Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» Futures: Kansas State WR Tyler Lockett

The Wildcats receiver isn't the best athlete you'll ever see, but Matt Waldman says he could be an effective pro with small improvements in his technique.

24 Nov 2009

Week 11 Quick Reads

Any time someone tells you there's a clear way to win in the NFL, they're lying. They might not know it, but they're lying. Week 11 was a great example of how purportedly perfect explanations of how to win in the NFL are flawed.

Pick a cliche, and Week 11 buried it. Seriously, let's run through them.

You need to convert on third down. Jason Campbell was perfect on third down, and the Redskins scored six points and lost.

You need to win the turnover battle. Chicago was +3 in turnover differential against the Eagles until Jay Cutler's final pass, and they lost, 24-20.

You need to get touchdowns inside the red zone. Matt Cassel was sacked twice inside the Steelers 10-yard-line, and the Chiefs came back for a win.

You need to win the overtime coin toss. Pittsburgh won the coin toss and lost.

You need a balanced offense. San Francisco was awful running a standard attack in the first half against Green Bay, and went virtually all-Shotgun in the second half to score 21 points.

You need to get out to an early lead. Cleveland went up 21-3 and promptly blew the lead by halftime, and promptly lost on the final play of the game.

You can fire up your team by bringing in a new coach. Buffalo fired Dick Jauron and promptly came out with a flat performance against the Jaguars.

Crying during the week is another way to fire up your team. OK, maybe we're stretching it a little.

Regardless, it turns out the only way to ensure victory is to actually score more points than the other team. It's easy to see that happen and try and figure out a narrative that sounds correct afterwards(including the ones above), but none of those narratives enough to individually push a team into the winner's circle. The simple answer to winning football games is that there is no simple answer.

Here's a look at which players did the most to help their teams win in Week 11 according to Football Outsiders advanced stats. Click here to learn more about what DYAR numbers mean and how they are computed.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
1.
Brett Favre MIN
22/25
213
4
0
169
169
0
It's probably not a good time to prod Jets fans, but it's also hard to reconcile this Favre with the one that was under center for the Jets a year ago. Sure, Favre was suffering from a torn biceps tendon for a fair amount of the season, but he wasn't playing at this level at the beginning of the year, either. Favre's three disparate seasons for three different teams show that, even though quarterback is the most important position on the field, this is still a team game first. Scheme and teammates have a major effect on a player's performance.
2.
Aaron Rodgers GB
33/45
344
2
0
166
158
8
Of course, the Packers aren't exactly missing Favre all that much. It was clear that the 49ers expected Rodgers to look for Donald Driver on third down, as Rodgers consistently has done so since taking over. With Driver taken away, though, Rodgers adapted nicely, finding Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley instead, and converting nine of 16 third downs in the process. Driver didn't get a single target on third down.
3.
Matt Stafford DET
27/40
422
5
2
155
162
-7
Stafford put up more fantasy points than anyone else in Week 11 thanks to his final touchdown pass of the day, and he's owed 34 additional yards on pass interference penalties, but he finishes third on this list because of two interceptions, his intentional grounding in the end zone (that admittedly could have been called a hold), and a fumble on a sack. The nature of his performance -- mostly big plays -- suggests that he was simply exploiting a poor secondary downfield, not making the sort of consistently accurately throws that the Lions hope he'll be making in the future.
4.
Peyton Manning IND
22/31
302
1
2
146
146
0
Manning seemed a tick off all day, with two interceptions on throws that were marginal at best. Of course, as hard as it is to read Manning, it might be even harder to figure out what Ed Reed's reading on a given play. As FO colleague Aaron Schatz noted, Sunday was the Tom Santi show, with Manning throwing eight passes to his third tight end, who hadn't caught a pass all season. Santi caught the first six, but then fumbled that sixth pass away, and followed that with two incompletions to end the day. In other words, don't even think about using your waiver priority.
5.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
32/42
400
3
2
141
143
-2
Roethlisberger takes deserved praise for standing tall in the pocket amidst rushers aplenty, but the downside to that game is the beating he takes. As a mammoth human being, Roethlisberger can take more than most quarterbacks, but the knee to the head he took on the game's final play became Big Ben's fourth concussion since turning pro.

