Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

27 Oct 2009

Week 7 Quick Reads

by Bill Barnwell

Who did the most to help their team win on Sunday?

The answer to this question is usually the most prominent quarterback that won a close game, especially if it was a comeback. So that's Drew Brees.

But we can't say Brees; even if he led the Saints back from a huge deficit, that deficit existed in no small part because of him! The best-fit narrative of the game suggested that the Saints were buoyed by Brees's sneak at the end of the first half and took the game over after that. It doesn't fit; remember that they started the second half with drives ending in an interception and a fumble, each by Brees.

Well, there were only three other close games last week, and none of them fit. The Steelers beat the Vikings by virtue of two long touchdown returns off turnovers. Houston narrowly held on for a 24-21 win over the 49ers because they couldn't stop the Alex Smith-to-Vernon Davis connection. Imagine writing that sentence in August. And on Sunday night, the Cardinals held out for a win over the Giants thanks mostly to the total ineffectiveness of Eli Manning and the Giants's offensive line.

So who can we pin our hero hat on? Well, on the same people who deserve it most weeks: The star players of teams that won by a large margin. Our research has suggested that teams that stomp weak opposition by several touchdowns often end up out-performing those teams that win close games over their same brethren. There's no artform in winning close games that often come down to clock management, non-predicative events like missed field goals and fumble recoveries, or who gets the ball last. Joe Montana was 78-22 in games decided by more than a touchdown, but 40-29 in games that came down to a difference of seven points or less. Brett Favre is 106-51 in the comfortable games, 61-45 in the close ones. You can do that exercise with any quarterback you want.

Of course, those close games get more attention than the blowouts because they're more entertaining. They produce better stories for journalists and better memories for fans and players alike. There's no shame in that, but don't mistake ability in close games for a skill. If you're looking for a hero from the week's slate of games, find the biggest blowout and take the best player from the winning team. More often than not, you'll be right.

Here are the Week 7 Quick Reads from Football Outsiders. Note that opponent adjustments are at 70 percent of their eventual weight.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
1.
Carson Palmer CIN
20/24
233
5
0
249
249
0
JaMarcus Russell might actually be the most valuable quarterback of Week 7, if you include value to the other team. DYAR chooses Palmer as the top player of the week, and he sits right alongside Brees, Peyton Manning, and Elvis Dumervil as an early MVP candidate. For him to accrue these totals in only 24 attempts is taggering. Sixteen of his attempts resulted in either a first down or a touchdown. Had he kept throwing in the fourth quarter and continued this level of play, Palmer would have been approaching Brees' day from Week 6.
2.
Tony Romo DAL
21/29
311
3
0
180
173
7
Yards after catch can be a tricky thing. On one hand, Romo undoubtedly benefits from the wonderful YAC work done by Miles Austin, who we'll get to later. That's no different than standard passing yards, but it seems unfair to give Romo credit for Austin making cornerbacks and safeties look like they were back in high school. The flip side of that argument, though, is that Austin catches most of his passes well downfield, at which point YAC rises because there's fewer players around. In addition, it's certainly a skill to place a pass onto a receiver's hands in stride, and while some purportedly great quarterbacks fail to do it consistently, Romo does. If Romo throws that crossing pattern that Austin turned into his first touchdown behind him, it's either an incompletion or a completion with no YAC.
3.
Aaron Rodgers GB
15/20
246
3
0
152
159
-7
The NFL's play-by-play separates passes into six sections; left, middle, and right are pretty self-explanatory, while each area has a "short" section (15 yards or less) and a "deep" one (15 yards or more). Rodgers had a strange quirk this week of getting into habits; after throwing two passes in a row classified as "short left", he threw five consecutive short rights, followed that up with two in a row to the deep right, then two to the short left, five to the short right, and one final pass to the short left for a touchdown that ended his day. Whether that's due to the Browns's coverage or a total statistical fluke is hard to say; the only other such stretch for Rodgers this year was in Week 4, when he started the game against the Vikings with seven straight passes classified as "short right". On the bright side, all these "short lefts" probably made Eric Mangini think of boxing, and that must have cheered him up after Rodgers and the Packers laid waste to his defense
4.
Peyton Manning IND
23/34
235
3
0
149
149
0
It is news that the Broncos and Saints are 6-0. The Colts? Not so much. Some of the credit goes to a weak schedule and a defense that's allowed only 77 points, but at the end of the day, Peyton leads the league in
DVOA and it's no surprise. (He's second in DYAR, but only because of the bye
week.)
5.
Matt Schaub HOU
20/30
264
2
0
141
144
-4
Third in DYAR is Schaub, who's been amongst the top five quarterbacks in this very feature four times now in seven weeks. It was interesting to see how he adapted to the 49ers's scheme, which was designed to take away Andre Johnson on every play. The adjustment was simple: Get the ball to Owen Daniels.
6.
Alex Smith SF
15/21
206
3
1
117
114
3
Whoa! Consider that the interception above is a Hail Mary, and that's quite the half for a quarterback who had been left for dead by everyone outside of his immediate family. We're still a little skeptical -- going 4-for-4 on third down helped keep his drives alive -- but he certainly made an impression, and it won't be the last time we see him unless Shaun Hill keeps his job and suddenly transmogrifies into Montana.
7.
Philip Rivers SD
18/30
268
3
0
104
97
7
You don't often hear the term "boom-or-bust" applied to quarterbacks, but that's exactly what Rivers was against the Chiefs. He had six completions for a total of 221 yards, and otherwise went 12-of-24 for 49 yards. Of course, that's enough booms to rate as a good day.
8.
Tom Brady NE
23/32
308
3
2
73
78
-5
Brady's day wasn't all that great until the fourth quarter, actually, when he padded his stats in a 28-7 game by going 5-of-5 for 64 yards and three first downs. Three touchdowns are nice and all, but it's the Buccaneers at a "neutral" site; standards are pretty high.
9.
Mark Sanchez NYJ
9/15
143
1
0
57
55
2
Sanchez was kept in very manageable situations and did a passable job. He faced nine third downs, all with 4-8 yards to go, and converted five of them. He only took one sack, although it caused him to fumble. All in all, it was acceptable, but don't go believing the hype about Sanchez taking a big step forward after his awful five-interception game last week. He was playing the Raiders with a good offensive line in front of him, and if you look at how quarterbacks play the week after they throw five picks, well, it tends to be better. You can't do much worse, you know?
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
10.
Kurt Warner ARI
20/36
231
1
1
49
49
0
Warner's best stat isn't listed there; it's the fact that he only took two sacks against the Giants's fearsome pass rush, although they affected a number of other plays. It's hard to do too well, though, when you get to 12 third downs and only pick up two of them.
11.
Jake Delhomme CAR
27/43
325
0
3
41
41
0
Before this week, the Bills ranked third in pass defense and 28th in rush defense by DVOA. They'd given up 318 rushing yards on the ground against the Jets the week before, and DeAngelo Williams gashed them for 5.6 yards per carry. And yet, in a game that was within one score for the first three quarters, the Panthers had Jake Delhomme throw 43 passes. Is that Delhomme's fault?
12.
Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF
11/22
123
1
0
18
22
-4
After an incompletion to Lee Evans on first-and-10 with 1:07 left in the third quarter, Ryan Fitzpatrick was 4-of-15 for 34 yards, with two sacks. He had thrown for one first down. Former NFL Europe star Gibran Hamdan, Losman's backup, was wondering what on Earth he had to do to get a chance to throw his first NFL pass since 2003. If there had been a sudden announcement that Jean-Claude Van Damme was filming a sequel to "Sudden Death" and he'd been wearing Fitzpatrick's jersey, we would have been surprised; no way Van Damme does that bad with 15 attempts.
After all that? Somehow, Fitzpatrick completed his final seven passes for 89 yards, three first downs, and a touchdown. What a strange, strange game.
MNF.
Jason Campbell WAS
29/43
284
2
1
10
12
-2
13.
Chad Henne MIA
18/36
213
0
2
9
9
0
Henne made Rivers's day look like the bastion of consistency. He completed a 67-yard pass to Brian Hartline, and had four other passes that went for a total of 73 yards. Otherwise, he was 14-of-32 for 73 yards. Yuck.
14.
Bruce Gradkowski OAK
10/19
97
0
0
5
-4
9
In other words, his day would have looked sort of like Bruce Gradkowski's, but only if you threw in a first half consisting solely of incompletions beforehand.
15.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
14/25
175
1
0
1
-2
2
It's not a good day when your franchise quarterback ends up below Ryan Fitzpatrick and Bruce Gradkowski on the quarterback charts. Last time we'll run this sort of chart: Roethlisberger had three completions for a total of 107 yards. Otherwise, he was 11-of-22 for 68 yards. Of course, if you take a quarterback's stat line and remove their best play, everyone will end up looking worse, but Roethlisberger really didn't contribute very much; outside of those plays, he only threw for two first downs, took three sacks, and nearly gave the Vikings the ball at midfield with a fumble on his final snap.
16.
Brett Favre MIN
34/51
334
0
1
-7
-7
0
We were astounded to read after this game that the Vikings lost because of Favre's late game gaffes. Granted, it's pretty disastrous to fumble inside the ten-yard line, and our numbers account for it. But to blame Favre for Chester Taylor's drop of a screen pass that miraculously fell into Keyaron Fox's hands seems awful unfair, and it's even more bogus to blame him for failing to tackle on either of touchdown returns. Quarterbacks often get more credit and blame than they deserve, so this is nothing new, but statistics are doing a disservice to Favre here.
17.
Jay Cutler CHI
26/36
251
1
3
-42
-22
-20
The esteemed gentlemen on ESPN's State Farm NFL Matchup noted this Sunday that Jay Cutler is the only thing keeping the Chicago offense going. While we can't necessarily back Merril Hoge in suggesting that Matt Forte "...looks like he has the swine flu", Chicago's miserable offensive line forces Cutler to make plays in tight windows or run for his life. Although we agree with the decision to acquire Cutler, the Bears desperately need to upgrade their offensive and defensive lines this offseason; that will be harder to do without their first-round pick, which they gave to Denver in the Cutler deal.
18.
Josh Johnson TB
9/26
156
1
3
-42
-45
2
The third interception was a Hail Mary, but after a third quarter string of five consecutive incompletions, Johnson was benched for first-round pick Josh Freeman. The fact that Freeman took two sacks and was 2-of-4 for 16 yards in his short time behind center might give Johnson some more rope, but there's going to be ugly times ahead for the Tampa Bay offense, regardless of which quarterback they choose.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
19.
Shaun Hill SF
6/11
45
0
0
-44
-38
-6
If you give Hill the credit for a 22-yard pass interference penalty, his numbers begin to look passable. Truthfully, considering how bad the 49ers offensive line played, he didn't deserve to be benched.
MNF.
Donovan McNabb PHI
15/25
156
1
0
-50
-46
-4
20.
Drew Brees NO
22/38
298
1
3
-56
-70
14
21.
Eli Manning NYG
19/37
243
1
3
-85
-85
0
Manning's brilliant run in the 2007 playoffs, as some may remember, came exclusively away from Giants Stadium. Two of his other three playoff games, all losses, were at home. We were thinking about that after witnessing Manning's poor performance at home last night, and got to looking at his home/road splits. Manning is one of the rare quarterbacks in the league that sees his quarterback rating decline at home; he has a rating of 75.4 at home, which rises to 80.2 on the road.
Now, it's fair to attribute some of that to the famed swirling winds of the Meadowlands, which can make passes do some weird things at times. The only problem with that explanation, though, is that it doesn't hold water whatsoever. There are four quarterbacks over the past 20 years that spent five seasons or more calling Giants Stadium home: Phil Simms, Chad Pennington, Kerry Collins, and Ken O'Brien. And each of them had a better quarterback rating at Giants Stadium than they did on the road. Simms went from 81.0 at home to 76.0 on the road, Pennington from 90.6 to 87.1, Collins from 82.8 to 80.2, and O'Brien from 82.4 to 78.4. If the winds would have affected anyone, it would be the famously weak-armed Pennington, not Manning. Quarterback rating doesn't tell the whole story, but Manning's completion percentage, yards per attempt, and interception rate are all worse at home. If you read or hear that Manning has the advantage in a playoff home game because he "knows the winds of the Meadowlands", don't buy that stock.

