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28 Dec 2010

Week 16 Quick Reads

by Bill Barnwell

Around 2:30 EST or so on December 19, it would have been hard to begrudge the New York Giants their position as the best pass defense in football. They had just held Michael Vick to his worst half of the season. With a DVOA of -30.8%, they were more than 12 percentage points better than the second-ranked Packers pass defense, and the team was two quarters away from putting a stranglehold on the NFC East.

They were still the league's best pass defense two hours later, but oh, how things had changed. A dominant second half from Vick and a series of mental lapses on offense and special teams had cost the Giants the game. Their pass defense DVOA had fallen to -21.6%, but there was reason to believe that they would be able to slow down a concussed Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay the following week.

Um, not so much. Not only did the Giants get blown out by the Packers, but Rodgers finished the day with one of the greatest games of the DYAR Era. By the end of the day, he'd accrued 294 DYAR, the most of any quarterback in a single game this year and the 11th-best single-game performance since 1993. It was comfortably the best game of Rodgers's career, and a better game than Brett Favre ever had as a member of the Packers. (While we don't have 1992 data finalized, Favre had no blowaway game that would qualify; his record was 243 DYAR, accrued in the 34-0 blowout over the Vikings in Week 10 of the 2007 season.)

As for the Giants? Their pass defense has looked like another unit altogether during these past six quarters. They have an 87.3% DVOA over that timeframe against the pass, the worst figure in football. Vick and Rodgers dropped back 65 times and were sacked just three times. They completed 40 of their 62 attempts (64.5 completion percentage), producing 613 yards (9.9 yards per attempt) and seven touchdowns without an interception. They have taken two great quarterbacks and helped them to legacy games.

There's no one player to blame. They've blown assignments, missed tackles, taken dumb penalties, stopped rushing the passer effectively, and been placed in bad situations by an offense seemingly hell-bent on turning the ball over.

