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» Week 17 Game Previews

The FO crew previews three games in the final week of the season with critical playoff implications: Bengals-Steelers, Lions-Packers, and Panthers-Falcons.

30 Nov 2010

Quick Reads: Week 12

by Bill Barnwell

Before Week 6, Dwayne Bowe was treated like a punchline. Clips of him dropping a sure touchdown pass against the Colts in Week 5 were splattered across highlight shows. The opinion was so wideheld that we had to put a disclaimer in when we mentioned Bowe as a good start for fantasy players in Week 6, saying "He can't drop everything Cassel throws at him."

Since that week, Bowe has been unstoppable. A devastating seven-game stretch has seen him go from punching bag to wrecking ball. Since that game against the Colts, Bowe's caught 49 passes for 733 yards and a whopping 13 touchdowns. Bowe only made it to 589 yards in 11 games last year, and he had a total of 16 touchdowns as a pro coming into this season. On Sunday, he pummeled the Seahawks while having his biggest game yet, going for 13 catches, 170 yards, and three touchdowns. He even made a nice weakside block for Jamaal Charles on a fourth-down run to create a cutback lane and pick up huge yardage. The man is in his pomp at the moment.

So, we know Bowe's been good. After the Seahawks game, though, there's a question we've got to ask: Has any wide receiver ever been as good in a seven-game stretch? Or have we just witnessed history from what seemed to be a very unlikely source?

If you include the strike-shortened season of 1987, the answer is no. During that 15-game campaign, Jerry Rice had one of the greatest seasons by any player in NFL history, catching 22 touchdown passes in those 15 games. He finished that year with an incredible run, grabbing 16 touchdown passes over the final seven games of the year. That includes three three-touchdown games in four weeks.

Throw out the strike season, and Bowe's touchdown mark is unsurpassed since the AFL-NFL merger. His 13 receiving touchdowns in seven games are matched by just one other player: Sterling Sharpe, who actually caught 13 in six games. He hadn't caught a touchdown in any of the previous four weeks before the stretch, and those six games were actually the final ones of his career, as a neck injury forced him into retirement at 29.

Bowe's other totals are impressive, but not otherworldly. Marvin Harrison (2002) and Wes Welker (2009) are tied for the record of most catches in one seven-game stretch, with each managing to grab 69 receptions during their record runs. Meanwhile, Isaac Bruce was able to do almost a full season's work in seven games during the 1995 season; the Rams receiver caught 60 passes for a record 986 receiving yards, throwing in seven touchdowns. Bruce ended up with an incredible 1,781 receiving yards by the time the season was over, the second-highest single-season total in NFL history. (Rice finished ahead of him that year with 1,848 yards.) Harrison rode his awesome seven-game stretch to the league record for receptions in a single season, finishing with 143.