22.
Marc Bulger STL
14/26
140
0
2
-89
-89
0
23.
Matt Ryan ATL
19/35
198
2
2
-93
-95
2
Ryan's offensive line did him no favors, but he turned the ball over far too frequently to have anything resembling a good day. Those two interceptions were supplemented by a fumble lost and another fumble held onto on two sacks. Interestingly, Ryan did his best work against Terence Newman, the Cowboys' most expensive cornerback.
24.
JaMarcus Russell OAK
6/11
61
0
2
-96
-96
0
One day, we'll look back at this and laugh. The announcers covering Russell's benching noted how it was a positive that Russell was standing and still had his helmet on, so he could listen to the playcall and be ready in case Bruce Gradkowski. The obvious downside of this is that JaMarcus Russell could still have come into the game at any time. It's a demerit for the Raiders that they didn't find someone to hide Russell's helmet, and a second one for not changing the frequency that they were calling plays on.
25.
Derek Anderson CLE
11/29
100
0
1
-124
-126
3
OK, we lied. Anderson started 5-of-5 for 55 yards. He finished 6-of-24 for 45 yards with an interception, two sacks, and two fumbles.
26.
Matt Cassel KC
10/25
97
1
3
-184
-174
-11
In what was a pretty awful week for quarterbacks, how did Matt Cassel finish last by a wide margin? Only one of the worst stretches for any quarterback in years. In seven dropbacks, Cassel threw three interceptions, two incomplete passes, and was sacked twice. Throw in a failed sneak on fourth-and-1, and he's your winner! On the bright side, he did not go on Twitter and antagonize his coach and fans after the game.


Five most valuable running backs
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
DeAngelo Williams CAR
89
1
50
0
49
23
26
Again, why did the Panthers insist on throwing the ball like they were the 2007 Patriots? They averaged nearly five yards a carry running the ball on first down with Williams, who even converted a third-and-10 from his own 12-yard line and scored on a fourth-and-one from the Buffalo 15. Unless Delhomme was just audibling out of run play after run play, the Panthers' coaching staff deserves a lot of flak.
2.
Adrian Peterson MIN
69
1
60
0
47
16
30
As you might expect, Peterson didn't do a heck of a lot in the running game against the Steelers, but he contributed one of his best professional days as a receiver. Although the 17 yards he gained on the final series of the game were mostly for naught, his 29-yard catch-and-run on third-and-4 after the two-minute warning should have set up Minnesota for the game-tying field goal.
3.
Shonn Greene NYJ
144
2
0
0
45
45
0
Is it worth throwing your waiver priority away for Greene, who will serve as the Jets' second halfback after Leon Washington suffered a gruesome fractured fibula on Sunday? Not necessarily. He looked great on Sunday, but it was still against the Raiders. And unlike Washington, who is an excellent receiver, Greene is still an unknown in the passing game.
4.
Darren Sproles SD
41
0
58
1
42
18
24
On his big play, a swing pass that ended up going for a 58-yard touchdown, a big blitz left Sproles alone in the open field with one man to beat: Chiefs safety Jon McGraw, a very good special teamer extended far beyond his range of abilities by playing on a miserable team. If you see a highlight of the play, don't even bother watching Sproles; just watch McGraw, who starts backpedaling as Sproles runs at him before freezing and watching the diminutive Chargers star run by. It's one of the funnier plays you'll see this year.
5.
Jason Snelling ATL
68
0
10
0
41
34
7
Jason Snelling, a fill-in for an injured Jerious Norwood, had 159 career rushing yards before today. He had a carry of 31 yards, which was impressive considering that he's only had two career games of 31 yards or more. For one week, though, in front of the most glamorous stadium in the league, Jason Snelling looked like a star.


Least valuable running back
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
LaDainian Tomlinson SD
71
0
2
0
-63
-48
-15
Over his illustrious career, LaDainian Tomlinson has scored on 64 percent of his carries from the 1-yard line, and 48 percent of his carries from the 2-yard line. On Sunday, against one of the worst run defenses in football, Tomlinson got four carries from the one and two carries from the two. He did not score.