As a result, Vick and Rodgers are likely to be leading their teams into the playoffs after this week. The Giants? While the debate will be about whether the team quit on Tom Coughlin for the umpteenth time, the reality is that this team's greatest asset -- their pass defense -- went south when they were needed the most.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
1.
Aaron Rodgers GB
25/37
404
4
0
294
281
13
Rodgers threw for a first down or a touchdown on 19 of his 39 dropbacks while taking just two sacks, fumbling once. He had seven plays of 20 yards or more, including the 80-yard touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson that got things started. He saved something special for each down. On first down, he had five of those 20-plus yard plays. On second down, he had ten first downs or touchdowns in 16 dropbacks. On third down, he converted four of his first six attempts, with another one coming off the board when Jordy Nelson fumbled as he reached for the sticks.
2.
Carson Palmer CIN
16/21
269
4
0
256
262
-6
Without his top two receivers and with a motivated third-best pass defense in the league across the field, there was every reason to think that Palmer was in line for the sort of dismal game that gets held up as a sign of obvious decline once hindsight becomes too strong for context. So what does Palmer do? He completes his first ten passes, picking up 163 yards, six first downs, and two touchdowns in the process. He didn't throw his first incompletion until the third quarter, and the only reason he didn't produce even more in the first half is because Cedric Benson was stopped on a fourth-and-1 and fumbled to end a later drive. Each of those plays came inside the Chargers' 25-yard line. Palmer finished the Chargers off by beating them deep on each of his final two attempts. On the first play, Andre Caldwell beat Quentin Jammer (and/or a missing safety) downfield and was open by about three yards on a deep post, but Palmer barely overthrew him. Two plays later, Antoine Cason was slow to get back to the line of scrimmage in-between plays, and a quick snap freed up Jerome Simpson downfield for an easy touchdown.
3.
Matt Cassel KC
24/34
314
3
0
205
215
-9
Cassel had his first 200-DYAR game as a member of the Chiefs. It was the third-such game of his career, having pulled off the feat in Week 11 and Week 12 for the Patriots during the 2008 season. He started the game off with eight straight completions for a total of 89 yards and a touchdown, including a sweet fake screen that freed up Dwayne Bowe for a 21-yard gain to start the day. The Chiefs took Cassel out with a 20-point lead in the second half to his consternation, but after Brodie Croyle threw an interception, Cassel came back in and produced five completions for 56 yards and a defensive pass interference on six dropbacks.
4.
Josh Freeman TB
21/26
237
5
0
147
136
12
Freeman didn't start off all that well. His first quarter started with an incompletion. After that, he had a nine-yard checkdown on third-and-11, a five-yard checkdown on third-and-12, a stripsack, a completion for -1 yards in the red zone, and then a 13-yard megasack to take the Bucs out of the red zone. Ouch. He got way better. A 20-yard touchdown pass to Mike Williams in the second quarter started a stretch of pure brilliance: 15-of-16 for 171 yards, eight first downs, and four touchdowns.
5.
Mark Sanchez NYJ
24/37
269
1
1
139
139
0
This really was a strong game for Sanchez, who wasn't sacked. He started off 9-of-9 for 110 yards with five first downs, including two third down conversions. He kept it up on first downs, as he completed his first 12 attempts there, gaining an average of 13.7 yards. With the Bears spending a fair amount of the day in their traditional two-deep scheme, Sanchez was smart and did great work against the underneath zones. He only attempted four passes that traveled 20 yards or more downfield; the first one was the 23-yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes, but the final one was the game-clinching interception on his final pass. Even that interception wasn't a bad throw; Sanchez got great velocity on it going down the sideline and would have hit Holmes in stride, but he isn't able to convince Chris Harris to stay in the middle of the field long enough to hit his window. Harris also makes a very risky decision to go for the interception; if Harris is a fraction late, it's very clearly six.
6.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
22/31
320
1
0
138
138
0
Roethlisberger dropped back just four times in the first quarter and three times in the fourth; he had a 57.2% DVOA. One reason why it didn't produce more in the way of points: His 10 dropbacks in the red zone produced just one successful play, with no first downs or touchdowns.
7.
Philip Rivers SD
27/40
256
1
1
103
101
2
The Bengals were able to successfully take away the deep pass. Rivers didn't have a single completion for longer than 19 yards and threw just three passes 20 yards or longer downfield. He was effective working underneath, with a 57 percent Success Rate and one stretch that saw him go 11-of-13 for 100 yards. After missing on his first three third downs, Rivers converted five of his final seven.
8.
Shaun Hill DET
14/26
222
2
0
100
96
4
9.
Sam Bradford STL
28/37
292
1
0
86
86
0
Bradford fumbled on a first-quarter sack in the red zone, but it was the only real mistake he made all day. He didn't take another sack after that; in fact, after that pass, he was 22-of-29 for 218 yards with eight first downs and a touchdown. He didn't throw an interception, which has been arguably the most impressive part of his game as a rookie. His interception rate is at just 2.5 percent; Matthew Stafford, Mark Sanchez, and Josh Freeman were all five percenters last year.
10.
Jay Cutler CHI
13/25
215
3
1
85
75
10
Cutler took over the game for the Bears with a series of consecutive drives. Taking over with 5:40 in the second and going through the end of the third quarter, Cutler was 9-of-13 for 184 yards with four first downs and three touchdowns. He made a number of excellent throws up the seam despite the weather conditions, but his real focus was to the left side of the field. After starting 0-for-4 on throws to the left (with a ugly pick-six), Cutler completed six straight to the left for 121 yards.
11.
Matt Ryan ATL
15/29
148
1
0
66
57
10
The broadcast last night showed stats about how similar the offensive production by each of the two teams had been, but Ryan had a long DPI that wasn't included in those figures. (That also led to Mike Tirico's epic jinxing of the Falcons with an absurd goal line stat about the Saints defense.) The Saints, forever the big blitzers, actually did a good job of getting pressure on Ryan while rushing four; Sam Baker did not have a good game at left tackle.
12.
Peyton Manning IND
16/30
179
3
2
59
49
10
Manning's 27-yard run is more yardage than he's had in a single season since 2006. His long run before Sunday this year was six yards; last year, it was three. He hadn't run for more than 12 yards on a single carry since 2004, and the play was his longest rush of any kind since a 33-yard carry against the Bills on November 4, 2001. If you lose in your fantasy football league because Manning didn't run those four extra yards into the end zone, you have my pity.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
13.
Tom Brady NE
15/27
140
3
0
43
37
6
The Bills kept Brady from throwing downfield, as he attempted just two passes further than 20 yards downfield. They also benefited from three Wes Welker drops. In fact, only three of Brady's 12 passes to wide receivers resulted in successes. He had just two first downs on throws to wide receivers and running backs. On eight throws to tight ends Alge Crumpler and Rob Gronkowski, he had two first downs and three touchdowns.
14.
Tim Tebow DEN
16/29
308
1
1
41
30
11
Tebow had four successful runs on six carries, including a scramble for a six-yard score that gave the Broncos the win. As a passer, he took just one sack and threw one interception, although rookie center J.D. Walton combined with Tebow for an ill-timed aborted snap. Many of his throws continue to sail, especially to the sideline, but that's not really a problem with the Texans pass defense on the other side of the field.
15.
Jason Campbell OAK
29/41
231
1
0
38
44
-6
Campbell had two stretches of usefulness, each of which involved streaks with nine consecutive completions. One came at the end of the game, when the Raiders' chances of making a comeback were slim. Campbell started off the game by going 5-of-10 for 25 yards with a sack and zero first downs. After that first stretch of nine completions ended, he had a 14-dropback series with just one first down, two sacks, and six completions for 54 yards.
16.
Eli Manning NYG
17/33
301
2
4
34
28
7
Manning threw four interceptions, yes, but he had an 80-yard completion for a touchdown to Mario Manningham and hooked up with Hakeem Nicks for a 36-yard score. And he was playing the league's second-toughest pass defense. (Once the new DVOA figures come out, I suspect it'll be the league's toughest pass defense.)
17.
Matt Schaub HOU
23/33
310
1
1
29
29
0
It all started off swell enough, as Cassel picked up first downs on five consecutive passes before finishing with a three-yard touchdown pass to Owen Daniels. After that, though, he only managed nine first downs on 26 dropbacks against the league's worst pass defense. Schaub didn't pick up even one of the seven third downs he faced, including an aborted snap on third-and-1.
18.
Drew Brees NO
35/49
302
1
2
28
28
0
His two interceptions were one part hubris (the little shovel pass gone bad) and one part luck (defensive lineman tip drill). He could have ended the day with two more touchdowns, but one was knocked away by a should-have-been DPI in the end zone, and the second was called back by a Jermon Bushrod false start. Yes, the play shouldn't have gone off because of the false start, but I've seen more obvious false starts not given. What was impressive about the Falcons is that they were able to get pressure on Brees with blitzes even while they were stopping the deep pass. Brees was really only able to look deep a couple of times all night because he was running away from rushers, and even when he got protection, he had to check down.
19.
Alex Smith SF
10/13
120
0
0
23
23
0
Amazingly, this Smith became the best option for the 49ers to win early in the fourth quarter. He rewarded Mike Singletary's, erm, faith by completing his first four passes, including a 33-yard pass to Josh Morgan. An Anthony Davis fiasco led to Smith getting stripsacked by Chris Long, though, putting an end to the 49ers' hopes of winning the NFC West. Maybe Singletary should have switched the right tackle a half-dozen times.
20.
Joe Flacco BAL
12/19
102
2
1
11
1
9
Only four of Flacco's 19 targets went to running backs or tight ends; 43.7 percent of his targets this year have gone to those players. Although his completion percentage looks good, he had completions for zero and -2 yards, and he fumbled on his only sack of the day.
21.
Stephen McGee DAL
11/17
113
1
0
10
8
2
I wrote about McGee's touchdown pass in Audibles: It was a good decision to throw to Austin in the slot, but the ball was thrown in a spot where the safety could make a play on it and, truthfully, should have been able to do so. It's a small miracle that the play ended as a touchdown and not a pick. Otherwise, he didn't really stand out; for a fourth-round pick with no first-team reps, that might be a good thing.
22.
Chad Henne MIA
29/44
278
1
2
7
23
-16
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
23.
John Skelton ARI
11/24
183
1
0
-7
-16
9
Seven first downs on 27 dropbacks against the Cowboys' dismal pass defense, but he had a 74-yard touchdown pass to Andre Roberts, and three of those first downs came on the game-winning two-minute drive, including a 26-yard catch by Larry Fitzgerald on a fourth-and-15 dig to keep the drive going.
24.
Colt McCoy CLE
15/29
154
0
3
-13
-22
9
The Browns' biggest play of the day was actually a pass by Mohamed Massaquoi to Brian Robiskie that went for 29 yards. McCoy's two biggest passes were for 20 and 28 yards, both of which went to running back Mike Bell. (One came with nine seconds left in the game.)
25.
Kerry Collins TEN
14/37
235
2
2
-43
-43
0
One positive sign in a disastrous end to the Titans season: The emergence of Jared Cook. The team's de-emphasized former starter Bo Scaife (perhaps owing to some pro-Vince Young comments) to give the FO Top 25 Prospect additional snaps, and he's exhibited an ability to make plays downfield. He had four catches for 18 yards or more, and just one of them came in a meaningless situation at the end of the first half. Collins had a 53-yard touchdown pass on a throw to Kenny Britt, but on his other 22 targets of wide receivers, he produced just 83 yards on seven completions with two picks.
26.
Charlie Whitehurst SEA
11/18
66
0
0
-43
-38
-5
27.
David Garrard JAC
22/38
299
1
2
-68
-89
22
Garrard ran for a 20-yard touchdown and picked up two other first downs with his feet. He just didn't produce much in the passing game, including two picks on throws to tight ends. He completed six consecutive passes on third down, but only three of them resulted in first downs.
28.
Jimmy Clausen CAR
10/23
72
0
1
-68
-68
0
Small victories: Clausen completed five straight passes against the Steelers before taking a sack on fourth-and-5, ending the second Panthers drive into Steelers territory. Their subsequent drives gained, in order, zero yards, two yards, -8 yards, seven yards, zero yards, -7 yards, 31 yards, 14 yards, and -3 yards. On that final drive, they punted on fourth-and-13 from the Steelers' 40-yard line, down 24 points with six minutes left.
29.
Troy Smith SF
8/19
153
1
1
-87
-89
3
Fumbling on three different sacks has nothing to do with knowing the playbook; it's not having a feel for the pass rush, something that isn't surprising considering Smith is just now getting experience at quarterback. Giving him some sort of consistent reps at quarterback would have been a way to alleviate those problems, but that sort of commitment was beyond Mike Singletary. It's not that clear that Smith deserved a shot, but it's also hard to say that he got one in San Francisco.
30.
Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF
18/37
251
0
3
-90
-76
-14
31.
Jon Kitna DAL
12/20
117
1
2
-90
-91
1
32.
Rex Grossman WAS
20/39
182
1
1
-105
-105
0
How the mighty have fallen. Well, how the mighty-looking-for-a-week have fallen. Last week, Grossman took advantage of a great matchup and an early deficit to put up big raw numbers and make Donovan McNabb look like a waste of time in Washington. This week, he failed to take advantage of a great matchup against the Jaguars, making pedestrian raw numbers look even worse once they're translated for the quality of opposition. Grossman finished the first half 8-of-20 for 80 yards with an interception and just three first downs, although he was not aided by his receivers. Chris Cooley's drop in the end zone was avenged by a Fred Davis touchdown catch on the next play, but it was still one of the most egregious blunders you'll see this year.


