Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» OFI: SEC Surprises

In an opening week where even the elite teams in college football looked mortal, the SEC had two big surprises in Texas A&M and Georgia defeating their South Carolinian opponents by big scores.

14 Sep 2010

Week 1 Quick Reads

by Bill Barnwell

I need to start off Quick Reads with a programming note. As you may have seen if you're an ESPN Insider, the the ESPN version of Quick Reads is going to be different from what we've produced for ESPN and FOX in the past. The ESPN version of Quick Reads will be a shorter, streamlined version, with extended comments on nine players each week. It's to the benefit of both myself (who was writing the full-length Quick Reads till about 4 AM most weeks last year) and ESPN (which can now turn around the article quicker).

However, I will also be producing a second version of Quick Reads each week for FO readers, one that looks like the traditional QR that everyone knows and loves. There will be some overlap between the two articles, but writing a FO-specific version of Quick Reads will also allow me to write the article for the FO audience as opposed to the broader ESPN audience that's less familiar with FO methodologies. I'll also get to write comments for the Monday night games, which have gone mostly uncovered in the past.

In this year's book, I introduced research into the performance of running backs inside the opposition's five-yard line, noting that outlying performances in that area tend to regress towards the mean in the subsequent season. One of the players I highlighted in that essay was Matt Forte, who had the second-worst performance of the decade inside the five. I noted that he was undervalued in fantasy drafts because he was likely to improve his touchdown total in short-yardage during the 2010 season.

And then he was stuffed four times from the one-yard line.

So, how bad was Forte's day? Using the data and likely conversion rates from that essay, Forte had the third-worst game near the goal line of any back since 2000.

Given the historical rate of conversion for backs inside the five at a given down and distance, Forte's four carries should have yielded 2.22 touchdowns. (Forte could only realistically have been expected to score two times given where and when those carries came, but remember that Forte's expectation would have been lower if he'd converted on his first- or third-down carries in the fourth quarter.) Only two running backs have had worse performances over the timeframe.

One was Willis McGahee, who Jon Gruden is lauding for his skill inside the red zone virtually as I write this. In Week 16 of the 2005 season, McGahee got seven carries from inside the five-yard line; those carries picked up a combined two yards, and McGahee did not score. Because only two of the carries came from the one, though, his expectation was just slightly higher: 2.67 touchdowns.

The truly remarkable performance of the decade, though, was LaDainian Tomlinson. Last year, Tomlinson faced the Chiefs -- who had the league's worst run defense DVOA -- in Week 7. He got eight carries from inside the five, including four carries from the one. Tomlinson did not score once. An average back would have scored 3.4 touchdowns. It was a truly terrible showing.

Forte did contribute with his two receiving touchdowns, but throw in two fumbles on two of his other receptions, and DYAR eventually figures that he's an overall net negative on the day. His late-game heroics helped, but the Bears needed a miracle play on their final drive to win the game because of how bad Forte (and the rest of the offense) was before then.