Five most valuable wide receivers and tight ends
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Chad Ochocinco CIN
10
11
118
11.8
2
81
Unlike the receiver coming up, Ochocinco did very little after the catch, picking up only nine yards once he had the ball in his hands. That's not an insult; it's a compliment to the former Mr. Johnson that he consistently got open down the field to make catch after catch.
2.
Miles Austin DAL
6
8
171
28.5
2
67
This offseason, Austin was a restricted free agent who had been tendered a contract; if another team wanted to sign him, they would have been forced to give up a second-round pick to the Cowboys. While Dallas would have had the right to match the deal, their own cap concerns might very well have precluded them from doing so. The Jets brought Austin in, but eventualy decided against offering him a contract.
Fast-forward to October, and Austin's playing like a star. The Jets ended up dealing third- and fifth-round picks, along with two players, to Cleveland for 11 games of Braylon Edwards. Edwards is a free agent after the season, and will require a much larger deal than Austin because of his status as a former first-round pick. We're pretty sure Austin is the better player, and even more sure that the Jets made the wrong decision.
3.
Vincent Jackson SD
5
9
142
28.4
1
54
The Chargers called off the wolves in the second half, which was nice of them, because Jackson could have ended up with a day to match Austin's from a week ago. His 142 yards were on the board by the end of the first half, and in typical Jackson fashion, they all went for first downs or touchdowns.
MNF.
DeSean Jackson PHI
2
5
69
34.5
1
53
4.
Mike Wallace PIT
3
4
72
24.0
1
53
The Steelers may have struck out when they took Limas Sweed in the second round of the 2008 draft, but they appear to have made up for it by taking Wallace in the third round of last year's exhibition. Wallace is a better fit for the offense than the deactivated Sweed, anyway; while Sweed is a tall possession receiver that doesn't really fit as a slot guy, Wallace is a speedy, undersized target that can get down the field and take the ball on end-arounds.
5.
Owen Daniels HOU
7
9
123
17.6
1
52
The 49ers had played very well against tight ends this year. Then they met Owen Daniels. It's difficult to handle Daniels because of how the Texans use him -- for better or worse, he plays like a wide receiver, and has the ability to do it in most cases. That means he's capable of stretching the field either horizontally or vertically, something not even the Antonio Gates' of the world do very often.


Least valuable wide receiver or tight end
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Pierre Garcon IND
3
8
24
8.0
0
-42
You won't see many Colts showing up as the worst offensive player of the week, so get your licks in while you can. Garcon picked up a 43-yard pass interference penalty, but his three catches included a fumble and a five-yard catch on third-and-6. That's no good!

(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 27 Oct 2009

134 comments, Last at 29 Oct 2009, 12:27am by Dan

Comments

1
by Zack (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 2:06pm

I just did Brady really quick (didn't count first game last year and Week 2 in 2001) and he is 35-10 in games decided by 7 points or less (regular season only).

15
by Dean :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 2:49pm

And how does that (roughly) 80% figure compare to his record in blowouts?

20
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 3:06pm

He's 87-24 for a career record, so taking out the 35-10 (78%) makes him 52-14, or 78%

54
by Dean :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 4:21pm

So does that make him the new Eric Dickerson?

2
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 2:10pm

Jamarcus was probably just trying to avoid an injury to his jaw while watching the game. That sort of accident has been to known to happen in Oakland.

3
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 2:15pm

Aaron, a DVOA-sensitivity question; if Favre's fumble is excluded, and replaced by the td pass negated by the phantom tripping call, what happens to his numbers?

33
by Dr. Tangible Phantom (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 3:42pm

What was "phantom" about the tripping call? Hit an opposing player with your legs in the NFL and it's a tripping call every single time.

39
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 3:59pm

Yeah, Tony Dungy and Steve Mariucci haven't watched much coach's film through the years, and thus failed to understand that what Dugan did results in a tripping call every single time. Either that, or they have become zombies!

49
by rk (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 4:11pm

I don't know what those guys said about the play, but James Harrison tripped over Jeff Dugan's legs. Dugan made no attempt to contact Harrison with his upper body; he flopped over and stuck his legs up. That's tripping.

55
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 4:23pm

They said it was a bad call, on the sort of action that takes place with frequency, without a flag. Maybe they were delusional when they said Dugan tried to cut him with his shoulder pads.

72
by rk (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 5:22pm

He probably did try to get him with his shoulder pads (I re-watched the clip). However, I doubt intent has anything to do with it (I don't have the rules in front of me). One thing is certain: James Harrison tripped over Jeff Dugan's legs. His legs were in Harrison's path of his own accord.

82
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 5:48pm

rk, it was you who raised the issue of intent.

97
by mm (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 10:11pm

My belief is that this is a penalty that was until recently rarely called. But that Cowboy Tackle went and did it intentionally on national TV (was it week 3 vs. the Giants?), and the commentators talked up his reputation as a tripper.

The league had been talking up safety rules; it had also been criticized for only protecting offensive players (especially QB). After having national attention drawn to a safety rule that protects defensive players, the league suddenly started calling it more often (at least, it seems that way to me). Coincidence?

56
by chemical burn :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 4:28pm

Also factor in that holding penalties are almost always judgment calls and flags are frequently the result of a grab-y lineman trying to bend the rules one too many times. Harrison was getting tugged at with borderline calls all day and, at a certain point, the refs were going to throw a flag... The tripping might have been borderline (I, personally, think it was completely legit), but you can't push those borders and not be surprised when you accidentally cross them...

60
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 4:32pm

We'll see what Peirera says about it tomorrow, but when two guys who have watched literally thousands of hours of coach's tape tell me that it was a bad call, I'll defer to their experience

67
by Arkaein :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 4:55pm

Exactly. You can definitely call it a ticky-tack call, or a questionable call, but saying it was a phantom call is completely wrong. Phantom implies that the action never happened at all (e.g., phantom DPI when the DB never touches the receiver).

Vikings fans are complaining way too much over a play where a defender did in fact trip over an offensive players extended legs, even if that flag doesn't get thrown much of the time.

79
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 5:40pm

Yeah, that Dungy is a notorious Vikings fan. Look, I'm not trying (well, not much) to argue from authority here, but the guy has spent the last 30-plus years looking at game film, and he uses the phrase "phantom call". You can't discount that by saying the opinion is mere Viking homerism. I will certainly concede that reasonable people can differ, which is why I described it in a previous thread as a phantom call at worst, and a very marginal call at best.

101
by t.d. :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 10:49pm

Well Dungy did coach in Minnesota for several years before he got the Tampa job

107
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 12:40am

Oh, good grief, and he also won Super Bowls while wearing a Steelers uniform. Enough with the grassy knoll stuff.

117
by dbostedo :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 9:48am

I thought that was just a joke to poke at you Will...maybe you should pop some more pain meds for the injury. (Tired of those jokes yet?)

Anyway, my 1.5 cents...I agree that the term phantom call should be reserved for when there is no real penalty, not when it's just marginal - but I'm not sure everyone uses it that way. I'm guessing that Dungy doesn't use it that way, given the circumstances.

4
by MJK :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 2:19pm

On Manning in the Meadowlands:

While I don't dispute that it probably has nothing to do with the winds there, I don't think you can say for certain that it isn't based on looking at other QB's. I used to sail competitively when I was in college in Boston, and the Charles River had a couple of really weird, consistent wind shifts that gave "home field advantage" to all the Boston sailors when we hosted a regatta. But to really take advantage of those wind shifts in a 14-foot racing dinghy, you had to be good at a certain skill called "roll tacking"...and not too many collegiate sailors are. If you weren't, the shifts could really work against you. So there were some sailors that always were better "away" than sailing on the Charles.

Anyway, there may be something in Manning's style, or the play calling, or his receivers' abilities to adjust to the ball in the air, that could make him worse at Giants Stadium than somewhere else. You pointed out that Pennington did fine there and had a weak arm, but maybe that's the reason why. I.e. maybe the Jets offensive staff, knowing that Pennington had a weak arm, designed their playcalling to minimize long arching throws, and hence Penningtons play was less affected by the winds than that of the stronger-armed Manning, because the Giants' playcalling doesn't go out of its way to minimize long throws.