After the game, head coach Mike Tomlin wouldn't admit that Roethlisberger had a concussion, instead noting that Roethlisberger had a "concussion-oriented" injury. That likely owes itself to Roger Goodell's recent mandate that players suffering a concussion need to see an independent neurologist and receive a clean bill of health before returning to the field. No word yet on what quarterbacks with
"concussion-oriented injuries" need to do to make it back.
6.
Brady Quinn CLE
21/33
304
4
0
138
132
5
Quinn didn't take a huge step forward between his debacle of a Monday night against the Ravens and his game against the Lions; he was the same quarterback, just up against a defense that lacked a pass rush and routinely forgot to cover receivers 30 yards downfield. It looked like the Brady Quinn because it essentially was the Brady Quinn from Notre Dame, overmatched defense and all.
7.
Eli Manning NYG
25/39
384
3
1
137
137
0
Eli struggled early, with a fumble and two dropped interceptions to go along with an ugly throw into double coverage that actually was picked off. He improved as the game went along, though, thanks to a mix of blown coverages and excellent throws down each sideline. It's easy to forgive the occasional bad quarter when you're close to 10 yards per completion.
8.
Tom Brady NE
28/41
310
1
0
136
158
-22
We'll get to Wes Welker later, but Brady did an excellent job of identifying the Jets' goals with their coverage schemes and adjusting. With Randy Moss out of the picture, Brady simply found Welker again and again. On throws that weren't to Welker, though, Brady was 13-of-24 for 118 yards, with the touchdown to Moss his star receiver's only notable play of the day.
MNF.
Matt Schaub HOU
25/38
305
2
0
117
117
0
9.
Kurt Warner ARI
15/19
203
2
0
104
104
0
Warner was virtually perfect outside of a botched snap before suffering a "head injury" and leaving the game. No word on whether it, too, was concussion-related. It's not surprising that Warner would get hurt, as the attrition rate for quarterbacks of his age and with his injury history is extremely high. With the Cardinals' relatively easy schedule going forward, though, the team can afford to rest Warner for a week or two if need be.
10.
Philip Rivers SD
17/22
145
1
0
99
99
0
It wasn't your typical Philip Rivers day by any stretch of the imagination. Rivers threw only two passes further than ten yards downfield, a completion to Antonio Gates that went 17 yards in the air, and a 43-yard incompletion to Vincent Jackson. Instead, he went 13-of-14 in the first half while San Diego built a lead.
11.
Drew Brees NO
19/29
187
3
0
99
99
0
In the same vein, coincidentally, Drew Brees threw exactly one pass more than 15 yards downfield, and that was a 45-yard incompletion to Robert Meachem. With Tampa Bay taking away the deep ball, Brees simply went underneath and found little-used tight end David Thomas and seemingly little-used star wide receiver Marques Colston, who had four first downs on five catches.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
12.
Joe Flacco BAL
23/34
256
0
1
91
105
-14
Flacco had some clear mechanical issues in the first half, sailing his throws and struggling with his accuracy in a stretch that saw him go 3-of-9 for 11 yards. Something changed at halftime, because he came out a different player, highlighted by a totally different sort of stretch -- six consecutive first downs, yielding 76 yards in the process.
13.
Matt Ryan ATL
26/46
268
2
0
91
90
1
Unlike Flacco, Ryan's streakiness required no buffer. In the third and fourth quarters, Ryan had one of the more remarkable two-faced stretches you'll ever see. After a run of seven consecutive incompletions, Ryan completed his next ten passes in a row. It wasn't a change in style, either; Ryan's incompletion streak involved only one pass past eight yards, while his completion streak was also mostly short stuff.
14.
Chad Henne MIA
17/29
172
1
0
69
69
0
Streak mania continues: Chad Henne threw eight consecutive passes that were fewer than eight yards away from the line of scrimmage, all to the right side of the field. Unlike the last two quarterbacks, though, this wasn't exactly a good thing: Those passes went for a combined 33 yards and one first down.
15.
David Garrard JAC
21/30
216
1
1
53
69
-16
OK, joke's over. Our last streak comment recognizes Garrard's brilliance at the end of the game against the Bills. Garrard very possibly may have saved the Jaguars' season by finishing up 10-of-11 for 121 yards with six first downs and a touchdown. Six of Mike Sims-Walker's nine targets came in that streak.
16.
Tarvaris Jackson MIN
6/8
77
1
0
51
52
-1
17.
Alex Smith SF
16/33
227
3
1
38
36
2
Alex Smith under center: 1-of-5, -5 yards, two sacks, and an interception. Alex Smith in the shotgun: 15-of-28, 232 yards, one sack, three touchdowns, no interceptions. Most of those totals came in the second half and after Al Harris and Aaron Kampman had suffered season-ending knee injuries, but it's pretty clear that Smith belongs in the shotgun at something close to a full-time basis. It's up to Mike Singletary to decide whether he wants to build the offense of his dreams or one that wins football games.
18.
Bruce Gradkowski OAK
17/32
183
2
1
37
39
-2
Gradkowski's a hero because he "led" the Raiders to a comeback victory. Never mind that said comeback came almost exclusively thanks to the presence of reserve Bengals cornerback Morgan Trent, or that Gradkowski's one dalliance towards the Bengals' starting corners very nearly ended in a game-ending interception by Johnathan Joseph. Or that Gradkowski was 1-of-5 on third down all day despite facing third downs with three (twice), four, and five yards to go.
19.
Donovan McNabb PHI
23/32
244
2
1
32
31
1
Philly's offense works when they get consistent yardage from their passing game on first down. McNabb did that, going 11-of-12 while averaging over 12 yards per attempt. Things weren't so nice on third down, though, where McNabb threw an interception, took a huge sack, and only converted three of his nine chances.
MNF.
Vince Young TEN
12/22
116
1
0
28
13
15
20.
Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF
18/30
297
1
2
23
23
0
Give credit to the Jaguars' defense: It's hard to make a really bad quarterback look this good. Fitzpatrick missed a handful of open receivers, threw an ugly interception that should have had a couple of friends, and would be well into the negative side of the ledger if it wasn't for a 98-yard touchdown pass to Terrell Owens that owed its success almost entirely to Owens.
21.
Carson Palmer CIN
14/22
207
0
1
23
8
14
14 of Palmer's 26 dropbacks came with ten or more yards to go. He actually picked up first downs on six of them, an impressive figure; on the other 12 dropbacks, though, he only picked up three first downs, fumbled twice, was sacked twice, and threw an interception on a Hail Mary.
22.
Matt Cassel KC
15/30
248
2
0
14
14
0
Taking a sack is a damaging play for any quarterback, but taking two sacks in three plays is bad. Even worse is when those two sacks come inside the opposition's ten-yard line. As with Gradkowski, Cassel nearly threw the game he won away with an interception late, and as with Fitzpatrick, he'd be towards the bottom of this list if it weren't for his two big plays at the end of the game with Chris Chambers.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
23.
Jason Campbell WAS
24/37
256
0
1
13
13
0
Whoa. What a weird day. Campbell was 12-of-12 on third down, picking up 150 yards and seven first downs in the process. He extended virtually every one of the Redskins' drives, and helped keep the Cowboys offense off of the field in the process. The reason he's 23rd, of course, is because he was 12-of-25 for 106 yards on first and second down. On the bright side, Campbell only took one sack, and his interception was a fluky bounce off of a defender's helmet. Because of the situation, it ranks as an extremely important play; take it out and Campbell goes from 23rd to 14th.
24.
Tony Romo DAL
15/27
158
1
1
2
-3
5
Romo's consistently been a quarterback who gets better as the game goes along throughout his career, and that happened to be the case on Sunday. On Dallas's final drive, Romo was 7-of-8 for 60 yards, while he also scrambled for a key first down on third-and-3 from the Dallas 47.
25.
Jay Cutler CHI
24/42
171
1
1
1
-5
6
It's almost a victory for Cutler to throw a single interception in a game, but Cutler's previously been effective when he wasn't throwing picks. Averaging just over four yards an attempt is ugly. Some of that has to do with the effectiveness of the Eagles' pass rush and Ron Turner's desire to not have Cutler killed by his porous offensive line, but there was a stretch where Cutler was 2-of-7 for two yards. Seriously.
26.
Matt Hasselbeck SEA
19/26
231
0
1
-4
-10
6
Hasselbeck was, at the very least, significantly better than Seneca Wallace, who accrued -34 DYAR in four attempts.
27.
Matt Leinart ARI
10/14
77
0
0
-14
-14
0
28.
Kyle Orton DEN
15/29
171
0
1
-17
-17
0
Orton's ankle injury a year ago foretold a significant decline in his performance level, but it seems like his injury isn't anywhere near as severe this time around. Of course, team doctors could have amputated Orton's leg from the ankle down and he still would've outplayed Chris Simms. Then again, that would put Orton in a permanent Captain Morgan's position, and that would result in his permanent expulsion from the NFL. So it's a thin line. (Simms ended up with -66 passing DYAR on the day.)
29.
Jake Delhomme CAR
19/40
227
1
1
-24
-32
9
The Panthers never trailed by more than 11 points. Why did they have Jake Delhomme drop back to pass 44 times? He threw 16 times on first down -- 16 times! Predictably, they resulted in six completions, 78 yards, and four first downs. They only ran the ball 15 times on first down, and while they got 66 yards, they put the team in far better situations than Delhomme's 10 incompletions.
30.
Marc Bulger STL
19/37
215
0
1
-27
-27
1
Bulger's only success in this game was targeting Mike Adams, who was playing for an injured Bryant McFadden. And Bulger couldn't even do that very well. Admittedly, he's playing with a subpar group of receivers, but aren't quarterbacks supposed to make their receivers better?
31.
Josh Freeman TB
17/32
126
1
3
-76
-92
15
32.
Mark Sanchez NYJ
8/21
136
1
4
-152
-155
3
Here's why the Jets should've started Kellen Clemens first. It's very clear that Sanchez isn't ready to play right now. He has a great arm, and makes the occasional excellent pass, but he's not ready. He makes the sort of awful decisions you expect from a quarterback that just doesn't have the experience you need to play at this level. Had the Jets started Clemens, they could've eventually turned to Sanchez had their season gone South, which it has, and used him without any expectations of success. After starting Sanchez and beginning the season on a hot streak, the expectations for Sanchez were raised, only for Sanchez to naturally struggle. Now, if Sanchez gets benched, he loses his confidence and they have to start over with him next year. If he plays ... you get days like these. Rock, meet hard place.