Five most valuable running backs
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Jamaal Charles KC
77
0
40
2
62
23
39
As a runner, Charles had five first downs on 13 carries. 11 of the carries went for three yards or more. This week, though, his best work was as a receiver, catching two touchdown passes. The nicer of the two was on a lob to the sideline that was tricky for both quarterback and receiver. Even his one unsuccessful completion -- a 13-yard gain on third-and-15 -- was for positive DYAR.
2.
Matt Forte CHI
113
1
56
0
57
40
16
The Jets have had no trouble shutting down opposing running backs this year, as they ranked second in the league against the run heading into this Bears game. It would have been very easy to expect a 45-yard game for Forte considering the opposition, but he delivered much more than that on Sunday. He had a 22-yard touchdown run that saw him slip through a gap at the line of scrimmage and bounce off would-be tacklers in the secondary. Although a 42 percent Success Rate doesn't sound like the greatest day, context is everything. He was also effective as a receiver, picking up a pair of 24-yard receptions as a downfield target.
3.
John Kuhn GB
22
2
7
1
48
30
18
I assume everyone had him in their fantasy lineups. The 0.00000000001% of fantasy owners who somehow made it to the finals without updating their roster since October were treated to a three-touchdown performance. Kuhn had five successful carries in six, and his two targets in the passing game resulted in a first down and a touchdown. His long gain of the day was just eight yards, but when you're moving the chains and scoring touchdowns, you don't need to travel very far to get DYAR.
4.
Shonn Greene NYJ
70
1
14
0
48
43
5
Greene had six successful runs on 12 carries: Each went for a first down (five) or a touchdown. That was more than enough to overcome four carries for no gain or a loss.
5.
Correll Buckhalter DEN
42
1
50
1
47
14
33
Buckhalter had two huge catches: A 23-yard scamper for a touchdown with 20 yards after catch, and a 22-yarder (with 17 YAC) to pick up a first down on third-and-10 in the fourth quarter. With Knowshon Moreno gimpy, he also served as the primary running back and had five successful runs on 11 carries, including a six-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.


