Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» OFI: SEC Surprises

In an opening week where even the elite teams in college football looked mortal, the SEC had two big surprises in Texas A&M and Georgia defeating their South Carolinian opponents by big scores.

17 Nov 2009

Week 10 Quick Reads

by Bill Barnwell

(Ed. Note: Quick Reads appears on ESPN Insider on Monday, then gets republished on FO on Tuesdays, with added ratings for Monday Night Football. The original introduction to this week's Quick Reads on ESPN analyzed Bill Belichick's decision to go for it on fourth-and-2 against the Colts on Sunday night. We wanted to prevent discussion of that play from overwhelming discussion of the other 14 games this week, so we moved that commentary into its own post. You can read that here. Please use the thread below to talk about Quick Reads and other games rather than fourth-and-2. Thanks. -- Aaron Schatz)

Click here to learn more about what DYAR numbers mean and how they are computed. This is the first week of 2009 where opponent adjustments are at full strength.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
1.
Kurt Warner ARI
29/37
340
2
0
247
248
-1
Even by Kurt Warner standards, he had a hot streak in this game. After throwing two incompletions to start off the second quarter, he went on a rampage: 23-of-25 (with a 19-yard defensive pass interference penalty) for 330 yards, 13 first downs, and two touchdowns. That's unholy, the sort of stuff you do playing video games in beginner mode. Considering the diabolically easy schedule Warner's about to run through over the next six weeks, you might be looking at your NFL MVP.
2.
Tom Brady NE
29/42
375
3
1
210
212
-2
In the never-ending chess match between the Patriots and the Colts, New England's game plan was to isolate Randy Moss in one-on-one coverage down the field against one of Indy's inexperienced cornerbacks or overmatched safeties. Like many things in life, it worked until it didn't work; after Brady's 63-yard touchdown pass to Moss, the Colts adapted, and Brady only threw two passes of 15 yards or more down the field the rest of the way: The 36-yard pass to Benjamin Watson on the very next play, and the interception in the end zone intended for Moss. Brady never went deep again, but in all fairness, he followed that interception by completing 11 consecutive passes. So it's not like the Colts were stopping them with this adjustment, either.
3.
Philip Rivers SD
20/25
231
2
0
189
189
0
His raw numbers pale in comparison to Donovan McNabb's, but Rivers went 20-of-25 against the pass defense that DVOA believes to be the best in football. Philadelphia took away Vincent Jackson, who only had one catch for 10 yards, so Rivers adapted: Antonio Gates caught seven passes for 78 yards, while his touchdowns were thrown to Legedu Naanee (on a blown coverage by Asante Samuel, who had a phantom safety behind him) and fullback Mike Tolbert.
4.
Donovan McNabb PHI
35/55
450
2
1
187
187
0
Both of McNabb's touchdowns and a fair chunk of his yardage came after his team was down 19 points in the fourth quarter, and while 450 yards in the air is an impressive total, consider that the Eagles were only able to run for 29 yards all game. That's brutal. Of course, if they could convert in short-yardage, no one would be complaining. That's where McNabb needs to come into play; historically, he's been great on sneaks, and although one failed against Cowboys, they need to run more of them in lieu of handoffs that allow people into the backfield.
5.
Peyton Manning IND
28/44
327
4
2
178
178
0
It was a wildly inconsistent game from Manning, albeit one that ended up being effective over the long haul. He followed his prettiest pass of the season -- a strike to Pierre Garcon that hit him in the stride on the fingertips -- with one of the ugliest, a miscommunication-driven duck that nearly put the Colts out of it down ten points with 7:54 left. Manning actually had a better rate of picking up a new set of downs or a touchdown on first down (11-of-21) than on third down (4-of-11), despite facing an average of only 6.4 yards to go on those third down attempts.
6.
Brett Favre MIN
20/29
344
1
0
149
149
0
7.
Marc Bulger STL
26/40
298
2
1
124
120
5
If this was the best Marc Bulger had left, well, it's good, but not good enough. His conversion on fourth down to Brandon Gibson to extend the game with 1:21 left nearly ended it; he saw an open receiver and promptly hit him in the shoelaces. Converting four of the 12 third downs he faced wasn't particularly impressive, especially considering the good situations he was being placed in by the effective running of Steven Jackson -- on those third downs, he had an average of 7.2 yards to go. That leaves a fair amount of makable ones that weren't, especially considering that one of the plays he converted was his 29-yard touchdown pass to Donnie Avery on third-and-15.
8.
Kyle Orton DEN
11/18
193
2
0
111
108
4
Before suffering an ankle injury, Orton successfully executed his gameplan of attacking the safeties in the Redskins' scheme, who were delighted to blow coverages and look for phantom run plays in the backfield. The concern now is how much the ankle injury affects Orton over the second half of the year; remember, Orton played far worse after injuring his ankle a year ago.
9.
David Garrard JAC
16/26
221
1
0
109
98
11
We don't process game tape quick enough to analyze who was in coverage on every given play within 24 hours, but it's pretty clear that the Jaguars had a simple game plan when throwing the ball: Avoid Darrelle Revis and go after Lito Sheppard. It worked; Revis was generally effective against Sims-Walker, but the Jaguars' top receiver scored his touchdown when Sheppard was in coverage.
10.
Vince Young TEN
17/25
210
1
1
108
109
-1
Buffalo has a very good pass defense, which boosts Young's numbers up some, but there's still a lot of issues with Young's passing. His interception was an ugly throw and a misread against one-deep coverage, gifting Jairus Byrd his latest pick. He nearly gave the ball away with a terrible throw to Bo Scaife in the end zone, one play before throwing a touchdown to Nate Washington. As long as Chris Johnson continues to be Chris Johnson, though, no one will be complaining in Tennessee. In fact, people can probably find those stories about Kerry Collins knowing how to win and just re-print them with Young's name in them.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
11.
Jason Campbell WAS
18/26
193
1
0
92
87
5
Our favorite talking point showed off his usual mix of hits and misses. He was accurate up and down the field, converted five of the 11 third downs he faced, and held onto the football. On the other hand, he was sacked three times, took an intentional grounding penalty deep in Denver territory, and constantly looked worried that he was going to end up embedded in the turf at any given moment. It's a day that scales up because of how good Denver's pass defense has been this season.
12.
Jake Delhomme CAR
15/24
195
2
0
69
69
0
When Carolina gets their rushing offense going, it's not hard for Delhomme to look good and put up gaudy numbers with single coverage on the outside. That usually means that he's throwing to Steve Smith, and while Smith scored twice on the day, he only had 34 yards on four catches. The big yardage producer was Muhsin Muhammad, who had three catches of 20 yards or more on the day. Losing Jordan Gross will dampen the Panthers' receivers ability to get downfield, but more importantly, it will hurt the running game.
13.
Carson Palmer CIN
18/30
178
0
0
50
49
1
14.
Matt Ryan ATL
22/41
224
1
2
31
38
-7
It would be easy to look at Ryan's end-of-game numbers and suggest that he started performing worse after Michael Turner went down after a high ankle sprain, but that wasn't the case; he went 17-of-29 for 179 yards with a touchdown (and two interceptions) after Turner limped off the field. The place Turner's absence was felt instead was in short-yardage. Jason Snelling was stuffed twice in the row from the one-yard line, forcing Atlanta to pass for a touchdown on fourth down, while a Ryan sneak attempt in a later series was foiled on third-and-1 from the Carolina 16, and the ensuing field goal attempt was no good.
15.
Drew Brees NO
18/25
223
2
2
31
31
0
He did throw two picks in what ended up being a very close game against a very bad pass defense, but Brees was almost perfect otherwise, going 18-of-23 with two scores and putting the game out of reach with a pass to Marques Colston … only for Colston to fumble into the end zone. The combination of brilliance with turnovers against such a poor defense leads to a middling day.
16.
Chad Henne MIA
17/29
175
1
1
29
29
0