Five most valuable running backs
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Ryan Grant GB
129
1
16
0
67
63
4
Green Bay's offensive line has taken a lot of knocks this year, but Sunday was clearly their best game of the season. Aaron Rodgers only took two sacks in 48 dropbacks, and they opened up huge holes on the ground for Ryan Grant, whose previous success had been limited to games against awful run defenses. Grant's 21 carries produced eight first downs and a touchdown, and he only had two carries for negative yardage.
2.
DeAngelo Williams CAR
122
0
9
0
50
49
2
Amazingly, DeAngelo Williams did not get a single carry -- not one -- on third down. Jake Delhomme got chances to convert third-and-1 and third-and-3, and threw an incompletion and an interception. He threw an incompletion and took a sack on his two third-and-7 attempts, took two sacks on third-and-8, and another sack on third-and-9. We're not just cherry-picking plays, either; those are all his attempts on third and less than ten. Just give Williams the ball instead. What's the worst that happens, he gets no gain? At least he doesn't give the ball away or lose eight yards.
3.
Kevin Smith DET
45
0
104
1
42
-8
50
One day, we will all look back at the Browns and wonder how they simultaneously had Shaun Rogers and, yet, had such an awful run defense. The easiest answer, of course, is Eric Mangini.
4.
Mike Bell NO
75
2
5
0
34
32
2
Bell scored twice in 13 carries, had first down runs of 16 and 28 yards, never rushed for negative yardage, and 10 of his 13 carries went for three yards or more. That's a great little game.
5.
Rock Cartwright WAS
67
0
73
0
33
5
29
In the early days of Football Outsiders, one of the site's cult heroes was Washington fullback Rock Cartwright, who'd put up great numbers in limited time. In his most active year, 2003, Cartwright ran 107 times for 411 yards. That yielded an unimpressive 3.84 yards per carry, but because of the strength of the opposition and the situations he was running in (lots of short-yardage downs), his 9.8% DVOA was tenth in the
league
.

Cartwright only had more than five carries in one of the ensuing five seasons, so it was nice to see him finally get a chance to see the ball on Sunday after Ladell Betts went down with a lamentable knee injury. Cartwright promptly busted out a 34-yard run and averaged more than five yards a carry. He'll be Washington's starting back until Clinton Portis returns.


Least valuable running back
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Marshawn Lynch BUF
18
0
0
0
-37
-37
0
Jacksonville has a pretty good run defense, the sixth-best in football by
DVOA
. Buffalo has a patchwork offensive line that now has another hole in it, thanks to Eric Wood's gruesome broken tibia and fibula. They also are starting arguably the worst quarterback in football, and that includes Reggie Wayne. None of these things helped Marshawn Lynch, but eight carries for 18 yards with two fumbles is just a disaster of a day.


Five most valuable wide receivers and tight ends
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Wes Welker NE
15
17
192
12.8
0
96
Welker sets an all-time record for DYAR by a wide receiver who didn't actually score a touchdown. He came close, taking a 43-yard catch-and-run to the Jets' three-yard line (on one of the worst blown coverages you'll ever see), but it didn't matter; he was slicing the Jets up all day. New York thought they'd adjusted their coverage properly at halftime, but Welker promptly went out and caught five more passes in the fourth quarter. Welker does get a nice DYAR bump because his big day came against the third-ranked DVOA pass defense.
2.
Calvin Johnson DET
7
11
161
23.0
1
65
It's funny how the chatter about quarterback and wide receiver not being on the same page seems to fade away when the Browns come to town, huh? Maybe they could be reappropriated as traveling therapists. The first three passes to Johnson were incompletions, and Stafford threw a pick with him as the intended target, but everything else was completed, and Johnson is owed 31 yards for defensive pass interference on the penultimate play of the game.
3.
Greg Jennings GB
5
7
126
25.2
1
58
4.
Sidney Rice MIN
6
7
89
14.8
2
50
An innocent thought: Remember how the Vikings brought in T.J. Houshmandzadeh for a visit this offseason, and tried to keep him from leaving their complex before he headed to Seattle and signed there? Let's pretend that Houshmandzadeh falls in love with the Vikings and signs whatever contract they were offering. With Houshmandzadeh in the fold, the team doesn't draft Percy Harvin in the first round, costing them their most dynamic player. They also take away Rice's starting job, leaving them with an arguably inferior player at a significantly higher salary. Oh, and chances are that they don't have the cap room to tempt Brett Favre back into playing. And the Vikings would have been happy to do all that. Sometimes, teams get saved from themselves.
5.
Anquan Boldin ARI
8
9
103
12.9
1
49
It's widely-perceived that Larry Fitzgerald is an elite red zone target. He's been very good this year, but in previous seasons, he hasn't really put up great numbers. Instead, the perception that he's great draws attention to him and opens up opportunities for Anquan Boldin, who has had great red zone numbers. Boldin's touchdown on Sunday was a perfect example.


Least valuable wide receiver or tight end
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Brandon Gibson STL
5
17
61
12.2
0
-49
If you made a list of all the receivers in NFL history that have been targeted 15 or more times in one game, Brandon Gibson is almost undoubtedly the worst player on that list, and not by a tiny margin. Gibson was being covered by Mike Adams for most of the second half, which is why he was getting so many passes. His particular low point was dropping a pass in the end zone that would have given St. Louis a chance to tie the game on a two-point conversion. It was not his only drop on the day.

