Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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29 Dec 2009

Week 16 Quick Reads

by Bill Barnwell

As we watched Curtis Painter and company almost literally give the Colts' perfect season away, we were reminded of the futility of playoff performance narratives.

That is to say that most explanations of why a team succeeded or failed in the playoffs is ridiculous, filled with hindsight-laden explanations that don't hold up. They're excuses that get applied upon failure and ignored upon success. The 2008 Steelers used their experience from the 2005 run to calm their nerves late and beat the Cardinals, but the 2006 Colts and the 2007 Giants had no more than a small handful of players that had ever participated in a Super Bowl.

Some narratives are created to explain variance. When a 14-win team loses in the second round of the playoffs after a bye, no matter what happened in the game itself, it was because they're rusty. Never mind that a team of that caliber loses to a 10-win team a fair amount of the time in the regular season. If they win, rusty doesn't come up. Teams that lose after a couple of playoff games on the road were too exhausted physically and emotionally, but when those same teams win and head onto the Super Bowl, they managed to remain healthy and happy.

What recent results have showed, though, is that the idea of momentum -- of teams "peaking at the right time" -- is a crock. The last three years provide enough fodder to kill the idea. The 2006 Colts went 2-3 in December, losing by 27 to the Jaguars and by three to a 6-10 Texans team before narrowly beating a 6-10 Dolphins team to finish the year. They went and won four straight games en route to the Super Bowl.

In 2007, the Giants supposedly picked up momentum when they played the undefeated Patriots to an extremely close game, losing by three before starting off their hot streak. That's reasonable, but it was preceded by a 3-3 stretch that saw the team lose to the Vikings by 27, the Redskins by 12, and narrowly pull out victories over mediocre teams in Detroit (six points), Chicago (five points), and Philadelphia (three points). The idea that the Giants' win over the Patriots had given them momentum didn't come until they actually made it to the Super Bowl, and their "momentum" consisted of one game.

Last year's Cardinals took the cake, though. After virtually locking up the NFC West with a 7-3 start, Arizona took the rest of the season off. Finishing 2-4, the Cardinals lost to the Giants by eight and the Eagles -- the same team they'd beat in the NFC Championship Game -- by 28. It got worse in December. Playing two playoff-caliber teams, the Cardinals lost by 21 to the Vikings and the Patriots by 40. The idea that they had momentum is absurd; time will not produce a better example of a team limping into the playoffs for decades.

Of course, the flip side of the "momentum" idea is fallacious, too; there are plenty of examples of teams sweeping December after an uneven first three months, only to disappear in the playoffs. The 2007 Redskins won their final four games after burying Sean Taylor, pushing them into the playoffs after a 5-7 start, but got annihilated in Seattle when Todd Collins started throwing interceptions. Last year's Chargers went 4-0 in December to sneak into the playoffs, and beat the Colts with a great performance at home in the Wild Card round, but were summarily dispatched in Pittsburgh a week later. The Falcons finished 5-1, winning their final three, and lost to the Cardinals in the Wild Card round. The Dolphins did them one better -- going 5-0 to end the year, and 9-1 overall -- and got stomped, 27-9, by the Ravens in the Wild Card round. These are the most recent of many such examples in the past.

The point of all this is that what happened in December doesn't mean squat once the playoffs roll around. Each year, fans and media alike try and parse meaning out of small samples and natural variance. How many people get excited for the first preseason game of the year? By the time Week 1 of the regular season rolls around, only a month later, the preseason's been totally forgotten about. While the Colts lost their chance at an undefeated season, their decision to rest their stars won't have any effect on when they're "peaking" or their momentum heading into the playoffs.

Bottom line: Teams win in the playoffs because they play well and breaks go their way, the same way they do in the regular season. And if teams really can peak, the right time to peak isn't the end of December. It's the end of January.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
1.
Tom Brady NE
23/26
267
4
0
218
213
5
With Jacksonville's devastatingly bad pass defense across the field, it was going to take a whole lot to get Brady to the top of the DYAR charts this week. Averaging better than 10 yards an attempt, completing 88.5 percent of his passes, and throwing a touchdown every 6.5 attempts will do it. It's Brady's best raw numbers since what might be considered the pinnacle of his 2007 season: The Week 7 game against the Dolphins, when Brady went 21-of-25 for 354 yards and six touchdowns.
2.
Peyton Manning IND
14/21
192
0
0
176
176
0
If anyone's made Darrelle Revis look bad this year, it's Manning and Reggie Wayne, who had two touchdowns bounce off of Wayne's fingers with Revis in coverage. In fact, while Manning was in the lineup, there were several plays that were a couple of inches off one way or another. That's to be expected of normal offenses, and Manning still moved the ball effectively against the league's best pass defense, but we've come to expect more from the Colts. Had the execution from Manning and his receivers just been a little better while they were in lineup, the Colts might still be undefeated.
3.
Philip Rivers SD
21/27
264
2
0
167
167
0
Rivers was our choice for MVP heading into the season, and while it'll be hard for him to win it with Peyton Manning and Drew Brees ahead of him, the falls of both the Colts and the Saints give Rivers a shot. He was devastating on third down against the Titans, converting six of seven chances, with four plays of 20 yards or more. His numbers would have been even more impressive had he thrown a single pass in the fourth quarter.
4.
Matt Moore CAR
15/20
171
3
0
154
153
1
Panthers fans are telling themselves that they could've made the playoffs if Moore had taken over for Delhomme sometime around Week 1. That's impossible to say, but there's more to the Panthers' success than Delhomme's absence. The Panthers have allowed 10.5 points per game with Moore as the starter, while they had been allowing 23.2 points per game with Delhomme under center. Then again, Moore's avoided interceptions, which has kept the Panthers out of the short fields they faced more frequently with Delhomme's mistakes. Moore played very well on Sunday, especially on third down, but it's the defense that's taken a huge step forward, not the quarterback play.
MNF.
Brett Favre MIN
27/40
321
2
0
153
153
0
No "Brett Favre is fading down the stretch again" talk, please. He's played well in two of the Vikings' three recent losses, and the game where he played badly came against a Carolina defense that's been on fire since midseason.
5.
Matt Ryan ATL
18/34
250
3
0
117
117
0
Buffalo has an excellent pass defense, which is why Ryan's three-touchdown day grades up despite a completion percentage barely over 50 percent. He also converted a number of tough third downs, and with kicker Matt Bryant limited by a hamstring injury, Ryan even picked up 14 yards on a fourth-and-12 from the Buffalo 29 in the third quarter.
6.
Drew Brees NO
32/37
258
1
0
115
115
0
The Saints' offense worked great when they started off the game running the ball effectively, but after Pierre Thomas went out, they got stood up by an ugly Buccaneers' run D. Lynell Hamilton, Mike Bell, and Reggie Bush combined to run for 57 yards on 16 carries, putting Brees in difficult situations. While he managed to go 7-of-7 on third down (with one sack), those completions only resulted in three first downs. Those stalled drives kept giving the Buccaneers chances to get back in the game, and eventually, they took it.
7.
Tony Romo DAL
25/37
286
1
1
101
101
0
Romo was nearly perfect on third down, going 8-of-9 and getting seven first downs in the process. Four of those conversions went to Miles Austin. It's funny how Austin's newfound status as the team's number-one receiver doesn't make Jason Witten jealous, or have anything to do with a potential friendship with Tony Romo. Dallas can produce drama in a vacuum, but getting rid of inessential players whining about their lack of production can help prevent that from happening.
8.
Donovan McNabb PHI
20/35
322
3
1
96
101
-5
While DeSean Jackson's maturation into a bona fide superstar receiver has attracted a fair amount of attention, the total shift in Philadelphia's offense has been underreported. The offense that once revolved around throwing quick timing patterns to Todd Pinkston and his ilk moved onto one revolving around the pass-catching skills of Brian Westbrook, and with Westbrook's availability coming into question, the Eagles have moved to a downfield attack. McNabb will be above eight yards per attempt this season, only the third time in his career (2004, 2006) he's managed to pull that off, while maintaing a completion percentage around 61 percent. You'll often hear about baseball players changing their swing to sacrifice average for power (hi, Khalil Greene); this year, McNabb's added power and sacrificed nothing.
9.
Matt Schaub HOU
20/31
286
2
1
93
103
-11
Through his second touchdown pass, Schaub was 10-of-11 for 195 yards, with only a drop by Kevin Walter sullying his numbers. He had seven completions for ten yards or more. After that touchdown pass, Schaub went 10-of-20 for 85 yards, and had only four completions for ten yards or more, with none longer than 18 yards. Outside of maybe Kurt Warner, there's not a quarterback in the league streakier than Schaub.
10.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
17/33
259
1
1
90
90
0
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
11.
Aaron Rodgers GB
12/23
237
1
0
84
79
6
With the Seahawks handing the Packers oodles of rushing yards and short fields, Rodgers really only had to hand the ball off and offer the occasional play action pass up to collect his paycheck. Only four of his completions were for fewer than ten yards, and he had completions of 16, 24, 28, 38 (twice) and 40 yards.
MNF.
Jay Cutler CHI
20/35
273
4
1
85
84
1
12.
Kyle Orton DEN
28/41
189
3
1
60
61
-1
Orton was only sacked three times, but it was pretty clear that Josh McDaniels didn't want Orton holding on to the ball very long against Philly's pass rush. During one stretch of the game, Orton threw 11 consecutive passes without one going further than ten yards past the line of scrimmage. His 189 passing yards on 41 attempts are the result. The patron saint of the short stuff is Bruce Gradkowski; then playing on Tampa Bay, a 17-3 loss to the Giants in 2006 saw Gradkowski go 20-of-48 for a miserable 139 yards. Of course, he failed to throw a touchdown pass, while Orton had three.
13.
Carson Palmer CIN
17/25
139
2
1
57
58
-1
What on Earth is wrong with Carson Palmer? Kansas City is a league-average pass defense, and Palmer responded with a below-average day. He failed to convert on seven of his first eight third down opportunities, and his day was only saved by converting each of his final four third downs, culminating in his touchdown pass to Chad Ochocinco just before the two-minute warning.
14.
Derek Anderson CLE
8/17
121
1
0
52
52
0
The Browns relied heavily enough on Jerome Harrison (39 carries) to keep the ball out of the shaky Anderson's grasp, and with only 19 dropbacks to cause trouble, he managed to avoid turning the ball over and threw a nice touchdown pass to Mohamed Massaquoi, who employed a not-so-subtle shove to get the last gasp of space needed to catch Anderson's pass. For as bad as Anderson can be -- and he can kill a team's chances by himself -- he played well enough.
15.
Kurt Warner ARI
24/38
313
2
0
47
42
4
The old Kurt Warner was back, even with a still-hobbled Larry Fitzgerald held to five catches for 48 yards. Of course, he was playing the Rams, which goes a long way, but Warner looked terrifyingly bad against the even-worse Lions just seven days earlier. In typical Warner fashion, his biggest numbers came as part of one incredibly hot stretch. In the second quarter, Warner went 14-of-18 for 196 yards with eight first downs and two touchdowns. Notably, Warner found seven different receivers for those completions -- if Fitzgerald can't get back up to 100 percent for the playoffs, that might end up being what a retooled Cardinals offense will look like.
16.
Josh Freeman TB
21/31
271
0
2
31
27
4
Freeman's scramble for a first down in overtime kept a drive that was about to die on the vine alive long enough for Cadillac Williams to take over. Although he threw two picks, averaging nearly nine yards per attempt against a pass defense that's been very good this year is an impressive figure; on the other hand, though, it appears for all the world that the same Saints' pass defense that drove their undefeated record has been falling apart over the second half of the season. After putting up the third-best pass defense DVOA in the league over the first half of the season, New Orleans has absolutely cratered and will finish somewhere around 20th in the league from Weeks 10 through 16, depending on what happens Monday night.
17.
Daunte Culpepper DET
7/12
53
0
0
27
19
9
18.
Chad Henne MIA
35/55
322
1
1
24
18
6
Henne's a perfect example of why you have to consider context and can't just look at a raw number to see whether a player's had a good day or not. 322 passing yards sounds like he accomplished a lot, but consider how it happened. It took him 58 dropbacks, so he averaged only 5.6 yards per pass play. Henne was sacked three times and threw an interception, although he did also throw a touchdown. He was also playing against the league's 20th-ranked pass defense, and doing so while they were protecting a massive lead and allowing a lot of underneath stuff. While he had a long touchdown taken away on a penalty, Henne only had one completion longer than 18 yards. It's hard to throw for 322 yards and have it be less impressive than Henne's Sunday.
19.
Alex Smith SF
20/31
230
1
0
15
15
0
Smith is probably playing for a free path to the 2010 quarterback job now, which is why it's important that he finishes the year with big numbers against the Lions and Rams. The win is nice, and Smith finished with relatively clean numbers, but 98 of his 230 passing yards came on two plays. Those two plays count, of course, but you'd like to see more consistency from a quarterback playing against such a forgiving defense. Interesting note: Both those big plays -- a 50-yard completion to Michael Crabtree and a 48-yard catch-and-run by Frank Gore -- did not come out of the shotgun, despite Smith's affinity for the set.
20.
Eli Manning NYG
29/42
299
1
2
14
33
-20
Ah, the highs and lows of being an NFL quarterback. After a stretch late in 2007 that rivaled the worst of the decade, Manning "led" his Giants to a Super Bowl win with a mix of sometimes-inspired play and incredible luck. It culminated in an undeserving Super Bowl MVP nod despite throwing what would have been a game-ending interception that was dropped exactly one play before the famed toss to Tyree, itself more luck (the lob and a magical catch) than skill (Manning eluding the pass rush).