Least valuable running back
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Thomas Jones KC
51
0
0
0
-65
-62
-3
So, how can Thomas Jones be last when Jamaal Charles is first? Well, to begin, Jones's only target fell incomplete to the ground. As a runner, Jones had as many first downs as he did fumbles: Two. Those two first downs were two of just five carries that went for more than two yards, and his long carry was 14. He had six carries for a loss, two carries for no gain, four carries for one yard, and six for two yards. None were successful.


Five most valuable wide receivers and tight ends
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Jerome Simpson CIN
6
7
124
20.7
2
82
His biggest play of the day was the long bomb that sealed the AFC West up from earlier, but he also had a 10-yard touchdown on third-and-goal from the 10-yard line, and three of his other four completions resulted in first downs.
2.
Dwayne Bowe KC
6
9
153
25.5
1
62
We saw all sides of Bowe on Sunday. His touchdown catch-and-run was a thing of beauty, with Bowe shrugging Michael Griffin off and going 75 yards to break the game open. He was a great blocker on the outside, creating holes for Jamaal Charles on multiple occasions. And the interception he was targeted on? Well, Brodie Croyle threw the pass behind Bowe, but Bowe's athleticism turns a likely incompletion into an incredible interception. That's not Bowe's fault, but it's remarkable that he was even able to make a play on it.
3.
Greg Jennings GB
7
10
142
20.3
0
60
Jennings's first three passes were incomplete. His last seven were all completed for a minimum of 10 yards, and each picked up a first down.
4.
Kellen Winslow TB
7
7
98
14.0
2
60
Winslow does a great job of occupying the safeties and creating one-on-one matchups for Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn on the outside. On Sunday, he took advantage of the matchups himself, catching all seven of the passes thrown to him and producing three first downs and two touchdowns. We can't even blame the defense, either; while Seattle's had one of the league's worst pass defenses this year, they ranked fourth in DVOA against tight ends heading into the game.
5.
Johnny Knox CHI
4
6
92
23.0
2
58
Each of Knox's targets traveled at least 11 yards in the air. Three traveled 26 yards or more, and he caught two of them in the end zone for touchdowns.


Least valuable wide receiver or tight end
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Donald Jones BUF
5
12
54
10.8
0
-46
Donald Jones is the Bills' new starting wide receiver, playing across from Stevie Johnson. The Patriots have a pretty mediocre pass defense, raising the expectations for wide receivers, regardless of their experience level. While an injury to C.J. Spiller didn't help matters, the Bills still threw 12 passes to Jones. One was a forty-yard reception. The other 11 targets? They produced 14 yards from scrimmage.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 28 Dec 2010

46 comments, Last at 30 Dec 2010, 2:27am by JIPanick

Comments

1
by Anonymouscake (not verified) :: Tue, 12/28/2010 - 2:40pm

No Danny Woodhead? Surprised.

5
by Karma Coma :: Tue, 12/28/2010 - 2:56pm

Against Buffalo? I'll have to double check my math, but i think he'd need something like 475 yards on 12 carries with 9 touchdowns to qualify for top-5 against that run defense.

"Profit is limit ONLY by your ability to BANG SPORK"

2
by Bobman :: Tue, 12/28/2010 - 2:45pm

No Dom Rhodes?!?! Ripoff!

3
by RichC (not verified) :: Tue, 12/28/2010 - 2:45pm

"Bowe, but Bowe's athleticism turns a likely incompletion into an incredible interception."
I'm not so sure about that. Looking at the video (and its tough to tell), it looks like if Bowe doesn't get a hand on that ball, it's thrown directly at #(24). I think that ball is going back the other way whether or not Bowe pops it up.