Our stats underestimate what a mind-bogglingly bad throw Henne's late-game interception was. Not only was there no one close to catching the ball in a Dolphins uniform, but there was no earthly reason why Henne should've made a throw into anything resembling traffic. That's a situation reserved for only the safest of throws. In all fairness, Dan Henning shouldn't have put Henne into that situation, but it was the worst decision of the weekend, and that includes Sunday night.
MNF.
Joe Flacco BAL
13/18
155
0
0
22
22
0
17.
Trent Edwards BUF
18/28
185
1
1
9
24
-15
Any hype about Edwards coming into this season was misguided because of the arrival of a beat-up Terrell Owens, a rebuilt offensive line, and the fact that Edwards' average performance last year had more to do with a historically-easy schedule than anything else. With that being said, we're not really sure why Edwards was benched. He had an average day against a bad pass defense, one that was finished with a pick-six with 3:02 left. It would be one thing if the Bills wanted to give a developing quarterback behind Edwards some reps in a blowout, but Edwards is their developing quarterback. Their backup is Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he doesn't belong on an NFL field without a pass around his neck. It was a knee-jerk decision that doesn't make any sense. Fitzpatrick accrued -79 DYAR in his seven attempts.
18.
Aaron Rodgers GB
26/35
193
1
0
-7
-17
10
It wasn't exactly the prettiest game from Rodgers, who averaged only 4.5 yards per pass play, but he completed nearly 70 percent of his passes and only took four sacks. He was lucky, however, that both of his fumbles, including one on the second offensive snap of the game, were recovered by his own team.
19.
Matt Cassel KC
19/34
216
0
1
-11
-1
-10
It's scary to imagine what Cassel's season would look like without Dwayne Bowe. 13 of Cassel's 40 dropbacks resulted in throws to Bowe, accruing six first downs in the process through four completions and two defensive pass interference calls. (Bowe also fumbled the ball forward for about 15 yards in the game's most prominent Keystone Kops moment.) Cassel's other 27 dropbacks resulted in a total of three first downs: Two to Chris Chambers, who barely knows the playbook, and one to Lance Long. Much like Edwards, Cassel is making a case for the quarterbacks of the 2008 AFC East as impossibly overrated thanks to their weak schedule. Then again, Cassel's playing the Raiders.
20.
Mark Sanchez NYJ
16/30
212
1
2
-17
-17
0
It was not a good game for Sanchez, who was playing DVOA's worst pass defense in football, yet barely completed 50 percent of his passes. One way the Jets could help him would be by putting him in better situations on third down. Sanchez was 5-of-6 with less than nine yards to go on third down, but faced situations with 12, 14, and 20 yards to go, predictably failing to convert.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
21.
Tony Romo DAL
24/39
252
1
1
-25
-38
13
Losing Marc Colombo is really going to affect the Cowboys. Tony Romo took five sacks on Sunday against a Packers team that was 27th in the league in our Adjusted Sack Rate measure heading into the week, and while they're not all directly related to losing Colombo, it's not a good sign. As for a book on stopping the Cowboys offense, well, the Packers shut down Marion Barber and let the rest solve itself. Before the fourth quarter, Tony Romo dropped back on third down trying to pick up conversions with 3, 9, 18, 10, 19, and 23 yards to go. He did not get a single one of them. In the fourth quarter, with the game comfortably out of reach, he had to convert from 8, 8, 10, 4, 10, and a lone yard out, and got four of them. It's simple, but if you put a team in third-and-long, they're going to punt a fair amount of the time.
22.
Matt Hasselbeck SEA
26/52
315
1
2
-28
-27
0
The Seahawks dropped Matt Hasselbeck back to throw 59 times on Sunday, a reflection of the speedy pace and back-and-forth nature of their game with Arizona. Despite converting seven of his 14 third down attempts and enjoying a surprisingly effective running game thanks to Justin Forsett, Hasselbeck didn't do enough to push his team towards the win when he had the ball in his hands. The two picks he threw down 11 points sealed the Seahawks' chances of coming back, especially his sloppy, scrambling attempt to shovel a pass to Justin Forsett in the red zone.
23.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
20/40
174
0
1
-39
-48
9
In the midst of a sterling year for the Steelers' franchise quarterback, Roethlisberger had a miserable game. Although he was only picked off once and sacked four times, several dropped interceptions and plays doomed from the start by missed blitzes were a better exhibition of the issues Roethlisberger was dealing with. Furthermore, his work on third and fourth down was abysmal, converting on one of only 13 attempts, including five chances of five yards or less.
24.
Matt Stafford DET
29/51
226
1
0
-41
-47
6
Stafford averaged only 4.4 yards on his 51 attempts, which is one of the lowest totals in recent history for quarterbacks throwing over 50 attempts in one game. Eli Manning averaged an appalling 3.5 yards per attempt in a 22-10 loss to the Redskins in 2007 shortly before leading the Giants to the Super Bowl, Donovan McNabb got to 3.9 against the Steelers in a 26-23 win in 2000, and Joey Harrington was at 4.4 in a 31-6 loss to the Packers in 2003.
25.
Alex Smith SF
16/23
118
0
1
-54
-46
-8
26.
JaMarcus Russell OAK
9/24
67
0
0
-89
-89
0
Of course, JaMarcus Russell is awful. We all know that. What does Tom Cable suddenly see, though, that he wasn't seeing a week ago? Five weeks ago? Russell still is maddeningly inconsistent, a problem that's reinforced by receivers that drop his good passes and fall down en route to his bad ones. So what that he went 0-for-11 in converting third downs? He was 15-of-72 before today, it's not like he was Peyton Manning before Sunday. All benching Russell for a few plays does, at this point, is take the little slivers of confidence that Russell might desperately be clinging onto away. If you're going to bench Russell at this point, do it for weeks, not plays.
27.
Josh Freeman TB
16/28
196
1
1
-92
-86
-6
28.
Chris Simms DEN
3/13
13
0
1
-104
-104
0
Backups play worse when they're forced to come into games because of an injury than they do starting games from the opening bell. The reason why is practice; knowing that you're the starter heading into a week allows you to mentally and physically prepare for the game like one, including the ability to get to reps in practice with the first-team. When Simms came in to start the second half, he was awful for all the reasons you might expect a rusty quarterback to be such. His mechanics needed some fine-tuning. He didn't have a great feel for the rush. His passes didn't hit receivers in stride, yielding drops, or flat out missed them altogether. When you can't complete a pass longer than three yards downfield in 16 attempts, something is seriously amiss. If Kyle Orton can't make it to San Diego on Sunday, Simms should play better.
29.
Jay Cutler CHI
29/50
307
0
5
-113
-115
2
Psychoanalyzing athletes is a dangerous topic to get into -- it's real easy to look stupid -- so we won't try and get in Cutler's head. But the only way Cutler makes that final throw while operating within the bounds of logic is if he thinks that there's not going to be time remaining on the clock for him to attempt another pass, even if the one he's about to throw falls incomplete. In that sense, although our numbers didn't consider it as such, it's a Hail Mary pass. Of course, even if you are generous enough to explain away two of Cutler's other four picks as Devin Hester/the field's fault, there's still two more waiting to be assigned to Cutler.
30.
Bruce Gradkowski OAK
4/8
46
0
2
-113
-116
3
If you could turn a third-and-23 give-up draw into a person, it would be Bruce Gradkowski. JaMarcus Russell's replacement threw an interception that should truly be credited to Darrius Heyward-Bey, who let the ball hit him in the chest before knocking the ball up and over his head and into Mike Brown's hands, ending the Raiders' final drive of the game.
MNF.
Brady Quinn CLE
13/31
99
0
2
-191
-195
4
The Browns couldn't do anything on first and second down, which left Quinn in third-and-long virtually every series. And they could do even less there; if it didn't result in a sack, it concluded with a checkdown, and even those didn't work most of the time. JaMarcus Russell is comically bad,
and Derek Anderson was infuriating, but this is just depressing. By the way, did you know that Robert Royal can't catch the ball? We're not sure the Browns coaching staff knows this.


