Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

Most Recent FO Features

BradyTom00-10.jpg

» Week 4 DVOA Ratings

Five different teams from last year's DVOA top eight rank in the bottom half of the league through four weeks of 2014. What can we learn from other teams with similar starts in the past?

21 Dec 2010

Week 15 Quick Reads

by Bill Barnwell

It's been a good ten days for Jamaal Charles. Last Saturday, Charles signed a five-year, $32.5 million contract extension with the Chiefs that guarantees him $13 million. On Sunday, Charles busted off the longest run of the weekend, an 80-yard scamper that helped seal a crucial 27-13 victory over the Rams.

And today, he's hit another milestone: According to DYAR, Charles is the best running back in football this season. While DVOA has suggested that he's the best per-play back in the NFL for a fair amount of the season, his performance against the Rams pushed him ahead of Arian Foster as the overall leader in rushing DYAR.

He won't be hitting any bonuses for finishing in that spot, but you don't need advanced metrics to realize what a great season he's having. Charles is now averaging 6.4 yards per carry, something that no other back has done with 200 or more carries in a season. Barry Sanders? Eric Dickerson? Adrian Peterson? Charles is doing more on a per-carry basis than any of them ever did, even in their best year. His 36.0% DVOA also would rank as the best performance by a back in a single season since 1993, the beginning of the DVOA Era.

The only reason Charles doesn't get recognition as the league's best back, of course, is Todd Haley. Although Haley deserves credit for assisting in the turnaround of Kansas City football over the past year and a half, his refusal to unleash Charles upon the league is mind-boggling. A look at the numbers makes comparisons between him and teammate Thomas Jones laughable. It's very clear that the Chiefs need to stop fooling around and give Charles the bulk of the workload in Kansas City -- now.

Most of the reasons given for the near-perfect split of the carries between Jones (212 rushing attempts) and Charles (203 attempts) are nebulous; Jones is a reliable veteran and he's great in the locker room, but that doesn't make him a superior option at running back. Besides, it's not like Charles doesn't have safe hands: Jones has one fumble on 202 touches this year, but Charles has just one more on 228 touches.

Consider their performance in similar situations. On first-and-10, Jones has 105 carries for 515 yards and 11 conversions for a first down or touchdown, an impressive average of 4.9 yards per carry. Charles, though? His 89 first down carries have produced 683 yards and 19 conversions, an average of nearly 7.7 yards per attempt. That's better than some teams' passing games.

Jones is regarded as an effective goal line back because of his gaudy touchdown totals, but research in Football Outsiders Almanac 2010 revealed Jones to be a consistently-mediocre goal line back who had one of the worst performances in league history for the Jets in 2007. Despite that, the team continues to pound the ball with Jones inside the goal line without getting very much in return. On his 15 carries inside the opposition's five-yard line this year, Jones has five touchdowns and a first down. Charles, meanwhile, has three touchdowns on four such carries. In "power" situations, carries on third or fourth down with two yards or less to go for a first down (or two yards to go for a touchdown on first or second down), Jones has converted on eight of 16 attempts. Charles is 5-for-7.

Of course, nobody doubts that Charles is the more explosive back. He has nine carries of 20 yards or more, while Jones has just three. Unlike some boom-and-bust backs, though, consistency isn't an issue for Charles. Our Success Rate metric measures how effective players are at keeping the team "on schedule" towards a new set of downs; by that measure, 59 percent of Charles's runs have been successful, the second-best rate in the league. Only Chris Ivory has been better. Jones is in 18th place among qualifying backs, at 48 percent. Charles is also the more productive receiver.