Best DYAR Games by WR with no TD, 1994-2009

Player

Team
Year Week Opponent Opp. Rank
(Pass Def)

DYAR

YAR

Pass

Rec

Yds

Runs
Wes Welker NE 2009 11 NYJ 3 95 68 17 15 192 1 for 11
Keenan McCardell JAC 1996 8 STL 13 92 101 20 16 232 None
Jerry Rice SF 1994 15 SD 20 92 102 12 12 144 1 for 18
Koren Robinson SEA 2002 15 ATL 8 89 94 11 8 143 1 for 10
Jeff Graham CHI 1994 13 ARI 7 83 75 10 8 154 None

(Ed. Note: Quick Reads appears on ESPN Insider on Monday, then gets republished on FO on Tuesdays, with added ratings for Monday Night Football.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 24 Nov 2009

90 comments, Last at 02 Dec 2009, 7:36pm by jmaron

Comments

1
by PatsFan :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 12:47pm

This gives a nice illustration of the difference between DYAR and the NFL's QB rating. Brady had 136 DYAR and Cassell had 14. But Cassel had a 100.4 rating to Brady's 98.6.

5
by crack (not verified) :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 1:06pm

Well, one is counting and one is a rate so it isn't a very useful comparison.

9
by PatsFan :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 1:13pm

True, but they had about the same number of attempts (32 vs 30).

30
by crack (not verified) :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 2:31pm

8. Tom Brady NE 28/41
22. Matt Cassel KC 15/30

Brady attempted 11 more.

37
by PatsFan :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 2:53pm

D'oh! (Goes back to NFL.com weekly stats page, re-sorts by QB rating. Looks at stat lines.) Must've read across the page wrong. Maybe looked at the attempts of the guy right below Brady (by rating).

10
by RickD :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 1:17pm

Brady's DYAR is dragged down by his -22 rushing DYAR. His passing DYAR would put him tied for third best of the week.

51
by bsr (not verified) :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 4:58pm

How does brady end up with a -22 DYAR?

68
by Whatev (not verified) :: Wed, 11/25/2009 - 3:14am

For rushing. For a QB to post a negative number there isn't an uncommon occurrence.

2
by BenOak (not verified) :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 12:56pm

Gradowski is the hero of this one because he's only 18th on your list not 29th or 32nd. Slightly below average is a HUGE improvement.

18
by AnonymousA (not verified) :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 1:41pm

Sometimes all you're looking for is a quarterback who isn't Gerta.

23
by DEW (not verified) :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 2:03pm

If Gradkowski can somehow even play up to replacement level, the sheer difference will make Raiders fans think they've gotten Brady or Manning in there.

38
by Bobman :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 2:57pm

I can see it now: The Irrational Gradkowski/Inanimate Carbon Rod Thread

48
by zip.4chan.org/sp/ (not verified) :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 4:34pm

The Polish Duoski: Gradowski and Janikowski. It'll be a winning ticket.

3
by Chris Owen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 12:58pm

Nitpick on Eli Manning: I believe you mean 10 yards per attempt.

4
by Paul R :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 1:04pm

Re: You need to convert on third down. Jason Campbell was perfect on third down, and the Redskins scored six points and lost.

They way I add it up, all eight of Washington's converted third downs were the result of passes by Campbell (seven complete, one with a Dallas penalty).

But, of the nine non-converted third downs, five of those were the result of incomplete passes or completed passes for not enough yardage.

Maybe I read the stats wrong--I didn't watch the game--but I'm not sure if that qualifies as "perfect."

25
by Key19 :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 2:08pm

I remember seeing FOX post a stat in the game saying Campbell was like 12/12 at one point on third down. And after going through the play-by-play just now, he finished the day with no incompletions on 3rd down. That's what they mean by perfect.

Not sure where you got your "incomplete or short" information, because they were all complete, but yes, multiple were short.

29
by Paul R :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 2:21pm

I think you're right. I was looking at the play-by-play and was concentrating on whether the pass converted or not.
My fault.

33
by crack (not verified) :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 2:37pm

But that doesn't change the main point. If he didn't convert how does this disprove the 'You must convert on third down' statement? It didn't say 'You must complete passes on third down.'

47
by D Jones :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 3:49pm

I agree, the statement in the discussion is just plain wrong. In order for "perfect on third down" to disprove "You must convert on third down" the QB would have to convert every third down opportunity, which the 'skins most certainly didn't, or they would have certainly scored more than 6 points.

6
by nat :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 1:08pm

Great job as always. I was curious whether the opponent adjustment would push Peyton Manning's not-so-good two interception day above Brady's good day. It did, but only when you add in -22 DYAR for converting 1 of 3 short yardage sneaks.

The debate continues. But not here. Go to the irrational thread for that.

7
by MJK :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 1:09pm

So...I didn't watch the game, so I'm confused. How does a team whose QB is PERFECT on 3rd down conversions score only 6 points? If your QB never fails to convert on 3rd down, the only way a drive can NOT end in a TD is if you try running the ball on 3rd down and fail, or if you turn it over. But Campbell only threw 1 INT, so that obviously wasn't it, and from what you said, he wasn't great on 1st or 2nd down, so I doubt the Skins were trying many running 3rd down conversions... Did the Skins' RB's fumble a lot?

Or are you not counting 3rd and goal as 3rd down?

12
by tally :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 1:24pm

Whatever "perfect" means, it isn't converting on 3rd down. Second Washington drive, 3rd and 13, Campbell throws a 1 yard screen pass to Cartright. I think it simply means that he didn't throw an incompletion.

14
by RickD :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 1:31pm

Perhaps Campbell had a perfect completion rate? He didn't have a perfect conversion rate.

(scans play-by-play)

Let's see...in the first quarter he completed a pass for 1 yard on 3rd and 13..
in the second quarter he completed a pass for 6 yards on 3rd and 10...
in the third quarter he completed a pass for 9 yards on 3rd and 16...
he also completed a pass for 4 yards on 3rd and 10...
he also completed a pass for 12 yards on 3rd and 16

So he didn't have any incompletions, but there are plenty of passes that were not for enough yardage.

It's a bit deceptive to say Campbell was "perfect" on 3rd down after the lead "You need to convert on 3rd down". Campbell wasn't converting on 3rd down. There isn't any conventional wisdom that says it's particularly useful to complete short passes when you need long yardage on 3rd down.

21
by Dales :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 1:57pm

Campbell was being Campbell. Perhaps a tad better than usual, but this is who he is. A lower-tier starter, or a great backup.