Five most valuable running backs
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Beanie Wells ARI
86
2
32
0
58
39
19
Going 23 yards with a screen pass might be more valuable for the Cardinals than what Wells did on the ground. Neither he nor Tim Hightower have shown much ability in the receiving game so far, which is one of the few things holding the Arizona passing game back. If the Cardinals can stretch the field horizontally with Wells or Hightower coming out of the backfield, that can get a linebacker wide, which opens up the middle of the field for Anquan Boldin and his many crossing patterns, or get a safety shooting outside, which allows Larry Fitzgerald to shoot up the middle of the field and stretch it vertically.
2.
Reggie Bush NO
83
1
15
1
50
36
14
We could flip that comment and apply it to Bush, who teams haven't been taking seriously as a runner for a while. Unfortunately, even though his performance on the ground grades out well, the fact that it was the Rams is being underestimated. Bush's six carries include runs of 16 and 55 yards ... and then four carries for three yards each. That's just like a regular Reggie Bush day, but the peaks and valleys
were higher than usual.
3.
Chris Johnson TEN
132
2
100
0
46
-8
53
How do you get -8 rushing DYAR despite scoring two touchdowns and running for 132 yards? You start by playing the defense ranked 31st in the league against the run. Although you have those four runs between 22 and 32 yards, all of which are very valuable, you get the ball 22 more times and run for a combined 28 yards. Of those 22 carries, only three were considered to be "successful" runs, plays that did more to push the Titans towards a new set of downs than they did to prevent them from achieving that goal. He was stuffed once from the 1-yard line, and nearly ran the Titans out of field goal range with a four-yard loss on third down from the Bills 29. Off course, he was great enough as a receiver that even a mediocre day on the ground was overcome.
4.
Michael Turner ATL
111
0
0
0
45
45
0
Turner was en route to a third consecutive dominant game -- heck, he had a dominant game in the few carries he got -- before suffering what appears to be a high ankle sprain. It's a debiliating injury that can slow down backs for weeks on end, even if they can make it into the lineup. Turner's a very tough player, but it's difficult to see his season reaching the peaks that his numbers were suggesting early Sunday afternoon.
5.
Matt Forte CHI
41
0
120
0
44
-6
50
Unlike Johnson, Forte's disappointing rushing DYAR did not come up with huge raw numbers. On the other hand, the Bears were content to let the 49ers blitz and get the ball to Forte in the open field, yielding 120 YAC on eight catches. And hey, Jay Cutler never threw an interception on a pass that was intended for Forte!


Least valuable running back
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Kevin Smith DET
55
0
10
0
-28
-12
-16
-12 DYAR against the Vikings is to be expected for Smith, and had he merely not fumbled in a seven-point game in the third quarter, it would have been close to a 0 DYAR day. The problem was instead as a receiver, where Smith failed to convert on two third downs and was the target of an incomplete pass on fourth-and-1.


Five most valuable wide receivers and tight ends
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Reggie Wayne IND
10
12
126
12.6
2
79
Reggie Wayne doesn't often merit inclusion in the Andre Johnson-Larry Fitzgerald "Best Receiver In The NFL" arguments, mainly because it's easy to chalk up his success to Peyton Manning. He deserves better. Of course, he benefits from getting passes from Manning, just like Johnson gets throws from the criminally underrated Matt Schaub, and Fitzgerald is the recipient of passes from Kurt Warner. Wayne also makes the crucial sight adjustments to his routes that Manning needs to succeed without making throws that look stupid in the process (see his fourth-quarter pick). Maybe Fitzgerald or Johnson would be just as good in the same
role. On the other hand, maybe Wayne would be just as good in theirs.
2.
Sidney Rice MIN
7
9
201
28.7
0
73
We apologize for doubting Sidney Rice in earlier editions of Quick Reads; even if you're playing the Lions, 200 yards is pretty great. It's not an infallible sign of brilliance -- Drew Bennett, Chris Chambers, Albert Connell, Kevin Curtis, Rod Gardner, and Amani Toomer have all had 200-yard games this decade -- but Rice has clearly graduated from possession receiver with a couple of big games to legitimate number one receiver.
3.
Jason Avant PHI
8
9
156
19.5
0
69
Avant's only incompletion came as the "target" on the game-ending Hail Mary. He took advantage of the Chargers' cover issues in the slot, with six first downs on his eight catches, and 43 yards after the catch on the Eagles' biggest play of the day.
4.
Randy Moss NE
9
16
179
19.9
2
58
We covered Moss at length in the Brady comment, but another point about the fourth-and-two decision:
Why was Brady throwing to Kevin Faulk? Sure, if Faulk had moved six inches forward, there would have been a hundred stories about how Faulk was a veteran who knew where the sticks were. But Randy Moss and Wes Welker were there, too. It seems like giving them a chance to get open might have been a good idea.
5.
Legedu Naanee SD
3
3
42
14.0
1
49
Naanee's touchdown was a strangely blown coverage by Asante Samuel, but his three plays included a four-yard completion on second-and-5, an 18-yard pickup on third-and-2 with 2:45 left in the game, and the touchdown. Hard to do much better with the chances he got.


Least valuable wide receiver or tight end
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Miles Austin DAL
4
9
20
5.0
0
-43
How the mighty have fallen! Bring back T.O.! Call up Joey Galloway! Get Raghib Ismail in for a tryout! In all seriousness, Austin had a bad game, dropping a pass or two and suffering from a couple of Tony Romo misthrows. Austin's game is built on being a dynamic receiver after the catch, and Green Bay held him to seven YAC, all of which came in the fourth quarter. There will be better days.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 17 Nov 2009

98 comments, Last at 19 Nov 2009, 2:58pm by Will Allen

Comments

1
by Joseph :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 1:26pm

Question re: Reggie Bush: were any of the 3 yd runs successful? Or were his 3 "big" plays (16, 55, & 15 yd TD catch) just SOOO good that they canceled out the other 4?
EDIT: actually, one of those 3 yd runs was his TD. Why the criticism of it?

2
by Sophandros :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 1:27pm

Barnwell despises Bush...

-------------
Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

3
by Levente from Hungary :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 1:29pm

"Bush's six carries include runs of 16 and 55 yards ... and then four carries for three yards each. That's just like a regular Reggie Bush day, but the peaks and valleys were higher than usual. "

3 yards (past the line of scrimmage!) is a valley for him?? I recall seeing him so many times tackled in the backfield or around the LOS. Granted, still not gaudy figure, but at least managed to get to the plus side. :-))

6
by The Guy You Don't Want to Hear (not verified) :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 1:35pm

That was my thought. If I can have a running back who gets three yards every play and breaks one for 20+ once in a while (i.e., one out of every 10 carries), I'm pretty happy. I think the real issue here was that Bush managed to have multiple booms in one game and didn't have enough carries for the busts to overcome them.

9
by Levente from Hungary :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 1:38pm

:-))
I like your reverse thinking. Or are you a Rams fan?