4
by Marko :: Tue, 12/28/2010 - 2:50pm

Regarding Sanchez's throw on the interception that sealed the game for the Bears: That play looked similar to his pass against the Texans at the end of the game to set up the game-winning touchdown. Both plays were deep sideline passes against Cover-2 defenses. The differences were that the pass against the Texans was down the right sideline (instead of the left sideline against the Bears), to Braylon Edwards (instead of Santonio Holmes against the Bears), and most importantly, against the Texans (instead of the Bears).

7
by Charles Jake (not verified) :: Tue, 12/28/2010 - 3:13pm

I'm glad someone mentioned that Holmes would've scored had Harris missed the INT. I haven't seen that in any other coverage of the game. When I saw him break on the ball I was thinking "No, No! Yes!" I had visions of the Megatron play, but I guess that one worked out ok for the Bears too.

10
by Marko :: Tue, 12/28/2010 - 3:41pm

Dan Pompei made the same observation in this article in the Chicago Tribune: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/football/bears/ct-spt-1228-pompei-s...

When I saw Harris break on the ball, I was confident because you could tell that he took a very good angle.

41
by Julio (not verified) :: Wed, 12/29/2010 - 2:56pm

Holmes may have made the catch if no one else was around
him, but at the moment of the interception, he is turning
around to reach his arm out for a severely underthrown
ball. A good pass would have caught him in stride for td
as the defenders were to his side and then Harris jumped
behind him. Check out the play at nfl.com.

6
by MJK :: Tue, 12/28/2010 - 3:03pm

On the Giants and the little replay clips included in the header:

* Wow, that fumble was awful! I didn't see that part of the game. If the receiver was TRYING to keep the ball in play before he was pushed out so that he could turn it over to the Eagles, it would have been a tough play. If you're being pushed out of bounds and are holding the ball in your outside hand, and the defender doesn't come near to your ball-arm, what possesses you to tap your toe in and before your foot comes down out, to toss the ball back into the field of play when surrounded by defenders?

* On the other hand, I'm not sure I would have picked that highlight for a "dumb penalty". The Giants defender made what I thought was a clean tackle. It was not clear if the personal foul was for "driving the defender into the ground" or for the little tap he gave to Driver's helmet, but in either case, I think that was a bad call. Yes, he drove the receiver into the ground. It's called a tackle. It's what defenders are supposed to do to end a play. You grab the guy with the ball, and try to push or pull him down. When he's driving forward, and you're driving back, and you win, you will end up on top of him. The tap to the helmet was maybe dumb, but the Giants defender was provoked...in the replay you can clearly see Driver either punch him in the jaw or grab the inside of his facemask and wrench (not clear which). Yes, he shouldn't have retaliated, but the flag should have been on Green Bay, not the Giants.

On Tom Brady's day:

I'm not sure it was the Bills defense that stopped him from going deep as much as it was the wind. The few deep passes that he tried were awfully wobbly. Fitzpatrick had one or two as well (he also had a couple of deep completions, but they might have been with the wind?). By and large, Brady's receivers were getting open, both short and down the field. They just kept dropping the ball.

9
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Tue, 12/28/2010 - 3:40pm

Watch the replay again. Thomas makes a good driving tackle of Driver. Then after the tackle, and the momentum of the tackle is done, he pushes with his legs again and drives his chest and shoulder into Driver. That isn't so clear from the first angle, the live speed one, but is very obvious in the last slow motion angle, which is the angle the ref would have seen live and would have caught. That was the "driving into the ground" that wasn't needed. Thomas wasn't "getting up" he knew he was on the ground and he used his legs to push his shoulder into Driver again, probably because he was pissed that he was getting burned all the time. Then Driver hits him in the head, then when he is getting up he hits Driver in the head but the flag was coming out when that happened (you don't see it in the replay linked but there was a TV angle that showed the ref pulling the flag right after the tackle because he saw that shoulder drive after the tackle).

So the Giant instigated, got hit, then retaliated to the hit he provoked. It was a dumb penalty.

12
by mansteel (not verified) :: Tue, 12/28/2010 - 3:58pm

Regarding the retaliation, in Thomas' defense, the Scatman had his hand inside of Thomas' facemask for a while...one wonders exactly what was going on in there.

Regarding the original tackle, Thomas did give him a little something extra but it didn't seem like enough to get flagged IMH (and biased) opinion.

34
by RichC (not verified) :: Wed, 12/29/2010 - 9:31am

Thomas also punches Driver in the face right before he gets up. There was plenty to call there.

8
by chemical burn :: Tue, 12/28/2010 - 3:32pm

Holy cow, Barnwell's blurb helps me make my argument about Sanchez from the Audibles discussion thread! Once in a blue moon... Anyway, I've got to say the Quick Reads have been really great for the past few weeks - far fewer cheap shots and unsubstantiated criticisms... Good stuff.

11
by Arkaein :: Tue, 12/28/2010 - 3:52pm

Wow, did John Kuhn just set some kind of Quick Reads record? Don't think I've ever seen a top 3 RB with only 29 total yards.

16
by chemical burn :: Tue, 12/28/2010 - 4:28pm

It's interesting because because the standard take on DYAR is the ol' "if a QB throws the ball 80 yards and then a RB dives in for a TD from the 1, which has more value?" question... and the answer seems to be, "well, if the RB dives in for 5 TD out of 5 attempts from the 1, he's still pretty darn valuable." It's almost like a refutation of the conventional wisdom about DYAR...

