jamel Richardson, a CFLer who has done well, though his last season was cut short by injury. He reportedly signed a three-year-deal, suggesting (I think, maybe I haven't paid close enough attention to these signings in the past) that the Cowboys look at him as more than just camp fodder. The 25-year-old possession receiver is 6-3, 220, and got his 40 time down to the 4.5 range.

With the signing of Ken Hamlin, the biggest Cowboys need is nose tackle. Jason Ferguson was great last season, but Dallas still hasn't been able to find a young guy to groom as his future replacement. Right now all they really have is last year's late-round pick, Montavious Stanley; he was cut, signed by the Jaguars, cut by them, and then re-signed with Dallas. Unfortunately, the only possible NT worthy of a first-day pick is Alan Branch, and his fall down the first-round draft board doesn't seem likely to go all the way to the 22nd pick.

As much as I'd love to see Grubbs in Dallas, I've reluctantly given up the idea that he'll end up there. Josh Beekman in the second or third round might be a better fit anyway, since he can step in right away to backup both guard and center.

15
by black (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 9:49am

I see the giants article but no mention of the signing of Vonta Leach. Yes I only brought it up because I know him and he bought me drinks at the club but still...

16
by JasonK (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 9:55am

#15:

See my post #8. The Texans matched the offer sheet, so he's staying in Houston. (Apparantly, Kubiak will be using the ever-popular 2-FB set as his base offense next year.)

17
by Erasmus (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 9:56am

thats because Houston matched the offer for Vonta Leach.

18
by zip (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 10:16am

#12

The url linked on your name just wasted 30 minutes of my life, well freaking done. Is that your work?

19
by Phil (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 10:17am

I wished the Pats had gone after Curtis (gritty, fan-favorite) instead of Stallworth and Washington. He played real well when Bruce was out a couple games a few years back, and has always--I thought, anyway--played well in his role at STL. Because of which, I always picked him up in my FFLs drafts as a late pick with the hopes of bruce getting old and breaking down mid-season...never happend though.

I don't know how the contract/cap comparisons (I'm looking at you Pat), but I figure Phily knew what they were doing by letting donte go and getting curtis. These moves/lack there of, by the Pats bothers me quite a bit because of the injury history of all parties involved.

*This comment is not ment to ignite a Pats-centric thread*

20
by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 10:19am

11- Carson took off in his 3rd year and second year as a starter. Eli was on track to start to take off last year before all those injuries and the schedule caught up with NY( 370 yard performance in week 2 OT thriller vs the eagles).

21
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 10:46am

Ryan, I'd just like to disagree with you regarding the Giants looking to upgrade LB because they "plan to play more aggressively on defense". You said that part of Spagnuolo's appeal was his association with Jimmy Johnson, and in Johnson's system the DBs are much more important than the LBs (although I'm pretty freaking tired of constantly hearing about how the LB's don't mean anything in Johnson's system).

NY may need to upgrade their LBs, but if Spagnuolo's expected to remotely replicate Jimmy Johnson's system Webster/Madison/McQuarters/Demps/Wilson just won't cut it.

22
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 10:51am

Re: 20

If you're going to give Eli the benefit of the doubt because of injury, that's fine. But you can't sight that first Eagles game as proof. Eli did absofreakinglutely nothing in that game until Rod Hood's injury force Joselio Hanson and Dexter Wynn onto the field.

23
by MRH (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 10:51am

Re 20: DPAR/DVOA adjust for scheduling. There is no way he's as good as Carson Palmer, or on the development curve.

I agree with your earlier point that Eli hasn't been terrible, but I think he's been over-rated by the mainstream media and the Giants front office. To support that contention: if we assume that he and Alex Smith are on the same path, and will end up as about the same player, Smith came at a much lower cost to the 49ers than Eli did. Eli is not Ryan Leaf or Tim Couch but he's also not Phil Rivers or Ben Roethlisberger.

For all the Big Ben bashing, he's outperformed Eli all three years by considerable margins in both DPAR and DVOA, or, if you prefer, in championships. Rivers, in his 1st year starting, outperformed Eli in Eli's 2nd (and a half) year as a starter. Eli has been a disappointment in direct comparison to the two qbs that he entered the league with and who came at a lower cost.

24
by perrin (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 11:00am

RE 20:
I agree that like most QBs, Palmer and Eli had different situations in their third years. I didn't watch enough Giants games to have a solid opinion about whether Eli was "on track to start to take off." Still, I don't think his season's worth of league-average-ish numbers compare to Palmer's incredible third year.

Of course, I'm a Bengals fan and heavily biased toward Palmer, so I admit to a reduction in rationality and the possibility of blindness in this issue.

RE 18:
It is indeed my work. Thank you for the kind words.

25
by C (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 11:08am

#20 Eli could have a lot more "great" games if he and Plex can work that "fumble forward touchdown" play into the playbook in 2007.

26
by Kyle (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 11:09am

Re 22:
Yes we can, because you forget how obscenely bad the Giants offensive line played in that Week 2 matchup against the Eagles. Their DVOA suggests the game was quite the abberation, but the Philly defensive line absolutely torched Kareem McKenzie and Luke Petitigout to the tune of 8 sacks and a whole hell of a lot more QB pressures.

I think, given those circumstances, Eli struggling in the mid portion of the game is rather understandable and even expected of any quarterback. He spent a good deal of the 2nd and 3rd quarter looking up at the upper deck of the Linc due to a pitiful performance from the OTs.

27
by joel in providence (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 11:09am

How much playing time did Dave Diehl get at LT last season? I thought he played there when seubert was injured (though I may be mis-remembering, per usual). If I were a Jints fan, I think I'd be worried about a team whose front office seems so unconcerned about the quality at LT and CB.

28
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 11:21am

#26:

You're missing the point, though. The fact that he threw for 370 yards that game isn't a good performance by him. Anyone could've, given Toomer and Burress facing Hanson/Wynn.

Literally, anyone. David Carr would've torched them with those corners versus those wide receivers. It was the same play, over and over. Slant, slant, slant... The Giants offensive line didn't get miraculously better in the latter half of the game. There were still two more sacks in overtime.

That, and the "370 yards" total is misleading anyway, as that game went into overtime and was therefore longer than a normal game, so of course he's going to have more yards.

29
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 11:22am

Oh, and also:

Am I the only one that's amused that the Giants signed the coach from the Eagles in charge of the one position on defense that's universally considered horrible?

30
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 11:27am

9, etc
What quarterback in the NFL would not be expected to have a worse year after losing a top 5 back and experiencing a significant downgrade in the LT position? See post #6 for another way of stating it.

31
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 11:33am

#19: Stallworth's contract's a one-year contract. The chance of them picking up the later years is z-e-r-o unless he has a Randy Moss year or something, and maybe not even then. Curtis is a significantly larger investment for the Eagles.

Philly's already said that they would've beaten the Patriots offer, though. Apparently Drew Rosenhaus is just a dick. Who would've guessed?

Also, I think the reason that they were willing to shell out a bit more money to Curtis is that he's a more reliable pass catcher. That's a huge deal when you pass as much as the Eagles do and when you've got a quarterback who deliberately makes passes difficult to catch to avoid interceptions.

32
by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 11:34am

I disagree anybody could have torched the Eagles to the tune of nearly 400 yards that day.

The pressure was there, Eli was getting sacked and hit all day.

Tiki Barber provided absolutley nothing on the ground.

Check out the second half, mainly 4th Q and overtime. Eli was outstanding.

I certainly wouldn't put him in the current Carson Palmers class yet, but to say Rivers and Big Ben will have better careers is a premature conclusion.

I don't see how Eli is overrated, I always hear how terrible or average he is and always negative criticism.

His Giants were NOT supposed to win the NFC east his first year starting, and they were the 3rd team to make the playoffs in their division, despite entering the year with the hardest schedule ( and having the hardest schedule of any playoff team). Eli was certainly not without flaw, but young players are expected to have bumps and bruises.

For all the upside that Plax offers, I seem to remember the quitting on routes ( that resulted in picks), the drops, and the ball bouncing off his hands going for picks. The costly penalties, and the complaining to eli.

It's pretty difficult to manage both Plax and Shockey when they complain after every ball wasn't thrown their way.