17
by Sophandros :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 1:54pm

Interesting enough, I think that's why Jackson isn't on the list. For every boom carry, he had one for zero or negative yards on Sunday. His mode in the second half was -1...

-------------
Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

37
by mm (not verified) :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 3:34pm

From the articles covering the game, the Rams apparently switched into a nickel formation when Bush was out there, which lead to the 2 big runs.

Nevertheless, Bush looked quicker that he did earlier in the year (is he getting over effects of his off-season knee surgery?) and more decisive than he has in years past. We'll see if that continues.

It is worth noting that even before this week, Bush had a positive DVOA for the year rushing. He hasn't finished a year with a positive rushing DVOA yet in his career.

80
by mm (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:11pm

Addendum: with today's numbers, Bush has a 25.4% DVOA over 55 runs.

71
by PanchoVilla (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 9:30am

I guess the expectations for a first round, second pick in the draft RB have diminshed in recent years.

4
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 1:31pm

My impression last night was that Mangini pretty much adopted a forfeit strategy, which is unusual, if nothing else. It's gotta' be great to be a Browns season ticket holder.

Also, Bobman, if you read this, I'll give ol' Number 18 this much; he knows how to get his price, even when bargaining with those with somewhat fearsome reputations!

Finally, what, no comments for the flying-under-the-radar Vikings quarterback?! What gives?

8
by peterplaysbass (not verified) :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 1:36pm

There was a point after the early games where nfl(dot)com had four Vikings as the four stat leaders: Favre was leading in passing, Rice in receiving, Peterson in rushing and Edwards in sacks.

Awesome.

21
by Bobman :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 2:18pm

Will,
The Browns game was just baffling--I share Gruden's sentiments that I just feel sorry for the city, the players, the fans when watching that game. The D looked good, sometimes very good. But just have Quinn take a 3-step drop and fling the ball 40 yards (in-bounds, if possible) to get the safeties to back up a little next play when you make an actual attempt to connect on a 10-yarder.

And what was up with the OB Hail Marys? I mean... I don't know what I mean. I just don't have words to convey my bafflement--two consecutive "game savers" that went 5 yards OB. Taking my hyperbole pills, I am pretty sure my 9 year-old could have been more accurate, albeit with shorter passes. Jaws and Gruden were polite in their disparagement: "It would be helpful if they were in-bounds."

Manning: Maybe he paid in a volatile stock which explains a couple of his throws that look like I tossed them; Satan checked his portfolio as the 4th quarter started and said "oops, better turn up the mojo a bit." Or maybe part of the deal was "comebacks make you look heroic." (Costs extra, of course, as does "pancake block on Ray Lewis during a double-reverse." Watch for that one next week for definitive proof that he sold his soul to the devil.)

Maybe I'll work up a whole Satan price list--that standard agreement (called the "Jake Plummer") guarantees you 10 reg season wins only. Moderate price, with the catch being you have to languish much of your career in AZ. The "Tom Brady" (a high-priced deal) guarantees you a 16-0 regular season, records galore, a super-model wife, and the right to laugh in public at a press conference when your opponents suggest you'll only score 17 in the SB. The downside is a crippling knee injury the next year.
Manning's deal allows him to throw beautiful TD spirals to unheralded WRs, a few come-back wins sprinkled here and there, and 12 wins a year in perpetuity. Part of the catch is Satan gets to watch the movie Gigli endlessly projected onto Manning's wide-screen forehead once his career is over.

The Brady Quinn deal? Satan's mother once baby-sat for Brady as a toddler. He crapped on her lap and flung mashed peas into her eyes before biting her. (After which, she moved on to better gigs sitting for young Derek Anderson and Jamarcus Russell.)

30
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 3:08pm

Really? I thought she opened a daycare business, with Russell and Heyward-Bey as the first enrollees!

66
by Mr Shush :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 8:15am

So if a team playing the Colts wants to put Manning off his game, all they have to do is whisper in his ear, "It's turkey time! Gobble, gobble!". I can only imagine his reaction would be somewhere between catatonic terror and

Ah, Peyton,
Now hast thou but one bare play to live,
And then thou must be damned perpetually!
Stand still, you ever-moving spheres of Heaven,
That time may cease, and gameclock never run;
Fair Nature's eye, rise, rise again and make
Perpetual play; or let this hour be but
A year, a month, a game, a natural drive,
That Peyton may repent and save his soul!
O lente, lente, currite noctis equi!
The stars move still, time runs, the clock will strike,
The Devil will come, and Peyton must be damned.
O, I'll leap up to my God! Who pulls me down?
See, see where Christ's blood streams in the firmament!
One drop would save my soul—half a drop: ah, my
Christ!
Ah, rend not my heart for naming of my Christ!
Yet will I call on him: O spare me, Belichick!
Where is it now? 'tis gone; and see where God
Stretcheth out his arm, and bends his ireful brows!
Tackles and ends come, come and fall on me,
And hide me from the heavy wrath of God!
No, no!
Then will I headlong run into the sack;
Zone blitz! O no, it will not harbour me!
You stars that reigned at my draft eligibility,
Whose influence hath allotted death and hell,
Now draw up Peyton like a foggy mist
Into the entrails of yon labouring crowds,
That when they vomit forth into the air,
My limbs may issue from their smoky mouths,
So that my soul may but ascend to Heaven.

Ah, half the hour is past! 'twill all be past anon!
O God!
If thou wilt not have mercy on my soul,
Yet for Christ's sake whose blood hath ransomed me,
Impose some end to my incessant pain;
Let Peyton live in hell a thousand years—
A hundred thousand, and—at last—be saved!
O, no end is limited to damned souls!
Why wert thou not a creature wanting soul?
Or why is this immortal that thou hast?
Ah, Pythagoras' metempsychosis, were that true,
This soul should fly from me, and I be changed
Unto some brutish bust! all busts are happy,
For, when they die,
Their souls are soon dissolved in elements;
But mine must live, still to be plagued in hell.
Curst be the parents that engendered me!
No, Peyton: curse thyself: curse Belichick,
That hath deprived thee of the joys of heaven.

O, it strikes, it strikes! Now, body, turn to air,
Or Belichick will bear thee quick to hell!

O soul, be changed into another Leaf,
And fall to college coaching ne'er be found.

My God, my God, look not so fierce on me!
Affleck and Lopez, let me breathe a while!
Ugly hell, gape not! come not, Belichick!
I'll burn my books!—Ah f*** you Martin Brest!

75
by Jimmy :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 11:38am

Wow. Most of that went straight over the top of my head. Even if I got some of the stuff at the start, I got very lost when Affleck, Lopez and Brest loomed into view.

85
by Noah of Arkadia :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:53pm

Yeah, Afflek and Lopez clouded my clear comprehension of the poem.

My favorite part is:

Zone blitz! O no, it will not harbour me!

Did you take a famous poem and substitute key nouns with the names of football terms and players? That's kind of what it feels like.

96
by Mr Shush :: Thu, 11/19/2009 - 10:57am

It's the closing soliloquy from Marlowe's Dr. Faustus. You can read the original here (line 65 onwards).

The Affleck/Lopez/Martin Brest stuff is a reference to Bobman's suggestion as to the precise nature of Peyton's eternal torment. For more, click here.

84
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:40pm

I see an irrational Marlowe/Shakespeare, or, Heaven help us, a Goethe/Marlowe thread looming!

88
by Jimmy :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 3:35pm

As long as we stick to Shakespere being Shakespere (or even Shakspere, Shakespeare or other variants) and not a baker from Huddersfield, the Earl of Oxford's illegitimate half brother Cletus or the ambassador to Venice's chief serving wench. If so I am all for it.