Two years later, Manning is having his best year as a pro, but the disappearing act being played by his defense has cost the Giants a playoff spot, and Manning's taking some of the blame. Manning had some bad throws on Sunday -- the ill-timed slant that led to his first pick standing out -- but he's playing at a much higher level than he was at any previous point during his career, including the Super Bowl run. The defense will allow 100 more points than they did a year ago, though, and that's going to keep both Manning and the defense on the sidelines this January.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
21.
Mark Sanchez NYJ
12/19
106
0
0
10
9
1
This is why anyone using a quarterback's winning percentage as a serious barometer of value should be laughed at. The Jets got 14 points from their defense and special teams, ran the ball with their backs 39 times, and got help from the Colts benching anyone making over $2 million. Sanchez had a slightly better-than-average day, avoiding interceptions but missing several open receivers. For that, he gets a win. Did he do as much for his win as Philip Rivers did for his?
22.
Matt Cassel KC
22/36
180
1
2
-2
-8
6
As with other points this season, Cassel's "big step forward" from a week ago had much to do with the quality of his opposition. Facing a very good pass defense, Cassel completed a bunch of passes, but only 63 percent of his completions were considered "successful" plays, those plays that move the team closer to a first down at the rate required or give the team either a new set of downs or a touchdown. Better than 75 percent of all completions, on average, are "successful".
23.
Joe Flacco BAL
13/25
166
2
1
-16
-16
0
Flacco's final dropback was ruled as a fumble as opposed to an interception, but regardless of whether it was either of those things or an incompletion, it just wasn't good enough. After the Ravens tied the game at 20, Flacco dropped back eight times. He completed two passes for a total of 23 yards, threw three incompletions, and took three sacks, all of which came on either third or fourth down. Of course, Flacco's offensive line deserves some of the blame, and if the Ravens end up missing the playoffs, one play from that stretch will stand out -- Derrick Mason's drop of a sure touchdown. It's easy to further the narrative of immaturity when young players make such critical mistakes, but what happens when the team's eldest veteran on offense screws up? What do you blame then?
24.
David Garrard JAC
19/25
185
0
2
-47
-57
9
25.
Jason Campbell WAS
25/39
199
0
1
-77
-81
5
Why on earth would the Redskins ever try and block the Cowboys with strictly their five offensive linemen? It seems impossibly irrational, and yet, there were the Redskins releasing five receivers a fair amount of time against the Cowboys' secondary. DeMarcus Ware could probably beat the Redskins' five OL by himself, something he essentially did on a screen pass, going from one side of the line to the other to blow the play up. And it's not like the Redskins have the Greatest Show on Turf Rams making plays after the catch, either. Campbell didn't play all that well, but watch the tape and count how many times he had a rusher in his face by the time he was completing his dropback.
26.
Vince Young TEN
8/21
89
0
2
-79
-85
6
27.
Brian Brohm BUF
17/29
146
0
2
-84
-84
0
Football Outsiders employs the Lewin Career Forecast methodology in projecting the performance of quarterbacks at the professional level using college statistics. While no statistical methodology will ever be perfect, it's certainly done a better job than most NFL front offices, and costs a lot less. Brohm was highly-rated coming out of Louisville by the LCF, but there were warning signs when he fell from a top-five grade as a junior to the second round of the draft following a disappointing senior year. Those warning signs turned into a full-on blaring alarm when Brohm was cut by the Packers after only two seasons. One start isn't enough to say anything about a player, but Brohm looked nothing like an NFL quarterback in his debut; he was shaky in the pocket, couldn't throw anything down the field (and was picked when he tried), and didn't have the touch he showed during his college career. Based on this form, third quarterback is about where he should be.
28.
Keith Null STL
20/31
171
1
3
-86
-86
0
Quarterbacks play best on first down, where they have the starkest threat of the running game keeping safeties honest. Without Steven Jackson, though, the Rams' rushing attack is more theoretical than anything else. Perhaps as a result, Null went 6-of-10 with two each of first downs, sacks, and interceptions. Or, on the other hand, maybe it's just because he's Keith Null.
29.
Curtis Painter IND
4/11
44
0
1
-89
-84
-5
Darkness is the absence of light. Peyton Manning's absence produced Curtis Painter. On the bright side, Painter's miserable performance probably clinched Manning the MVP; it's hard to argue that anyone's looked more important to the success of their offense than Manning, although the simultaneous departures of Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark helped.
30.
Matt Hasselbeck SEA
19/37
198
1
4
-112
-112
0
Before last week, Hasselbeck had one four-interception game in his career. He's now had back-to-back games with four picks, and it's not pretty. It's one thing to throw an interception 40 yards downfield, where the result is essentially a glorified punt, but Hasselbeck only had one such pick -- his interceptions went for 0, 8, 14, and 31 yards. The average interception this year has been thrown 16.9 yards downfield; Hasselbeck's are at 13.2 yards away from the line of scrimmage. As a comparison, Aaron Rodgers (Hasselbeck's opponent on Sunday) has thrown his average interception 25.3 yards past the line. It's easier to miss deep than it is to miss short, but the Seahawks just don't throw deep. That makes Hasselbeck's pick stretch worse.
31.
Drew Stanton DET
11/21
130
0
3
-116
-117
1
The 49ers have a good pass defense, but Stanton dropped back 24 times and ended up with four turnovers. On passes not to Calvin Johnson, he was 7-of-14 for 55 yards. Maybe the Lions are just trying to make Matthew Stafford's numbers look better in retrospect.
32.
Charlie Frye OAK
27/45
333
0
3
-156
-158
2
The yardage was there for Frye as the infernal Frye-Anderson debate raged on, but he threw three ugly interceptions and failed to get the ball into the end zone despite throwing 45 passes. That seems like a pretty high figure, but it's nowhere close to the record. Two quarterbacks managed to throw a whopping 60 attempts in single games without a passing touchdown. Like Frye, each threw three interceptions in a losing effort. That and their chosen profession are the only things those two quarterbacks -- Dan Marino and Joe Montana -- have in common with Frye.


Five most valuable running backs
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Jonathan Stewart CAR
206
1
16
0
82
67
15
Has Stewart just made DeAngelo Williams expendable? The Panthers, who are strapped for salary cap space, could choose to deal a still-affordable Williams this offseason, pick up some desperately needed talent at wide receiver, quarterback, or up front, and hand over the starting job to Stewart. Stewart got four carries on third down and converted them all. Seven of his 14 carries on first down went for four yards or more, highlighted by a 52-yard run in the fourth. The 2008 class of running backs is going to end up looking a lot like the famed quarterback class of 1983. It's only been 31 games, but think about the impact that Chris Johnson and Ray Rice have had on their teams. They alone would make the class very good, but there's a second tier of starting backs that includes Matt Forte, Rashard Mendenhall, Kevin Smith, Jamaal Charles, and Steve Slaton, and impact part-time players that should see a bigger role in the future like Stewart, Felix Jones, and Tashard Choice. Ironically, the one prominent back we didn't mention in that list was the first one taken: Darren McFadden. Amazing what the Raiders can do to a guy.
2.
Chris Johnson TEN
142
1
37
0
65
46
19
The bad news: Johnson failed to convert a pair of third-and-3 situations. The good news is just about everything else. While Johnson's been a boom-and-bust runner as a professional, his longest run Friday night was only 30 yards. Well, for him, 30 isn't that long. He had a very impressive success rate of 60 percent, and picked up three first downs on four targets in the passing game.
3.
Darren Sproles SD
38
2
23
1
58
37
21
Sproles was even better in the passing game, picking up a touchdown and 20 yards on a first-and-10 pass. He only ran the ball five times, but scored on two of those attempts and threw in a 21-yard gain.
4.
Brandon Jackson GB
20
2
19
1
46
23
23
After being expected to start at points during the 2007 preseason, Jackson's faded into oblivion with the arrival and ascension of Ryan Grant. With the Packers choosing to rest Grant in a blowout, though, Jackson showed why the Packers liked him. Like many of their receivers, Jackson's agile and shows excellent vision once he has the ball in his hands; he made nice cutbacks on several plays, including his first touchdown run. While the carries given to Ahman Green were a nice thank you for services rendered (or a reminder of how bad the first Green trade from Seattle was for the Seahawks), Jackson will be first in line if Grant goes down during the playoffs.
5.
Cadillac Williams TB
129
1
19
0
45
34
12
Our numbers adjust for the quality of the opposition, but at what point does the Saints being totally unable to stop the run become a national story? The Buccaneers ranked 25th in the league in rushing DVOA heading into the week, and they just ran through and over the Saints up front. Had the Saints executed that overtime drive instead of the Buccaneers, it would have been an elite team imposing their will on inferior opposition, proving how balanced they are and that they can win any way they want. Instead, the flip side of the story isn't being reported: The Saints need to get out to an early lead and force teams to throw the ball to catch up. And, as this game showed, sometimes even that isn't enough.


