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Denver: great team, or the greatest team? Would you be satisfied with "one of the ten greatest teams?" Plus: hard times in the NFC South, where defense goes to die.

10 Nov 2009

Week 9 Quick Reads

by Bill Barnwell

Want to be a smarter fan without taking any remedial classes in math?

It's easy. Just be patient.

Too often, fans and media alike take one small sample of data and use it to as a data point to back up their opinion or further their narrative. It's a perfect example of how statistics aren't supposed to be used.

Take Kurt Warner. His six-turnover day against the Panthers led to talk that the veteran's days behind center for the Cardinals were numbered, and that the team needed to consider giving Matt Leinart an opportunity.

Of course, as we mentioned in Quick Reads last week, having such an awful day wasn't a sign of anything beyond a bad game; against the Bears on Sunday, of course, Warner rebounded with five touchdowns in a dominant performance. Warner's dismal performance, only a week old, is all but forgotten.

The other quarterback that experienced a huge upswing in performance this week was Jacksonville's David Garrard, who went from awful against Tennessee to excellent versus Kansas City. Garrard's job security has been questioned since this offseason, when draft pundits suggested that the Jaguars might shoot for Mark Sanchez with their first-round pick. (They'll say the same things about Florida favorite Tim Tebow this year.)

The reason why Garrard was considered a disappointment last year, though, was absurd. He'd earned a $60 million contract extension after the 2007 season because of his ability to avoid mistakes, having thrown only three interceptions in 325 attempts while leading the Jaguars to the playoffs. Expressed as a percentage, it means Garrard threw interceptions on 0.9 percent of his attempts, an absurd, unsustainable percentage. Over the previous 30 years, only a handful of quarterbacks had put up an interception rate below 1.5 percent. Not a single one of them had come close to doing so in the subsequent season, and neither did Garrard -- that interception rate rose to a slightly-above-average 2.4 percent, and when you consider that he played four additional games in the 2008 season, Garrard's raw interception total went from three to 13. The idea that Garrard had some sort of magical ability to avoid turnovers was foolish, and history said so.

Now, apply that to another quarterback expected to lose his job sooner rather than later, the Redskins' Jason Campbell. Campbell had average interception rates of 2.9 percent and 2.6 percent during his first two years as a pro, but last year, he threw picks on a league-low 1.2 percent of his throws.

This year, he's at 3.5 percent through eight games, and it's seen as a sign of his poor performance. We'll discuss Campbell's half-season later on in Quick Reads, but there's no reason to believe that Campbell has experienced some dramatic decline in his decision-making or isn't cut out to be an NFL quarterback. (The difference between a rate of 3.5 percent and 2.9 percent, over a full-season, is three interceptions.) His interception rate has just regressed to the mean.