Can Bowe go for the record in receiving touchdowns? It's going to be awful difficult. He now has 14 on the season, and with five games to go, he'll need ten more to get past the 23 receiving touchdowns recorded by Randy Moss in the 2007 season. The good news: His easy schedule continues next week, when he faces the 31st-ranked pass defense of the Denver Broncos.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
1.
Tom Brady NE
21/27
341
4
0
220
229
-8
For what it's worth -- and it's not all that much -- Brady finished the game with a perfect passer rating of 158.3, the second time in his career he's had a "perfect game" by the NFL's system. (The other game was predictably in 2007, when he went 21-of-25 against the Dolphins for 354 yards and six touchdowns.) DYAR agrees that it was the best game of the week, but recognizes that Brady wasn't all that effective for a fair amount of the game. During the Patriots' first five drives, Brady dropped back 19 times and picked up just 131 yards and seven first downs. Those drives only produced 10 points. On the Patriots' final five meaningful drives, Brady had ten dropbacks, all of which were completed passes. He did a little more with them: 219 yards, three first downs, and four touchdowns. The Patriots scored five touchdowns on those five drives. While quarterback rating sees a first-half stretch by Brady with five completions in a row for a total of 24 yards (none of which gained a first down or came close) as positive, DYAR rightly sees them as negative, because they weren't helping the Patriots produce points.
2.
Jay Cutler CHI
14/21
247
4
0
207
206
2
The Eagles, by all rights, should be a terrible matchup for Jay Cutler. No team dares a quarterback to make throws into tight windows more than the Eagles do, and no quarterback throws more interceptions on exactly those sort of throws than Jay Cutler does. So what happened? Well, he got time to throw, and had a fair amount of luck. After being sacked four times in his first eight dropbacks, including on three consecutive attempts, Cutler wasn't sacked the rest of the way. Meanwhile, his first touchdown pass of the day was a bullet to Earl Bennett that was about three inches away from being intercepted. Stuff that might normally get Cutler in trouble -- like a shovel pass while in the grasp of a defender to Matt Forte -- worked this week. Part of luck is timing, of course, and Cutler chose the right week to play Philly: Both starting Eagles cornerbacks, Asante Samuel and Ellis Hobbs, were injured this week. Hobbs may be forced to retire with his neck injury, but Samuel should be back soon. Cutler won't be upset to miss him.
3.
Matt Cassel KC
22/32
236
4
0
169
161
8
Cassel sure is inconsistent. I talked about one really nice third down conversion he pulled off in Audibles, but he had another couple of third down passes where he tried to go to Bowe and missed him with inaccurate throws; one was forced when Cassel should have looked elsewhere, and another was a quick out that Cassel threw about a beat and a half too early. On passes not to Bowe, Cassel was 9-of-15 for 66 yards.
4.
Aaron Rodgers GB
26/35
344
1
0
163
161
1
Rodgers finished the game with 12 carries (one kneel); his previous high in a single game was eight. Even though he had a 63 percent Success Rate against the league's fourth-ranked run defense and scored on a third-quarter sneak, his fumble on the goal line in the second quarter is seen as a more damaging play. As a passer, Rodgers was remarkably accurate: He started the game by completing 17 of his first 20 attempts, although there was an 11-play stretch in there with nine completions, all of which went for nine yards or less.
5.
Kyle Orton DEN
24/41
347
3
0
124
124
0
Orton converted just one of the nine third downs he faced; naturally, it was the longest one of the day, a third-and-17. He produced 90 passing DYAR in the fourth quarter, nearly bringing the Broncos back from a 20-point deficit, only to be let down by his offensive line. Both left tackle Ryan Clady and right tackle Ryan Harris are playing at well below 100 percent thanks to injuries; on the final series, Harris got beat several times by Chris Long to end the game.
6.
Philip Rivers SD
19/23
185
0
0
123
120
3
Before Sunday, 12.3 percent of Philip Rivers' passes had been thrown 20 yards or more in the air downfield. That's actually slightly below the league average over the same timeframe, which was 13.0 percent. On Sunday night, Rivers dropped back 23 times and didn't throw a single pass further than 19 yards downfield; he compensated for the absence of the deep pass by checking down and making safe, effective throws. Checkdown isn't a dirty word when 10 of your final 12 dropbacks are successes; all in all, he finished with a 64 percent Success Rate on the day. Strangely, Rivers didn't convert a single third down all day.
7.
Matt Ryan ATL
24/28
197
1
0
120
120
0
Ryan completed 18 passes in a row before throwing an incompletion on his final dropback. Those 18 throws went for 132 yards, seven first downs, and a touchdown, and only one traveled more than 12 yards through the air. The Packers were able to take Roddy White out of the game, as White caught just five passes for a total of 49 yards. It looked to me like Charles Woodson spent most of the game covering him.
8.
Sam Bradford STL
22/37
308
3
0
111
111
0
Bradford came out on fire, as 13 of his first 20 dropbacks resulted in either a first down or a touchdown for the Rams. He finished the first half with three incompletions and a sack inside the red zone, though, and the Rams chose to run Steven Jackson into the line for no gain over and over in the second half. Bradford had just five first downs on 15 dropbacks in the second half, although each of those first downs went for at least 13 yards.
9.
Eli Manning NYG
15/24
234
2
0
109
114
-5
Despite playing with his third-string left tackle and backup center in the starting five, Manning wasn't sacked once (although a holding penalty did bring back a Mario Manningham touchdown catch). Thanks, Jaguars pass rush. Manning wasn't really that effective until the fourth quarter, which produced four of his five biggest pass plays of the day in just seven attempts. Those seven fourth quarter attempts produced 73 DYAR.
10.
Matt Schaub HOU
25/35
178
2
0
81
81
0
Schaub's was another day conducted in close proximity to the blue line; only three of his passes traveled further than nine yards in the air, and none went further than 17 yards. It is probably not a coincidence that Schaub was only sacked twice on 38 dropbacks. He converted seven of the 14 third downs he faced, but his wisdom in throwing a two-yard pass on fourth-and-5 remains unexplained as of yet.
11.
Chad Henne MIA
17/30
307
2
1
80
80
0
Henne, on the other hand, was not part of Team Checkdown. He had six plays of 20 yards or more, and three of those were passes actually thrown more than 20 yards in the air. His average pass traveled 10.9 yards in the air (with a long of 32 yards); the league average for all other games before the Monday nighter was 8.1 yards in the air. His one interception wasn't pretty, though, as Henne held onto the ball too long in the red zone and ended up having his throw contested by Matt Shaughnessy. Shaughnessy was able to do this despite being knocked to the ground at the snap.
12.
Drew Brees NO
23/39
352
1
1
68
68
0
After a hot start to the game against the Cowboys -- 6-for-6 for 128 yards with five first downs -- Brees settled into a long road of mediocrity. Despite playing one of the league's worst pass defenses, he produced just eight first downs over his subsequent 29 dropbacks, including an interception on a dropped pass by Jimmy Graham and a sack on third-and-7 to give the ball back to the Cowboys, down four, with five minutes left in the game. He got bailed out by Roy Williams's fumble and promptly made three big plays, including the 55-yard bomb to Robert Meachem that just about sealed the game. Although this particular interception wasn't really his fault, Brees has definitely regressed some when it comes to avoiding turnovers. His interception rate is up to 3.3 percent, which would be the highest full-season figure of his career.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
13.
Michael Vick PHI
29/43
333
2
1
68
63
5
Vick did a great job leading the Eagles towards a comeback in the second half -- that throw to Brent Celek was almost too good to be true -- but he wasn't able to do much against one of the league's best pass defenses. His first interception of the year came in the Bears end zone, courtesy of a Tommie Harris deflection. (The pick allowed safety Chris Harris to scratch an item off of his bucket list.) Vick was sacked four times by Bears linemen and fumbled three times, with one on an aborted snap. He has now fumbled eight times this season, losing just the lone fumble against the Giants last week. Is that sustainable? Because of the nature of the fumbles, perhaps. Vick hasn't fumbled yet on a scramble that passed the line of scrimmage or on a running play; all of his fumbles have been on sacks or aborted snaps. In 2006, Vick's last full season, he lost two of the four fumbles that hit the ground on scrambles that passed the line of scrimmage. He was sacked and fumbled five times, and held onto four of them. In 2005, he held onto five of his eight fumbles on sacks or aborted snaps. It's not enough of a sample to prove anything, but it's worth keeping in mind going forward.
14.
Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF
23/44
265
1
1
64
70
-6
Fitzpatrick was victimized by a number of drops, one of which resulted in a patented Troy Polamalu diving interception. Lee Evans fumbled one away near the Steelers red zone. After the Stevie Johnson drop, though, Fitzpatrick wasn't able to get the ball out and took a sack on third-and-6 from the Steelers 36-yard line. If he gets a completion, the Bills have a reasonable shot at winning the game with a field goal. Even if he just throws an incompletion, the Bills have a shot with a long field goal. Instead, Fitzpatrick took a sack and never saw the ball again.
15.
Joe Flacco BAL
25/35
289
2
1
63
71
-8
16.
Jon Kitna DAL
30/42
313
0
1
58
53
4
Kitna was 21-of-22 on passes to his running backs and tight ends, but just 9-of-20 on throws to his wide receivers. Now, you might say that the passes to his wide receivers were probably harder to complete, but it wasn't like he was running some kind of vertical attack from Al Davis's dreams: The average throw to his wide receivers went an average of 5.0 yards in the air, slightly more than the 3.3 yards in the air throws to his running backs traveled.
17.
Brett Favre MIN
15/23
172
0
0
40
36
4
Despite facing a Redskins team that came in with injuries all around the secondary and playing through a game that saw injuries to both Adrian Peterson and Brian Orakpo, Favre threw just 23 passes on Sunday. He was reasonably effective when he did throw, going 9-of-11 on first down for 90 yards. Meanwhile, Toby Gerhart was averaging less than four yards a pop on first down when he was getting handed the ball.
18.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
20/32
246
0
0
40
32
8
The Steelers just stopped throwing the ball in the second half. Part of it was that the Bills retained a fair amount of possession, but in the first half, Roethlisberger was 14-of-20 for 158 yards with nine first downs. (He was also sacked three times.) His reward was to throw just 14 times over the final three quarters of the game, in which he went 6-of-12 for 70 yards with four first downs. A fifth was taken away when Emmanuel Sanders dropped a sure first down on a crossing pattern.
19.
Josh Freeman TB
17/37
162
1
0
39
23
16
20.
Peyton Manning IND
31/48
285
2
4
33
33
0
Manning dropped back 22 times in the second half and picked up just five first downs; of course, on those plays, he needed to pick up 8.8 yards to get a first down. Indy basically abandoned the run in the second half, with just three carries in the third quarter and one in the fourth quarter. It might be reasonable to stop running the ball when you have Peyton Manning and you're down three touchdowns in the fourth, but the Colts were down just 12 points for most of the third quarter; that's still a time when you can run the ball once or twice, even if it's just to provide some balance to your offense and keep the opposing team's safeties honest. Admittedly, the Colts ran the ball nine times in the first half for 10 yards (with the final five of those carries going for no gain or a loss of one yard), but there's a difference between blindly establishing the run and trying to develop some sort of balance in your offense.
21.
Bruce Gradkowski OAK
17/32
252
1
2
27
27
0
Gradkowski apparently separated his shoulder against the Dolphins, which should be enough to end his season. The injury came on his final throw, a pass intended for Jacoby Ford on fourth-and-10 with a 16-point deficit in the fourth quarter. Gradkowski didn't look great all day; his touchdown pass to Ford nearly sailed out of bounds before Ford was able to snatch it out of the air and run for a touchdown, and he later missed a wide-open Ford for what would have been a second touchdown. Gradkowski converted just two of the nine third downs he faced. If he does miss the rest of the season, he'll finish with a completion percentage of just 52.9 percent.
22.
Mark Sanchez NYJ
16/28
166
1
1
-1
-1
0
Left without a clutch overtime drive to run, Sanchez practiced his checkdowns: He was 5-of-9 (with one sack) on third down, but only two of those completions resulted in first downs.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
23.
Shaun Hill DET
27/46
285
1
2
-20
-27
7
Speaking of checkdowns, Hill completed 15 passes in the first half. Exactly three went for double-digit yardage. In the second half, he made eight such plays, but he also took two sacks and threw two interceptions, neither of which were particularly pretty.
24.
Jimmy Clausen CAR
17/27
195
0
1
-34
-34
0
25.
Matt Hasselbeck SEA
21/37
282
2
2
-35
-35
0
The intentional grounding penalty Hasselbeck took was a rare case where the refs were overzealous in assessing intent and calling for intentional grounding. The Seahawks were in this game until the fourth quarter, but Hasselbeck sealed it with a two big mistakes in three plays. First, he scrambled on third-and-4 and didn't keep the ball tucked away, resulting in a Derrick Johnson strip and a recovery by Tamba Hali. Two dropbacks later, with the ball in Chiefs territory, he threw an interception. He threw a long touchdown pass on his next attempt to get the Seahawks back to within 11 points with 10:29 to go, but he didn't touch the ball again until the Chiefs had scored and left 3:30 on the clock.
26.
Troy Smith SF
11/23
129
1
1
-41
-30
-10
27.
Derek Anderson ARI
16/35
196
0
1
-42
-42
0
28.
David Garrard JAC
20/35
162
0
1
-43
-77
34
Garrard had an incredible day as a scrambler, breaking umpteen tackles while turning all six of his carries (five scrambles and one option run) into successful plays. He produced a total of 41 rushing yards, three first downs, and a touchdown on the ground. As a passer? Well, when he wasn't able to elude the rush, there was trouble. Garrard was sacked four times in the second half, fumbling three times. That includes fumbles on each of his two final dropbacks, the second of which turned the ball over to the Giants and ended the game.
29.
Carson Palmer CIN
17/38
135
1
2
-45
-43
-2
Palmer looked terrified at times on Thursday, heaving up desperate lobs off his back foot on multiple occasions. He was able to hang in the pocket and make plays in the first half, but the Jets absolutely shut him down in the second half. Palmer dropped back 19 times in the final two quarters and had just two successful plays, which combined to go for 20 yards. Include the 18 yards he lost on three sacks, and those 19 dropbacks produced 18 yards of offense.
30.
Donovan McNabb WAS
21/35
211
1
1
-47
-49
2
And McNabb didn't do much better in the second half of his game. Admittedly, he had a 45-yard pass to Anthony Armstrong, but he also had just two successful plays in the entire half. He narrowly beats out Palmer by having done that on just 18 dropbacks, but while Palmer took a safety on one of those sacks, McNabb threw an interception inside his own five-yard line.
31.
Jake Delhomme CLE
25/35
246
0
2
-56
-51
-5
Doug Farrar already got off the line of the week in regards to Delhomme: "Jake Delhomme has fumbled, thrown a pick, and thrown another pick that was returned for a touchdown. He hasn’t done this much to help the Panthers win since about 2005."
32.
Rusty Smith TEN
17/31
138
0
3
-164
-164
0
Amazingly, going up against what could be the worst defense of the DVOA Era and ending up with a shutout was not enough to propel Smith to historically bad statistics; in fact, his -165 DYAR is only the sixth-worst performance of the year. (Todd Collins had -235 DYAR in Week 5 against the Panthers.) While Smith threw an interception in the shadow of his own end zone and two more in the red zone, he was only sacked once, and it was for no gain on the opening dropback. His raw numbers don't include a 20-yard defensive pass interference penalty on a pass to Jared Cook which helps his DYAR figures. He didn't fumble. Now, don't get us wrong: Smith was awful. His initial pass for a first down appeared to be almost entirely by accident, and he made Glover Quin look like a particularly crisp Darrelle Revis. But it wasn't as bad as it could have been.


