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29 Sep 2009

Week 3 Quick Reads

by Bill Barnwell

"The game isn't played on paper."

"Stats don't tell the whole story."

"Stats can't measure [heart, grit, determination, or any other emotion that's only applied as a justification to rate the ability of skill position players in the NFL]."

The above statements, used to discredit the usage of statistics in sports are true. They don't serve their purpose, since no one develops a statistic that purports to measure heart or to provide the best way to play a game on paper, but they often stand up as the breezy counterarguments to factually-sound positions.

The problem, though, is that the alternative is even murkier. The adjectives journalists and fans use to describe players and teams that are supposed to transcend statistics are as fleeting and context-sensitive as the worst statistic.

Take last year's Cardinals, for example, a team that made it to the Super Bowl despite middling regular season numbers against a weak schedule. The Cardinals, like every other underdog Super Bowl team, were one of destiny, a perpetual second-division unit that had finally melded together into a great team because nobody believed in them. They were backed by a set of fans that had fallen in love with an organization that was finally first-class.

Fast-forward eight months later, and the Cardinals are sleepwalking through an embarrassing loss to the Colts to fall to 1-2. At least they didn't need a blackout extension to sell out the stadium this week.

It doesn't take long to change. The Dolphins have gone from being the league's model rebuild to a huge question mark with an 0-3 start, while the Bengals have gone from "Hard Knocks" laughingstock to a tipped pass away from 3-0. Denver's followed a similar path, but used that tipped pass to actually go 3-0.

The labels are even worse on players, too. Shaun Hill's been anointed as a "winner" because he fashioned a 7-3 record in 2007 and 2008 by playing against a mix of NFC West opponents and teams with nothing to play for. He put on the best performance of his young career on Sunday, but didn't get the win because his defense couldn't hold up in the final few seconds. He contributed more to the team than he did, arguably, in any of those games that he "won", but won't get the credit for it. Tom Brady is the source of almost cataclysmic doubt in New England; Kevin Kolb is a future franchise quarterback in Philly a week after either Jeff Garcia or Michael Vick were sure to take over his job. Adjectives can be fickle.

It's unfair to slap players or teams with these labels; the range in an individual player or team's performance from game-to-game, let alone season-to-season, is so dramatic as to render those labels wholly irrelevant. Is Eli Manning clutch because of his Super Bowl run, or is he a choke artist because he's 0-3 outside of 2007? Is Kolb really a star in the making, or has he benefited from two games against the porous secondaries against Kansas City and New Orleans?

With that in mind, the best way to analyze a player or a team is to look at them over the long haul, after accounting for as much of the context and variance as you can. The more you observe, the more you know.

