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15 Sep 2009

Week 1 Quick Reads

by Bill Barnwell

Ed. Note: Each week, Quick Reads looks at the best and worst players of the week according to FO's DYAR stats. This year, Quick Reads will appear on ESPN Insider on Monday (as explained last week) and then will be republished on FO on Tuesday with the Monday night games added. Believe it or not, this is the first time that Quick Reads has actually appeared on FootballOutsiders.com. The column began on ESPN in 2004 (as part of a larger Page 2 column called "Snap Judgment") and then moved to FOX from 2005-2007 and back to ESPN in 2008. -- Aaron Schatz

Welcome to National Jump To Conclusions Week. Truthfully, we wouldn't have it any other way.

Because it's the first week of a new year, and both fans and media members alike want to be ahead of the curve, the outcomes of games and player performance in Week 1 become referendums on player value and the chances of each team contending over the final 15 games of the year.

That's just not realistic. Week 1 matters, but it's not a deal-breaker. Teams that win in Week 1 average 8.1 more wins the rest of the way, and make the playoffs 54.3 percent of the time; teams that lose the opener average 5.9 more wins and make the playoffs 24.7 percent of the time. That difference looks bigger than it actually is, because it's not hard to make that distance up over the final 15 games. In 2008, the Chargers, Colts, and Dolphins all lost in Week 1 and managed to make the playoffs.

It's even harder to project the performance of individual players based upon what happens in Week 1. Forget the waiver wire heroes like Donte Rosario (seven catches for 96 yards and a touchdown against the Chargers last year, 11 catches the rest of the way) or Chris Brown (175 rushing yards against the Texans in Week 1 of the 2007 season, 287 yards since). Just look at the Week 1 boxscores from last year.

Outside of the Tom Brady injury, we didn't learn very much about what was going to happen in the 2008 season that week. Plaxico Burress picked up 133 yards in the season opener. Eventual rookie sensation Steve Slaton was still an injury replacement, running for 43 yards in a slaughter by the Steelers. Michael Turner had a huge day, running for 220 yards, but fellow NFC South stud DeAngelo Williams only picked up 86 yards, while eventual Rookie of the Year Matt Ryan only threw 13 passes for 161 yards. Oh, and Jets fans were celebrating that they chose the right quarterback when Brett Favre led the team to a victory over the deposed Chad Pennington and his lowly Dolphins, who'd won one out of their last 20 games. They would proceed to win 11 of their next 15. Of course, they didn't even break out the Wildcat until Week 3.

Neither your favorite team nor your fantasy team are doomed by what happened in Week 1; the narratives of the 2009 NFL season are yet to be written in anything close to permanent ink. Keep that in mind before you get overwhelmed by the uproar of National Jump To Conclusions Week.

QUARTERBACKS

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
1.
Drew Brees NO
26/34
358
6
1
300
300
0
Brees produced only the sixth 300+ DYAR game of the DVOA Era, although that may change later on. There are currently no adjustments for opponent quality, but once the season wears on and the Lions (likely) reveal themselves to possess a below-average pass defense, the retroactive adjustments for defensive quality will push Brees' numbers down. Here's a list of the top quarterback games in YAR and DYAR:



QB

Team

Year

Week

vs.

DYAR
x
QB

Team

Year

Week

vs.

YAR
Trent Green KC 2002 4 MIA 347 x Marc Bulger STL 2002 10 SD 323
Tom Brady NE 2007 11 BUF 306 x Matt Hasselbeck SEA 2002 12 KC 321
Marc Bulger STL 2002 10 SD 306 x Tom Brady NE 2007 7 MIA 317
Scott Mitchell DET 1995 13 MIN 305 x Peyton Manning IND 2004 3 GB 304
Randall Cunningham MIN 1998 5 GB 305 x Tom Brady NE 2007 11 BUF 301
Drew Brees NO 2009 1 DET 300 x Drew Brees NO 2009 1 DET 300