Five most valuable running backs
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Fred Jackson BUF
61
0
104
1
76
12
65
Big yardage totals for Jackson in each of the past two weeks haven't earned him a spot on these leaderboards thanks to fumbles and weak opposition; even though Jackson fumbled again this week, he did too much against a great opposing defense to be held back. He had a 50 percent success rate against the league's best run defense, and his fumble came at the end of a 13-yard gain, so it wasn't enough to totally ruin his rushing figures. And as a receiver, Jackson was great: He was 5-for-5, with each catch going for a first down. His final reception did that one better, as he went 65 yards on a third-and-10 screen pass for a crucial fourth quarter touchdown. In fact, had Lee Evans and Steve Johnson done much better, Jackson probably could have won the game for the Bills on his own. Unfortunately, Evans was 1-of-7 for nine yards and fumbled away his only catch after nine yards, while Jackson was 7-of-15 with five drops, including that devastating overtime failure in the end zone.
2.
Peyton Hillis CLE
131
3
63
0
68
53
16
We discovered one thing Peyton Hillis can't do this week: Pass. Hillis was given the ball on a halfback option play from the eight-yard line, and it looked to be an impressive call; naturally, the Panthers all went for Hillis, leaving a wide-open Benjamin Watson in the back of the end zone. Hillis threw behind him, though. It ended up being of no consequence: After a penalty, Hillis ended up scoring on a sweep, one of his three touchdowns in the first half. The only other downside to his day was that Hillis struggled to close the game out with a lead in the fourth quarter; his last six carries went for a total of six yards, and none were successful, including a stuff on fourth-and-1. In all fairness, that also probably had a lot to do with Jake Delhomme's total inability to throw the ball effectively.
3.
Brian Westbrook SF
136
1
0
0
63
63
0
I wonder if there was literally a fantasy roster on Earth that had Brian Westbrook in their lineup heading into Monday night. He wouldn't even have been a good pick in our internal weekly Loser League. And yet, Westbrook averaged nearly six yards a pop. He was a huge part of a 49ers rushing attack that put up 18 first downs on the ground; meanwhile, the Cardinals didn't pick up a single first down with their running game.
4.
Jamaal Charles KC
173
1
6
0
59
82
-23
He fumbled away one reception and dropped another pass, but boy, did he make up for it with his work as a runner. The Seahawks don't have a great run defense, but Charles finished the day with a 77 percent Success Rate on the ground. That's unheard of. Seattle's run defense has deteriorated over the past few weeks thanks to injuries, but in their previous three games, Seattle had allowed a 48 percent Success Rate. Thomas Jones, by the way, had a 20 percent Success Rate on 20 carries.
5.
Arian Foster HOU
143
0
75
0
55
24
31
It wouldn't be a Quick Reads without Foster. He served as an effective checkdown for Schaub, catching nine of the 11 passes thrown to him and nabbing five first downs. He threw in six more first downs in the running game, which means that he had more first downs on his own than the Titans' entire team combined.


Least valuable running back
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Steven Jackson STL
72
0
-6
0
-74
-45
-29
Jackson certainly didn't lack for opportunity, as he got 29 carries and three targets in the passing game. Despite playing an awful Broncos defense, though, Jackson could muster just three downs on those 32 touches, and his 20-yard run in the third quarter was the only time he picked up more than seven yards on the day. 18 of his 29 carries went for two yards or less, and while one of them was a fourth-and-1 conversion, it also includes two stuffs from the Denver 1-yard line. He also only caught one of three passes thrown to him, and that catch went for -6 yards. The Broncos clearly built their gameplan around slowing Jackson down, but much better teams have had that plan against the Rams for years, and Jackson's still managed to do much better than this.


Five most valuable wide receivers and tight ends
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Dwayne Bowe KC
13
17
170
13.1
3
87
Bowe caught 13 of his 17 targets. Seven of his catches came on third down, and each of those picked up first downs. The work of Jamaal Charles ensured that those third downs did not require all that much to convert, as Bowe's catches there came with an average of 5.1 yards to go.
2.
Ben Obomanu SEA
5
6
159
31.8
1
57
3.
Earl Bennett CHI
4
5
56
14.0
2
57
Bennett's four catches resulted in two touchdowns and two first downs, including a 30-yard catch-and-run that set up the Bears' third touchdown.
4.
Deion Branch NE
3
5
113
37.7
2
53
On his long touchdown pass, Branch at least had to juke out Alphonso Smith three times. (I contend that play should credit Smith with three missed tackles, whoever has to chart this game.) Much like Obomanu and Bennett, scoring high in these rankings is simple if you only get targeted five times and score two touchdowns.
5.
Wes Welker NE
8
10
90
11.3
2
48


Least valuable wide receiver or tight end
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Deon Butler SEA
2
9
9
4.5
0
-56
Butler lost his starting job a couple of weeks ago, and while Obomanu has 246 receiving yards and two touchdowns in his two games as a starter, Butler has done nothing to justify a return to prominence. He finished the day with two catches and as many targets (nine) as receiving yards. Butler wasn't getting thrown bombs, either; he had three incompletions thrown five yards past the line of scrimmage or less. He also had two chances for a touchdown on throws just before halftime, but was not able to stay inbounds to complete either catch. With Golden Tate healthy and Mike Williams on his way back, Butler's about to become the fourth receiver for Seattle.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 30 Nov 2010

105 comments, Last at 05 Dec 2010, 1:26pm by DeepThreat

Comments

1
by ammek :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 2:51pm

You've doubled Jordy Nelson's stats. He caught five passes for 61 yards and one TD.

5
by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 3:03pm

There seems to be an error where I somehow double-copied all the receiving plays for ATL-GB, I will go fix that now.

2
by PerlStalker :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 2:52pm

Man, I'm glad Denver traded away Hillis. It would suck to actually have a back who could run. [/sarcasm]

15
by Kibbles :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 3:33pm

Take Hillis away from Cleveland's monstrous O-line and put him behind Denver's and he wouldn't be producing nearly as well. Just look at Tomlinson in San Diego vs. Tomlinson in New York. The line matters.

A much better criticism would be Denver coming off a season with a historically bad defense and spending the #12 draft pick on Knowshon Moreno when they already had Hillis on the roster. I'm not sure Hillis is substantially better than Moreno, but at best that has to be seen as a lateral move (made worse by the $10 million they wound up spending on Moreno when Hillis worked for peanuts). The next three picks after Moreno were Brian Orakpo, Michael Jenkins, and Brian Cushing. Think Denver's defense might like one of those guys right about now?

28
by tunesmith :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 4:25pm

This kind of criticism is always tough to lay on a football staff. The Hillis critique is popular but it is 100% aided by hindsight. What responsible football mind actually thought Moreno-instead-of-Hillis was actually a lateral move, at the time Moreno was picked? Shanahan also overlooked Hillis, there was no huge outcry when Hillis was traded, etc. The reality is more that Hillis is an awesome success story for Cleveland. If you take out the hindsight logic, running back really was often listed as one of the Broncos' top needs before that draft and it wasn't a huge surprise, especially considering they did draft defense in the first round anyway (Ayers). On top of that, Moreno has actually played well this year once he and the line got healthy, while all the other backs on the Denver roster have continued to look bad.

A better critique *in the moment* (rather than using hindsight) would have been to possibly choose to bolster defense instead of drafting Tebow (although I still half-believe Tebow will make this opinion look idiotic in a season or two), and more definitely to draft another defensive player instead of Eric Decker in the third round, much as I love Decker's potential. Denver is just so stacked at WR it's ridiculous. Maybe it'll work out for the better if they can trade Lloyd or Gaffney for better than a third.

29
by Nathan :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 4:27pm

im not even a broncos fan and even i thought that

1) hillis deserved way more playing time in denver
2) the browns absolutely fleeced the broncos with the trade

hillis made enough plays in denver that he was totally on my radar, even as a non-fan, just like jerome harrison was

32
by tuluse :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 4:34pm

Don't forget Moreno had a poor speed score, and a number of TV analysts were basically saying he was the best RB in the draft by default and wasn't anything special.

39
by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 5:02pm

McDaniels and the Bronco front office have singlehandedly ruined what could have been the powerhouse of the AFC West. Even after losing Jay Cutler for Kyle Orton (which has turned out better than expected, but still qualifies as a loss), the Broncos continued to waste resources, including trading the perfectly serviceable (and versatile) Hillis for Brady Quinn, trading Brandon Marshall for two 2nd round picks (if he's not a top 10 receiver in the league, he's top 15), and drafting Moreno, DeMaryius Thomas and Tebow.

Instead of Thomas and Tebow in 2010, the Broncos could be playing Devin McCourty (the #1 CB for the 9-2 New England Patriots as a rookie) and Dan Williams (to spell Jamal Williams at NT and be the NT of the future). Instead of Moreno in 2009, as mentioned above, Orakpo and Cushing were available (although in between, it was Malcolm Jenkins, not Michael, make of that what you will). That's just picking the next defensive players taken.

Still available at the time they chose in 09: Clay Matthews. In '10: T.J. Ward, who actually leads the draft class in tackles. Does ANYONE think that the Broncos would not be better off with those players plus Hillis rather than two hopeless QB prospects, a serviceable RB (Moreno), and a WR who may someday prove to be as good as Brandon Lloyd or Brandon Marshall if the team is very lucky?

44
by bmurphyuk@mac.com :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 5:28pm

Orton is better than Cutler, straight up. I'm baffled about the Cutler nostalgia in Denver...the draft picks are gravy. If this trade happened right now, the Bears would have to trade draft picks AGAIN to get Orton back...

67
by BigCheese :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 12:18am

And I'm baffled that people continue to spout this complete myth.

Is Orton a decent QB? Sure. Is he better than what his perceptionw as with the Bears? Yes, but that was evident to anyone watching the Bears in 08.

Is Orton better than Cutler? I'm going to go ahead and say no he isn't. It's really funny that during the first half of last season the argument was "Cutler may have better stats, but Orton just wins." And now that the Bears have tripled the Broncos' wins in the time period since it's "Look at how many passing yards and TDs Orton has!"

During last season, around week 11 or 12, I was in an argument on a Bears message board where some people were saying how Orton was clearly superior. I went and looked at the Offensive points scored by each offense and switched them to the other team week for week (adding the ST and D scores from their new team to the O scores). Result: Broncos won 2 more games, Bears won 2 games total. Even if you hand-icked which games to put each Orton performance in, the best you got was still lower than the actual Bears record. And this was with Orton playing with Marshall and one of the best O-ines in football while Cutler had no WRs and the worst O-Line in the eague by far.

People seem to forget that during those first 6 weeks of 09 (on which most of this ridiculous falacy is based) Denver's D was playing lights out while the Bears' D was... not good. At all.

Finally, would the Bears (or any team) trade Cutler AND picks for Orton? Only if they were run by a Snyder/Millen/McDaniels combo (owner/GM/coach).

- Alvaro

77
by bmurphyuk@mac.com :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 7:50am

I dont really care about the first half of last year, maybe you have me confused with somebody else. I also don't care too much about "wins", maybe you have me confused with someone else.

By pretty much any statistical measure, Orton has outplayed Cutler since the trade. Obviously, the Bears wouldnt try to reverse the trade, but the Broncos would never trade Orton for Cutler straight-up.