Remember that these statistics aren't adjusted for opposition; opponent adjustments will begin in Week 4.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
1.
Peyton Manning IND
40/57
433
3
0
230
230
0
Manning couldn't tackle Arian Foster, obviously, but the one place he could have done to help was convert third downs to keep Foster off the field, and that's where he -- and his offensive line -- struggled. Manning only converted four of the 12 third downs he faced, even though he only had an average of 6.5 yards to go. Of course, a fifth conversion was nullified when Pierre Garcon caught a 30-yard pass and then fumbled inside the Texans 10-yard line. By the time Manning got the ball back, he was down 17 points.
2.
Tom Brady NE
25/35
258
3
0
181
181
0
35 dropbacks without a single sack or turnover. Combine that with 7.4 yards per attempt, and it's going to be very easy to rank towards the top of this list. Brady only threw seven of his 35 passes further than eight yards downfield, but he was 23-of-28 on those short throws. That set up easy third downs for Brady to convert, which he did at a 70 percent (7-of-10) clip.
3.
Kyle Orton DEN
21/33
295
1
1
130
125
5
Without starting right tackle Ryan Harris and with left tackle Ryan Clady limited, Orton still managed to put up effective numbers by staying out of third downs. His tthere resulted in either first downs or touchdowns. Once he got to third down, Orton was sacked three times and only picked up two first downs on eight dropbacks.
4.
Jay Cutler CHI
23/35
375
2
1
118
112
7
Although it's obviously not incorporated into these statistics, I'm of the volition that Cutler wasn't at fault on the stripsack at the end of the third quarter. Right tackle Frank Omiyale just stopped sustaining his block. Can't do that. While most of Cutler's production came on those two touchdown passes to Matt Forte, Devin Aromashodu also dropped an easy touchdown in the end zone that would given Cutler a 38-yard touchdown. And yes, his interception -- an attempt to hit Johnny Knox on a dig -- was a bad decision.
5.
Tony Romo DAL
31/47
291
1
0
117
117
0
Well, it wasn't Romo's fault that Alex Barron can't do his job properly. Despite the offensive line issues, Romo only took one sack on 47 dropbacks. He was wildly effective as a passer on first down, going 17-of-23 for 144 yards, six first downs, and a touchdown. What you can blame Romo for is tossing that dumpoff to Tashard Choice at the end of the first half, but DYAR doesn't have a television or free will and places the blame on Choice.
6.
Carson Palmer CIN
34/50
345
2
1
116
116
0
Palmer had a monster day for fantasy purposes, but most of it came in garbage time. 271 of his 345 yards came while the Bengals were down three scores or more. Stupid statistical note: At one point in the second half, Palmer threw ten passes in a row to the left side of the field.
7.
David Garrard JAC
16/21
170
3
0
98
105
-7
The Broncos used Champ Bailey to hold Garrard's top target, Mike Sims-Walker, without a catch. Sims-Walker was only targeted twice. Garrard made hay with his other targets. Possession receiver Mike Thomas caught six of seven passes, gaining three first downs. Tight end Marcedes Lewis had two touchdowns and a 15-yard defensive pass interference penalty on his three targets. This was the good version of Garrard, a limited quarterback who is valuable when he doesn't take sacks (one on Sunday, congrats Robert Ayers!) and doesn't turn the ball over.
8.
Michael Vick PHI
16/24
175
1
0
95
68
27
Since I've gotten a couple of fantasy answering service e-mails from people wondering whether they should use their waiver priority on Vick, I want to reiterate this here: There's a very, very slim chance that Michael Vick will end up as the starting quarterback in Philadelphia, and it relies almost entirely on Kevin Kolb suffering a long-term injury. Vick isn't functionally accurate enough to play in the Eagles' system, and any team preparing for Vick as the starting quarterback will put in the sort of spy packages that teams prepared for Vick in Atlanta. He also lacks the patience for his receivers to run downfield; part of it was the offensive line, but Vick only threw two passes 20 or more yards downfield. I'm not sure the playbook on the final Eagles drive was quarterback scramble, quarterback scramble, quarterback scramble, draw, but that's just about what it ended up being.
9.
Vince Young TEN
13/17
152
2
0
82
69
13
The passing work was pretty mundane -- a stripsack, a beautiful long pass to Nate Washington for a touchdown against Stanford "Picks One and Three" Routt -- but Young picked up two first downs with scrambles while the game was still a contest. After a stripsack on his first third down, Young converted five of his next eight third downs.
10.
Drew Brees NO
27/36
237
1
0
78
86
-8
After a devastating start to the game that saw Brees abusing E.J. Henderson and Asher Allen, the Vikings began to push their linebackers back and play deeper zones, cutting off the dig routes that the Saints were relying on and forcing the Saints to complete dumpoff after dumpoff. To counter, the Saints moved to draws and a heavy dosage of Pierre Thomas. After throwing a touchdown on his first third down, Brees didn't convert another one until the fourth quarter.
11.
Derek Anderson ARI
23/41
297
1
0
65
62
3
After a third down completion to Steve Breaston for 35 yards late in the third quarter, Anderson had what was seemingly his first hot streak since the 2007 season. He completed nine of his final 11 attempts for 154 yards, five first downs, and the game-winning touchdown to Larry Fitzgerald. On the other hand, just before that was a streak consisting of seven incompletions and an intentional grounding penalty. It will be a fun year in Arizona.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
12.
Philip Rivers SD
22/39
298
2
0
62
56
6
While Trent Dilfer spent the night tapping into Philip Rivers's psyche, it was pretty clear that Rivers just wasn't on the same page with his receivers. The final few drives were full of plays where a scrambling Rivers had an open receiver who made a cut the wrong way at the last moment or slipped -- the Chargers should have tied it on a touchdown pass to Buster Davis, only for Davis to somehow fall down while the pass was on the way. Dilfer noted that Rivers had performed great in all kinds of weather, but I couldn't recall a game where Rivers had to deal with a driving rainstorm like the one he was up against on Monday night. Apparently, Norv Turner couldn't remember either, since Rivers didn't dial up a single long pass until after the rain had significantly subsided.
13.
Matt Hasselbeck SEA
18/23
170
2
1
59
52
7
With Tyler Polumbus at left tackle, the Seahawks kept Hasselbeck relatively well-protected; he only took one sack, never threw a pass further than 16 yards downfield, and while he went 7-of-7 on third down, only three of the passes went far enough to pick up first downs, and none of those passes traveled further than six yards in the air. I wonder if that will be the case when Russell Okung gets back.
14.
Eli Manning NYG
20/30
263
3
3
53
51
3
Not all interceptions are created equal. We already give quarterbacks a pass for interceptions they throw on Hail Mary passes, but we don't give them any sympathy for passes that bounce off their receivers' hands and into the arms of defenders. Eli Manning deserves whatever the DYAR equivalent of a hug is.
15.
Aaron Rodgers GB
19/30
188
2
2
48
43
5
Rodgers called his performance "terrible", but it didn't seem all that bad. Sure, he missed a couple of big plays downfield, but every quarterback will miss those here and there. The late interception on a throw to Donald Driver wasn't pretty, either, but Rodgers has had worse games. It seemed like there would be trouble when Rodgers had taken three sacks by the second play of the second quarter, but the Packers offensive line settled down after that, and while Rodgers was getting buzzed, he managed to avoid taking any more sacks the rest of the way.
16.
Matt Schaub HOU
9/17
107
1
1
33
33
0
The numbers aren't pretty, but I'm sure Schaub doesn't particularly care. The Texans turned the faucet off after halftime; in the second half, Schaub dropped back five times and completed three passes for 21 yards, each of which was for a first down. His biggest play was a 53-yard pass interference penalty drawn by Kevin Walter.
17.
Josh Freeman TB
17/28
182
2
1
27
16
11