When you've got three hours of talk radio to fill or a bar argument to win, speculating wildly and groping for any fact on the wild ride to the conclusion is the name of the game. Maybe that will never change. But if actually want to reconcile what's happening on the field with reality -- and be right in advance instead of after the fact -- have a little patience.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
1.
Kurt Warner ARI
22/31
261
5
0
188
190
-2
After starting with two incompletions to Larry Fitzgerald, Warner went on one of his terrifying hot streaks: 20-of-23, 233 yards, and four touchdowns. Tommie Harris's ejection and an injury to Charles Tillman helped, but when Warner gets in a rhythm like that, there's no better quarterback in the league.
2.
Carson Palmer CIN
20/33
224
1
0
187
183
5
Palmer had a big day on third down, going 10-of-16 for 120 yards, seven first downs, and a touchdown. He also drew two pass interference penalties with Chad Ochocinco, including a crucial 24-yard DPI on fourth-and-2 from the Ravens 39. Considering the dramatic improvement exhibited by the Bengals this year following Palmer's return from injury, it's a surprise he hasn't received at least some MVP discussion. As great as Drew Brees has played, the team went 15-17 over the last two years when he was around.
3.
Tom Brady NE
25/37
332
1
1
145
142
3
One of the biggest differences between the 2007 Patriots and this year's version is that the 2007 team had a host of ancillary receiving options behind Randy Moss and Wes Welker, including Donte' Stallworth and Jabar Gaffney. This year, it's Sam Aiken and Brandon Tate -- not exactly the same caliber. Including Ben Watson, Kevin Faulk, and the law firm of BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Brady threw 18 passes to non-Moss/Welker players on Sunday. He completed ten of them and picked up two DPI's on throws to Aiken, for a total of 131 yards. If he can do that every week, the Patriots will be fine. One other note on those 18 passes: Only one of them was thrown on third down. Moss and Welker got eight of Brady's nine third-down attempts.
4.
Matt Schaub HOU
32/41
311
1
2
132
138
-6
Schaub fell short in his bid to conquer Indy, but consider this fourth quarter, all of which came with the Texans either up four or down three points: 14-of-16, 113 yards, and five first downs. Only an interception on a play in which Schaub was hit sullied his performance in the final stanza.
5.
Jay Cutler CHI
29/47
369
3
1
130
122
8
When Cutler gets time to throw, he looks great -- On "deep" passes (15+ yards), he was 4-of-8 for 115 yards and two touchdowns (with a pick). It's just, well, he doesn't get time to throw.
6.
Tony Romo DAL
21/34
307
1
1
113
113
0
Historically, Romo's been a terrible first-quarter performer, but he was excellent against Philly in the opening 15 minutes of Sunday night's game. 8-of-13 for 94 yards may not sound like a whole lot, but it's better than his usual performance. His best play of the game, though, was on the touchdown pass to Miles Austin that gave the Cowboys their margin of victory. A sly pump fake gave Austin the space he needed to get open on the back end of his double move, and his subsequent pass, on the biggest play of the game, was right where it needed to be. He was also victimized by a handful of drops, most notably by Martellus Bennett.
7.
David Garrard JAC
18/27
264
1
0
110
94
16
One of the other factors that dramatically impact how a quarterback can look from week-to-week, naturally, is the quality of the opposition he's facing. Last week, Garrard was up against a Tennessee pass defense that had looked terrible, but showed some significant improvements implemented during the bye (and then exhibited against the 49ers this week). Garrard's biggest play of the day, a 61-yard touchdown pass to Mike Sims-Walker, came because Kansas City simply forgot to cover the Jaguars' top receiver on the play. TMQ loves making note of Christmas chatter starting too early; this was a flat-out gift, given at the beginning of November.
8.
Chad Henne MIA
19/34
219
0
0
101
101
0
As FO's Aaron Schatz noted high up in the Gillette Stadium press box, Henne definitely has some accuracy issues, even on short-to-intermediate range throws. The Wildcat flashed once on Sunday, when struggling rookie Pat White ran for 33 yards, but it's been mostly held in check over the past few weeks. The Dolphins will need to throw the ball more with Ronnie Brown (as they did to score a one-yard touchdown on Sunday) in order to keep the safeties honest, or they'll need Henne to do enough in a conventional offense to make the Wildcat a luxury as opposed to a necessity.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
9.
Josh Freeman TB
14/30
205
3
1
97
91
6
What else could you ask for in a rookie's first NFL start? Sure, a few bounces went his way, and he looked uneven at times. He showed off good arm strength, and had great touch on passes heading towards the sideline, including the game-winning touchdown pass to Sammie Stroughter. He'll look even better when Antonio Bryant's in the lineup.
10.
Drew Brees NO
24/35
330
1
1
90
87
3
The Saints really do benefit from having a balanced offensive scheme, although pointing to Pierre Thomas' yards accrued in the fourth quarter is a fallacy, since that's a statistical signature of being ahead and not a skill. Brees only threw the ball 12 times in the second half, but he completed his first nine passes in that stretch, gathering 190 yards, five first downs and a touchdown. His 24 passes in the first half were only good for 140 yards and five first downs.
11.
Philip Rivers SD
24/36
209
3
2
90
82
8
Rivers get the not-actually-a-prize prize for longest pass interference penalty of the week, a 29-yard attempt to Vincent Jackson that gave the Chargers the ball at the 1. Even their goal line offense managed to get it in the end zone from there.
MNF.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
21/29
233
3
1
88
88
0
12.
Vince Young TEN
12/19
172
0
0
86
76
10