This ignores the $30m contract extension Cutler got...Orton is currently on $1.1m a year.

I'm not clear exactly what exercise you describe with your 2009 scoring thing...but I cant imagine anybody thinks that trade was anything but highway robbery for the Broncos.

80
by Jimmy :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 1:56pm

By statistical measures there was a point in time when Jim Miller was one of the greatest QBs the league had ever seen (the first guy ever to put together three consecutive 400+ yard games). He was playing in the spread too, that time it was Gary Crowton's circus act. Turns out Miller wasn't all that good but the system can spit out massive yardage totals that actually get you nowhere.

90
by bmurphyuk@mac.com :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 4:27pm

I'm curious...at which point in time and by which statistical measure was Jim Miller ever considered "very good" even?

And I can't believe he ever had 3 straight 400 yard games. Wasnt that Billy Volek?

91
by Eddo :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 5:05pm

Miller didn't have three straight 400-yard games. He didn't even have two straight, nor three straight 300-yard games.

He topped out at two straight 300-yard games. I think he was the first Bears' QB to ever do so, which might be what you're thinking of, Jimmy.

92
by BigCheese :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 7:34pm

Way to miss the point, but let me spell itout for you.

If I'm running the Bears and the Broncos offer me Orton and a pick for Cutler I'm laughing them out of my office.

And anyone who thinks Orton is a better QB than Cutler has absolutely zero grasp of the concept of what a team sport is.

- Alvaro

100
by bmurphyuk@mac.com :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 1:30pm

"I went and looked at the Offensive points scored by each offense and switched them to the other team week for week (adding the ST and D scores from their new team to the O scores). Result: Broncos won 2 more games, Bears won 2 games total."

Since this is your only argument in favor of Cutler (and at leats it has some originality mixed in with its laughability)...well...I think I'm comfortable with my grasp of a concept of a team...

103
by dbt :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 7:17pm

The argument in favor of Cutler over Orton goes something like this: Cutler is a much more physically gifted athlete who is a more accurate passer, especially deep.

The argument in favor of Orton last year was, "Look, Kyle Orton just wins!" This year it is "Look, with a completely different team Orton has better stats than Jay!"

In 2008 Jay was 5th in DYAR, had 5238 EYds. His comp% of 67.8 and his ANY/A (see P-F-R) was 6.6.

In 2009 with the same talent surrounding him though not the same coach, Kyle was 12th in DYAR, had 4129 EYds, a completion% of 62.4% and an ANY/A of 6.2.

That's them both with the Broncos. I'll try them both on the Bears later in the day if I have time...

63
by Randy Hedberg (not verified) :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 11:49pm

The "still available at the time Player X was picked" game can be vastly deceptive. If everyone knew that a drafted star would be a star, he probably wouldn't have lasted as long as he did.

65
by tuluse :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 12:03am

Here are the ten players taken after Moreno:

  1. Orakpo, Brian
  2. Jenkins, Malcolm
  3. Cushing, Brian
  4. English, Larry
  5. Freeman, Josh
  6. Ayers, Robert
  7. Maclin, Jeremy
  8. Pettigrew, Brandon
  9. Mack, Alex
  10. Harvin, Percy

Malcolm Jenkins and Robert Ayers are the only players on the list that look worse than Moreno to me.

82
by Anonguy :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 2:39pm

>Robert Ayers

I don't know if he counts since, you know, the Broncos did pick him. Hard to say they missed out on him for Moreno.

93
by BigCheese :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 7:35pm

At least they did understand that Moreno > Ayers. Not that it resulted in any kind of intelligent decission on their part.

- Alvaro

46
by Will :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 6:23pm

I don't know if Moreno was considered the best, but it was considered a poor RB class. I think Beanie Wells was rated higher based on talent, but had huge injury concerns which have proven valid.

Will

48
by Nathan :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 6:36pm

the point about which moderately above average rb merited being drafted first aside, the real takeaway is, barring certain once or twice a decade talents, drafting a rb with a top 15 pick is pretty wasteful in today's nfl.

53
by greybeard :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 8:22pm

Running back is one of the most reliable position to draft early. Take a look at the last 7-8 years and you would find that almost all of them are still in the league and most of them are starters. You can't say that for any other position.

54
by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 8:34pm

It is true that RB's are reliable. They're basically interchangeable. But most of them are not in the league after 7-8 years... oh wait that's not what you said, quite. Okay. My only beef is that they're reliable not because they're easy to evaluate, but because there's nothing to evaluate.

66
by greybeard :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 12:14am

Running backs are not interchangeable. The higher a running back is drafted the better chance that he would contribute more. Just like every other position. It is true that on the average the performance of running backs start to decline earlier than other positions, but that is quite irrelvant here as we are discussing drafting them, not signing them to their second or third contract.

For every Hillis out there there are tens of lower round or undrafted running backs that you never hear about.

It is quite sad that Patriots, Colts, Chargers, and other successful franchises draft running backs in the first round of draft, yet most FO posters think that they have a better idea of the worth of a running back in the draft than the people that manage those teams.

69
by greybeard :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 12:49am

You may want to check these two articles to give you a better idea on how the draft rank, the playing position and value play out:
http://www.pro-football-reference.com/blog/?p=6513
http://www.pro-football-reference.com/blog/?p=6464

86
by greybeard :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 3:38pm

Another way to look at this is of the 3 running backs out of 9 that were drafted in top 15 between 2002 and 2009 were drafted in 2005 where the draft class was horrible at the top, another (selected #7) turned out to be great and the others were drafted #12, #13, #12 where their contracts are relatively cheap. The outliers are Reggie Bush and McFadden.

It seems to me that the people drafting these players, for the most part, are doing a good job.

70
by BigCheese :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 2:21am

Originally this post started with "Not quite." But after running the numbers I can actually say that you literally couldn't be more wrong in that statement if you tried:

Since 03 (no RB drafted in the Top 15 in 02):

2003:
Tony Hollings. 149 career rushing yards
2005:
Ronnie Brown: Comitee back
Cedric Benson: Starter, but not for the team that drafted him (which is your argument). Didn't get the Bears anything. Actualyl cost them Thomas Jones.
Cadillac Williams: Not a starter, has missed a lot of games.
2006:
Reggie Bush: Comitee back. Missed lot of games. Under 2000 yards career rushing.
2007:
Marshawn Lynch: Not a starter, and not for the team that drafted him (which has actually had to draft his replacement since)
Adrian Peterson: Best back of the last decade.
2008:
Darren McFadden: Hurt so much he's only now become a starter. Not particularly impressive for a third of his career so far.
Jonathan Stewart: Comitee back.
2009:
Knowshown Moreno: Missed about half his career to injuries so far.
2010:
Ryan Matthews and C.J. Spiller: 382 and 164 rushing yards respectively. Neither a starter.

So, even if we take the comitee backs as starters, that's exactly 50% of them that are starting for the team that drafted them (plus Benson 58%).

Comparing other positions as starters (for the team that drafted them and in general):

QB: 57%: Bradfford, Stafford, Sanchez, Ryan, Manning, Rivers, Roethlisberger and Palmer (plus Cutler 64%). Young and Smith also entered the year as starters.

WR: 43%: DHB, Crabtree, Megatron, Fitz, Evans and Andre Johnson (plus Edwards, Mike Williams and Roy Williams 64%)

TE: 50%: Vernon Davis (plus Winslow 100%)

OL: 63%: Okung, Trent Williams, Long, Chris Williams, Clady, Thomas, Brown, Ferguson, Gallery and Gross

DT: 79%: Suh, McCoy, Aluau, Raji, Dorsey, Ellis, Okoye, Ngata and Kevin Williams

DE: 53%: Graham, Pierre-Paul, Jackson, Maybin, Long, Gholston, Anderson and Williams (plus Carriker and Wimbley 66%). And Derrick Harvey entered the season as a starter. Gaines Adams was supposed to start before passing away last offseason.

LB: 87.5%: McClain, Curry, Orakpo, Cushing, Rivers, Mayo, Willis, Timmons, Hawk, Sims, Ware, Thomas Davis, Derrick Johnson and Suggs (plus Vilma 94%). In fact, the only LB drafted in the Top 15 in the last 7 years who's not a starter is... Shawn Merriman! (who might actually start next year somewhere and make it 100%)

CB 50%: McKelvin, Pacman, Rogers, Newman and Trufant (plus Hall and Dunta Robinson 58%)

S 75%: Berry, Earl Thomas, Jenkins, Landry, Huff and Whitner (plus Rolle 87.5%). And if we remove Sean Taylor, who was starting before his tragic death, it'd be 100% overall.

So, in summation, if we count nicklebacks as starters (which I believe they pretty much are now) RB is the single position (not counting G which I lumped into OL but is 0 for 1) with the LEAST percentage of players drafted in the top 15 in the last 7 years still starting, and only behind WR (and tied with TE and CB) with the least percentage of players still starting for their original team.

Turns out you can say that about pretty much every other position EXCEPT Running Back.... You want sustained return on your pick? Go LB or S.

I still don't get how people think they can come to a site life FO, make up an outlandish stat of thin air and not think it won't be called out with the actual facts....

- Alvaro

71
by BigCheese :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 2:33am

And for thsoe who skipped that huge post, here's the Cliff's Notes:

The position with the LEAST % of players drafted in the top 15 in the last 7 years still starting in the league is.... Guard! (0 for 1). But leaving them aside, it's RB. Unless you don't count nicklebacks as starting CBs, in which case RB is second to last.

The actual most reliable positions under this metric are S (with only Sean Taylor not starting today) and LB (Shawn Merriman).

- Alvaro

81
by greybeard :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 2:03pm

Your analysis is quite flawed.
First of all, why the heck is Tony Hollings in this list? He is the 33rd selection on 2003.