2.
Tony Romo DAL
16/27
353
3
0
182
182
-1
Romo exhibited exactly the sort of play that he'll need to pull off if the Cowboys are to succeed in 2009; instead of focusing on a star receiver, Romo exploited matchups and poor coverage to isolate Miles Austin, Patrick Crayton, and Roy Williams when they were in mismatches.
3.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
33/43
363
1
2
159
161
-2
Like most quarterbacks, Roethlisberger plays better when he has good pass protection in front of him. When the Titans stopped blitzing in the second half and overtime, Big Ben picked apart the Titans' zones with completion after completion. Teams will hope that they can just rush four and wait for the Steelers' middling offensive line to make mistakes, but you simply have to blitz Ben Roethlisberger to beat him.
MNF
Tom Brady NE 39/53 378
2
1
159
155
4
4.
Matt Hasselbeck SEA
25/36
279
3
2
126
123
3
It turns out Matt Hasselbeck is better when he has his top five wide receivers healthy. Who knew? What's interesting is to see how the team will use T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Houshmandzadeh has averaged 10.2 and 9.8 yards per catch the past two seasons, which is barely enough to be an effective receiver unless you're making up for it in volume (Wes Welker) or doing it in important situations (Ike Hilliard). This week, Houshmandzadeh didn't have a single catch for longer than nine yards. The Seahawks won, and Housh opened up holes for Nate Burleson and John Carlson downfield, but Seattle didn't hand over all that cash to get the late-model Eric Moulds.
5.
Joe Flacco BAL
26/43
307
3
1
122
121
1
You can safely ignore the talk of Baltimore opening up the offense and Flacco taking a huge leap forward this year; while the latter might end up happening, the reason the playbook was "opened up" here was because the Ravens were trailing and playing the Chiefs. Expect the passing to drop some next week, when he plays San Diego.
6.
Matt Ryan ATL
22/36
229
2
0
100
100
0
Miami's defense was overrated a year ago, but it was a nice day when you consider that Ryan was able to throw for more yards to Jerious Norwood (49) than Roddy White (42). The team also went out of their way to get Tony Gonzalez down the field; six of his nine targets went more than ten yards through the air.
7.
Mark Sanchez NYJ
18/31
272
1
1
100
106
-6
Mark Sanchez already has "it", the mythical adjective often prescribed to good-looking, extroverted quarterbacks, especially when they play bottom-five defenses and don't get sacked all day. "It" is a tricky one. Left tackles can't have "it", even though they're really important. Middle linebackers and free safeties are the quarterbacks of the defense, but they don't get to show "it" off. "It" only really extends to sports and entertainment, too; even the most motivated middle manager doesn't get talked about in hushed tones as the chosen one because he or she has "it". There's no way to bottle "it", but if you stand next to the Texans defense for a full season, well, you might end up looking like you've got "it."
8.
Byron Leftwich TB
25/41
276
1
0
98
99
-1
The fear with Leftwich after his release in Jacksonville was that his delivery was too slow, but he dropped back 44 times against the league's best pass rush of a year ago and didn't take a single sack, so it can't be that bad. Getting some help from Kellen Winslow would've helped; the NFL's most expensive tight end gained a total of 11 yards on eight attempts.
9.
Peyton Manning IND
28/38
301
1
1
97
97
0
Losing Anthony Gonzalez early in the game threw the Indianapolis offense sufficiently out of whack to justify a switch to an all Reggie Wayne-approach. The Colts made some adjustments at halftime, but in the first half, Manning was 6-of-9 for 98 yards on passes to Wayne, and 9-of-12 for 77 yards on passes to the rest of the team combined. With Gonzalez out for three-to-six weeks, and no obvious target across from Wayne, it could end up being a very lucrative few weeks for his fantasy owners.
MNF
Trent Edwards BUF 15/25 208
2
0
82
69
13
10.
Kerry Collins TEN
22/35
244
1
1
72
72
0
Collins was victimized by drops, but he had a very good game that will look better once opponent adjustments are factored in. One of the most difficult -- and important -- things a quarterback has to do against the Steelers is identify which players are coming on blitzes before each snap; it's something Collins does much better than Vince Young, and had a lot to do with the fact that the relatively immobile Collins was only sacked once.
11.
Brodie Croyle KC
16/24
177
2
0
60
60
0
Croyle got off to a poor start with three consecutive three-and-outs, leading Todd Haley to bench Croyle for Tyler Thigpen for one series. Thigpen didn't throw a pass, and when Croyle came back, he was on fire. Croyle completed six straight passes, culminating in a 50-yard catch-and-run by Mark Bradley, before failing to complete three of his next four throws. In what might be the most hopeless situation a quarterback will face all year, Croyle was sacked on a fourth-and-18 play from his own 13-yard line.
12.
Eli Manning NYG
20/29
256
1
1
50
50
0
Much like Roethlisberger, Manning struggled when the Redskins got pressure on him; the rare appearances of Washington's pass rush led to an ill-advised interception and a fumble from Eli. Much like Roethlisberger, Manning was virtually unstoppable when he had time, simply waiting for Steve Smith or Kevin Boss to find a comfortable spot in the Redskins' meek zone coverage. Eli didn't have a number-one receiver today, but he didn't need one.
MNF
Philip Rivers SD 24/36 252
1
1
49
49
0
13.
Jason Campbell WAS
19/26
211
1
1
45
38
8
It was a bad throw, but Campbell deserved more of an effort from Santana Moss on his first interception; while Randy Moss has the reputation for taking plays off and failing to give 100 percent, it's Santana who seems to prominently do so on important plays (think the Seahawks playoff game). Campbell's another quarterback who needs to spend more time in the shotgun: He was 14-of-17 for 155 yards out of the shotgun, but only 5-of-9 for 56 yards with two sacks and a pick when he lined up under center.
14.
Kyle Orton DEN
17/28
243
1
0
25
27
-2
Sometimes, statistics fail us. Obviously, a huge portion of Orton's statistical day came on the near-interception that was tipped into Brandon Stokley's hands for what became a shocking, game-winning touchdown. The numbers say simply that it's an 87-yard touchdown pass thrown with 28 seconds left in a game the Broncos were losing by five points; if you were to construct a win expectancy table and then plug every play from the 2009 season into it, Orton's pass would probably come out as the most valuable pass of the season. Before that pass, Orton had -22 DYAR, which would have ranked him seven places lower. Obviously, Orton deserves very little of the credit that the numbers award him. But hey, he just wins!