33
by JasonK (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 11:40am

#27:

Diehl only started 2 games at LT-- the regular season finale at Washington and the playoff game at Philly. Bob Whitfield filled in for most of the time after Petitgout's injury. He was awful (and has since retired). They eventually bit the bullet and moved Diehl out from LG. (I think they had been avioding this because it would mean that Seubert couldn't be the #3 TE anymore.)

While Diehl was out there, he did pretty well. He gave up one bad sack early in the Skins game, but was otherwise solid in pass protection, and very good in run blocking (total Giants rushing yards in those games: 261, 151).

34
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 11:58am

Perrin; So like are they robots or rabbits or what? Good stuff though!

35
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 12:10pm

I disagree anybody could have torched the Eagles to the tune of nearly 400 yards that day.

Before Hood went out, Eli was 7/11, 94 yards, with 5 sacks, and 22 of those yards were "failed completions" (8 yards on 3rd and 9, 10 yards on 2nd and 17, 4 yards on 2nd and 8).

After Hood went out, Eli was 24/32, 277 yards, with 3 sacks. 10 of those yards were "failed completions".

Amani Toomer/Burress have a huge size advantage over Wynn/Hanson. Wynn and Hanson were constantly about 5 yards off the line because they simply couldn't play close - you can't press someone who's 50 pounds heavier than you. The few times they did, Burress/Toomer just blew by them, and it was an easy 20 yard completion.

And so every play was simply a 5 yard slant that Wynn/Hanson couldn't cover, and none of them could bring down Toomer/Burress before the first down marker. The only plays that weren't those plays are the ones that went for 20 yards when Wynn/Hanson moved closer to the line.

The Giants offensive line didn't get better later in the game. The underneath routes opened because Hood went out.

Anyone could've done that. It was all just feeding the ball to Burress/Toomer and hoping they made a play. It was just ridiculously obvious watching the game. Even the announcers caught it, and I think it was Nantz and Simms, who are about as perceptive as lead bricks.

36
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 12:12pm

"Check out the second half, mainly 4th Q and overtime. Eli was outstanding."

That is the exact same time period that he was throwing against Hanson/Wynn. The point is that Eli's only real success in that game happened after Philly had to start their 4th CB and their 5th CB (who was on the street the week before) on nickel.

I wasn't really arguing your overall point that Eli looked like he was on-track for a decent season until all the injuries hit the Giants (although I'd probably try). My only point was that using the second half of the 1st Philly game as proof of concept is misleading.

37
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 12:16pm

Interesting division for QBs. Three teams with young guys about whom opinions still vary and the Eagles where (I'm convinced) they could have Refrigerator Perry taking the snaps and they would still do well.

38
by MJK (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 12:20pm

My impression is that Curtis is more of a possession type reciever--catches a lot of passes reliably, for good gains, especially in the middle of the field--whereas Stallworth is more of a deep threat speed burner (like Bethel Johnson, only good). Although I will admit that I watch little NFC, so I don't know a whole lot about either. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

So it doesn't surprise me that Curtis's numbers are better, especially when you take into account that he was a backup and Stallworth was an erstwhile starter.

I suspect that Stallworth, if he stays healthy, represents greater value to the Pats than Curtis would, given that they already have Caldwell and Gaffney as solid possession recievers for cheap who already know the system, but needed a credible deep threat to keep the safeties back. However, for Philly, who relies heavily on the short-to-medium passing game, I suspect Curtis was more valuable than Stallworth, especially given Stallworth's injury history.

I.e. I don't think that either the Pats or the Eagles did "better" than the other by going after different WR's. I think each team went after the player that helped them the most. To the point where, had Curtis been under contract to the Pats and Stallworth to the Eagles, I would have said a straight up trade benefitted both teams. But like I said, this is based on very little observation, so maybe I'm wrong...

39
by JasonK (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 12:21pm

#35:

I'm a Giants fan, and I think that's a pretty fair assessment of that game.

Nitpick 1: Just to avoid any misconceptions, I'll point out that Wynn & Hanson weren't the 1-2 starters in the 4th quarter-- they were the #2 & #3 CBs. Sheldon Brown was still in the game and generally covered Burress.

Nitpick 2: I don't recall who called the game, but it couldn't have been Nantz & Simms, since it was an all-NFC matchup, and thus would've been on FOX.

Side point: While it's generally true that the Giants OL didn't get better in that game, they also weren't nearly as bad when they played the Eagles twice later in the season. I take this as meaning that most of their problems in blocking that day were either based on schemes or a 1-game abberation and not a wholesale condemnation of their personnel.

40
by MJK (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 12:24pm

So where will Bledsoe end up? I bet he can still be an effective starter (not great, but adequate), provided he's behind a solid O-line and has at least one speedy reciever. Unfortunately for him, I don't think there are too many teams that fit that description and that are looking for a veteran QB starter. Or...any really. Maybe Detroit, for a year or so while they groom a drafted QB?

I always like Bledsoe, though he has fairly clear weaknesses, and it's kind of sad to see his career end this way--his choices being becoming maybe a journeyman starter for a year or so who will almost certainly play poorly because only bad teams will let him start, or sit on the bench behind some young guy for the rest of his career.

41
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 12:39pm

#39: Good point. Hmm. I remember whoever called that game saying "It's just the same play. The Eagles have to find some way to stop it" and thinking "The only way they're going to stop it is if they send Hanson and Wynn out there in elevator shoes with emergency steroid injections."

Also, you're right regarding the OL, but keep in mind Kearse wasn't there in the later half of the year. That's a big difference.

Just to stress how bad Wynn/Hanson were, there were two completions when Brown was in coverage in the second half. Two. The first one was a 10-yard gain that Toomer baaaarely managed to catch. The second was the final play of the game, which was just a coin flip heave to Burress which Brown guessed wrong on.

42
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 1:04pm

Re: 38

Just a couple corrections, since you asked for them.

Alot of people who don't really watch the team assume that since Philly runs a WCO that they rely heavily on the short/intermediate passing game. I can't find the exact stat, but last year I think Philly lead the league in pass plays over 20 yards (or maybe it was TDs over 20 yards...something like that). The point is that Philly relies much more heavily on the deep pass than most people realize.

I haven't seen much of Kevin Curtis either, but I always thought he was more of a speed guy than an over-the-middle possession guy. I could be completely wrong on that though.

I'd probably agree with you that if Stallworth can stay healthy he'd represent more value to NE than Curtis does to Philly. But that's like agreeing with you that if I could bend space & time my commute wouldn't take 1hr 45min. That's why Stallworth's deal is really only a 1 year deal. NE decided they'd be willing to commit to a single year to upgrade their WRs. Philly decided that they wanted a more reliable solution.

43
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 1:04pm

For what it's worth, Curtis, when he filled in for Isaac Bruce at the X receiver position, had something like 19 yards per catch or something.

They're pretty much equal speed receivers. In terms of "40 yard" times, there's probably maybe an 0.05 second difference between them (Donte's 4.22-4.26 workout was at his Pro Day, and was hand timed. Curtis's was 4.32 at his Pro Day for comparison).

Tiny bit of top-speed loss for the improvement in hands and health is probably a very good tradeoff.

44
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 1:05pm

Re: 41

I'm thinking it was probably Buck/Aikman.

45
by Phil (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 1:11pm

From what I gathered about Curtis--and I could be wrong as well--he ran sharp routes and was very smart (and a gritty fan-favorite). I never thought of him as a possession type WR, as I recall many of his TDs were on some deep balls (he he), or which just could be indicative of his deceptive speed. And has been durable during his career. These are the knocks on Stallworth and Washington in particular.

46
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 1:18pm

Also, the reason Linehan let him go is because they wanted a bigger slot WR (what people normally call "possession" receivers). Curtis, like Stallworth, doesn't have great size (~5'11-6', 190-200 lbs or so).

So yeah, calling him a "possession" receiver doesn't make a ton of sense. Yes, he really is a fast white guy.

47
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 1:31pm

"Yes, he really is a deceptively fast white guy."

*fixed*

48
by Skin Patrol (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 1:36pm

Don't think it matters, but Archuleta lost his starting job to Pierson Prioleau in the preseason, then lost it again to Troy Vincent, then lost it to Vernon Fox when Vincent went injured.

Excellent review Ryan.

49
by Skin Patrol (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 1:38pm

#48 sounded glib, as I followed an extremely minor criticism with a complement. Correcting that.

I think it was a great review, you covered well everything happening for the Redskins, as far as I can tell.