We're beginning to see how teams are going to struggle with Young and Chris Johnson in the lineup. Because Young is such a threat to run, teams have to use a linebacker as a "spy" against Young on passing play, making it that player's job to neutralize Young if he decides to take off. That linebacker can't blitz at the snap, which helps keep pressure off Young; furthermore, he can't go out and cover Johnson in the flat. Most teams don't have two fleet linebackers that can cover athletes the caliber of Young and Johnson, so one of them (usually Young) is likely to end up with a mismatch in the open field. If the team chooses to use a safety on Johnson, then there's one less defender back deep in case Young actually decides to launch a pass to Nate Washington.
13.
Peyton Manning IND
34/50
318
1
1
58
62
-4
Indy ran a very strange scheme against the Texans. As Manning was throwing 25 passes in the first quarter, their passing game consisted almost entirely of short passes to Dallas Clark against a linebacker and a mix of quick screens and hitches to Joseph Addai. It requires some film study, but that sort of offense screams that there was two-deep coverage to prevent against big plays. Of course, Manning just destroyed the Titans with short gain after short gain, but it will be interesting to see if other teams take the same approach.
14.
Eli Manning NYG
25/33
215
2
0
54
54
0
Manning's never had elite pass protection behind center, but five sacks against a Chargers pass rush that's constructed a house in 2007 isn't a good sign. In a way, it's good news that there wasn't one obvious factor that dictated the sacks; the first one came on a pocket that broke down, one came when no one got open downfield and Shaun Philips broke away from his man, one was when Manning didn't identify a rusher, and the final one was on a Hail Mary attempt; that's preferable to, say, our left tackle gave up three sacks and can't block anyone.
15.
Jake Delhomme CAR
17/29
201
0
0
44
58
-14
16.
Matt Hasselbeck SEA
39/51
329
1
1
43
45
-2
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
17.
Jason Campbell WAS
15/22
196
1
1
-14
-23
9
If you actually look at Campbell's seasonal numbers, you wouldn't know that he's perceived to be a problem. His completion percentage (66.2 percent) and yards per attempt (7.4) are both career highs and rank in the top half of the league. Beyond the interception rate issue we mentioned in the introduction, the biggest change in Campbell has been his sack rate, which was at 3.3 percent as a rookie and has risen steadily up to 11.0 percent this season. The numbers suggest Jason Campbell's a
fairly good quarterback stuck behind a very bad line. It will take a new team to figure out whether he has David Carr disease.
18.
Matt Ryan ATL
18/23
135
1
1
-19
-28
9
He'll take the win, but something's up with Ryan. He has eight picks in his last four games, and his interception today wasn't the sort of good decision he's become associated with; it was a crossing pattern that Ryan threw into triple coverage. The rest of his day was low-risk, low-reward stuff against an average pass defense.
19.
Joe Flacco BAL
18/32
195
0
2
-32
-25
-7
Flacco lives and dies by the deep ball, and at the moment, he's gasping for air. Notably, one of Flacco's interceptions was an ugly throw down the sideline towards Derrick Mason that Leon Hall picked off. Flacco also gave Hall a pick earlier in the game on an awful quick slant, but Mason broke up the play on "offense" to save this quarterback.
20.
Matt Cassel KC
23/39
262
2
0
-32
-27
-5
It was a pretty poor performance against the league's worst pass defense until he picked up two late scores on throws to the newly-acquired Chris Chambers. It's pretty clear that he has no confidence in his offensive line and is struggling with the pressure he's getting; he's quickly becoming the king of the three-yard scramble or the four-yard checkdown on third-and-long. Of course, if your wide receivers don't have enough time to get open before your quarterback tucks and runs for his life, you don't have much of an offense.
21.
Donovan McNabb PHI
16/30
227
1
2
-34
-26
-7
Donovan McNabb's performance was a lot like the one he put on the last time he was underneath the lights, against the Redskins in Week 7 on Monday Night Football. Sure, Jeremy Maclin ran an awful route before McNabb's second pick, and LeSean McCoy dropped a screen pass that could've gone for big yardage. That hurts, but so does McNabb missing a wide-open DeSean Jackson a couple of times, or the usual strange mix of sails and two-hoppers that other elite quarterbacks just don't do as frequently as McNabb does. The whole game might have come down to a fingertip tackle made by Cowboys rookie Victor Butler as McNabb was scrambling away from a seven-man Cowboys blitz; had McNabb managed to stay on his feet, he would've had a first down and more instead of a sack on third-and-long from the Cowboys 33, Philly wouldn't have kicked a totally irrelevant field goal, and the game might have been totally different. The NFC East race could come down this year to that very shoestring tackle.
22.
Aaron Rodgers GB
17/35
266
2
3
-52
-70
18
The announcers of the Packers-Buccaneers tilt noted that the Buccaneers defensive line was really showing off its might on Sunday. Tampa had six sacks, sure, but they had ten sacks before the Packers came to town, and Green Bay had allowed a league-high 31. Which of the two do you think had more to do with those six sacks on Sunday? If you need a hint, consider that the Packers were rotating offensive linemen in and out of the game, series-by-series, because the ones they were relying upon were too out of shape or injured to play for significant stretches of time. The Pack heads to Dallas next week; DeMarcus Ware has already announced that he'll be submitting the game tape for your consideration.
MNF.
Kyle Orton DEN
23/38
221
0
3
-84
-84
0
23.
Matthew Stafford DET
22/40
203
2
5
-113
-113
0
There's a huge difference between borderline Hall of Famer Kurt Warner and struggling rookie Matthew Stafford throwing five picks in a game. With that in mind, it's less that Stafford threw five picks and more what we saw in those picks that raised some concerns. The fifth and final interception appeared to be a route miscommunication, since there were two receivers cutting away from the pass. Interceptions one and two were virtually the same, throws where Stafford didn't step into his pass and made an inaccurate throw despite little pressure. Pick one was by an underneath zone defender Stafford either didn't see or thought he could get it past, while pick two was badly underthrown into bracketed double coverage.