89
by tuluse :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 3:51pm

Shakespere's WIOA (Words Invented Over Average) must surely be higher than any other poet, and his PWAR (Plays Written Above Replacement-level) is also insanely high. I don't know who can compete with that.

90
by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 6:37pm

Well, Shakespeare is more valuable in the long run because his DWAR (Dramatic Words over Average Replacement) plus his PWAR (Poetic Words over Average Replacement) makes him a dual threat.

91
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 9:44pm

Goethe has SWAGGER!!!!!

92
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 9:49pm

Or, more to the point.......Goethe hast STOLZIEREN!!!!!

93
by Jerry :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 10:11pm

I can't wait for Rick A.'s "dramatic reality".

97
by Mr Shush :: Thu, 11/19/2009 - 11:02am

An irrational Marlowe/Shakespeare thread would be (at best) a bit like an irrational Greg Cook/Joe Montana thread.

Goethe/Marlowe would be more like an irrational Jack Hobbs/Babe Ruth thread. Potentially sort of interesting, but hampered by an incredible shortage of people qualified to comment on both.

98
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 11/19/2009 - 2:58pm

My wife has a degree in German literature, so she is my Goethe Insider, and appears regularly on WSDN, Weimar Sturm und Drang Network!

94
by Bobman :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 11:44pm

That was some sick, twisted, brilliant work. I am sad to say only a dozen or so people on the planet will actually appreciate it. Makes me want to pop in that classic DVD "Shakespeare in Love With A Cheerleader (But it's 3rd and 10 So He Has to Geteth His Arse Back On The Field)."

I'm not worthy. I'm not worthy....

5
by peterplaysbass (not verified) :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 1:33pm

I'd like to know what Adrian Peterson's ranking is. If it weren't for that forced fumble from behind (someone caught Peterson from behind?!), his day would've gone from really good to stellar.

16
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 1:54pm

I think Peterson is also "credited" with the red zone fumble on the reverse with the botched handoff/lateral. Two fumbles will really set back the ol' advanced stats, and rightly so.

I can understand why Childress would want to show a lot of different looks against the Lions; it causes future, better, opponents to have more to defend, and if the plays screw up, as a lot did, well, the opponent is the Lions. If they had played it straight, however, the Vikings could well have hung 50 on the less than stellar heirs to Alex Karras and Joe Schmidt.

34
by peterplaysbass (not verified) :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 3:21pm

Good call. I forgot about that reverse. Peterson's fault. He tossed with his right hand going across his body; I didn't get that. Surely it wasn't designed that way, right?

captcha: slothful companies

35
by jmaron :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 3:25pm

Harvin was actually motioning to Peterson how to properly lateral the ball as they were going off the field.

I get the sense that Harvin is a very heady player. Favre and Childress have talked about his great Football smarts.

19
by Bobman :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 2:01pm

That WAS a pretty sweet play. I forget who caught him but it astonished me (and probably AP). In the split-second I saw it I was thinking latch onto this knees, don't go for this weak arm-tackle stuf--oh, nice one. Never mind.

Clearly he had studied AP's ball-security issues.

67
by Mr Shush :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 8:17am

Phillip Buchanon, of all people, I believe.

7
by bingo762 :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 1:36pm

"Rivers went 20-of-25 against the pass defense that DVOA believes to be the best in football."

And missing Sheldon Brown, Quinton Demps, Akeem Jordan, and Joselio Hanson

13
by chemical burn :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 1:47pm

And Ellis Hobbs. No surprise a receiver buried on the depth chart is one that had a big day. The Eagles were just throwing warm bodies out there this week - who the heck is Ramzee Robinson?

24
by Kevin from Philly :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 2:56pm

Apparently, my new worst nightmare.

48
by Richard :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 4:44pm

Sheldon Brown was on the field. I distinctly remember him trying to cover guys on a couple of big plays downfield.

52
by chemical burn :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 6:14pm

I distinctly remember him getting shoved to the ground on one of the big plays with one of the most egregious push-offs I've ever seen. Even Chargers fans had've to have winced at it...

86
by bingo762 :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 2:58pm

I distincly remember him hurting a hammy and being out for most of the game, which was my point

10
by dbostedo :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 1:40pm

I found it interesting that in both the Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger comments you mentioned that they took ONLY four sacks each. I realize they are a couple of frequently sacked guys, but four sacks is hardly a positive, no matter what their average is.

60
by zlionsfan :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 8:24pm

Well, in one game this season, Aaron Rodgers was sacked four times in the first half.

By the Lions.

In Green Bay.

When Detroit was missing three of its four starting DL.

So I think for him, four sacks in a game might be a positive.

11
by Levente from Hungary :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 1:40pm

So, what about Turner? Until the injury he seemed like Eric Dickerson v.2; did Curse 370 finally catch up with him?

26
by Brendan Scolari :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 3:03pm

No, I don't think so. Did you see how the defender fell on the back of his legs? I don't think it matters how many carries you had a year ago, having that happen to your leg will hurt you.

33
by Levente from Hungary :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 3:21pm

Thanks. I did not see it, in fact I heard about the injury in Quick Reads for the first time.
Then let's turn it around: he was pretty good this year despite last year's wear.

12
by Bobman :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 1:46pm

Thanks for recognizing him. Great hands and outstanding body control--plus all the sight-reading, encyclopedic memory, telepathy stuff required in a Manning offense. A few more years and he may well have top-10 all-time stats and production. Maybe another SB ring, a few more pro bowls, maybe a yellow blazer. I don't know if anybody (aside from the late Darrent Williams) would ever say "he's the best in the league," but damn, for a few years now he's merited top-5 mention even with a pre-injury Harrison across from him, and if you can consistently be top-5 for 8 years or so, plus another 5 years being top-15, you start to enter the conversation of all-time great. (He's also got a pretty big consecutive starts streak going. In the range of 100 games I think.) It's funny but he might not even make an all-decade team because of the presence of some of the monsters playing right now.

69
by Mr Shush :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 8:46am

Well, there's no possible way he beats out Moss for a place in such a team, which means he has to make second ahead of Harrison, Owens, Holt, Chad Johnson, Steve Smith, Andre Johnson, Fitzgerald and whoever else you think is in the conversation. I'd say pretty much all of those guys have had a higher peak than Wayne. Holt, Harrison, Owens and Ochocinco have more receptions over that period (as do Hines Ward, Derrick Mason and Lavernues Coles), though he may catch Ochocinco (and Coles) this season. In receiving yardage, the same group is ahead of him except with Isaac Bruce instead of Coles, and while he may catch Bruce this season it is highly unlikely that he will make it past 85. In touchdowns he fares slightly better, but is still behind Owens, Harrison, Ward and Holt, and is only 7 ahead of Fitzthulu, with 3 more seasons played. Fair comparison with the younger guys (Andre Johnson and Fitzgerald) is harder, because they haven't played as long (and have had to live with pretty awful quarterbacking a significant amount of the time), but I think it's hard to argue that Wayne has ever been as good as those guys have the last two or three years, or as good as Steve Smith has been at times (2005, especially).

In short, even without discounting his statistical performance for the Manning effect, I don't see how Wayne gets into an all-decade team. In fact, I find the case for TO pretty compelling. Wayne has been very good, but his numbers for the decade really aren't too different to Donald Driver and Lavernues Coles. I don't think that's the stuff that all-time greats are made of.

14
by bubqr :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 1:49pm

I'm surprised by how low Josh Freeman is.

And Avant was a monster last sunday, and looked like the WRs with him on this table.

20
by johonny (not verified) :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 2:05pm

He had several fumbles. Although his team recovered them, football outsiders treats all fumbles the same regardless of which team recovers them.

28
by Brendan Scolari :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 3:04pm

4 fumbles is a lot.