8
by NewtonMA (not verified) :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 1:11pm

How does Brady have -22 rush DYAR? I know there were 2 half-hearted sneaks, but was he really that bad?

42
by nat :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 3:01pm

That's a very good question. I checked one other QB with more than 10 negative yards rushing DYAR: J. Flacco, who was 8 yards DYAR better than Brady.

The Jets and the Colts rush defenses are almost exactly the same in DVOA prior to this week. So defense adjustments should not be the issue. Flacco and Brady each rushed on first down and goal to go from the one yard line, with the same result. So the difference must be in the other plays.

Flacco had one other rush: a loss of 2 yards on 2nd and 7 to go. That has to be below replacement value.

Brady was 1 for 2 on his other sneaks, and had a 7 yard scramble which failed to convert a third down. I can see that might be below average. But it's hard to see that as below replacement level. I'd love to hear from the FO team about this one. Perhaps other plays were considered runs?

46
by fillylabinga (not verified) :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 3:16pm

Right. That does seem a little strange--especially since those 2 attempts were "we're only kinda trying to score" attempts.

The Pats were sort of in kill-the-clock mode at that point and running into the line twice then scoring a TD on 3rd down was the best case scenario. Not that DVOA can judge intent, but it still seems like a heavy penalty given the circumstances.

11
by SOBL (not verified) :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 1:18pm

anybody else see the drive chart for the Titans final drive? VY has a 12 yard scramble and goes 1-4 for 5 yards yet Gruden and the MSM lap it up. He does look slightly better than he was before, but I dont see this guy as a long term solution.

13
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 1:30pm

Cutler's low yardage per attempt was in good part due to his missing, while unimpeded by a pass rush, three wide open receivers who had gotten behind the Eagles' secondary. He may have been worse against the Eagles than he was against the Broncos.

I was surprised that Favre did as well as he did last year, prior to getting injured, given the change in scheme. I couldn't believe so many people, some at least semi-knowledgable about football, thought the Vikings were making an error in signing Favre. The guy, in that scheme, can make his progressions in his sleep, and his arm is still fine. Why the hell would you think that going with Jackson and Rosenfels, and thereby frequently reducing your offense to using half the field, would be a better option?

Vince Young's prospects are extremely dependent, more so than perhaps any other qb, on having a running back with home run ability. Young's running ability really becomes much harder to defend when there is a running back who can go the distance on each touch, and having two guys on the field who can make big plays while running makes it a helluva lot easier to get receivers wide open, which makes Young's less than classic passing style a lot easier to win with.

15
by RickD :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 1:33pm

Also, any QB would do better on the Vikings than on the Jets. The O-line is better, the receivers are better, the RBs are better and, FWIW, the defense is better.

17
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 1:41pm

Yeah, make Tavaris Jackson the Jets starting qb last year, and they may not have won four games. Hell, maybe not three games.

20
by SOBL (not verified) :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 1:53pm

my comment on young was that he does look marginally better, despite a few awful throws and decisions last night, including a horrible pass and decision dropped by dunta, but i don't see him as a long term solution. I was also rolling my eyes at the drooling over his play. His legs are going to go, and i dont see him as having steve young or mcnabb's ability to pick apart a D with his decisions & arm when their legs went.

27
by MCS :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 2:13pm

Let's see how the old man's legs hold up. He certainly appears to be in the right situation though.

28
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 2:15pm

Oh, I think there is still a decent chance that he gets hurt. 40 is 40, after all. No matter what happens in the future, however, the signing is obviously a massive success.

40
by Boesy (not verified) :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 2:59pm

Go, Zombie King!!

52
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 5:34pm

In our post-Apocalyptic future, the Vikings are perennial Super Bowl champs!!

36
by tuluse :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 2:49pm

I didn't think he was going to work out because I didn't think he was physically going to be able to play at a high level. I was obviously very wrong.

41
by Bobman :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 2:59pm

Get in line.
The man is amazing, and I didn't expect that.

16
by Pat Swinnegan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 1:36pm

There's kind of a difference between completing all of your passes on third down, and converting every third down...

19
by MCS :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 1:46pm

Wow. The Browns really are prompt.

49
by Jackson Jackson (not verified) :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 4:40pm

Not to mention how promptly Buffalo was prompt after the Browns were prompt.

Catpcha: averted GORDON

22
by ch (not verified) :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 2:02pm

>>If you made a list of all the receivers in NFL history that have been targeted 15 or more times in one game, Brandon Gibson is almost undoubtedly the worst player on that list, and not by a tiny margin.

How about: Joe Horn (Saints), 2001 week 3: 17 targets, 4 receptions, 48 yards

31
by Dennis :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 2:31pm

Joe Horn was still a significantly better receiver than Brandon Gibson. The point isn't that Gibson had the worst day of a receiver targeted 15+ times, but that he was the worst receiver to be targeted 15+ times.

32
by dbostedo :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 2:34pm

Are you saying that Joe Horn is worse than Brandon Gibson?

34
by rdy4thefiesta :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 2:38pm

I think he was refering to Gibson being the worst player on the list, not the player having the worst game.

45
by ch (not verified) :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 3:14pm

Well, that does narrow down the list considerably. Gibson's only played in two games so far in his NFL career. I don't think there's anything close to the amount of necessary data to judge how good or bad he is as a player.

As an alternative, I'll submit Scottie Vines (Detroit) who was targeted 15 times against Minnesota in 2005. He netted over 20% of all the receptions he got in his brief two year career that day.

72
by Podge (not verified) :: Wed, 11/25/2009 - 5:56am

Personally from my brief Mk1 Eyeball viewing of Gibson I think he's actually looked pretty good. He certainly looked like an NFL receiver last week (in his first NFL game).

This isn't to say that he should be thrown at 17 times per game. The Rams shouldn't be targetting anyone 17 times per game. I don't mean any individual, I mean collectively.

24
by Dean :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 2:05pm

I know how to win. Just score more points then your opponent. Works every time.

(sorry - couldn't resist - now I'll quit being a jackass and actually go read the article)

26
by huston720 :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 2:13pm

So you make a comment about how bad the Browns rush defense is even though it has Shaun Rogers in the commentary for Kevin Smith who had -8 rush DYAR on the day? How is it the fault of the rush defense that he had huge receiving gain on a blown assignment, and a td catch over a special teams linebacker in due to injury. I mean i'm not saying the rush defense isn't bad, just that the timing of that comment was weird.

Also the reason that the Browns have a bad rush defense despite Rogers is two-fold. First the linebackers are terrible, partly due to injury (both ILBs are out) and partly due to inexperience. Second it is easy to game plan around Rogers in the running game, you put two guys on him at all times, and you rin lots of plays that take advantage of his desire to slice into the backfield. He generally tries to get upfield rather than take on blockers, which means if the offense guesses right it can direct him to one side while the back runs through the hole behind him. (Though if you guess wrong it usually leads to a loss) I'm not sure how much of that fault lies with Rogers, and how much with Mangini. This is why Rogers is probably better suited to a 4-3, or needs a really good ILB behind him to makie plays.