15.
Aaron Rodgers GB
17/28
184
1
0
21
17
4
While it was overshadowed by the Jay Cutler Fiasco, Rodgers didn't exactly have a great game himself. He overthrew open receivers repeatedly, both way down the field and relatively close to the line of scrimmage. Taking a 11-yard sack for a safety on third-and-13 wasn't exactly a great moment in the history of pocket presence, either; of course, we doubt you can find a Packers fan who cares after that last throw.
MNF
JaMarcus Russell OAK 12/29 208
1
2
19
13
6
16.
Carson Palmer CIN
21/33
247
0
2
17
19
-3
Victimized by several drops, mostly those of Laveranues Coles. For those of you reading Quick Reads for the first time, while we note above that Palmer had "two" interceptions, the second pick -- a Hail Mary on the game's final play -- doesn't
cost Palmer much value. We separate out Hail Mary attempts from other, standard passes, and only "punish" the quarterback for throwing an incomplete pass, not for the pick.
17.
Shaun Hill SF
18/31
209
1
0
13
13
0
Also on the "Just Wins" brigade with Orton, Hill picked up the W despite four sacks from an Arizona pass defense that would not often be described as a terror. Again, drops by Vernon Davis and Josh Morgan really hurt Hill here.
18.
Donovan McNabb PHI
10/18
79
2
1
6
-17
23
Didn't do much in the passing game to justify a high ranking, thanks to a steady diet of dumpoffs, but his rushing touchdown exemplified why Andy Reid failed to feature McNabb as a short-yardage runner a year ago. Despite McNabb's success when scrambling and on sneaks and draws, he's not exactly unbreakable. Sometimes, it's just smarter to keep a guy out of trouble.
19.
Brett Favre MIN
14/21
110
1
0
-4
-4
0
Favre had little rapport with his receivers, missing Sidney Rice in the end zone for a touchdown early in the game. Favre obviously still has some playbook studying and chemistry building to do with his receivers, but it will also help when Bernard Berrian (two targets, zero yards) gets back into the lineup at 100 percent.
20.
Chad Pennington MIA
21/29
182
1
1
-4
-4
0
Miami showed off the difference between Pennington and Pat White by having White come in for a play to heave a bomb in Ted Ginn's direction. The idea is to build an offense that just paralyzes safeties with the fear of having to cover Ginn deep or pinching in to shut down White or Ronnie Brown in the running game. The execution still leaves something to be desired, but the concept is sound.
21.
Kurt Warner ARI
26/41
288
1
2
-15
-1
-14
The notable connection of the day was Warner to Tim Hightower, but the 121 yards Hightower gained through the air ended up perpetuating more of a myth than anything else. Only six of the 14 plays actually pushed the Cardinals towards a first down, and most of Hightower's completions helped his stats and not the team's, like a nine-yard catch on third-and-16, or the seven-yard gain on first-and-25. The mystery receiver who needed to get involved was Anquan Boldin, who caught two of the five passes thrown to him for 19 yards and an interception.
22.
Brady Quinn CLE
21/35
205
1
1
-27
-35
8
Receivers don't get any of the blame for interceptions, but a fair amount of the time, they deserve some. On Quinn's pick, a horrible lob to Braylon Edwards that seemed to float for days, there was clear miscommunication. Edwards either cut inside when he was supposed to cut outside, or he didn't understand that Quinn was going to improvise and make a throw to that spot. Either way, even though Edwards made a great catch on what ended up being pass interference against the Vikings, he's not off to an auspicious start this year.
23.
David Garrard JAC
14/28
122
0
0
-27
-26
-1
24.
Marc Bulger STL
17/36
191
0
0
-31
-26
-5
25.
Matt Schaub HOU
18/33
166
0
1
-36
-37
1
The Jets don't have an elite defense. You can throw downfield on them. When you're losing, it might actually be a very good idea. Instead, only three of Schaub's 35 dropbacks ended with him throwing a pass of 15 yards or more downfield.
26.
Matt Moore CAR
6/11
63
0
1
-42
-42
0
Matt Moore could have just screamed "I'm not Jake Delhomme!" at the top of his lungs (there were about 10,000 people in the stadium when he came in, so everyone would have heard) and kneeled every time he took a snap, and people still would have cheered.
27.
Kevin Kolb PHI
7/11
23
0
0
-92
-89
-3
This was scary. Kolb's likely going to start next week, and while his poor performance against the Ravens last year could be explained away by lack of preparation and the presence of the Ravens' defense across from him, Kolb looked uneasy when he came in for Donovan McNabb, like a college quarterback that suddenly got called up to the pros one day and didn't know any of the plays. Checking down occasionally is fine, but averaging 2.1 yards per attempt is terrifying. The worst figure of the DVOA Era (minimum: 10 attempts), though, was Ryan Leaf in 1998: 1-of-15 for 4 yards, an average of 0.3 yards per attempt. Terrifying.
28.
Jay Cutler CHI
17/35
277
1
4
-110
-114
4
Everything was off. The timing wasn't there; Cutler seemed to be trying to hit the space behind his receiver's back shoulder on every throw. The luck wasn't there; usually, Johnny Jolly drops that interception. The communication wasn't there; Cutler made a few throws to the wrong shoulder or at the wrong time, including the game-ender to Al Harris. Cutler's worst game as a Bear over the next five years might just have came in his debut.
29.
Matt Stafford DET
16/37
205
0
3
-124
-132
8
Stafford appeared to get a copy of the playbook with only one route written in for each play, since it was the only read and progression he seemed to go through. Every criticism we heard of Stafford coming out of college -- that he wasn't mobile enough, that he relied on his arm too heavily, that he was prone to bouts of inaccuracy because of inconsistent mechanics -- came out against the Saints. And it's not like the Saints have anything resembling a good pass defense. It's not fair to judge Stafford based upon his first start, so we won't, but things did not look good out there.
30.
Jake Delhomme CAR
7/17
73
0
4
-229
-234
5
-234 DYAR ties Delhomme with Anthony Wright for the 15th-worst game by any quarterback in the DVOA Era. Delhomme's game against the Cardinals last winter scored -209 DYAR. Anyone who can explain why the Panthers felt the need to lock Delhomme up with a new five-year, $42.5 million deal this offseason is smarter than we are.