The only thing that stands out as an obvious reason to keep Jones in the fold is durability; Jones has been a sturdy back throughout his entire career, while Charles really only spent half of last season as the primary back for his team. You can make the anecdotal case that Charles benefits from the frequent breathers he gets, but there's also the anecdotal stories about running backs "getting into rhythms" with regular work. Either way, even if Charles lost ten percent of his value with an increase in his workload, he would still be a far better option than Jones has been this year. Charles deserves the plaudits he's received for a great season, but he deserves better: Todd Haley's decision to limit his workload is keeping Charles from being recognized as an MVP candidate.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
1.
Philip Rivers SD
19/25
273
3
0
180
180
0
Speaking of MVP candidates, Rivers deserves to stand right alongside Tom Brady, Michael Vick, and Charles in the balloting. Unfortunately, the atrocities committed by San Diego's special teams and a decline in his passing attempts over the past few weeks have conspired to keep Rivers's chances down. He had a chance if he set the all-time passing record, but instead, he'll just have to settle for games like this. Repeatedly shredding the 49ers apart with perfectly-placed passes to Vincent Jackson, Rivers picked up a first down or a touchdown on 15 of his 25 attempts. He could have done even more, but the Chargers threw seven passes against 24 run plays after halftime.
2.
Michael Vick PHI
21/35
242
3
1
166
109
57
Vick's first half was one of his worst halves as a pro, even stretching back to the Falcons days. Facing the league's best pass defense, Vick dropped back 12 times and produced zero first downs. He was intercepted once and took two sacks, and while he picked up two first downs as a runner, he gained 24 yards on four carries. And then the second half happened. Vick produced 158 passing DYAR on 26 plays, with three touchdown passes, five first downs, and only one sack. He was far more impressive, though, as a runner. His 51.8 DYAR as a runner in the second half would be the fourth-highest total of any player over a whole game this week, and it came on just five carries. He picked up first downs on scrambles of 13, 22, 33, and 35 yards, and added a four-yard touchdown run on his other carry. While the improvements in Vick's accuracy as a passer have been remarkable and well-documented, it's amazing that Vick has retained so much of his natural speed as a runner. Taking what essentially amounts to three years off from full-time work undoubtedly helps, but Vick is 30 and he still makes other guys on the field look like they're in slow motion.
3.
Drew Stanton DET
23/36
252
1
0
149
147
2
Stanton converted six of the nine third downs he faced against the Buccaneers, and the ones he came up short on had 12, 13, and 20 yards to go. He was also 5-of-6 for 67 yards and five first downs on passes thrown to the middle of the field. A week ago, Stanton was 1-of-4 for four yards on throws to the middle.
4.
David Garrard JAC
24/37
299
2
1
141
149
-8
The second-biggest play of the day for Garrard isn't reflected in his numbers, as Mike Sims-Walker drew a 28-yard pass interference penalty. After starting the third quarter with three straight incompletions, he had seven straight completions for a total of 116 yards before sailing a throw against Cover-2 for a pick. When he got the ball back, he proceeded to have a very nice fourth quarter to give the Jaguars a shot at winning, going 12-of-17 for 134 yards with six first downs and a touchdown pass.
5.
Eli Manning NYG
23/39
289
4
1
139
139
0
That collapse wasn't on Eli, that's for sure. He did great work in turning the Eagles' turnover late in the first half into a touchdown, and while Vick laid waste to the defense in the second half, Manning still threw for four first downs, a touchdown, and 101 yards on 15 dropbacks. The only thing Manning really didn't do was pick up third downs; after converting five of ten in the first half, Eli was only able to get one of the five he faced in the second half, a touchdown pass to Boss.
6.
Carson Palmer CIN
14/23
209
0
0
106
102
4
Palmer lost his most prominent receiver (Terrell Owens) during the game and actually probably performed better. He had nine first downs on 23 attempts and didn't turn the ball over or take a sack. He was 4-of-8 in the second half, with all four of those catches going for 15 yards or more, including a 53-yard pass to Andre Caldwell that had 55 YAC.
7.
Mark Sanchez NYJ
19/29
170
0
0
105
90
15
Obviously, this was a much better performance from Sanchez. He made smarter decisions, didn't try to force throws, and didn't put the ball in danger. Brian Schottenheimer also deserves credit for focusing more on the slants and play-action bootlegs that Sanchez does best. And of course, that playfake on the fourth-and-1 touchdown run was just a thing of beauty.
8.
Josh Freeman TB
21/32
251
1
0
102
104
-2
9.
Colt McCoy CLE
19/25
243
2
0
97
97
0
Mike already covered the absurd brilliance of the Browns' A-11 mutation; McCoy added a 46-yard touchdown pass to Brian Robiskie on his final dropback to bring the Browns within two points. Robiskie's finally shown signs of life over the past three games, with 14 catches for 142 yards. If he can serve as a viable possession receiver, that would give the Browns a realistic group of targets for McCoy alongside Mohamed Massaquoi and the uncommon Josh Cribbs.
10.
Jon Kitna DAL
25/37
305
2
0
95
101
-6
Inside the red zone, Kitna was 4-of-11 for 32 yards with two touchdowns, a first down, an aborted snap, and a sack. Outside the red zone, Kitna was 21-of-26 for 273 yards with 13 first downs and a Success Rate of 59 percent. Eight of those 21 completions had ten YAC or more. The Redskins got back in the game during the second half, when Kitna went on a seven-play stint without producing a first down. That started with the Cowboys up 13 points and ended with them in a tie game. Fortunately, Kitna was able to pick up first downs on each of his final two plays to set up the game-winning field goal by David Buehler.
11.
Jay Cutler CHI
14/24
197
3
1
83
83
0
Cutler's long touchdown pass to Johnny Knox was something else. It showed how strong Cutler's arm is with a deep throw against the wind, but it was a downright awful throw -- it hung badly and should have been intercepted. Instead, Madieu Williams appeared to be pulled by magnets to the sideline; there's no other way to explain the unconscionable angle he took to the pass. You don't see deep passes caught as low as Knox caught this one because it's so unlikely that a defender won't have a play on that ball. The funny bit was the overhead camera shot from the quarterback's perspective, which showed Antoine Winfield watching the play from the backfield absolutely flabbergasted that the pass ended up complete.
12.
Matt Schaub HOU
35/54
321
2
1
81
81
0
Schaub dropped back 59 times, but only the first three of those dropbacks came while the Texans were trailing by fewer than 14 points. He threw just four deep (15-plus yards) passes all day, converting two of them.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
13.
Tim Tebow DEN
8/16
138
1
0
81
64
17
In his first career start, Tebow flashed some big-play ability without revealing very much about his viability as an NFL quarterback. His touchdown pass was, well, ugly. The 33-yard throw to Brandon Lloyd was a lob to the corner that hung in the air seemingly for eons, traveling straight through Stanford Routt's hands en route to Brandon Lloyd's. He had four other plays for 17 yards or more, but he only had three completions besides them. Tebow was also playing a Raiders team that lacked Nnamdi Asomugha for a fair amount of the day. He did show excellent burst as a runner on his touchdown run, which Doug covered on Yahoo here.
14.
Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF
16/26
223
2
1
80
78
2
Fitzpatrick did nice work with the replacements for Lee Evans. David Nelson caught all three passes thrown to him and accrued 61 yards, two first downs, and a touchdown. He enjoyed himself, but probably not as much as debuting undrafted free agent Naaman Roosevelt. Roosevelt takes local-boy-done-good to another level. He was born in Buffalo, went to prep school in Buffalo, and then attended SUNY Buffalo, where Turner Gill converted him from quarterback to wide receiver. He made it onto the practice squad in Buffalo during the offseason and was placed on the active roster when Shawne Merriman was placed on injured reserve. He caught two passes for 35 yards, and while it didn't come in front of the hometown fans, Roosevelt actually listed his dream city as Miami before the draft. That's where the Bills were on Sunday, so congratulations to him.
15.
Tom Brady NE
15/24
163
2
0
67
67
0
We've talked about the lucky runs of interception avoidance that Michael Vick and Mark Sanchez went through at different points this year; while Brady's a more accurate passer than either of those guys, his streak of 292 passes without an interception has also involved a fair amount of luck. On Sunday, Brady could have finished with three picks and it wouldn't have taken a particularly impressive play. The Packers were able to slow him down by playing a lot of deep zone coverage and matching up Charles Woodson against Wes Welker. Brady would eventually take advantage of third cornerback Sam Shields, but he really struggled for a while; after hitting Aaron Hernandez for 13 yards on third-and-10 in the first quarter, he went ten plays without producing a first down or a touchdown. He completed five passes in that stretch, but only one was successful, and Brady also was stripped on a sack.
16.
Drew Brees NO
30/46
267
3
1
64
64
0
The Ravens absolutely dominated Brees early with pressure; it's hard to remember a stretch for Brees that was as bad as his beginning to this game. On his first 14 dropbacks -- ending with a 13-yard sack at midfield -- Brees was 6-of-12 for 43 yards with a touchdown, an intentional grounding, and that megasack. The Ravens didn't pressure him anywhere near as frequently on the Saints' two-minute drill, and Brees started a great stretch: 12-of-13 with 10 straight completions, 126 yards, six first downs, and a touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham. Then he was sacked on consecutive dropbacks, fumbling each time. After that, he was consistently inconsistent the rest of the way. He also set the mark for the worst completion of the year, with one pass going to Reggie Bush for -10 yards. Bush also held the previous mark at -9 yards (along with LeSean McCoy).
17.
Peyton Manning IND
29/39
229
2
0
63
63
0
Manning started the game with seven consecutive completions and finished it with six more. In a weird quirk, all seven of those opening completions were successful plays, but none resulted in a first down (one was a touchdown pass). Strangely, the only three deep passes Manning completed all day were on throws to Austin Collie and replacement Blair White. And while Donald Brown was certainly an effective runner, Manning missed the pass-catching abilities of his other backs, as four passes to Brown and the undead Dominic Rhodes produced just eight yards.
18.
Joe Flacco BAL
10/20
172
2
0
38
35
3
On nine passes to his wide receivers, Flacco had a 42-yard catch by Derrick Mason, a 15-yard catch by T.J. Houshmandzadeh, a two-yard grab by Anquan Boldin, and six incompletions. Announcers highlight the group of receivers Flacco has like they're superstars every week, but they haven't played particularly well this year. Nominal deep threat Donte' Stallworth was a healthy scratch this week, too.
19.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
23/41
264
1
0
30
17
13
12 of Roethlisberger's 23 completions came on throws 10 yards downfield or more; only 26 percent of the completions by the rest of the league traveled 10 or more yards in the air. That's not typical for Roethlisberger, either. Before Sunday, just under 31 percent of his completions were of that variety. That could very well be related to who he was throwing to and the matchups he was trying to exploit, as Emmanuel Sanders led the team with 13 targets. Mike Wallace had ten, while Hines Ward had just three targets all day. Roethlisberger also (unsuccessfully) attempted a fake spike, always fun to see.
20.
Jimmy Clausen CAR
13/19
141
1
0
25
26
0
Even Clausen's touchdown pass was thrown behind Jeff King, who did a nice job of grabbing the throw out of the air. He didn't throw an interception, which disappointed those folks who might have picked up the Arizona defense in both their fantasy leagues. And his last first down came with 14 minutes left in the third quarter. All of this was academic, of course, because John Skelton was across the field. On second down, Clausen was 4-of-5 for 50 yards.
21.
Chad Henne MIA
33/44
276
1
1
23
23
0
Henne was even better on second down: 13-of-15 for 90 yards, seven first downs, and a touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall. He didn't complete a single pass that traveled further than 16 yards in the air. It was also great to see Kevin Curtis back on a football field after beating testicular cancer.
22.
Matt Flynn GB
24/37
251
3
1
3
3
0
In addition to the weak opposing secondary, Flynn derived a significant benefit from field position. The average meaningful Packers drive started 32.7 yards away from their own end zone, which is more than three yards ahead of their average position before Week 14 (29.3). The Bears had the best average field position in football heading into the week, taking over 32.4 yards away from their own end zone. The blame for the chaos enveloping the aborted final play isn't really fair; while the Packers might have hoped to have a play ready if they completed a pass and didn't convert for a first down, throwing over the middle to Donald Driver is not really a decision Flynn should be making on third down with no timeouts. Checking down an taking passes in the middle of the field is great as part of a two-minute drill, but that wasn't the situation for it.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
23.
Kerry Collins TEN
14/24
237
2
1
2
2
0
After a big first half, Collins dropped back just eight times in the final two quarters, with four completions for 13, 16, 17, and 27 yards, and an interception. He took three sacks even without Mario Williams around, and while he had a 59-yard completion to Kenny Britt in the first half, it was a duck that bounced off of a Texans' defender's hands and into Britt's.
24.
Matt Ryan ATL
20/35
174
3
1
1
6
-5
Only two of Ryan's 14 third downs required more than seven yards to convert, which is probably why he was able to pick up eight of them (five first downs, three touchdowns). He only had two first downs in 21 dropbacks on first and second down. Ryan also had this weird set of consecutive streaks: Three straight completions, four straight incompletions (including an interception), three straight completions, four straight incompletions, and after one completion and one incompletion, six straight completions for 63 yards and a score.
25.
Charlie Whitehurst SEA
8/16
83
0
0
-2
-20
18
26.
Sam Bradford STL
21/43
181
0
2
-12
-7
-6
Bradford's final five plays: Sack with fumble, sack, fourth-down interception (a 41 yarder on fourth-and-20, which actually produced slightly positive DYAR because it flipped the field position some), 25-yard completion, interception. Danny Amendola had five first downs on 11 targets; his other wide receivers produced three first downs on 18 targets.
27.
Matt Cassel KC
16/29
184
1
1
-22
-27
5
Didn't really appear to be affected by the appendectomy; as I mentioned in Audibles, his interception seemed to be the product of a route combination gone bad. Chris Chambers even had his best game of the year, with a leaping grab on a deep throw over the middle accounting for one of Cassel's biggest plays of the day.
28.
Jason Campbell OAK
15/26
238
1
2
-29
-48
19
29.
Rex Grossman WAS
25/42
322
4
2
-31
-31
0
How did Grossman throw for 322 yards and four touchdowns and nearly lead the Redskins back to a win and still finish towards the bottom of these rankings? Well, opponent adjustments, to start. Grossman produced 10 YAR, but that went down to -31 DYAR because he was playing the Cowboys. He threw two interceptions, was sacked five times, and fumbled once. While the game was within seven points, he was 6-of-13 for 69 yards with just three first downs and both those picks.
30.
Alex Smith SF
19/29
165
0
1
-32
-31
-1
For whatever reason, Vernon Davis was an absolute non-factor in this game. He was thrown just one pass all day, while Delanie Walker had five targets. On throws to his backs and tight ends, actually, Smith was 7-of-11 for just 28 yards. Michael Crabtree didn't do much better, with three catches for 17 yards.
31.
Joe Webb MIN
15/26
132
0
2
-51
-68
18
32.
John Skelton ARI
17/33
196
0
1
-60
-62
2
Skelton's numbers would look better if Tim Hightower had merely carried his reception the final two yards into the end zone; instead, Hightower fumbled and Steve Breaston was credited with the touchdown on a fumble recovery. Stats are imperfect! It wouldn't have mattered much anyway, as Skelton converted just two of 13 third downs all day, was sacked three times, and contributed both an interception and a fumble. One of those sacks came from Top 25 Prospect Charles Johnson; with five sacks in his last four games, he's now at 10 for the year.
33.
Matt Hasselbeck SEA
10/17
71
0
2
-111
-112
1
The game turned on the sack and fumble Hasselbeck took in the end zone, resulting in a defensive touchdown for the Falcons. After starting the game with six straight completions, Hasselbeck went 1-of-4 for five yards before the fateful sack; afterwards, he had two completions, two incompletions, and two consecutive interceptions before being pulled for Charlie Whitehurst, perhaps permanently. Hasselbeck's looked effective at times this year, but he's had a propensity for awful runs of turnovers. Strength of schedule also masks some of the odorous performance, as he ranks behind players like Alex Smith and Drew Stanton in DVOA.


Five most valuable running backs
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Rashard Mendenhall PIT
100
1
0
0
58
63
-5
Mendenhall faced the league's second-best run defense with an offensive line consisting mostly of clearance rack specials and somehow produced a wildly effective game. He had a 65 percent Success Rate against Gang Green, with nine of his 17 carries going for five yards or more. There has been a slight uptick in the Jets' Success Rate Allowed since the injury to Jim Leonhard: Before the injury, the Jets limited teams to a 33 percent Success Rate, and in the three games and 80 carries since, they've been at 40 percent.
2.
Ray Rice BAL
153
1
80
1
55
14
42
As a receiver, Rice caught five of the seven passes thrown to him for a total of 80 yards, with two first downs and a 17-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter. He wasn't quite as effective as a runner, peaking with a 50-yard dash in the fourth quarter seeing him bounce nicely to the sideline to pick up extra yardage. He only ended up with three rushing first downs (and a touchdown) on 31 carries and a 26 percent Success Rate, which is why he ranks behind Mendenhall. The 50-yarder was the only one of his final 19 carries to rate out as successful.
3.
Cedric Benson CIN
150
1
0
0
53
58
-5
Benson led all backs in rushing YAR, but opponent adjustments push him down to third. He finished with a 52 percent Success Rate, and 21 of his 31 carries went for four yards or more. He converted both of his third downs and averaged 4.6 yards per carry on first down.
4.
Jamaal Charles KC
126
1
27
0
53
52
0
In addition to the 80-yard run, nine of Charles's 11 carries were successes; his two failures were a four-yard gain on second-and-13 and a stuff for no gain on third-and-11. He finished third in rushing YAR behind Benson and Maurice Morris (who had 56 rushing YAR against a weak opponent and -14 receiving DYAR), but he had a 118.3% DVOA on his carries.
5.
Felix Jones DAL
70
0
47
0
49
27
22
Jones had five first downs on his 12 carries, and eight of those attempts were successes. His three targets as a receiver also produced receptions of 15 and 32 yards, each of which resulted in first downs. Combined with his big-play ability, this sort of efficiency on a regular basis would make Jones into a really valuable running back.