50
by Randy S. (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 2:13pm

So Washington has a desperate need at CB, and seemingly have a created a bunch of cap room in the hopes of getting Dre Bly or Lance Briggs. Why don't they try and trade for Asante Samuel? The 6th overall pick straight up for Samuel seems like the kind of trade the Redskins would make, and Samuel would be happy with the giant long term contract the Skins would dish out.

The Patriots could easily draft a CB with one of their three first round picks, or package the 6th pick and another pick to move up and grab Calvin Johnson, who seems like a prototypical Pats guy. I know this is kind of a "Madden" trade, but I think both teams would be happy.

51
by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 2:17pm

35-

Were you watching the same game as me? It was a fox game done by Aikman and Buck, not Nance and Simms.

I think you oversimplified everything in your analysis. It's not like Burress and Tommer were catching 5 yard dinks and dunks and dragging Wynn and Hanson to the first down line with thier size advantage. I know your an Eagles fan, but give ELI some credit for throwing for 370 yards. If this was so easy to do, then when doesn't it happen very often? I wonder how many 370+ yard road performances quarterbacks had last year? I wonder how many 3rd year players had a 370 yard passing day on the road against a division winner?

I understand you don't like Manning, but the eagles were bringing pressure all day, Tiki Barber didn't even show up to the first half ( and for much of the game), and it was on the road in a hostile enviornment.

52
by Whelk2 (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 2:22pm

It seems to me (having admittedly seen very few giants games), that the giant's season began to tank exactly from the moment that Toomer was injured. The same thing appeared to me to be true for Eli's confidence (and fantasy scores).

Toomer had by far the highest DVOA and catch percentege (9.8% and 65%) of any of the Giant's receivers. I also think that it's difficult to assign a value that a surehanded, levelheaded, (former) star receiver like Toomer can give simply by providing some balance to the overwhelming personalities of Plaxico and Shockey.

I hope Toomer is able to return and remain healthy, though I doubt he'll be able to maintain his level of play for much longer. I think that for Eli's peace of mind, if nothing else, the Giants need to try and get another veteran , or at least levelheaded, receiver.

53
by Mike Leach (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 2:26pm

#3 I think his eyes have always been off, of coarse he and Payton could take home ugliest-qb's-ever-award with those mongoloid faces, a kind of super-human down-syndrome look, no? Also have you notice it's hard to tell where Payton's head tops and his neck starts?

54
by billsfan (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 2:29pm

46, 47:

Don't forget that his higher catch percentage means he "has good hands." Probably "runs good routes," too, even if he "isn't the most athletic guy out there."

55
by Charles the Philly Homer (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 2:30pm

50:

This is going to seem like it came out of nowhere, but "Calvin Johnson sounds like a prototypical Pats guy" is just such a silly statement. Especially because I can only assume you're referring to the "unselfish character guys" that announcers babble about.

Let's name some major Patriots from the last decade:

Ty Law
Lawyer Milloy
Rodney Harrison
Corey Dillon
Richard Seymour

Combine that with Bill Belichick's statements about how he would have loved Randy Moss to be on his team.

What is the prototypical Patriot? I really don't know what you people are talking about. It seems to me that the prototypical Patriot is "undervalued bargain role player" which really has nothing to do with the personality of the individual involved. Especially with all the bona-fide pricks coming in and out of there over the past few years.

56
by JasonK (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 2:43pm

#51:

Pat's point about the size advantage just means that the Eagles' CBs couldn't play press coverage, as Hood & Brown had done very successfully in the first half. As I recall, most of the Giants late-game drives relied on Toomer running a quick slant under the CB (who was giving a large cushion) and being tackled by a LB after a 6-10 yard gain. They mixed it up a bit, but that was the successful play they kept coming back to.

It was a good game for Eli-- he took what the defense was giving him, which is what you should be able to expect from a good QB. I think the Philly fans' point here isn't that he was bad in that game-- it's that there were mitigating factors that made it a very good day for a QB to amass favorable stats. And one good game (or, really, one good half) against a badly injured secondary doesn't necessarily mean that the QB is ready to be an all-pro.

57
by Phil (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 2:44pm

Please define "bona-fide pricks". Do you mean 'Drunk Driving, momma-killing, rain-making, cop-shooting, idiot kicker and dog-kickers"? Maybe I have my Patriot blinders on or nobody comes to my mind immediately, but who is that refering to? I mean, you make them out to be as bad as the Bengals and Chargers.

58
by Skin Patrol (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 2:46pm

#50

#50 I wouldn't call the Redskins need a CB "desperate". I think it was clear from the article that the need is in the long term, given that the relationship between Springs and the Redskins is souring or else he's simply getting old. In 2007 he will be the largest cap hit on the 'Skins at 7.3M; that's a lot of cheddar to pay a guy who may/may not be on the field for half the season. But in the immediate future they have Springs/Smoot/Rogers. They need a lot more help on the Defensive Line (immediately and in the future; Griffin and Daniels are like 65 combined) than they do at CB. Moving out of the #6 spot just to get Samuels wouldn't do anything to help the pass rush.

59
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 2:46pm

Were you watching the same game as me? It was a fox game done by Aikman and Buck, not Nance and Simms.

Sigh.

I've confused Nantz and Simms and Aikman and Buck before - you just have to translate the "moron" from the former QB to the play-by-play guy, and they're the same guys. I said "I think" it was Nantz and Simms.

It’s not like Burress and Tommer were catching 5 yard dinks and dunks and dragging Wynn and Hanson to the first down line with thier size advantage.

No, and that's not even what I said. Burress and Toomer were catching 5 yard dinks and dunks because Wynn and Hanson were more than 5 yards off the line. It's what people often call a "soft zone" (although that really requires the safeties to be in zone). So a WR on an inside slant after about 3 yards is completely open. Add in the 3-5 yards that he gets after the catch, and there's virtually every pass play in the second half of the game.

I understand you don’t like Manning

No, you presume I don't like Manning. I actually think Eli's fine. But he wasn't good that game. It had nothing to do with him, though.

I wonder how many 3rd year players had a 370 yard passing day on the road against a division winner?

It was an overtime game. Yards are a cumulative stat. Of course his yardage is going to be higher when he played a longer game!

60
by Charles the Philly Homer (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 2:47pm

57:

Contract-oriented me-first prima donnas.

61
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 2:47pm

Re: 51

If you actually think that the second half was all about how great Eli played and had nothing to do with the fact that Philly was forces to try to cover one of the bigger WR duos in the game with a couple of lawn gnomes, one of was signed off the street earlier that week, then yeah, I'm assuming we were watching two different games.

62
by James C (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 2:49pm

Perrin, I have to say very well done.

I also have to say that you are the first person other than my father that I have ever come across who is called Edmund.

63
by Phil (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 3:03pm

60:
Fair enough

64
by Whelk2 (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 3:04pm

Perrin, you're my favorite person for the day. Congrats.

65
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 3:08pm

#56: They also couldn't tackle very easily. There were several plays in which they were dragged downfield a few yards.

It was a good game for Eli– he took what the defense was giving him, which is what you should be able to expect from a good QB.

That's definitely true, I will say that. But when the defense is giving you the easiest throws in the game on every single play, it's not that much to ask for.

He wasn't good, and he wasn't bad that game. There was no real way to evaluate him. In the first half, he had no time, no options, and no choices. His two best throws came on complete coverage breakdowns. In the second half and overtime, it was a total joke.

Manning would've had to been the best quarterback in the league to be successful in the first half. He would've had to have been the worst quarterback in the league to not be successful the second half.

So all you can say is "he's not the best QB in the league, and he's not the worst. He's somewhere in between."

66
by Charles the Philly Homer (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 3:13pm

Speaking of Eli, is there any way I can buy reverse-insurance on him? Without Petitgout holding and false-starting it could get really ugly back there.

67
by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 3:15pm

OK, but I repeat, how many 3rd year quarterbacks throw for 370 yards on the road, in against a division winner, and are hit and sacked that much? I don't care if one of the eagles corners was injured, that's pretty amazing and not something a replacement level player could have achieved.

If you think the fact that the game went to OT discounts the 370 yards, then I ask you, how many QB's who played in OT games threw for 370 yards last year?

Eli Manning isn't the only player that throws into soft zones, or has tall receivers, or has height mismatches.