RUNNING BACKS

Five most valuable running backs
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Adrian Peterson MIN
180
3
18
0
81
69
12
Sometimes, the stats agree with your eyes. We don't keep statistics for things like "Defenders batted aside like so many ants", but Peterson would be leading in that category, too. Those 12 receiving DYAR are just an added bonus for a player who has struggled to be an effective, consistent receiver out of the backfield as a pro.
MNF
Fred Jackson BUF

57

0
80
1

61

8
54
2.
Jamal Lewis CLE
57
0
47
0
50
20
30
He's second even without an opponent adjustment for the quality of the Vikings' defense, which is surprising. He was only average on the ground, but he picked up first downs of 10 yards or more on all three of the passes thrown to him. Over 15 yards after catch per attempt for a running back is pretty impressive.
3.
Cadillac Williams TB
97
1
0
0
47
47
0
Eight of his 13 carries went for five yards or more, and a ninth carry was a one-yard plunge set up by his 35-yard run in the second quarter. His return from two different torn patella injuries is remarkable, and while it's impossible to promise that it'll continue considering Williams' past, Buccaneers fans should savor the return of one of their most talented players while he's around and in the lineup.
4.
Willis McGahee BAL
44
1
31
1
43
13
29
Five passes yielded four completions, three first downs, and a touchdown, while half his carries went for four yards or more, and he converted a fourth-and-one that sealed the deal for Baltimore. If this is how he looks in a part-time role, we wish he'd been in a jobshare since he left Miami.
5.
Marion Barber DAL
79
1
0
0
36
36
0
Barber gained 21 yards on three carries to right tackle or right end. He gained 20 yards on six carries on runs to the other side of the line. There wasn't much of a three-headed hydra: Tashard Choice had two carries, and while Felix Jones had a carry that went 19 yards, his other five carries went for a total of three yards. Although we're not jumping to conclusions, it certainly appears that MBIII is the lead back as of now.


Least valuable running back
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Willie Parker PIT
19
0
5
0
-30
-36
6
It's hard not to muster a single first down on 13 carries, but Parker managed to do it Thursday night. Five of those 13 carries went for either a loss or no gain, so the "bust" in "boom-and-bust" is still around. His nickname of "Fast" no longer applies, but "Plodding" Willie Parker doesn't have much of a ring to it.

WIDE RECEIVERS AND TIGHT ENDS

Five most valuable wide receivers and tight ends
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Santonio Holmes PIT
9
11
131
14.6
1
67
Those people that suggested that Santonio Holmes was primed for a huge breakout year are off to a good start, as Holmes mirrored his Super Bowl XLIII numbers on Thursday night. All the completions but one went for first downs, and perhaps most importantly, he was dominant in all ranges of the passing game. That's essential to being an elite receiver.
2.
Patrick Crayton DAL
4
6
135
33.8
1
56
Only Crayton's last two reception attempts were of much notice, but considering they were completed for a total of 124 yards, well, they were worth waiting for. Ideally, Crayton should be working out of the slot and terrorizing nickelbacks and safeties; only time will tell whether the Cowboys place him permanently on the outside.
3.
Devin Hester CHI
4
4
90
22.5
1
54
If you promised the Bears four catches for 90 yards from Hester every week, they'd lock themselves into a contract. Three of Hester's four receptions were for 20 yards or more, each picked up a first down, one went for a touchdown ... Hester packed as much into these four passes as even he could.
MNF
Ben Watson NE
6
7 77 12.8 2
49
4.
Reggie Wayne IND
10
14
162
16.2
1
47
The interception in the end zone doesn't look good, but Wayne was pretty much flawless beyond that. Only seven of his 14 targets went for first downs or touchdowns, but Wayne had to put up that sort of day Sunday or the Colts simply weren't going to win.
5.
Jerricho Cotchery NYJ
6
7
90
15.0
0
47
Six consecutive completions of 10 yards or more, six first downs. No touchdown, which depresses his totals some.


Least valuable wide receiver or tight end
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
5.
Steve Smith CAR
3
13
21
7.0
0
-53
Smith was the intended receiver on four different interceptions on Sunday. I don't know when that's happened last, but it might very well be the first time. He wasn't great even when the ball came closer to him, catching three of the other nine passes for a total of 21 yards. Ouch.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 15 Sep 2009

74 comments, Last at 16 Sep 2009, 5:53pm by Jerry

Comments

1
by Podge (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 12:07pm

Jesus, Delhomme hasn't cracked the top 10 of worse QB DYARs yet? Care to say what the worst ones are?

23
by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 1:20pm

I second that - if that low-yardage interfest doesn't crack the top-10 worst ever, I'd really like to see who was involved and how abysmally they played.

2
by Israel P. (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 12:08pm

Ben and Brady each had DYAR of 159 and FO puts Ben first.

This is big news.

10
by dbostedo :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 12:29pm

My guess? In case of a tie for QBs, higher Pass DYAR numbers come first. Or maybe Brady's second because it's the Monday night addition. Or maybe it's random. Whatever.

11
by ammek :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 12:34pm

It's not your first suggestion: see Ryan/Sanchez.

It could be that Big Ben reached his score roughly 90 hours before Brady.

Either way, the fact that someone noticed it and considered commenting on it says a lot about the mentality of the people who come on here to pick holes. Did nobody notice any of the analysis, humor, attempts to contextualize the numbers?

37
by steelberger (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 2:33pm

Maybe it's alphabetical order...or maybe it is by longest last name...

My guess? I think the suggestion that it is because the passing DYAR was higher is probably correct.

46
by jimbohead :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 2:58pm

or perhaps the dyar doesn't spit out whole numbers, but when they put out the excel sheet, it truncates it. Therefore, the sort function still sorts on the decimal places, which are not reported, as they are not significant.

50
by mm (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 3:41pm

Maybe there are fractions that are left off the grid. (perhaps one player has 159.74 and the other has 159.4, for example)

52
by mm (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 3:47pm

oops, repeated same idea as above.

Sorry, should have hi refresh before replying (didn't realize I had left this window open so long).

56
by Temo :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 4:21pm

Its really because I told Barnwell last night that Brady would have top 3 DYAR for the week, and he said no, top 5 or top 10 or some such.

72
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Wed, 09/16/2009 - 12:33pm

Probably because Roth had fewer attempts than Brady and was therefore more efficient.

EDIT: No, nevermind. I see that can't be it, since in other cases the player with more attempts is ranked higher.