Least valuable running back
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Tim Hightower ARI
16
0
12
0
-33
-5
-29
As soon as a Cardinals back takes the leading role, he promptly loses it with a terrible game or ill-timed fumble. Against the league's 27th-ranked run defense, Hightower's six carries produced 16 yards, with just one first down to show for his troubles. He was even worse as a receiver, with two meaningless dumpoffs on third down and a fumble inside the five-yard line. His only saving grace? Beanie Wells was the fourth-worst back of the week. Of course, think about what that says about Arizona's offensive line.


Five most valuable wide receivers and tight ends
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Calvin Johnson DET
10
12
152
15.2
0
60
The Buccaneers have lost several key parts on defense, including top cornerback Aqib Talib, but Johnson's numbers would be fantastic after translating them against any caliber of defense. He caught 10 of the 12 passes thrown to him, with nine of the receptions going for first downs. He was thrown four passes on third down, and each time, he caught the pass and picked up the yardage required. An even more impressive statistic: On passes that weren't thrown to Calvin Johnson, Drew Stanton was 13-of-25 for 100 yards with six first downs.
2.
Vincent Jackson SD
5
7
112
22.4
3
59
Jackson spent most of his game matched up in the slot against one of the most expensive free agents in league history, Nate Clements. Do you think he was motivated? He caught a 58-yard pass for a touchdown with what appeared to be extra limbs, somehow pushing Clements aside while grabbing a contested ball. He finished with two more touchdowns, a nice showcase for his skills on national television. (Well, as national as the NFL Network can be.)
3.
Jason Witten DAL
10
12
140
14.0
1
53
Witten converted three third downs, including a 14-yard touchdown catch on third-and-9 in the second quarter. In fact, he got five of Jon Kitna's ten passes on third down.
4.
Brandon Lloyd DEN
4
5
79
19.8
1
46
Lloyd ended up making a very nice catch on that Tebow floater, sprinting and somehow contorting his body into a falling catch while maintaining possession. It was one of those rare catches ruled incomplete by an official six inches away and actually overturned on replay. He also had completions of 19 and 22 yards and added a 24-yard defensive pass interference penalty.
5.
Brandon Marshall MIA
11
12
106
9.6
1
45
Marshall caught 11 of the 12 passes thrown to him, and they weren't quick hitches, either; six of the 11 targets traveled nine or more yards downfield, and his one incompletion actually was on a pass at the line of scrimmage. He produced five first downs and a touchdown, and while he fumbled on his final catch, it was with five seconds left and wasn't really a fumble.


Least valuable wide receiver or tight end
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Ben Obomanu SEA
1
8
7
7.0
0
-52
Considering Obomanu suffered a severe laceration between his fingers a couple of weeks ago, we should probably cut him some slack. He also had Matt Hasselbeck and Charlie Whitehurst throwing to him, so if we asked them to deliver the slack, they would probably throw it five yards ahead of him.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 21 Dec 2010

151 comments, Last at 22 Dec 2010, 6:52pm by tuluse

Comments

1
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 2:26pm

I was as flabbergasted as Winfield that Cutler's long pass to Knox resulted in a completion. Excepting Winfield, the Vikings might have the worst defensive backfield in the league right now. The pass rush has fallen off quite a bit, but is still a little above average. If this team couldn't still rush the passer halfway decently, they'd be giving up 50 points a game.

The Joe Webb era begins! Woo hoo!!

8
by jmaron :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 2:41pm

I thought Webb did pretty well considering the horrendous play of the offensive line.

One would have to presume Joe Webb will never become a decent starter in the NFL let alone a championship caliber starter. But right now it's the only reason to watch the last two Viking games. The man sure can run.

22
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 3:01pm

Aye, there's the rub. I have no idea whether the guy will ever be accurate enough, or have fast enough recognition, to be a decent NFL qb, other than the obvious, which is that the odds are heavily against it. He is a good enough athlete, with pretty good size, to have a decent chance to be an NFL player with value. If they spend five years figuring out that he can't play qb, however, that'll be wasted.

32
by Randy Hedberg (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 3:21pm

Why would you be worried about the Vikings spending years trying to figure out whether a superior athlete from a small southern school can play QB in the NFL?

64
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 5:16pm

Nice, but the difference is that Tavaris Jackson really isn't a superior athlete, which is why I couldn't ever figure out the infatuation with him by Childress and Co.. The guy has decent straight line speed, but he isn't elusive, and has lousy instincts.

123
by jurb :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 1:47am
21
by Charles Jake (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 2:59pm

Honestly, I don't see what was so terrible about the throw. Knox had beaten the corner and caught the ball in stride and uncontested. If you want terrible, look no further than the angle taken by Williams.

24
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 3:02pm

A safety with any ball awareness intercepts that pass, it hung so long.

47
by cb60 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 4:11pm

the play was four 9s against nickle 2zone. CB22 winfield slot offensive right, CB29 Sheppard allowed WR13 Knox inside release. FS20 Williams has to play the slot 9 first and take the angle to WR13 at the throw. Without the press, the angle has to be converted upfield rather than down to the point of the catch, placing the throw behind his field of vision while his back is turned. If he did get the pick it would have been an amazing play.

50
by bkjsun :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 4:20pm

I agree a pick would be a great play in that situation but the safety did take a terrible angle to the ball. He should have gone over the top of Knox to make the play.

65
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 5:19pm

Not the way that ball hung in the air. A guy with good speed and decent awareness gets both hands on it.

124
by jurb :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 1:48am

Agreed. It was a tremendous pass into the teeth of the wind. The safety made a bad play on it, but he had no shot at intercepting the ball or breaking up the play. If he had played it properly, he tackles him five yards after the catch. As it happened, he took a bad angle on it and Johnny Knox was off to the races. I'm not sure how you can call that a bad pass (and if you want to talk about a bad read by a defensive cover guy, look at how the Vikings scored their first touchdown).

130
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 10:47am

If you still have it, count the number of seconds the ball was in the air. Just because it hung less than a typical qb's ball would have doesn't makie it a tremendous throw.

131
by Eddo :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 11:14am

I get what you're saying, Will, and it's tough to really prove either way, but every time I see the replay, I think to myself, "Wow, what a throw!"

I mean, the ball hits Knox perfectly in stride. It probably should have been thrown to the outside shoulder, yes, but that just means it wasn't a perfect throw, it doesn't make it a bad one.

I understand your point, though, and like I said, I think this is one of those agree-to-disagree situations.

49
by jmaron :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 4:18pm

A list of Viking starters that I suspect will be gone or will lose their starting job to injury or incompetence:

Pat Williams
Edwards
Leber
M. Williams
A. Allen
Favre
Berrian
Tahi
Griffin (two acl surgeries...doubt he'll make it back to starter level)
Herrera (kind of average before the acl injury)
Sullivan

I believe Rice and Greenway are some level of free agent, but I can't see the Vikings letting those guys go anywhere.

52
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 4:21pm

There's no CBA, no one is a free agent technically.

53
by jmaron :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 4:22pm

good point.

72
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 5:53pm

I think there is a decent chance Mckinnie gets cut. I believe his price tag is fairly high next year, and his play would have to improve substantially at this point to achieve mediocrity.

74
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 6:01pm

On the play that probably finished Brett Favre's career, Corey Wootton, a rookie, just ran through McKinney like he was a tackling dummy. That was very surprising to me, though I haven't seen the Vikings play much.

77
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 6:09pm

His play started to decline last year, and has gone over the falls this year. He's never been a guy who has a nasty streak and non-stop motor; talent alone has pretty much carried the day, and now that the talent is beginning to decline, there's nuthin' to slow the descent. The play that ended Stubbleface's streak was a classic Mckinnie give-up play. Once Mckinnie lost his man, he just stopped playing, while the pass rusher ran another 20 yards to drill Stubbleface.

2
by ABW (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 2:29pm

Quick Reads frequently talks about the streaks of completions and incompletions that QBs go on. This is interesting, but I have no idea whether it is better, worse or the same to string together a bunch of completions and then a bunch of incompletions, or to alternate completions and incompletions.

9
by Spielman :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 2:41pm

My initial thought would be that streakiness would be better, since if you're stringing together the completions, that's likely to lead to scoring points.

Over 12 possessions, I'll take six scoring drives and six three and outs over no three and outs, but more drives that pick up a couple first downs and result in a punt for a touchback.

That's just my first twitch, though.

13
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 2:48pm

It would depend a lot on your defense and special teams. If you are constantly getting the ball near mid field the offense that mixes in successes and failures could give you 12 field goals.

112
by Spielman :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 11:35pm

True. On the other hand, if your defense and special teams are consistently giving you the ball at mid-field... Wow! If you get that kind of support, you damn well better put up 30+, whether you're streaky, consistent, or even have Rick Mirer at quarterback.

Okay, maybe not that last one.

139
by Noah of Arkadia :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 12:19pm

Since you're average completion goes for over 10 yards, it would seem that a QB that went 2 completions-1 incompletion like clockwork would lead his team to score even more than that.

Or, in other words, you don't need to complete every single pass on a drive to score, so hot-and-cold streaks would seem like a less than ideal distribution.

71
by jprfrog (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 5:42pm

I agree that streaks are better, because they keep drives alive, and keep your defense off the field. If a game is close going into the 4th quarter, the team that has a relatively fresh defense and has time on the sideline to make adjustments will win more often than not. Watch Belichick doing this with his young defense while Brady is running a 12-play drive throwing 5-7 yars to Welker, the Gronkowski-Hernandez tandem, or Woodhead. Then toward the end when the opposing defense is blown, let loose Woodhead and the Law Firm (Ben-Jarvus Green-Ellis) for substantial gains that also keep the clock running.

You win a 15-round march more often by body-punching than by throwing haymakers.

3
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 2:33pm

Also, I have't seen the Chiefs play this year, but when discussing otherwise inexplicable reasons why a guy isn't getting more of the workload, you can't ignore pass blocking, even if you are looking at rushing attempts. A guy who can't pass block is just a lot harder to keep on the field, even on 1st and 2nd down, and there are coaches who just hate how their playcallling gets constricted by a running back who can't block. I have no idea, however, if this applies to the Chiefs.

11
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 2:46pm

I think Barnwell is off base calling for a change in running back usage. Thomas Jones actually has more games with fewer than 10 carries (3 to Charles's 0). By and large the games were Jones has more carries are games were the Chiefs won. So I'm guessing the additional carries were running out the clock. Where it makes sense to use the guy who's proved he's durable and keep your big play guy fresh. This is the first game in 4 weeks where Jones has had more carries than Charles. The last one was a win against Arizona where the Chiefs had a 21-3 lead at halftime and Jones got a whole 3 more carries than Charles (15 to 12).