Byron Leftwhich and the Jags have tall receivers, but I don't remember him ever throwing for 370 yards, on the road, against a division champion while getting little from his running back.

and Pat, to be objective for a minute, if you looked back at Eli's stats and realized he completed 52 seven yard passes then it would be " Eli dinked and dunked his way to 370 yards". If he completed a bunch of bombs then it would have been " Eli took advantage of the height advantage of his receivers". If your not impressed with 370 yards on the road against a divison champ, then I don't know what to say. I just thought that was a great effort in an outstanding game.

68
by Phil (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 3:28pm

Does anybody else think that based on the ESPN ad, Brady Quinn is challenging Tom Brady for "Most Dreamy" QB?

While we're talking about the Manning family...did anyone outside NE hear about the joke that got cut right before SNL went live w/Peyton?

69
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 3:30pm

I vote to have the 2006 week 2 Giants/Eagles game stricken from the records, and to ban any discussion about it from this day forward. Who's with me?

70
by MRH (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 3:33pm

And if you don’t think Rod Hood’s injury really meant all that much, here are Manning’s stat lines before Hood’s injury (1st half) and after (2nd half and OT)

1st Half
7 of 17 (41.2%) for 94 yards (54 net yards), 5 sacks, 1 fumble, 1 Int. Grounding Penalty, 1 TD drive, 0 (zero) FG drives.

2nd Half & OT
24 of 34 (70.6%) for 277 yards (252 net yards), 3 sacks, 1 fumble, 1 INT, 3 TD drives, 1 FG drive

:: Wanker79 — 9/19/2006 @ 1:26 pm

71
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 3:38pm

If you think the fact that the game went to OT discounts the 370 yards, then I ask you, how many QB’s who played in OT games threw for 370 yards last year?

Great, now let's restrict it to how many third-year quarterbacks played in overtime games against the division leader with only their #2, #4, and #5 corners, on the road.

Because, you know, that data set is huge.

and Pat, to be objective for a minute, if you looked back at Eli’s stats and realized he completed 52 seven yard passes then it would be � Eli dinked and dunked his way to 370 yards�. If he completed a bunch of bombs then it would have been � Eli took advantage of the height advantage of his receivers�

Do not presume what I would say. It's arrogant, and not to mention wrong.

It has nothing to do with the passes Manning completed. It has everything to do with his actual performance in the game and what he was asked to do. In the first half, he was asked to be God. He isn't God. In the second half, he was asked to be better than Ryan Leaf. He is better than Ryan Leaf.

I can be an Eagles fan and be perfectly objective, thank you very much.

F'crying out loud, the second Eagles game was a much better performance by Manning. Unfortunately some of the luck that went their way in the early game went against them, and they lost. But Manning was much better.

72
by Adam H. (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 3:39pm

"how many 3rd year quarterbacks throw for 370 yards "
A very shallow search revealed the following one game performances by 3rd year qb's.
David Carr 371 yds @ Tenn
Joey Harrington 4tds 116 rating home against Az
Aaron Brooks 352 yds 3tds 148 rating @ Atl
and 296 5tds 138 rating home against the Giants

What do these guys have in common? They all just got cut. Take that one game for what its worth.

73
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 3:46pm

67
Well, on September 17th, Eli had a total of 371 (passing+rushing) yards in an overtime game and his team scored 24 points in regulation.

On September 24th against the Eagles, Alex Smith accounted for 332 yards in regulation, with his team scoring 24 points.

74
by Oh, Mathematics (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 3:48pm

Adam H., you've got it all wrong. The question was how many 3rd year quarterbacks throw for 370 yards on the road, against a division champion, with no help from the running game, against the wind, in a blizzard, uphill both ways!

None, that's who!

75
by savyhome (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 3:54pm

re 20: Seems to me a more apt comparison for Eli would be Mike Vick. I don't have the numbers, but I feel Eli is at about the same point in his career that Vick was at his age. Should we expect to Eli to Vick's pinnacle? Probably not, but I wouldn't be surprised either.

76
by MRH (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 4:04pm

OK, but I repeat, how many 3rd year quarterbacks throw for 370 yards on the road, in against a division winner, and are hit and sacked that much? I don’t care if one of the eagles corners was injured, that’s pretty amazing and not something a replacement level player could have achieved.

Well, put enough conditions on it and it's impossible to find an exact match. But then it just looks more like a fluke, like flipping heads 100 times in a row.

But here's a few games that "replacement level qbs" have posted:

2002 playoffs at Steelers, Kelly Holcomb threw for 429 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT not in OT. He had more than 3 years in the league but a lot fewer starts than Eli at that point. Only two sacks, but worse weather. But it looks to me like a replacement level qb one a wild card team went to a division winner and played out of his mind one time.

A couple of recent #1 picks who had big games in their 3rd year:

Carr, 2004, week 5, home, OT vs. wild card team MIN. 27/42 372 yds, 3 td, 0 int, 4 sacks (I'm assuming he was under pressure more than that but don't know). MIN was a mediocre wild card team with a defense that gave up 395 points, so it was a lesser team and D.

Couch, 2001, week 16, road vs. TEN. 20/27 336, 3 td, 1 INT. TEN was 7-9 that year but gave up about the same number of points (336) as PHI did in 2006 (328), so defensively those teams weren't that different. Don't have the sack totals.

One good game does not a career make. Eli's DVOA the last two years has been right around zero. meaning he's an average qb (note that "average" is above "replacement" at least as how I understand the FO use of the terms).

77
by peterB (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 4:07pm

75) Oh, no...

...please, no more Michael Vick discussion. I just can't take it any more.

Can we all just agree that Michael Vick is a great/terrible/overrated/underrated/mediocre/non-awful/bad/good/sub-par/decent quarterback and stop bringing him up into nearly every discussion during this offseason?

Please?

78
by MJK (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 4:18pm

In order to keep this from turning into a Patriots-centered thread (again), I will not respond to comments about the whole "prototypical Patriot thing".

To Address Randy S's comment about the Skins trading for Samuel...

I don't think the Pats would make that trade, unless contract negotiations between them and Samuel are a lot nastier than either side is publically indicating (which was the case with Deion Branch, so you never know). At this point, I think the Pats are expecting to be able to work out a long term deal with Samuel, and they really don't have anyone in the wings that could step in and start opposite Hobbs unless you count Randall Gay, an injury prone young backup who went undrafted. So unless they were convinced that Samuel would hold out, or unless there was a CB in the draft that they were wild about and were sure would be there at #6 (or at #24 or #28), which I don't think is the case (this isn't a great year for CB's, is it?) then I can't see them making the trade.

Besides, as someone else pointed out, are the Skins really that desparate for a CB, in the short term?

79
by perrin (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 4:18pm

RE 76: It doesn't seem fair to use Browns quarterbacks as examples of mediocre QBs who have the occasional incredible performance. The cycle of unproven QBs raising and dashing hopes has been a Browns tradition for a couple seasons now.

AFC North side note: The Browns are reportedly interested in Trent Green. I wonder if they're considering your third example, David Carr?

RE 34, 62, 64: Thank you!

80
by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 4:18pm

I was looking for somebody to bring up that Kelly Holcomb game from 02, but Manning was on the road, against a team that nearly made it to the NFC championship ( pretty rare). He was also getting beat around like a pinata in the first half. Now we have to resort to bringing up games from 6-7 years ago for something to compare it to.

70- Eli had some other games where he started off slow. To attribute it all to hood wouldn't be correct.

I'm suprised nobody brought up the fact that the Giants were losing by 3TDs in the second half. Do you think THAT might be the reason why the Eagles were playing a little deeper on defense ( ala prevent)?

That might attribute a drive or two, but the Giants fought back into the game.

No need to get angry and type in bold.

What about the playoff game that eli played "horrible" in? Joe Buck has to point out every single mistake Eli makes. How about that final drive, penalties and all where they come back and tie the game up?

81
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 4:41pm

Now we have to resort to bringing up games from 6-7 years ago for something to compare it to.

Because you've reduced the data size to basically nothing!

Do you think THAT might be the reason why the Eagles were playing a little deeper on defense ( ala prevent)?

No, because the Eagles weren't playing a prevent defense. The safeties were closer to the line.

They especially weren't playing a prevent defense in overtime.

No need to get angry and type in bold.

Don't presume my opinions, and I won't get angry. I'm a pretty mild-mannered guy until someone tells me what I would say, or what I would think.