18.
Donovan McNabb WAS
15/32
171
0
0
26
18
8
McNabb was let down by his receivers, notably with two borderline drops by Anthony Armstrong in the end zone. I don't know if my choice at the goal line would have been passes to my unknown wideout against the Cowboys' best cornerback, but it appeared that the second pass was McNabb's hot read against a blitz. It was part of an ugly streak that saw McNabb go 2-of-11 with one first down and a sack. On the other hand, the pass that broke that streak was a thing of beauty, the lob from McNabb to Moss that kept the Redskins' final drive going on a key third down. McNabb hit a crossing Moss in stride, and Moss made a subtly difficult over the shoulder catch look easy.
19.
Joe Flacco BAL
20/38
248
0
1
21
28
-7
It was every side of Joe Flacco. The guy that holds onto the ball too long. The guy that makes ill-advised throws downfield when he doesn't have 50 yards of real estate to miss into. The guy whose size makes him ideal for quarterback sneaks in key situations. The guy who is able to make huge throws at the last second while he stares down an opposing rusher.
20.
Matt Ryan ATL
27/44
252
0
1
16
12
4
Perhaps you enjoy an endless, droning hum of deep outs to Roddy White. Yes, it's impressive that Matt Ryan can throw that route. That doesn't mean he needs to do it every third down. It's not like the passes to White were opening up opportunities elsewhere, either; Ryan was 14-of-21 for 131 yards elsewhere, pedestrian stuff, although Eric Weems and Harry Douglas combined to go 7-for-7. Instead of focusing on White, perhaps we should consider Tony Gonzalez. The Steelers took him out of the game, as Gonzalez had only two catches for 35 yards (plus a five-yard pass interference penalty) on six targets. Maybe the book on this offense will be to jam the middle and hope that it stops the run and squeezes Gonzalez's space, forcing throws to a double-covered White while giving Weems and Douglas chances to make plays. Or maybe it'll all fall into place when Michael Jenkins comes back.
21.
Chad Henne MIA
21/34
182
0
0
6
13
-7
22.
Dennis Dixon PIT
18/26
236
0
1
2
10
-8
Dixon appeared to really struggle with his mechanics and his feel for the pass rush; the former is disappointing, while the latter is more understandable considering his lack of pro reps. He was scrambling at the slightest hint of trouble, which blew up more than one third down play while still in progress. When he did throw, he was tentative and placed a number of passes at his receivers' feet. For whatever people think Byron Leftwich isn't, he's better than this.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
23.
Jake Delhomme CLE
20/36
227
1
2
-4
2
-6
24.
Matthew Stafford DET
11/15
83
0
0
-8
-8
0
Before the strip sack that injured his shoulder, Stafford had completed six straight passes for a total of 56 yards. The jury is still out on the efficacy of the Bears' pass defense, but it was a nice little run for a quarterback that could use one in a critical season. Instead, we might not see him again until Week 7.
25.
Matt Cassel KC
10/21
68
1
0
-11
-14
4
In case you're wondering, 68 passing yards and 3.2 yards per pop is nowhere near a record for a quarterback in a winning performance. In the DVOA Era, that record belongs to the inimitable Derek Anderson (ok, JaMarcus Russell could probably imitate Derek Anderson), who went 2-of-17 for 23 yards with an interception in the Browns' 6-3 win over the Bills last year. Matt Leinart could do that -- and what Cassel did for the Chiefs on Monday, truthfully.
26.
Brett Favre MIN
15/27
171
1
1
-11
-11
0
Before last season, I wrote about Percy Harvin and suggested that he wouldn't be a good fit for the Vikings because they already had a similar receiver in Bernard Berrian. I pointed out that they needed a possession receiver to play across from those speed guys, which is why they had tried to go after T.J. Houshmandzadeh in free agency. Well, I was right and wrong; Harvin played well, but Berrian got hurt and Sidney Rice stepped up to fill the role of the possession receiver that the team needed. With Rice out, well, nobody's there to fill that role. Visanthe Shiancoe on option routes is a nice little trick to play near the goal line, but you can't throw that pass 15 times a game. Favre was unquestionably rusty and there were some improvisational issues with Harvin, but the Vikings need Greg Camarillo, Greg Lewis, or some unknown miracle to step up and actually become that intermediate receiver. And I don't think Vincent Jackson qualifies.
27.
Trent Edwards BUF
18/34
139
1
0
-26
-25
-1
28.
Kevin Kolb PHI
5/10
24
0
0
-58
-41
-17
Kolb was bad before the Clay Matthews hit that gave him a concussion, but he was worse afterwards. When we debated Kolb after Week 2 last year, Mike Tanier fretted about a quarterback who couldn't stay in the pocket and didn't have the arm strength to back up his throws. Kolb stayed in the pocket on Sunday, but he forced throw after throw that he simply couldn't make. That's troubling for his future.
29.
Mark Sanchez NYJ
10/21
74
0
0
-68
-66
-2
Truthfully, I had this comment written in my head. I was going to talk about how you can't put Mark Sanchez in third-and-long, note how long the third downs he was facing were, and compare that to the average distance of his third downs from last year. And you know what? It doesn't fit. Sanchez dropped back on nine third downs last night. One turned into a six-yard scramble on third-and-7. The other eight third downs were passes or sacks. He converted only the penultimate third down, to extend the Jets' final drive, on a third-and-6. The other seven plays were five incompletions and two sacks, including a devastating Haloti Ngata hit. He failed to convert third-and-3, third-and-4 twice, and third-and-5. On average, he needed 5.9 yards; last year, he needed an average of 7.4 yards to pick up first downs. And as much as some might like to chalk that up to the Ravens' defense, remember that the Baltimore secondary was supposed to be their weak link, especially without Ed Reed. Instead, Chris Carr -- the tiny ex-Titans nickelback -- shut down Braylon Edwards.
30.
Shaun Hill DET
9/18
88
0
1
-78
-49
-30
Hill couldn't move the offense until the final drive, when he picked up 58 yards against a prevent defense and should have had 25 more. Quarterbacks play about ten percent worse when they come off the bench as opposed to starting, so Hill should be better next week. Then again, he's facing the Eagles and what looked to be a ferocious pass rush, so he may not look much better. (I'm also excited to see Asante Samuel bail on an attempt to tackle Calvin Johnson.)
31.
Sam Bradford STL
32/55
262
1
3
-84
-84
0
Our Ben Muth watched this game and noted that Bradford's only real period of effectiveness was at the end of the first half. That ended up being reasonably accurate, although Bradford had his moments in the fourth quarter. Despite having him dropback 57 times, the Rams very clearly kept the playbook pretty conservative for Bradford; he didn't complete a pass further than 19 yards downfield, and 12 of his 32 completions were what we would consider to be "unsuccessful" passes.
32.
Alex Smith SF
27/45
225
0
2
-120
-120
0
12 third down dropbacks. Five completions. Two interceptions. One intentional grounding. One first down. As nifty as it is to pull the "More first downs on fourth down than third down" trick, Smith was just dreadful this week, and while Michael Crabtree had some route-running issues, it's pretty clear who the better player in that equation is. At the end of the day, the Niners are more invested in Crabtree than they are in Smith, and it's with good reason. He can't be that bad on third down again, right?
33.
Jason Campbell OAK
22/37
180
1
1
-124
-125
2
By the time Campbell threw for his opening first down of the game, he had been sacked four times and fumbled twice. The Raiders were down 21 points. I'm pretty sure Campbell was actually having flashbacks to Washington. Yes, he didn't get any help all day but ... it's Jason Campbell. Counting on him to get help seems foolhardy at this point. He should have more breathing room against the Rams next week.
34.
Matt Moore CAR
14/33
182
1
3
-184
-191
7
It's hard to get much worse than Moore's final four dropbacks: Interception on the opposition's four-yard line, interception on the opposition's 11-yard line, stripsack, stripsack. Yeesh. Alex Barron didn't even hold four plays in a row.