74
by Jerry :: Wed, 09/16/2009 - 5:53pm

Looks like the MNF guys just get slotted in without "officially" being ranked. Don't overthink it.

3
by Temo :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 12:08pm

I'm surprised the Cowboys Offense graded out so well. They had exactly the kind of offense on Sunday that DVOA tends to hate: lots of ineffectiveness puncuated by a few big plays.

34
by The Powers That Be :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 2:29pm

DVOA did hate it and they didn't grade out so well. Look at Romo vs. Brady: Romo threw for about the same yardage on half as many passes (YPA = 13.1 vs. 7.1), threw one more TD, didn't throw an INT, and only ended up with 23 (14%) more DYAR. He had the same yardage as Brees on 7 fewer attempts and didn't throw an INT, but only had 60% of the DYAR. Yeah, I know there's a 3 TD difference there, but still. He finished 2nd only because of how ridiculously good the good plays were (Dallas was the only team with more than one 40-yard pass completion, and they had four, three of which went for TDs.

4
by djanyreason :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 12:11pm

Wasn't the CW in Roethlisberger's rookie year that he can beat the blitz, so you just have to drop back into zone coverage and wait for him to make mistakes?

7
by Sidewards :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 12:18pm

That was back when he had an above-average offensive line, and a whole heck of a lot less experience. Now blitzes often succeed because his pump fakes don't help when Kearse runs untouched into his face.

5
by Anonymous61849 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 12:13pm

I don't understand the average win totals you listed for teams that win or lose on week 1. How can half of the league average 9 wins and the other half average 6? There seems to be 1 missing.

9
by AnonymousA (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 12:23pm

This is, indeed, confusing. I'm also curious why the stat is downplayed. "Don't worry if your team lost week 1, that's only the difference between 9 wins and a probably playoff berth, and 6 wins and an early offseason!"

Somehow, that seems like a Big Deal.

12
by dbostedo :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 12:39pm

Losing in week 1 is NOT the difference between 9 wins and 6 wins. A win or loss in week 1 does not determine that. That would be confusing cause and effect.

Here's how I look at it. Assume that you can only have 2 options - a good team or a bad team. If your team is actually a good team, a week 1 loss is just that with no further significance. The same if your team is bad. A good team doesn't go on to have a bad season just because they lost in the first week. And a bad team will be bad regardless.

So the cause of a week 1 loss is because you are already a bad team about to have a bad season; Or you have a good team that just had a loss. It doesn't go the other way around.

The reason this might seem to be the case is that bad teams are more likely to lose in week 1, whatever the expectations for the season are. Those teams go on to have bad years, which may seem to be blamed on early season losses.

All that stat is pointing out is that you really can't tell which case you have. Good teams lose their opener fairly frequently (not as often as bad teams, which makes sense) but enough that jumping to any conclusion after week 1 is foolish.

29
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 1:51pm

It's not a big deal because (as Bill should have written but did not), winning or losing in Week 1 is no different than winning or losing in Week 2, Week 3, etc. Every win and every loss count the same regardless of what week it is.

13
by Yaguar :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 12:40pm

They average six MORE wins. Read the sentence again. The average week one loser goes 7-9.

14
by Anonymous65165 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 12:47pm

They have zero wins after week 1, so wouldn't 6 more bring them to a total of 6?

17
by Will :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 12:58pm

It does appear as though a win is missing somewhere. 5.9 (losers) + 8.1 (winners) + 1.0 (week 1) = 15.

Will

19
by PantsB (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 1:00pm

And six MORE wins when you start with zero is six. They most likely meant 7-9 since that is the only way the math works but that's not what it says.

28
by djanyreason :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 1:42pm

I strongly suspect what happened here is that the stat says win 9 more games, but Bill misread/misremembered it as "win 9 games" then subtracted 1 for the game already won - which is not in the "more games" count.

60
by Keith (1) (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 4:49pm

I do not think the games are additive. It will not be equal because you can look at two teams playing 16 games each; one will not lose necessarily as many games as the other team won. All 32 teams have an equal number of wins and losses (assuming no ties), but two teams in abstract do not make your equal split.

That is to say -- the Lions may win 6 games, but that does not mean the Patriots will only win 9. They can win or lose any number greater or fewer than than that.

Does it make more sense to you now?

6
by Anonawesomous (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 12:15pm

RE: Flacco - the playbook was "opened up" here was because the Ravens were trailing and playing the Chiefs. Expect the passing to drop some next week, when he plays San Diego.

Aren't the Chargers supposed to have a slightly more potent offense than the Chiefs?

8
by andrew :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 12:21pm

In 2008, the Chargers, Colts, and Dolphins all lost in Week 1 and managed to make the playoffs.

As did the Vikings...

15
by ammek :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 12:49pm

Pleased to see Quick Reads on the main site. Maybe it's just early in the season, but it seems like there's more content than before. If so, that would make the extra day's wait worthwhile.

In one respect, Kolb's numbers are worse than Leaf's. Leaf managed an extra 0.7 yards per completion. Of course, he only had the one completion, but let's not get pedantic.

OK, one wee piece of pedantry. Would it be possible either to highlight the Total (D)VOA column, or to repeat the column headings halfway down the QBs' table? That would prevent repeated scanning up for those (like me) who are put out by multiple columns of numbers.

16
by Opie (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 12:58pm

Flacco wasn't throwing because the Ravens were behind. I'm not going to go so far as to say that the offense won't go back to being more run oriented, but here's the breakdown of plays from that game:

Baltimore tied/ahead (entire first half)-32 passes 10 runs
Baltimore ahead 2nd half - 7 passes 4 runs
Baltimore behind - 4 passes 7 runs
Baltimore ahead - 3 passes 1 run
Tie game - 8 passes 10 runs
Baltimore ahead (end of game) 0 passes 4 runs.