Least valuable running back
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Brandon Jacobs NYG
1
0
0
0
-25
-25
0
Jacobs' downturn this year has been remarkable, and shows how closely the success of bigger backs is related to the holes opened for them by their offensive lines. Also of note is that Jacobs is losing his role as the short-yardage back; it's pretty clear Ahmad Bradshaw is the superior player in those situations. The idea that big, bruising backs are better in power situations is spurious at best.


Five most valuable wide receivers and tight ends
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
MNF.
Devin Aromashodu CHI
7
9
150
21.4
1
65
It's too bad this didn't happen in Week 1, because the Frisman Jackson jokes would have written themselves.
1.
Austin Collie IND
6
7
94
15.7
0
63
Collie also had two pass interference penalties netting him 32 yards and two more first downs, pushing his numbers into the top spot (before Monday Night Football). He'll have fond memories of this game, too; one day, he'll be able to sit his grandkids on his lap and tell them all about the time he caught a pass from Curtis Painter.
2.
Roddy White ATL
8
14
139
17.4
2
56
Buffalo had the best DVOA in the league against number-one receivers. That's about to change, thanks to White's big day. After being shackled by Darrelle Revis a week ago, White started his day off with a 41-yard touchdown pass and kept seeing targets. The Falcons don't use him like a typical number-one guy, which usually involves standing in the same spot as either the split end or the flanker. They're happy to motion White into the slot, or even into the area typically occupied by a tight end, and let him use his natural ability to get lost in traffic or stretch the field.
3.
Marty Booker ATL
4
4
57
14.2
1
53
If you believed Marty Booker was still playing in the league, raise your hands. He of the -23.2% DVOA had his last effective game as a pro, catching everything thrown at him and scoring on a slant.
4.
Brent Celek PHI
4
5
121
30.2
1
53
Celek isn't exactly regarded as a speed threat, but there was a point during one of Celek's lengthy catches that Champ Bailey was struggling to catch up with him. That's not bad. Denver had been allowing tight ends 28.5 yards per game, which looks good, but they were 18th in DVOA. That's a better reflection of how they do against tight ends than the raw yardage stat, and Celek's day exhibits why.
5.
Wes Welker NE
13
13
138
10.6
0
50
13-for-13 is pretty impressive. How impressive? There's only one other player who's gone 13-for-13 during the DVOA Era: Shannon Sharpe, against the Chargers in Week 6 of the 1996 season. No other receiver since 1994 has caught more than 12 passes without at least one incompletion to their name. The reason why Welker's fifth is the opponent adjustment for playing the Jaguars, who rank
30th in pass defense DVOA.


Least valuable wide receiver or tight end
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Deon Butler SEA
1
8
15
15.0
0
-33
The Seahawks' designated deep threat with Nate Burleson out, Butler's only completion of the day was his longest route -- 15 yards. Everything else was within 11 yards of the line of scrimmage, and at that distance, the Seahawks might as well throw to T.J. Houshmandzadeh or Deion Branch. They've got to be paying them all that money for something.

(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 29 Dec 2009

146 comments, Last at 31 Dec 2009, 11:22am by Eddo

Comments

1
by peterplaysbass (verified?) (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 2:24pm

Vikings fans take heart! Momentum matters not (although a bye would be nice).

2
by Jim Jimmy Jim (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 2:31pm

Why no Moss? 4 catches - 3 TS one 1st down. Not a lot of yards but I'd say pretty effective...

23
by David :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:11pm

As with Welker, I'd imagine opponent adjustments hurt Moss

25
by tally :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:12pm

TDs don't have the value in DYAR that they do in fantasy (i.e., 1 TD isn't worth 60 yards), and the aforementioned opponent adjustments from the Jags poor pass D. The easiest comparison is to Welker: same opponent, same game, superior performance.

28
by Jim Jimmy Jim (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:14pm

Touche!

3
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 2:32pm

The Vikings are an 8-8 team, at very best, without The Zombie King this year. Their play on the line of scrimmage, especially on offense, has fallen off a cliff, after being mostly excellent for better than two years.

Being a football fan of a particular team is a foolish thing to do. I think I'll stop.

8
by peterplaysbass (verified?) (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 2:47pm

Why do you think the line play has gotten so bad so quickly?

Looking at the o-line, I see that Sully < Birk, but Loadholt > Cookie. Is Hutchinson playing like he's feeling older? Does McKinnie take more plays off than before? Is the team getting away from extra protection via Chester Taylor and Kleinsasser more? Did Tarvaris Jackson make the o-line's job easier?

Looking at the d-line, is Pat playing like he's older? Is Robison stealing too much time from a superior Edwards? Is Winfield's age plus Sharper's absense allowing opponents to concentrate on Minnesota's line without worrying about coverage sacks or competent tackling at the second level? I seem to see a lot of 6 and 7 man o-lines from opponents, but the LBs and secondary still allowing too many completions.

Can Minnesota start the playoffs on the heels of a victory over the Giants? Can Dallas upset Philadelphia and give Minnesota a bye it could benefit from?

10
by RickD :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 2:49pm

Would Dallas beating Philly at home be an upset? After all, they beat the Eagles in Philly.

Vegas doesn't think it'd be an upset.

14
by peterplaysbass (verified?) (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 2:54pm

I guess it wouldn't technically be an upset. Does Dallas match up well against the Eagles? Good at picking up blitzes and defending screens?

26
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:12pm

Well, I don't think Loadholdt is better than Cook in run blocking, and may be worse. There have been physical issues. Hutchinson's back problems slowed him, especially earlier this season. Mckinnie's play has declined perhaps due to an ankle injury. Herrera hasn't been the same since his concussion. Sullivan gets overpowered too often.

Beyond that, however, there has been a shocking lack of coordinattion. Last night, in the first half, I couldn't believe how often I was seeing guys running around unimpeded, as if they couldn't find anyone to block, while a defensive player was behind them making a tackle, or applying pressure. Is this mostly Sullivan's issue? Hell if I know, but it ain't pretty to watch.

33
by peterplaysbass (verified?) (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:17pm

It seems to me that Sullivan is often stranded with no one to block. If Hutch or Herrera took one defender over and let the closer tackle secure more of the edge, that might A) give Sully something to do and B) put McKinnie/Loadholt in a better position to succeed.

93
by andrew :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 6:03pm

Its on Sullivan to make the line calls, something Birk excelled at. Especially with a rookie coming on board...

Even beyond that though there are times when the blocker is in the right place and it doesn't matter. Tommie Harris had no trouble going from point A (his stance) to point B (the football) even if Herrera was directly in his path. He wasn't using spin or swim moves, he didn't shove him one way then get past. He just ran in a line and Herrera would step to one side at contact and let him go.

The team made a decision to let Birk and Sharper go, both decisions have come back to haunt them.

41
by Gruntled (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:33pm

Don't stop being a Vikings fan - just start drinking.

It becomes ever clearer that the Vike's offense is better under Favre's direction than that of Bevell or Childress. I'm wondering if they will wake up to that, or if the first series next week will once again be 3 runs and a punt.

45
by Packerpalooza (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:39pm

Gruntled:

Be VERY CAREFUL about going that route. Mike Sherman tried that TWICE and both times with dreadful results. It works for a game or two and it LOOKS appealing.

But Favre is not Manning. He latches onto certain plays in certain situations and good defenses end up swarming over those plays.

Just a heads up.........................

91
by Gruntled (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 5:52pm

'Better' is a relative term; it could mean something analogous to 'taller than a midget.'

Obviously they're not going to turn over all the game planning and play-calling to Favre, but their (whether 'they' are Chilly or Bevell or both) game plan appears to revolve around establishing the run, and that is clearly not working.

Perhaps I would have been better served to say that Favre's approach, combined with some leeway in audibles, is better than their current conservative, locked-in game plan.

I went and looked through the game log and the second half against the Bears was a pretty impressive offensive performance, no matter who the opponent was. Their last 5 possessions in regulation resulted in four touchdowns and a field goal, and something over 300 yards total offense.

Perhaps that was Chilly's doing. My guess is it was not.

121
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 10:00pm

It was mostly the doing of getting some people blocked for a couple of quarters. Then, on the first possession of OT, the fine fellows they pay to block decided that they would rather rest for a while. On the next possession, of course, the running back with lots of talent decided once again that holding onto the ball wasn't on his resume. All the time, of course, their defense and especially their special teams thought it was just too damned cold to be playing football.

Bitter? Who, me?

55
by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 4:00pm

I'd have to agree with both you (Gruntled) and Packerpalooza (above). Is Favruh a better playcaller than Childress?

Probably. I've always, always had problems with Childress' offensive playcalling and lack of originality (again - 1st-10 handoff to #28, anyone? How about again? And again?). Maybe Bevell has been calling those plays instead, but I think it's Childress.

Favruh has seen more under center, and is probably better at getting yardage from a given situation. But as Packerpalooza has indicated, I think Favruh also gets into 'fixed' ruts, and a good defense can pick up on that.

At this point, however, the Vikes' issues run deeper than 'whoever is calling the plays'. The clock has struck midnight, and the line has turned into crap. Peterson appears to have lost patience, and is now trying to force the issue (gaining yardage) instead of just doing his thing. He slams into nonexistent holes, he tries to cut too sharply, etc.

4
by Flounder :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 2:41pm

SO Favre played well against AZ? That's news to me.

13
by peterplaysbass (verified?) (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 2:53pm

30/45 275 yds 2 TDs 2 INTs. Good enough for 14th on the Quick Reads list. Not terrific, but not terrible. Also of note: "AD had eight first down carries, and five of them went for one yard or less."

5
by pm :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 2:42pm

I don't get DYAR. They say Manning was 176 above replacement. So Im assuming that means replacement level player gets 16 yards (192-176) on 21 pass attempts vs. the Jets. Curtis Painter is -89 yards below replacement so that means the replacement level would have 133 (44+89) passing yards on 11 attempts vs. the Jets.

9
by Arkaein :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 2:48pm

Don't forget the turnovers. Painter had an interception, and I believe a fumble as well? So Painter could have eliminated most of his negative DYAR by just not turning the ball over.

Manning on the other hand did not have any similarly negative plays, while a replacement QB in his situation would be expected to have around one turnover I'd guess. So Manning gets a boost by having about one less turnover than replacement level in addition to his yardage.