Five most valuable running backs
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Arian Foster HOU
231
3
7
0
124
122
2
The breakout star of the weekend was number 19 on our Top 25 Prospects list, but his new number is four. That's where he ranks on the list of DYAR accrued by a running back in a single game, thanks to his 124 DYAR performance against the Colts on Sunday. The record is 157 DYAR, set by Priest Holmes in Week 12 of the 2002 season against the Seahawks. Foster actually tied Corey Dillon's four-touchdown game from 1997 for the single-game rushing DYAR record, 122 DYAR, but Holmes also threw in 53 DYAR as a receiver on that day.

Foster may not end up fourth by the time the season's over once strength of opposition begins to factor in, but he won't fall far. Foster averaged 9.2 yards a pop on first down, converted four of the five third downs he faced, and picked up that one leftover on the ensuing fourth down. Nearly half of his carries -- 14 of 33 -- resulted in either a first down or a touchdown. Barring an injury or a sudden case of Eric Mangini, the Texans have found their starting running back for the foreseeable future.
2.
Darren McFadden OAK
95
0
55
1
57
30
26
McFadden was better in this game than other backs usually are in games where they're a few scores down. He averaged better than five yards a carry on first down and also picked up two new sets of downs as a receiver. He also caught a touchdown pass as a receiver in the fourth quarter, while only two of his 24 touches went for negative yardage. It got lost in the shellacking his defense took, but it was a promising day for a player who has spent his first two seasons lost in the Oakland wilderness.
3.
LeSean McCoy PHI
35
1
47
0
39
22
17
If there's one thing Michael Vick can do, it's create opportunities for his running backs. Research in the past has shown that rushing quarterbacks drive improvements in their halfbacks' yards per carry. The Eagles only had McCoy carry the ball seven times, but it yielded four successful plays and a touchdown. He was three-of-five for successes as a receiver, including 27 yards on a crucial third-and-9 screen in the fourth quarter.
4.
Ronnie Brown MIA
65
1
20
0
36
31
5
The Buffalo run defense looks ... well ... it looks less convincing than Jessica Alba's desire for Danny Trejo in Machete. So Brown's numbers will come down a bit as the year goes along. But he gained five yards a carry and picked up 11 yards on a third-and-10, the only penultimate down he faced all day. He also picked up 16 yards on a screen to move the chains on a second-and-14, and when he got the ball on the one-yard line, it only took him one play to score. A very efficient day.
5.
Rashard Mendenhall PIT
120
1
15
0
29
21
8
Fantasy football projection systems can't account for the likelihood of overtime. Mendenhall had 21 carries for 70 yards through four quarters, thanks to an impressive Falcons run defense that stacked up Mendenhall even without excellent defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux. Of course, after the Falcons punted in overtime, Mendenhall made his way into the top-five with a 50-yard touchdown run.