Picks three and four were perhaps even more concerning. Pick three saw Stafford fail to properly set himself when scrambling and attempt to throw a pass with an impossibly tight window in-between three defenders. Stafford threw a handful of picks in college the same way. Finally, pick four came on the play that was supposed to be Stafford's bread and butter: The long pass down the sidelines, showing off his arm strength and his touch on deeper routes. Stafford threw a ball that needed to be on his receiver's front shoulder -- meaning that only the receiver would be able to catch the ball -- on his receiver's back foot, and Marcus Trufant was able to react and pick the pass off. There will be days like this.
24.
Alex Smith SF
29/45
286
2
3
-113
-116
3
And after six quarters of being the 49ers' savior at quarterback for what must easily be the fourth or fifth time in his career, Alex Smith looked every bit to be the same player the 49ers had seen in camp and on the field since his arrival in the league. He didn't exhibit a noticeable split in the shotgun as opposed to under center this week, but he certainly looks more comfortable scanning the field when he's in the shogun to us.


Five most valuable running backs
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Frank Gore SF
83
1
75
0
83
47
36
Gore was Smith's best receiver on Sunday, taking advantage of an infirm Keith Bulluck to get out to the sidelines and pick up nice amounts of yardage out of the backfield. The fact that he got four targets inside the red zone, though, isn't a good sign for the 49ers offense; it means that no one was getting open downfield, or that the offensive line wasn't giving those receivers enough time to get open.
2.
Michael Turner ATL
166
2
14
0
74
70
3
The Redskins have exhibited an excellent run defense this year, but they sure didn't look like it on Sunday. LaRon Landry took the cake with a dismal performance on Turner's two touchdown runs (and that doesn't even include his cheap shot at Matt Ryan that led to a brawl). The first one was a more subtle mistake, an awful route to the ballcarrier that gave Turner an easy path on his sweep and allowed him to score virtually untouched from 30 yards out. The second one was worse, as Landry lined up Turner for a tackle and then decided to dive with his helmet at Turner's feet like he was a running back attempting to cut block a pass rusher. It failed miserably, and when DeAngelo Hall followed with a DeAngelo Hall-esque tackle, Turner was gone for his second long touchdown of the day. Neither run should have happened.
3.
Chris Johnson TEN
135
2
25
0
65
58
7
It's very interesting to see that the Titans went to Chris Johnson for two touchdowns close to the goal line and not
LenDale White, who was stuffed from the two-yard line and only had four carries all day. It's enough to drive a man to ...
oh, wait, never mind.
4.
Ray Rice BAL
48
1
87
0
56
24
32
Rice is almost unquestionably the Ravens' best offensive player at this point, capable of
manufacturing positive yardage when no one gets open or Joe Flacco is being pressured. He caught all eight of the passes thrown to him, and each of his final four runs went for a first down or a touchdown.
MNF.
Rashard Mendenhall PIT
155
0
9
0
50
48
2
5.
Ladell Betts WAS
70
1
23
0
42
28
15
Betts isn't the pass blocker that Clinton Portis is, but he's an acceptable enough runner and receiver if Portis is forced to miss time thanks to a concussion suffered on Sunday. If it leads to Rock Cartwright as a goal line runner, though, that could become a problem; Cartwright was 0-for-3 inside the five on Sunday, despite getting two cracks from the one-yard line and another one from the three-yard line. Gotta do better than that.


Least valuable running back
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Ryan Moats HOU
38
0
15
1
-22
-21
-1
We said last year that fumbling on the opposition's one-yard line is the most damaging thing you can do to your team as a player. We were wrong -- punching someone is more damaging, Tommie Harris. Moats fumbled on the Colts' two-yard line, and while the placement of the ball at the 20-yard line as opposed to inside the two may have been incorrect,
Moats' fumble was a reminder that scapegoating Steve Slaton for a bad stretch and giving Moats the job because of his performance against a weak run defense isn't a good plan, just an easy one.


Five most valuable wide receivers and tight ends
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Larry Fitzgerald ARI
9
14
123
13.7
2
57
About the only downside to Fitzgerald's day is that he was the target on Matt Leinart's lone pass, an interception. Strange quirk: All four of Fitzgerald's incompletions from Warner came inside his own 20-yard line. Once he got past there, he caught everything that was thrown to him, including two touchdowns on his two targets inside the Chicago red zone.
2.
Mike Sims-Walker JAC
6
8
147
24.5
1
57
Yes, being uncovered helps, but Sims-Walker is showing an ability to make plays after the catch and serve as the deeper target across from the possession routes of Torry Holt. He only had one completion that didn't go for either a first down or a touchdown.
MNF.
Santonio Holmes PIT
6
6
93
15.5
0
57
3.
Jason Hill SF
4
4
50
12.5
2
51
He wasn't buying in bulk, but it's hard to do more with the four passes thrown to you than what Hill did: Two touchdowns, a five-yard completion on third-and-four, and a thirty-yard pickup on a play where he juked two Titans defenders out of their boots on the sideline. Good day for your fourth receiver.
4.
Vincent Jackson SD
5
6
58
11.6
2
47
Jackson didn't have C.C. Brown to pick on, so he just went after Corey Webster instead. The Giants' corner has been in a serious slump the past few weeks after looking fantastic to start the year (of course, you could say that about the other 52 guys on the roster), and Jackson really took advantage of Webster's fear that Jackson would go deep on him. The result was a steady stream of comeback and out patterns, including the one run by Jackson for the game-winning touchdown.
5.
Greg Camarillo MIA
5
7
71
14.2
0
46
Throw in a pass interference penalty drawn by Camarillo, and it's six first downs on eight targets. It wasn't a big game -- you won't find Camarillo's name in the game recap -- but he did exactly what you need somebody on your team to do, pick up first downs and keep drives alive.


Least valuable wide receiver or tight end
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Derrick Mason BAL
3
13
31
10.3
0
-47
We've hyped the New York combination of Webster and Darrelle Revis a lot in this space this year, but we also need to highly recommend Leon Hall, who's really emerged this year as a shutdown corner. He's quickly becoming a cornerback that both quarterbacks and fantasy owners dread seeing on the schedule, and while Johnathan Joseph looked good across from him, Hall's the better player. He spent most of his day on Mason, and you can see what the result was.

(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 10 Nov 2009

68 comments, Last at 12 Nov 2009, 5:55am by Mr Shush

Comments

1
by Key19 :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 1:21pm

Hooray, Quick Reads! I thought that the Martellus Bennett drops reference was foreshadowing for the Least Valuable WR/TE spot...

Is a solid blocking TE worth a 2nd round draft choice?