And why include 2003?
Nobody from 2003 would be in their rookie contract today. You either have to look at the entire draft history or cut it for 2005 (I believe early first rounders get 6 year contacts).
I have a feeling that you did it to inflate your numbers in favor of your argument. So that you can add Carson Palmer, Andre Johnson, the QB class of 2004 and etc. There were no RBs selected in the first 15 of 2003 and 2004 drafts.

There are 3.5 DL, 3.5 LB, 2 WR, 2 OT, 2 Guard, 2 S, 2 CB starting positions. So without normalizing for that you are comparing apples to oranges.

Also, you need to compare players to the players that are selected the same year. It does not matter 2004 class had great QBs when you choose a RB in 2005.

I would also not include 2010. Not only the year is not over, it is too early to say who the starter would be for the rest of the rookie contract of the player.

2005:
Ronnie Brown: When not injured he is the starter. You may think he is a committee member but not only that is recent it is also incorrect characterization. In his committee year he had 214 attempts and 33 receptions. The first 5 years he averaged 16 carries and 3 receptions a game when he was not injured. For a full season that would be 256 carries and 48 receptions.
Cedric Benson: He played 25 games, started 12 of them in the first 3 years for Chicago. Had 140 carries/year for them. The next two years he started 23 games and had 20.6 attempts/game. Not a starter for drafting team (replaced by a 7th overall selection) but is till in the league and is a starter.
Cadillac Williams: He started 48 games, played in 54 for TB in his first 5 years. He was a starter when not injured. Averaged ~15.6 carries per game played (that is 250 carries on 16 games)
Other players from 2005:
Alex Smith (QB), Braylon Edwards WR - changed teams-, Pacman Jones - out- DB, Troy Williamson-out- WR , Antrell Rolle DB, Carlos Rogers DB, Mike Williams WR- out-, Demarcus Ware LB, Shawne Marriman LB, Jamal Brown T -out-, Thomas Davis LB -out-, Derrick Johnson LB
1 QB, 1T, 3 RB, 3 WR, 3 DB, 4 LB.

2006:
Reggie Bush: Between 2006 and 2009 he averaged 120 carries and 65 receptions despite missing many games. When he is healthy he averages 9.5 carries and 5 receptions per game. That is over 220 touches during a season. That is more than Maroney in his best year. He is a different kind of running back. I consider him a starter on NO team.
Other players from 2006:
Mario Williams DE, Vince Young QB, D'Brickshaw Ferguson T, A.J. Hawk LB, Vernon Davis TE, Huff DB, Whitner DB, Ernie Simms LB, Leinart (QB), Cutler QB, Ngata DT, Wimbley DE, Bunkley DT, Hill DB -out-
3QB, 2 DE, 1 T, 2LB, 1 TE, 3 DB, 1 RB, 2 DT

2007:
Adrian Peterson: starter
Marshawn Lych: Started 34 games out of 48 and played in 41 of them in his first 3 years. Was suspended for 3 games, in 2010 he started 3 games for Bills and then 7 for Seahawks. Bills got a 3.25 year starter and 2 draft picks (4th and 7th). He is a starter.
Others:
Russell (QB), Calvin Johnson WR, Joe Thomas T, Gaines Adams DE, Levi Brown T, Laron Landry DB, Jamaal Anderson DE, Ted Gin WR, Okeye DT, Willis LB, Carriker, DE, Revis DB, Timmons LB.

2008:
Darren McFadden: When not injured he is the starter
Jonathan Stewart: averaged 202 carries and 13 receptions in his two years. That is almost as good a starter and would be a starter in a single back system.

2009:
Moreno: 247 attempts in his rookie year. Starter.

So we have 9 players. All in the league (100% which you cannot say for any other position) and if you want to be very strict at least 4 of them (Brown, Williams, Moreno, Peterson) are starters and all other 5 are very good contributors (Of that 5, 2 of them are starters for other teams, 2 of them average more than 200 touches, and 1 of them is the starter when healthy). With your lofty standards for starting (DHB and all his 28 receptions are a starter for you isn't he?) All 100% of them are starters. My observation is there are 8 starters (and if you include Benson, given that he was replaced by a 7th overall selection and was a starter when with Chicago and became a starter at his new team) it would be even 9.

I stand by my assertion. All of them are still in the league, most of them are starters and you cannot have this high rate for any other position.

Now, try to be honest the next time.

85
by Eddo :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 3:33pm

"I stand by my assertion. All of them are still in the league, most of them are starters and you cannot have this high rate for any other position."

Where are you getting the "cannot have this high rate for any other position" assertion from? Just assuming it?

Two more factors that complicate the analysis: (1) the cost of choosing a position high against the cost of available talent and (2) the effectiveness of available replacements.

88
by greybeard :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 4:09pm

The first part is easy. No other position has all their players still in the league. (BTW, the safeties are reported as DBs in the draft, so it is hard for me to say if all safeties are still in the leauge, or some of them were CBs converted to safeties, etc) So you cannot get any other position with that high rate.

The second part, the ratio of starters is a little more complicated. It very much depends on your definition of starter. For me if you are getting 200 touches a year from your running back that is a starter value relative to other positions. The reason I look at this way is the other positions have multiple player playing the position. People draft left tackles and when it does not work move them to right and then to guard and they end up starting but not in their original value assessment. They draft #1 receivers play them as #2s or CBs and then end up playing them against #2 WRs, pass rushing DEs becomes non pass rushing DEs. The D-Line members always take plays off, etc. So compared to them if you are getting close to 200 touches from the RB position that is equivalent to a starter in another position. Of the 9 RBs 7 matches that criteria. McFadden and Benson with Chicago does not. That is quite a high percentage. Maybe not the highest. I looked at the top 15 from 2005 to 2009 and there were busts in all positions.

And you are right on "(1) the cost of choosing a position high against the cost of available talent ". I did mention that in my post. 2005 is a good example. 3 RBs selected at the top 5. But of the other 12 players 3 were busts, and the others with the exception of Ware were not better.

And you are absolutely right on your second point. That is true for all positions though. I am sure Falcons are not going to draft a QB (edit: in top 15) in 2011 however good that QB is.

97
by BigCheese :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 1:52am

The first part is easy. No other position has all their players still in the league.

Well, sure, it's easy if you ignore the fact, as you have been doing post after post, that every single LB drafted in that period is still in the league, making your assertion 100% untrue.

So, is your beef with LBs, truth, reading or reality? Has to be one of those four, right?

(BTW, the safeties are reported as DBs in the draft, so it is hard for me to say if all safeties are still in the leauge, or some of them were CBs converted to safeties, etc)

Dificult? Not really. A little time-consuming maybe. Took me about 20 minutes to open up every single DB's page on nfl.com and note which position they have played over their career.

So you cannot get any other position with that high rate.

Except for Safety and, you know, LINEBACKER. So it's clear, here's the list:

Rolando McClain: Sarting in OAK
Aaron Curry: Starting in SEA
Brian Orakpo: Starting in WAS
Brian Cushing: Starting for HOU
Keith Rivers: Starting for CIN
Jerod Mayo: Starting for NE
Patrick Willis: Starting for SF
Lawrence Timmons: Starting for PIT
A.J. Hawk: Starting for GB
Ernie Sims: Starting for DET
DeMarcus Ware: Starting for DAL
Shawne Merriman: Put on IR by BUF a few weeks ago.
Thomas Davis: On PUP for CAR
Derrick Johnson: Starting for KC
Jonathan Vilma: Starting for NO
Terrell Suggs: Starting for BAL

That's every single one of them currently on an NFL roster. Of course, I'm sure this won't stop you from responding to this thread, probably this very same post, claiming that no position other than RB has all their players still in the NFL.

- Alvaro

101
by bmurphyuk@mac.com :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 1:51pm

Looks like a simple mistake...he has Thomas Davis as "out"...technically he's not "out" yet, but the Panthers are not planning on re-signing him so it doesn't look good.

102
by bmurphyuk@mac.com :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 1:52pm

No more glaring a mistake than you forgetting to list him as a LB who is "not starting"...

104
by greybeard :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 12:36am

Given that you wrote this post after I wrote: "You are right about LBs though. They are more reliable as draft picks than RBs." You are the one who has problem with comprehension or reading.

PFR reports Thomas Davis as out on the draft page (look at the draft page for the year he is drafted. It says 2009 for him as the last playing year and 2010 for the active players.)

PFR also reports DBs and not safeties. Yes I could have spent 20 minutes on finding which one of those many DBs are safeties. I did not.

That is a summary of why I though LB and DB are positions that have players out already.

You still don't get that there are two safety positions and there is much better chance that 8 safeties drafted would have a much greater chance of starting than 9 RBs for 1 position. Or 16 LBs have much better chance of starting when there are 3 or 4 LB positions. You also don't get you have to compare players selected in the same year.

But whatever. I was wrong, you are right, there are two more reliable positions than RB. So I guess I "literally couldn't be more wrong in that statement". And you must be right "Turns out you can say that about pretty much every other position EXCEPT Running Back.... You want sustained return on your pick? Go LB or S."

Let's recount how this started:
"the point about which moderately above average rb merited being drafted first aside, the real takeaway is, barring certain once or twice a decade talents, drafting a rb with a top 15 pick is pretty wasteful in today's nfl."

Which I replied to

"Running back is one of the most reliable position to draft early. Take a look at the last 7-8 years and you would find that almost all of them are still in the league and most of them are starters. You can't say that for any other position."

I see that you can say it for LB and S. That proves that RBs are not a reliable position to draft and nobody should draft in top 15 unless they are once or twice a decade talents (of course how you know that is a little unclear).

Let's get back to the topic though. You are so awesome, I envy you. Even I, quite a stupid guy myself, understand how awesome you analytical skills are. You are the Tom Brady of FO posters. Happy?

96
by BigCheese :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 1:19am

Where are you getting the "cannot have this high rate for any other position" assertion from? Just assuming it?

Given that he's responding to a post where I showed him that LBs are at 100% for still being in the lague (with Merriman the only one not starting), and S would be at 100% playing AND starting if not for Sean Taylor's tragic death, I'd say he's pretty much making them up pourposefully.