Which brings us back to statistics, and why we're using them to break down the game in the first place. The measures of performance used by Football Outsiders are far from perfect, but they outclass fleeting adjectives and simply, pithy narratives. So, if your initial reaction to what you read below is one of the replies in the first paragraph, well, hold on to your adjectives. They've clearly got a hold on you.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
1.
Peyton Manning IND
24/35
394
4
1
205
222
-18
The Cardinals were unable to sack Manning on even one of his 35 dropbacks. Normally, that points to a team dropping seven or eight into coverage while attempting to limit Manning's big plays and forcing him into a rare misread, but the Cardinals weren't doing that either. Peyton audibly identified multiple Cardinals blitzes because the would-be rushers showed their hand too early, and had no qualms about throwing right into the spaces they left. Many of the Colts' catches came with acres of space around them thanks to failed blitzes and missed assignments in the secondary. Teams shouldn't give first-ballot Hall of Famers this much help.
2.
Kevin Kolb PHI
24/34
327
2
0
189
183
6
In his first two starts as a pro, Kolb threw for 718 yards. That's astounding. Our game-by-game database for quarterbacks goes back through 1987, and the only player above even 600 yards is Vinny Testaverde, who threw for 631 yards in his first two starts in '87. Of course, Kolb's had 85 attempts to accrue that yardage. He's averaged 8.45 yards per attempt in those first two games; that's seventh across that timeframe, and the six quarterbacks ahead of him are a mix of stars (Daunte Culpepper, Brett Favre, Kurt Warner) and scrubs (Byron Leftwich, Jamie Martin, Todd Bouman). The jury's still out on which group Kolb's in, but we might not learn much more until next season. Donovan McNabb will be back as the starter after the Eagles' upcoming bye, and with the need to play Michael Vick as the team's second quarterback, Kolb will be an emergency QB.
3.
Joe Flacco BAL
25/35
342
1
0
188
187
1
It's not necessarily the big-play stuff anymore for Flacco; he's becoming a much better intermediate passer, and the Ravens really are opening up the offense for him. Flacco only dropped back six times on third down, as opposed to 18 times on first down. There, he was 13-of-18 for 222 yards, eight new first downs, and his lone touchdown pass.
4.
Matt Schaub HOU
26/35
300
3
1
149
152
-3
Jacksonville's pass defense has looked awful over the first few weeks of the season, and while some of that can be chalked up to playing Peyton Manning and Kurt Warner, they helped make Schaub look great this week. (Opponent adjustments aren't yet factored into our weekly statistics, because it's too early in the year to form a meaningful sample.) Like Flacco, it was a first-down thing; Schaub completed six straight passes on first down at one point, including four straight for 15 yards or more.
5.
Aaron Rodgers GB
13/23
269
2
0
149
128
21
A streaky day for Rodgers started off with two completions, followed by four consecutive plays ending in either a sack or an incompletion. He completed his next six attempts, including four straight first downs and a touchdown. That was answered by six straight incompletions, which was succeeded by three consecutive completions, two incompletions, and two more completions in the fourth quarter to end Rodgers' day. In the long run, you can just look at a day that had pass plays of 46, 50, and 53 yards and say that it was a good one.
6.
Tom Brady NE
25/42
277
1
0
144
141
3
He's not all the way back, but there were signs of progress from Brady on Sunday despite playing in the driving rain. His deep ball still isn't back yet, but he was more accurate underneath than he was a week ago; it would have helped him to have Wes Welker or a functional Joey Galloway underneath, but Brady had neither. Somehow, his longest completion of the day in the air -- 30 yards -- went to tight end Chris Baker, which isn't exactly how the Patriots offense was supposed to be drawn up.
7.
Matt Stafford DET
21/34
241
1
0
142
135
6
Stafford finished 33rd and 34th in the first two weeks of this year's Quick Reads, so a sudden rise to seventh was both unexpected and remarkable. What happened? Stafford had a great game on third downs. Including a 47-yard pass interference penalty, Stafford was 11-of-12 on third down for 168 yards and eight first downs; in the Lions' first two games, he was 10-of-20 for 148 yards and six first downs. That seems awfully fluky to us, but Lions fans won't care for now.
8.
David Garrard JAC
18/30
214
0
0
127
105
22
The passing numbers look pedestrian, but he did everything he needed to do. He dropped back twice in the red zone and picked up 13-yard completions and first downs each time, and he converted five of the eight third downs he was faced with. Then, add in a 30-yard scramble and a two-yard touchdown run for those 22 rushing DYAR.
9.
Philip Rivers SD
18/33
303
0
0
118
105
13
At what point does Rivers-to-Vincent Jackson Jackson get recognition as one of the league's top combinations? Defensive backs wake up in cold sweats after they watch Jackson's post patterns on film in midweek. Normally, the sort of deep route receiver that Jackson represents is very boom-or-bust, but Rivers threw nine passes to Jackson and picked up six first downs. He only got 10 first downs on the other 26 passes.
10.
Eli Manning NYG
14/24
161
2
0
114
110
5
Eli could've had a better game -- there were the sort of accuracy issues and inconsistency that have plagued Manning throughout his career -- but he got enough right to avoid any concerns that the game might become a contest. On the bright side, he used all the time he had in the pocket to film another watch commercial.
11.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
22/31
276
1
1
105
97
8
Talk about games that invert reputations. Roethlisberger was consistently effective, completing 71 percent of his passes while avoiding sacks. Where he failed was on the two key plays that changed the game: The miscommunication with Santonio Holmes on a pass he shouldn't have thrown that led to a pick-six, and the sack he took on the Steelers' penultimate drive that gave the Bengals the ball back with five minutes to go.
12.
Jason Campbell WAS
27/40
340
2
1
97
88
9
If Jim Zorn ends up sacrificing Campbell to save his own job, well, it'll be blaming the wrong person. One thing Zorn might want to do if he wants to hold onto that job is give Campbell more time in the no huddle; Campbell was 7-of-7 for 54 yards employing it against the Lions, improving him to 11-of-12 for 91 yards with six first downs and two scores out of the no-huddle this year. He's only 58-of-90 outside of it.
13.
Carson Palmer CIN
20/35
183
1
0
94
93
1
Those two fourth down conversions to Laveranues Coles and Brian Leonard were enormous, but Palmer was dismal on third down, going 4-of-11 while gaining only 33 yards and two first downs.
14.
Kyle Orton DEN
13/23
157
1
0
88
88
0
Denver's game plan was simple: Avoid Nnamdi Asomugha and Chris Johnson on the edges, line up Brandon Marshall, Jabar Gaffney, and Eddie Royal in the slot, and let them beat nickel corners and linebackers on crossing routes. It turns out Kirk Morrison can't cover wide receivers. Who knew?
MNF. Tony Romo DAL
22/32
250
0
0
87
87
0
15.
Matt Ryan ATL
17/28
199
0
0
82
82
0
Ryan's homecoming to the Boston area was met with typical weather and a welcoming party from the Patriots: No pass rush. Michael Turner even did a good job on first down, but Ryan failed to convert on three diferent third-and-3's and one third-and-4. Those are drives that need to be kept alive.
16.
Brett Favre MIN
24/43
301
2
1
53
57
-4
It's amazing what one pass can do, huh? It's reflexive to want to deflect praise away from Favre, who's received enough for several lifetimes (and dramatic comebacks), but the throw to Greg Lewis had to be perfect. Favre put it exactly where Lewis and only Lewis could get to it; it required a great catch, but a great throw put it there.
17.
Shaun Hill SF
16/25
195
2
1
26
26
0
It would be unfair to say that he failed to convert a single third down; sure, failing on third-and-1 is weak, but Hill faced an average of nearly 13 yards to go on his other seven third down opportunities.
18.
Josh Johnson TB
4/10
36
0
0
23
16
7
The Giants rush defense has looked awful all season, but the Buccaneers only attempted to run the ball seven times all game. None of those carries came on the Buccaneers' goal-to-go series from the five, meaning that Johnson got four chances to try and toss the ball into the
end zone in his first NFL action. It was, shall we say, a suboptimal decision.
19.
Kyle Boller STL
16/31
164
2
1
23
8
15
Boller wasn't great, but he was about as good as Marc Bulger's been recently despite his lack of reps with the first-team offense and the huge discrepancy in the two players' salaries. Then again, most of Bulger's DYAR came on two scrambles.
St. Louis, by the way, is now 5-30 over the past three years. Their wins include a legit nine-point win versus the Saints, four-point victory over the Trent Dilfer-led 49ers, a defeat of the Falcons while Bobby Petrino was negotiating to head to Arkansas, a two-point win over the Redskins at the death, and a win over the Cowboys when Tony Romo had a broken finger and Brad Johnson was at quarterback. Now that the Lions have broken their winless streak, the focus is going to fall on the Rams as the NFC's worst franchise.
20.
Jay Cutler CHI
21/27
247
3
1
22
22
0
One of the places our stats can't separate the player from the context is with regards to the relationship between a quarterback and his offensive line. In the case of Cutler, that played a huge role on Sunday: The revamped offensive line in front of him was just atrocious. The Seahawks didn't need to blitz, although they did with some effectiveness; it looked so bad at times that we wondered whether the offensive linemen thought the call was for a screen pass and were deliberately letting rushers through. St. Louis may be an awful franchise, but they made the right move in letting Orlando Pace -- or the statue of Orlando Pace that's currently playing left tackle for the Bears -- go this offseason.
21.
Drew Brees NO
16/29
172
0
0
4
-4
7
Even the best quarterbacks just don't throw four touchdowns a game every week, so it was pretty clear this sort of game was inevitable. The Bills got pressure with their front four, eventually forcing left tackle Jermon Bushrod out of the game with an injury. That led to a period of consternation for Brees, who started the game by picking up five first downs on his first six attempts, but was only 11-of-23 for 82 yards and three first downs afterwards.
22.
Chad Pennington MIA
8/12
54
0
0
-16
1
-17
The misguided scapegoating of Pennington for Miami's slow start was absurd on the surface -- look at how many passes his receivers have dropped while you're trying to figure out how he's supposed to be covering tight ends -- but it'll look even worse now that he's expected to miss time with a shoulder injury. It was naive to think that Pennington would make it through a full season unscathed for the second year in a row, but he's one of the team's best players when he's healthy. It might take Pennington's absence to get Dolphins fans to notice.
23.
Matt Cassel KC
14/18
90
2
0
-16
-9
-7
Cassel was playing like a quarterback scared on Sunday. Pocket presence has never been his forte, and against the Eagles' exotic blitzes, Cassel was simply overwhelmed. After his second-quarter touchdown pass to Mark Bradley, Cassel failed to complete a pass of longer than nine yards. That's a quarterback who's constantly checking down and failing to get his receivers into longer patterns. It's not necessarily Cassel's fault; truthfully, we were scared watching him.
24.
Seneca Wallace SEA
26/44
261
1
1
-21
-21
0
Wallace looks exactly like what he is: A player who didn't get the reps he needed to develop. Wallace is a talented athlete with a good arm, but he makes the mistakes that quarterbacks without pro experience make. He forces throws into tight spaces, and when he's pressured, he tries to make the hero throw instead of throwing a pass away or taking a sack. The fact that he had one interception instead of two or three is a miracle, not a testament to his performance.
25.
Kurt Warner ARI
30/52
332
1
2
-29
-29
0
Rarely will you see a quarterback as out-of-touch with his receivers as Warner looked Sunday night. There were at least a half-dozen passes where there was clear miscommunication in which route was to be run, and while that could be a wide receiver's mistake, it's the quarterback's job to make sure everyone does what they're supposed to on the field. Warner normally does a good job of it, which is why it's so concerning that the offense looked so bad.
MNF. Jake Delhomme CAR 22/33 220 1 2
-33
-38
5
26.
Mark Sanchez NYJ
16/30
125
2
1
-47
-62
15
What happened to the Jets' offense? Well, Sanchez converted his first two third downs...and then failed on the final nine chances he got.
27.
Chad Henne MIA
10/19
92
0
1
-49
-44
-4
28.
Brady Quinn CLE
6/8
34
0
1
-68
-66
-2
Yeah, apparently 6-of-8 for 34 yards against the Ravens' defense wasn't good enough for Eric Mangini. So the Browns had to bring in the guy three spots down.
29.
Kerry Collins TEN
15/37
170
1
2
-71
-70
-1
30.
Byron Leftwich TB
7/16
22
0
1
-88
-89
1
22 yards on 16 attempts is a robust 1.4 yards per attempt, the third-fewest of any quarterback with 15 or more attempts in a game since 1986. Joey Harrington was 5-of-17 for 20 yards (1.2 YPA) against the Bills in a 2006 game, while Bruce Gradkowski paces the field with a 5-of-16 performance for 18 yards (1.1 YPA) against the Steelers in Week 17 last season.
31.
Derek Anderson CLE
11/19
92
0
3
-94
-94
0
The Browns' biggest offensive play of the day was a 25-yard pass interference penalty on a pass from Anderson to Joshua Cribbs. We're about at the point of suggesting that the Browns should just go deep and try to draw pass interference penalties on every play. Forget the Wildcat; let's go All-Hail Mary and see what happens, right?
32.
JaMarcus Russell OAK
12/21
61
0
2
-120
-131
10
Think about this. JaMarcus Russell had a worse day than the guy who threw for 1.4 yards per attempt. In a way, he topped Leftwich: Russell was 3-of-8 in the second half, but had more sacks (two) than passing yards (one). That's not a number including sack yardage like college, either; he completed a pass for five yards, a pass for -4 yards, and then one for no gain. But remember: He can throw the ball really far.
33.
Trent Edwards BUF
21/35
156
0
1
-124
-127
3
Trent Edwards was worse than Byron Leftwich or JaMarcus Russell. Both were worse if we focus strictly on passing and look at it on a per-play basis, but Edwards takes the cake by throwing 35 attempts of misery as opposed to Russell and Leftwich's combined total of 37.