120
by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 10:38am

Or maybe it's because his best WR is carving a hole out of the big house with a rock hammer and hiding it with a Beyoce poster.

121
by BostonHawk (not verified) :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 11:00am

Or maybe the difference between a 75 pass rating and an 80 pass rating is not statistically significant and Eli really plays the same at home and on the road.

5
by Arkaein :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 2:20pm

I realize that opponent adjustments had a lot to do with it, but I would have thought that Ryan Grant could have made the top 5 RBs, at least over a guy with only 78 total yards running and receiving.

And I didn't watch the game, but DeSean Jackson, with only two catches (40% catch rate) and 69 total yards? 14 YPA is quite good on its own, but it's hard to believe the whole game is top 4 good. 53 DYAR against 69 actual yards seems to indicate that a replacement WR would be expected to gain only 14 yards on 5 attempts, which can't possibly be correct.

8
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 2:32pm

Jackson also had a 60+ yard rushing TD, which I'm guessing is in the numbers as well, but not in the table.

18
by Arkaein :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 3:03pm

Ah, that would make sense. It would be nice to have brief comments added for the MNF games to eliminate confusion on issues like this.

9
by P (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 2:33pm

He had a long touchdown run, as well.

10
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 2:34pm

The 1 long TD rush may or may not be included in the total. Perhaps it is time to format the WR chart similar to the RB chart, to account for odd rushing attempts?

6
by widderslainte :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 2:24pm

I knew Matt Ryan had a bad day, but almost JaMarcus Russell bad?

57
by JIPanick :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 4:28pm

DYAR is a cumulative stat, so Ryan had twice as long to rack up 'points' as Russell (who was benched) did.

7
by MJK :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 2:24pm

The amazing thing about (Peyton) Manning isn't that he's good. It's that he's STILL good going into his...what...13th season? I was working on a study this past summer looking at QB career arcs, and modern QB's simply don't maintain the level of excellence Manning has over the time he has played. Only three other QB's in the league right now have even played as long as Manning (Garcia, Collins, and Princess), and none of them have been as consistently as good as Manning. Even going to recently retired QB's, the list of guys who played for as long as Manning only increases by one or two (I know McNair is on it..don't remember the other one), but even those guys weren't so consistently excellent. They all occasionally had bad years, and suffered a decline at the end. Manning has done neither.

Only two other QB's have exhibited Manning's level of consistent greatness over their careers to date (Brees and Brady), but each of them would have to put together at least five or so more top tier seasons to match Manning's consistency and longevity.

Seriously, when is the guy going to break down?

12
by Bobman :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 2:46pm

I'll beat Will Allen to this one: Hey, you make a Faustian deal, the devil keeps his side of it so long as you keep yours. As long as Peyton keeps pitching Visa (you-know-who's 666(k) pension plan is a major shareholder), he'll keep on trucking.

30
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 3:34pm

Glad to see you come around to my view of things, Bobman. My team's quarterback is merely King of the zombies, although that isn't a bad gig, either, what with referees, announcers, etc., being converted to the legion of the undead with each infectious bite.

26
by wr (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 3:17pm

I can't speak to all of the QBs, but do note that Manning has mostly avoided
major injury (IIRC the knee injury in 07 was the only one), and he has avoided
taking the beating (partly due to playing style, partly due to offensive line)
that McNair, Garcia, Steve Young, etc. took.

68
by Bobman :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 4:57pm

True, that helps. Marino had a similar ability to avoid injury with a similar style. I think the lack of a dropoff if probably the craziest thing so far--he seems to be getting better. Yes, as Mr. Berra, my grandfather's old gin rummy buddy, once said half the game is 90% mental.

Of course for pure crazy, look at Favre: he's had a MUCH more physical style of play over the years, been pounded more IMO, and, while he's not as consistent as Manning, he is still better than probably 25-28 other starters out there.

I guess eating brains pays off.

102
by t.d. :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 10:59pm

Marino, like Brady, had a knack for avoiding injury, until he didn't. He was never 'great' Marino again after the (achilles?) in '94. Manning is truly remarkable, but I'm much more impressed with Princess, who has been near 'elite' twice in three seasons at 38 and 40 years old. (not sure if Princess will keep it up, but he has already made several more incredible plays this season than I imagined he'd be capable of)

111
by Gruntled (not verified) :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 6:45am

In a 97 preseason game, Elway finally completely tore the same biceps tendon that the PQB had surgically separated this year, and went on to win the next two super bowls.

That could be coincidental, but maybe not. I'm wondering how much that partially torn tendon could have been bothering either or both of them prior to that, and how much its removal may make a difference. I share your perception in regard to his throwing this year so far.

119
by BlueShoe (not verified) :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 10:09am

You may have forgotten that Peyton played with a broken jaw. He was out of the game for one play, then came back in, finished the game and hasn't missed a game ever in the NFL.

109
by Dan :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 2:46am

What's amazing is that Manning hasn't just continued to be good - he's been world class. Let's play a game: you pick any 5 QB seasons by QBs besides Manning during the DVOA era (1994-2008). I'll take Manning's past 5 years (2004-2008). We'll each add up the DYAR for our 5 seasons and we'll see who has the most.

Unless I made a mistake, your QBs should be Brady 2007, Culpepper 2004, Brees 2008, Young 1994, and Warner 2001. Mine will be Manning 2004, Manning 2006, Manning 2007, Manning 2008, and Manning 2005. And I'll win.

Would you like to challenge me to a rematch using DVOA instead of DYAR? (Hint: No, you would not.)

Or, try this game. Let's average together Manning's DVOA over the past 5 years. How many times in the DVOA era has a non-Manning QB had a single season that topped that level? (Hint: Brady did it in 2007.) Or, what if we leave out Manning's career year of 2004 and just average together his past 4 seasons, or his past 3 seasons? How many times has another QB beaten that DVOA? How many times has a QB without Randy Moss done it? (Answers: 1, 2, and 0)

123
by MJK :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 12:04pm

I generally agree that Manning's last five years have been amazing. But a couple of comments.

First, you should use DVOA instead of DYAR. Because DYAR is a "counting" stat, it tends to give an advantage to QB's who played on the same teams as bad defenses, and penalizes the QB's who had good defenses. Bad defenses mean more trying to win shootouts or coming from behind, and hence more passing. DVOA doesn't have this issue.

Secondly, interestingly, Manning's past five years also happen to be his BEST five years. In fact, the worst of his 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th seasons (which, incidentally, was last year, his 11th) is better than the best of his 1st to 6th seasons (a close tie between his 4th and his 6th).

Manning is the first QB of the DVOA era to play so well for so long. As I mentioned, few other QB's play for so long, and none of them have approached Mannings (if you're wondering, Princess has bounced between 0% and +25% his entire career, and never has reached, or maintained, the heights that Manning has).

Two QB's (Brady and Brees) have a shot at matching Manning's feat. Excepting Brees' poor year 2, Brady and Brees both more or less matched Manning's rise to his year 7 peak...but both have only had 7 full seasons, so we can't say if they will continue. If either one plays like Manning has the last five years for the next five years, then they will match him.

Finally, I'd leave off the bit about Randy Moss. It weakens you point and hearkens back to the thread that must not be named. The effects of receivers on a QB is certainly non-negligible, but the degree to which one helps the other and the other helps the one is impossible to separate. And every QB who has been good has had good WR's.

127
by Eddo :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 1:54pm

"First, you should use DVOA instead of DYAR. Because DYAR is a "counting" stat, it tends to give an advantage to QB's who played on the same teams as bad defenses, and penalizes the QB's who had good defenses. Bad defenses mean more trying to win shootouts or coming from behind, and hence more passing. DVOA doesn't have this issue."

MJK, you're sort of over-emphasizing the effect of accumulation on DYAR.

First, you can also score negative YAR on a play, so an abundance of bad plays would hurt your DYAR. Granted, for the top QBs, this isn't an issue.