63
by zlionsfan :: Wed, 11/25/2009 - 1:34am

I was thinking the same thing. Rogers was on Detroit defenses that were 20th, 24th, and 29th against the run in his last three years in Detroit; 23rd last year in Cleveland and 30th this year. I don't think he's at fault for any of it. If anything, he probably kept most of those teams from being worse.

And yeah, when Kevin Smith is negative for the day, how is that bad run defense? I thought that was good run defense?

It seems like someone was in a hurry and got things backward.

82
by Sifter :: Wed, 11/25/2009 - 4:47pm

Can I just say to any FO staffer reading, that this comment brings up a bugbear of mine. The best RB list really should emphasise running more, rather than the guys who can catch screen passes. Please make a top 5 runners list and you could also have a top 3 RB receiving value list too to cover that aspect if you wish. I mean Steven Jackson is the top rated runner in DYAR for the season, but how often is he in quick reads?? Hardly ever, because his work in the passing game is mediocre.

*OK, went through the last quick reads...*

Steven Jackson has been in the top 5 ONCE, in week 8. Ridiculous for the best RUNNER by DYAR.

And this week's not the first time a guy with negative rushing DYAR has made the top 5. There were TWO last week:
Chris Johnson -8 DYAR
Matt Forte -6 DYAR

84
by tuluse :: Wed, 11/25/2009 - 6:23pm

I don't think bugbear means what you think it means.

However, I like your idea. Top five rushing DYAR and top five receiver DYAR each week. If a running back has a top five receiver DYAR he gets listed with the receivers, likewise if a receiver had a top five rushing DYAR (end-arounds and the like) he would get listed with the running backs.

85
by Arkaein :: Wed, 11/25/2009 - 6:59pm

I'd rather they just expanded the list to top 10 at each position instead of top 5. That way we could include more RBs who ran well but didn't put up great receiving numbers, while still ranking players by total DYAR, which is the best metric for complete game performance.

87
by DaveRichters :: Thu, 11/26/2009 - 10:29am

I thought the use of "bugbear" was fine. What do you think is wrong with it?

35
by t.d. :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 2:49pm

Princess is incredible. Never thought he could be anywhere near this good. It truly does illustrate how much context matters.

39
by Duke :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 2:58pm

Anybody else read that line in the Calvin Johnson blurb as "Maybe they could be reappropriated as traveling the rapists"?

79
by T. Diddy :: Wed, 11/25/2009 - 1:42pm

And you've got control of the board, Mr. Connery.

44
by Bobman :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 3:11pm

Aren't we missing another concussion-like event for Ben R: The helmentless motorcycle accident. Regardless of context, it's still a serious brain injury and probably did what a half-dozen helmeted NFL concussion-like events would do, what with all the blood loss, actual broken bones in the head (sinus fracture?) etc....

The extra spare tire of flesh around his face or not (paging George Wendt's make-up artist! Norm's twin is here.), I would not want to be him in about ten years. He may well end up watching SB replays saying "That skinny QB is really good. Who is he? Me? Damn...."

65
by RickD :: Wed, 11/25/2009 - 1:48am

Could be worse. He might watch Fletch and think "I don't remember playing Fat Sam..."

71
by IsraelP (not verified) :: Wed, 11/25/2009 - 5:03am

I think that is one of the four.

43
by Biebs (not verified) :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 3:05pm

"Now, if Sanchez gets benched, he loses his confidence and they have to start over with him next year."

Usually you guys are so good at avoiding trite statements that I'm surprised this one made it.

Why would they have to "start over"? Why would the experience in the 1st 10 games of the season be so different than the ones in the last 10? Also, why couldn't the Jets bench Sanchez for a game or two? He's had 6TDs and 14 INTs over the last 6 weeks, somehow his confidence would be burst by the Ryan (or Schottenheimer) saying, "You are making too many mistakes right now. you need to learn how to take care of the ball better".

I don't think there's such a high risk of a long-term QB controversy, especially with Clemens as the backup. I don't see any logical reason why it would shatter him to take a seat any more than throwing 4-5 INTs again.

IMO he should have been benched after that god-awful INT when he was running to his left and inexplicably didn't throw the ball out of bounds. I mean, that's something the QBs learn well before the NFL.
If the Jets benched Sanchez, there's no reason he wouldn't start a game late in the season unless Clemens looks great down the stretch and the Jets win games, and from I've seen in Clemens (admittedly only a few games), I don't expect that kind of production.

50
by mrh :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 4:41pm

Didn't Elway get benched for several games his rookie year after starting several? I recall him getting pulled in games too. Bradshaw got benched ealry in his career too. If you're a delicate flower, it may kill your confidence. But if you're a bona fide NFL QB, I don't think it's a huge deal.

53
by are-tee :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 6:03pm

Biggest problem with Sanchez is consistency. In between his three awful games, in which he has thrown 75% of his interceptions, he has had some pretty good performances - particularly in the second halves of both Miami games and the Jacksonville game.

He's not going to learn to be more consistent by sitting on the bench and watching Clemens play. Besides, he just spent about forty minutes on Sunday sitting and watching Tom Brady.

54
by jmaron :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 7:05pm

"......even though quarterback is the most important position on the field, this is still a team game first. Scheme and teammates have a major effect on a player's performance."

I've read a bunch of articles about how the Vikings would be 6-4 without Favre. Perhaps but I highly doubt it. I think the team determines the QB's performance much more than the other way around. A few years back I looked at the QB ratings for starters and backups and noticed that the backups actually had better stats - look at this year

TB - Leftwich 71.2, Freeman 63.8, Johnson 50.9
Sea - Hasselbeck 82.3, Wallace 81.7
49ers - Hill 79.6, Smith 81.5
StL - Bulger 70.7, Boller 66.1
Buff - Edwards 74.1, Fitzpatrick 56.8
NYJ - Pennington 76.0, Henne 77.7
Clev - Quinn 70.4, Anderson 36.2 (the difference of course was the last game
otherwise they were both very bad - Quinn is better though)
Tenn - Collins 62.0, Young 85.9
Oak - Russell 47.7, Gradkowski 59.8

sometimes the starter is better sometimes the backup, but mostly the level is roughly the same.

Heck even T Jackson has a rating of 124 this year.

69
by Whatev (not verified) :: Wed, 11/25/2009 - 3:20am

Selection bias kind of ruins your conclusion here.