Five most valuable running backs
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Pierre Thomas NO
126
2
0
0
57
57
0
Once the Saints adapted to the Bills' scheme and realized there was space to be had up the middle, it was time for Thomas to get his revenge for missing the first two games with a knee injury. Even though he'll never get hyped as the team's big-play back, Thomas had five carries of 13 yards or more; the more expensive guy in the backfield had two.
2.
Ricky Williams MIA
55
1
29
0
53
42
11
A very concise day on the ground -- only eight attempts, but six of them were for five yards or more, three of them went for first downs, and one was a 14-yard touchdown.
MNF.
Felix Jones DAL 94
0
20
0
46
34
11
3.
Steve Slaton HOU
76
0
37
0
41
24
18
It isn't quite the big numbers that fantasy owners were hoping for, but it was exactly the sort of consistent success that we've found winning football teams pick up. Slaton had four carries of 11 yards or more, and not a single attempt for no gain or negative yardage. He was also 3-of-3 for 37 yards and two first downs as a receiver.
4.
Kevin Smith DET
101
0
18
0
41
32
9
He had to enjoy the end of his professional losing streak on the sidelines with a shoulder injury, but Smith contributed plenty to secure a victory before he left. He only picked up two first downs, but his 50 percent success rate put Matt Stafford in manageable situations (which Stafford then converted).
5.
Ronnie Brown MIA
75
0
40
0
38
18
20
You think the Chargers miss Jamal Williams much? Having two runners against them in the top five might be a sign.


Least valuable running back
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Glen Coffee SF
54
0
0
0
-47
-41
-6
Coffee was stuffed on third-and-1 and third-and-2, and gained four yards or more on only four of his 14 first down chances.


Five most valuable wide receivers and tight ends
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Kevin Walter HOU
7
7
96
13.7
1
70
Jacksonville clearly decided before the game that they were going to cover Andre Johnson with whatever they had on each play, and let the Texans' secondary receivers beat them. Walter, Slaton, and Owen Daniels almost did.
2.
Reggie Wayne IND
7
9
126
18.0
1
61
If most teams lost their clear number two receiver and were starting an undrafted free agent at one wideout spot, their star wideout woul struggle to get open because of all the double- and triple-teams he'd face. Fortunately for Wayne, the Colts aren't most teams. It was astounding how open he was at times Sunday night.
3.
Santana Moss WAS
10
14
185
18.5
1
58
Moss would look better if there was anyone developing across from him, but the combined numbers of Antwaan Randle El, Malcolm Kelly, and Devin Thomas weren't pretty, at 4-of-10 for 48 yards. If only he could play for the Colts, too...
4.
Steve Smith NYG
7
7
63
9.0
1
46
Smith isn't a traditional number one receiver -- certainly, not in the sense that Plaxico Burress was when he was on the team -- but he's the Giants' primary target when they need a first down. It's no accident that five of those seven catches either moved the chains or picked up a touchdown.
5.
Donald Driver GB
4
7
95
23.8
1
46
We don't give out bonus points for absolutely sick one-handed catches, and we'd probably owe Wayne a few for his performance if we did, but Driver deserves some for one of the catches of the year. If you haven't seen it, well, turn on ESPN and wait. You will soon enough.