11
by nat :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 2:50pm

The yards in DYAR are not real yards. They're more like an arbitrary measure of value, roughly scaled to yards and the other value that usually come with them. Manning got a lot of first downs and had no turnovers or sacks, which is a better result than a typical QB would have with this many yards. He also gets a huge bonus by doing it against the Jets pass defense.

It's easiest to just think of them as a abstract stat, kind of like QB rating.

49
by Jeff Fogle :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:44pm

Nat, can I ask about Anderson and Warner being rated as virtually equal then? Seems odd that a measure of value would see these as so close to even this week:

Anderson: 8 of 17 for 118 yards, led his team on only 7 points on drives of 60 yards or more.

Warner: 24 of 38 for 297 yards, led his team to 17 points on drives of 60 yards or more.

The teams were similar in third down conversions. Neither guy had a pick. Both were facing sub-par pass defenses (slight edges to Anderson in those two areas, not huge). Warner did lose a fumble (and had another). Are fumbles counted so greatly in the formula that 63% passing for 297 yards (and 17 points on long drives) becomes equal to 47% passing for 118 yards (and 7 points on long drives)? Was there a weather adjustment as well (which would naturally favor Anderson because it's tougher to throw accurately outdoors in Cleveland in December)?

I would agree that they were closer together than 297-118 would suggest...but virtually equal, with Anderson actually rating a slight edge? I'm skeptical that their impacts on their games should be rated that close together in terms of the value of their yards.

57
by Temo :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 4:06pm

More attempts means replacement yardage is greater. You're expected to gain more yards with more attempts.

All fumbles are penalized, not just lost fumbles. A fumble would, I guess, be approximately equal to 1/2 an interception.

65
by nat :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 4:30pm

And the opponent adjustment is larger than you would guess. St Louis has a pass defense DVOA of 32.2%, which is quite a bit worse than the Raiders' pass defense.

89
by Jeff Fogle :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 5:47pm

Appreciate the responses. Was looking at the pass defense rankings rather than the percentages...and the percentages would put St. Louis further back from Oakland than the rankings make it seem. Still, I'm skeptical that all of the adjustments would carry Anderson past Warner on a week like this. Seems like there should be a "low volume" penalty or something (lol). 118 total yards just isn't an impact game, though Anderson deserves credit for avoiding negative impact plays.

6
by nat :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 2:43pm

Well, I'll give Manning credit. The Jets are a very good pass defense. Average-ish stats against a #1 defense leads to a very good DVOA and DYAR.

It's too bad he didn't turn that into average-ish points in the first half. But that can happen to anyone. All-in-all, a good day for stats, a very good day for DVOA, a so-so day for scoring, and a very bad day for winning.

32
by tally :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:17pm

Considering that the average team scores about 20 points/game in 2009, 9 points in the first half is pretty average, isn't it?

Indy came very close to blowing the game open in the 1st half, though--they could easily have scored 17 points in the first half. Just goes to show how volatile points are and how a small play here and there can make a big difference in the score.

51
by nat :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:46pm

It's more like 21.5 points per game, or 10.75 per half. That includes away games, games in bad weather, and games where your team doesn't receive the opening kickoff. I'm assuming (just a guess, really, but based on getting an extra .5 drives, longer field goals, avoiding icy conditions, etc) that a home game, receiving the kickoff, indoors would push the average result up to 12 or 13 points per half. So, no, 9 isn't even average-ish. Nor is 10, if the extra point isn't blocked.

It's very true that points are volatile. How do you think the Colts got to be 14-0 in the first place? Or the Ravens 8-7? If teams got credit for their VOA instead of their points, the Colts would be - a guess - 12-3 right now?

So I'll stand by 9 points in the first half being less than average, a tiny bit better than average when you adjust for the opponent - although the same points about kickoffs, indoors etc still apply. And I'd happily agree that Manning's DVOA is quite good. But statistical defense adjustments don't give you points, and you need points to win.

108
by tally :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 7:04pm

It's not exactly average, but it's still in the neighborhood of average.

And obviously points are important and determine wins and losses, but DVOA takes into account repeatable and skill events. A fluke fumble return for a TD produces points, but it's as much luck as skill. Getting Wayne wide open against Revis only to slightly overthrow him still involves more skill and preparation than the fumble recovery, even if it leads to fewer points.

7
by RickD :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 2:47pm

Marty Booker's still in the league?

Next you'll tell me Vinny Testaverde is still playing.

15
by Temo :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 2:56pm

but at what point does the Saints being totally unable to stop the run become a national story?

Curious situation there. In 2007 and 2008, the Saints committed truckloads of cash to 3 D-lineman: Charles Grant (2007), Will Smith (2008), and Sedrick Ellis (2008). These three #3-5 in 2009 cap hits on the Saints Roster, combining for a little over $22M against the Saints' 2009 cap. They have all failed to stop the run, though admittedly can pass rush a little.

In 2009, the Saints gave modest contracts to Jabari Greer and Darren Sharper, who combine to account for $5.45M in 2009 cap hits. These two have combined with 2008 2nd round pick Tracy Porter (all of $810K against the 2009 cap) to rejuvenate the Saints' pass coverage greatly.

Just goes to show you how you can cover for making some big mistakes (though Ellis is still young, too early to call him a bust) by making a few good decisions.

I've been looking at the Saint's defense a lot over the past week, to see how they improved so much year-over-year. I don't know if Gregg Williams was responsible for the additions of Greer and Sharper, but they seem to have had a great effect on the secondary as a whole. The Saints' pass defense DVOA went down a lot once Greer went down for a few games.

17
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:01pm

One of the reasons Sharper is on his third team is because he is such a liability in run defense now.

I know momentum is meaningless, but I guess I'm still inclined to favor the Eagles or Cards for the NFC at this point. Hell, I might put the Cowboys in the third spot.

21
by Temo :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:07pm

That is indeed possible that his run defense is leaky, though dubious reasoning since in this age of pass-wacky NFL teams, I'll gladly sacrifice some run support from my safeties to obtain elite-level pass defense.

That said, as I mentioned below, he's aging and this season is probably an aberration for him. I doubt he'll continue to play this well in the years to come and I'm sure the Vikings took that into consideration when debating his merit as a Free Agent.

36
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:23pm

There is a difference bewteen "leaky" and "really terrible". Sharper is mostly the latter when it comes to making a run stop. As you note, in a pass happy league, you can still have substantial value while often being a really terrible run defender, but there is a chance that the Saints will pay dearly in the playoffs for that trade-off, which is not to say that the Saints made anything close to an error in signing him. GMs don't have the luxury of going on-line to purchase the talent they ideally would prefer. You make do the best you can with what is available, and hope your talent evaluation is better than the other guy's.

53
by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:49pm

It's painful as hell to say this, Will, but I think the Eagles and...the...Pack... are the sharpest teams in the NFC playoffs.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to wash the taste of bile from my mouth.

56
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 4:03pm

If the Packers were in a position to play a postseason game in Lambeau, I'd give them a much better chance. They don't strike me as nearly as formidable on the road, especially on defense.

Anyways, I never have been a typical Vikings fan, in formenting a hatred for the Packers. That's why it was so easy for me to accept The Zombie King in purple. My greatest dislike in the NFL is reserved for one Jerrel Jones. If that welfare queen billionaire, egomaniacal overrater of his own football wisdom, phony piece of crap, hoists The Lombardi, I may swear off football for good.

61
by chemical burn :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 4:23pm

I'm afraid he's already hoisted it 3 times...

71
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 4:41pm

That was before the welfare queen obtained several hundred million in taxpayer subsidies, and I always liked Jimmy Johnson anyways; the Switzer win was so obviously the residue of what Johnson built that it didn't bother me as much to see that horse's ass gloating. If they were to win now, there has been enough seperation from the Parcells era that Gasbag Jones would likely be able to con a lot of people into thinking that he was one of the principal architects.

79
by Kurt :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 5:11pm

So, who are the principal architects of this team?

103
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 6:52pm

If I remember correctly, these are some of the players added to the Cowboys roster while Parcells was there....

Romo
Witten
Austin
Barber
Ware
Newman
Bradie James
Spears

The best defensive player, best receiver, quality starting qb, and leading tackler were Parcells selections.

106
by Temo :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 7:01pm

Take out James and Spears as key additions, the former is a 'meh' talent and the latter sucks. Add in Kosier, who is sneakily our best O-Lineman, and Jay Ratliff.

116
by C (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 8:36pm

I think Bradie James is good and I used to say underrated but I thought Dallas fans and average NFL fans knew he was good. Can I ask what you don't like about him?

136
by Temo :: Wed, 12/30/2009 - 3:49pm

He's a good MLB, but an overall 'meh' talent, if that makes sense.

In other words, it's not hard to find decent MLB talent for a 3-4 scheme-- the OLBs are much more important (hence, the MLBs get paid way less). You really have to be Ray Lewis-level good at MLB in a 3-4 for me to care too much about you. So to include him as a "find" for Parcells is a bit misleading.

109
by Temo :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 7:05pm

Of the main offensive guys: I suppose Romo, Barber, Columbo, Kosier, Witten, Crayton and Austin all count as "Parcells Guys", though some of those guys didn't play under Parcells. Flozell has been here since 1998. Leonard Davis, Doug Free, Roy Williams, Felix Jones, and Tashard Choice are new additions. There are some developmental guys who might amount to something as they mature-- John Phillips, Martellus Bennet, Deon Anderson, and Kevin Ogletree.

Of the main defensive guys: Marcus Spears, DeMarcus Ware, Terence Newman, Bradie James, Bobby Carpenter, Jason Hatcher, Stephen Bowen and Jay Ratliff qualify as Parcells additions. Mike Jenkins, Anthony Spencer, Igor Olshanky, Keith Brooking, Ken Hamlin, Alan Ball, Gerald Sensabaugh, and Junior Siavii. Victor Butler, Jason Williams, Orlando Scandrick, and Curtis Johnson are the developemental guys added

Obviously the Parcells guys are the ones doing the bulk of the performing, especially on offense (Ware and Ratliff are the only defensive studs Parcells left us, everyone else is eminently replaceable). It's tough though, I mean there are 5 offseasons worth of Parcells aquisitions but only 3 of the post-Parcells. And lot of the post Parcells guys are still developing with the Parcells guys are all peaking right now.

Edit: Also, guys like Ware and Newman were high draft picks, which we haven't had lately (which last year was Jerry's fault, after all), but did when we sucked and Parcells took over.

101
by Temo :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 6:41pm

It seems odd to blame Jerry Jones for being a "welfare queen" when he's paid for a larger percentage of his stadium than many other owners.

Lincoln Financial Field received $181.2M+ ($512M to build) (hard to find exact figure, but it's more than what I listed)
Lucas Oil Stadium received $378.5M ($500M to build)
Cardinals Stadium received $307M ($455M to build)
Cowboys Stadium received $325M ($1.1 billion to build) and unlike the others, is bringing a Super Bowl to Arlington for the first time ever.