Second, Manning's Colts, for the last couple of years at least, have actually had fewer opportunities that any other team in the league, due to the fact that their offense is actually quite methodical and focused on ball control to keep their defense off the field. So, by your logic, DYAR is actually underrating Peyton Manning (and the Colts offense surrounding him).

128
by tuluse :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 2:12pm

I think his point is that top QBs get enough opportunity to help their teams that total value isn't as important as value per play.

134
by Dan :: Thu, 10/29/2009 - 12:27am

I just think that you're overemphasizing the "so long" and underemphasizing the "so well" of Manning playing "so well for so long," and I was trying to show that in some interesting ways. It's not just that other DVOA-era QBs haven't maintained the level of play that Manning has consistently displayed over the past several years - they've almost never even matched it (statistically) for a single season.

Some of my comments may have been a little opaque, so I'll clarify some things. As I hinted, if you use DVOA instead of DYAR for picking the best 5 QB seasons, you get the same result: Manning's 2004-2008 average beats the average of Brady 2007, Cunningham 1998, Pennington 2002, Young 1994, and Grbac 1995. By invoking Moss I didn't mean to reignite the old Cunningham-Culpepper debate (DVOA vs. DYAR, young Moss vs. old Moss, etc.) - I was just gesturing towards the fact that Cunningham's 1998 DVOA of 42.9% is the 4th highest on record, the second highest on record by a non-Manning, and one of only 2 individual seasons to top Manning's average over the past 3 (or 4) years.

124
by tuluse :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 12:19pm

It's almost like they changed the rules after the 2003 season.

126
by MJK :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 12:49pm

VERY good point. Come to think of it, Brady and Brees both saw a dramatic increase in their DVOA starting in 2004 as well. So maybe the rule change had something to do with all that.

In which case, the next five years for Brady and Brees should be very telling.

11
by shake n bake :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 2:37pm

Does DYAR/DVOA penalize WRs for offensive pass interference? Because Garcon picked up one of those right before the DPI.

He's had a good couple weeks, but Sunday he showed why he lost the 3rd WR job to Austin Collie in preseason (only to become the starter opposite Wayne after Gonzalez went down since Collie plays almost exclusively in the slot). He's still raw in his second year coming from D-III and has bouts of the dropsies.

17
by Bobman :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 2:58pm

Did I read that right? How can you have a 43-yard OPI? If you interfere 43 yards downfield, they don't walk it off 43 yards behind the LOS (damn, talk about an incentive to play clean!). It might kill a 43 yard catch, but if it's your catch, well you cheated to get it so it's a non-play. And if you interfered to allow a teammate to catch it... I guess that could be called a 43 yd OPI... but probably cleaner to say his OPI negated a 43 yard play. Too nit-picky? I did not see the game so I don't know what he's referring to.

43 yard DPI I understand (unless I'm watching college ball in which case a 99 yd DPI could be the smartest play a guy ever makes since it only costs him 15, unless they changed that rule)

22
by shake n bake :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 3:08pm

The 43 yard interference was his good play of the day. It was on the defense The play before that he picked up a (10 yard) offensive PI, which I wondered if DVOA accounted for in Garcon's terrible horrible no good very bad day.

70
by Bobman :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 5:05pm

Ah, got it now, thanks. I DID miss the game. "Picked up" usually refers to something good (unless you're an OL, then it's never good to hear your name called) and "was hit with" usually means bad. I saw him in the worst category and must have assumed the text would be all about his miscues, so I assumed the 43 ydPI was on him. My bad.

23
by shake n bake :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 3:10pm

double post

43
by Dave :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 4:02pm

There's a college QB who can throw it 99 yards?

Al Davis would like to have a word.

69
by Bobman :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 5:01pm

How about two words: Jamarcus Boller.

But he'd need a WR who can run that 99 yards in the time it takes for a drop-back and a pass to fly the distance.

For that it takes three words:

Darius Haywood-Bey

Good luck, Mister Davis.

38
by Dave :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 3:55pm

His hands aren't the best, but more than a couple times on Sunday Manning forced balls to him that even Wayne might not have reeled in. It seemed like Peyton threw a lot of balls into very tight spaces against the Rams, almost as if he expected their coverage to be pretty good but their hands to be worthless. Maybe he was just bored and wanted to challenge himself.

132
by panthersnbraves :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 4:32pm

I know he's like this driven guy, but with his smart-@$$ streak, I wonder if he ever thinks during a blowout of bouncing one off the back of a CB's helmet just to see if he could, and where it would go.

or maybe trying to see juuuusssst how close he can get to the defender's fingertips.

13
by Dan :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 2:47pm

The MVP talk for Palmer seems a bit premature. Before this week he was 15th in DYAR, between Rodgers and Kolb, and I don't remember seeing him near the top of Quick Reads. This week he completely destroyed the Bears and doubled up his DYAR on the season. What should we expect of him & the Bengals offense going forward? I don't know. It's odd - the Bengals offense and Bears defense were both close to average (17th & 13th), relatively balanced, and among the most consistent in the league (5th & 1st in variance) before this week, and then the Bengals dropped 45 points on the Bears in 7 possessions.

14
by David W. (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 2:49pm

Props for the Sudden Death reference. It's an important film in Van Damme's career. With other actors, it's often hard to pinpoint exactly when their career went downhill. With Sudden Death, we can not only identify the movie, but the exact scene:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udBAYuS5jgw

42
by tunesmith (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 4:00pm

really?

.... really??

That's just immortal. I haven't seen someone slide someone else across a long table of food since... well I can imagine Dukes of Hazzard doing it... that's amazing.

92
by Jerry :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 6:45pm

Right up there with "The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh" on the list of greatest movies filmed at the Civic Arena.

16
by Bobman :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 2:52pm

I didn't think it was a great decision (RB at or behind the LOS surrounded by tacklers) and the execution was off (thrown about 8 ft high). Yes, Taylor muffed it, but damn, even had he caught it he'd have been hammered for no gain. Plus, if the ball was about 4 feet lower, he'd at least have been able to do that.

If 4 was under too much pressure and there was no viable receiver, the smart move would have been to bury a pass at Taylor's feet, kill the clock, amd live to play another play. We've all seen that before.

35
by Led :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 3:44pm

The pass was also thrown too early.

19
by PatsFan :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 3:04pm

Just out of curiousity -- what were Welker's numbers this week? He scored a TD, picked up at least two first downs that I remember just off the top of my head, and according to the media up here had a 100% catch rate (thrown to ten times with ten catches).

21
by Bobman :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 3:07pm

Ooh, I did not see LDT in the worst list until now... while driving on Sunday I heard the sports radio guys talk glowingly about LDT's day ("his best of the year"). Something like 17 for 71 yards including a 35 yarder. Did they even think about the back-side of that equation? Approximately 16 rushes for 36 yards? Plus, of course, the aforementioned inability to punch it in. I wonder if the announcer had a chance to interview him after the game and lavishly congratulated him on his best game of the year, would he have actually hit the guy, or just walked away with a no comment?

He's had a great HOF-worthy career. But now it's clearly on the downswing despite what he says.

24
by Otis Taylor 89 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 3:12pm

(See NE week 7 opponent for Welker's numbers not being top 5 worthy.

When is someone going to tell LT that he's done?

27
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 3:19pm

Right, TB is terrible, but Tenessee is actually worse as far as pass defense goes. The difference between last week and this week for Welker, is one of those 10 of 11 was a 40 yard pass in the 2nd half of a 60 point game.

25
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 3:14pm

How does Welker not make the receivers list? 10/11 for 107 yds and a TD? How far off is he?

As for Favre, yeah, Taylor dropped the ball, but it was a terrible throw and a terrible decision.

31
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 3:39pm

Oh, geez, it was a run of the mill decision and throw where the defensive player made a good play. The opposition gets paid, too.

34
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 3:44pm

I didn't say it wasn't a good defensive play.

But, he threw the ball to a RB behind the line of scrimmage who was surrounded by defenders. The absolute best case scenario for that play was Taylor being tackled for a loss. The worst case was what we saw.

Zero upside, high downside throw? Thats pretty much the definition of a poor decision.