- Alvaro

87
by Nathan :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 3:42pm

speaking of Laurence Maroney, BJGE and Danny Woodhead say "hi"...

89
by greybeard :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 4:24pm

Maroney was not a good player and the two players you mentioned are undrafted. Good point, but you are cherry picking the example.
Look at 2009 stats (http://www.pro-football-reference.com/years/2009/rushing.htm), and look at who is on the top ten.
2009, 9 of them are first two rounders.
2008, 7 of them are drafted on rounds 1 and 2.
2007, 7 of them.
2006, 6 of them.

Let us look at QB position, where nobody would say you should not draft early:
2009, 5 of them.
2008, 7 of them
2007, 5 of them
2006, 7 of them
Of the players that show up on that list Tony Romo, Warner, Kitna are undrafted, Brady, Bulger, Cassel, Hasselback, And Anderson are 6th rounders.
And you have Leinart, Smith, Carr, Harrington, Russell, Grossman as your Maroney examples for the QB position.

94
by BigCheese :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 8:24pm

First of all, why the heck is Tony Hollings in this list? He is the 33rd selection on 2003.

Because he was the first player taken in the 2002 suplemental draft and thus, shows up on pfr's player draft finder query (http://www.pro-football-reference.com/play-index/tiny/Q28Vl), even though it's set to regular draft only, so I'll go report that bug after I post this.

Oh, and the 33rd selection on 2003 was Eric Steinbach. Try to at least get the facts correct when you're correcting me.

And why include 2003?
Nobody from 2003 would be in their rookie contract today. You either have to look at the entire draft history or cut it for 2005

Are you incredibly dense or are you just trying to deflect attention from the fact that you're backtracking like a bears safety against Vick? I'm using the last 7 years because YOUR original coment was, and I quote in full: "Take a look at the last 7-8 years and you would find that almost all of them are still in the league and most of them are starters. You can't say that for any other position."

Are you honestly trying to say that in order to disprove a specific assertion about players drafted in the last 7-8 years, you should look either at the last 5 years or at the entire history of the draft? Because if so, please tell me and I'll stop wasting energy arguing with you and wait for an adult to come pick you up.

I have a feeling that you did it to inflate your numbers in favor of your argument.

Then you have either amnesia, a serious cognitive deficiency, or are a complete liar. I used that cut-off because that is the range YOU cited in the post I was responding to.

[A bunch of stuff of how those RBs were starters in years past]

In what shape or form is that in any way relevat to your assertion that they are starters in the league RIGHT NOW?

So we have 9 players. All in the league (100% which you cannot say for any other position)

Except for the pesky fact that, if you had actually bothered to read what I posted, you would know that you can say it about LBs. And you could for S as well, if Taylor hadn't been shot, but that's neither here nor there, since, once again everybody: You can say that for LBs. Well I guess you can't say it's 9 players, since it's actually 16, a much more impressive number. But oyu can definitely say 100% of them are still in the league.

With your lofty standards for starting (DHB and all his 28 receptions are a starter for you isn't he?)

Yes, my "lofty" standard that they currently start games for their team, and are losted as starting said games this season on nfl.com. How could I ever be so unreasonably demanding?

I stand by my assertion. All of them are still in the league, most of them are starters and you cannot have this high rate for any other position.

So your position is that, you stnad by an assertion that has been proved completely wrong by actua evidence (like the 100% rate of LBs drafted in this period is still playing and all but Merriman are starters as defined by the NFL and also the fact that they start every game they are healthy)?

Pass the Pabst Blue Ribbon!

Now, try to be honest the next time.

I am, as evidenced by the fact that I cite the source of the data I'm using (including your original horibly flawed statement, parts of which then somehow you want to pin on me). I would actually suggest that next time you try to be honest with yourself.

- Alvaro

95
by greybeard :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 9:13pm

Yes I did say 7-8 years. I should have said 5-6 years. That does not change the fact that in 2003 and 2004 there were no RBs selected in top 15 and no point in compering their performance to other players from those years.

We are discussing the value of RB as a draft choice. I looked at their careers you look at who is starting today. If you are looking at them starters today Brown, Benson, Bush, Lynch, Peterson and McFadden and Moreno are starters. That is 66%. Better than QB, WR, DB, TE, DE. Not as good as LB and DT.

BTW, you post was dishonest because you bring up health and change of teams as factor to dismiss RBs as starters, yet do not use those for other positions: Stafford, Cutler, Roy Williams, Mike Williams, Okung, Rivers, Pacman, Simms etc
You also wrote down names that are not starters as starters. DHB is not a starter this year nor was last year neither is Maybin nor Gholston. Gholston for God's sake. Have you been under a rock the last three years?

You are right about LBs though. They are more reliable as draft picks then RBs.

99
by BigCheese :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 2:43am

Let me be completely clear so even you can understand this: At no point in time am I comparing the relative value of these players, their careers or any other of the stuff you are going off on.

I am factually disputing your claim, that you have repeated at least two times after my original post, that all RBs drafted int he last 7-8 years are still in the league and most are starting, while no other position can claima nything close to that percentage. This claim is 100% factually wrong.

You can try to change the focus, keep ignoring that LBs and Ss actually ARE at 100% starting, and do whatever else you like, but that doesn't change the fact that you keep repeating a statement that you present as fact when I ahve indeed proved it is not even close to being fact.

I have no interest in discussin the merits of drafting RBs in the first round under the completely shallow and useless method you proposed and keep changing. None whatsoever.

Specially when you actualy can continue to decry that a player who started 9 of 11 games this year (DHB) is not a starter with a straight face.

I did get Gholston and Maybin wrong though. They were listed as having started all games this season on pfr, and I didn't double-check (even though I did find other players' start stats for 2010 to be completely wrong).

- Alvaro

51
by Dennis :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 7:41pm

Seriously? The Broncos' inability to score from in close last year was well-covered by the Denver media. Everyone was asking why McDaniels refused to use Hillis. Saying the criticism of getting rid of Hillis is hindsight is ridiculous. Nobody thought the trade made much sense at the time.

64
by BigCheese :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 11:54pm

I have a big problem with... well, pretty much every single point you make, so let's take them in order:

"The Hillis critique is popular but it is 100% aided by hindsight."

That is 100% false. Hilis really turned some heads when he was pressed into action during his rookie year and was on his way to grabbing the starting job until he was lost for the season on an acrobatic catch down the middle. Apparently the only person who didn't know this was Josh McDaniels. I know I drafted Hillis not only in 2010, but also in 2009 in my keper league and had him o the roster in a copule of deep ones. And that wa mostly hype from places like this, since I don't think I saw him play in 08.

"If you take out the hindsight logic, running back really was often listed as one of the Broncos' top needs before that draft..."

It really wasn't. A quick search for "denver draft needs 2009" spits out at least half a dozen articles where RB is listed either a) At the very bottom of needs, probably in the last rounds, b) not realyl as a need since the running game was effective in 08 even with all the injuries or c) not at all.

The one exception to this is bleacherreport.com, the Chris Simms of team needs evaluation, and even though they mention that they should go get Knowshawn Moreno, that's inmediately followed with, "Now, back to reality, Shonn Greene (Iowa) or Javon Ringer (Michigan State) would add a nice bruiser between the lines to help punch it in." So even they knew they should be addressing other needs long before RB.

"...and it wasn't a huge surprise, especially considering they did draft defense in the first round anyway (Ayers)"

Considering this was McDaniels' first draft, before we knew he was from the Matt Millen/Al Davis school of drating, it was a COMPLETE surprise, specially since Moreno was projected to still be there with their second first rounder, while the plethora of defensive talent that went off the board right after him was not.

In fact, these are the first five results that come up when you google "draft grades 2009":

- Denver - C+ - "Doesn't always see bigger picture."

- Denver - F - "Does not understand Assignments."

- Not actually a draft grade, more of an overall draft recap, but starts off it's second paragraph with: "And with the 12th pick in the NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos blow people away and take Knowshon Moreno!" (Emphasis mine)

- Denver - B- - "Reaches for Knowhsown Moreno"

- Denver - C- - "this wasn't a good first draft for the new regime, even if Moreno will be a star." (and they ist their best pick as Darcel McBath, so clearly not high on the Moreno pick).

If you go to Denver-centric reviews, the consensus is also that Moreno was a reach and they should have gone defense. My favorite line is: "Denver panicked when whatever defensive player they wanted was gone by their number 12 pick in the first round. So they reached for running back Knowshon Moreno too early, as there were quality players still around. Moreno is a decent back to be sure but the Broncos really needed defensive help. [...] This pick will lower the 2009 NFL draft day one grade for the Broncos."

So I'm pretty confident in saying that yes, it was indeed a huge surprise at the time.

"A better critique *in the moment* (rather than using hindsight) would have been [...] definitely to draft another defensive player instead of Eric Decker in the third round, much as I love Decker's potential. Denver is just so stacked at WR it's ridiculous.

You're serisouly trying to tell us with a straight face that during draft day ANYBODY considered the Lloyd/Gaffney combo to be "so stacked at WR it's ridiculous"? Talk about your revisionist history...

And for the record, at the time of the Hillis trade I stated that Denver was getting fleeced. I just had no idea they were being MONUMENTALLY fleeced. Seriously, this looks loke an NBA trade trying to clear up salary: "I'll give you one of my best players AND two draft picks in exchange for a player that will likely never see the field and will be released at the end of the year." Brilliant!

- Alvaro

36
by db :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 4:45pm

In his limited Broncos career Hillis averaged 4.6 per carry. This was a terrible trade for Denver and should have been seen as such by McDaniels.

74
by Podge (not verified) :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 5:49am

I dunno, getting a starting QB either this year or next for a backup running back (and who cares, RBs are replaceable) and 2 junk draft picks looks like it could be a good deal. Of course the fact that the starting QB is rubbish and the RB is looking very very good complicates matters. And using a first round pick on another QB doesn't really add to it.