I wouldn't bet the farm on Flacco being put back in the shed just yet.

18
by Sometime FO Reader (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 12:59pm

Some other numbers that don't quite add up:

Half the teams (i.e. the winning teams) make the playoffs 54.3% of the time, for a total of 16*0.543 = 8.69 playoff teams.

Half the teams (i.e. the losing teams) make the playoffs 24.7% of the time, for a total of 16*0.247 = 3.95 playoff teams.

And yet the NFL obviously has 12 playoff teams per year rather than 8.69 + 3.95 = 12.64.

Perhaps this seems nitpicky, but it makes me question the overall validity of the numbers.

26
by Thunderbolt of ... :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 1:29pm

I'm guessing this was because these numbers include years when there were 31, 30, and possibly even 28 teams. Fewer teams = higher probability of each team making the playoffs.

20
by Eddo :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 1:09pm

"[I]f you were to construct a win expectancy table and then plug every play from the 2009 season into it, Orton's pass would probably come out as the most valuable pass of the season."

According to Brian's WPA model on his Advanced NFL Stats blog, that play was worth 0.93 wins (going from 0.03 probability to 0.96 probability). [Link to game]

21
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 1:12pm

Has any qb benefitted more from having a great receiver as a teammate than Delhomme? Culpepper would be in the conversation if Moss hadn't been traded. Smith may be slipping now, and perhaps that is contributing to Delhomme's overexposure.

If Delhommehe had been signed by any number of teams, and not just awful ones, he never would have come close to making the money he did. He's 34 years old, fer' cryin' out loud! $20 million guaranteed?

22
by Keith` (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 1:14pm

So the "week one winners average more than 9 win, while week one losers average less than 7" stat is a prime example of confusing correlation with causation.

Newsflash, better teams win more games, including the games on week one.

41
by Temo :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 2:41pm

Ah, amateur statisticians. You teach 'em a phrase and they run with it to all sorts of places.

I can't wait till we get to more advanced stuff, like statistical regularity. Then you can interject with "NUH UH, LAW OF LARGE NUMBERS!!1!ONE!1!"

When I see someone incorrectly or inarticulately spout off with Benford's law, I'll know we'll have truly arrived.

24
by Bill Barnwell :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 1:27pm

You guys are correct -- I subtracted one win from each Week 1 record in my head from the chart in PFP08. It should be 9.1 wins total for teams that win Week 1 (8.1 wins from Week 1 on) and 6.9 wins total for teams that lose Week 1 (5.9 wins total).

22 - I never said anything about cause or effect.

53
by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 3:58pm

Bill -

As much as we appreciate yous guyses regular work, you and the others better develop some thick skin as your site grows in reputation and exposure. You're going to end up with an increasing number of posts from a decreasingly mathematically-oriented audience.

Not that I'm a full-on stats whiz myself, but at least I can recognize that.

25
by Phoenix138 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 1:28pm

Bill, in an interview you did with the Minnesota Star Tribune you mentioned that Jay Cutler's interception rate was "flukily high" and would regress back towards league average this year. When you say interception rate, are you referring to the percentage of passes the defenders hold onto that they would normally drop?

I mention this because in Cutler's write-up above you stated that the luck wasn't there for Cutler and refer to Jolly's one-handed interception of the screen pass. Isn't that somewhat canceled out by the 3 other drops by defenders that Cutler enjoyed in the game?

27
by Bill Barnwell :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 1:34pm

I was just referring to his rate of interceptions / attempts. Not sure if he had a crazy number of dropped interceptions last week.

I will admit that saying Cutler's interception rate was "flukily high" sure didn't look good this week.

You're right that Cutler definitely got away with a few. One thing people forget, though, when they're trying to defend or attack a quarterback, is that every quarterback benefits from a few dropped interceptions a year. Defenders simply don't hold onto a lot of the gifts they get.

That doesn't excuse Cutler's performance, though.

30
by loneweasel (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 2:08pm

I think it's way too early to start panicking about any projections at this point. Some single-game performances are so ridiculously at variance to projections it's best to throw them away for the moment. Cutler, Palmer, Texans offense are all examples this week.

54
by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 4:07pm

Are you saying that John Carlson won't have 1,600 yars and 32 TDs this year?

57
by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 4:35pm

Actually, the most shining example of what you're saying is the presence of Scott Mitchell on the 'all-time 300 DYAR' list.

Scott 'Beware the Detroit juggernaut!' Mitchell.

On an unrelated note - captcha is telling me to 'organiza massacre'. I'm concerned...

31
by Phoenix138 :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 2:09pm

Thanks for the reply, Bill.

So with that explanation I don't see how an interception rate can be flukily high. Throwing interceptions (or rather, not throwing them) is a skill, right? It would seem like that would be similar to saying that Donovan McNabbs's interception rate was flukily low and we should see it increase this year. But there are reasons why McNabb doesn't throw many interceptions.

In Cutler's first season as a starter he threw an interception roughly every 33 attempts. In his second season he threw one every 34 attempts.

Am I missing something?

44
by Arkaein :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 2:45pm

I think that a QB having a flukily high INT rate means that his INT rate is higher than expected relative to his completion percentage.

I remember a few years back that FO was warning about Eli Manning's performance looking too good because he had a stretch where he had a really low number of INTs despite a low completion percentage (somewhere in the mid-fifties). Eli soon delivered his 3 INT game against the Vikings, a couple of which were easy pop flies to centerfield.

I think that FO research has shown that completion percentage is often a better predictor of INT rate than INTs are, at least over sample sizes of a season or less. Generally speaking, accurate QBs are picked less often than inaccurate ones.

I can't comment on Cutler specifically without looking into his stats in detail, but I think this is the basic idea.