37
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 3:50pm

Rich, I don't want to get into a semantic debate here. If you want to think that was a "terrible" decision by NFL standards, as opposed to fairly common occurence when a screen play doesn't deceive the defense, fine.

36
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 3:45pm

To be fair Will, Brady made an equally dumb decision this week throwing to Faulk (I think) about 5 yards behind the LOS with several defenders around him.

That doesn't make it not a dumb decision though.

47
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 4:07pm

Rich, perhaps our difference lies in my reserving the term "terrible" for uncommon throws made into situations where success is unlikely. I see screen pass throws with a small chance of success, and a decent chance of disaster, when the playcall has not fooled the defenders, and the receiver tips the ball into the air, fairly frequently. It's kind of the nature of the play.

48
by jmaron :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 4:09pm

It was absolutely not a dumb decision. Favre needed a completion - even if Taylor would be tackled for a loss - stopping the clock at that point in the game would be much worse than a loss of yards. Sure Favre could have eaten the ball or run - but lobbing the ball to Taylor (and he did throw the ball softly) was the smart play.

The dumb decision was the decision to pass in that situation. Taylor made a poor physical play but the coaches called the wrong play because they needed to make sure the clock would keep running or the Steelers would at least burn timeouts. The Vikings 5 previous runs in the last two drives were all between 5-19 yards.

45
by Eddo :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 4:03pm

The linebacker made a good play in returning the interception for a touchdown, but the interception itself was not a good play. Watch the replay again, and you'll see that the ball literally falls into his lap; all he had to do was wrap his arms around it. This took skill, but just about any linebacker would have made the pick.

Personally, I feel Favre and Taylor were both about half responsible. It was a defensible decision, probably on the poor side of average. The throw itself was not very good, much too high for that kind of screen. Taylor should have caught it, but a better throw and it's not even a challenge for him.

51
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 4:12pm

I wasn't referring to the defender who caught the ball. The reason the play had little chance of success was because of a good play by the defensive lineman, whose presence I suspect affected Taylor's concentration. I pretty much agree that it was a run of the mill below average decision and throw, while differing on Taylor's role. A professional receiver simply cannot tip that ball into the air, just like a professional quarterback simply cannot throw the ball directly into the chest of a defender.

61
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 4:33pm

"A professional receiver simply cannot tip that ball into the air, just like a professional quarterback simply cannot throw the ball directly into the chest of a defender."

You make statements like this an awful lot Will.

Professional Receivers tip the ball into the air quite a bit. I'm not sure who you think actually is a professional.

66
by BillyB (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 4:50pm

And a "professional" quarterback simply should not throw a screen pass over his receiver's head before he has turned around to look at it.

There is no excuse for throwing a ball high on a screen pass.

71
by Bobman :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 5:12pm

I'm generally on Rich's side on this one, though I would have thought the best outcome (unlikely version) would be a catch, broken tackles, run for TD. Best (likely) outcome is an incompletion, no?

What was the time situation again? I thought about 1:30 left, time to try a few more plays for a GW TD, or if that failed, a GT FG, right? Why would it be important to keep the clock running? To limit Pitt's chances after the Vikes score?

77
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 5:32pm

Bobman, I do think a running play may have made more sense in that situation. I'd like to read an analysis from somebody who saw the coach's tape to get a sense of whether the run/pass ratio was more a result of bad scheme by the Vikings, or the Steelers forcing the issue in that manner.

83
by jmaron :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 5:52pm

"To limit Pitt's chances after the Vikes score?"

Exactly. So many teams overlook that aspect when driving to tie or go ahead late in the game. Once you've secured the tie, which Minnesota had pretty much done at this point (37 yd FG), you need to ensure that you aren't going to leave time on the clock should you score. There was 1:15 left but Pittsburgh had all three timeouts. Incomplete pass on 2nd down followed by an unsuccessful play on third and you leave Pittsburgh with 2 or 3 timeouts and about 1 minute to get in FG position. Having Pittsburgh burn timeouts was critical.

The pass also increased the likelihood of a negative play (turnover and sack).

75
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 5:28pm

The ball hit him flush in the hands, and, he wasn't leaping, and he had plenty of time to see the ball.

85
by jmaron :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 5:57pm

Is it just me or does Chester Taylor seem to save his fumbles/dropped passes for very crucial times? Seems to me they tend to happen in the Red Zone most frequently or on critical late drives. I can think of 4 off the top of my head:

1) against SD (Peterson 296 yard game) - fumbled at the goal line 2nd half when it was still close
2) fumbled against Denver going into end zone opening drive last game 2007 (playoff position was still possible at that point)
3) fumbled against Miami 2006 on drive to take lead in 4th quarter 2006
4) and the game on Sunday vs Pittsburgh

113
by peterplaysbass (not verified) :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 9:15am

"2) fumbled against Denver going into end zone opening drive last game 2007 (playoff position was still possible at that point)"

That one was a heartbreaker. I was at the game and didn't understand what had happened at first. It looked like he hit the pylon with the ball: touchdown. Instead, suddenly, the Broncos had the ball at their own twenty. It was an enormously bad consequence for not holding the ball for another fraction of a second.

81
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 5:45pm

Yeah, and professional quarterbacks sometimes throw the ball directly into the chest of the defender. When they do, that is the definition of "terrible", in my opinion, not a slightly high throw which hits the receiver flush in the hands, who then tips the ball into the air.

28
by Phil O'Sopher (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 3:22pm

Fun to see DA on there below JaMarcus where I beleive he belongs. I vote for worst QB in the league = DA

JaMarcus will start next week and so will DA. Something wrong with both Cleveland and Oakland, seriously wrong

Cassell? Who knows what the idiot Chiefs were thinking and for one I think dumb-ass LJ has a point for once in his life. Garbage coach = garbage play

also note garbage players = even more garbage play

44
by Thunderbolt of ... :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 4:02pm

So what's the deal with Brady Quinn? Is he done in Cleveland? Because I agree, Anderson is terrible, and if Quinn's not in there by his 3rd year I don't know when it will happen.

103
by t.d. :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 11:11pm

hmmm, yeah, it's the coach that's the problem in KC. Not the awful lines, not the players who were 2-14 a year ago under another guy (LJ was the MVP of that team, too), but the coach.

114
by peterplaysbass (not verified) :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 9:17am

Does anyone wonder where the Broncos would be today if McDaniels had gotten Cassel?

QB aside, I'd take the Broncos over the Chiefs every time, but still. It's fun to think about.

121
by mrh :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 11:00am

Does anybody wonder where the Broncos (and Cutler) would be if:

Hunt hires Pioli, tells him to clean house and get the best coach he can. Pioli hires McDaniels, secures Cassel, etc.

Denver hires someone else - Haley? Who knows.

Instead, Hunt told Pioli to consider keeping Herm, so Pioli goes thru the motions of looking at Herm before firing him. Meanwhile, McDaniels gets hired in Denver. Ownership matters.

29
by jmaron :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 3:29pm

Last night was the first time I really watched Jason Campbell. I can see why so many Washington fans and Rodney Harrison think he's backup material. Granted it was only one game under a lot of pressure but he doesn't seem to have any sense in the pocket - he often moved himself right into the rush. He checks down just about every throw.

After watching years of Tarvaris Jackson dealing with the kind of rush the Eagles brought last night I honestly thought Campbell looked worse.

40
by anonymiss (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 4:00pm

I was looking forward to the Barnwell spin on Campbell but alas, there's not one this week. I'll grant that Campbell's line stinks and he did play well in garbage time, but he did plenty of bad things in the first half (pocket awareness? ha!) that helped Washington lose the game then and there. Granted, he's not the only Burgundy player who sunk his own club Monday night.

90
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 6:32pm

In order to have pocket awareness there has to actually be a pocket, y'know.

I can't really overstate how bad the line played for the Redskins yesterday. On one play, the Eagles rushed 4 and the Redskins kept eight in to protect. Eight. And the pocket still collapsed immediately because the tackles can't deal with speed edge rushers.

Contrary to what some people might think, I actually think Campbell's toast at this point because I don't think he's had a competent coach in his entire time there, and he's got way too many bad habits from trying to make a bad offense work. But man, that line is just horrible.