17
by chemical burn :: Tue, 12/28/2010 - 5:01pm

Also, good to see so many teams with absolutely putrid situations at QB - I'm happy there will be a healthy market for Kolb: the Panthers, Cardinals, the Vikings (pending Joe Webb tonight), the 49ers, the Titans even the Seahawks are going to be driving the price up and the Eagles could steal a 1st rounder...

18
by Dean :: Tue, 12/28/2010 - 5:08pm

There will be teams that want a veteran, but this looks like it could be an incredibly deep rookie class. There could end up being as many as 9 QBs go in the top 3 rounds depending on how many juniors come out. In a "perfect storm" type scenario, there could be as many as 7 first rounders.

21
by chemical burn :: Tue, 12/28/2010 - 5:36pm

I think teams like Carolina, SF and Arizona are going to be in a position where the fanbase revolts if they take a rookie QB with even a single question mark. It's a deep rookie class for sure, but one of those teams is going to want the guy being positioned as "the next Matt Schaub" and if McNabb is worth a 2nd and a 4th, Kolb is going to get a better deal. Keep in mind there are zero worthwhile QB free agents going on the market besides Kolb. His competition will be stuff like Mstt Hasselback, Vince Young and Jake Delhomme. If teams like Minnesota and the Titans decide to say "we are not in a rebuilding year, we still have the nucleus of a contender" they are going to drop real value for Kolb...

This year features more teams in a "we absolutely cannot go on with what we have at QB" situation than I can remember in years. Normally there are more teams in the Browns/Colt McCoy position where they will have to decide if they want to develop the player or buy some insurance. Browns (and maybe Miami) are really the only ones I can see in that situation. They are a few aging veteran teams like Oakland that could also wait another year to cut ties.

As for keeping Kolb in Philly, I actually love the rumbling coming out of Washington (speaking of teams in the QB market!): wags are saying McNabb wants to come back to Philly to back-up Vick...

22
by chemical burn :: Tue, 12/28/2010 - 5:50pm

Here's my list:

For sure looking for a new QB:
Carolina
SF
Tennessee
Arizona
Minnesota

Almost certainly:
Seattle
Washington

Could go either way:
Oakland
Miami

It's possible:
Jacksonville (if there's a coaching shake-up)
Buffalo (are they really going to stick with Fitzpatrick? I would...)
Cincinnati (again, a coaching shake-up or maybe they just take a guy to groom behind Palmer)

Teams scooping up veterans for back-up/insurance (this matters because the Delhommes of the world will get swallowed up here, further driving up the market):
Denver
St. Louis
Cleveland

That's almost half the league looking for answer at the position. And Kolb is the only semi-proven commodity with high upside. I think he ends up in Miami or Arizona...

23
by Southern Philly :: Tue, 12/28/2010 - 6:02pm

Tennessee is not for sure looking for a new QB. Bud Adams has made it pretty clear that Vince Young will be back, but we'll see. Seattle might, they might not. They just gave up picks for a QB, although he's a couple years older and yet less experienced. Maybe after a year of seeing him practice and in spurts play, they decide he's not the guy they want in 2011, but it's also possible that they feel they have already addressed their starting QB situation for next year and will look to do something else with their 1st rounder.

Also you've got to consider that if Garrard or Fitzpatrick aren't back, then that is going to dilute the market. They're a few years older but have more experience, I can definitely see a team like Arizona going for one of them if possible.

24
by chemical burn :: Tue, 12/28/2010 - 6:10pm

True on Garrard and Fitzpatrick - but I still think Kolb is the type of "new toy" that causes GM's to salivate more than good-player/non-stars like Garrard and Fitzpatrick. I can't believe Seattle would bother with Whitehurst considering how awful he has been. He hasn't for one second looked like a guy who could lead them to even an NFC West title, let alone beat an even mediocre defense. I guess they might keep him around, but... damn. Really, all they need to do to help Kolb's value is suck up a high draft pick on a QB, which they must be considering even if they go with Whitehurst.

So, does that mean Fisher is out in Nashville? I hadn't been following the situation that closely, but when Young got locked out of the practice facility, I assumed he was done. He's actually played pretty darn well this year, but he has a fatal reputation as a headcase. If he's back, that's that I guess...

25
by Southern Philly :: Tue, 12/28/2010 - 6:44pm

Kolb definitely has a "new toy" feel to him more than journeyman Fitzpatrick or 33 year old Garrard, but it's an empty feeling. Like I said earlier, he'll be 27 and have started 6 games in his career. Fitzpatrick is only a couple of years older and has far more experience. Kolb's not so much a new toy as he's a slightly less used car that's certainly better than the clunker you're driving now but isn't going to turn heads when people see you in it. Some team might find that appealing, but for the price that the Eagles would be willing to part with him for? That's the key.

As for Whitehurst, I agree they'll probably look for a QB. I'm just saying I wouldn't at all be surprised if they wind up bringing in some journeyman backup/former mediocre starter ala Trent Edwards or Rex Grossman, or even Marc Bulger; or drafting someone in the 3rd round or something. There's a reason they brought Whitehurst in, and 63 pass attempts usually isn't enough to convince anyone about someone either way. And you have to account for that they just traded picks for a QB, so this would mark the 2nd year in a row that they would be doing that. Granted, if it lands you a legit QB for the next 6 years then it's worth it, but if it's not you're throwing away picks and digging yourself into a deeper hole. So you better be pretty sure that this is the guy, and I can't fault anyone for not thinking that about Kolb.