82
by Insancipitory (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 5:13pm

For my part, I love seeing the kind of game Eli brings to the table in Seattle. He's a lot of fun to watch. Kevin Curtis, not so much.

83
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 5:18pm

Now we have to resort to bringing up games from 6-7 years ago for something to compare it to.

I brought up a game from the following week against the same team.

84
by Independent George (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 5:27pm

#75, 77 - I don't understand how you can compare Vick with Eli. I mean, Vick is black, and Eli is white - you just can't compare the two.

85
by Ilanin (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 5:30pm

You know, a third year quarterback playing on the road threw for 370+ yards in Week 9, too, and he didn't need OT either.

This is because Santonio Holmes fumbled a kickoff, Pittsburgh went 14-0 down inside five minutes, and Roethlisberger threw 52 passes in a futile attempt at catchup. Got him 433 yards, but 3 INTs (Champ Bailey is a bit better than anybody the Eagles have at CB) and the Steelers lost 31-20.

Do I have a point? Heavens no. Well, other than "yards suck as a measure of QB excellence".

86
by Another Jake (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 5:31pm

re: 67 - "be objective for a minute"

The irony of you lecturing others on objectivity is quite hilarious. Your posts in this thread are a perfect illustration of someone trying desperately to justify an emotionally based argument (Eli is an above average QB because I'm a Giants fan and I'm tired of hearing him get bashed!) with a single absurdly specific example, one that has been refuted quite handily by several other posters despite your attempts to refute them.

I'm neither a Giants nor Eagles fan, and don't care about Eli's reputation one way or the other, by the way. Passion is fine, but don't confuse it with logic.

87
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 5:35pm

38: Why are you under the impression that Curtis is a possession receiver? What characteristics led you to believe that?

88
by PhillyCWC (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 6:20pm

Re 69 - I'm with you. Let us never mention it again.

89
by jr (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 6:34pm

Chris: I realize (well, I hope at least) that most FO readers don't take you and your frenetic, nutty, gratuitously antagonistic rants about a plethora of topics all that seriously. However, I do occasionally enjoy the unintentionally humorous element you bring to FO discussions.

On that note, there could not be a more absurdly fitting counterpoint to your irrational personal hatred of Vick than an irrational urge to defend and glorify Eli Manning. Especially because they're both essentially overrated, mediocre QBs who've failed to live up to massive expectations. Kudos, sir, your Vick pathos has come full circle.

90
by Mr B (Nottingham, UK) (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 7:21pm

Does Chris get into very angry discussions on every FO thread?

91
by thad (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 9:09pm

re 90
Fair warning...
Do not bring up Tarvaris Jackson.

92
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 9:54pm

#85: To be fair, Manning did have a decent game by PAR alone: about 5.6 PAR, if memory serves, and Philly's defense would still give him a boost to probably like ~6 DPAR or so. Which is very, very good - not Peyton Manning good, but top-10 QB good.

But I never claimed Eli's performance didn't look good. It did look good. But Philly's defense, with Brown, Hanson, and Wynn as corners, is not a good defense. Not at all. Especially not against Toomer and Burress.

93
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 10:20pm

90: Chris is well informed and has a lot of interesting things to say . . .but. . . he is a little prickly.

94
by PaulH (not verified) :: Sat, 03/31/2007 - 11:12am

Re: 91

Or Jamarcus Russell...
Or Daunte Culpepper...
Or Kyle "Bollier"...
Or his horribly wrong predictions in the past...
Or his blog...
Etc., etc., etc...

Yeah, pretty much everything is a hot-button issue to him.

Basically don't question anything that the all-knowing Chris spews forth.

You just have to respect his God-like knowledge. After all, he does cap games at above 60% (ahem, his own figures), and he did win those four Heisman Trophies (ahem, intramurals) at Notre Dame (ahem, Appy State).

95
by NF (not verified) :: Sat, 03/31/2007 - 4:11pm

Is anyone here familiar enough with Takeo Spikes play to compare his performance in 2004 and 2006? Was he greatly hobbled in 2006 after returning from his hamstring injury?

96
by Jason Mulgrew aka Lord J Rocka aka The Mul-Dawg aka King in (not verified) :: Sat, 03/31/2007 - 4:12pm

The Eags are going to win the next Super Bowl. I just feel it inside me. For the rest of you, you must get used to it because the Eags are going to be the best there ever will be and the best there ever was.
Last July I told you all that Alex Smith was going to be good. My predictions for 2007 are that Kevin Curtis will be like a man-god for the Eags, Takeo Spikes will be good, and the Eags will win the Super Bowl. High five!

97
by fromanchu (not verified) :: Sat, 03/31/2007 - 6:31pm

re 96
I believe you are thinking of Bret Hart/

98
by Jason Mulgrew aka Lord J Rocka aka The Mul-Dawg aka King in (not verified) :: Sat, 03/31/2007 - 6:51pm

re: 97

True. The Philadelphia Eagles are the Bret Hart of football.

99
by Ilanin (not verified) :: Sat, 03/31/2007 - 7:23pm

Can we clear something up please?

People who predicted Alex Smith would be "good" last year were WRONG.

Alex Smith had a DVOA of -12.5% and a DPAR of 1.5, putting him in the company of such luminaries as, um, Brad Johnson, Michael Vick and Daunte Culpepper. The 49ers offense was a) mostly composed of Frank Gore and b) made to look better by playing the rest of the NFC West and a fourth-place schedule.

Alex Smith was much improved and looked like he might one day be a servicable starting quarterback. He isn't yet.

100
by Jason Mulgrew aka Lord J Rocka aka The Mul-Dawg aka King in (not verified) :: Sat, 03/31/2007 - 10:46pm

All I know is I saw Alex Smith play and he was pretty darn good. I don't care what DPAR and PSAT and VORP say.

101
by Catfish (not verified) :: Sat, 03/31/2007 - 11:17pm

Re: 99

Who exactly predicted that Alex Smith would be "good" last year. The closest I saw were predictions that he would improve from his horrendous first year, which he did. He went from one of the worst QB seasons ever (-97.8% DVOA, -66.5 DPAR) to almost exactly replacement level (-12.5%, 1.2DPAR). What more do you want from a young QB on one of the league's worst teams his first two seasons?

102
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 03/31/2007 - 11:33pm

#101: See #96.

#100: Smith was good in a few games... mainly against poor defenses. But the 49ers barely used him unless the game had slipped away from them. His best game was probably the Philly game, and as we've already mentioned, he was playing against corners from the Lollipop Guild. And against a prevent defense.

It's also hard to judge him given how much he was being sacked.

But I will say: it's really silly to take pride in a prediction like "I said Alex Smith was going to be good, and I saw him and he was good." Pretty self-fulfilling, especially when any objective measure showed him to be mediocre at best.

103
by Jason Mulgrew aka Lord J Rocka aka The Mul-Dawg aka King in (not verified) :: Sat, 03/31/2007 - 11:55pm

Pat,

You didn't see the 49ers play the Seahawks in Seattle. Smith was magic that night.

104
by canilive (not verified) :: Sun, 04/01/2007 - 12:12am

please washington draft gaines adams

105
by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 04/01/2007 - 12:27am

You didn’t see the 49ers play the Seahawks in Seattle.

Didn't I say that he was good against bad defenses? Who in their right mind thinks the Seahawks had a good defense last year?

106
by Jason Mulgrew aka Lord J Rocka aka The Mul-Dawg aka King in (not verified) :: Sun, 04/01/2007 - 12:48am

Who cares what their defense was like? The Seahogs were a playoff team and that is good for Smith. Sorry, I'm drunk and high,

107
by Adam H. (not verified) :: Sun, 04/01/2007 - 2:42am

"Chris is well informed and has a lot of interesting things to say . . .but. . . he is a little prickly"
There should be an award given when someone makes a post this tactful.

108
by Adam H. (not verified) :: Sun, 04/01/2007 - 2:55am

uhhhh...Good job Karl Cuba.

109
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Sun, 04/01/2007 - 11:12am

"Sorry, I’m drunk and high"

Now Mulgrew's posts beging to make sense!

110
by Eddo (not verified) :: Sun, 04/01/2007 - 1:26pm

109: The puzzling thing about Mulgrew is that when I clicked on his link and read his blog, he came across as articulate and somewhat clever. It was rather self-serving, yes, but it seemed well-written and well-thought-out.
Here, Mulgrew's posts are just as full of himself, but without the quality of writing.