Least valuable wide receiver or tight end
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Ted Ginn MIA
0
6
0
0.0
0
-44
It would be one thing if Ginn was just heading deep and the Dolphins were failing to hit him on go routes, but it's not that. Pennington and Henne each threw him one deep pass, but the other incompletions were all 14 yards away from the line of scrimmage or less. For all the "progress" Ginn has made over the past year, it'll be interesting to see how much of the improvements he exhibited were merely a function of playing with Pennington.

(Reminder: 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 Sep 2009

100 comments, Last at 03 Oct 2009, 1:45pm by Pat (filler)

Comments

1
by Sophandros :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 1:03pm

At some point this season, you're going to resent your reference to the NOLA secondary as "porous". Against the Saints, Kolb racked up the majority of his yardage on one play and in what was essentially garbage time against the prevent.

How porous was the Saints defense against Lee Evans and Terrell Owens on Sunday?

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

3
by djanyreason :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 1:13pm

I believe you mean "regret" rather than "resent." Clearly, you already "resent" the suggestion.

5
by Sophandros :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 1:19pm

Yes, I meant "regret". My bad.

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

53
by I am excellent at making love (not verified) :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 3:46pm

Well, as long as you resent saying "resent," all is forgiven.

62
by Sophandros :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 4:42pm

LOL!

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

20
by bledderag :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 1:53pm

I think Lee Evans and TO's lack of success had more to do with the QB being unable to hit receivers than with the quality of the Saints defense.

22
by Sophandros :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 1:58pm

Feel free to think what you want. Also, feel free to sort by Net Yards per Pass Attempt: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/years/2009/opp.htm

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

28
by Temo :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 2:14pm

Wow, the Saints are an impressively mediocre 12th after facing the murderer's row of QBs like Matthew Stafford, Kevin Kolb, and Trent Edwards.

32
by bledderag :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 2:23pm

Yup. Two QBs making their first pro start and Trent Edwards, who couldn't throw a complete pass against a Pop Warner team.

84
by peterplaysbass (not verified) :: Wed, 09/30/2009 - 1:14pm

Does net yards subtract 99 yards for Sharper's pick six? We're 3 games in. He won't do that 4 more times this season, trust me.

30
by Joseph :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 2:19pm

I was surpised that Owens wasn't the worst receiver of the week--0 catches on 5 attempts, 1 int. Then I saw that Russell threw 2 int's attempting to "throw" to DHB, and I thought that HE would be.
Bill, could you reply with the negative DYAR of these two WR's, maybe also explaining why Ginn's day was worse?

61
by mm (not verified) :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 4:27pm

OK, for everyone talking about the Saints passing Defense:

Staffords' YAR versus Minnesota: -101; versus Washington 142; versus NO: -124

Kolb's YAR: versus Carolina (no preparation): -92; versus KC: 189; versus NO: 48

Trent Edwards YAR: versus NE: 82; versus TB: 120; versus NO: -124.

Of the 3 QBs, the only one who didn't have his worst performance against the Saints was Kolb, and that was a game he came into as an injury substitution without practicing with the first team that week.

Yeah, this certainly doesn't show the Saints are an elite defense; we're comparing them to defenses like Tampa Bay, Washington, Kansas City, and New England. But its an indicator that this defense is not bad, and may even be above average this year.

Also, net yards per pass attempt is probably not as good a stat to use for the Saints' games so far because the Saints opponents have been behind so much they're throwing a lot and the Saints played much of those games in more conservative defenses with big leads. YAR, of course, is designed to take that into account!

64
by Sophandros :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 4:47pm

Thanks for posting the YARs. I think that people, for whatever reason, want to discount the impact that scheme has on the Saints' defense. That, and Jason David is no longer on the team. Tracy Porter and Jabari Greer are solid young corners (recall that Porter missed most of last season with an injury), and Sharper is a solid veteran. Combine that with the fact that the front seven is applying a lot more pressure this year than it did in the last three, and you're going to see better results.

But people can make all the excuses they want to about the improvement of the Saints' defense. I just wonder what it will be if they have success against the Jets. Will it be "rookie QB" again?

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

76
by Temo :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 9:06pm

I just wonder what it will be if they have success against the Jets. Will it be "rookie QB" again

Yes, actually it will be that, and I think that's a fair criticism.

It's been 3 games. Lets give it a rest until we have a bigger sample size.

2
by jeff (not verified) :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 1:13pm

Seems to me there is reluctant to give Kolb his just praise. YOur summary regarding yards per attempt seems almost damning. Perhaps it might have been less misleading to note that the YPA is especially impressive given the number of throws. I may be wrong, but it would seem to be relatively easier to have a higher YPA on fewer attempts. How many attempts did the fringe players have? Also, Leftwich was a starter for a number of years.

4
by C (not verified) :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 1:18pm

It would be hard for somebody to look better than Felix Jones did last night. I didn't see the Saints/Bills game or even Miami, but Jones looked like he was shot out of a cannon.

Question: Felix Jones or Darren Mcfadden for keeps?

I don't think Glenn Coffee will be ranked at the bottom of the barrel for long. Dude's got skills and won't be playing Minnesota every game.

Isn't it funny how open Reggie Wayne can get considering that he isn't even close to being the fastet WR in the game? Isn't it funny how that synergy between a Qb & WR on the same page works? You don't have to be freakishly fast.

I want to hear Barnwell/Tanier comment on Kevin Kolb because writing players off after 1 game ....

> The measures of performance used by Football Outsiders are far from perfect, but they outclass fleeting adjectives and simply, pithy narratives.

Quick question, so then why do you guys follow all of the stats by adjectives and narratives?

25
by JasonK :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 2:05pm

I don't think it'd be all that hard to look better than Felix Jones did last night. Just: 1) Show the tiniest bit of awareness in pass blocking and blitz recognition, and 2) don't injure yourself on a wholly routine tackle.

Until he learns to go down safely and to slow blitzing defenders a little bit, he's got a long way to go as a professional running back.

6
by jebmak :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 1:20pm

The measures of performance used by Football Outsiders are far from perfect, but they outclass fleeting adjectives and simply, pithy narratives.

I would argue that FO leads the league in pithy narratives.

10
by C (not verified) :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 1:29pm

Basically you guys can't argue with us, because we invented our own stats. No we won't show you our methods... "trust us", but no if you don't put numbers to your comments they are outclassed by us.

GO PATRIOTS

78
by DaveRichters (not verified) :: Wed, 09/30/2009 - 6:19am

Haha.

Plus, are the stats not context-dependent? I assume that that the defensive strategy will have a great deal to do with how much success a QB vs a RB will have in terms of DVOA or whatever. I think it is a great tool to measure the offense as a whole, but in terms of giving credit to individual players I would trust a scout's perspective, or Dr. Z if he were still writing. I don't think it is fair to contrast your stats with adjectives that John Clayton may use when the appropriate contrast would be a good scouting report.