107
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 7:02pm

I don't much like the other welfare queens either. None of them are pompous asses with an extensive track record for alienating people with obviously sound football judgement, due to a an unearned sense of knowing something about the game, so I dislike Jones more.

I'm really not anti-Cowboys. I've always liked Jimmy Johnson, and I even rooted for the Cowboys during the Parcells era. I really, really dislike Jerry Jones, from the manner in which he got rid of Landry. It increased with how the relationship with Johnson ended, and how he turned the team over to Switzer. Throw in 325 million in welfare, and the guy can't lose enough for me, even though I quite like a lot of the Cowboys players, and have nothing against their fans.

110
by Temo :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 7:07pm

I hate him too, and I hate state funding for stadiums as well. Just wanted to get the other names out there. I do like that NJ is makign the Giants and Jets pay for the bulk of the new stadium (well, the fans will pay for it due to PSLs, but same deal).

111
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 7:18pm

I've really come to feel that, if given the choice of 600 million-plus (!) in welfare for the Vikings, or a move to Los Angeles, I say, "California, Here They Come!"

117
by C (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 8:45pm

I don't understand the whole state funding thing. The fans (tax payers) build the owners a stadium, and then pay for the seats to sit in the stadium. It was interesting to see Seattle shoot down the sonics bid which moved the team, but I hope more cities shoot down stadiums. This is coming from a huge NFL fan too, but I wouldn't want to pay for Danny Boy's football house.

Plastic face Jerry is a pompous ass, and pompous asses are easy to dislike. I should know haha.

131
by Mr Shush :: Wed, 12/30/2009 - 9:28am

This is definitely something that, as a UK fan, I've never understood. It would be unthinkable for a local authority here to subsidize a privately owned soccer stadium. It's bad enough that the national government, through the intermediacy of state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland, is artificially keeping Liverpool solvent.

137
by Temo :: Wed, 12/30/2009 - 3:54pm

Well, there aren't as many incentives to do so in the UK, since teams for the large part have no where to move. The worst that can usually happen is that a team folds (like Liverpool, I guess).

Here in the US, especially for football where a lot of team revenue is based on national TV revenue and not tied to local market conditions, a team can hold the local people hostage. Since people want to keep their teams around, they often capitulate.

Also, a lot of proponents make arguments for investment in stadiums based on "reviving the local economy". Most of these arguments have been shot down through independent research on the net economic benefit of stadiums, however.

85
by C (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 5:31pm

I have NFL futures on both the Pack & the Eagles. I'm glad Minnesota lost yesterday because those Eagles futures became worth more as they can get the #2 seed. The Packers futures were bought in the pre-season ( my SB pick). I didn't think the Vikings would do this well but nobody is perfect. I wish the Pack had a bye.

22
by Temo :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:08pm

I should note, by the way, that while Greer is a legit pro-bowl caliber player in his prime and Porter is an interesting young player, Sharper is aging and due to regress-- in no small part due to the nature of his value (interceptions) being so volatile year-to-year.

They need to shore up that run defense still and add some depth to the secondary-- they really did fall off a cliff with Greer and Porter both out.

12
by chuck-o :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 2:51pm

When I opened this page, I knew that I might be made to feel even worse about the Giants than I already did. But I expected that to be based on their terrible performance last Sunday, not a shot at their SB win! If you're going to criticize Manning for the dropped pick on their last drive, I'd suggest that you should also mention his first pick, which was a 'sure' completion that Steve Smith (iirc) needlessly volleyed to a defender.

It came out yesterday that Jacobs has been battling knee injuries all year, though I agree that Bradshaw has vastly outperformed him, even with more than his own share of dings (a broken foot and two bad ankles, I think). Even outside of those two, the "smaller RB at the goal line" concept seems to be a good one.

16
by peterplaysbass (verified?) (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 2:58pm

Didn't Jacobs promise to retire if he finished with a poor YPC stat for the season? Does anyone remember that quote? How's it line up with his current YPC?

27
by peterplaysbass (verified?) (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:13pm

“If I finish the season averaging (3.4 yards) a carry, I won’t play next year. I’ll be done,” Jacobs said. “That’s how much I believe in my ability.”

Ok, so he's got 835 yards on 224 carries for 3.72 YPC. He'd have to have 22 carries for 1 yard in week 17 to have to retire to stay good on his word. I suppose he's safe.

88
by C (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 5:45pm

The idea that big strong running backs are better than smaller guys is spurious at best?

Only at a stat website you'd find a statement like that. If Ahmad Bradshaw is better than Brandon Jacobs at short yardage this year ( he has been), I don't think it means Jacobs isn't a good short yardage back or that smaller faster guys are better overall.

Bradshaw does a good job of making himself small, and finding creases and last second manuevering. He's also hard to tackle for his size and he does a good job.

The whole reason why people would rather have a cloud of dust back rather than a boom/bust back in short yardage is because Jacobs is harder to bring down and will get yards after contact... when you bring in more yards after contact you don't need as good of blocking. The cloud of dust back might be able to push forward for that marginal space... The threat of the boom fromt he speedy back is discounted as speed doesn't matter as much and the defense most likely had at least 1 extra body near the LOS taking away angles for the fast guy.

Most teams run through the A gaps, maybe they'll run an off tackle or whatever, but even on a sweep play, there will often be a lineman pulling etc. and running backs have to be careful of not over running their blocks ( happens all the time). Jacobs is probably the hardest back to tackle in the NFL. His "failures" this year can probably be attributed too... a little bit weaker O-Line play... injuries which slowed him down... injuries which didn't give him long runs to pad his stats.

People want to talk about say the Redskins filling in their line with backups. Look at the Giants a couple weeks ago. Pro bowl Mckenzie was hurt so they put in the rookie Beatty... Seuburt was hurt so they had Boothe in there... So that's 40% of their line as backups against a strong Redskins front 4 playing nearly the entire game.

119
by dbostedo :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 9:01pm

Not sure what you mean by the "...only at a stat website..." part, but I think their point is that the biggest back is not always the best choice in short yardage. I think that viewers/fans tend to assume that you need a strong, big, falling-forward kind of back to get that 1 or 2 yards. But if you look across many backs, you'll probably find small backs and big backs both being effective or ineffective at similar rates. A big back may be hard to tackle, but a small one might be hard to see or get a hand on, and can slip through cracks, etc.

The Giants this year, as you pointed out with Bradshaw, are a good example of this. So I'd say that, yes, the idea that big strong running backs are better than smaller guys is spurious at best.

Wish I had a good article to point to though...

130
by C (not verified) :: Wed, 12/30/2009 - 8:51am

The biggest back is not always the best, but usually they are the better choice. Not all big backs are power running backs ( Ron Dayne), not all small backs are weak ( Warrick Dunn packed a lot of punch for his small size).

Jacobs is usually a very good goal line ( and regular downs) back, but he's had some lingering injury issues ( Bradshaw has too). I really want the Giants to have a 3rd back that they can rotate and they drafted one but he got hurt. I'm not so high on Danny Ware and I'm not so sure if the outsiders were either or if they were just high on his situation but I wouldn't mind using another mid/late round draft pick on a 3rd back.

Just because Bradshaw has been a good 3rd down running back, it doesn't prove anything in the cloud of dust vs boom/bust backs in short yardage. Yes, it's not a 100-0 debate, but it's not 50-50 either. On average your Christian Okoyke is going to be a better short yardage option over your speed back with the same line etc.

74
by C (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 5:01pm

Chuck O,

Old habits die hard. Eli Manning is an interception prone gunslinger or so goes the old stereotype. We don't talk about deflected passes that get intercepted that weren't his fault... We only talk about how he should have MORE interceptons because corners who have bad hands dropped some potential interceptions on him. In 2007 Eli Manning's receivers dropped more passes than any other QB had... but nope, let's just talk about droped picks and Eli's apathetic look after them.

133
by Anonymous77 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/30/2009 - 11:07am

And I would hardly call that play by Samuel a "drop." Certainly it was less of a drop than Sam Madison had on a Brady pass earlier in the 4th, but balls thrown by Brady aren't eligible for DITBEM (Dropped Interceptions Thrown by Eli Manning).

135
by MJK :: Wed, 12/30/2009 - 1:33pm

To almost every Patriots fan, that was an easy catch and an unforgivable drop that should have ended the game with the "right" team winning then and there.

To almost every Giants fan, that play never happened.

To any objective people, it was probably something in the middle. The truth is, plays like that happen several times in every game...a CB drops a would-be INT that was catchable but not easy, or a fumbled ball bounces this way or that...and they only get noticed if they happen in key situations. It just goes to show how wrong public perceptions can be because of random bounces. It would not have been an easy catch by Samuel, certainly...but at the same time, he has caught tougher interceptions than that. If he had caught it, there would have been no "helmet catch", no last minute TD, and Eli would have been the turnover prone idiot that blew the Giants chance to upset the mighty Patriots by throwing an INT in a pressure situation, not the savior and MVP. Yet 95% of his play would have been exactly the same.

141
by Kurt :: Wed, 12/30/2009 - 6:06pm

I think Giants fans (well me at least) generally believe that people who call it a "drop" must confuse Samuel with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, or think the tops of his fingertips have magical powers. But there's no sense taking my word for it, everyone can view the tape and form their own conclusions.

18
by Packerpalooza (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:01pm

Ted Thompson has his strengths and weaknesses and one that can be both is his commitment to certain players. Thompson believed in Brandon Jackson and despite Jackson looking completely overwhelmed at first the guy kept a roster spot. Some attributed this to Thompson refusing to acknowledge a mistake but cutting Brohm undermines that contention. Jackson grew into a well rounded back who catches the ball well and blocks blitzers with aplomb along with the solid running when given the chance.

One can only hope that Thompson's faith in Jarret Bush and Breno Giacomini is just as well placed. Bush has become the favorite target of opposing quarterbacks while Breno cannot get off the bench to relieve a brittle Chad Clifton despite being tagged the heir apparent.

20
by peterplaysbass (verified?) (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:05pm

What will the Packers do with Arizona this week, do you think? Would you rather they face the Cards, Cowboys, Eagles or Vikings during Wild Card Weekend?

24
by Packerpalooza (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:11pm

peter:

Mike McCarthy will play some guys for a quarter while others will be inactive for the game. Ryan Pickett won't play that's for certain as he has been nursing a hamstring. Rodgers will play a quarter or just over. Ryan Grant the same. Come the second half it will be an offense featuring Matt Flynn, Brandon Jackson and James Jones. I will be very surprised if Charles Woodson plays.

19
by Packerpalooza (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:04pm

Sharper's a liability for the simple reason that Darren recognizes that his body is not up to the pounding, and he's focused on staying in the lineup. If teams are willing to accept that tradeoff Darren can contribute because he is smart as h*ll and knows all the tricks. He's not a DOP candidate as the media would contend but Darren Sharper is a great 'specialist'.

30
by peterplaysbass (verified?) (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:14pm

Agreed. That's why he did well as a Vikings when Chavous was still on the team, but saw his numbers drop after. Chavous was the physical guy, and knew how to let Sharper ballhawk.