33
by William Lloyd Garrision III (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 3:22pm

Good post tuluse. I wonder if those thoughts are correct; would make sense if so.

Charles is a smaller back. I have been a smallish running back in a prior chapter of my life. Lower workloads when strategically affordable can keep that type of person fresher and effective.

35
by Randy Hedberg (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 3:24pm

As a Jamaal Charles fantasy owner who watches entirely too much football, I'm not sure this is correct. Anecdotally, it seems like there are quite a few games where Charles gets almost no work in the first quarter and only starts lighting it up later in the game. Maybe Haley believes the tripe about a powerful runner "softening up the defense" so that faster guys can excel.

58
by robbie (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 4:41pm

Hmm. My gut response - only that, because I am pretty much a moron - is that if the Chiefs' planning and Charles' running is producing some of the greatest stats in RB history, is there a case for assuming that someone knows what he is doing?

I am absolutely prepared to be told I am wrong, but it seems at least possible that Charles might be being optimised.

69
by Arkaein :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 5:36pm

I think the argument is that any player that is optimized on a per-play basis is probably underutilized in a time share situation.

Even if more usage leads to a decline in per-play quality, there is a lot of room to give Charles more plays and get more total value out of him. The only argument against it is if the coaches believe that his per-play value would decline significantly.

Considering that his per-carry average is 6.4, I'd think that it would be worth giving him an extra 5 carries per game, even if that dropped his per-carry average across all carries by half a yard.

Let's work out the math. Charles averages 203 / 14 = about 15 carries per game, for about 93 yards per game and 6.4 YPC. Jones also averages about 15 carries, but for 59 yards per game and 3.9 YPC. Combined they have about 30 carries for 152 yards each game.

Let's say Charles takes 5 of Jones carries each game, but loses half a yard per carry in the process. The result would be 20 * 5.9 + 10 * 3.9 = 118 + 39 = 157 yards each game. Not much difference, but still a net positive, with Charles still running a reasonable 320 times on the season. This also assumes that Charles takes a significant hit on his per carry average, while Jones gets no benefit from the added rest. It's probable that the numbers would work out better.

From the math I'd say that Charles probably deserves more carries, but not having watched the Chiefs much I'd say other factors such as blocking and receiving abilities could be a limiting factor.

82
by Robbie (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 7:05pm

Makes sense. Though if the Chiefs has a top rushing attack, if I were them I'd still be very tempted to leave the system as near alone as possible. It can't be easy to have a top rushing attack, with so many moving parts, and I could absolutely believe that the type of down, the structure of play and the effect Jones has is not measurable purely in yards.

I could also absolutely believe that they are playing exactly the same plays, and they are just differently effective, but it seems possible that they are used in slightly different situations, at least some of the time, and that there are structural, playbook reasons accounting for some output difference.

I am incredibly not-broke-don't-fix-it as a person, though. I'll never invent a laser. Has anyone invented a laser? Is a laser a thing or is that just in comics?

102
by Karma Coma :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 9:33pm

According to MacGyver, the laser was invented by a 12th century alchemist named Ambrose.

140
by Noah of Arkadia :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 12:23pm

You absolutely might be right. We're only talking from what we know, and we don't know everything. With the info we have it does seem a bit unreasonable, though.

113
by Robert S (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 11:50pm

I think he's missing the most important factor that's driving Charles's usage: The Chiefs are taking the long view with this team. They're well aware of the burnout rates for RBs (this particular franchise has seen how quickly overused backs fade to oblivion: see Holmes, Priest and Johnson, Larry) and they want to keep Charles's usage down so that he's an elite running back for 3-5 years rather than 2-3 years. As a longtime Chiefs fan, I'm fully on board with limiting Charles's carries. This team is not going to win the Super Bowl, barring significant luck. Why burn 90 carries this year if it accelerates his decline phase when they expect the team to be a true contender? Further, does the data support the idea that RBs with low carry totals are relatively better late in the season that RBs with high carry totals? My guess is that the Chiefs believe that Charles will be more effective late in the season (like he was last year) if he has only 250 carries than if he has 330 carries or whatever. That makes sense to me. The anecdotal evidence certainly supports this. Charles has said in the last couple weeks that he feels great; he's healthy. Not sure he'd be feeling so spry with 330 carries.

115
by Spielman :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 12:21am

The test is going to be whether or not they lean on Charles during the playoffs. If he's clearly the lead back during the postseason, I think your assessment is correct, and they're choosing to use him the way they are. If it's still 50/50 or Jones sees his carries increase, then maybe their sanity really does need checking.

4
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 2:34pm

I wasn't able to behold the Rex Grossman experience first hand, but the way all the analysts were talking I thought he played fairly well. However, it appears the Cowboy's pass defense is really bad, and sacks and picks and a fumble are also bad.

On another note, it seems like the Lions are able to plug in just about any QB and after some practice time get a good performance out of him. They could shape up to be a very dangerous team next year. All they have to do is beat the depleted Dolphins or Vikings to hit that 5 win mark this year, and they easily could have had a few more.

16
by RichC (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 2:50pm

Watching that game, it seemed to me like the Redskins should have won by a LOT of points. Rex throwing the ball directly at defenders, and getting strip sacked kept that from happening.

It looked like the typical poor performance the announcers love: lots of lost drives because of his mistakes, but tons of yards.

18
by mrh :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 2:52pm

The local media here in DC is pretty pumped about Rex, focusing on the good yards and td stats while ignoring the turnovers and sacks. The reality is that McNabb played better in week 14 than Grossman in week 15, judged by DYAR and by Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt (ANY/A) available at pro football reference.com. McNabb’s W14 DYAR was 96 compared to Grossman’s W15 -31. I did the ANY/A calculations to get a 2nd opinion.

Here's the ANY/A formula: (Passing Yds - Sack Yds + 20 * Passing TDs - 45 * INTs)/(Passing Attempts + Sacks)

McNabb in Week 14 threw for 228 yards, 2 TDs, and 0 INTs on 35 attempts, and took 2 sacks for a loss of 17 yards. His ANY/A = 6.8. This year, Rivers and Brady led the league thru Week 14 with ANY/A of 8.1, Big Ben was 6th with 6.8 (note McNabb was 6th in DYAR last week). So that actually was a pretty effective game for McNabb.

Grossman this week was 322 yards passing, 4 TDs and 2 INTs on 43 attempts, while losing 36 yards on 5 sacks. ANY/A = 5.8. That tied Garrard's season number thru Week 14 which was 19th place overall. A mediocre NFL day – and that’s without opponent adjustments.

In addition, Grossman did it against a defense that was 4th worst in the league in ANY/A (6.8) while McNabb did it against a team that ranked tied for 10th toughest pass defense (5.4). Grossman's performance was inflated by playing a generally poor defense (and yes, I know they have played better the last few weeks) while McNabb played a tougher D (although missing its best corner and with McCoy getting hurt during the game).

In the media, the Shanahans proclaimed themselves happy with Rex, in particular praising his sticking with the system of reads, progressions, etc. If they believe that, then they value a QB who does what he is told over one who plays better. Of course, they may just be justifying their decision or trying to build the team’s confidence up.

40
by William Lloyd Garrision III (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 3:33pm

I believe the local media here is a big part of the problem with the skins. They are by and large idiots who haven't been Moneyball-ized, if you will. Wilbon included.

By the way, DC, McNabb is a running quarterback who doesn't run well anymore so his inaccuracy makes him relatively ineffective at this point. It's over.

But I love the guy--am glad he came here for the year, and think he's a class act. Hate to see him benched like this, and wish Shanahan saw the bigger picture and rode out the string with him this year. I would rather loose all the rest of the games with McNabb this year than win them all with someone else, because I think that's the right thing to do, culturally.

It's foolish to group the Hanesworth and McNabb issues with Shanny, btw. As a coach, he's always been a system guy; any of of these posters on this topic could probably run for 1,000 yards for him because of the system, which is somewhat inflexible. Hanesworth challenges the system, and that's a no-no. But McNabb throws balls at people's feet when they are five yards a way. That's a talent/skills issue, not a sin against the system. The media here can't distinguish between the two--and gets the 106.7 and 980 boys and their callers (I am talking to you, "Sacktown") worked up into such a frenzy nobody can see straight, ever.

Rexy isn't the answer. McNabb isn't the answer. But the Kyle Shanahan offense was put on trial this week with a different trigger man, and it was proven that his system and his pretense at O-coordinator probably isn't the problem. Why is that so hard to see? That is what happened this week, awkward coin-flip moments aside. This media can't see that though.

119
by perly :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 12:55am

Did you watch both games?

The main difference between McNabb's and Grossman's play wasn't the quality of the defenses. It's that McNabb's terrible throws were dropped, and Grossman's were picked. Or that the Skins averaged nearly 8 YPC on the ground against Tampa and fewer than 4 against Dallas. You've already noted the contextual problems with the defensive rankings.

McNabb's always had his flaws as a QB, but in previous years he could get first downs with his legs when the pocket broke down, and although not highly accurate, had a remarkably low interception rate. Neither of those things is true now, and it's hard to look at his play right now and think that he's got the skill set to elevate the level of play around him. Calling it "better" is highly relative at this point, and really not that useful. Grossman's big advantage as a QB is less about his play on the field than that he doesn't have a monster contractual obligation if he gets hurt this year. The fact that his play wasn't hugely worse than McNabb's just means that Shanahan doesn't have to answer as many (or as hostile) questions about the move in a season that's long since lost.

46
by Jimmy :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 4:03pm

On another note, it seems like the Lions are able to plug in just about any QB and after some practice time get a good performance out of him. They could shape up to be a very dangerous team next year.

This may have a lot to do with Mr Megatron. The guy is close to unstopppable. Having guys like Pettigrew and Best to pick up the slack helps too.

66
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 5:23pm

It isn't crazy to say that the Lions are one good draft and one good year of injury luck away from winning the division.

73
by Jimmy :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 5:56pm

I would agree with that. They have two absolute studs in Megatron and Suh, as good as there is in the league and both very young. The repeated injuries to Stafford's shoulder may really hurt this team though, if he had kicked on he could have been very productive throwing to Johnson. He has lost the chance to play and learn this year which will probably retard his development (a shame really). They have some other promising looking youngsters too - Delmas and Avril on defense, Pettigrew and Best on offense. The problem is that there are still a lot of places on the roster that need work, on offense the line is a bit of an issue and on defense they have a few good players and not a lot else. They still need a lot of players, probably more than one draft and free agency period can supply. This is all assuming Stafford can come back and they don't need a QB.