81
by Thanos (not verified) :: Wed, 09/30/2009 - 11:30am

Actually, yes, the stats on this site are context dependent. At least beginning next week (week 4) they will be context dependent, as there will be a large enough sample size to make comparisons.

The main guideline used here is DVOA. Short for Defense adjusted Value Over Average. Essentially, each play is measured against what the average team is able to do in the same situation, against the same team. So, when Kolb completes a pass for a first down against the Chiefs defense, it counts less than Hill making a first down against the Vikings. And, conversely, the same applies for defense (stopping the Saints has more value than stopping the Raiders). This allows them to remove silly statements like 'All Orton does is win games,' and the like.

The stats are not perfect, as it can be difficult to determine if a RB is bad due to his line or due to his own competence, but it is far better than the 'eye test' due to its objectivity.

83
by DaveRichters (not verified) :: Wed, 09/30/2009 - 1:13pm

"Far better than the eye test"

I'm not so sure. The context I was referring to is the defensive stratagem, not the defensive players. A team may concentrate on stopping the pass against one team and stopping the run on another team. It, say, each team's running game is equally successful in these two games as measured by DVOA I would assume that the team that faced the run-concentrating defense is better at running the ball than the other team.

85
by Thanos (not verified) :: Wed, 09/30/2009 - 1:33pm

I think I see what you are saying, that the play call can mislead the stats. If that is what you mean, that can certainly have an effect. And you are correct, poor coaching strategy cannot be reflected here.

86
by DaveRichters (not verified) :: Wed, 09/30/2009 - 1:55pm

I didn't say that "poor" coaching strategy can have an effect, I'm talking about a trade-off between trying to stop the run and trying to stop the pass. Or even within one phase of the game, if a defense concentrates primarily on stopping Moss it may mean that Welker will have better stats, both conventional and DVOA, but that doesn't mean Welker had a better day. A receiver can have an enormous impact even if a pass is not thrown to him, but that will not be reflected in the stats here, right?

90
by C (not verified) :: Wed, 09/30/2009 - 4:36pm

Or if Team A picks up 7 yards on 1st and 10 from their 20 yard line against 7 defenders in the box.

and Team B picks up 7 yards on 1st and 10 from their 20 yard line against 8 defenders in the box.

The exact same play/result everything would be more impressive against 8 men in the box when the other team is TRYING to stop the run based on their strategy.

I think he's also talking about success/failure being attributed to individual players as well. If the other team's game plan is to stop the purple Jesus and the Purple quarterback keeps throwing against shrunken secondaries... and then another quarterback has no run game and is trying against 7 man zones...

There really are a ton of variables on every single football play. It might be about what a player did... it might be about what a player didn't do.

92
by Jerry :: Wed, 09/30/2009 - 5:44pm

Unfortunately, there are limits to what information is available. Game charting tries to pull stuff from the TV broadcasts, but it's not coach's film. DVOA is based on the official play-by-play, which doesn't identify all 22 players on the field or how either team is configured.

93
by DaveRichters (not verified) :: Wed, 09/30/2009 - 5:51pm

Hi Jerry,

Yes, exactly. Which is why we can trust DVOA for statements about "Offense" and "Defense", including stratagem, but I don't see how we can trust it when it attempts to credit one player versus another, unless I'm missing something.

94
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 09/30/2009 - 7:19pm

"Yes, exactly. Which is why we can trust DVOA for statements about "Offense" and "Defense", including stratagem, but I don't see how we can trust it when it attempts to credit one player versus another, unless I'm missing something."

DVOA and DYAR are never intended to completely credit one player versus another. It's always a caveat that a player's performance is dependent on the rest of the team. And usage, too. It's right at the top of every individual stat page.

But it's still useful to know, given the opportunities that a player was given, how they did, especially relative to traditional stats. As an example, it's important to realize that on 3rd down, a WR that runs a route 1 yard short of the first down is worse compared to one that hits the first down marker, and that *is* frequently the WR's fault. In yardage, that only looks like 1 yard - but a player who consistently misses that yard is far, far worse than one who does. In this case you get guys like Bobby Engram, who were great route runners. Didn't pile up a ton of traditional stats, but really contributed to the success of the team.

I mean, you're actually missing a more obvious problem: you can't tell the difference between a play that a quarterback *expected* to fail and a play that *should've* succeeded. We know quarterbacks throw the ball away. If they throw the ball into the back of the running back because the rush is there, how is that the running back's fault?

A good example is DeSean Jackson last year - if you look at his DVOA/DYAR, it's not particularly good. Mainly because his catch rate is so low. But that's because McNabb tended to force him the ball even when the likelihood of him catching it was low.

(There are even more subtle problems if you want to dig into it: there are plenty of plays that coaches run even though they know they have a low chance of success, because they improve odds for future plays. Failing on those plays is obviously worse than succeeding, but it's not necessarily worse than succeeding on a different type of play given its secondary benefits.)

Still, though, all this stuff is still there with traditional stats, so it's definitely a second-order problem.

96
by DaveRichters (not verified) :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 10:03am

Hey Pat,

You say:

"Still, though, all this stuff is still there with traditional stats, so it's definitely a second-order problem."

But it isn't necessarily there in a scouts description, and certainly it isn't there in the best scouting reports. That's the comparison. I wouldn't feel confident even in the example you gave of making a judgement about a single player. For all I know, it is the LTs poorness that causes a play to end up just short of the first down on a consistent basis. The comparison here was between DVOA and scouting reports in terms of grading individual players. I'm guessing that we see eye to eye on that, and I'm guessing that we both think DVOA is far better in judging the quality of teams as a whole.

--dave

98
by tuluse :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 12:32pm

A good scouting report beats almost any stat even for evaluating a whole team. The trouble is deciding which scouting reports are the good ones.

99
by Eddo :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 1:03pm

And getting scouts that have seen enough of all 32 teams to make a robust comparison.

A scout's report on a single player, unit, or team is immensely valuable. However, while one scout may be able to report on every detail on one team and many details on divisional foes and upcoming opponents, he's not very likely to be able to give good information on the rest of the teams.

For example, a scout might be able to rank teams thusly:

Giants (much information): 95
Eagles (much): 80
Vikings (some): 85
Cowboys (much): 75
Packers (some): 65
Bears (some): 50
Lions (some): 30
Reskins (much): 25

Rest of teams: not enough information.

100
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Sat, 10/03/2009 - 1:45pm

"But it isn't necessarily there in a scouts description"

Why not? A scout still has to focus on what he can see, and a scout doesn't have knowledge of what the play was and what the quarterback was seeing. The only people who will have complete knowledge of who was at fault and who succeeded on a play are the players and the coaches.