34
by Lealand :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:17pm

Would it be worth finding another safety in free agency, to use instead of Sharper in running scenarios? I understand he is considered a bad run defender but he's the only player in the secondary who can actually tackle...

37
by Packerpalooza (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:24pm

Lealand:

Sharper can tackle. He just looks to get in the way most of the time versus having a real collision in order to reduce the chance of injury. As a result he whiffs far too often as the runner manages to keep his feet after a glancing blow from Darren.

47
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:41pm

For some reason, Sharper also takes horrible pursuit angles in run support, that he doesn't seem to do when tackling receivers.

54
by Lealand :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:49pm

That does make sense but he is fitting in fine with the rest of the secondary, who have no clue what wrapping up is. There were plays against Tampa where a corner would launch himself at Graham/Cadillac, just to bounce off and let them gain 7 more yards.

59
by Flounder :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 4:19pm

Yeah, he's had that problem for his entire career. It's odd, because he's a pretty dang smart guy, and you'd think he'd have been able to fix that.

112
by milo (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 7:23pm

Yeah, y'all sure got Darren Sharper figured out. Washed up. Can't tackle.
Did you notice he leads the league in interceptions. Did you notice that he just set the NFL record for interception return yards in a season? As in all-time? You know, like that means the best ever.

122
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 10:04pm

milo, when someone writes that in a pass happy league, a player can be bad against the run, and still have substantial value, what registers in your synapses?

123
by milo (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 10:47pm

My synapses register that the writer wrote that in a thread that I wasn't responding to. My synapses register that the writer doesn't watch a whole lot of Saints games since he is a complete Vikings homer. My synapses register that if the writer assumes he has a higher order of intelligence than an anonymous internet poster, he could be wrong.

125
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 11:25pm

Does it register in your synapses that you have purely hallucinated the phrase, "washed up", that it was not even vaguely insinuated that he is washed up, unless one were to observe that every non-perfect player is washed up? That no person doubted that he is very valuable in pass defense? Do your synapses have the capability of recognizing the irony of you accusing someone else of homerism, after you hallucinated disparaging criticism of Sharper, simply because people made the unremarkable observation that Sharper's game does indeed have non-trivial weaknesses? Do your snyapses have enough self awareness to recognize that when they hallucinate, in a sarcastic manner in response to fairly unremarkable observations, that the reasonable assumption might be made that your synapses aren't especially quick?

I'll avoid a debate as to what constitutes the thread, and advise that if you wish to have a civil discussion, can the insipid sarcasm when addressing others, ya' ol' hopeless Saints homer, you. By the way, I've likely seen Sharper play at least five times as often as you, unless you have watched every Vikings game and about half the Packers games from the past decade.

132
by Flounder :: Wed, 12/30/2009 - 10:19am

Yikes, what a bizarre sequence we have here. Neither Will nor I in any way implied Sharper was washed up. It was merely noted that 1) he is not a very good tackler in run support (which was not so much the case earlier in his career but is now) and 2) he often takes poor angles in run support (which he has consistently done since his rookie season).

Neither of these undoubtedly accurate observations mean he is washed up. They merely note weaknesses in an aging players game who is still very good in other areas. Indeed, this is exactly what Will noted, and I agreed with \.

138
by Temo :: Wed, 12/30/2009 - 3:58pm

It's simple really:

1. Take argument from Temo that Sharper is getting older and we shouldn't expect him to repeat his stellar performance next year.

2. Take unrelated argument from Flounder and Will that Sharper isn't very good against the run.

3. Combine.

4. Hey look, a straw man!

139
by milo (not verified) :: Wed, 12/30/2009 - 5:17pm

"Sharper's a liability"......."his body is not up to the pounding"....."he is considered a bad run defender"......"he's had that problem for his entire career".

This just two days after the man sets the all time record for return yards in a season. What have you done for me lately?

Spiro Agnew had you pegged.

140
by Andrew Potter :: Wed, 12/30/2009 - 5:31pm

"Darren can contribute because he is smart as h*ll and knows all the tricks"

"ballhawk"

"the only player in the secondary who can actually tackle"

"Sharper also takes horrible pursuit angles in run support, that he doesn't seem to do when tackling receivers."

"he's a pretty dang smart guy"

"still very good in other areas"

So everybody's agreed that he's a very good, intelligent, ballhawking pass defender who isn't nearly so effective against the run. How does his record for return yards refute that weakness?

29
by Scizzy (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:14pm

I don't understand the Brohm comment. The Lewin Career Forecast liked Brohm far, far more than scouts did.

42
by Still Alive (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:34pm

ditto

62
by lester bangs (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 4:25pm

Didn't the Lewin forecast prefer Brohm to Matt Ryan, or at least see them as equal? One of the older FO annuals suggested the upcoming No. 1 pick was a race for the "Brohm Closet" - the right to pick Brohm No. 1 the next year (obviously this was before his poor finish at Louisville). This is another example of the cheesy way FO tries to deflect mistakes. Of course the hits will be displayed on a Madison Square Garden marquee for all to see, over and over and over.

77
by C (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 5:07pm

I wish they'd be more honest about mistakes too... Like ahem, just this year for example Denver, the Rams, New Orleans etc. Instead, pound the Jerome Harrison drum ( they weren't the only ones calling for him), and Miles Austin etc.

96
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 6:22pm

Didn't the Lewin forecast prefer Brohm to Matt Ryan, or at least see them as equal?

The entire point of the comment was that Brohm's slide from potential top pick to late second-round pick (i.e. only borderline included in the LCF anyway) was a warning sign that scouts weren't sure on him. Borderline guys - like Brohm - are always going to be 'iffy' because you have no idea if the Packers were the only team that would've picked him up at that spot.

31
by MJK :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:15pm

From what I heard, the Colts sat their defensive starters about the same time they pulled Manning out. Could someone who got to watch the whole game confirm this? It's hard to tell from the play-by-play.

Anyway, if that's true, it means that the loss wasn't totally accounted for by Manning >> Painter. The Jets offense had managed to put up 3 points (due to one stalled 2-minute drive right before the half) on the Colts defense until they pulled their starters. The Jets offense managed somethign like 11 points in the fourth quarter.

83
by Bobman :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 5:30pm

Birthday Boy,
Going into the game 5 starters sat for various injury-related reasons (all would have played in a playoff game)--DE, CB, and SS on D, and LT and WR2 on O. Then when the plug was pulled, IIRC about three others on D left the game as well--Freeney, Brackett, Hayden? (Can anybody help here?) in addition to Manning, Wayne, Clark on O. Addai was out earlier with an injury.

I THINK that's right, but I was just "watching" a gamecast on my laptop.

At that point, it was 15-10 Colts, so the super-depleted D allowed 19 pts over the final 20 minutes after the somewhat depleted D allowed just 3 for the first 40 minutes (KO rtn to start the 2nd half accounts for the rest). Basically, by the 4Q only half the starters were on the field at a time.

102
by B :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 6:45pm

Don't forget that 7 of those points (or 8, depending on how you count the 2pt conversion) were scored while the Colts D was sitting on the sidelines.

35
by Packerpalooza (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:22pm

What surprised many in Packers camp was that Brohm's arm strength just flat out stunk. And unlike other quarterback prospects Brohm was disinterested in doing anything to address the issue.

Brohm complains that the Packers insisted he lose weight and then punished him for not being stronger. The Packers wanted Brohm to get in better SHAPE. Brohm's takeaway was to simply get smaller.

One would think a guy seeing his passes repeatedly get broken up or intercepted in training camp might want to do something. Matt Flynn did. Aaron Rodgers did before Flynn. Rodgers was completely overmatched coming out of college and if he had been asked to start his first season would have failed miserably.

It was Brohm's response to Green Bay's criticisms that led to his being cut since his performance didn't move the needle at all. He stunk from day one and stayed that way.

38
by Temo :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:27pm

Just because I really like to brag: http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php?option=com_mobile&task=viewaltcast...

[Comment From Temo]
I'm a bit late getting into this chat, but have you voiced your opinion on the Brandon Jacobs signing yet? I'm looking a guy who has his best years just behind him, and couldn't even stay healthy during those years. Then again, it wasn't much of a salary cap hit and the Giants as an organization can probably afford it.

Bill Barnwell - I actually have not. He turns 27 next year, too, so the Giants are getting him in his prime -- not sure about his best years behind him.
I agree that he's injury-prone, but man, that was a steal of a deal. Four years, reasonable money. I really liked that one.

40
by Temo :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:30pm

Also from same chat:

[Comment From Tim]
Any thoughts on Kevin Burnett? Can the Cowboys keep him or will some 4-3 team grab him as a MLB?
Bill Barnwell - Don't think he's worth keeping for more than a few million. Then again, I'm a Bobby Carpenter believer.

[Comment From Temo]
"Then again, I'm a Bobby Carpenter believer. " I think I just found a worthy sig on FO. Thanks.
Bill Barnwell - Yep.

[Comment From Tim]
Bobby Carp as an every down ILB, huh? From your lips to God's ears
Bill Barnwell - Well, something more than a special teams guy.

78
by C (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 5:08pm

Yeah but they liked Miles Austin. So let's remember the goodies and forget the baddies.

39
by Packerpalooza (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:29pm

The Bears defensive line was missing its best pass rusher in AO and Mark Anderson is a pure speed guy, a one trick pony. Alex Brown is undersized and while a high effort guy can be controlled by a solid tackle. That the Vikings had trouble with that pass rush shouldn't just be a concern. It should be sending off alarm bells heard even by the slow to respond Brad Childress.

Also, Chicago had retreads and never will bes in the secondary. If Favre had NOT been able to dissect that motley bunch then he should be taken to the glue factory.

I will let Bears fans confirm or deny my assessment of their defense which at this point is Lance Briggs and the cast from "The Replacements".

43
by brasilbear (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:36pm

Pretty spot on.

Brown is average, might be better on the other side.
Anderson is [b]the[/b] one trick speed rusher.
G.Adams is 6'5'' and weighs 130 lbs

The Bears were playing Josh Bullocks for crying out loud.

48
by Packerpalooza (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:41pm

brasil:

As an owner and/or GM one can understand Lovie's appeal given that despite everything the players still are giving high effort. Contrast the Bears performance with the beyond sorry effort of the Seahawks.

Yes it was Monday Night Football. But that rush lasts for maybe a quarter. After that it's about pride. And Chicago showed that in spades. Kudos to them

46
by Temo :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:39pm

I dunno, I'm not a Bears Fan, but Alex Brown and Israel Idonije can both be solid starters to me. Nick Roach looked occasionally good when blitzing as well.

AO is still their best pass rusher, and the Vikes should still be worried about their line protection however.

50
by Packerpalooza (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:45pm

Temo:

Point taken on lumping someone like Brown into the Replacements comment. But Brown is not a great pass rusher. Bigger, stronger tackles just swallow him up. He does work like crazy to GET to the passer and can force the action.