6
by ABW (not verified) :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 1:32pm

Well, let's see:
Marion Barber is 10th in DYAR, 6th in DVOA, 9th in Success Rate. Tashard Choice and Felix Jones both have DVOAs over 30%. If you think Bennett is a part of that, I would say yes.

2
by Dice :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 1:23pm

Good to hear about Rice and nice to see Betts is still alive.

28
by Oldcat (not verified) :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 2:45pm

Not sure why Ray Rice seems to get full credit for the last play of the game, a 35 yard reception running out the clock for the Bengals. It was a checkdown screen with about 4 seconds left with them down 10.

45
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 3:48pm

He probably doesn't, but there isn't enough space for the comment to explain.

3
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 1:25pm

Rookie QB starting for Tampa in his first game one slot above Drew Brees.

*head explodes*

Yes, yes, it's just one game and all, but . . .

*head explodes*

12
by Thunderbolt of ... :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 2:02pm

How many heads do you have?

22
by nat :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 2:21pm

I'm guessing two. The order they explode will determine how much he enjoys the last seconds of his life.

16
by Temo :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 2:10pm

Remains to be seen if it's Tampa that will be better than its offensive rating or whether it's GB's defense that will perform worse than its DVOA rating.

23
by The Powers That Be :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 2:21pm

Temo, you used the correct form of its/it's three times in that sentence. You are hereby banned for life from posting on internet message boards.

26
by Temo :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 2:34pm

Certainly, I can't ignore a direct order from someone named "The Powers That Be".

Edit: And it's actually 4 times, thank you very much.

35
by The Powers That Be :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 3:01pm

"Edit: And it's actually 4 times, thank you very much."

Exactly. That's why I'm still allowed to post freely.

47
by Temo :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 4:39pm

:(

39
by zip.4chan.org/sp/ (not verified) :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 3:12pm

Impressive, but I think if you had worked hard you could have integrated an its' in there for the trifecta.

48
by Temo :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 4:42pm

I'm not sure in what occasion you'd use its'. In fact, I'm not entirely sure that it is a word at all.

49
by Gruntled (not verified) :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 4:57pm

It's strained, but valid. If you were referring to the word 'its' itself, which oddly enough is exactly what we are doing, then you might say "the various functions of its," but you could also say "its' various functions."

52
by matt w (not verified) :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 6:36pm

Nah, you should say "its's various functions." Or, God help us, "'its''s various functions." Probably best: "its's various functions," if the italics come through. Anyway, the final apostrophe is only for making a possessive of a plural, so it doesn't apply when you're making a possessive of the word "its."

54
by Gruntled (not verified) :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 6:43pm

Darn it.

But if they ever do a remake of the movie "It", then we could refer to...

60
by zip.4chan.org/sp/ (not verified) :: Wed, 11/11/2009 - 1:12am

Its not as if trolling grammer Nazi's is a art. Anyone can do it!

CAPTCHA: carlos It's

4
by Jimmy :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 1:27pm

Alex Smith didn't exactly play brilliantly on Sunday but I personally can't blame him for two of his picks when they bounce off his WR's hands. I know that DVOA can't see that but tht doesn't mean it didn't happen.

34
by C (not verified) :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 2:59pm

Sometimes interceptions are a result of Jake Plummers disease. The QB makes a horrible read, and throws a gift interception to the other team... Sometimes the WR has bad hands, the ball is deflected and picked.

Jake Plummers disease is a huge problem.
Receivers deflected balls is either an inaccurate throw or a bad play on the WR

If your QB is smart and keeps making good reads, that's very good. If he has a few bad/unlucky throws or bad plays by the WR's, it's not as big of a deal. Stats won't take that out... but some QB's have had higher pick totals due poor WR play/bad luck.

5
by Mr Shush :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 1:30pm

"Indy ran a very strange scheme against the Texans. As Manning was throwing 25 passes in the first quarter, their passing game consisted almost entirely of short passes to Dallas Clark against a linebacker and a mix of quick screens and hitches to Joseph Addai. It requires some film study, but that sort of offense screams that there was two-deep coverage to prevent against big plays."

Actually, I'm pretty sure rookie CB Glover Quinn was in coverage on some of those short passes to Clark - presumably in a zone scheme, because anything else would have involved Ryans or Cushing manned up on a WR, which would not be a good plan. Ryans seemed to have responsibility for Addai on pretty much every down, and struggled a bit (possibly it just seemed that way because the plays Addai was covered by Ryans were the ones where he caught the ball). Robinson seemed to follow Wayne on the majority of plays. The Texans played pretty much the entire game in nickel: Diles, the starting WLB, didn't show up in the defensive stats at all. I'm guessing the coverage was mostly two deep safeties, but a mix of zone, man, and zone-man schemes underneath. The defensive success, for my money, was not so much about scheme as excellent execution, with players swarming to the ball and no missed tackles.

7
by Independent George :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 1:35pm

Look at that gap between #16 and #17 in the passing numbers. It's almost as if QBs must occupy specific quanta of DYAR.

8
by PatsFan :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 1:36pm

The passing exclusion principle?

50
by Kevin from Philly :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 6:15pm

It's all about the spin number. Let's say Mike Vick (lefty) throws a ball at practice, and it hits a ball thrown by Donny McNabb (righty), they would cancel out violently. Probably rip open the space-time continuum, or form mini black holes that could swallow Andy Reid's entire lunch.