86
by jmaron :: Thu, 11/26/2009 - 9:41am

what do you mean by selection bias?

89
by Brendan Scolari :: Fri, 11/27/2009 - 8:23am

Your sample is almost solely bad QB's because good QB's don't get replaced, that's selection bias. Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees aren't going to get benched for backups but guys like Byron Leftwich and Jamarcus Russell are.

So yes, of the QB's you listed the backups are probably nearly as good as the starters, but only because only the bad starters even come out of the game in the first place. If a starter plays well at all he won't usually get replaced by the backup so we don't get to see how big that drop off is, hence the sample is skewed by all the bad quarterbacks being benched.

This is selection bias, and that's why your argument doesn't hold water, at least not with the numbers you're trying to use.

90
by jmaron :: Wed, 12/02/2009 - 7:36pm

it wasn't selection bias at all - I merely listed every situation where more than 1 QB played more than a few snaps

55
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 7:26pm

jmaron, that way of looking at it neglects sample size, and the effect of defensive scheming. One of the more common occurences in the NFL is for the starter to get hurt, the back up comes in and looks great, and the fans fall in love with the back-up. If the starter stays hurt, however, the back up has enough time to demonstrate his weaknesses, opposing d-coordinators scheme with them in mind, and everyone receives an education why the back up is the back up.

With Jackson playing QB, the Vikings are extremely likely to lose to the 49ers and the Ravens, lose to the Steelers by a larger margin, and it isn't a stretch at all to say Jackson would have helped boot at least one, if not both of the Packers games. The Vikings, when Jackson plays, literally are reduced, quite often, to only attacking half of the field. Having a lot of other good players doesn't help nearly as much if the qb can't utilize all of them.

56
by jmaron :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 10:05pm

Will - the Vikings won 10 games last year with Jackson/Frerotte - no Harvin, no Rice (injured) and worst special teams vs the best this year. There's no question Favre is a much better QB than Jackson and Frerotte and he makes the team better but there is no way any one player makes a 3-4 game difference in a 10 game schedule let alone 16.

I think a Favre is the difference between Minnesota competing with NO, NE and Indy as top contenders for the Super Bowl versus competing with Phil, GB, Dall and the rest for playoff spots.

Look at NE last year - Brady goes down and they have by all accounts a nothing backup in Cassel - they win 11 games and barely miss the playoffs (Cassel goes to KC and shockingly sucks). Peyton Manning loses all his receivers against SD last year - the result 6 ints. Jay Cutler goes from a good offence in Denver to a crappy one in Chicago - surprise Cutler sucks now. McNabb goes down and Kolb puts up a DVOA of 22%.

QB is obviously a very important part of a football team and in most cases probably the most important member of the team (certainly not always - do you think the NY Giants of the 80's would have been hurt more losing Simms or Taylor) but their contributions are very overblown even on this site.

58
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 11:41pm

jmaron, the Patriots went from 16 wins to 11. I don't think that example supports your argument. The Vikings defense was playing better last year, well enough to overcome several pick sixes thrown by Jackson and Frerotte. I agree that context in qb performance is greatly overlooked. The gap between HOF quality play, and what Jackson and Frerotte provided last year, is huge. Trust me, if Jackson is the Vikings starting qb this year, nobody is talking about Harvin as rookie of the year, and the talk would still be about how much potential Rice has.

62
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 11/25/2009 - 1:16am

The patriots went from 16 wins to 11 because they played a tougher schedule and their defense got worse. At the end of the season, the Cassel led offense was just as good as the Brady led offense the year before.

66
by RickD :: Wed, 11/25/2009 - 1:53am

"At the end of the season, the Cassel led offense was just as good as the Brady led offense the year before."

Yeah, um, not quite.

The 2007 Patriots set an NFL record for points scored. Don't belittle that accomplishment by pretending that Tom Brady was easily replaced.

67
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/25/2009 - 2:33am

Rich, if you want to believe that the Patriots offense in December 2008 was as good as the Patriots offense in December 2007, fine.

77
by MJK :: Wed, 11/25/2009 - 1:22pm

That's actually not that bad of an argument. December was the best month for the 2008 Cassel-led Patriots offense, while December was the worst month for the 2007 Brady-led offense. Saying the best month of an above average offense was equal to the worst month of an otherworldly offense isn't that bad of a claim.

But what I think folks still miss the point on is that they argue that an offense is good or bad either because of the QB or because of the surrounding cast. I.e. you have folks saying "QB isn't important because the Patriots did pretty well just putting in a replacemtn player", while you have other folks saying "QB is important because upgrading from T-Jack to Princess has made the Vikings a SB favorite".

I've been beating the drum for a long time that, to get true elite success, it's an AND function. Without a good supporting cast (and coaching staff), the best QB in the world will struggle to put up a 0.500 record. And if you have a scrub at QB, the best you can do, even with elite players and fantastic coaching, is play above average (but not elite).

I actually don't think Cassel sucks, but I think he's not as good as Tom Brady. He's shown that with a good supporting cast and good coaching, he can play at a decent level. But to create the 2007 Patriots, you need EXCELLENT QB play combined with a great cast and good coaching. The 2008 Patriots had only GOOD QB play. The 2009 Vikings are getting excellent play from Favre, and have a good cast around him. But that cast and coaching are not good enough to lift T-Jack to high levels.

57
by jmaron :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 10:46pm

As for the scheming argument I could just as easily argue that the backup is at a handicap because he isn't getting any reps in training camp and early games so he's at a disadvantage early on.

When I first looked at this it was the 2002 season. I looked at any backup with at least 100 pass attempts. In all the backups threw 2633 attempts the starters 3945 (about 100 less attempts on average for the backups).

The backups had an avg rating of 85.85, the starters 83.08

Of interest that year - Kurt Warner a top QB (some say HoF level) went down and Bulger put up a much better rating 101 vs 67 - they both had about 200 attempts. McNabb was also injured that year - replaced by Feely. McNabb put up a 86 rating to Feely's 75. But it was enough to convince Miami Feely could play (wrong). Once again product of a good team.

I'd upload the list but whenever I paste an excel file it just looks like a mess.

Maybe one day I'll get the energy to put together a list for about 10 years or something. But to me almost every time I grab a sample and look at it what appears obvious is for the most part team generates the QB stats - not the other way around.

59
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 11:46pm

The point was that the back-up's performance usually declines as his reps increase, which is a good indicator that the team is not generating his stats as more time goes on.

73
by ammek :: Wed, 11/25/2009 - 6:20am

See: 'Doug Johnson effect' in the FO glossary.

74
by jmaron :: Wed, 11/25/2009 - 8:46am

yes I understand that but when I looked at the entire crop of backups in 2002 as a group they performed on the same level as the starters over almost 3000 attempts.