And heck, maybe not even them, because it could be that an opposing player screwed up the defensive play as well and they don't know.

"For all I know, it is the LTs poorness that causes a play to end up just short of the first down on a consistent basis."

If it was the LT, it wouldn't follow the player even when most of the team around him changes (and it also would be consistent among all WRs). That's kindof the key - watching which stats tend to track the player rather than the rest of the team.

95
by Jerry :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 3:59am

You're right. As Pat points out, there's some value in player numbers, but not as much as any of us would like. "The best is the enemy of the better"; DVOA is still a useful tool for looking at the NFL despite its flaws.

7
by Jimmy :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 1:21pm

I don't really get what Cutler did wrong even looking statistically at his game on Sunday. I know the FO computer can't tell that the interception bounced off Knox's hands but I really don't get how he played worse than Josh Johnson or Kyle Boller. I don't really get why completing 77% of your passes for over 9 yards a go isn't considered to be a good thing either.

I guess I have a lot to learn.

12
by Anonymous (not verified) (not verified) :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 1:32pm

I was thinking the same thing, but it must have to do with the 3 fumbles (only one lost).

21
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 1:55pm

I believe fumbles are a huge negative factor in the ratings. This strikes me as reasonable.

36
by Jimmy :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 2:58pm

I forgot about that, does anyone know if fumbled snaps are counted or if they are rare enough to be non-predictive.

I would agree that the line did look pretty poor on Sunday but I thought Cutler was pretty fantastic. I guess FO did kind of admit that in the blurb.

14
by ammek :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 1:35pm

Cutler's passing DYAR is better than Johnson's or Boller's. It's only when you add rushing that he falls bhind.

Also, I didn't watch the Bucs game but Boller played reasonably well, so it's not a slight on your man. Converted a couple of key third-down throws and scrambled effectively against the Packers' two-man front. Only threw one interceptable pass and didn't take a sack.

8
by C (not verified) :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 1:26pm

Oh and Trent Edwards worse than Byron Leftwich and Jamarcus Russell? They had very very weak lines from quarterbacks. I mean a QB throwing 22 yards and being benched is historically bad. Yeah somebody might have beat that but now we're talking special olympics here.

Once again I didn't watch the Bills game but Byron's team didn't get a first down until mid way through the 3rd quarter and he was benched.

Edwards threw 2 times the passes but had 3 times the completions and the same number of picks.

15
by Temo :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 1:35pm

On a per play basis, Leftwich was worse but in total he was not.

In other words I produce and sell 2 units and lose $10 per unit, while you sell 10 units and lose $5 per unit. You have the greater overall loss.

It's the difference between DVOA (where Leftwich would have unquestionably been worse) and DYAR, where sucking over a lot of attempts is really bad.

18
by Independent George :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 1:47pm

Another example: I remember somebody in the comments here pointed out that in 1998, Ryan Leaf managed to suck more in 9 games than almost anybody else has ever sucked through a full season. In other words, he sucked more by 9 AM than most people suck in their whole day.

23
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 2:02pm

Ha! That reminds me of the old Dean Martin line, when ol' Deano said he felt sorry for people who didn't drink, because when they woke up in the morning, they knew that was the best they were gonna' feel all day. Unfortunately. Mr. Leaf may have taken Mr. Martin's observation more seriously than was intended.......

24
by Phil O'Sopher (not verified) :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 2:04pm

Knowing is half the battle

Go Joe!!

29
by C (not verified) :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 2:18pm

That's what it's supposed to be but I still can't believe that.

Edwards completed 60% of his passes and threw for 150 yards. That's not good (considering his team was losing) but it's not historically bad either. I'd love to watch Edwards if he was that much worse than Byron and Jamarcus this week.

33
by Temo :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 2:27pm

Edwards had -3.63 DYAR/attempt, while Leftwich had -5.56 DYAR/attempt. Don't see the gap in logic there.

75
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 8:39pm

"I'd love to watch Edwards if he was that much worse than Byron and Jamarcus this week."

He wasn't. If you only watch Edwards for the same portion of the game when Leftwich was playing, he wasn't worse.

Tampa Bay and Oakland realized that Russell and Leftwich were awful, and didn't use them that much. Buffalo, for some reason, just kept going, and going, and going.

9
by ammek :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 1:28pm

Maybe it was the dumb interception that upset Mangini, rather than Quinn's completion percentage.

11
by Anonymous Jones :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 1:29pm

I enjoyed the intro, Bill. Statistics by definition are abstracts that necessarily lose detail but may provide a different perspective or insight. I find them very useful in context.

Also, congrats on the Kolb wager, though I have to say I thought the whole thing was rather silly. My issue with Tanier's comments in Audibles last week was that it was a belated entry for "National Jump to Conclusions Week;" so using one game in week 3 as a referendum on the deeper issue (of whether Kolb can ever be a meaningful contributor) just doesn't seem to address that problem at all. In my opinion, the biggest error Tanier made was not just a sample size problem (though that was a large error) but that he discounted the value of experience. Kolb is not just Kolb, some immutable abstract idea. Kolb is a person who can improve through experience. And given that quarterbacking is quite possibly the position in football most likely to be dependent upon experience, assessing his future based on his first few starts or preseason games seems like a rush to judgment. Kolb may in fact turn out to be useless; he certainly does not seem to have the hallmarks of a future Pro Bowler, but let's see what happens before we get too excited about what we "know."

27
by Bill Barnwell :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 2:14pm

That was similar to what I was thinking regarding Kolb, although you expressed it better than I did in last week's Audibles.

13
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 1:34pm

Based on admittedly pretty casual observation, the Cowboys are worse in pass protection this year than last, and last year was pretty damned bad. If they avoid giving up a lot of first quarter and first half points, and keep running the ball well, they can cover up that shortcoming somewhat. In that division, however, there are pronounced limits to covering up weaknesses.

For all the anti-Romo rhetoric, some of it justified, too little mention is made of the Cowboys' crappy pass protection.

16
by Temo :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 1:39pm

Most of the crappy pass protection seems to be on blitzes though, where Martellus Bennett, Felix Jones, and Deon Anderson have all missed assignments.

The actual O-Line seems to be better this year than last, penalty shenanigans notwithstanding.

19
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 1:49pm

Well, like I said, I haven't broken anything down in detail, but penalty shennanigans are quite frequently an outgrowth of sucking shennanigans. Cough, (Flozell),Cough....