The other issue is that they might face some stiff competition inside the division over the next few years. The Pack aren't going to get as badly injured every year and the Bears might look pretty good if they can find a way to keep Cutler upright before defensive players like Urlacher, Peppers, Briggs and Tillman slow down too much. They seem to be heading in the right direction (or what is undeniably a better direction) but might still be a year or two away.

114
by zlionsfan :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 12:17am

It's all the weapons, really. Megatron and Burleson, Pettigrew and Scheffler, Best (and Smith, when healthy) ... no matter who the QB is, he's got a variety of choices on any pass play, and unlike last season, he's not spending three quarters per game trying to direct an amazing comeback, so Linehan can call a wide variety of plays.

The improvement in all areas on offense has been significant, and of course everyone knows about the DL. With better health at LB and skilled players to join Delmas in the secondary (and probably a kicker as well; I wouldn't be sure Hanson will return next year, at his age anything could be a career-ending injury), this is a team that could challenge for a playoff spot, maybe even the division title. The Vikings are going to need at least a year to fix their problems, the Packers have McCarthy to hold them back (and may now have questions about Rodgers' health), and who knows how the Bears' defense will play next year?

Props to Mayhew and Schwartz: they took a 16-loss team and made it into a 4- or 5-win team in two years (I find it hard to see them losing to the Vikings in Detroit, but you never know). It also helps you realize how badly Millen screwed up: he took a 9-win team and made it into a 2-win team in one year ...

5
by Cliff (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 2:35pm

At the end of the year, would it be fair to have an assessment of Reggie Bush? He still seems to think he can outrun defenders, when he clearly cannot.

Or does the injury prpeclude kicking him when he's down?

29
by dryheat :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 3:16pm

I don't think it's injury-related. I think it's a holdover mentality from his days at USC, where he could outrun everybody and get the corner at will. Vince Young also suffers from this. Welcome to the NFL...the linebackers are just as fast as you. Now suit up.

116
by zlionsfan :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 12:22am

That is my impression as well; I think it's a waste to use him as a RB right now. Put him in the slot and give him the chance to get into space, because he sure doesn't seem to be getting there from the backfield.

118
by Eddo :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 12:28am

That makes sense, zlionsfan. I would suggest they use him like the Vikings use Harvin: a WR who still gets some carries.

6
by Spielman :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 2:36pm

When exactly did "flip the field" become standard jargon? Honestly, I don't remember hearing it at all before about three weeks ago (which isn't to say I didn't, but certainly not enough to make it a phrase worth remembering) and now I'm hearing and seeing it *constantly*.

7
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 2:39pm

Did you never listen to the TV announcers? They say it all the time about punts. At least as long I've been watching football seriously (since 2001).

37
by Randy Hedberg (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 3:28pm

Sounds like it could be a case of the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon.

57
by Spielman :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 4:38pm

Could be, yeah. I can't remember when the last time Baader-Meinhof happened to me was. It happened more when I was younger.

So anyway, now I should be in line for several more occurrences over the next few days.

10
by nat :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 2:44pm

How did Grossman throw for 322 yards and four touchdowns and nearly lead the Redskins back to a win and still finish towards the bottom of these rankings?

That is the right question, and the answer is why I like DVOA/DVAR as a stat. Turnovers matter. Getting sacked matters. Situations matter. When judging a QB's day, you have to consider the pass defense he was facing. You have to consider his whole day, not just a few highlights. These should all be "well, duh" concepts. Instead - elsewhere - I'm hearing how Grossman proved the 'Skins right for benching McNabb.

BTW, all-around better comments this week. Rivers does deserve consideration for MVP (but not to win). The most interesting thing about Vick's stats day was indeed how bad he was in one half versus how good he was in the other. Eli Manning wasn't the sole reason for the Giants' collapse.... See how much better it sounds when you aren't just stirring the pot but actually talk about what really shows up in the stats?

17
by Jim Z. (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 2:51pm

I'm sorry, but as much as I believe turnovers and sacks matter, they shouldn't outweigh the positive aspects of scoring four touchdown passes.

This system needs tweaking if it penalizes for sacks and turnovers more so than it rewards for touchdown passes.

20
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 2:59pm

Well often times TD passes aren't anything special, other than the fact they came at the end of a drive. If a QB gets a 1st down at the 2 yard line and watching the RB pound it in is that a worse performance than if he throws it in himself?

26
by nat :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 3:12pm

Yup. Thanks. That's exactly the kind of insightful analysis I've been hearing elsewhere. Well done.

30
by Joshua Northey (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 3:17pm

Why on earth does someone like Jim Z come to a site like this? THye clearly don't understand it.

39
by Stephen B Awesome (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 3:32pm

Because he has a lot of free time after the Redskins shitcanned him.

78
by Defending Jim Z (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 6:18pm

Jim Z's logic isn't really that bad. It's true that many TD's don't tell the full story of the play or drive, and that QB's shouldn't always get credit for throwing TD passes. The same is also true for INT's, sacks, and fumbles. (WR runs wrong route, line doesn't block, bad snap, RB mishandles handoff and fumble is charged to QB.) It's totally fair to question whether TD's that may or may not accurately reflect a QB's role in the play are worth more than sacks, INT's and fumbles which also may or may not accurately reflect the QB's role in the play.

111
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 11:24pm

The difference is that a sack, interception, or fumble is the end result of one play. A touchdown is the end result of one drive.

Your question relates to a Hilbert problem for football: how to separate the quarterback from the rest of the team. But that's hard, and DVOA/DYAR/etc. aren't trying to do that anyway. So criticizing the stat for not somehow being omniscient and divining the truth is a bit overkill.

What DYAR/DVOA/etc. are trying to do is separating each play from the rest of the game. And if you say "OK, it's the QB who gets the credit for this 6 yard TD pass," then it's relatively easy to determine how much value that play had relative to a 10-yard sack.

And it's a lot closer than you'd imagine, because fans of sports have always valued production in high-leverage situations over low-leverage situations, even if the basic skill behind the production is the same.

80
by Eddo :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 6:46pm

And is there a system that rewards touchdown passes more than it punishes turnovers?

Adjusted yards per attempts adds 10 (or 20, depending on the version you use) yards per touchdown pass, and takes away 45 yards per interception.

Passer rating multiplies touchdowns per attempt by 20, and multiples interceptions per attempt by 25.

12
by Jason H (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 2:48pm

Not sure what I should make of the Charles vs. Tenn for my championship game this weekend. My stable of backs includes Mendenhall vs. Car, Charles vs. Ten, Blount vs. Sea, BJGE vs. Buf, and Torain vs. Jac.

Mendenhall and Blount are in right now. Not sure about the matchup with the Titans.

14
by Jim Z. (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 2:49pm

I'm sorry, but I refuse to see how someone who threw for 4 touchdowns can possibly have had a worse performance, statistically, than someone who threw for 0 touchdowns and/or multiple interceptions.

This is in response to Grossman being ranked below Sam Bradford and Charlie Whitehurst, obviously.

23
by mm (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 3:02pm

Dallas' defense is awful.

93
by Boots Day :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 8:25pm

Dallas' defense has been much improved since they poleaxed Wade Phillips.

31
by bkjsun :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 3:19pm

Grossman didn't have a worse performance "statistically". He had a worse performance given the situations he was in and given the opponent he was facing. A TD is just one complete pass. He gets a slight boost because that complete pass came in the end zone but it should only be a slight boost. If the average QB could be expected to throw a TD in that same situation, he hasn't done anything special.

Also, all turnovers are not equal. 1 interception thrown near the end of a close game on your side of the field hurts your team more than 2 interceptions thrown in a blowout.

34
by RichC (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 3:23pm

Because it really doesn't matter who puts the ball in the endzone when you get down close. The RB getting a 3yd touchdown isn't really any different than a QB getting a 3yd TD.

41
by Dave :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 3:36pm

Your comments indicate that you weight TD passes far too heavily.

There are already stats that are more heavily dependent on TD tosses - passer rating being one... Touchdown Passes being the other.

These stats, obviously, try to tell a different and more accurate story. One that is less about fantasy football and more about who is actually more effective on a play by play basis.

45
by Led :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 4:02pm

Scoring points is obviously the name of the game and so passing for 4 TDs is very valuable. But even if you're just focusing on points (and ignoring oppoenent adjustments and other situational variables) you have to factor the points that Dallas scored because of improved field position due to Grosman's turnovers and sacks and the potential points that Washington lost due to those turnovers and sacks.

75
by MJK :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 6:02pm

Let's look at Grossman's day versus Whitehurst (NFL.com doesn't have play by play up for Bradford, yet).

Grossman captained ten drives. 3 of them were 3 (or 4) and outs, and one was a 6 play drive ending in a punt. So 40% of his drives ended in punts. Two of them were intercepted, and both interceptions occurred when the score was close. The other four ended in TD's.

On the first, Grossman was 2/4 for 46 yards with a nasty sack prior to the TD, and the TD was scored on a screen pass. So basically, Grossman played relatively poorly, but managed two good long passes and contributed very little to the TD. The second was a drive where he was 2/2 for 61 yards, and then scored the TD on a 10 yard slant. So this was a pretty good drive. The third TD came after Grossman was 5/11 for 52 yards, but the drive was kept alive by a penalty. The TD was a a crossing pattern that came from the 5. 5/11 and needing a penalty to keep the drive alive is pretty crappy, but it happens. The final TD drive came when Grossman was 4/5 for 38 yards. He again got the TD on a crossing pattern from the 5, and he tacked on a 2 point conversion for good measure. A good drive, but he started with a short field.

So in summary, 40% of the drives Grossman captained were badly unsuccessful, and another 20% were horrible, ending in interceptions. Of his 40% successful drives, two showed good QB play (but one had a short field), and the other two only mediocre QB play. One of the 4 TD's came on a screen and hardly deserves to elevate Grossman's day. Grossman did this against an absolutely horrible pass defense. Against such a bad pass defense, you expect a QB to do better than scoring on 40% of his drives (and being shaky on half of those), while ending up punting on just as many, and throwing two interceptions. So I think it's fair to say Grossman had a sub-average day, which is what his slightly negative DYAR says happened.

Whitehurst only led four drives, and all four occurred when his team was behind badly (as opposed to Grossman, who was only badly down for some of his drives). He was facing a good pass defense that was keying in on the pass at that point. Two of his drives ended in quick punts, and a third desparation drive ended on downs. His fourth drive ended in a TD. Whitehurst was 3/6 for 54 yards on that drive, but also converted a 4th and 4 with his legs, and ran the ball in for the TD himself. So his TD drive was comparable to Grossman's best TD drive. Basically, Whitehurst had one good drive and three unsuccessful drives against a good pass defense, but didn't turn the ball over or take a sack. So he probably did slightly better than one would expect an average QB to do in the same situation, which is what his DYAR points to.