111
by Alex (not verified) :: Sun, 04/01/2007 - 2:48pm

#90: "Does Chris get into very angry discussions on every FO thread?"

Does the sun rise every morning?

112
by Chris (not verified) :: Sun, 04/01/2007 - 3:11pm

Paul H-

What horrible predictions would that be? I made good money during the playoffs. All of my picks are time stamped too so don't try pulling that.

113
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Sun, 04/01/2007 - 4:13pm

I'm almost sorry I got into this discussion late. As a Giants fan, I find it comical how Luke Petitgout is being talked about like he's an irreplaceable part. The team ran for over 412 yards in the two games David Diehl started at LT. After giving up a sack on the first drive of the WASH game, Diehl shut down his man in the Eagles playoff game. Diehl is also durable... he's one of 4 players from the 2003 draft to start every game since coming into the league. The others are Rashean Mathis, Terrence Newman, and Jordan Gross.

As far as the Eli criticism goes, some of it is well deserved while some of it is just plain silly. However, I'd hate to see what people would say about him if the team didn't make the playoffs each of his first two seasons as the starter.

I don't blame Jerry Reese for not signing a corner in free agency because outside of Clements, who was the quality starting corner available? Rod Hood? That's okay. The Giants can draft a player. The LB core will be better simply because it will be way more athletic. Wilkinson should've started the playoff game since Carlos Emmons was no longer a NFL caliber player.

114
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Sun, 04/01/2007 - 4:13pm

I made good money during the playoffs.
Playoffs are a very small sample size.

If your amazing analysis and knowledge led you to pick:

1. All home teams to win.
2. The AFC to win the Superbowl

...you'd have gone 9 for 11 in the 2006 postseason, and made pretty good money (assuming you didn't bet the farm on San Diego and Baltimore).

115
by Alex (not verified) :: Sun, 04/01/2007 - 5:11pm

#114:
You're right about the small sample size, but remember, Chris was (I think) picking against the spread, which means identifying the winner wasn't enough.

116
by Chris (not verified) :: Sun, 04/01/2007 - 7:15pm

As easy as it sounds, not many people can pick games ATS at a 60% mark on a yearly basis. Those odds makers are so damn good at what they do.

117
by MFurtek (not verified) :: Sun, 04/01/2007 - 7:45pm

You know what's funny about the #6 for Briggs and #31 trade proposed? It's exposing the whole "Loser's Curse" thing.

Wondering what fellow NFC East fans thing about it.

118
by Mentos Fillapeedios (not verified) :: Sun, 04/01/2007 - 8:13pm

re: 116

Against the spread, one needs to pick at a 56% clip to make money in Las Vegas. It is quite hard to pick at the .560 mark consistently.

119
by Eddo (not verified) :: Sun, 04/01/2007 - 8:35pm

Chris, 60% is a very good percentage ATS. However, being able to handicap games well doesn't make all your analysis right. All it proves is that you're very good at handicapping games.

120
by canilive (not verified) :: Mon, 04/02/2007 - 2:01am

at this point i don't know what the redskins should do

121
by stevemc (not verified) :: Mon, 04/02/2007 - 8:30am

I don't see how Defensive End is a need for the Eagles. Even though they have Howard and Kearse at 30 years old right now, they still have them. Then add in Cole and Thomas that is 4 ends. So you guys are advocating taking a defensive end in round 1 that is not going to see the field for a few years. Makes zero sense. The Eagles needs are in the defensive backfield both safety and corner.

122
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 04/02/2007 - 9:00am

118 is right. Depending on the Vig or Juice, 56% would be the mark. Considering almost everybody losses money, picking at 60-62% is sick.

Picking 56% doesn't sound that bad, if you consider just picking the winner, but 56% ATS is a lot harder than it sounds. Once people realize it's harder than it looks ( and vegas sets good lines), then you hear cries of " the fix".

Eddo- Your right, if somebody says the Bears will beat the Lions because the Bear is the dominant animal, then they don't have very good analysis, but they won't be hitting a 56% or greater mark over the long term.

123
by Eddo (not verified) :: Mon, 04/02/2007 - 9:31am

122: I see what you're getting at Chris, and yes, handicapping at a 60% rate means you probably know more about football than if you use the "which nickname is fierecer" method. However, you have to put it in context. There are different variables that go into picking games ATS that don't actually go deeper into why Team X will beat Team Y. Not saying being able to cap games and being able to give good football analysis are mutually exclusive - a lot of times your analysis is very good. I'm just saying that an extremely high handicapping rate, while very impressive (and believe me, if you pick games at 60%, I'm impressed), doesn't make your other analysis infallible.

124
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 04/02/2007 - 10:22am

As easy as it sounds, not many people can pick games ATS at a 60% mark on a yearly basis. Those odds makers are so damn good at what they do.

It's not that hard. A maximum-likelihood method (like Sagarin's, Wolfe's, or anyone with a weekend's worth of free time) can generate betting lines that'd be essentially the same as Vegas's.

It has less to do with the odds makers, and far more to do with the game itself.

125
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 04/02/2007 - 11:45am

123- I am very aware that 60% is a very impressive and not something to joke about. Also starting the year off 8-0 on contrarian plays is no joke either. Picking against the best teams in the league and starting out 8-0 is harder than it looks.

I also understand that there are tons of variables and the fact that " the smart play isn't always the winning play". We've all seen games where a team dominates a game but losses. We've seen weaker teams beat good teams or how about when turnovers decide a game ( unforced turnovers). How about missed chip shot field goals to win games or sure catches dropped in the endzone?

124- Picking at a 60% clip over the long term is a lot harder than it sounds.

I've seen people who can forecast outstanding lines before they come out, but they don't always know which side of those lines to take.

The thing with spreads is also public perception must be weighed into those spreads as well. The public has a short memory and loves to bet on favorites.

Two years ago I believe favorites won at about a 57-59% mark and so you might think " the public" made money that year but they didn't. What happened was the fact that "public dogs" were losing, and "contrarian favorites" were winning. The basic assumption that the public was betting favorites didn't hold true.

There are some value betters who set their own lines, and then take their own lines based against the actual lines and they hope to come out on top in the long run ( by picking up value with each line). They might pick a lot of games and hope to win more than they lose and make the difference ( understanding that losing is part of the game), while others might go out there and try and win every single game.

126
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 04/02/2007 - 12:00pm

124- Picking at a 60% clip over the long term is a lot harder than it sounds.

That's not what I said.

You suggested that the odds makers are good at what they do. I just said it's not that hard. It's relatively easy. The initial odds are frequently almost exactly what you would expect from any maximum likelihood-type analysis.

127
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Mon, 04/02/2007 - 12:07pm

Mr. Mulgrew, I believe I saw a depiction of something very much like your mutant devil fish on a trip to Russia last summer. In an art gallery in Perm (a city of around a million souls just west of the Urals), which was formerly a cathedral, there is a large mural, dating from around the 16th century, which shows various saints holding what appears to be some kind of religious debate before a large crowd. Just your typical religious painting, you think, until a flash of blue in the bottom right hand corner catches your eye. A fluorescent skeleton eyes the crowd malevolently as he leans out of the mouth of a vast and terrifyingly be-toothed mutant fish-dog, whose skin colouration and dental features match those of the creature in your can almost precisely. Perhaps some prehistoric terror of the deeps has survived into the modern era beneath the murky fathoms of Lake Baikal, unbeknownst to the world outside . . .

128
by Charles the Philly Homer (not verified) :: Mon, 04/02/2007 - 12:10pm

125:

What objective reason do you have to believe that your success rate is testable, repeatable, or sustainable? If you don't have one, you are simply lucky - don't fall into the trap of believing you have some special skill.

That's where gambling addicts come from.

129
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 04/02/2007 - 12:36pm

Five years of making money. Three years in a row of doubling a bankroll.

But like I said, those odds makers are very good at their profession ( that's an understatement). Almost everybody losses over the long term. These casinos don't keep being built in the desert for no reason ( People lose money gambeling).

Pat- Well what time frame are you talking about? Hitting 60% in a WEEK will occasionally happen by chance, but doing that 20 weeks in a row to form a season average of 60% is not as likely attributed to luck or chance.

130
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 04/02/2007 - 4:21pm

#129: Are you even reading what I'm writing?