61
by Jimmy :: Wed, 11/11/2009 - 1:14am

Only Andy Reid can swallow his entire lunch. You need to train hard for that kind of thing.

9
by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 1:43pm

I'm ready to drop the "Borderline HOF" label on Kurt Warner, how about everyone else? He's already the best former grocery store bagger in NFL history.

14
by TheSlinger :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 2:06pm

It helps that in two separate stints he's played with among the best offensive casts in NFL history. I mean come on, Holt-Bruce-Faulk in their prime and now Fitz-Boldin-Breaston? That's not fair.

64
by Mr Shush :: Wed, 11/11/2009 - 7:25am

The supporting cast in St. Louis was flat out awesome in every way. The supporting cast in Arizona is not. Fitzgerald is a great receiver, and Boldin a very good one, but Breaston is nothing special, and nor was Johnson, while the lines and running backs have fluctuated between well below average and flat out awful.

I thought Warner belonged in Canton before 2008. You'd better believe I think he belongs there now.

The funny thing with Warner is all the wierd little statistical categories he comes out #1 all time in - things like single game completion percentage and career superbowl passing yardage (not to mention the #1, #2 and #3 single game Superbowl yardage performances). Individually, you wouldn't regard any of them as terribly meaningful. Taken together, they point to a pretty special career, which is what Warner has had.

20
by TGT2 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 2:17pm

Are you sure Sammy Baugh didn't bag groceries? Back in the day, everyone had an offseason job. Go back far enough, and they had inseason jobs, too.

56
by James-London :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 8:47pm

There shouldn't be anything "borderline" about Warner's HoF candidacy. If he doesn't go in it's a travesty.

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

66
by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 11/11/2009 - 11:21am

For my moment of mini-fame, I went to Northern Iowa at the same time Warner was there, and, during grad school, my roommate and I would go to the Hy-Vee at midnight or so in order to get the day-old donuts off the shopping cart back by the bakery ($1 for a bag of them). We'd get our groceries, get the donuts, and go back and play Sega Genesis until 4 a.m., good times. We'd always laugh about this crazy guy who worked there who was always flinging loaves of bread and other stuff around the store.

If only I had gone out on a fly pattern I'd be able to tell my kids I once caught a loaf of bread from a future Hall of Fame QB.

10
by Ralph (not verified) :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 1:46pm

Manning's never had elite pass protection behind center, but five sacks against a Chargers pass rush that's constructed a house in 2007 isn't a good sign.

I don't understand what this is saying.

13
by Quincy :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 2:05pm

I'm confused myself. I also don't know that that 5 sacks number is an accurate representation of whatever point was intended. One sack was a scramble for no gain; one was a bizarre play where the officials ruled Eli stepped out of bounds before throwing the ball away, even though replays showed that was clearly not the case; and one came on the attempted hail mary at the end of the game.

I actually thought Eli did a pretty good job of avoiding pressure and keeping plays alive or getting rid of the ball. The pass blocking admittedly could have been better, as 3 or 4 of Eli's 8 incompletions came on plays where he was throwing the ball away to escape the rush. Still, the 5 sacks had a negligible effect on the game when compared with the Giants' inability to convert on third and short. Or their inability to snap, hold and kick a field goal.

15
by Ralph (not verified) :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 2:10pm

Moreover, I don't understand what the "building a house in 2007" thing is saying

18
by Temo :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 2:13pm

He actually mentioned all those those things in subsequent sentences.

I think the poster was talking about "constructing a house" comment, which I don't really get either. I think the intent is something about how the Charger's pass rush has been decimated since their 2007 peak or something.

30
by matt w (not verified) :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 2:48pm

I think they're saying that the Chargers have a rush made of people who were great in 2007. Compare this classic Dugout: "i feel that i can help continue our long-standing tradition of starting players who were pretty good in 2001"

32
by Quincy :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 2:51pm

I understood and seconded the poster's confusion with the "constructing a house" comment.

As for the discussion of the sacks, I guess I was confused as to why they were discussed at all if there is agreement that given the context surrounding the sacks, the number of sacks was inflated. If it was brought up because they significantly depressed Eli's DYAR, and Bill was trying to point out that this was undeserved in the same way a quarterback is punished for interceptions off a receiver's hands, I'd agree. I was just unclear as to whether that was the point.

36
by Gruntled (not verified) :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 3:09pm

I'm confused too, and the actual wording: "that's constructed a house in 2007" is even stranger. "That constructed a house" would at least imply some reference to whatever it is they were or did in 2007. As worded with the contraction it's confusing on multiple levels.

43
by matt w (not verified) :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 3:39pm

I was thinking of something like this:
The Minnesota pass rush has built a house on the line, meaning that their strength is on the line.
The Pittsburgh pass rush has built a house on the linebackers, meaning that their strength is on the linebackers.
But the San Diego pass rush's strength is in 2007.

46
by Gruntled (not verified) :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 3:57pm

Reply hazy, try again.

This shouldn't be like deciphering James Joyce.

51
by Kevin from Philly :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 6:19pm

Or Raiderjoe.

55
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 7:58pm

Another thing I don't understand about this is Manning has, in fact, benefit from elite pass protection for the entire 2007 playoffs and nearly all of 2008. It is NY's elite pass pro that makes Eli look like a viable QB. His play drops of precipitously when protection even drops to average/good.