I don't think it's crazy to rank Grossman below Whitehurst. Basically, Whitehurst didn't do much to help his team win, but also didn't do much that made them lose. Grossman did a fair bit to try to make the Skins win, but did even more to stop them from winning (causing a punt or an INT in over half the drives he led).

15
by random pats fan (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 2:50pm

"It's very clear that the Chiefs need to stop fooling around and give Charles the bulk of the workload in Kansas City -- now."

not so clear imo - http://gravityandlevity.wordpress.com/2009/11/30/an-example-of-braesss-p...

do you think Charles would be doing as well as he is now if the Chiefs redistributed their runnings workload in the way you are advocating? maybe the current distribution is suboptimal, but it's not as clear cut as you make it out to be given that it's possible for his success to be linked to the amount of rest he gets or other things.

27
by Joshua Northey (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 3:15pm

I agree completely. I think it is really really hard to make a case Haley is doing anything wrong with the running game when it has been so strong. Sure maybe it could be better, but maybe it could be worse as well.

Usage rates matter a lot to a players effectiveness.

44
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 3:50pm

Given that FO was one of the first places to champion the idea that you can run a running back into the ground with too many carries, shouldn't the Chiefs get some credit for not risking the future of their young star through over-use?

87
by JonFrum :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 7:37pm

You'd think so, wouldn't you?

133
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 11:29am

It might be fairer to say "the Chiefs should quit with the Thomas Jones experiment - if they don't want to give Charles more carries, find someone else." Jones has been almost exactly at replacement level for the Chiefs this year as a runner. There's no value in sticking with him.

136
by dryheat :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 12:05pm

I for one would like to see some more Jackie Battle.

43
by Trust Doesn't Rust (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 3:48pm

Bill made a good point that even if Charles' effectiveness fell 10%, it would still be a lot better than Jones. And that doesn't even account for the increased possibility of a big play coming with increased carries for Charles. Having watched a lot of Chiefs games this year, you see a lot of plays where Jones'll get 2 yards on a play where Charles will get 6 in the same situation behind the same line. So, I mean, this is not a case where Jones is doing the dirty work on the tough downs then Charles comes in on 3rd down and takes a draw for a big gain. And it's not Jones getting the bulk of the carries early in the game when the defense is fresh and Charles taking over late. Haley is literally platooning these guys, often to the point where they will switch out on alternating plays. Charles is a fairly small guy, so it's not unreasonable to think he needs rest, but the distribution should be 2/3 carries for him and 1/3 for Jones at the least. Chiefs running game has been good this year (though DVOA only has them 7th), but Chiefs offense overall has been somewhat weak, being middle of the league in points, time of possession, and offensive DVOA. This despite having a top 10 wideout, decent QB, and what FO thinks is the best Oline in the league.

51
by mrh :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 4:20pm

As a Chiefs fan, I agree with almost all of #43, except for this;
And it's not Jones getting the bulk of the carries early in the game when the defense is fresh and Charles taking over late.

I think that is exactly what Haley (or Weis) is doing, but I certainly can't read his mind. But Jones has 54 1st qtr carries to Charles 38. Similarly, Jones leads 60-50 in 3rd qtr rushes. That looks like the Chiefs are playing Jones more when the D is fresh and then matching Charles' speed against relatively tired legs.

Charles is definitely the the back in hurry-up situations, with 19 carries to Jones' 6 in the last 2 minutes of the halves.

Re the idea that Jones' is being used to run out the clock:
in games where KC led by 8 or less points in the 4th qtr, Jones has 11 carries and Charles has 18. This doesn't count the Bills game where the Chiefs led 7-3, scored early in the 4th and then were tied for much of the 4th qtr and OT - Charles led 10-6 on carries in the 4th/OT there. It also excludes the 1st play of the 4th qtr vs. SEA, where Charles scored from the 1 to extend the Chiefs' lead.

In games where the Chiefs led by more than 8 in the 4th qtr, including SEA, Jones has 23 carries, Charles 13 (and Battle 7). This supports the notion that Haley is protecting LARGE leads with Jones more than Charles.

In two very close games, CLE up 16-14, Jones got the last 4 carries to ice the game, and DEN 10-6, Charles got the last 4 carries followed by a punt pinning the Broncos deep.

To sum up, if there is a method to the platoon, it looks like this:
1. Run Jones early in the halves, Charles late in hurry-up situations.
2. Run Charles more late in games with 1 score leads.
3. Run Jones more late in games with 2 or more score leads.

68
by Trust Doesn't Rust (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 5:28pm

not to nitpick, but Charles is the more third-down type back of the two (and was exclusively that for a while), so it's going to follow that he'll get more carries in hurry-up spots.

the broader issue that i think we all agree on is that even if one were to buy that charles needs rest to maximize his effectiveness (and i can give his coaches the benefit of the doubt on this as i'm not in the chiefs locker room), haley is conceding way too many carries to jones, who is so much less effective that it negates whatever advantage you get from keeping charles fresh. but beyond that, it's not hard to hypothesize that haley and weiss, two coaches from the bellicheck tree that greatly values (and perhaps overvalues) the disciplined veteran and overachieving journeyman, are biased toward a classic hall-of-very-good candidate like jones, or that the hard-nosed haley is biased against some aspect of charles ethic that we don't get to see publicly.

61
by BJR :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 4:55pm

Lest us forget the large contract Matt Cassel is on in Kansas. What the Chiefs really need is a viable second receiver to line up opposite Bowe so they can take the onus off the running the ball at all times, and allow Charles to be used as the feature guy without pounding him to death.

48
by bkjsun :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 4:14pm

I don't think the studies are conclusive about heavy use of a running back leading to steady decline. Most of the time, the decline of top backs is due to regression towards the mean of both the running back and the offense as well as the team in general. I don't think Charles would suffer too much if his carries per season went up to about 280-300. Although he's unlikely to maintain an average of 6.4, if he keeps an average of 4.8, he would finish with the same total yards but be more valuable to the team since they would have that many more successful runs.

I think the point about pass protection as well as the point that Thomas Jones' is more heavily used to run out the clock better explains the reasons for limiting Charles' carries.

70
by Trust Doesn't Rust (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 5:39pm

again, if you watch them play the discrepancy is not because of haley using the two in a thunder and lightning way. they're basically a platoon.

bottom line is that for the chiefs to do anything in the playoffs they're going to need to score more points, and the only way for that to happen is through big plays. their defense is not so good as to shut down a good offense, and the ravens/jets/steelers defensive juggernauts will be all over the ball-control crap they've used to get where they are. i'm sure weiss has been saving some gadget stuff for the playoffs, but aside from that the only way is to hope charles breaks one and the only way to ensure that is to give him more carries.

19
by bkjsun :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 2:54pm

I think the notes on streaks are fairly meaningless. While I don't have any numbers in front of me, I can almost guarantee that every qb in the league has streaks of 6 or 7 completions or incompletions a few times a season. And I bet most of the time, the longer streaks of completions involve short quick passes and the longer streaks of incompletions involve passes downfield.

25
by JSap :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 3:07pm

I was just playing around with Vick's stats, and if you take his current stats (counting them as 10 total games - 9 full games and 2 halves (GB & WAS) and project them to 16 games - it is quite remarkable:

Comp - 333, Att - 526, Yards - 4408, TD's - 32, Int - 8
And his rushing stats:
Att - 147, yards - 981, TD - 13

I believe the total of 5389 yards passing and rushing would be the most ever by a QB (in my limited research), and 45 total TD's ain't bad either! Believe me, I know that it's doesn't always work out that way (every year some QB is projected to break Dan Marino's record in week 2), but even as an Eagles fan, I didn't realize just how good he has been...

38
by Randy Hedberg (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 3:30pm

Wow.

28
by bag (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 3:15pm

It would be interesting to see how Collie did with his limited time and also how it affected manning with a pre- and post- Collie DYAR/DVOA

42
by Dave :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 3:47pm

Yeah, I actually thought there might be a chance that his half might get him into the top 5. But it was also the Jags.

I do wonder if the opponent adjustments here are a bit askew; Some of the rankings of QBs don't jive with my own subjective judgments as closely as I'd expect. For instance, I thought Sanchez still looked largely like crap, and that while some of that is because of the Steeler D, I don't know that he wouldn't still have been outperformed there by several handfuls of other QBs. (And with Polamalu missing, I also wonder if that D adjustment should basically go out the window anyway for that game.)

Sorry, I don't mean to pick on Sanchez even more than most of us already do. He was just the first that came to mind. And of course, my criticisms are more about how the stat is still a bit imperfect, rather than about why a stat is completely irrelevant (like many others).

Getting back to Collie, it was shocking how obvious it was that their offense is so much harder to defend with him in there. Losing Clark or Collie would be no big deal to them. But losing both AND having no running game just destroys that offense. If Collie can't come back for the playoffs, there's not a single AFC playoff team they match up well with at all. With him, they rise to having a shot at getting lucky and making a run. Without him, it's just more ammo for fools to cite "one and done" in the irrational debates.

90
by Bobman :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 8:03pm

Yes, yes, yes, and might I add... yes?

103
by RickD :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 9:35pm

You would think an undermanned Colts team would have no chance against either the Jets or the Ravens, but you might be wrong. It would be a home game for the Colts, which would certainly help them.

But first, they need to beat the Raiders. Luckily for the Colts, they're not in the AFC West, so that means the Raiders will play worse against them.

120
by Bobman :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 1:03am

Even so, a home playoff game? I think they'd have a fighting chance against anybody. Good crowd, fast DEs off the edge, Manning.

But unless some weird repeat of 2006 happens, they're likely to get just one home game, and Freeney and Mathis won't be so fast in the frozen mudhills of Three Rivers (coming from someone who played youth ball in northern mud, and then after the season, on the frozen rutted field for fun in Dec and Jan.). One home playoff is probably it, although looking at the depleted team, I'd consider winning the div and getting one playoff win a huge accomplishment for the season. Anything else, as Eric Bogosian once said, is icing on the gravy.

Now to the Raiders.... sheesh. Much like Jax, they're not that good, but they are good in exactly the wrong places for the Colts. (Except Oak's secondary HAS TO be better than Jax's.) Plus it's a road game. I won't quote Obi Wan Kenobi, but I don't have a great feeling.

127
by Intropy (not verified) :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 2:41am
122
by Dave :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 1:09am

As the Colt offense is presently constructed, I can see both of those defenses forcing turnovers and not allowing extended drives, so I'm not confident about either of them. Neither offense scares me, though. With a guy like Collie to make the passing game a bit more dynamic, I suddenly get confident about a game with either team... and hell, even Pittsburgh, if Ben keeps playing as he is or if Troy is sub-100%. But as currently constructed, the SD-Dallas-Tennessee roster (and yeah, they had a good half of offense against a disinterested Titan team) can't be counted on to win against a good team. And even if Peyton willed them to victory or the defense scored some points against Sanchez, there's no way that team goes on the road to New England or Pittsburgh and wins.