I'm not talking about anyone hitting 60% against the spread. I'm talking about the initial Vegas spreads themselves. You keep saying "the oddsmakers know what they're doing." But it doesn't take a brilliant effort to set them. It's just a maximum likelihood analysis. They don't have to be that accurate. They just have to be close, and then they'll move in response to the amount of betting.

With a relatively small amount of effort, I could easily generate a set of betting lines that there'd be very little chance in the world of you beating 60% repeatedly on.

131
by Jason Mulgrew aka The Man With The Plan (not verified) :: Mon, 04/02/2007 - 6:26pm

re: 127
Thank you.

I think the next expansion team should strongly consider using this mutant fish-dog as its logo and nickname.

132
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 04/02/2007 - 10:26pm

130- Are you reading what I'm writing? I was talking about capping at a 60% rate or higher... not SETTING lines.

133
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 04/02/2007 - 10:33pm

#132: Just.... read post #124 again. I was responding to one part of your initial comment. That's all. Actually beating the Vegas spread has more to do with knowing the betting public rather than the actual games themselves.

134
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 04/03/2007 - 8:50am

I agree that knowing where public money is very important.

If the public won all their bets, we'd all be millionares. If the public lost all their bets, they'd quit shortly after losing huge chunks of money.

Even the public wins sometimes ( around half the time), but get's their money eaten away by the juice.

I've seen some gambelers who don't even cap games but blindly fade the public and they sometimes have moderate success but are generally about even. They don't really lose money, but they don't really make much either.

I'd generally like to fade the public, but they do win sometimes too. If I'm betting WITH the public though, I like to double check and make sure that I really like that particular side.

Remember a couple of years ago when the Steelers wrecked the Pats in Pittsburgh, and then there was a rematch in the playoffs? New England opened about even, but was bet to a 3 point road favorite against a 15-1 football team. I'd actually say there was a lot "sharper" money on the Steelers, but the "public" and Patriots won.

135
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 04/03/2007 - 10:32am

Remember a couple of years ago when the Steelers wrecked the Pats in Pittsburgh, and then there was a rematch in the playoffs?

The Steelers didn't wreck the Patriots in Pittsburgh. They got a big lead early through a pair of turnovers and forced the Patriots one-dimensional. In the playoffs, pretty much the exact opposite happened (right down to the interception return for a touchdown).

Both games were pretty much crapshoots. The starting line (even) was basically correct.

135
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Tue, 04/03/2007 - 10:32am

Chris: I have to admire you for putting your money where your mouth is. I have always found the movement of the lines under the pressure of betting before big games to be quite interesting. Do you not worry that you have insufficient knowledge of injuries etc. That used to drive me to distraction when I used to do pick-em leagues.

Personally, I don't like to bet on games for the same reason that I don't play fantasy football or pick-em anymore; I find that it detracts from my pure enjoyment of the game itself and sometimes dilutes my allegiance to my favourite teams.

137
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 04/03/2007 - 11:39am

Karl Cuba- I think that's one of the reasons why people see me as some cocky, know it all kind of guy. When capping games you pick a side and go with it. You pick the Colts, or the Bears, you have to form a definitive position and a lot of my posts have this definitve nature that boils information down to what I see relevant.

It's just the nature of my experience with football... A handicapper.

I find that it vastly enhances my experience as a fan. Why else would people be watching a 30-7 contest late in the 4th Quarter ( if not looking at that over/under)? The funny thing is an announcer like Al Michaels will throw in these subtle " so it looks like the Packers scored OVER what was expected".

Another aspect about "alliegence to teams" is that you " root for who you bet on". I might not be an Arizona Cardinals fan, but I sure am when I bet on them. I might hate the Washington Redskins with a passion, but a Redskins win might be partly eased by financial gain. A key thing to try and remember is to throw out personal biases and view the teams as objectivly as possible. I can't stand the QB of the Atlanta Falcons, but I've wagered on him before.

138
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Tue, 04/03/2007 - 12:42pm

Chris: Even if there's a blowout game then I'll almost always be able to find one matchup or player or aspect of the schemes to watch. Perhaps its because I had so little live action to watch over hear in the UK until recently.

139
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 04/03/2007 - 12:50pm

Oh yeah, I love the game and can watch it, but the casual fans lose interest really fast.

At the end of the season I Tivoed some of the younger quarterbacks to see some NFL fotage of them... T. Jackson, Vince Young, Cutler etc.

Watching a game where you already know the outcome can be a different experience. When your watching a "live" game, most people tend to watch the ball. If your watching a game where you already know the outcome, you might focus on different aspects ( like you said you do)... Pass rush, Blocking, receivers, linebackers reads etc.

140
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 04/03/2007 - 1:43pm

re:135
"Both games were pretty much crapshoots. The starting line (even) was basically correct."

I'm gonna have to disagree with you there. In both of those games, it had nothing to do with turnovers, and nothing to do with being a crapshoot. It was obvious about 3 minutes into that first game that the steelers were going to win. It was also obvious about 3 minutes into the playoff game that the patriots were gonna win.

Both of those games were decided on the lines. In the regular season game, pittsburgh's lines manhandled NEs. In the playoffs, the opposite happened.

141
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Tue, 04/03/2007 - 3:25pm

The Bears have turned down the Skins' offer for Briggs. I can't understand why the Skins want Briggs; they have just signed Fletcher-Baker, they spent a 2nd on MckIntosh last year and Marcus Washington is their second best defender. This only makes any sense if the skins don't believe that Washington won't be back from his two offseason surgeries and are going to cut him after June.

142
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 04/03/2007 - 4:41pm

It was also obvious about 3 minutes into the playoff game that the patriots were gonna win.

Don't exaggerate. About 3 minutes into the first game, New England was up 3-0, and all the Steelers had done was lose a yard and punt.

It took the Steelers 3 drives to score, and they did it basically on a single play (not what you would describe as 'controlling the line of scrimmage'). Right after that scoring drive, Brady was sacked, fumbled, and the Steelers were basically handed the ball in the red zone. 14-3. Then Brady threw a pick-6. 21-3. And then the Patriots were in catchup mode.

In the second game, the Steelers returned the favor, with two early turnovers that led to 10 Patriot points, followed by a bunch of punting, and a Patriots drive for a TD. The Steelers also drove into the red zone.. and threw a pick-6. And now it's 24-3 (as opposed to 17-10), and the Steelers are in catchup mode, leading to 2 more Roethlisberger interceptions.

Both of those games were decided on the lines.

The first one was, where the Steelers dominated time-of-possession, yardage, first downs, and bled the entire 3rd and 4th quarter away. But they were able to do that because of the early lead thanks to the turnovers (and more turnovers later, in fact).

The second one - I don't know what you mean there. The Patriots had one line-dominating drive that took up 5 minutes in the 4th quarter. Other than that, the sole difference in the game were the Steelers turning the ball over 4 times, and the Patriots not at all. The Patriots "manhandled" the Steelers? The Steelers outgained the Patriots. They had more yards per rush, more yards per pass, more first downs, higher time of possession, and were sacked less. The turnovers killed them.

143
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 04/03/2007 - 4:45pm

Obviously... the line that should be quoting in the first sentence is the "obvious 3 minutes into the first game" part, not the playoff game. Grr.

144
by RMGreen (not verified) :: Tue, 04/03/2007 - 5:06pm

Man, Pat is in ass-kicking mode today. It would be nice for some actual news to talk about. The draft seems so far away...

145
by Raiderjoe (not verified) :: Tue, 04/03/2007 - 6:48pm

We will see how it turns out but by moves Raiders have made this offseason that is position OF Raiders and Tom Cable(Their oline coach) Kirwan who is very good friends with kiffin said to expect Alex Gibbs to be working with Raiders oline in camp. Anyone knows Alex Gibbs resume, knows his reputation building Olines(did in Denver and without drafting Olineman high) Alex Gibbs only works on oline on parttime basis these days. He very expensive. Cable and gibbs have worked together .(last year in atlanta)
Cable on the record that he has more talent on Raiders Oline to work with than he had in Atlanta last year.

146
by Black Joe (not verified) :: Tue, 04/03/2007 - 7:30pm

re: 144

145 has your news, I guess you could say.

Raiderjoe: please stop posting. You are horrible. You absolutely mangle the art of writing.