83
by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:31pm

Freeman's been pretty bipolar, being generally awful in the first half and excellent in the second half. Three of those fumbles were in the first half; I'm guessing if you could take the first halves of the last two games together and make them one game, it'd be awful; if you did the same with the second half, he'd look really impressive.

But yes, four fumbles is a heck of a lot, and I expect teams to be hacking the crap out of his arms in the future until he learns to hold the ball a bit closer to his body when he starts moving.

15
by Jimmy :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 1:49pm

OK I'll bite on the Cutler explaination.

Pick 1 - Terrible throw, terrible play call. I have no idea why Ron Turner decided that the best way for the Bears to score in the red zone was to leave the best red zone target on the sideline for three plays but it was a crap idea. On the pick play the Bears sent out three receivers (Clark, K Davis and Mckie) and to nobody's great suprise all three were covered. Cutler should have thrown this one away. Actually if the Bears were going to come out with an eligible tackle and leave Olsen on the sideline then they should have run the ball but that would be asking what went wrong with Ron Turner and not Jay Cutler.

Pick 2 - Hard to pin this one on Cutler. The ball has to be thrown before the receiever makes his cut and despite Tarrel Brown having decent coverage if Hester gets out of his cut he would have been in front of the corner and in position to make the catch.

Pick 3 - Hester gets picked by the official and can't get to the dumpoff from Cutler. This is basically a confluence of a few pieces of bad luck rolling together. The official doesn't see Hester coming on a drag route in time to get underneath the route and then stutter steps instead of making a decisive move that would have allowed Hester to avoid him properly. Not helped by the fact that the official is hidden from Cutler's view by a two linemen. It was a decent call for 3rd and 4 and the correct read, if the official either moves before Hester gets there or stays still it would have been first down.

Pick 4 - First of all, I do think this was DPI. Roman made contact way before the ball got there and clearly seemed to knock Davis off the ball. This has to be DPI or else linebackers could knock the snot out of slot receivers waiting to catch the ball and then catch it themselves. Ignoring whether it was a penalty or not there were a lot of things wrong with the play for the Bears. Firstly shotgun snaps should reach the QB's hands around waist height (or higher) and not bounce on the floor before the QB can get them - if Kreutz really can't do that then slide him over to guard and let Beekman shotgun snap. Secondly Kellen Davis at 6'7" and 262lbs really needs to do a better job of shielding the ball from the safety. He seems to have a troubling habit of falling backwards as he catches the ball when he should if anything be rounding his routes back towards the QB. Thirdly Cutler threw the ball to the wrong place; Davis was running a post route with coverage over the top so the ball should have been thrown at his back hip, not out in front. Davis could still have caught the ball if he had come back to his QB and there should have been a flag.

Pick 5 - Cutler feels quick pressure and has to step up out of the pocket and looks for Olsen who fakes towards the front of the endzone before peeling off to the back. Unfortunately Cutler didn't wait for the double move and threw to the front of the endzone. A pretty crappy play overall. He probably should have thrown it away earlier but this kind of thing can happen when you have to try to score from 12 yards out with time expiring. There would have been more time on the clock if the Bears hadn't wasted ten seconds spiking the ball (down to 18 seconds left) instead of calling a timeout. It would have helped even more if the Bears hadn't commited at least three dumb penalties on the final drive including a truly moronic 15 yarder on Williams for diving over the pile late.

That's my take on the picks. I am not really trying to excuse Cutler; there were a coupe of throws that could have been picked and weren't (eg the throw to Hester down the left sideline that nearly got picked off and run back, the ball was simply thrown too late) and Cutler missed Forte high on a couple of short passes and skipped one into Knox (who had found some space downfield on third down). Cutler played poorly but he will have days in his career when he plays worse and throws fewer picks. His mechanics are getting worse as the season goes on which is either due to poor lineplay, poor coaching or both.

18
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 2:00pm

I haven't watched them very closely, but it seems to me that the Bears are getting killed by Hester's play. He has to know to run through the official on that third pick, and to not treat an old fart in a striped shirt like a granite boulder that has been placed in the middle of the field.

32
by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 3:20pm

I agree with everything Jimmy writes. Cutler has not looked good, but three of those interceptions you can't probably blame him for. He's the least blamable for that PI non-call. While I've been disappointed with Cutler's play, I've been more disappointed with the line's play. To say he should be benched, as ESPN's always execrable Wojciechowski does, is ridiculous. I might be happier had they kept Orton, and Cutler needs to stop getting excited and forcing throws, but he's more likely to succeed than any backup.

Also, I haven't really felt Hester has been hurting the team. He's their best receiver and usually makes a couple good plays each game. I agree though that he definitely should have run through the official.

38
by Eddo :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 3:36pm

Wojciechowski says he should be benched? Wow.

Cutler's been pretty good on the year, I thought. I gave Key19 a long breakdown of Cutler in last week's DVOA thread (LINK), which I won't repeat here. If they had better receivers and any semblance of an offensive line, Cutler would look really good, in my opinion.

36
by Eddo :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 3:30pm

To Jimmy:
You're being a little more forgiving of Cutler than I would, but good analysis nonetheless.
The first pick was just a terrible, terrible decision, regardless of the play call.
The second was not on Cutler; Hester would have been open for a nice gain had he not slipped after the ball was thrown.
Much of the third was due to Hester's failure to complete the route, but it was still a bad throw by Cutler.
The fourth wasn't a bad throw, but not a good decision; it could very easily have been DPI, but I'm not sure I would think so were I not a Bears fan.
The fifth didn't matter that it was intercepted, as Barnwell notes above, because it was the final play. It was a poor throw, though, behind Olsen. I actually think that, had Cutler not thrown four picks already, he would have been a bit more aggressive on the play before and tried (successfully, in my mind, as he had a good window) to thread the ball to Olsen instead of throwing it safely over his head.

To Will:
Against the 49ers, Hester was brutal. However, he's actually been quite good this year (11th in DYAR prior to this week, I believe). He was excellent against Seattle and Arizona, and played well in a totally futile effort against Cincinnati. He'll never be a Pro Bowl receiver, but he's good enough to be an important asset to the offense.

53
by tuluse :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 6:25pm

My opinion of Cutler was harsher than Jimmy's as well. On that 3rd pick, however, the defender simply shoulder checks Kellen Davis on route to the ball. If that's not DPI, it should almost never be called.

It seems like the Bears keep getting screwed on DPI non-calls, I wonder if they are doing or not doing something. Maybe officials don't like Cutler?

43
by Jimmy :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 4:09pm

Hester really isn't the problem. Yes he should have made more effort ot complete the route but he would actually have had to flatten an old man to do it (and the old man seems to be a lot bigger than Hester). He had his worst day of the season against the 49ers but has been probably the Bears best offensive weapon over the season.

A list of things killing the Bears offense this year has to start with the offensive line and Ron Turner (I can't tell you which order it should be in though).

44
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 4:13pm

My memory is fading in my dotage, but I thought I recalled Hester being responsible for some other turnovers this year. Yeah, I know the ref is an old man. Makes it easier to flatten him.

47
by db :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 4:36pm

This is like a mantra It is not Jay's fault, it is not Jay's fault ohmmmmmm. He lead the league last year in red zone picks and it was the defenses fault. He is leading again this year and it is Turner, Hester and the O lines fault. Or maybe Cutler has a million dollar arm and a ten cent head? Which again wouldn't be his fault.

59
by Jimmy :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 7:52pm

Just like your mantra except for the two picks that I said were Cutler's fault and the couple of bad throws that nearly got picked. Oh and the poor throws that I mentioned that should have been completions (by my recollection three in the game).