I agree about Oakland. They'd scare me if they were a divisional opponent, but right now I'm oddly confident, even without that much of a passing game. But it's actually not must-win. They can still lose that game and take the division if the Jags lose another, which I consider likely. I'm not so sure they beat the Skins this weekend, actually.

36
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 3:27pm

Yeah, Brady wasn't at his best but he's come a long way from 5-6 years ago when his semi-annual stinker would involve 4 interceptions.

As for Rivers, I can't contest that he deserves consideration, but your own numbers suggest NE's defense is a sieve of the highest order (though, I don't believe it is as bad as you think). Leading a team with that defense to 12-2 seems much more impressive than SD's 8-6 mark, especially when you consider neither offense is more reliant on the QB and NE's schedule was significantly more difficult.

Yes, Rivers had to overcome a lot of offensive injuries and historically bad special teams, but that isn't nearly enough to offset the earlier seperation, IMO.

84
by RickD :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 7:16pm

Agree with your second paragraph. If the Chargers' defense allows Rivers to be graded on a curve, then the Patriots' defense should do the same, but doubly so, I would say, since the defense is more important than the special teams.

54
by Anonymus (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 4:23pm

Should not we praise the AFC West leader for avoiding overworking their best RB while still winning? Let's wait until the playoffs, and see how things go there...

55
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 4:28pm

Calvin Johnson, ARRRRRRRGH.

Drew Stanton as the #3 QB. #3! With a separated shoulder!

Then again, with four defensive starters on IR and another suspended for the year, the Bucs' defense couldn't be heading towards suck-ville any faster for this year.

56
by ChicagoRaider :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 4:33pm

Jacoby Ford had a 71 yard TD run and 3 receptions on 5 attempts for 47 yards. The adjustments are so large as to take him off the list?

60
by dryheat :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 4:52pm

I'll give you the long run, but in what universe is 3/5 for 47 particularly impressive?

83
by RickD :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 7:14pm

I suspect the other part is the part that's supposed to be impressive.

149
by ChicagoRaider :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 3:22pm

Right, I expect that a 60% reception rate, for 10 yards per attempt is close to baseline. A rushing play has an expectation of about what, 4? That is a +67. Sure, the Broncos are a bad D, so some of that goes away, but more than 20?

67
by BJR :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 5:27pm

I've watched the Raiders a couple of times recently and have been really impressed with the diversity and creativity in their offence, given they lack a top level passer and any top tier receivers. Using the speed of Ford out of the backfield as they do, alongside a powerful one-two punch with McFadden and Bush, a good receiving full-back in Marcel Reece, and a mobile QB in Campbell must provide real headaches for defensive co-ordinators.

Credit to Tom Cable and offensive coordinator Huw Jackson for piecing together an effective offensive playbook with the random talent that has been handed to them from above. However, knowing the Raiders it will probably all be dismantled in the off-season when they don't make the playoffs.

85
by dbt :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 7:24pm

They also have a pretty decent stud tight end in Zach Miller, though he's been hobbled with a bad ankle the last few weeks. Honestly, with the development of Jacoby there's no reason they can't be a top flight offense, or at least well above average with only a decent QB (I think Campbell finally qualifies). It helps that they also have the best punter in the league and rarely turn the ball over.

100
by greybeard :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 9:16pm

They don't have very good receivers. Their top four receivers have a total of ~1400 yards in 14 games. That is 100 yds receiving per game. Murphy & Jacoby would be a good #2/#3 pair. DHB would be a good #4. If they can get a good #1 WR next year, they will have a great offense.

59
by SandyRiver :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 4:51pm

"Charles is now averaging 6.4 yards per carry, something that no other back has done with 200 or more carries in a season."

Just a nitpick (and a function of the search going back only through 1970). Jim Brown averaged 6.40 yards on 291 carries in 1963. Charles' 6.42 is still the highest, if it's maintained or improved the next two weeks.

92
by morrongiello :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 8:07pm

Ctrl+F, Jim Brown -- ahh, thank you.

62
by MJK :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 5:00pm

Agree with some of the thoughts above that the opening paragraph is way too hard on Haley. Whatever Haley is doing is enabling Charles to be so fantastic, so why mess with it?

Consider:

* Jones has always been a good, but not spectacular, back, but he's having a darned good season as well. So obviously a fair part of Charles production is due to the system he plays in and the skill of the rest of the Chief's offense, especially the O-line.

* While it's clear that Charles is better than Jones, Jones is still pretty good, and by platooning them so effectively, you reduce risk of injury to Charles and help keep him fresh for the long haul. It's like playing a video game where you get some kind of mystical sword of uber power that has only a finite number of uses...why use it all the time when beating people aside with your ordinary broadsword works pretty well.

* Part of the reason why Jones is less effective as a goal line back than Charles could be due to the fact that the Chiefs playcalling might tend to be "try to pound it in" when Jones is in, but could be more "maybe we'll run it and maybe we'll throw it" when Charles is in. This is what happened with the Patriots early in the season with BJGE and Faulk/Woodhead. Faulk/Woodhead had better numbers rushing near the goal line, because the Pats often playactioned or went pure pass when they were in the game, but almost always ran it when BJGE was in (this predictability has since been fixed, with the Pats playactioning more with BJGE in the game...possibly because his blocking has improved. But I digress...) Haven't watched enough Chiefs to know if this is the case, but it is possible. Maybe whenever Jones comes in on the goal line, the ILB's and safety immediately crowd the A-gaps and the OLB's focus on run contain, but when Charles is in they're forced to back off a little because they're more worried about a pass or a toss sweep or something.

Also, a good DYAR doesn't say anything about pass blocking or catching ability. How is Charles blitz pickup? Is Jones better at that? That alone could account for platooning them as much as Haley does...but you can't bring Jones or Charles or whoever is better at pass blocking in only on pass downs because that basically telegraphs your play.

109
by AudacityOfHoops :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 10:28pm

Maybe whenever Jones comes in on the goal line, the ILB's and safety immediately crowd the A-gaps and the OLB's focus on run contain, but when Charles is in they're forced to back off a little because they're more worried about a pass or a toss sweep or something.

I have no numbers to back this up, but I've watched a lot of the Chiefs, and my impression is that the above sentence is true, but I don't think it's because of the playcalling. I seem to remember plenty of wide runs by Jones (I can remember multiple times thinking "Why have Jones run that? Charles would have gotten around the corner!"). I think the defense is more worried about the toss/sweep because Charles is faster, and can get around the end quicker. They can shade in towards the middle on Jones, and still keep him from turning the corner.

63
by Bjorn Nittmo (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 5:14pm

Can't believe this is (I believe) the first comment on the Giants-Eagles games. Never mind Vick's 2nd half, I'd like to see the breakdown of his stats for the first 52 minutes vs. the last 8. He had what must have been close to 100 rushing yards in that period alone, plus several mid-range completed passes to go with his 65-yard Phillips-assisted TD to Celek. I doubt you can keep records on such things, but hard to imagine a better concentrated performance than that.

76
by Semigruntled Eagles fan (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 6:04pm

Apparently you missed the first 15:08 of the second Eagles-Redskins game this season - I'd expect Vick's raw totals (i.e. YAR/VOA) for that period were better than in the conclusion of the Giants game. Although, even that quarter might not eclipse his adjusted performance in the comeback (in DYAR and/or DVOA), given the notable difference in the quality of the defenses.

79
by ugarte (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 6:28pm

Favre doesn't even get listed in Quick Reads? He played enough to throw a TD, a pick and a press conference.

81
by jebmak :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 7:01pm

You expect Brady, Brees, and Manning to be in a clump together, just not at 15th-17th.

86
by Malene, Copenhagen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 7:27pm

Just look up total DYAR for the year instead of wildly fluctuating weekly ratings, and you will indeed find Brady, Brees and Manning bunched together. At 1, 2 and 3. Though Brady is a bit too far ahead of everybody else for it to be called "bunched together".

Despite what people want us to think of Vick as the MVP.

88
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 7:43pm

Well people thinking Vick is MVP are probably taking into account he has played the equivalent of 10 games, and are adding on his 133 rushing DYAR.

Although Brady has just been on another level this year.

89
by Malene, Copenhagen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 7:51pm

I agree they are taking into account he didn't play a full season.

I disagree with doing so, though.

I wasn't saying Brady has been playing better than Vick (though I think he certainly has), just that he's clearly been more "valuable".

Even if Brady and Vick had comparable DVOA (which they don't), usage and availability should matter when assessing "Value".

91
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 8:04pm

Depends. It's not Vick's fault that Kolb was named the starter at the beginning of the year. Well, it is to some degree, but mostly not his fault. As for "value," there are many ways to interpret that. Say a QB had twice the DVAO of the 2nd highest QB, however he also had an excellent defense helping him, so he threw 1/3 as often. He would only accrue 2/3 of the DYAR of the other guy, but was twice as good on a per play basis.

We haven't even touched on surrounding offensive personnel.

94
by Malene, Copenhagen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 8:54pm

No, it doesn't depend. It "depends" if we're discussing who's intrinsically better, or who's played better. But we're not, Vick has been less valuable.
You're completely correct that a lot of it is Andy Reid's fault, but it doesn't change the value he had over the season.

I understand the concept of DVOA vs DYAR, so yes, if Vick blew Brady away on a DVOA basis but was used "1/3 as often", we could at least have a discussion.

But when somebody is miles ahead of everyone else in both DVOA and DYAR, yes, they have had more value.

97
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 9:11pm

I was just talking in a hypothetical, not specifically about Vick.

95
by JonFrum :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 8:58pm

Whether it's Vick's 'fault' that he didn't play in games is irrelevant. He didn't play in games. Are you really going to argue giving the MVP award to a player that wasn't the MVP, but would have been had he been given the opportunity?

98
by chemical burn :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 9:12pm

I'm an Eagles fan and I've just got to ask: do people actually give a shit who gets the MVP? Maybe it's just the fact that the Eagles haven't had anyone under serious consideration for the award in my lifetime (although Reggie White and, ugh, Randall Cunningham undoubtedly got bandied about at one point or another) but I just can't fathom why any cares about such a nebulously defined achievement. I've always felt like the award means "player with fortunate enough to have the best mixture of hype, overall team success and actual production." That Vick is actually in consideration this year only confirms that view. The award just means most famous player who played well for a good team... so who cares? The fact that the general feeling is that it can only go to a QB or RB (or in a rare case, WR) just makes it seem like more laurels for the glory boys who get enough of them already...