147
by Duff Soviet Union (not verified) :: Tue, 04/03/2007 - 8:45pm

"The funny thing is an announcer like Al Michaels will throw in these subtle � so it looks like the Packers scored OVER what was expected�." Yeah, that's classic. I prefer his "and some people are VERY interested to see what happens on third and goal here" routine when whether a TD or a field goal is scored will decide whether the spread gets covered or not.

148
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Tue, 04/03/2007 - 9:28pm

Pat, Chris, Rich et al - with respect, the reason the public "knew" the Patriots would win the return game, and the reason the line for that game was a mistake, was that anyone who had watched the Steelers' previous couple of games could see that Roethlisberger was mentally exhausted. Whether it was because he was unused to the longer NFL season as compared to college or for some other reason, it was entirely predictable that he would go turnover crazy. Sometimes, statistical analysis disregards a recently emergent trend as a blip, when an informed viewer can pick up the underlying causal pattern and see it for what it is.

149
by Black Joe (not verified) :: Tue, 04/03/2007 - 10:08pm

re: 148

I agree with your premise even though I did not fully understand some of the terms you used.

150
by The Freshmaker (not verified) :: Tue, 04/03/2007 - 11:45pm

re: 141

They want him because he is better than the guys they currently have on the roster. They'll discard those other guys when necessary.

151
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 8:51am

148- The public also seems to have a very short term memory. What happened the week before has a huge impact on who the public likes the next week. The Pats were looking to be on a roll and looked tough to beat.

The Pats had a huge public backing that liked the momentum and thought Brady/BB were unbeatable.

The Steelers backers had a lot of sharps that said " a 15-1 team, at home, in a championship game etc." Historically, you have to like a 15-1 team getting 3 points.

Just because the public is pounding a side, doesn't mean it's wrong. It doesn't matter if a 15-1 team getting 3 USUALLY wins, we're just looking at this one particular trial.

152
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 10:02am

"The Patriots “manhandled� the Steelers? The Steelers outgained the Patriots. They had more yards per rush, more yards per pass, more first downs, higher time of possession, and were sacked less."

The steelers outgained the pats? Since when has total yards been a valid stat Pat?

The Steelers had a higher yard per rush? Rushing is pretty easy when you're down 20 points and the other team is playing nickel.

Again Pat, the reason the steelers turned the ball over so many times was because the patriots defensive line was DESTROYING their offensive line, and that was pretty damn noticible, from the beginning of the game. Turnovers dont just happen, theyre caused.

153
by Ilanin (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 10:58am

152 - and that shows your ignorance about the way Pittsburgh have played throughout the nascent Roethlisberger era.

Pittsburgh's line SUCKS at pass blocking (28th, 23rd and 25th in ASR in Roethlisberger's three years as a starter - though he often doesn't help by holding on too long. Then again, when he doesn't hold on too long he throws interceptions. I prefer the getting sacked). Roethlisberger has been repeatedly sacked and hurried whenever the Steelers have played against a team with a decent pass rush.

Fortunately, this doesn't seem to affect his game too much (except maybe last year - but even then, the teams #24 and #26 in ASR were the 49ers and Browns), and the Steelers generally hide the line's inability to pass block by being a run heavy team. This doesn't work quite so well when they end up behind for obvious reasons, and then we see things like that Patriots game.

This message bought to you by the committee for Just Draft A Tackle Already.

154
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 1:47pm

I was expecting that comment. Should've cut it off before the pass. Grr.

Turnovers dont just happen, theyre caused.

Unless you're claiming that Richard Seymour grabbed Roethlisberger's hand and shoved it forward, forcing the ball to be thrown, the root cause of those interceptions was still Roethlisberger.

Did the pressure help cause him to make a mistake? Yeah, sure, in some cases. But the root cause of Pittsburgh's problem was Roethlisberger throwing those interceptions, not the pressure from New England.

Ask yourself this: if Roethlisberger had been sacked, rather than thrown those interceptions, what would the result of the game had been? New England woudn't've gotten the ball ~20 yards away from field goal range right away. They wouldn't've gotten the pick-6, and Pittsburgh still would've been in field goal range.

That game was decided by turnovers. Without the turnovers happening, the pressure from the lines wouldn't've been enough to beat them by 14 points. And the turnovers were not caused by the pressure from the lines. They were simply made more likely.

155
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 2:03pm

Just because the public is pounding a side, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It doesn’t matter if a 15-1 team getting 3 USUALLY wins, we’re just looking at this one particular trial.

Sorry, but if anyone thinks that a 15-1 team playing a 14-2 team usually wins, they're insane, unless they think "usually" means "probably about 52-53 times out of 100". It's a coin flip. It was a coin flip the first game, and it was a coin flip the second game.

Pittsburgh showed in the first game their defense can beat New England's offense. They showed that in the second game, too - New England gained almost all of their offensive points due to a few broken plays. Those broken plays didn't show up in the first game because the Steelers were usually in nickel. Hard to fool someone when you're one-dimensional.

New England showed in the second game that their defense can beat Pittsburgh's offense - mainly, their pass rush can rattle Roethlisberger. They never got the chance to show that in the first game. Hard to get an interception when the other team isn't throwing.

Neither of those games was about one team "dominating" the other. Those games were all about how a bit of early luck can turn a game between well-matched opponents into a one-sided affair.

156
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 4:16pm

A 15-1 team @ Home, with them blowing out the other team in the head to head matchup as well... AND getting 3 points. Can you conjure up some more similar situations?

Look, I took the Pats ( as did much of the public), but there was a lot sharper money on the Steelers that game and they lost.

I was using the game as an example of when the public pounded the heck out of a game and WON at the expense of the sharps.

Pat, you don't have to argue EVERYTHING in the way people claim that I do.

157
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 4:38pm

I was using the game as an example of when the public pounded the heck out of a game and WON at the expense of the sharps.

The reason I'm arguing it is because it was not smart to bet on the Steelers. The game was a coin flip. Just because a ton of people bet "heads" doesn't mean that putting your money on "tails" is smart - the line didn't move anywhere near enough to justify that.

The smart move is "don't bet on this game."

158
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 5:25pm

Hindsight is 20/20.

159
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 5:44pm

It isn't hindsight. I said it was a crapshoot before the game, too. That's why I didn't even consider betting on it.

If you want a case where the game was a crapshoot and the line was way, way too high to avoid betting on it - well, that was the Super Bowl in 2004.

160
by Chris (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2007 - 8:55am

Well what I saw in that game was...

Early turnovers killed the Pats, and did seem pretty unlikely. After being down something like 21-3, the Pats had to play 1 dimensional catch up ball and didn't do THAT bad. I thought the game was more of an abberation and less of a beat down.

Before the playoff game I did see the Pats focused and they were going to be very tough to beat. In close matchups like that I saw Brady and BB on one side, and Cower and a rookie on the
other side. 3 points really didn't phase me, the winner of the game wins the spread something lik 80% of the time anyway. There were a lot of really dumb public betters on that game, but they can't lose everything.

I took the ML on the 04 super bowl.

161
by Sid (not verified) :: Tue, 04/10/2007 - 3:58pm

the stuff on the redskins doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

Instead of rehashing Washington’s history of overpaying other teams’ free agents, refusing to re-sign their own, and squandering draft picks, let’s look at what the organization has gotten right since Joe Gibbs came out of retirement three years ago:

what is this trying to say? that the redskins have gotten smarter under gibbs? What about all the signings mentioned later in the article? Archuleta, Randle El, Lloyd, and many more overpaid mediocre players.

162
by redwolf (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 11:22am

121. You are correct that the Eagles don't necessarily need DE help from the draft, but history would suggest that they will draft a lineman with their first pick. 7 times in the last ten years, the first pick has been a lineman. It amazes me when I see draft predictions that have the Eagles picking someone other than a lineman with their first pick.

That being said, I think that if the top player on their board is a DB when the 26th pick rolls around, Andy Reid will break with tradition and pick the DB. Chances of picking an LB or RB in the first round are pretty low, even if they did pick Jerry Robinson back in 1979.

163
by dweezer (not verified) :: Thu, 04/19/2007 - 11:40pm

I firmly believe Chris hits his 60%. I also believe people that played the stock market when they told me they didn't lose a penny when the Internet stocks crashed. I also believe the people that flipped houses that they're still doing just dandy. I also believe that pigs can be classically trained ballerinas if you just offer them encouraging words! 60% ATS - Chris, how can I put this? Let's go for blunt. You're full of crap!