I really hope the Browns manage to somehow pick Jerry Rice and Lawrence Taylor with those 2 6th round picks, just to make the trade better.

78
by Dennis :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 1:00pm

What starting QB did they get? Quinn hasn't started any games for them.

79
by Eddo :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 1:52pm

And if the Broncos did think Quinn could be their starting QB in the future, why did they draft Tebow?

I feel like most of McDaniels's moves look bad-to-OK in a vacuum, but when looked at all together in the context of building a team, they look like a disaster.

EDIT: I'm not arguing with Dennis. I'm elaborating on his point. I think.

4
by Eddo :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 2:54pm

So what happened? Well, [Cutler] got time to throw, and had a fair amount of luck. After being sacked four times in his first eight dropbacks, including on three consecutive attempts, Cutler wasn't sacked the rest of the way. Meanwhile, his first touchdown pass of the day was a bullet to Earl Bennett that was about three inches away from being intercepted. Stuff that might normally get Cutler in trouble -- like a shovel pass while in the grasp of a defender to Matt Forte -- worked this week.

Vick did a great job leading the Eagles towards a comeback in the second half -- that throw to Brent Celek was almost too good to be true -- but he wasn't able to do much against one of the league's best pass defenses.

I hate when people whine, but I'm having trouble with the consistency of these two statements.

First, I'm not sure how Cutler avoiding sacks is "luck" (though I do see that you might not necessarily be referring to it as such). I would say the lack of sacks later in the game was due to better playcalling and Cutler himself feeling the rush better and scrambling.

Second, Vick gets praised for the throw into at least two navy jerseys (you could even say it was into four) that wound up as a touchdown, yet you imply Cutler's great throw to Bennett doesn't get him any credit?

I understand the commentary is rushed, but it sure seems like you're looking for ways to marginalize Cutler's great game against a good defense. Sometimes, he just plays really well.

10
by TomC :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 3:22pm

In Barnwell's defense: 1) I'm 95% sure he didn't mean that Cutler was lucky to avoid sacks (the sentence about sacks was meant to illustrate the first reason Cutler did well, i.e. getting time to throw); 2) The shovel pass was indeed a play that could have gone horribly wrong but gets you compared to Ol' Stubbly if it works. But your point about praising Vick for exactly the type of throw he dings Cutler for is inarguable. I guess that's what BB gets for finally saying something nice about MV.

17
by Kurt :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 3:36pm

Inarguable? Vick's pass was on fourth down, inside the two minute warning while down two scores. Cutler's team led the whole game. There's the argument for treating them differently.

22
by TomC :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 4:03pm

The distinction you're making has to do with decision-making, not quality of the throw. The QR comments say that Vick made a great throw as part of a great job leading his team to a comeback, but Cutler was lucky to not get intercepted.

76
by Whatev :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 6:08am

In defense of the defense, there's a difference between the level of risk that constitutes a "good decision" when you're up and the level of risk that constitutes one when you're down.

14
by Marko :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 3:30pm

None of this bothers me at all. I prefer it when people don't give the Bears credit and attribute their success to luck. They seem to play a lot better as underdogs with a chip on their shoulders. They have finally started to get a lot of national respect this week after their convincing win against the latest "it" team this year, but I hope it doesn't change their mindset.

That being said, I don't think Cutler's pass to Bennett was in danger of being intercepted (although it could have been broken up if it wasn't as accurate as it was). It seemed to me that the pass (which was an absolute dart) was intentionally thrown low so as to minimize the chance of an interception. Also, Cutler and Bennett know each other very well (they were teammates for one year at Vanderbilt and Bennett was Cutler's primary target that year), and they clearly were on the same page regarding how the pass would be thrown. After the game, Bennett said that based on the coverage, he knew the pass was coming to him before the snap.

As for Vick, it was 4th and 9, there were less than 2 minutes left, the Eagles needed 2 TDs and were out of timeouts. He had to take a shot there. So while that would have been an incredibly risky throw in the middle of the game, it was a risk that had to be taken at that point. I don't see how you can criticize Vick for making that pass.

41
by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 5:06pm

Also. Does anyone else watch Michael Vick throw and think "Oh my God he's not even trying!" His release is so fast and so effortless you can hardly believe the ball travels like it does. He doesn't have perfect mechanics like Brady or Manning (in different ways) do. He has no mechanics. The ball just comes out.

62
by Pass to Set Up ... :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 11:24pm

Yeah there's definitely a beauty to his release. Looks like his just playing catch, and then the ball goes 60 yards in a tight spiral. It's unreal because he doesn't look like he's putting any of his body behind throwing with force.

20
by Jimmy :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 3:48pm

Cutler did get sacked four times but that only tells part of the story.

One sack (the first IIRC) was an all out blitz with zero coverage behind it. The Bears ran three streaks with an underneath crosser, the only guy that got open was deep down the middle, the underneath crosser actually had his coverage player running along in front of him removing the check down. There was no way for Cutler to get rid of the ball and the Eagles had seven rushers to six blockers. A great call by McDermott but probably not sustainable.

One sack was the very poor decision by Webb to allow Graham a free shot on Cutler as Webb helped block the tackle, an obvious mental mistake that may have been caused by Webb thinking he had Manemaleuna (spelling?) outside him but he had moved to the other end of the line pre-snap. Yes, bad line play but that only happened once.

One of the two remaining sakcs was a strange play. It was either a screen that got changed from one side to the other or an attempt at a double screen. If it was the first then the left side of the line clearly didn't get the memo as they made little to no attempt to block anybody as the right aslo went with the screen to Forte. If it was the double screen then Cutler probably needs to drop deeper as he sells the play fake (or drop the play fake). If Cutler had managed to get the ball to the back side screen player (not sure who it was, the angles weren't all that good) it seems likely that it would have lead to a big play. Of course he didn't and got sacked.

The last sack was by Trent Cole who put a wicked move on Omiyale and flat out beat him.

Obviously the Eagles deserve some credit for making the plays but the Bears line was for the most part pretty solid apart from ambitious play calls and the odd mental mistake.

40
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 5:05pm

Teh play was a fake screen right then a screen left to Hester who had about 4 blockers in front, he could have scored. Might have been a better play with 3 blockers out in front so tht the qb could actually get rid of the ball in time.

23
by CraigInDC :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 4:17pm

I haven't seen the play, but it sounds like Cutler made a great throw into a tight space. If I did that it would be luck, but for an NFL Quarterback not named Rusty Smith, I think we can attribute it to skill.

49
by Rick B. (not verified) :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 6:45pm

You do realize that the Eagles were missing their best cornerback for this game? A cornerback that leads the league in INTs? And were forced to start a fourth round rookie in his place with almost no NFL experience?

There's also the matter of the horrific playing field that the Bears were obviously accustomed to, and which the Eagles players were having problems with all game long.

If they replay that game anywhere else, with Samuel in the lineup, I think the outcome is vastly different for Cutler.

56
by chisox24 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 9:20pm

Its very easy to use excuses for what could have happened. In any other game, in which the ball takes normal bounces and the Bears recover some of the Eagle's fumbles, the Bears could have won by 20. Or if MV's pass at the end of the 4th was 2 inches to the right, it hits off of Urlacher's arm and the score is different. Or like you said, Asante Samuel could play, and maybe the Eagles do win. Guess what, we have no idea what happens if things are different.

So tell me again, why are you even bothering to discuss hypotheticals? Discuss what actually did happen.

3
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 2:54pm

Orton wasn't "let down by his offensive line". On the first play with plenty of time and in great field position, he held the ball for 7-8 seconds and took a sack instead of throwing the ball away. That sack is what killed the Denver comeback and it was entirely on Kyle. The StL rush took the cue and got good pressure from there, but Orton didn't exactly help things with some terrible throws.

30
by tunesmith :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 4:27pm

Orton is fabulous when it doesn't matter most.

75
by Podge (not verified) :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 5:51am

To be fair to Orton, on the 4th and 16 it looked like he had a guy pretty quickly who could have gotten the 1st down, but Long just battered Ryan Harris and didn't give Orton a chance to really throw the ball properly.

6
by nat :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 3:04pm

This schtick is getting old. The commentary on all of the top six DYAR QBs is dominated by shallow negatives. Gosh. DYAR must suck as a stat if it's always so wrong about QBs effectiveness.

Contrary does not equal insightful, or even interesting. Bill, you gotta work harder on this.

33
by SandyRiver :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 4:35pm

And the "shallow negative" on Brady ignored Mr. Tate's drop of a perfectly thrown pass about 35 yards downfield. It was 14-3 Lions at that point, so this Pats fanboy was none too pleased. Tate had a later (much shorter pass) egregrious drop, but I can't remember if it came within the cited 5 possessions.

7
by Travis :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 3:10pm

If you include the strike-shortened season of 1987, the answer is no. During that 15-game campaign, Jerry Rice had one of the greatest seasons by any player in NFL history, catching 22 touchdown passes in those 15 games.

Rice's season was even more impressive than that, since he didn't play in any of the 3 replacement games (unlike, say, Joe Montana).

8
by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 3:14pm

I've now fixed the wide receivers. Sorry about that.

9
by zlionsfan :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 3:17pm

lol. I don't think we have instructions for marking multiple missed tackles on a play. (I don't remember charting a play like that in the past.)

11
by dziemann (not verified) :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 3:23pm

RE #7...what are you talking about re: Montana and Rice??

12
by dziemann (not verified) :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 3:24pm

RE: MYSELF! Disregard my Montana/Rice question!

13
by mawbrew :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 3:25pm

I haven't seen the Chiefs play and have a hard time believing Cassel is really playing that much better this year. Can someone with more KC exposure provide some perspective on this?

18
by Nathan :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 3:38pm

22/4. believe it. it's amazing what a running game can do.