In Tennessee it looks like it's coming down to an either/or dilemma with Fisher and Young. And Bud Adams very well may go with the QB. Stupid, yes, but he can do what he wants with the team, he owns it. If, by some chance, Young is out, then he vaults to the top of the desirable QBs (of course, it also adds them to the list of teams looking for a QB). Yeah he's got problems and he's overrated, but "he wins games," could excite a fan base and with the reincarnation of Michael Vick to an efficient pocket passer, it's plausible a team feels they can do the same thing with Young. Never underestimate the stubbornness of a coach.

29
by Spielman :: Tue, 12/28/2010 - 9:27pm

Not that it matters all that much for the QB picture, but I doubt the Rams sign a veteran QB. AJ Feeley was signed to a two year deal, and I doubt the Rams will spend any more money on backing up Bradford. Any money spent on offense will be spent finding him a receiver or two, and possibly a guard.

39
by Dean :: Wed, 12/29/2010 - 12:03pm

I could see them spending a mid/late round pick on a guy to groom as a long term backup. It might be a year early, but this years crop is so deep that a guy might fall into their laps where they feel like they have to take him. It won't be a popular decision in STL - there are too many other holes to fill to afford a "luxury" pick. But that doesn't mean it won't happen.

31
by Boots Day :: Wed, 12/29/2010 - 1:29am

Kyle Orton could very well be on the market. He'd fetch more than Kolb.

38
by Dean :: Wed, 12/29/2010 - 12:01pm

In general I agree. There are a lot of QB needy teams, and as you pointed out, some of them simply aren't in a position to take a rookie. But there are potentially so many rookies that may be available that some of the teams which could go a number of different directions at the position may end up using the draft to address the position.

I don't see McNabb coming back to Philly. If anything, I see him being Kolb's biggest competition in the veteran QB market - and that assumes Philly decides to trade him. I'm not sure they will. If the dogkiller is playing under the franchise tag and is one birthday party away from a return visit "upstate," it might make more sense for Philly to hold onto Kolb as a backup than to trade him.

19
by Southern Philly :: Tue, 12/28/2010 - 5:20pm

I don't see a team giving up a 1st rounder (which will be cost controlled once there's a rookie wage scale) for a 27 year old QB who's started 6 games in his career. I'd be fine with a 2nd rounder for him, or keep him around because you know Vick is going to miss games due to injury.

27
by loneweasel (not verified) :: Tue, 12/28/2010 - 7:26pm

Yeah, the sheen has definitely worn off this year. GM's spend picks on QB upside. Upside means either unknown or good showing. Kolb is not as unknown and he hasn't been good.

A 1st is crazy talk at this point.

33
by RichC (not verified) :: Wed, 12/29/2010 - 9:28am

Kolb's DVOA is good for 19th in the league. He's a pretty good quarterback, and hes still young.

36
by loneweasel (not verified) :: Wed, 12/29/2010 - 11:41am

sample size.

Too few games to make advanced stats meaningful. (Besides, 19th in the league for a QB who should be in his prime is sucking.)

Too many games to wear out the unknown mystique.

37
by Southern Philly :: Wed, 12/29/2010 - 11:45am

He's not young, he's 26. He's the same age as Alex Smith and Brady Quinn, and don't think "he's still young" is used when talking about those two.

13
by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Tue, 12/28/2010 - 4:23pm

Rodgers numbers could have been even better if James Jones wasn't such a space cadet. Jones dropped two passes that would have been big gains including an almost certain 71 yard TD.

As athletic as Jones clearly is I think the Packers need to dump his sorry backside. Rodgers repeatedly puts the ball right 'THERE' and Jones drops as many as he catches. And it would be one thing if Jones were a rookie but he's been in place for several years. I am sure management has him as potential Driver replacement but boy, talk about inconsistent.

14
by kysr3 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/28/2010 - 4:24pm

Should Tebow apologize to the big man upstairs for his aborted snap problem?

15
by are-tee :: Tue, 12/28/2010 - 4:26pm

"It all started off swell enough, as Cassel picked up first downs on five consecutive passes before finishing with a three-yard touchdown pass to Owen Daniels."

Yes, I know it's a typo, but I think it's kind of funny because Cassel & Schaub both have the same kind of goofy looks on their faces.

http://www.nfl.com/players/mattcassel/profile?id=CAS541133

http://www.nfl.com/players/mattschaub/profile?id=SCH085186

26
by Bucephalus (not verified) :: Tue, 12/28/2010 - 6:57pm

Those are called "smiles."

But yeah, I kinda see it, too.

20
by andrew :: Tue, 12/28/2010 - 5:22pm

With some help from the city of Philadelphia, we finally have no Viking QBs in the bottom of the Quick Reads.

28
by Dave51 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/28/2010 - 8:29pm

Just curious, will this be updated tomorrow after Tuesday Night Football?

30
by Danish Denver-Fan :: Tue, 12/28/2010 - 9:32pm

Is the opponentadjustment position-specifik. I mean, is Oakland a tough opponent for a #1 WR but an easy one for a #2 WR?