Least valuable running back
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Willis McGahee BAL
0
1
-6
0
-46
-34
-12
Willis McGahee started his day with a catch for -2 yards. Then he ran for -2 yards and fumbled on the Jets' 20-yard line. Then he ran for no gain on third-and-1 from the Jets' 28, with the ensuing field goal taken off the board by a Jets penalty. Then he ran for no gain on first-and-goal from the Jets' 1. Finally, he scored on a one-yard plunge two downs later. Jon Gruden forgot about every other McGahee moment from the game and spent 20 seconds praising him.

Oh, and he finished with a run for -1 yard on the Ravens' 2-yard line and a run for no gain from the Ravens' 6-yard line. There were no touches here I didn't mention. That was his entire day.


Five most valuable wide receivers and tight ends
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Miles Austin DAL
10
11
150
15.0
1
82
DeAngelo Hall had a good game, but Carlos Rogers and an assorted cast of assistants could do little with Austin. His only incompletion came 36 yards downfield. All ten of his catches were for successful chunks of yardage, and while his YAC+ regression is probably coming, he still picked up 64 yards while breaking a handful of tackles. DYAR likes his final catch the most, but it doesn't know that the play came on a broken coverage where the Redskins left the Cowboys' best target home alone up the middle.
2.
Chad Ochocinco CIN
12
13
159
13.2
1
75
He was too bummed out to perform any sort of celebration, but Ochocinco wasn't the reason the Bengals lost. Admittedly, he only had two catches for 23 yards before the third quarter, but any claim the Bengals had to a miraculous comeback came thanks to some great work by Ochocinco versus Darius Butler of the Patriots. It may have been mopup work, but converting third-and-12 and fourth-and-6 within 70 seconds of each other is impressive regardless of the context.
3.
Steve Breaston ARI
7
7
132
18.9
0
68
Not even the best statistic can put everything a player does into one number. DYAR has Breaston as the third-best receiver of the week, thanks to seven catches on seven targets for 132 yards and six first downs. While he's known as a downfield receiver, Breaston was also great as a "smoke" receiver, catching quick throws at the line of scrimmage and making plays. Three of his catches came within one yard of the line, but he added 54 yards after catch to turn them into big plays. His biggest contribution, though, came as a defender; after Rams defensive tackle Clifton Ryan recovered a fumble and started rumbling towards the end zone, Breaston chased him down and stripped Ryan of the ball inside the five-yard line. The Cardinals fell on the ball in the end zone, keeping the Rams from going up 20-10. It didn't directly win the Cardinals the game, but it's hard to see the Cardinals winning without Breaston's hustle.
4.
Austin Collie IND
10
11
131
13.1
1
52
Virtually all of Collie's DYAR came on that 73-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter, but Collie only let one pass hit the ground and was successful on every one of his targets short that one incompletion. NOTE: There's an issue with the gamebook that credits Collie's fourth-quarter fumble to Garcon. Collie will drop out of the top-five once we correct that in our books.
5.
Hakeem Nicks NYG
4
8
75
18.8
3
49
The Giants drafted Ramses Barden two rounds after Nicks, hoping that Barden would be a devastating red zone receiver and create matchup nightmares for opposing defenses. Barden's ability to be that guy remains to be seen, but it sure looks like Nicks has beat him to the punch. He was a YAC machine last year, but I'm sure Nicks won't mind replacing his YAC with touchdowns. Although he only had one catch outside of the touchdowns, it still rates out as a very effective day.