44
by TomC :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 3:20pm

Gotta disagree with you there. The Hotel was one-on-one with Julius Peppers most of the game, and Peppers didn't get a sniff of Romo. I agree with Temo that all of the Carolina pressure came from blitzes --- in fact, the only Panther I remember laying a hand on Romo was Thomas Davis. (Except for when Peppers fell on him a few yards downfield after Romo scrambled. I don't count that, but apparently Jon Gruden does, because he gushed that Peppers was "bringin' it tonight" after that play, causing me to ask "bringing what, and to whom?")

48
by Thanos (not verified) :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 3:30pm

How dare you chastise the brilliance that is Jon Gruden!

I will demonstrate his genius in analysis and history with a three word quote from the Sept 21 game "Happy Birthday Wildcat!!" In reference to the 'fact' that the offensive set was 'born' a year previous. Idiot.

55
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 3:47pm

I wasn't commenting specifically on Adams last night, but merely making a crack on his general penalty shannigans, which I believe is indicative of how far his performance has fallen over the past couple of years. I saw Romo under a lot of pressure last night, and although I haven't broken it down, I don't think it merely a matter of the Panthers bringing more rushers than blockers, or running backs missing blocks. I saw, in my admittedly casual observance, a signifigant amount of bad pass blocking technique.

17
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 1:44pm

The problem with young qb evaluations in general is that one can be right about 90% of the time by stating, after the first start by any qb, "Well, he'll never be a good quarterback", because definitionally most guys won't be good, and they'll be even fewer guys who will appear to be good, due to having inadequate teammates around them. The Fran Tarkentons, guys who are obviously, consistently, good even when surrounded by poor teammates, are so rare as to be barely worth mentioning.

Now, show me a talent evaluator who identified the last 15 well above-average qbs, after seeing them start one game, and then I'll be impressed.

26
by Ravens (not verified) :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 2:05pm

I thought maybe McGahee would make it this week, 7 rushes for 67 yards, 2 TDs, and a first down. But his fumble on first down at the Cleveland 10 must be a DYAR killer.

31
by Jimmy Joe (not verified) :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 2:22pm

I don't understand why Fred Taylor didn't make the top 5 this week. He had 21 rushes for 105 and a TD and added a catch too (albiet only for 4 yards). Is it because of the lack of receptions?

34
by Theo :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 2:43pm

"The jury's still out on which group Kolb's in"

Looking at the way he threw those balls perfectly in stride of the receivers, I say that the Eagles have found their new starter.

35
by Str1fe5 :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 2:51pm

I'm sorry, and I know I'm biased, but there is something seriously, seriously wrong with this way of ranking QB's when you say that Jay Cutler's performance in week 3 was only the 20th best performance that week. 78% of his passes completed, and they weren't dink and dunk passes, he averaged 9.1 yards per attempt, and he threw 3 touchdowns. I'm assuming he's not getting credit for his 1 yard TD pass on 4th down against the seahawks, with a guy literally in his face, but still, and docked for throwing an INT in Seattle territory, again with a guy in his face, but come on. 78% completions, 3 TD's, 9.1 AVG, and he was sacked only sacked twice and picked once. That's better than the 20th best performance this past week, period.

He had a QB rating of 126.4. How is that less descriptive than DYAR ?

38
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 3:05pm

Because, among other things, qb rating doesn't account for how fumbles greatly reduce a team's chance to win the game?

39
by alexbond :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 3:08pm

Fumbles aren't part of QB rating. Edit: Beat by 2 minutes! Dang!

41
by Independent George :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 3:10pm

As mentioned above, 3 fumbles counts for a LOT in DYAR. You can argue (and I would agree) that most of that is more on the line than on Cutler, but 3 fumbles in a game is not something you ever want to see regardless of how well he threw it.

ETA: DOUBLE-NINJA'D! Or, maybe we've all just been brainwashed. Now excuse me while I go off to chant in the corner.

40
by Jimmy :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 3:10pm

Others adressed a similar question of mine above and I have to agree with them that looking simply at the play by play (which is all the DVOA computer can do) Cutler had four plays that could have lead to turnovers, not good at all. When you see the plays in question you can see that while Cutler didn't execute perfectly others were probably more to blame than he was.

It is both a weakness and a strength of FO that their stats just look at the end results and pass judgement on that. When I say weakness I am meaning that it seems to say 'Cutler played poorly' when it really means 'the guy playing QB behind the Bears offensive line couldn't produce all that effectively due to persistent protection issues'. Maybe it is a failing in how we sometimes look at the stats rather than the stats themselves.

Aaron, Bill, FO in general I apologise.

42
by Independent George :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 3:13pm

Why apologize? You something in the data that didn't mesh with what you saw on Sunday, and said so. People responded. That's the game, isn't it? This place stops being fun if everyone agrees all the time.

45
by TomC :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 3:22pm

Because if you challenge the almighty word of Schatz, the FO thought police come to your house and take your children. At least, that's what Chris told me.

49
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 3:31pm

I was wondrin' where the little brats were this mornin'.......

46
by Jimmy :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 3:23pm

Because in retrospect my critiscisms were ill founded. I still think Cutler was lights out for large periods of Sunday's game and that a great deal of the Bears' offensive inconsistency are down to trying to get all the old and new faces playing together (8 new starters from last year) and should improve a bit. If they do and the stats didn't reflect that then I might get confused but at the minute I guess the helpful promptings of others have merit and I am probably wrong.

57
by Independent George :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 3:49pm

It's funny - I actually had the opposite reaction. My first reaction was that Cutler was correctly getting dinged for the fumbles, and had forgotten just how well he was throwing behind that atrocious line. DVOA/DYAR is useful, but there's still no stat that can adjust for "My Line Is Trying to Kill Me".

It reminds me of Ronnie Brown's rookie season, when he was constantly pulling out 2-3 yard gains after eluding three tacklers in the backfield. On the other side, I remember the game-charters notes on Rex Grossman in 2005 warned of an impending meltdown despite solid numbers through the first six games.

That's why you can't rely on just the stats; sometimes, there's more to the story than what shows up on the play-by-play. FO metrics are very useful, but players routinely over/under-perform their numbers. That's why I love the comments here - I find them every bit as useful as the FO numbers.

50
by Bill Barnwell :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 3:32pm

No need to apologize -- 99% of the time, it's good to hear people who disagree and say that something isn't being tracked properly or to the right extent, since it gives us focus on what to look at next to see what we can improve. It's only a nuisance when we get comments like the ones at the beginning of the essay.

54
by Kal :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 3:47pm

Bill, it might be interesting to showcase in the quick reads some of the players who so violently disagree with more traditional ratings, and why. Cutler would've been a perfect candidate; QB rating doesn't factor in fumbles nor does it factor in when you get yardage or how painful certain plays are but FO does.

Stuff like that would be interesting and educational.