32
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 2:17pm

"Houshmandzadeh has averaged 10.2 and 9.8 yards per catch the past two seasons, which is barely enough to be an effective receiver unless you're making up for it in volume (Wes Welker)"

Welker doesn't do it with Volume, he does it with Catch rate. His yards per target are much higher than a typical 10 ypc receiver.

33
by Bill Barnwell :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 2:18pm

It's a combination of quarterback interception rates getting better as they get older and the makeup of Cutler's interception rate last year (almost all on third down).

After last night, of course, I seem pretty wrong. But hey -- there are 15 games! We'll see.

38
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 2:35pm

Cutler looked bad Bill, but the Bears offensive line(especially the middle) looked worse.

unfortunately, thats probably not going to fix itself.

42
by Kanye West (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 2:43pm

Bill Barnwell does not understand the "reply" button.

43
by Big Johnson (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 2:45pm

I got two trains of thought right now and was wondering if the site could look into them.

1. The qb sneak is invincible. When i was watching the end of the OSU USC game when USC had the ball on about the 4 yard line on a 3rd and 1 i thought, what if they ran 5 or 6 qb sneaks in a row. There is about a minute and a half left in the game. This would serve two purposes. Its impossible to stop a qb sneak so its pretty much a gauranteed touchdown. Secondly, the clock would be bone dry due to all the (effective) running. What is the deviance on a qb sneak? Is it a lock to gain 1 yard with an upside of sometimes 2 yards?

2. Did anyone see the pass play at the end of the first half in the charger raider game? The overturned TD? I was watching and it seemed obvious to me that it was an incomplete pass. Possession of the ball has to be held throughout the catch. Is this only obvious to me cause its the outcome i wanted? If santonio holmes hits the ground on his superbowl catch and the ball rolls out isnt it the same thing? Just cause its the middle of the field doesnt mean there are different rules. Im curious on this one cause a lot of fans are making it sound like "hochuli #2". I know he wasnt the ref but yeah you get the point.

45
by Big Johnson (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 2:49pm

I got two trains of thought right now and was wondering if the site could look into them.

1. The qb sneak is invincible. When i was watching the end of the OSU USC game when USC had the ball on about the 4 yard line on a 3rd and 1 i thought, what if they ran 5 or 6 qb sneaks in a row. There is about a minute and a half left in the game. This would serve two purposes. Its impossible to stop a qb sneak so its pretty much a gauranteed touchdown. Secondly, the clock would be bone dry due to all the (effective) running. What is the deviance on a qb sneak? Is it a lock to gain 1 yard with an upside of sometimes 2 yards?

2. Did anyone see the pass play at the end of the first half in the charger raider game? The overturned TD? I was watching and it seemed obvious to me that it was an incomplete pass. Possession of the ball has to be held throughout the catch. Is this only obvious to me cause its the outcome i wanted? If santonio holmes hits the ground on his superbowl catch and the ball rolls out isnt it the same thing? Just cause its the middle of the field doesnt mean there are different rules. Im curious on this one cause a lot of fans are making it sound like "hochuli #2". I know he wasnt the ref but yeah you get the point.

47
by Big Johnson (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 3:11pm

I got two trains of thought right now and was wondering if the site could look into them.

1. The qb sneak is invincible. When i was watching the end of the OSU USC game when USC had the ball on about the 4 yard line on a 3rd and 1 i thought, what if they ran 5 or 6 qb sneaks in a row. There is about a minute and a half left in the game. This would serve two purposes. Its impossible to stop a qb sneak so its pretty much a gauranteed touchdown. Secondly, the clock would be bone dry due to all the (effective) running. What is the deviance on a qb sneak? Is it a lock to gain 1 yard with an upside of sometimes 2 yards?

2. Did anyone see the pass play at the end of the first half in the charger raider game? The overturned TD? I was watching and it seemed obvious to me that it was an incomplete pass. Possession of the ball has to be held throughout the catch. Is this only obvious to me cause its the outcome i wanted? If santonio holmes hits the ground on his superbowl catch and the ball rolls out isnt it the same thing? Just cause its the middle of the field doesnt mean there are different rules. Im curious on this one cause a lot of fans are making it sound like "hochuli #2". I know he wasnt the ref but yeah you get the point.

49
by Big Johnson (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 3:15pm

Ive had a double post before but never a triple post. sorry guys

58
by dbostedo :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 4:35pm

Only one quick one - I would disagree that the QB sneak is invincible. I don't know what the success rate is for a QB sneak to get 1 yard, or 2, or 1/2 etc. (maybe someone has that data, but I doubt it). But it most certainly doesn't work all of the time, especially at the goal line where the defense has less field to defend. I don't think it's a guaranteed touchdown at all...

61
by DGL :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 4:51pm

Thinking of the "deviance" on a quarterback sneak, where the QB reaches between the legs of the center, grabs the ball, and burrows in tight behind him...

Excuse me, I have to go burn out my eyeballs with acid.

35
by The Guy You Don't Want to Hear (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 2:31pm

Cutler continues to become that which we most fear--the second coming of Princess.

Notice he throws 4 interceptions and it's explained away quickly as his "worst game as a Bear in the next 5 years." Everyone else is searching for ways to blame his receivers, the line, or the GB defense. (And I'm not meaning to pick on Bill for that statement, since it is the closest to actual criticism of Fa--I mean Cutler--I have seen so far and it is fair to say that he probably won't play that badly every week. Just making the point about the media's treatment of Cutler.)

Cutler, I have seen thy future, and it is here in Minnesota, grey beard and all.

70
by Jimmy :: Wed, 09/16/2009 - 8:16am

Most people seem to be blaming Cutler. Having said that there were clearly communication issues between the QB and the receivers, it happens and people will (understandably) try to figure out what happened to cause some of the problems. Highly vaunted TEs dropping just about every throw to them can't help and on some occasions the ball hit them right in the hands; what is the point of blaming those on Cutler?