104
by t.d. :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 11:13pm

Joe Gibbs?

108
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 1:17am

QB coach, not head coach.

88
by C (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 6:25pm

People are finally coming around...
People are finally coming around...

Now instead of just looking at the stat sheet and seeing check downs, and garbage yards at the end of games... people tune in and see craptastic QB play.

Seriously, it seems like all of the Redskins TD's come after they are down 17 or more points and the games are more or less over... It seems like conservative Campbell is not making mistakes ( or TD's) early in the game, but after the game is over he becomes a little more aggressive and gets the picks & garbage TDs.

Were those 2 or 3 fumbles factored in as well this week?

115
by peterplaysbass (not verified) :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 9:22am

Jackson looked terrible against the Eagles wildcard weekend, but people forget that Philly's D embarassed Romo the week before and Eli Manning the week after. They had a nice run of pressure before the immortal Kurt Warner put a stop to things.

32
by theoldschooler (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 3:40pm

Look I know Peyton Manning is awesome and all but can we please keep in mind that the Colts have faced Seattle, Jacksonville, Titans and the Rams; four teams that are a combined 5-20! People are dumping on Brady for padding his stats with the Titans and Bucs but nothing compares to the cupcakes that the Colts face this year. Their schedule is ridiculous.

41
by Dave :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 4:00pm

Well yeah, but they can only play the games that are on the schedule. And don't you think Manning is likely to play at roughly that same level even as the schedule gets tougher these next few weeks? I do. Also, these statistics do tend to account for the opponent. By year-end, they'll reflect the value a bit more accurately.

Regarding stat padding, the play calls have a bit to do with that stuff, regardless of the opponent. Peyton still probably could've hit that 300 level last week if he really really wanted to.

62
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 4:35pm

"And don't you think Manning is likely to play at roughly that same level even as the schedule gets tougher these next few weeks?"

No. Pretty much the only universal truth in football is that even great quarterbacks play worse against good defenses. Manning has pretty much faced nothing but terrible defenses.

He'll still be really good.

73
by Bobman :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 5:22pm

Probably hit 300? Come on, they turned off the taps early and their last two scores were an INT return for a TD and the 3rd string RB scampering for 31 yards.

I know the Rams played two guys waaaay back, but the death-by-1,000 cuts attack could have easily added 65 more yards. While it really seemed like he was gunning for the 300 against Tenn, it was clear that this week that was not in the plan.

Only twice have I seen him gun for otherwise pointless statistical benchmarks: Getting Harrison to 1,102 catches in his last game (why? I wondered. There's always next year.... d'oh!) and getting Wayne the extra yards/catches in the last game last year. Reggie for five yards, Reggie for three, Reggie for seven... Wait, now that I think of it, that was Sorgi, wasn't it?

96
by bmerryman :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 8:36pm

"And don't you think Manning is likely to play at roughly the same level even as the schedule gets tougher?"

Depends on when Gonzo gets back, Wayne's groin strain heals, and whether or not the Oline stays intact. If he's left with Garcon, Collie and Baskett then he'll drop a little. IIRC, he was a little pissed off Sunday with some of the mental mistakes being made by the inexperienced receivers. If Gonzo and Wayne are back at full strength then his game might actually elevate.

105
by t.d. :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 11:17pm

Wasn't left tackle supposed to be a major concern for the Colts coming into the season? Just cuz they haven't played anyone yet capable of exploiting it doesn't mean the problem isn't there (ask Eli)

112
by bmerryman :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 8:39am

Who had the major concern? The press? Yes. The coaches? No. Caldwell and Mudd were confident in Charlie Johnson back in the spring. CJ's played well. Sure, he's not and never will be a top-tier tackle but he's much more consistent than Ugoh.

46
by tunesmith (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 4:03pm

Indianapolis has been pretty low on the beatpaths graph this season due to poor quality of opponents, but that changed this week with Arizona defeating the NY Giants.

50
by Hank (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 4:11pm

Campbell took some killer sacks, including a dagger late in the game.
And one of his picks was returned for an int.
Not that it really matters, but isn't his slotting way too high?

64
by anonymiss (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 4:46pm

He went off in garbage time (check his stats in the final 10 minutes) but the formula doesn't realize how worthless that production is.

80
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 5:42pm

Yeah, it does. It only compares Campbell's stats to QBs in non-close games in the final quarter.

Campbell isn't high. He's at roughly 0 DYAR. That's replacement level. Given that Philly's defense is good, that means his "apparent" performance (i.e. what your eye would see) would be well-below replacement level - i.e., bad.

(As a note, Campbell's last TD was worthless, but the previous drive wasn't - a TD there puts Washington within 2 scores with ~4:30 left. That's not an impossible win.)

He's above McNabb, but that's not surprising as the Redskins' pass defense has been well below average.

65
by chemical burn :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 4:49pm

He's also getting a boost because the Eagles pass defense ranks #1 in DVOA (or did, before this week)...

89
by C (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 6:29pm

I just can't fathom how Jason Campbell and Josh Johnson finish above Mcnabb. That's a flaw.

Jason Campbell was a perfect example of garbage yards, DVOA needs to discount that more and count the fumbles. Josh Johnson had another craptastic performance.

Mcnabb didn't have the stats, but the guy was winning and didn't need them. He managed a game that wasn't even as close as the 27-17 score indicated.

91
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 6:43pm

I just can't fathom how Jason Campbell and Josh Johnson finish above Mcnabb.

Because the Eagles pass defense is way, way better than the Redskins pass defense. Why is this difficult to understand? Any Eagles fan will tell you that McNabb looked as bad yesterday as against the Raiders last week. He was constantly overthrowing and underthrowing guys. Just way, way off.

Mcnabb didn't have the stats, but the guy was winning and didn't need them.

As it turns out, he didn't need them. But the Eagles, up 17 scores, handed the ball to the Redskins nearly in field goal range at the beginning of the fourth quarter completely due to McNabb's inaccuracy (and Rocca's poor punt).

McNabb had one easy long throw (to a totally uncovered receiver!) that he underthrew that turned into a TD. That's the only success he had on the day. Against the Redskins.

95
by dmb :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 7:08pm

Jason Campbell was a perfect example of garbage yards, DVOA needs to discount that more and count the fumbles.

Chris, it would be great if you actually bothered to read about the stats here before critiquing them. Fumbles count, and garbage-time play is compared to other garbage-time play.

I will readily admit that Campbell has looked shaky to downright bad at times this year, but it definitely seems like he's regressed; his level of play has definitely been better than this in the past. At this point, it's pretty clear he'll probably never be a top-10 guy.

Finally, didn't you state just a couple weeks ago that you weren't going to be talking about Campbell anymore? That lasted long.

98
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 10:35pm

I think it's David Carr syndrome. I think all of his instincts are completely shot. His mechanics seem fine, but any time there's any pressure near him he panics.

118
by dbostedo :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 9:56am

Not needing the stats doesn't give you a boost in metrics that are based on stats. And "managing" a game doesn't give you a boost in metrics that are based on stats. Playing poor-to-mediocre against a bad pass defense definitely lowers your rating though.

I guess one thing to consider overall is that one of the reasons for generating this info is to point out where players performance might go against what you see - or think you see - when watching. For instance, the fallacy of saying "he just wins games" about certain QBs. Or when someone focuses on a player's long TD run, forgetting the many times they were stopped at the line or fumbled.

Perhaps given the Redskins D, you could have stuck someone like Ryan Fitzpatrick or Charlie Batch in there and they would actually have performed better than McNabb on average.

100
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 10:42pm

The interception was a tipped ball on a 3-step drop where his offensive line collapsed enough that he was literally surrounded. You've got to put some of the blame on the O-line there (and it was a ridiculously bad playcall) - Campbell should've just taken the sack, but that would've looked almost as bad (although not had as bad an effect).

And the rest of the sacks were all on the offensive line. Even the one where Campbell looked like he held onto it too long - it's because there were only 2 guys out among 7 Eagles in coverage. 8 men couldn't block 4.