101
by Jim D (not verified) :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 9:28pm

Who cares about any of it really...MVP, DVOA, DYAR..what does it matter? It's just something to discuss and have fun with

104
by chemical burn :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 9:36pm

Well, DVOA and DYAR are telling me something about what happened on the field and giving me a greater understanding of the performances that I didn't see - like Rex Grossman for instance. DYAR/DVOA helps me understand that the talking heads are not exactly right and he didn't have a great 4 TD game: DYAR/DVOA says he was the same old Sex Cannon. MVP on the other hand doesn't tell me anything other than famous+winning team (and then after those terms are met) + actual production for a QB/RB. I'm not sure it really answers the question "who was the most valuable player in the league." Or maybe it's just too nebulous a question to ever be answered to my satisfaction.

For instance, I know Shaun Alexander won it when he set a rushing TD record... but I honestly have no idea if he was even the best back in the league that year or if there was defensive player that did as much to help his team win or if some QB had a brilliant year but he played for the Jaguars and had an incongruously low number of TD's to go with insane overall production. The award mainly does a good job of telling who was the most famous player on the team commonly considered to be among the best. That's fine... but why get worked up about it one way or the other?

108
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 10:08pm

I actually think Steve Smith should have won OPOY that year. Dude was absolutely incredible that year with Delhomme throwing to him and just about no other threats on the team to draw attention.

107
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 10:07pm

Yes, I would make and listen to those arguments. Especially, if the opposing viewpoint relies wholly on DYAR.

150
by Judy (not verified) :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 4:21pm

Sorry, I can't just let this pass. If it's not Vick's fault that his career path hasn't been so smooth up until now that he'd have been named the starter from the beginning by anyone with half a brain, based on his talent and experience, then whose fault is it? The circumstances that lead to why he wasn't chosen to start were more his fault than if the reason had been typical, like injury or lack of experience.

151
by tuluse :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 6:52pm

He's clearly better than Kolb, so it's mostly Reid's fault he didn't see that and start him. There might also have been political reasons after trading away McNabb.

It was partial his fault though, which I mentioned.

96
by JonFrum :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 9:06pm

re: Jamaal Charles. I think the argument above is dangerously close to 'if he gets four yards per carry, then give him the ball every play and win' theory. He gets four yards per carry because you DON'T give him the ball every play.

Jamaal Charles doesn't look like Corey Dillon to me. Maybe he could take a lot more carries, but I'd trust the coaches who see him every day before I'd trust Internet Guy to make that decision. It's certainly not the responsibility of the coaches to get the guy MVP numbers.

The Chiefs are 9-5 now? So giving him more runs would have been wasted in the 9 wins. Would he have turned over one of the five losses with more runs?

99
by justanothersteve :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 9:15pm

That was my thinking. Also, wasn't the theory a few years back that Julius Jones was holding Marion Barber back because Jones started the games but Barber looked so great at the end of games? We all saw how that worked out.

106
by chemical burn :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 9:45pm

This is like the situation with LeSean McCoy who ranks 6th in DYAR and 5th in DVOA, but the Eagles only give him the ball 12-14 times game. I personally feel like it's obvious that giving him the ball 20 times a game wouldn't increase his value, but cause it to plummet. Half of his effectiveness is that teams aren't keying on him and thinking every play "stopping McCoy is a major priority." He's most effective when he can slip out into the open field and just take off. Using him like a workhorse would only decrease his effectiveness - he's a small back like Charles and I can imagine either one of them getting beaten down with even a small increase in carries every game...

105
by nottom :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 9:40pm

If you give Charles 5+ more carries in the Oakland game, there is a very good chance that they win.

110
by Jeff Fogle :: Tue, 12/21/2010 - 11:08pm

As was discussed at the time, after FO suggested Haley was on crack (which they're basically doing again here without using the same words), Charles was limping around during part of that game...and it influenced his usage (as was reported in media accounts afterward).

In other losses:
31-0 to San Diego: Charles 10 rushes, Jones 3
49-29 to Denver: Charles 14 rushes, Jones 4
19-9 to Indianapolis: Charles 16 rushes, Jones 8
35-31 to Houston: Charles 17 rushes, Jones 19

In the first three listed, that's 40-15 for CHARLES, which is 73% of the carries between the two guys.

One could make a case that it cost them the Houston game I suppose. But, the team did score 31 points...and had one of their best overall offensive games of the season. It was the defense that let them down that day.

Kansas City is 9-5, is a 5-point favorite this week, and will be favored in their home finale vs. Oakland. It's very tough to make the case that rushing splits would have changed anything in the losses to SD/Denver/Indy. The splits in the Oakland game were influenced by Charles getting banged up then trying playing through the injury. They're still in good position to reach the playoffs.

Charles is listed at about 10-20 pounds less than most other big name successful backs (not Johnson, but it's a general rule). Guys weighing more than him were still getting knocked out of action. Like: Grant (ankle), D-Williams (foot), Addai (shoulder), Matthews (ankle), Gore (hip), Barber (calf), Moreno (hamstring).

Usage decisions involve production on one end, but dealing with the threat of serious or catastrophic injury on the other. The premise of this article seems impossible to defend. Gratifying to see so many readers point out the flaws. The point of playing football games is not to create more impressive looking trivia. You try to win games to reach the playoffs...and you try to reach the playoffs as healthy as possible. Haley's usage is getting GREAT production out of a 199-pound guy at a position that's an injury waiting to happen...in a way that's currently likely to get them into the playoffs with home field in the first round.

117
by Eddo :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 12:27am

I actually agree with the pro-Chiefs'-coaching-staff sentiments you're projecting, Jeff, so I don't mean to disagree with your conclusions. However, the clause, "after FO suggested Haley was on crack (which they're basically doing again here without using the same words)", is inaccurate. Bill Barnwell is saying this now (and I don't recall who specifically said the crack line a few weeks back). FO is not a hive mind!

121
by Jeff Fogle :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 1:08am

This is Week 15 Quick Reads. The comment was made in the subhead for the Week 9 Quick Reads.

"Week 9 Quick Reads
This week's Quick Reads reviews the work of freely-available talent at running back in Week 9. Plus: Is Chiefs head coach Todd Haley on crack?"

Here's the thread in its entirety
http://www.footballoutsiders.com/quick-reads/2010/week-9-quick-reads

Either Bill writes his own subheads, or I'm guessing Aaron writes them. I put "FO" because I wasn't sure which of those two wrote the subhead. It ran on the front page of the FO site for awhile, without attribution. Sorry if that lacked accuracy Eddo. Didn't now who to attribute it to.

If it was an article title with a link at espn, it would have looked something like:

FO: Haley on Crack?

I meant it in that sense...

134
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 11:37am

As was discussed at the time, after FO suggested Haley was on crack (which they're basically doing again here without using the same words)

To be fair, you could change the argument from "they should use Charles more over Jones" to "they should use someone else over Jones." It isn't just that Charles has been way better than Jones. Jones has been pretty poor. Maybe it doesn't make as much sense now, as it's so late in the season, but midway through, looking at a back other than Jones would've made sense. It's unlikely that Jones is actually an average back and Charles is otherworldly: it's more likely that Jones is a pretty poor back and Charles is very good.

In that case, the "Haley is on crack" argument still holds - why he thinks that Jones is worth giving carries to is really mind-boggling.

125
by jurb :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 2:20am

To be fair to Tebow, while he was the beneficiary of an incredible grab by Brand Lloyd in the end zone, he also had a long touchdown pass completion dropped in a most egregious fashion (a drop every bit as bad as the Steve Johnson drop in the Pitt/Buff game).

Not sure what to make of Tebow yet. He looked good at times, but the Broncos played extremely conservative. Seems like the the Bronco coaching staff had very little confidence in his throwing ability. That, or they got a little bit too infatuated with his running after that big TD run. All I know is that you aren't going to win too often when you continuously call designed quarterback keepers on every 3rd and long.

128
by dbt :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 6:32am

They seemed like they were mostly afraid of unleashing Tebow, but the designed runs on 3rd and long were just getting him a pounding and (other than the mis-called TD run early) gained very little.

129
by dbt :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 6:36am

[deleted double post]

126
by jurb :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 2:20am

To be fair to Tebow, while he was the beneficiary of an incredible grab by Brand Lloyd in the end zone, he also had a long touchdown pass completion dropped in a most egregious fashion (a drop every bit as bad as the Steve Johnson drop in the Pitt/Buff game).

Not sure what to make of Tebow yet. He looked good at times, but the Broncos played extremely conservative. Seems like the the Bronco coaching staff had very little confidence in his throwing ability. That, or they got a little bit too infatuated with his running after that big TD run. All I know is that you aren't going to win too often when you continuously call designed quarterback keepers on every 3rd and long.

132
by Boribear96 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 11:25am

Madieu Williams had a bad angle because of Cutler's pump fake that made him jump...... Jesus H. Christ!!!!! It's all just about bashing Cutler anyway you can, even without reason.

135
by K (not verified) :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 11:49am

Madieu Williams had a bad angle because he has taken a bad angle on pretty much every single play this year.

137
by RickD :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 12:07pm

I want my DVOA!

138
by chemical burn :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 12:09pm

I want the position DYAR/DVOA pages updated!

141
by Led :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 12:34pm

I demand my money back!

All kidding aside, has FO made an announcement about timing of the DVOA release this week? Aaron usually says something if his schedule doesn't permit him to get the numbers posted by Tuesday night.

142
by paddypat (not verified) :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 12:41pm

Seriously, this is making me worried that something happened to Aaron. I thought for sure it would be up by this morning!

143
by Theo :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 1:06pm

"DVOA Update
Hey everyone -- Aaron's not feeling well, which is why DVOA hasn't been posted yet. We'll get it posted as soon as we can. Thanks.
Bill Barnwell"

144
by nat :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 1:12pm

Aaron,
Get well soon. While we'd love to see the DVOA stats, your health matters, too. The occasional delay is the price we pay for your personal attention to the details of the site. It's well worth it.

Thanks to Bill for the update. We were - I guess we still are - worried about Aaron. You guys are a small team, and every team member counts.

Be well, everyone.

145
by PatsFan :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 1:23pm

Also consider following Aaron at twitter.com/FO_ASchatz

He had mentioned a while ago that he was feeling horrible and DVOA would be late.

146
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 1:44pm

Yeah, sure, Aaron is sick.....right after a less than dominant performance by the Pats, which would have narrowed the gap between them and other teams' DVOA....yeah, illness is the reason, and gaining more time, for someone who has obviously never played the game, to re-jigger formulas to favor a team nortorious for using videotape unethically, or committing sideline war crimes when punting, has nothing to do with it....

Move along....nothing to see here.....

147
by nat :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 1:57pm

The problem with this kind of humor is that no matter how far over the top you go, you still sound authentic. It's kind of like spoofing the postings of [censored] on [censored] about global [censored]. It can't be done.

148
by BSR :: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 2:07pm

That's because that is what most Jets and Colt fans actually sound like.