The real test would be to look at multiple years.

75
by ammek :: Wed, 11/25/2009 - 9:44am

No, the real test would be to look at seasons where two QBs on the same team had thrown roughly similar numbers of attempts in roughly similar contexts, and both finished with above average ratings. Many of your comparisons are between multiple replacement-level QBs.

Also the test would use DYAR and DVOA, not passer rating.

76
by jmaron :: Wed, 11/25/2009 - 12:49pm

that would be a lot easier thing to look at as it doesn't happen very often. Of course determining roughly similar context involves key injuries and so forth - which is much more subjective.

I'm sure DYAR and DVOA would be a more accurate tool to rate the performance as well. But I suspect that even though passer rating is not particularly accurate, if the relationship was close or not in passer rating - you'd find much the same thing in DYAR or DVOA.

So FO needs to do a proper study of such a thing - get on it boys as you're more qualified than me and not as lazy.

81
by jmaron :: Wed, 11/25/2009 - 2:39pm

"..the real test would be to look at seasons where two QBs on the same team had thrown roughly similar numbers of attempts in roughly similar contexts, and both finished with above average ratings."

You got me thinking so I went looking a little. I found a list of the top 50 QB's of all time as just a rough starting point. Used anyone that was on that list that played in the last 30 years or so.

What I found

1) Good QB's don't get hurt very often. There are very few examples of a good QB missing more than a few games a year.

2) QB's that missed more than 4 games in a season that were on the list I used to compare to backups (years ranging 93-2008)

List of Starters:

Warner (3 times)
McNabb (3 times)
Montana (twice)
Marino (twice)
S. Young (twice)
McNair
Fouts
Hasselbeck (twice)

List of backups

Manning, E
Bulger
Green, T
Feeley
McMahon, M
Garcia, J
Kemp, J
Krieg
Mitchell, S
Huard
Grbac (twice)
Volek
Luther
Wallace (twice)

The combined stats:

Starters: 16 seasons, 85-65 record, 4900 attempts, 83.8 rating
Backups: 16 seasons, 47-47, 3445 attempts, 80.7 rating

I will dig up DYAR and DVOA when I have a chance for these players. But I would say the list of starters is pretty impressive and the backups are pretty much replacement or worse (Manning was in his rookie year) one might quibble about Garcia and Bulger being better than replacement level.

This is by no way a complete study of any kind. But I think it leads one to think that star qB's are not nearly as critical to their teams as people think. They are clearly better (566 winning pct vs 500). But that is the difference between 9 wins and 8 in a 16 game season.

60
by Purds :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 11:50pm

Speaking of quarterback play ..... What strikes me is that we know so little about defenses because, at least in a small sample of "good" teams (Colts/NE), they've played against such poor QB's, that it's hard to tell if the defenses are good, or the QB's just really bad. Look:

Colts opposing QB:
Jax - Garrad scored 12 points
Mia - Pennington - 23 pts
Ari - Warner - 10
Sea - Wallace - 17
Ten - Collins - 9
St.L - Bulger - 6
San F - Smith - 14
Hou - Schwab - 17
NE - Brady - 34
Balt - Flacco - 15

So, the numbers look good (15.7 points against average), but who is a good QB on that list? Brady, Warner, ... Schwab? (Only 3 QB's in top 10 DVOA, 6 are 20th or worst in DVOA!)

NE's the same:
Buf - Edwards - 24
NYJ - Sanchez - 16
Atl - Ryan - 10
Balt - Flacco - 21
Den - Orton - 20
Ten - Collins/Young - 0
TB - Johnson - 7
Mai - Henne - 17
Ind - Manning - 35
NJY - Sanchez - 14

Again, numbers overall are good (16.4 points against average), but so few good QB's: P. Manning...Flacco? (Only 1 opposing QB in top 10 DVOA, 5 are 20th or worse, counting Sanchez twice.)

I guess I am frustrated about knowing how good or bad the AFC defenses of Indy and NE are, with such awful QB competition. Not sure if the other AFC "powers" are facing such bad QB play, but it's hard to figure much out against such bad QB's.

61
by Purds :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 11:59pm

Replying to my own comment -- how classy! In any case, a quick look shows that Baltimore had actually played a lot of good QB's (Rivers, Brady, Palmer x 2, Farve, Manning). Pitt, not as much (Palmer x 2, Farve).

I'm worried (as a Colt fan) that the NFC is going to be better battle tested this year.

Now wait, NO has not gone against anyone good yet (unless you count Eli), Minny has faced only Rodgers x2 and Big Ben, and Philly has played Brees, Eli, Romo and Rivers.

So, maybe this applies to the NFC as well?

78
by MJK :: Wed, 11/25/2009 - 1:31pm

It is scary, because what jumps out at me from your list, is that the couple of times that NE or Indy gave up a lot of points (i.e. 20+), it was against the good QB's they faced, and EVERY good QB they faced put up more than 20 (I'm considering Pennington, Brady, Flacco, and Manning to be the "good" QB's. I suppose you could argue Schaub, but I'm still not sold on him. I'm not counting the NE week 1 game against Buffalo, because one of those TD's was a defensive INT returned for a TD and had nothing to do with Edwards).

It seems that NE and Indy can shut down bad QB's really easily, but can't stop good ones. This fits with what I've seen...both teams seem scared to blitz good QB's, and rely on trying to goad them into mistakes, which good QB's generally don't do.

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by MC2 :: Wed, 11/25/2009 - 2:00pm

I agree with your basic point, although I think Warner, Schaub and maybe Ryan would rank ahead of Pennington and Flacco on the NFL QB pecking order.

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by Purds :: Thu, 11/26/2009 - 12:06pm

That's what I am worrying about, too! Brees and Farve are pretty good QB's. Of course, I am getting ahead of myself here as a Colt fan, but we're in that fairly boring time of the year for Colt fans -- they're going to make the playoffs, their seeding is fairly certain, and now we have to hope no one gets hurt before we get to the playoffs.

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by Tehzeb (not verified) :: Wed, 11/25/2009 - 1:48am

Could we get a read on Roy Williams' 0 catches for 0 yards and where that ranks him amongst starting WRs?

Captcha - power arms

woo hoo

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by Whatev (not verified) :: Wed, 11/25/2009 - 3:26am

Depending on how often he got targeted, he might just have been disqualified from consideration. Though, I think one should be aware that the number of targets you receive is also a function of how often you get open, which is a function of how good you are (but not necessarily a monotonic one due to defensive scheme, which complicates things greatly).

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by Anon-o-matic (not verified) :: Wed, 11/25/2009 - 5:24pm

One example doesn't prove or disprove any of the old axioms you listed.