58
by Bill Barnwell :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 3:55pm

That's what I did in last week's intro!

87
by Kal :: Wed, 09/30/2009 - 2:09pm

Well...make it more formalized then. The 'weekly DVOA is wrong because zlionsfan template' comparison of the week or something like that :)

43
by Temo :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 3:18pm

edit: Should have refreshed page before responding.

52
by Todd S. :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 3:44pm

One other thing to keep in mind is these results are from just one week. It's always more likely that something fluky will show up in a stat (or observation) with more limited data. Look at Cutler's yearly line as the season develops and you should get better information.

And yes, I realize it's in the context of all the other things that happened this week, and that you also know that. I'm just saying that good measurements get better with more data.

37
by Thok :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 3:00pm

I know Coffee didn't play well, but I'm of the opinion that a lot of that is on the Offensive Line.

Seriously, the 49ers offensive line ranks horribly in nearly every category (and yes, some of that is on Minnesota/Arizona/Seattle.) For all the questions about how the 49ers would look with Crabtree signed, a better question is how the 49ers would look if they drafted Oher and put him at Right Tackle.

47
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 3:29pm

I bet a lot of teams (including my Redskins) are wondering what they would look like if they had drafted Oher.

51
by navin :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 3:43pm

I really wanted SF to draft Oher too. In general I dislike drafting "system" players like Crabtree.

63
by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 4:45pm

Oher was going to be their pick until Crabtree fell to them. If Raider Al had drafted the way he "should" have, we'd have a good right tackle now.

67
by Independent George :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 5:30pm

That seems really puzzling - good OTs a lot harder to find, and last a lot longer, than WRs. Unless they thought Crabtree was unique physical specimen on the level of Moss or Megatron, I don't understand why they would take a WR over an OT if their needs for either were about the same.

69
by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 6:14pm

Well, Crabtree was considered by many to be the #1 talent in the draft. Oher ended up going #23 to the Ravens. If we had drafted him #10, a lot of people at the time would have said we reached.

Tackles may be a lot harder to find, but even harder to find is a difference maker, which right-tackles tend not to be.

56
by Anonymous B (not verified) :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 3:49pm

The Colts other wide receivers who played on Sunday are not undrafted free agents (Garcon 6th round in 2008, Collie 4th round in 2009).

59
by Bill Barnwell :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 3:56pm

That's correct about Garcon -- my mistake.

60
by widderslainte :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 4:20pm

Are there any opponent adjustments factored in these?

70
by Jerry :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 6:39pm

Not yet.

65
by Rob S (not verified) :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 5:11pm

There were a couple of WR performances that I was surprised didn't make the cut. Vernon Davis - 7 receptions, 96 yards, 2 TDs
DeSean Jackson - 6 receptions, 149 yards, 1 TD
Both of these performances seem to be ahead of Donald Driver but maybe I'm missing something like number of drops?

89
by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/30/2009 - 3:05pm

I noticed that about Jackson, too - Kolb only had 10 incompletions and at least two of them were to Maclin, so it's hard for me to imagine Jackson had a lower catch% than Driver's 4 of 7. At least two of Jackson's big plays were on first down (and maybe Driver's came on 3rd down), so maybe that's the reason?

66
by anonymiss (not verified) :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 5:25pm

I know you guys have to act like you discovered everything before anyone else, but fantasy players have known all about Pierre Thomas vs. Reggie Bush for a while.

82
by Thanos (not verified) :: Wed, 09/30/2009 - 11:37am

Yeah, but here, they have been saying that Bush has been overrated since his rookie year. And that Thomas was better than Bush for the last two years.

Also, don't confuse the goals of fantasy football with the goals of this site, they are two different things.

68
by tuluse :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 5:43pm

I have one question about Cutler, I thought fumbles were part of rushing DYAR, where Cutler has a 0, but his passing DYAR seems low at 22. Have you changed the formula so now fumbles are part of passing DYAR?

71
by Vince Verhei :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 6:41pm

Fumbles on runs go in rushing DYAR. Fumbles on sacks go in passing DYAR. I believe other fumbles (botched snaps and handoffs) go in passing, but I'm actually not sure.

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by Vince Verhei :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 6:44pm

Here it is:

"Passing statistics include sacks as well as fumbles on aborted snaps."

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by tuluse :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 6:59pm

OK, thanks.

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by Dr. Mooch :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 7:28pm

Any chance that you'll re-post the first three weeks of quick reads after the opponent adjustments kick in?

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by John Perricone (not verified) :: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 9:56pm

How could Ahmad Bradshaw not ne one of your most valuable running backs? 14 carries for 104 yards, something like fifteen broken tackles.... What does a guy gotta do to get some recognition?

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by nat :: Wed, 09/30/2009 - 8:27am

I am glad to see that EYds has been dropped from Quick Reads. It was always a misleading stat. It takes DVOA, which reminds us that there is more to judging a player than just counting yards, and converts it into yardage... thereby asking us to judge a player in terms of yards.

An EYd isn't a measure of yardage at all, effective, true, or otherwise. An EYd is a measure of the progress towards scoring or "success value" that an average player at that position would generate per yard gained. That's a mouthful and not particularly enlightening. I will always think of EYds as "Kitna Yards".

Good riddance. Now if only FO would eliminate them from the player stats pages, and focus on the useful stuff.

Don't get me wrong. I am a big fan of most of the stats here. Just not EYds.

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by Jimmy :: Wed, 09/30/2009 - 10:07am

An easy way to remove the stats you don't like is to simply obscure them with tippex correction fluid whenever you see them.

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by jonmw3 :: Wed, 09/30/2009 - 3:01pm

"The Giants rush defense has looked awful all season".

That's a really stupid comment. In Week 1, aside from WAS's first offensive play, the rush defense was absolutely superb against a then-healthy WAS offensive line and fresh Clinton Portis. In Week 2, it was awful. In Week 3, it was off-the-charts incredible.

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by Ravens (not verified) :: Wed, 09/30/2009 - 5:08pm

Interesting first down note on Flacco: 13-of-18 for 222 yards, eight first downs, and his lone touchdown pass. For the season, he is 32 of 42 on first down for 456 yards and a 126.7 QB rating. Ravens fans always wondered what would happen if opposing defenses had to worry about anything other than stuffing the run with 8 (or even 9) men in the box. We're starting to see it.

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by ArizonaCardinalsFan (not verified) :: Thu, 10/01/2009 - 11:56am

...and it looks like the cardiac Cardinals are back. Building a good team is much more than having one moderately successful season, and there's plenty of TUMS to go around in the desert. That game was simply a reflection of the Colts playing the wanna-be Colts. Amazing too that fans are already calling to start Matt Leinart...it's always sunny in Glendale.