But Hillenmeyer for example is a very limited guy. He's very smart so is rarely out of position which counts but with no speed and agility he's handled.

And Hunter is probably the third best player on that defense right now.

144
by tuluse :: Wed, 12/30/2009 - 10:18pm

I guess Tommie Harris just doesn't exist anymore?

Harris is disappointing compared to what he was in 2006, but he's still the best d-lineman on the team. Hillenmeyer is no where near the 3rd best players. He can't get off a block to save his life (it's funny hearing all the talk about Urlacher not being able to do so, then to see a linebacker who really can't). If I had to make an impromptu list of defenders by quality it would go something like Briggs, Harris, Brown, Tillman, Bowman, Anthony Adams, Roach, Hillenmeyer. I'm not a Hillenmeyer fan, he can make defensive play calls and that's about all he brings to the team.

However, the Bears defense is extremely beat up. There were 5 opening day starters playing in 2nd half. Briggs, Bowman, Alex Brown, Tommie Harris, Anthony Adams. That's it.

146
by Eddo :: Thu, 12/31/2009 - 11:22am

That's a good assessment, as usual, tuluse. I'd probably put Tillman ahead of Alex Brown, but that's just nitpicky on my part.

The defense has been really frustrating this year. Briggs is having an excellent year, in my opinion. Tillman is having his usual good year. Tommie Harris has been a force when healthy. Alex Brown has shown a lot. Ogunleye had some nice games, as did Roach, Jamar Williams, Bowman, and Al Afalava (whom I like a lot moving forward, how about you?). The problem has been that the entire defense hasn't had good games at the same time, save for a few games.

44
by Packerpalooza (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:36pm

Derrick Mason's gaffe reminded me of the final play of the Pittsburgh/Green Bay game of the 1995 season where O'Donnell found Yancey Thigpen WIDE OPEN in the corner of the end zone, threw him a soft little rainbow, Thigpen cradled it in his stomach...............and dropped the ball. Along with being one of the five all-time best crowd explosions I have witnessed in person as for a split nanosecond the entire stadium went quiet as Thigpen momentarily had the ball it ranks as THE most inexplicable drop I have ever seen either in person or television. He had it. He HAD THE BALL. And whiffed.

When they interviewed Thigpen after the game he was still dazed. He mumbled "I don't know" in response to a question then just stared off into space as the reporters continued to pepper him with questions.

100
by Jerry :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 6:39pm

IIRC, that game won the division for the Packers but was meaningless for the Steelers. I think Pittsburgh was back at Lambeau for an exhibition the next summer, and Cowher made a point during warmups of throwing a pass to Thigpen at the same spot, which Yancey hung onto, and they both laughed.

143
by Packerpalooza (not verified) :: Wed, 12/30/2009 - 6:17pm

The Steelers were playing for home field and it showed. Or was the starting quarterback throwing the ball 55 times just for kicks versus being sat or maybe leaving at halftime? Or was Lloyd's punishing hit on Favre that sent number 4 to the sidelines also just for show?

The Chiefs winning made homefield moot.

145
by Jerry :: Thu, 12/31/2009 - 5:42am

I looked the box score up. Yeah, O'Donnell threw 55 times, but Pegram, Morris, and John L. Williams didn't play, so I trust my recollection that it wasn't that important to the Steelers. (Lloyd's punishing hit was Lloyd being Lloyd.) p-f-r and nfl.com don't list game times. Could the Chiefs have clinched the 1 seed in an early game, while the game at Lambeau was late?

52
by Big Johnson (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 3:48pm

"On the bright side, Painter's miserable performance probably clinched Manning the MVP; it's hard to argue that anyone's looked more important to the success of their offense than Manning"

Why? What about Rivers? Rivers has a higher dvoa than peyton. And two weeks ago in the dvoa posting section Schatz wrote about how the chargers are all playing mediocre at best besides the trio of Rivers, Jackson, and Gates. If peyton wins the award then itll just be a lifetime achievement award. This reminds me a lot of when kobe first came into the league.... he has won 1 mvp award and gets shafted every single year to players like steve nash that are good players having good years but are crowd favorites. Dont feed into the hype footballoutsiders! Rivers is the MVP of the league so far according to your numbers.... so stick with it. Unless of course your analysis has an east coast bias to it. Stick to your numbers.... its what made you famous in the first place!

67
by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 4:37pm

DVOA is not an MVP award.

76
by Big Johnson (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 5:07pm

obviously, but whats the point of footballoutsiders putting together statistics that compare players to other players if they dont even believe them. According to their numbers, Rivers is the mvp of the league, not peyton manning.

82
by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 5:26pm

Well, to expand. DVOA is a measure of value on a per play basis. That does not approximate what an MVP award is about, let alone describe it. Better, though still a limited estimation, would be DYAR, a category in which Manning is ahead of Rivers. Of course, Tom Brady is ahead of both of them.

Honestly, I'm not that impressed by Rivers. He has the most talented group of (healthy, IE not the Cards) receivers in football, and a good pass blocking offensive line. He gets to play three awful teams twice a year each. Is he a good NFL quarterback? Absolutely. Was the Eli Manning trade good for San Diego? Sure. Is Philip Rivers meaningfully better at playing the quarterback position than, for instance, Eli Manning? Not that I can tell. Does that still mean Rivers is damn good? Yes.

But Philip Rivers can be reasonably replaced by the likes of Billy Volek. No one in the NFL can reasonably replace Peyton Manning. There is such a thing as a system player and Philip Rivers is it.

86
by Bobman :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 5:34pm

Wow,
I'm a lifelong Colts fan and s pretty strong disliker of Rivers, and even I wouldn't go that far. No, I don't think he's the MVP, but I do think he deserves to be in the converssation. I do think he's elite.

Excuse me while I go shower now....

90
by C (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 5:50pm

I'm starting to come around to Rivers more. Do I like him as a person? No, but he's good man. He has good players around him and tall WR's and Gates ( and the line) make his job easier, but the dude has never thrown 3 picks in a game! Even with a good amount of luck that's hard to do! He's never thrown 3 picks in a game!

BUT Peyton Manning is the best QB in the NFL. I'd say he has a few cheap ( not his fault), picks on his stats this season too, and he's breaking in some young WR's. It's not like he's throwing more picks because he's regressed or anything. I hate how those picks that weren't his fault will hurt Manning's DVOA.

98
by McAnonymous (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 6:37pm

As a Chargers fan, I would still give the nod to Manning based on his young receivers, better record and harder schedule, etc. But suggesting that Philip Rivers could "be reasonably replaced by the likes of Billy Volek" is laughable. This isn't some flavor of the month, one-season flash in the pan (a-la Derek Anderson or Damon Huard) quarterback. He is a Pro-Bowler and will (hopefully) be one for many years to come. Like or dislike the man; give the MVP to whomever you want; but don't ignore the statistical and anecdotal evidence.

115
by Big Johnson (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 8:27pm

wow what a moron this guy is.

honestly not that impressed by rivers because he has the most talented group of receivers in football?? The colts have the starting pro bowl TE AND WR in Clark and Wayne. The chargers have 0 pro bowl wide receivers and Gates is the backup TO CLARK. According to your retarded bias, you should not be impressed by Peyton because he has better receivers than Rivers and has put up a worse dvoa. Which by no means am i stating Peyton isnt great. Peyton deserves it this year as does Rivers. Its a two man race that is much closer than anyone is admitting. Peyton will win the mvp just like he won last year.... because its a lifetime achievement award. Since when does Tie go to the hall of famer??

70
by Todd S. :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 4:39pm

I think the comment refers to who the actual MVP voters will pick, not necessarily who will finish with the best advanced metrics.

104
by tally :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 6:59pm

Rivers couldn't even get voted into the Pro Bowl last year (or in 2006), which is just absurd.

73
by Red Hedgehog :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 4:42pm

Would Indianapolis really be part of "East Coast Bias?" Wouldn't it be Midwest bias?

75
by Big Johnson (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 5:03pm

Then why are the cowboys in the nfc east. and if the cowboys are considered east, indianapolis is considered north east, at worst.

87
by Bobman :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 5:44pm

By whom or what? Please put down the drugs and step away from the keyboard.

NOBODY remotely familiar with a map of our planet would consider Indy northeast. It gets cold there in the winter, as it does here in Seattle. (and BTW, coastal people have an even higher threshold of what they consider east or west. I once presented a Seattle investor with an opportunity in Walla Walla Washington and she said no because it was not part of the Pacific Northwest! Yet someone in, say, well, the other 47 contiguous states would probably disagree.)

East? I think you pretty much have to limit that to the original 13 colonies + FL. Yes, that excludes Ohio as well, which is east of Indiana. Think about it this way: mountains leading to the coast = east and west coasts. Mountains leading to giant flat plains = midwest/plains/fly-over, whatever you like to call it. Mountain ranges leading to other mountain ranges = basin and range (a fine John McPhee book--think Nevada between the Sierras and Rockies/Wasach range)

And for just about ANY media bias, you should probably look to large metropolitan centers, where they have a lot of talkers and scribes pimping their favorites. For example, any region that has its own ESPN branch now or planned is likely to be a "bias center" simply because of the density of pro-local words coming out of it. And Indy won't have its own for quite some time. Id there an ESPNChicago? If so, I doubt it spends much time on the Colts, no more than anybody else, that is.

94
by andrew :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 6:15pm

Sure you could. If you look at the 48 states and bisect them vertically and horizontally, Indianapolis is in the northeast quadrant.

as far as other credentials.... "north" - Indiana was on the "north" in the Civil War.

"east" - it is East of the mississippi, which another standard way to split by east and west.

Lastly, most of Indiana is in the Eastern time zone (exceptions 12 counties near the Illinois border are central, other 80, including Indianapolis are eastern). That's probably as big as any designation on here, as it affects what games are seen in prime time by voters....

I know historically it is considered "midwest", a nomenclature that dates to days when the nation was pretty much entirely east of the Mississippi.

FWIW Indianapolis is farther east than Pensacola, FL.

Besides, ask someone out west and they'll define "east" as anyone back there.

I think a person unbiased by history asked to assign directional qualifies would easily designate it as "north" and "east".

99
by Tom Gower :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 6:39pm

The rule of thumb we developed in college for northeasterners was (1) east of the Appalachians + (2) north of Richmond.

113
by MJK :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 7:23pm

My wife and I get into this argument all the time. I'm from Boston, and to me (and every other person that lives on the Eastern seaboard that I've met), "East" is east of the Appalachians, and "North" is north of the Mason-Dixon Line (i.e. Pennsylvania and above). Everything from about Buffalo to the Great Lakes is "midwest", and everything west of that is "out west".

My wife, who is a native Californian, was appalled when I referred to Minnesota as being "in the west", and rolls her eyes when I say Chicago is in the middle of the country. She claims that anything east of about Kansas is "east", anything else not touching the Pacific Ocean is "Mountains", and California, Oregon, and Washington are "the West".