Oh and if the future is Favre what is the problem? Most people would be quite happy with 3 MVP awards and a Superbowl.

36
by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 2:31pm

One week doesn't mean much but Favre had a couple of drops that would have led to first downs and Rice was about an inch out of bounds on a 30+ yard almost TD pass. Add those two in and you have a pretty solid week.

51
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 3:46pm

Has Aaron ever mentioned giving qbs credit for pass interference calls as is done with receivers?

39
by Hurt Bones :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 2:37pm

"the reason the playbook was "opened up" here was because the Ravens were trailing and playing the Chiefs. Expect the passing to drop some next week, when he plays San Diego."

Except of course they didn't. Flacco threw for 175 yds (57% of his total) and 25 of his 43 attempts in the first half. The Raven had 44 yds rushing in the first half when they were ahead and 153 yards rushing in the second half. So in reality the Ravens throttled down their passing attack in the second half.

40
by Ravens (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 2:40pm

Flacco - threw 25 times in the first half when the Ravens were winning, only 18 in the second half, including during the one drive when they were trailing. It wasn't like the Ravens were behind by big numbers and began throwing the ball all over the field. They were throwing the ball over the field the entire game.

48
by Geo B :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 3:13pm

Thanks for a great writeup, glad to see Quick Reads here on the site.

Very true to have not-Fast Willie Parker as your worst RB. Tough call on how much of the problem was no hole, and how much was Willie Parker doing anything but running fast. Dancing, side-stepping, goose stepping, whatever - just not running well - but then again Mewelde Moore and Rashard Mendenhall fared little better.

My son and I were screaming at the TV, stop dancing and run. Hey guys, how about a pitch or two and try to get him outside?

Steeler fan trapped in Houston!
Six Time SB Champs! ;-)

55
by rk (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 4:13pm

You mention that one of Carson Palmer's INTs was discounted as it was a Hail Mary. Did you make this correction for Ben Roethlisberger? The table says 2 INTs, but one was the Hail Mary on the last play of the 1st half.

59
by Matt W (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 4:37pm

I think the interception is discounted in DYAR and such stats but not in the interception stat itself. So Ben and Palmer had two interceptions each, and each had a Hail Mary intercepted, so they only get counted as having had one INT for DYAR calculations. (Not to mention that Ben's Hail Mary almost got run back for six -- I figure that has to be rare enough that it still makes sense to count it as equivalent to an incomplete.)

69
by ammek :: Wed, 09/16/2009 - 4:53am

And you can add JaMarcus Russell to the hailmaryers.

62
by Craig B (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 4:53pm

"Defensive backs don't play wide receiver because they can't catch." Terry Bradshaw, circa 1978, when asked why he threw into double coverage so often. Of course, throwing to Swann and Stallworth in double coverage was a lot more productive than throwing to Hester, Knox, and Bennett.

Seriously, Green Bay's secondary played well, or was it the Bears' receivers who played poorly? It's hard to tell until several games into the season, which is why DVOA opponent adjustments do not get made for the first several weeks.

And I liked an analyst's (I can't remember which one) comment about Cutler, despite his obvious tools, being a .500 QB. Uh, guy, in Denver he had minimal run support and a consistently awful defense and in college he was at Vanderbilt, in the SEC. Being a .500 QB in those circumstances is a glowing recommendation, not a knock. When you can post a .500 record in the NFL when your defense is ranked in the bottom quarter of the league in yards and points allowed and rarely collects turnovers, you're pretty good. Most QB's in that situation go 5-11 or so.

71
by MCS :: Wed, 09/16/2009 - 9:02am

How long is Cutler going to get the "no weapons" defense? Dundy has criticized his leadership. Martz has criticized his leadership. Shanahan has criticized him. When confronted with the aging Green Bay secondary and the multiple fronts along the line, he collapsed like a house of cards.

Meanwhile, Rodgers was hit damn near every time he dropped back. Yet, when the game was on the line, he turned his back to the rush to execute the play action, paused to look off the safety and then hit Jennings in stride.

73
by tuluse :: Wed, 09/16/2009 - 12:59pm

Although Hester had a 100% completion rate on passes thrown his way.

63
by D :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 5:42pm

Hey Bill, where do Delhomme's last two games rank on the list of worst two game stretch in DVOA history?

64
by masoch (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 6:05pm

I know this kind of thing has been asked before, but I don't remember the outcome, or where I saw it:
Re: Cadillac Williams
"Eight of his 13 carries went for five yards or more, and a ninth carry was a one-yard plunge set up by his 35-yard run in the second quarter."

What would his DYAR have been IF:
a) The 35-yard run had been a 36-yard TD instead?
b) The one-yard plunge had been given to a recently re-signed Mike Alstott instead?

67
by T. Diddy :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 8:54pm

I don't know the exact numbers, but I would guess the delta for both would be pretty small, as converting a one-yard plunge to the goal line would be neither much above nor much below the replacement-level expectation, and getting to the 1 is almost as useful as scoring.

68
by masoch (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 10:22pm

Exactly. I'm just trying to get a quantification of that, as it'd *really* help my understanding of DYAR. I mean, are we talking a difference of .1 DYAR? More? Less? (And thus the minute differences between A and B would be interesting to see as well.)

65
by johonny (not verified) :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 6:23pm

It's hard to imagine Fasano was more valuable than anyone last week. 2 catches, 2 fumbles.

66
by Dan :: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 6:46pm

I'm curious about the first half-second half splits for Cutler. If I've counted right on the play-by-play, in the first half he was 8/21 for 127 yds, 0 td, and 3 int, and 68 of those yards came on one play. In the second half he was 9/14 for 150 yards, 1 td, and 1 int, and 8 of those 9 completions were successful plays. That looks to me like an above replacement half.