32
by fromred2green :: Wed, 12/29/2010 - 4:13am

First off, great piece.

I am wondering, though, if Rodgers just put up the 11th-best single game DYAR since 1993, what were the top ten? Is there any place I can check this out? I remember a few performances I think might be up there, but then again, since DYAR is adjusted for defenses, I might be totally wrong.

For example, I thought the game Favre had against the Raiders in '04 would be up there. Apparently not. If I had to guess though, knowing what I know, not counting playoff games...(no particular order):

Peyton Manning, 2000 vs. JAX, Week 4
Drew Brees, 2009 vs. NE, Week 12
Tom Brady, 2007, @ MIA, Week 7
Tom Brady, 2009 vs. TEN, Week 6
Tom Brady, 2007 vs. PIT, Week 14
Donovan McNabb, 2004 vs. GB, Week 13
Kurt Warner, 2001 vs. SD, Week 5
Rich Gannon, 2002 vs. TEN, Week 4
Dan Marino, 1994 vs. NE, Week 1
Randall Cunningham, 1998 @ GB, Week 5

I'm probably missing at least one Brees game as he has been very efficient. Probably also missing some games by one-hit-wonder quarterbacks.

40
by TBall (not verified) :: Wed, 12/29/2010 - 1:22pm

Brady had a game earlier this season, maybe against the Steelers, that was expected to be ranked in the top ten (final competition adjustments are made after the season). That week, I believe Aaron did a run down in either Quick Reads or DVOA of most of the other top ten performances.

43
by fromred2green :: Wed, 12/29/2010 - 3:53pm

Well, I did some digging and found the #1 single-game DYAR by a quarterback since '93.

Drew Brees, Week 6 of last year vs. the Giants.

http://www.footballoutsiders.com/quick-reads/2009/week-6-quick-reads

Hopefully I can find some more of these top 10 games. What I do know is that 2 of my guesses were wrong, the '09 Brees and Brady games.

44
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Wed, 12/29/2010 - 5:39pm

Follow the other link in the article you linked...

(If you want to compare Brees' day to the other top quarterback games, click here. That was written before we had 1994 and 2008 stats, but no 1994 or 2008 games would break into the top ten.)

So you know we don't have to worry about 94 or 08 it says in there. We know that Rodgers has the best from 2010. So just 09 and 93 to see what fits in where.

The list from the other article.

Trent Green, KC, 2002, W4 - 347
Tom Brady, NE, 2007, W11 - 306
Marc Bulger, STL, 2002, W10 - 306
Scott Mitchell, DET, 1995, W13 - 305
Randall Cunningham, MIN, 1998, W5 - 305
Tom Brady, NE, 2007, W7 - 296
Drew Brees, NO, 2007, W9 - 295
Peyton Manning, IND, 2004, W7 - 291
Tom Brady, NE, 2007, W14 - 284
Trent Green, KC, 2004, W8 - 279

The "missing data list"

1. Drew Brees, NO, 2009, W6 - 350*
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11. Aaron Rodgers, GB, 2010, W16 - 294

We know that Rodgers at 294 is now #11. And that game could get better or worse depending on what the Giants do this week.

*We know that Brees at 350 is now #1, though we don't know if it's really 350 or not since that data point came mid season and full defense adjustments were in place. The NYG finished with a 11.6% pass defense, 6.4% overall D. They were at -11% when that article was written (2009 Week 6 DVOA ratings) So it's safe to say that Brees game lost value but I doubt it lost enough to to fall out of the current top 10. We'll leave it at 350 for now.

That list from 2008 has 7 of those 9 missing games. We don't quite know where the missing 2 fit in, but they are from 2009, or 1993. We can check all the 09 quick reads if we want, but I'm not going to right now. :)

45
by fromred2green :: Wed, 12/29/2010 - 11:12pm

I already checked all the '09 quick reads. That was actually how I found the Brees game. One of the missing games was from 2009 - Drew Brees put up a 300 in Week 1. Certainly, though, that would have changed, as it was week 1 and the opponent was Detroit. As mentioned in the link below (W1 quick reads), there had been no adjustment for defense because it was the first week of the season, and if DYAR was adjusted later on, it would have certainly caused a drop in DYAR for that game because Detroit's defense was awful last year.

http://www.footballoutsiders.com/quick-reads/2009/week-1-quick-reads

No other 294+ DYAR games were played by quarterbacks in 2009, meaning that the last missing game must have come from 1993.

35
by The Other Ben Johnson (not verified) :: Wed, 12/29/2010 - 11:34am

I'm trying to figure out what's photoshopped.

Did they add the legs or the jean shorts?

42
by Nathan :: Wed, 12/29/2010 - 3:21pm

Couple thoughts on Tebow seeing him in the context of NFL defenders (does Houston count?). He looks quicker than I thought he'd be on rollouts. Looks better throwing on the run than from the pocket. Better arm than I thought but still underthrew deep routes and got bailed out by his WRs. Delivery is still very long, I see no improvement at all from college. Does it make sense to play soft zones vs him both to limit the damage he can do rushing and to give defenders a chance to jump routes based on that long delivery?

46
by JIPanick :: Thu, 12/30/2010 - 2:27am

Really? My observation watching the game was that he was running well and throwing well but not both at once. Am I just remembering wrong?