Least valuable wide receiver or tight end
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Pierre Garcon IND
4
11
75
18.8
0
-45
Garcon started the day 1-for-5 for seven yards. Then he had back-to-back receptions for a total of 36 yards. He finished with three incompletions and a 32-yard reception that finished with a crippling fumble. What sort of sandwich is that? One with a bun you discover is moldy two bites in? NOTE: That fumble was actually Collie's. Even without the fumble, when you go 3-of-10 on passes from Peyton Manning, it's a bad day.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 14 Sep 2010

84 comments, Last at 16 Sep 2010, 3:04pm by kbukie

Comments

1
by Yaguar :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 1:05pm

I love how Trent Edwards doesn't get a comment, just a moderately negative DYAR score.

Really, that is pretty fitting.

2
by Nate Dunlevy :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 1:14pm

Garcon didn't fumble. the gamebook mis-attributed it to him. Collie fumbled the big third down pass. It has been official changed per the Indy Star today. You might want to re run those numbers

6
by Kevin :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 1:25pm

I can verify this - Collie was the recipient and fumbler on that pass not Garcon. Garcon was pretty awful in the game, but that one, at least, isn't on him.

7
by Bill Barnwell :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 1:31pm

That's what I get for relying on the gamebook. We'll update that in QR and for our records going forward.

3
by Nate Dunlevy :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 1:15pm

Also, Indy had 3 dropped first down passes on third down AND the one to Gonzalez on the sideline where he was called OB by an inch.

4
by Joseph :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 1:19pm

The only thing I wish you guys would change with QR is going more than 5 deep on RB's & WR's. (As a Saints' fan, I would like to know where Pierre Thomas ranked.)
As I elaborated on PFR's commentary on the Jets' game, saying that Sanchez stunk last night would probably make it sound like he played better than he did.

47
by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 7:41pm

Even if you don't want to bother writing a comment for all backs and recievers, it would be great to see the weekly list go much deeper than 5!

"Just look at that pumpkin."
-John Madden, looking at the moon.

48
by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 7:42pm

Even if you don't want to bother writing a comment for all backs and receivers, it would be great to see the weekly list go much deeper than 5!

"Just look at that pumpkin."
-John Madden, looking at the moon.

51
by omaholic :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 8:12pm

I agree. Both times.

60
by kamchatka (not verified) :: Wed, 09/15/2010 - 3:24am

YUP yupyupyupyupyupyupyupyup mmmmmmmhmm.

5
by Rivers McCown :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 1:20pm

Garcon was the best defensive back the Texans had on Sunday.

56
by Bobman :: Wed, 09/15/2010 - 2:15am

Not funny. Not funny, at all.

I mean it.

But what might be funny is to record a WR's "passes defensed" meaning the drops/knock-downs.

Oh God, what am I saying? Never mind! Not funny at all.

66
by Mr Shush :: Wed, 09/15/2010 - 9:04am

Having re-watched the game with a specific eye for Texans corner play, I think Glover Quin and Brice McCain both played fairly well - not that either of them never got beat, but overall, considering that each of them spent a fair amount of time covering Reggie Wayne, they did a pretty good job. Jackson, on the other hand, was repeatedly toasted by Garcon. It was his first proper NFL game, so I'm in no way saying he's a bust, a bad pick, or anything else, but it does seem to me that as of right now the Texans' second best cover corner is McCain. The long touchdown, incidentally, was primarily on rookie 5th round pick Sherrick McManis. But hey, they're all gaining experience at an astronomical rate: Houston CBs not named Glover Quin now have twice as many combined regular season starts as they did a week ago!

8
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 1:35pm

I wasn't fully on board the Sidney Rice bandwagon last year, but, holy smokes, his ball skills are leaps and bounds (pun intended) ahead of Bernard Berrian's or Visanthe Shiancoe's. I think Harvin's are decent, and what we saw last Thursady was mostly due to his missing August with migraines. The good news is that his overnight in the hospital, hooked up to a heart monitor, after collapsing on the field three weeks ago, revealed that he has been suffering from severe sleep apnea, and it may have been the source of his migraines all these years. In any case, he is now sleeping through the night with the aid of a CPAP apparatus, is off all the copious medication he had been taking, and has not had a migraine since. It is a wonder he was able to become an elite athlete, despite not having a decent night's sleep since he was about 12 years old.