I do think that Cutler has some issues but I still think he is going to be a great QB. Was it Cutler who lined up off the line to give an illegal formation penalty? Or was it Cutler that leaped over the pile late and cost them 15 yards? Was it Cutler that decided that Omiyale should play the final drive as they were going to throw it every down, allowing the transformation of Justin Smith into Mecha-Smith?

If the Bears beat the Eagles it won't just be Cutler, just as last week it wasn't all his fault.

56
by Dan :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 7:28pm

On the first pick, I think what happened is that Cutler was trying to force it into double coverage, and he just didn't see the third defender who had dropped off the line on a zone blitz, right into the passing lane.

So, yes, terrible play.

58
by Jimmy :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 7:44pm

I think we can all agree it was a terrible play. All I was trying got point out is that the sequence of play calling on the goal to go set of downs was terrible. Cutler should still have thrown the ball away.

22
by Alvaden (not verified) :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 2:21pm

Beanie Wells may have had his first visit atop the rankings, but certainly not his last. As far as the comment that Hightower and Wells havn't caught the ball out of the backfield well, check your numbers again. Hightower has an 8 catch game under his belt, and led the Cardinals in recieving the first 3 weeks.

A power runner in Beanie Wells compliments the 3rd down, out the backfield back in Hightower.

29
by Brendan Scolari :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 3:07pm

I think Bill has pointed out before that many of Hightower's catches aren't successful plays, so while he racks up gaudy yardage totals he is not actually helping his team very much (or giving himself a high DVOA).

70
by Mr Shush :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 9:02am

I'm not sure receiving DYAR and DVOA are a great measure of performance at any position, but that goes double for running backs. If a back catches a lot of dumpoffs that don't go anywhere, it's more likely to be a function of the scheme (or the quarterback, though I doubt that's the case here) than an indictment of his skills as a receiver.

76
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 11:52am

That may be true, but DYAR and DVOA are still a good measure of how much production a team is receiving from its running backs. Regardless of whether Hightower and Wells are good receivers, they haven't been producing in the passing game up to this point.

23
by Bobman :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 2:42pm

Bill Barnwell,

Do you have data on passer success rates for 1st and 10 versus 3rd and 6.5? My instinct tells me it's easier to pick up a first down on 1st and 10 simply because the D is playing against anything (including runs), whereas on 3rd and 6.5, the D is intensely focused on passes in the area between 5 yards and 8 yards, where logic dictates most plays will go.

So your comment about Manning picking up firsts on first seemed logical to me. (If you look at his career stats, he does his best work on 1st down, passer-rating wise). This year on 1st down he's a 108 passer and "only" a 96 passer on 3rd. 1st and 10 it's 104 and 3rd and 6+ it's 94.6. Not sure how that related to 1st downs, but I assume more "passer rating success" means more first downs as well.

(Then I look at 2007 data which is just about the reverse, so maybe logic is not all it's crackes up to be. 2006 is similar to 2009 but a narrower gap.)

25
by Keasley (not verified) :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 3:01pm

So the Cardinals had the #1 quarterback and the #1 running back this week. What does this say about the Seahawks? That they can't play defense? Or that Warner and Wells were ranked highly because they put up good numbers against a good defense and the opponent adjustments push them both to #1?

It seems to me that it was a pretty close game and the Cards needed their absolute best to win. On the other hand, Seattle really is pretty bad this year...

trying to make sense of it all

27
by Danish Denver-Fan :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 3:03pm

Surprised not to see LaDell Betts. He killed the, up untill sunday, very good D-line of the Broncos.

39
by deflated (not verified) :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 3:45pm

Did you really think the D-line played the run well against the Steelers?

22 for 155 from Mendenhall, from my recollection the bulk came running off tackle after some simple adjustments to their blocking (from memory some pulling guards and a good job sealing the end of the Broncos D-line). Small sample but I had alarm bells sounding at how easily the Steelers managed to get any pursuit along the line bogged down in the center. They are stating to look like a unit that has to attack to be effective.

31
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 3:10pm

Why doesn't FO publish longer lists for running backs and receivers? You could put them on another page and generate more page views. Frank Gore had a good week again and I want to see where he would be ranked. More info for me, more advertising revenue for you.

54
by Brendan Scolari :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 6:55pm

Agreed with this. I'd think it'd be fairly easy to at least put up a top 25 for backs and receivers, even if there was no commentary.

40
by dk240t :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 3:58pm

Correct me if I'm wrong, but with respect to Andre Johnson vs Reggie Wayne vs Larry Fitzgerald and QB quality, but Andre has looked like a pretty damn awesome receiver with Sage Rosenfels and David Carr throwing passes to him, too. Fitz has done well on occasion with Matt Leinart at QB (who may or may not suck).

But if you actually watch the game, Reggie Wayne is not even close to being in the same class as Fitz or Andre with respect to getting yards after the catch. He catches the ball and gets down or gets out of bounds most of the time. (I'm not criticizing, because that is probably the best move for him on that offense and with his skills, just stating my observation.)

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by Bobman :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 7:40pm

That is not an invalid point--the Colts pick guys who are fast, but not super-burners, have great hands, and are disciplined and run routes well. YAC is always appreciated but not always part of the menu. Reggie has actually been pretty good at YAC--probably above league average whatever that might be, but you are right, he learned from Tom Moore or Marvin Harrison that it's better to catch 12 12-yarders and never miss a game due to injury, than catch a single 144-yard pass and get all beaten up in the process (part of which involves running through the wall at the backside of the EZ--concrete hurts). 7+ years without missing a game (about 130 and counting) says a lot.

Colt receivers tend to catch the ball and make one cut, maybe two. If they are in traffic, they protect and drop if somebody gets a decent lick on them (if they have the first down). Often the deep patterns involve Manning throwing so close to the sideline (did you see Wayne's early catch Sunday night? Belichick challenged but it was a catch.) so that nobody else but his guy can catch it. Of course the guy goes OB after the catch inches from the sideline. This results in shorter "long passes" and more of them--look at Harrison's and Wayne's career stats to verify.

So part of it is the system. Reggie has racked up his fair share of YAC catches, but I have yet to see him (or anyone else, for that matter) pinball off three defenders like AJ did in week 1 or 2 this season for the TD. Remember, he IS 6-0/198, a little bigger than Marvin Harrison was, and Marvin was regarded as pretty thin by 21st Century NFL standards.

If you look at Colts like Garcon and Gonzalez, they run different patterns and tend to have more YAC as a result. Garcon is also a bit of a LB in a WR's body--he seems to like contact. When they run the non-pick pick plays, there's usually good YAC. And this year I have noticed a ton more blocking from Reggie and the other WRs than I can ever remember.

But please notice, I did say he may someday be considered an all-time great, yet not the best of his era. Maybe not even top-4 of his era.

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by ammek :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 4:53am

I'd guess Wayne is more likely to be remembered as a Mark Duper or Mark Clayton — a very good receiver in a very friendly system with an all-time quarterback.

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by Mr Shush :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 10:31am

One complicating factor is that the "value" of a player is not constant. The value of a smaller, less physical receiver like Wayne who relies primarily on precision is more dependent on the quality of his quarterback than that of a more physically talented player like Johnson or Fitzgerald. One might (crudely) model receiver performance along the lines a + bq, where a and b are constants representing the receiver's inherent ability and q is a variable representing the quality of his quarterback. In this model, Johnson and Fitzgerald would have higher a values than Wayne, who would have a higher b value. I suspect, however, that either Johnson or Fitzgerald would be more valuable than Wayne for the Colts (witness Randy Moss 2007) - just not by as much as they would be for, say, the Jaguars.