19
by ChiefsCA (not verified) :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 3:48pm

Honestly, he's gotten better just about every week. He's making plays on his own. The biggest thing is his pocket presence. He's reading blitzes, he's calling audibles, hot routes, and when he does get pressured, he gets away (several times in the Seattle game) and either runs, hits Bowe, or simply throws it away.

Obviously he has some help in Bowe and Charles, but he's starting to step up and do his part. However, he still needs to prove himself against a good defense on the road. And that test will be coming in two weeks in San Diego.

25
by mawbrew :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 4:20pm

Thanks for the reply. His DVOA is up almost 50% (-24% in 2009, +24% in 2010 so far). I would have to guess that's almost unprecedented for a QB, at least for a QB with 5+ years experience. For example, Favre 'only' improved about 40% from 2008 to 2009.

26
by Nathan :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 4:22pm

For all intents and purposes this is his 3rd year wouldn't you say?

34
by dbostedo :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 4:40pm

Not really....there is still value in being on a team, being around Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, being at all the teams meetings/planning/practices/walkthroughs etc. You can't really just ignore the seasons before just because he didn't play much in actual games.

35
by Lyford (not verified) :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 4:45pm

For all intents and purposes this is his 3rd year

Not only is this only his 3rd year as an NFL starter, he never started in college, so it's only his 3rd year starting since high school. Sam Bradford has more post-high school starts at this point than Matt Cassel. If ever there were a QB who we might expect to develop a bit late, it would seem to be Cassel...

55
by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 8:38pm

Yeah, but Favre went down more than 50% from 2009 to 2010!

45
by BJR :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 6:07pm

The Chiefs are really going to live to regret that stupid overtime loss in Oakland three weeks ago, because as much as their offence has improved recently, they aint winning in San Diego. They might well win every other game, but so probably will the Chargers to leave both teams 11-5 and Chargers winning the division on the tie breaker.

57
by MJK :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 9:34pm

This is amusing, after watching him play in New England in 2008 (when he missed leading the Patriots to the playoffs because of a tangled 3-way tiebreaker at 11-5).

Take your reply above and replace "Bowe" with "Moss" and "Charles" with "Welker", and everything you said could have been said about Cassel about the difference between him in the first half of the year and the second half of the year.

I guess it took him about half a year to figure out the NE offense...and a little longer to figure out the KC offense.

But in any case, he seems a quick study with some real potential. A far cry from "Rusher McFumbles".

16
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 3:34pm

"No team dares a quarterback to make throws into tight windows more than the Eagles do"

I don't think this is true, the Eagles run a blitz heavy scheme. Forcing qbs to throw into tight windows is a trait of a zone heavy defense and while the Eagles do run more zone than they used to under the late, great Jimmy Johnson, there are many teams that would be more apt for that statement. Their opposition on sunday would be one such team.

I also would have thought that Brady's game would have been devalued by DYAR because of the quality of the Lions' D, in particular the fellow that was doing a very poor impression of a defensive back on the right hand side of the Lions defense.

21
by nat :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 3:57pm

Through last week, the Lions pass defense was in the top half of the league, at DVOA of 7.0% The median was 11.2%. (Defense = lower is better). And they were very consistent: 2nd in Var at 2.7%

They suffer from chronic bad field position, I'd assume due to their bad offense, bad running defense, and bad kicking/punting games. See the drive stats and the ST stats pages for the details. Pass defense is just about the only thing that FO stats like about the Lions.

42
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 5:06pm

Even with Alphonso Smith?

47
by nat :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 6:32pm

Tackle-schmackle. He's fourth in the league in interceptions.

31
by dmb :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 4:29pm

"Meanwhile, Isaac Bruce was able to do almost a full season's work in seven games during the 1995 season; the Rams receiver caught 60 passes for a record 986 receiving yards, throwing in seven touchdowns. Bruce ended up with an incredible 1,781 receiving yards by the time the season was over, the second-highest single-season total in NFL history."

The 1995 season was just bananas for receiving stats, and as a result, Bruce may have put up the most underrated receiving season in NFL history that year. He had the misfortune to put up that second-best yardage total the same year that Rice set the record; Herman Moore also had the #6 (#4 at the time) season, too! Moore also set the record for receptions in a season (since bettered by Marvin Harrison) that year, with 123. Amazingly, the second- and third-highest catch totals (at that time) were also posted that year: both Rice and Cris Carter had 122, which matched the previous record, established by Carter one season earlier; Bruce had 119.

Bruce put up 119 catches (3rd-highest in history at the time) for 1781 yards (second-highest in history at the time) and 13 TDs, catching passes from a washed-up Chris Miler and an even-more-washed-up Mark Rypien. The Rams' leading rusher that year was Jerome Bettis, a fine player who managed a paltry 637 yards on 3.5 ypc (-18.8% DVOA, -78 DYAR) that season. (Their second-leading rusher had just over 200 yards on only 3.1 ypc!) The most complimentary receiving "threat" was Todd Kinchen, who authored a masterful 36 catches. (Troy Drayton had 47 grabs and Johnny Bailey had 38, but neither managed a positive DVOA -- and Bailey even had negative DYAR.)

So poor Isaac Bruce puts up a historically great season in his first campaign as a starter with virtually no help, and what does he get for his efforts? Not even a Pro Bowl berth! All that historical greatness happening around Bruce's happened to be in the NFC, so Rice, Moore, and Carter all got (highly justifiable) nods. The fourth and final selection was Michael Irvin, who put up a pretty excellent season himself: 111 rec, 1603 yards, 10 TDs. Interestingly, Irvin had the highest DYAR of the bunch, leading the league by a huge margin (636 to Rice's 2nd-best 550; Bruce and Moore were tied for 3rd with 470) and putting up the greatest FO receiving season. And Bruce only got one all-pro selection, being named to the 2nd-team all-conference unit by UPI.

Bizarre, right? Timing is everything, I guess...

24
by Semi-Anonymous (not verified) :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 4:19pm

OK it's not football related - sorry - been lurking here a while and just wondered if anyone knows who the top-heavy babe in the spam ad is in the brown swimsuit ;-) She's not the name listed in the ad (Tori Black).

38
by ebongreen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 4:55pm

Surveys strongly suggest Denise Milani.

83
by Semi-Anonymous (not verified) :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 2:47pm

After a quick google search I would agree thanks, or she's close enough ;-) Thanks!

43
by BSR :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 5:13pm

I thought it was Tori Black. I know other web photo's show here with a smaller rack but I figured she just had work done.

84
by Semi-Anonymous (not verified) :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 2:53pm

@BSR - yeah I searched Tori Black first, thinking that was the obvious answer. Think the guy above has it right. I'm not normally into the real top heavy but she's pretty attractive.

27
by CraigInDC :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 4:23pm

In fact, had Lee Evans and Steve Johnson done much better, Jackson probably could have won the game for the Bills on his own.

Not to nitpick too much, but this made me laugh. If his teammates had helped a little more then he could have won the game all by himself!

37
by tuluse :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 4:51pm

Don't look now, but Cutler has improved his DVOA to approximately 0%. Matt Forte seems to be finding more room to run too. The Bears could have a league average offense by the time the playoffs come up.

50
by Jim Z. (not verified) :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 6:47pm

Or they might just miss the playoffs after they lose games to the Jets, Patriots, and Packers down the stretch and can't compete for a wild card after the Packers win the division?

52
by dbt :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 7:55pm

Another way of putting that is that even if they lose to the jets and patriots, they're still guaranteed to win the division of they win their other two remaining division games and then beat the packers at the end of the season. The Bears offense has been much improved since they re-committed to running the ball after the bye week. Stay tuned to see how it all turns out! Should be exciting.

(note: I'm not interested in asserting now they're going to win or lose any particular game. I'm more interested in understanding why they're doing better.)

59
by tuluse :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 9:40pm

I don't think a commitment to the run is as big a reason as superior blocking. It's been the same 5 guys since the week 6 game against Seattle, and they've been surprisingly adequate. There is still the odd mental mistake, and the occasional end who can just out class the tackles, but other than that they look how an offensive line should look.

Running more has helped, mainly because the Bears are not as predictable any more. There were drives where Martz would call 7 or 8 passes in a row, and I'm thinking, a draw right here should catch the defense way off guard, but it never came.

68
by BigCheese :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 12:25am

The comittment to the run is a HUGE reason for their turnaround. Look no further than said Seattle game (before the Bye where Lovie apparently sat Martz down and explained that either he could either run more, or walk more, through that door). That game had 12 RB runs called. And had one goal-to go series go: empty backfield pass, pass out of the I (without play-action because, who's goign to buy a run?), Pass from the shotgun where the RB inmediately runs out to the flat without even prettending to stay in and block. Two fo those resulted in sacks, including an untouched DB into an empty back-field, for the second time that game.

- Alvaro

72
by tuluse :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 4:36am

They couldn't run though. I think Forte and Taylor both were below 3.5 yards per carry entering the Carolina game. That's atrocious.

Being able to run has been a lot more important than actually calling running plays.

73
by ammek :: Wed, 12/01/2010 - 5:23am

This Packers fan hears you.

98
by BigCheese :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 2:12am

Entering the game in question (Seattle), Forte was at 3.9 per carry.

Also, while being able to run is more important than calling run plays, having a back in the back-field and ocasionally giving him the ball IS important in not having a DB making a bee-line to the QB without a single worry in the world play after play.

- Alvaro

58
by tuluse :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 9:35pm

They still might have a league average offense!

I suspect the division will come down to the week 17 between the two teams. Should be exciting.

60
by tuluse :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 9:44pm

I may be have been too harsh on Earl Bennett. He seems like a guy who could stick around in this league having a Joe Jurevicius type career. And yes, I know I just broke the cardinal rule by comparing two players with different colored skin.

61
by t.d. :: Tue, 11/30/2010 - 10:01pm

Jerry Rice's 1987 season was incredible- 23 touchdowns in 12 games (the scabs played the other three).

105
by DeepThreat (not verified) :: Sun, 12/05/2010 - 1:26pm

Jerry had 22 TDs in 12 games in 1987.