I'd blame him more for the fumbled snaps. Might be the center, but I'll give Rabach the benefit of the doubt.

125
by dmb :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 12:33pm

The last snap definitely looked like it was Rabach's fault; it looked like it was somewhere between a shotgun and an under-center snap.

The other fumbled shotgun snap is on Campbell, though. It was clearly off, but certainly still catchable.

52
by anonymiss (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 4:18pm

The Chiefs allow 4.4 YPC and the current league median is 4.2. Thus, the Chiefs are below-average in this area, but this isn't the sieve we're used to seeing at Arrowhead.

53
by anonymiss (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 4:20pm

Unknown is the right word for Shonn Greene, Vince V. didn't know who he was 48 hours ago.

Captcha: Warfield, Spitzer

58
by ddoubleday (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 4:28pm

"Our research has suggested that teams that stomp weak opposition by several touchdowns often end up out-performing those teams that win close games over their same brethren"

No, really?

74
by Anonymouse (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 5:26pm

The key operator in that sentence is "their". Aaron is not wasting space stating that blowing out weak teams is better than merely edging them. That's obvious. Stomping weak teams is actually a better determiner of season-long success than winning close games against good ones. He wrote a very good article regarding the findings back when FO had a spot on FoxSports.com.

59
by Otis Taylor 89 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 4:30pm

It comes right down to if you can get enough time to throw the ball and if you have receivers that can create separation in order to be successful as a QB in this league. If Manning didn't have the time he usually gets then he wouldn't be in the top 10 in DYAR. Of course his ability can create some more time, but if he had CHI OL he would be right where Cutler is.

76
by Bobman :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 5:31pm

"...if he had CHI OL he would be right where Cutler is..."

Are you really saying Jay Cutler = Peyton Manning? Cause he had an OL worse than CHI last year and won an MVP, when he was one of the most hit but least sacked QBs in the league with 31st ranked run support.

Or did you mean Eli? In which case... never mind.

84
by Eddo :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 5:56pm

First, the comment you're replying to is hilarious. It ambiguously refers to "Manning", but the subject is "re: Welker".

Second, while Cutler is nowhere near as good as Peyton Manning (I won't say who is anywhere near as good for fear of the Irrational Debate starting up, but it's a short list), the Colts' offensive line last year was not nearly as bad as the Bears' this year. Maybe last year's Colts' line was worse than last year's Bears' line, but this year the Bears are going for unmapped levels of suck.

I'd be shocked if any playoff team ever (such as last year's Colts) had a line as bad as this year's Bears do.

86
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 6:02pm

From what I have seen, I think I tend to agree. This year's Bears' offensive line tends to make the run-of-the-mill below average NFL offensive look like the '62 Packers'. Which makes it extremely difficult to judge Cutler's performance. Who the hell knows?

87
by zlionsfan :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 6:16pm

And just think: the Chicago OL isn't even the worst in the division. I stood up for Detroit's DL elsewhere, but I've got to call out their OL here. Aside from the inexplicable Ring of Protection +3 that surrounds runs around left end, the OL has contributed less this season than I was hoping it would.

Fortunately the Lions will have a high draft pick to spend on OL help in 2010.

93
by Jerry :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 6:51pm

At this time last year, we were saying similarly awful things about the Steeler line. (Mike Kurtz still says them.)

94
by Jimmy :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 6:54pm

I would set off into a deranged rant again (subject: OMG Omiyale couldn't find a block in a room full of lego) but I fear I would be repeating myself.

Manning might have had some substandard performers in front of him last year but those guys were still getting coached by Howard Mudd and getting directed by Manning on gameday. Manning also had Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark, which can only help. I like the play that the Bears have been getting from their WRs but they have no one with the route running, dependability and seeming mind-meld with their QB that those two provide. To an extent that can only come over time and Manning has had plenty of time to develop a rapore with every target he has come to rely on.

116
by Ivarsson.se :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 9:30am

"...getting directed by Manning on gameday...", "...seeming mind-meld with their QB..."

Ok for H.Mudd and general WR quality, but you can in no way use Peyton's presnap abilities and developed rapport with WRs to discount his performance compared to other QBs.

129
by Jimmy :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 2:34pm

My point is that Manning has been playing with Clark and Wayne for at least six years. As opposed to Cutler & Co who have played together for six games. Not exactly the same.

Also the Colts use a rather unusual blocking scheme and have been using it since Manning arrived there. If he didn't know all the reads like the back of his hand it would be very odd.

FWIW I have never attempted to discount Manning's performance I think I have only ever seen two other QBs play at the level he has played at for the last four or five years and I am not sure either of the other two had peaks as long as his. He is a machine. It isn't discounting his abilities to point out that he has always had very good targets, has ensured that he maximised the degree of on field coordination and that the continuity provided by the front office has helped him. It is just true.

63
by Duke :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 4:39pm

...he could listen to the playcall and be ready in case Bruce Gradkowski.

I'm guessing this is a typo, but I kind of like it. I'm imagining a big glass case with "Break In Case of Bruce Gradkowski" in it.

I have trouble imagining JaMarcus Russel in it, though.

78
by Led :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 5:36pm

I'll say this: Gradkowski might not be a great passer but he looked like Gayle Sayers out there compared to the lumbering Russell. He got big chunks of yardage on a couple of scrambles before the defense realized that, unlike Russell, he wasn't carrying a grand piano on his back.

99
by t.d. :: Tue, 10/27/2009 - 10:39pm

In relation to the comment regarding Favre's lack of responsibility for the running back failing to catch a screen, I wish, given the game charting data, that you guys tracked how many interceptions come off of batted balls, for a given defense,a quarterback and intended receiver. I often feel it is inaccurate that a quarterback is saddled with 100% of the blame for these plays. It'd also be interesting to know if some receivers have more of a tendency to allow this to happen. Conversely, it'd be interesting to know if some defenses are especially adept at forcing this kind of play (I suspect the Steelers and Ravens are, for example)

106
by almon (not verified) :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 12:21am

Any Chargers fan out there? Will Vincent Jackson be covered by Asomugha all game this coming weekend, or will Jackson be facing the other CB from time to time?

110
by Gruntled (not verified) :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 6:34am

"We were astounded to read after this game that the Vikings lost because of Favre's late game gaffes. Granted, it's pretty disastrous to fumble inside the ten-yard line, and our numbers account for it. But to blame Favre for Chester Taylor's drop of a screen pass that miraculously fell into Keyaron Fox's hands seems awful unfair, and it's even more bogus to blame him for failing to tackle on either of touchdown returns."

I finally went and read that NBC sports story that had the 'late game gaffes' headline and it gets even better:

"But Fox intercepted Favre’s pass intended for Chester Taylor and returned it almost the length of the field, with nearly every Viking except Favre in pursuit."

Quality reporting there.

130
by Noah of Arkadia :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 3:12pm

That's good reporting. Princess went out of his way not to make the tackle in either return. How can not making an effort be bogus? Other players have been nearly crucified for much less than that. To me, this is the single most despicable thing I've ever seen from Princess.

131
by Anonymous123 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 4:32pm

Your record in close games vs. blowouts just doesn't sound relevent at all. The record in close games makes some sense in that the QB more than likely could have controlled the outcome of the game. But record in blowouts seems to indicate how often your team was good. And odds are you had little control over the outcome into making it a blowout for your team instead of the other team.

If you play really well when you are being blown out - perhaps you did so good as to make it a one possesion game and ruin your "close game" record. Or vice versa.

Not to mention - how often has there been a one possesion game (up by a field goal) but Brett or Joe finsihes them off with a TD pass in the 4th quarter and then the final score is a comfortable game?

Does it show anything to look at your performance meteric for how those QB's do when the score is close in the 4th quarter vs. the rest of the time?

133
by Andrew Potter :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 9:11pm

Your record in close games vs. blowouts just doesn't sound relevent at all.

In fairness, I'd make the same argument for attributing win/loss record to individual players no matter what the parameters. Doing so has always struck me as equivalent to pointing out that neither Tom Brady nor Peyton Manning has ever won a Super Bowl without Adam Vinatieri. It's a fact, nobody can dispute that, but there are definitely other factors for which you must account.