So not only is that statement confusion, its lead in was inaccurate.

67
by Dred :: Wed, 11/11/2009 - 4:05pm

Furthermore, wouldn't it be easier to cure problems with pass protection if they were the result of having one bad player? I really have no idea what raiderBill was trying to say with this comment.

11
by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 2:02pm

Poor Alex Smith. he would finally have to play a decent defense for the first time the week that Derek Anderson and Jamarcus Russell are off.

17
by Kal :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 2:13pm

He'll take the win, but something's up with Ryan. He has eight picks in his last four games, and his interception today wasn't the sort of good decision he's become associated with; it was a crossing pattern that Ryan threw into triple coverage. The rest of his day was low-risk, low-reward stuff against an average pass defense.

So...you spend most of the non-statistical analysis talking about how interception rates of X are common and that statistical anomalies will even out over a year...and then question why a guy has thrown 8 picks in 4 games?

Writer, read thyself.

25
by Temo :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 2:32pm

This argument comes up a lot in baseball, where fans ask "What's wrong with X? He's been hitting for a 600 OPS over the past 2 months!"

The answer, for good players, is invariably "Small sample, he'll get over it", which is the right answer about 90% of the time (the other times, it's old age/skill collapse and the player never recovers).

Sometimes, it's just luck. However, that isn't always the case and it doesn't mean that nothing is WRONG with the player in question. He may be injured, he may be tired, pitchers may be attacking a weakness, or he may just not be seeing the ball well.

Ryan's INT % will almost certainly average out over time (he's not on the verge of old age/skill collapse, I think), but that doesn't mean there's nothing wrong with his play. The reason the Garrard thing is considered fluky and not just really good play is because no one ever consistently averages that low an INT %-- the equivalent to seeing a baseball player bat .400 for a couple months.

53
by Kal :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 6:39pm

Right, but isn't this an odd observation when the article starts with:
It's easy. Just be patient.

Too often, fans and media alike take one small sample of data and use it to as a data point to back up their opinion or further their narrative. It's a perfect example of how statistics aren't supposed to be used.

Just seems like that...is a perfect example of how statistics aren't to be used. Either from before (Ryan doesn't exactly have such a huge body of work that you can reasonably say he plays super accurately all the time) or now (given that 8 ints in 4 games is high, but not ridiculous).

63
by Gruntled (not verified) :: Wed, 11/11/2009 - 5:19am

"The answer, for good players, is invariably 'Small sample, he'll get over it', which is the right answer about 90% of the time."

Or a combination of the above and situation/competition. Three of those INTs were in the 4th quarter in losses, 2 of them clearly in desperation time (2 minutes left/ 28 seconds left). Take those away and it's still below par, but not quite so dramatically.

19
by The Powers That Be :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 2:14pm

"The Pack heads to Dallas next week..."

Other way around, actually, which probably won't make much difference, since Dallas got the Lambeau monkey off their back last season.

21
by Steve (not verified) :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 2:18pm

Newengland outsiders baby!

24
by paytonrules :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 2:26pm

By my recollection this is the first week Jay Cutler has outplayed Kyle Orton - although opponent adjustments may have changed previous weeks.

Obviously their teams are different, for example the Bears elected to play this season without an offensive line, but if Orton is almost Cutlers equal then this trade is a disaster for the Bears, given the picks they gave up.

31
by Nathan :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 2:49pm

McD is a fantastic offensive playcaller... that's what's going on. He masked Cassel's deficiencies and he's masking Orton's too, while playing to his strength and the strength of his receiving corps. Cutler doesn't have any physical holes in his game and history will prove that he's the much better quarterback.

42
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 3:33pm

Cutler doesn't have any physical holes, but he does have some mental ones. He's really prone to forcing the ball when he'd be better off throwing it away.

44
by Eddo :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 3:40pm

Good point, Rich, though Orton does have that problem at times, too.

33
by Nathan :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 2:51pm

Also, this whole thing on both sides (Denver's fast start, Chicago's o-line woes) just makes me kind of sad thinking about the damage McD and Cutler together could have done in Denver.

27
by GlennW :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 2:45pm

Years from now when the book is closed on this matter (and probably much sooner), Kyle Orton will not be regarded as Jay Cutler's equal. It won't even be a close call.

29
by Nathan :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 2:46pm

Seems like Aiken has been picking up a lot of DPI when he's seen the field. Coincidence or is this guy a bit better than we're giving him credit for?

37
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 3:10pm

He looks pretty good to me, honestly.

He's huge, and hes pretty fast, and when you put him against a Dime Back, it causes problems.

"One of the biggest differences between the 2007 Patriots and this year's version is that the 2007 team had a host of ancillary receiving options behind Randy Moss and Wes Welker"

The bigger difference, is that the 2009 team's defense doesn't suck.

38
by C (not verified) :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 3:11pm

Bill Barnwell

I don't think the anti-Jason Campbell crowd points to his interception total, and complains that his picks are what is costing his team. It's not that the guy doesn't make so many mistakes, it's that he doesn't make plays or that he makes them after the game is already over/out of reach.