Meanwhile, a friend from Philly was appalled when I once commented that she lived "practically down south", since she was only 15 miles north of the Mason-Dixon line. She draws the line differentiating between "North" and "South" as somewhere near the bottom of Virginia.

My wife and friend's interpretations are perhaps more geographically accurate, if you simply quarter a map of the country, but if you were to look at a "cartogram" (I think they're called? One of those maps that scales areas by population), then my interpretation is more accurate.

I think in general one can look at historical context. Anything that was settled by or shortly after the American Revolution is "East". Anything that was settled during the Gold Rush or after the trans-continental RR was completed is "West". Everything in the middle is "Midwest", "Great Plains", or "Rocky Mountains". Any state that had slaves in 1860 is "the South", everything else is "North".

128
by Gruntled (not verified) :: Wed, 12/30/2009 - 2:16am

I completely agree with your designations (and for mostly the same reasons), but I'm still never quite sure what to do with Missouri or West Virginia.

120
by Red Hedgehog :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 9:44pm

The Cowboys are in the NFC East because that's where an opening was when they came into the league and they developed several great rivalries there such that when there have been realignments, the Cowboys have stayed in the NFC East so they would keep playing the Redskins, Eagles, and Giants twice a year. Maybe they get more press because they play more teams on the east coast?

But you are the first person I've ever heard to include Dallas, let alone Indianapolis as cities as part of the east coast bias. New York, Boston, Florida, sure. But those places are all, at least, on the east coast.

58
by lester bangs (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 4:13pm

It's stated in every Football Outsiders annual (and I'm loosely paraphrasing) that quarterback sacks are more about the quarterback than the offensive line. Of course, this rule does not apply to Jason Campbell when we visit this weekly piece. Yes, his line sucks, but if there's a sack in the metro-DC area, it's gotta be the line's fault. Never mind that Campbell is horrible at reading pre-snap blitz indicators (Collinsworth did a nice job breaking this down Sunday night) and never mind that Campbell has horrendous pocket awareness (it's almost like his body has a magnetic draw to where the unseen rushers are).

What frustrates me about Barnwell's repeated spin on Campbell is that it's really starting to come off as incredibly subjective, that Campbell will be defended no matter what happens. This past week the Redskins were shut out at home (against a fine defense, of course) and never even got to the red zone, but the sharpest comment against Campbell here is that he "didn't play all that well." Bill, come clean, are you getting a percentage of Campbell's next contract? How deep is this Campbell defense going to be carried?

And any time you want a mulligan on Wes Welker, go ahead. He's a helluva football player.

80
by C (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 5:16pm

Dude, did I write this? Seriously are you me?

If you didn't write that I'd probably write something scary similar. It was one thing when the Redskins fans would defend Campbell at all costs, and now we're getting it from some national media and a Giants fan named Barnwell.

FYI, Jason Campbell has never beat the Giants in his career 0-6
NBC showed a stat that he threw 1 pass through the air past 10 yards ( NYG game)
The Redskins crowd booed when he threw a screen on 3rd and 15
Collinsworth pointed out elementary presnap reads he couldn't make...

My coworker saw Campbell ( black eye and all) at the Dulles Towne Center mall with his parents. He's a redskin fan and he wanted to say something to him like ( Hey good game, or ... Nice touchdown pass), but he ended up just talking by Campbell without saying anything because he couldn't think of anything nice to say. Hearing that from a Redskin fan was like music to my ears.

95
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 6:15pm

Yes, his line sucks, but if there's a sack in the metro-DC area, it's gotta be the line's fault.

Well, because it typically is. That's not to say that Campbell's pocket awareness doesn't suck, or that if he had a good line, he'd be good - but there are only so many plays you can watch where Stephon Heyer or Mike Williams stands around looking, while the guy he was lined up against rushes the QB free. Though my personal favorites are the ones where the guard and tackle double team a defensive end who takes them both out (because they're both off-balance) en route to the QB.

That being said, however, Campbell's first sack was all on him. The second and third were the line.

(n.b.: random comments implying that I'm defending Campbell will fall on deaf ears: I don't think he's a good quarterback, I don't think the Redskins can be a playoff team with him anytime soon, etc. All I'm saying is that pointing out that the QB isn't all that good is a little silly when the offensive line is ridiculous.)

97
by C (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 6:35pm

You don't think the Redskins can be a playoff team with Jason Campbell anytime soon? Would you mind expanding and define soon? I'm interested in your opinion.

114
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 7:46pm

They're a 2-3 year reclamation project, at minimum. Their starting linemen are pretty much a disaster by this point, and of course they've got no depth behind them. Portis is close to done, and way too expensive at this point. Plus about half the defense needs to be replaced - the only real NFL-level DE they have is Carter, and he's 30. The others are a 36-year old vet, a seventh round pick, and a former UDFA, as well as a 35-year old vet (sometimes).

It's safe to say they need to draft at least 2 DEs and probably 2 OL in the upper half of the draft at minimum, and they need probably 1-2 more DEs and 3-4 OL from the lower half as backups. And that's just the linemen.

Washington hasn't actually been a terrible team in recent years, but they've always had absolutely awful depth. Now the decent talent on the starting lineup is starting to erode, too.

126
by Lealand :: Wed, 12/30/2009 - 12:54am

Are you counting Orakpo in the D-ends? Would it be better to move him to end full time instead of linebacker? I haven't seen enough of the redskins to know if he is a liability in coverage as a linebacker.

134
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 12/30/2009 - 1:22pm

No, I was figuring they'd keep Orakpo at linebacker. He's meh in coverage, but I think the argument against putting him at DE full time is that he wouldn't be as effective as a full-time end.

60
by Roger Cossack (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 4:22pm

I hereby nominate a formal name change from "Derek Anderson" to "Shaky Anderson."

63
by Sideshow Bob (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 4:27pm

So the Seahawks finish Week 15 with the worst WR, and the 3rd-worst QB. Only the Seahawks RB corps was spared the wrath of FO.

Reminds me of Dean Wurmer congratulating Mr. Hoover for his 0.9 GPA....the best score of everyone at Delta House.

64
by Sideshow Bob (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 4:28pm

@63, sorry, meant Week 16.

66
by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 4:34pm

It is worth noting that Charlie Frye, who was not a good enough quarterback to beat out Derek Anderson (his opponent on Sunday) for the QB job in Cleveland, successfully threw for 322 yards in the Raider offense, a feat that JaMarcus Russell has never performed.

105
by shah8 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 7:00pm

Yet, Mr Russell can get you a touchdown in roughly a third of the attempts that Charlie Frye had.

Of course Russell is bad, but you gotta realize quite how bad Frye's performance was. Mr. Stanford had 5 touchdowns or something like that against that defensive unit.

Now, you can do all the haterading and Cult of the JaMarcus Sucks clubbing you want, but you still do have to come up to the sweet, sweet air of reality at some point.

68
by Mansteel (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 4:38pm

Thanks, Bill, for voicing something most of your fellow Giants fans have noticed but seemingly no one else has: Eli Manning is having his best year as a pro and is the least of the Giants' worries. Moreover, imo, he's easily one of the top ten QBs in the game. Bear in mind this opinion comes from a guy who, in a fit of pique, once opined that the Giants should give a couple of starts to...wait for it...Jared Lorezen just to see what he could do. And while that admission will undoubtedly destroy my credibility for many of you, Giants fans will understand--Eli was indeed that bad for prolonged stretches even as late as Dec 2007.

The point is that I'm not an Eli apologist. If you watch every one of his games you'll see a QB who consistently makes great decisions, doesn't take sacks, throws the ball to the right guy, is accurate, and is unflappable. I feel like he's good enough that the G-Men will be at least mediocre for the remainder of his time in NY regardless of any problems with the defense and running game.

81
by C (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 5:25pm

I'm a Giants fan who backed Eli when people were even making fun of him. He is fantastic at reading defenses, organizing protections, presnap reads etc.

I think Mario Manningham is one of the most raw receivers in the game, and doesn't deserve the stats that he has... He has SOOOO much work to do. It's crazy to watch all the little mistakes he makes. I think Mario has potential due to his burst and quickness, but he's not a good WR now, but Eli is MAKING him look better.

Steve Smith on the hand is polished... very polished. He's smart and he is the anti- Manningham.

The one disagreement I'd say is that Eli is "accurate". Eli and Mcnabb are both smarter than they get credit for ( althrough Gruden gave him a lot of praise in the Washington game), but neither are accurate. Mcnabb will throw too many ground balls, Eli has too many floaters... Sometimes the balls get away, sometimes he's not set up properly because he's trying to avoid a hit ( and Eli's had a very healthy career thus far).

The thing is Eli has a lot on his shoulders. Besides his brother, not many guys are out there directing traffic the way he is. In 2007ish, I noted that, and even though he'd make some mistakes... he did a heck of a lot of things right back then too. He also suffered from the most WR drops in the NFL, many unlucky deflections that weren't his fault, and playing with 2 huge egos in Shockey and Plax. When you are a QB with even 1 ego... say TO, you have to force the ball to them every now and then to shut them up... At least if you are young like him.

Eli developed a little slower than some people would have liked, but he was also running a much more complicated offense with more responsibility. He played early in his career... learned from his mistakes... and got better. He is a big time student of the game, and I like that from young guys that show promise.

92
by CAPT. Anonymous (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 5:56pm

WE GET IT!!!!

127
by the silent speaker (not verified) :: Wed, 12/30/2009 - 2:15am

Sometimes I wonder if the genius of Eli Manning is that he is not so much brilliant at the routine stuff as he is a spare offensive coordinator. For the routine stuff that makes up 70% of the job for 30% of the in-game swing, he's only slightly better than average, but he gets far more than his share of the high-impact subset, because that's exactly when the impact of a good offensive coach would be most felt and the Giants outnumber their opponent two to one. That would explain why his clutch statistics are louder than noise. Peyton probably is the same, but better at the 70% than Eli is.

69
by lester bangs (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 4:39pm

The Raiders didn't make Darren McFadden a stiff, he was already a stiff when they drafted him. Ask Greg Cosell what he thought of McFadden's college tape.

72
by lester bangs (not verified) :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 4:41pm

The Chargers were 13th in DVOA before Week 15. That's pretty funny. They're still underranked.

84
by Kurt :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 5:30pm

"The idea that the Giants' win over the Patriots had given them momentum didn't come until they actually made it to the Super Bowl, and their "momentum" consisted of one game."

Assuming you mean their week 17 loss, this is untrue; the idea was raised well before they made it to the Super Bowl.

129
by the silent speaker (not verified) :: Wed, 12/30/2009 - 2:18am

Also, I think it was discussed more in the nature of confidence than momentum.

118
by Lou :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 8:47pm

wow i knew aromashodu had a good game, i had no idea he would rank #1 in WR DYAR. When was the last time a bears reciever did that? when was the last time one ranked in the top 5?

124
by BadgerDave :: Tue, 12/29/2009 - 11:20pm

I'll bet one was ranked "least valuable" more recently