Actually, it seemed to me that a lot of receivers did not do a good job of going up and catching the ball this weekend.

10
by nat :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 1:40pm

An interesting point about the context of Manning's performance was how much of his DYAR value came after the game was already beyond reach. To wit: 11/14, 152 yards, 2 TDs in two drives.

In theory, Manning was still trying, so it should count on DYAR. On the other hand, the Texans were focusing on making the Colts use up clock, at which they succeeded in the Colt's hopeless first drive and failed in the meaningless last.

His pre-loss-of-hope stats are still excellent (although not as insane): 29/43, 281 yards, 1 TD. And, had the game still been in doubt, I'm sure he would have earned more DYAR.

One of the founding ideas of FO was that racking up yards and even TDs after the game is out of reach isn't a good indicator of a skilled offense. Alas, even FO's DYAR stat suffers from that problem from time to time.

23
by B :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 3:26pm

It is? I thought the research indicated that removing "garbage time" stats from DVOA/DYAR reduced the accuracy, not increased it.

26
by tuluse :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 3:37pm

I was under this impression too.

I do know that he is compared to other offenses operating in garbage time though. So Manning and the Colts were significantly more efficient than the average garbage time offense.

30
by RichC (not verified) :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 4:01pm

Which makes sense, considering how many "garbage time" games the colts have won in the last couple of years.

41
by Nate Dunlevy :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 5:19pm

It's hard to argue that there is 'garbage time' when the Colts play the Texans in recent years

57
by Bobman :: Wed, 09/15/2010 - 2:19am

Unless there's a specific definition of G-time that exceeds 17 pts in the final 4 minutes or so.

I suspect there'd be a very subjective (and bitterly disputed here) sliding scale required. Come on, for some teams, it's 10 pts in the last 6 minutes, for others, 20 is more like it.

64
by nat :: Wed, 09/15/2010 - 8:35am

In the Bengals-Patriots game, Bill defines garbage time as down three scores or more in the first half! While I would disagree with that particular definition, the issue with DYAR is a real one.

DVOA and DYAR are built on a single, unchanging success point formula that values yards of field position and yards towards a first down in a way consistent with maximizing the net expected value of the next score. That's great, because we can all agree that maximizing the expected value of the next score is the correct strategy most of the time. (Anyone who says "establishing the run" can go sit in the timeout chair.)

When two teams are separated by many points with little time left, maximizing the expected value of the next score is no longer the correct strategy for either team. So, even though FO compares a team's success against other teams in similar situations, it's doing so using the wrong formula.

At a glance, I'd say a better approach would be to adjust the success formula to value total yards more and yards toward a first down less as a blow-out moves deeper into the second half. I don't know how much the formula would actually change. But I do know, and so do you, that "prevent" defenses are designed to slowly give up first downs while protecting against large gains and quick scores. While overused in the past, they do have a valid use in exactly those situations where DVOA and DYAR no longer measure the right "success".

61
by nat :: Wed, 09/15/2010 - 6:13am

See the FO note about Carson Palmer to learn whether earning large DYAR while in desperation-time is considered noteworthy (literally!), and how long this noteworthy time can last.

9
by marcusm (not verified) :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 1:39pm

I'd be curious to know what Forte's game looked like without the stuffs. I've heard some suggestions that Forte's style of running just isn't suited to goal line running, but (aside from the fumbles of course) it sure seemed like he had a decent game everywhere except for near the goal line. And how does Taylor's goal line history compare to Forte's? Maybe Martz will decide to go with Taylor in goal line situations.

12
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 1:44pm

I think Taylor's age, in terms of running, has really caught up to him in the last year or two. He still was a very good pass blocker and receiver last year, so he likely still has non-trivial value, but I don't think it lies much in taking a handoff any longer.

31
by TomC :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 4:04pm

I agree that Forte may not be the optimal goal-line back, but on a couple of those plays, there is not a running back alive that could have scored. The Bears OL shows some promise for improvement in pass protection and in run plays that require nimble O-linemen (traps, pulls, etc.), but in the "let's impose our will" plays they look just as bad as last year.

I don't understand why Martz of all people would call four tight-formation runs in five goal-line plays. Hell, even the botched play-action was tight. Spread 'em out, Mikey, fer cryin' out loud!

11
by jimbohead :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 1:41pm

I'm shocked, SHOCKED, that crabtree didn't have the worst DYAR sunday.

14
by tally :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 2:04pm

Actually, I'm shocked it wasn't Fitzgerald, with only three catches on 15 targets.

16
by Vince Verhei :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 2:16pm

The ESPN version (which is Insider only) lists a bottom five for RBs and for WRs/TEs. Fitzgerald, White, and Crabtree all made the list.