41
by zip.4chan.org/sp/ (not verified) :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 3:58pm

One wonders what your statistics are really saying about Matt Cassel. Last year, playing for New England, he had a middle-of-the-pack DYAR -- not great, but better than Favre and Roethlisberger. This year, Cassel is scraping the bottom of the DYAR barrel, while Favre and Roethlisberger are up at the top.

Is it really valid to disparage Cassel? Is he really that much worse than he was last season? Or might his poor performance have more to do with switching from a top-flight team to a miserable team?

42
by Purds :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 4:04pm

I am guessing that dropped passes count against a WR/TE/RB's rating. Are they simply incompletes for QB's, orare they somehow less damaging than a straight incomplete? Just curious.

49
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 4:50pm

DVOA/DYAR does not distinguish between drops and other incompletes either for receivers or QBs. Drops are only noted in game-charting, not official play-by-play (which is the basis for the stats).

45
by TGT2 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 4:32pm

If you take out hail mary interceptions, shouldn't you take out hail mary targets as well?

50
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 4:52pm

Hail Mary INTs should not be "taken out," they should be converted to simple incomplete passes because that is what they equate to in terms of practical impact.

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by Kulko :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 8:30am

I dont think that is true. On a hail mary play the QB has no other option but throw the impossible long pass, so the likelihood of an incompletion is much higher than on a standard 1-10 close play.

And if you compare Hail marys to othert hail marys only then you end up in a pretty small sample size. So taking out is actually the best way to tread them.

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by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 11:55am

So you're saying that a completed Hail Mary for a game-winning TD should not be included in the stats? That is an interesting if controversial view.

81
by Eddo :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:13pm

For the same reason a 108-yard FG return for a TD isn't included in DVOA; it's considered a non-repeatable play.

87
by tuluse :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 3:03pm

What skill exactly does a hail mary demonstrate, and how does that affect winning games over a large sample size?

Because I could have Kyle Boller throw 50 yard bombs all day long, with the defense expecting it, and he would have an even worse stat line than usual. Would it really signify anything about my team?

46
by Key19 :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 4:35pm

Barber was shutdown by Jason Garrett, not by the Packers defense. He was pretty successful overall running the ball when he actually had the chance to.

51
by Hurt Bones :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 5:45pm

"It's scary to imagine what Cassel's season would look like without Dwayne Bowe."

That horror movie gets an exclusive 4 week run in the K.C. area starting Sunday.

55
by Bobman :: Tue, 11/17/2009 - 7:20pm

YOU SUCK! You beat me to it. As soon as I saw that headline I thought of the comment in QR above.

Of course now we know why he's done so well..... with testes the size of capers you can run really fast.

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by Noah of Arkadia :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 2:26am

Henne made a horrible, horrible decision and throw, but it's beyond me how the idea of passing on 3rd down to try to get a 1st down and ice a game in circumstances similar to the Pats-Colts game as far as the score, field position, timeouts, time remaining and momentum can be criticized so.

I mean, according to the other article the Pats had aprox. a 40% chance of losing the game by trying to get a 1st down on 4th and 2. Are you telling me that the Dolphins passing on 3rd and 10, young QB and all, has a higher chance of losing the game than that?

I'm sorry, but it's ridiculous. And of course, if they had made the first down, no one would've thought anything of it.

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by Noah of Arkadia :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 2:30am

For the record, this isn't a retrospective argument I'm making in light of the Pats-Colts game. In the real time situation, I was rooting for the Fins to pass it and try to actually win the darn thing instead of just attempting not to lose it.

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by AFireSnake (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 5:48am

Sorry, but "Why was Brady throwing to Kevin Faulk?" is just ridiculous.

Maybe you can prove me wrong, but Kevin Faulk is one of the premier 3rd and 4th down guys in the league. Catches everything, runs smart, great blocker, smart player. Whenever it matters, they call his number, and there is a reason to this. He is just flat out money on these downs. Don't know whether Moss would make that catch.

You may argue that he may or may not have gotten the first down on the play (I think he got it and I think there is a fundamental flaw in the officiating*). The coverage was excellent by the Colts on this play, he got levelled right when he touched the ball, and he still controlled it. Such a comment is just crap, like all the comments in the audibles whether Belichick made the wrong call.

*=The officials always seem to go for the "low risk" call on close calls. Even if there is a tendency to one direction, they may call it the other way even for the security "we did not decide the game on that call". No they did not on Sunday, but they would if they had called it a first down. I don't want to argue whether or not Faulk got the 1st or whether or not the DPI call was ok (would they ever call that on a WR???). In close situations, the refs go for the call which does not decide the game. Even if a call turns out to be wrong afterwards (Hochuli), they should have the balls to make that judgement call. That's what they are paid for. This is just pissing away from the responsibility of officiating. Making mistakes is ok, but going for the "don't blame me" is not acceptable.

And you "journalists" are certainly to blame for this, with this polemic bashing of bad calls (Hochuli, Belichick) when you yourself would never ever make a mistake (Even if it wasn't a mistake, just shrewd). Not even typos. Huh?

65
by o rly (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 7:20am

The official had the perfect angle to make the call; you are judging it based on an inconclusive replay and the fact that you're a bitter Pats fan. I'm glad the officials didn't have the balls to bail the Pats out here by making a judgment call as you suggest.

Also, it was a bad decision to leave no one in the backfield. Going with 0 additional pass protection against a defense that can sell out without fear of the deep ball is a sketchy decision.

72
by AFireSnake (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 10:10am

Sorry, but I thought it was a first down, and - knowing that the camera angle is not fully conclusive - still think that after watching the replays.

And this: http://img4.imageshack.us/img4/5898/faulk.jpg (repost)

The ref who made the "juggling" gesture was the one Faulk had turned his back to. He couldn't see it. And in my eyes - biased or not - I think its disgraceful when two refs, perfectly positioned on the 30, knowing the first down is exactly at the 30, make the wrong call.

And, being a Pats fan: They only have to blame themselves for anything that happened before the 4th and 2. That was awful.

The problem with the officiating is not tied to this situation, it has appeared in other games before (where I am not biased), and - in my eyes - it is the logical behavior for a referee if not for the ever increasing heat these guys take from the press (or blogs. I refuse calling all these guys "journalists"). Often polemic points of view are posted, geared towards driving the traffic, commenting and hits up on the site (NOT talking about FO)

How many people argued "worst coaching decision ever" on Sunday and Monday morning and how many people have changed their minds since? I think a couple.

The funniest thing to me was Tony Dungy on NBC, interviewed by Bob Costas, "you have to punt the football in this situation, no doubt". Yeah Tony, just like in the Divisional PO in 2004. Expert? Polemic!

74
by tuluse :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 11:30am

A still image isn't really helpful here. No one disagrees that Faulk touched the ball beyond the 4th down marker. It's where he had possession that's in question.

78
by Spoon :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 11:57am

And in my eyes - biased or not - I think its disgraceful when two refs, perfectly positioned on the 30, knowing the first down is exactly at the 30, make the wrong call.

If two separate refs - perfectly positioned on the 30 and knowing the first down is exactly at the 30 - make the same call, wouldn't that suggest it was the right call?

79
by AFireSnake (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:04pm

I looked at the video maybe 10 times and I think it was a first, which was my first impression. And my gut feeling is hardly ever wrong.

But you guys don't get the point, do you? The point of the posts is _not_ whether it was a first down.

95
by Bobman :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 11:48pm

Spoon, who you gonna believe... AFireSnake or two refs plus your own lying eyes?

82
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:17pm

To say the call was disgraceful is to hugely underestimate how difficult and close the call was. When you don't catch the pass cleanly, you have a really good chance to receive an unfavorable spot.