TD passes in a season

2005: 0, he didn't play his rookie year
2006: 10, he played half a season
2007: 12, 13 games = less than 1 TD per game
2008: 13, he played the full season, less than 1 TD per game
2009: 9 ( mainly in garbage or semi garbage time)

So here you have a QB that hasn't even thrown 14 TD passes ( less than 1 per game) in an entire season. He'll turn 29 next year and what has he ever done? He has a losing career record. It's not good rex bad rex... you pretty much know what you are going to get from Jason and in his case it's not necesarily a good thing.

The Redskins scores less points than the winless Lions last year. They moved the ball, they had yards, but they couldn't score.

This year the Redskins haven't scored more than 17 points in a game, despite playing a host of winless teams. They couldn't score a TD at home vs the Rams. The Redskins offense is averaging 1.5 touchdowns per game. It's not that Jason's 8 interceptions and fumbles are killing his team, it's the fact that their offense is anemic.

"But if actually want to reconcile what's happening on the field with reality -- and be right in advance instead of after the fact -- have a little patience."

It's funny you close with this quote because your stats/projections also liked Byron Leftwhich before Jack Del Rio cut him and did the right thing to go with David Garrard. I seem to recall at least one poster pointing out his mechanical flaws long before that wind mill throwing motion and slow release were a laughing stock of the league.

40
by SOBL (not verified) :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 3:14pm

Jason Campbell apologies? Check.

41
by C (not verified) :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 3:30pm

Here are a couple of more stats for you. You interpret the data...

First half
Jason Campbell 61% Passing, 2 TD 6 INT, 64.7 QB rating

Second half
Jason Campbell 71.3% Passing, 7 TD, 2 INT, 107.9 QB rating

Now if I also told you he was on a 2-6 team that was losing 75% of their games and playing behind in second halfs... would you discount those 2nd half stats or not? Do you think it's harder or easier to play against more prevent defenses when the game is over? Do you think simply looking at his overall statistics paint a fair picture on what's going on?

He also has 0 TD passes when his team is tied or winning, and he threw 5 of his 9 TD passes when his team was down by 9 or more points... His QB rating is 17.8 points higher in losses instead of wins.

The problem isn't his 8 interceptions, it's the lack of TD's. Throwing 4 TD passes all year when your team is winning or down by 8 points isn't good enough. Drew Brees has might have done that in a couple of single GAMES this year. Throwing 5 of your 9 TD's when your team is down 9 or more points and then tallying up the stats isn't fair when you try and evaluate a QB's performance.

57
by BucNasty :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 9:12pm

The announcers of the Packers-Buccaneers tilt noted that the Buccaneers defensive line was really showing off its might on Sunday. Tampa had six sacks, sure, but they had ten sacks before the Packers came to town, and Green Bay had allowed a league-high 31. Which of the two do you think had more to do with those six sacks on Sunday?

Maybe they did say that, but they also showed a clock counting how long Aaron Rodgers was holding onto the ball just about every time he dropped back. I saw someone else in the weekly game discussion thread wondering if we could finally start blaming Rodgers for the sacks. Maybe this was great insight a couple of weeks ago, but now it's just conventional wisdom.

58
by mrh :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 9:26pm

http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stat-analysis/2009/wisdom-crowds-projec...

"I would be very surprised if Holt received less than 44 percent of the targets to WRs. Very, very surprised." - Bill Barnwell

By my current count, from another site's stats, Holt currently has 39% of the WR targets on the Jags.

Holt - 61
MSW - 52
Thomas - 24
Hughes - 8
Dillard - 7
Williamson - 4
I'm counting Wilford as a TE.

I'm most surprised by Holt's 14.0 ypr, the highest it's been in 5 years. His 54% catch rate is not good for a typical possession receiver. Barring injury or another benching to MSW, I will be very surprised if Holt makes it to 44% of WR targets. But I suppose I should be patient.

59
by Key19 :: Tue, 11/10/2009 - 10:15pm

That said, it's fair to say that Mike Sims-Walker has been a "very surprising" gem, and without him (or even with him performing on pace with his non-Holt teammates), Holt probably easily has 60% of the targets.

65
by mrh :: Wed, 11/11/2009 - 9:54am

I agree Sims-Walker has had a break-thru. This site may even have spotted his talent early (I think he was on the prospects list in PFP 08). But it was fairly predictable that he'd take a decent amount of share from Holt, as I did in the linked thread. Obviously, I underestimated him - but I pegged Holt for 130 targets and he's on pace for 120.

The week S-W was benched at the last minute, Holt did have 11 out of the 16 targets seen by Jags WRs, but I think that was unsustainable.

Very, very few WRs get 60% of the passes thrown to all the WRs on their teams. Right now, the count is zero for 2009. CAr Steve Smith is tops with 54%, Roddy White and Andre Johnson have 51%. No other wideout has seen over half the balls thrown to his teams WRs.

68
by Mr Shush :: Thu, 11/12/2009 - 5:55am

And Johnson won't keep that pace up either - with Daniels (who was getting targeted a bunch) on IR, Walter, Jones, Anderson and Davis will all see a rise in their targets, Walter and Jones especially.

62
by the K (not verified) :: Wed, 11/11/2009 - 1:57am

How did DeAngelo Williams fare? Opponent adjustment probably hurt but he looked to me like he had a hell of a game. At the least, what was his first quarter/first half DVOA?