49
by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 7:46pm

The joke has been made before, but you have to laugh at the irony (proper use of the word) of the Football Outsiders' Insider status...

"Just look at that pumpkin."
-John Madden, looking at the moon.

17
by jimbohead :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 2:21pm

Looking at the game book, I realize i forgot about crabtree's 4th down conversion. But outside of that, he had one completion for 3 yds, 4 incompletions (1-10, 1-20, 1-10, and 2-8), and two interceptions on third down. I figured the double wammy of interceptions, plus failed 3rd down would really hit him harder.

33
by Vince Verhei :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 4:42pm

DYAR doesn't blame receivers for interceptions. They get counted as regular incompletions.

38
by jimbohead :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 5:12pm

Ah. Part of me understands why this is, but the other part is still pissed at Crabtree for the deflection, and for running a wrong route on that pick six.

43
by Vince Verhei :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 5:30pm

I'm pretty sure that interception rates for receivers are fairly random, at least when measured year-to-year. So just because a lot of passes thrown Crabtree's way on Sunday were intercepted, that doesn't mean he's likely to produce interceptions going forward.

That said, QR is intended to measure what happened Sunday less than to predict the future, so an argument could be made that they should be counted here.

63
by justanothersteve :: Wed, 09/15/2010 - 8:31am

I wouldn't be too sure about that. I know it's only anecdotal evidence, but I remember former Packer Billy Schroeder causing several Favre INTs by not finishing or cutting off routes about 10 years ago. Holmgren especially used to berate BS on the sideline for such actions on a regular basis. Some receivers are much more likely to alligator-arm or bobble the ball. I've seen some receivers be more apt to become DBs when it looks like a pass might be intercepted than others. There may be some variation from year-to-year, but I'd guess among more targeted receivers you'd see many of the same players at the top and bottom of such a list.

71
by jimbohead :: Wed, 09/15/2010 - 11:52am

I think that's the sort of thing you can see well with scouting (we all know that WRs have a real effect on whether or not a ball is intercepted), but not very well with stats. This is just because an interception is a relatively rare event, so you have to deal with serious noise coming from small sample size effects.

Imagine a 20-interception QB, who throws 600 attempts in a season (this is a tad worse than Cutler's '08 numbers). Now, suppose that 3-5 of these are in situations where a receiver cannot be determined (throw-aways, batted at the line, etc). Also, suppose that targets are distributed something like 35% 25% 15% 15% 10% between receivers (three wideouts, 1 RB, 1 TE. I don't have anything to back these figures up, just a guess). Say true interception rate varies from 1-5% for a receiver in this offense, with mean at 15/600 = 2.5%. Take the case of the receiver with the most targets. An average performance would indicate 5.25 interceptions, with an upper bound at 10.5 and lower bound at 2.1 interceptions. That's just not a large enough sample of interceptions to distinguish true rate with any sort of reliability, especially given the vagaries of assigning blame to a receiver. With your number 3 wideout, the effect become more pronounced: the upper bound is 4.5, lower is 0.9, and and mean is 2.25.

So, I can totally believe that interception rate for WR doesn't show year to year correlation, but that doesn't mean its not a repeatable skill. And it really doesn't mean i can't still be pissed at crabtree for that god-awful performance sunday, whose suckitude can't be measured in DYAR.

73
by witless chum :: Wed, 09/15/2010 - 1:16pm

I remember my Packer fan mother cursing (or darning and hecking, I guess) Schroeder a bunch. Naturally, Matt Millen responded to Billy's time in Green Bay by signing him to a large free agent contract.

13
by jmaron :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 1:53pm

The Vikings really didn't use Harvin on many deep routes last year. Seemed to me it was Rice who they used as their deep guy mostly and Harvin was the one catching a bunch of short passes in the middle of the field particularly on 3rd down.

Favre was off in the second half. He missed a bunch of throws to open receivers that killed all the drives in the second half.

15
by t.d. :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 2:15pm

Every quarterback in the game is 'limited'. A lot of Garrard's deficiencies that past two years have been due to atrocious, extraordinarily bad offensive line play

58
by Bobman :: Wed, 09/15/2010 - 2:22am

I hear yeh, man. Peyton Manning has that same bad OL millstone around his neck.

18
by drobviousso :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 2:24pm

If there's one thing Michael Vick can do, it's create opportunities for his running backs. Research in the past has shown that rushing quarterbacks drive improvements in their halfbacks' yards per carry. The Eagles only had McCoy carry the ball seven times, but it yielded four successful plays and a touchdown. He was three-of-five for successes as a receiver, including 27 yards on a crucial third-and-9 screen in the fourth quarter.

Link? I've looked in the past, but couldn't remember where to look.

21
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 2:57pm

It works both ways. Vince Young should be paying a fee to Chris Johnson with each game check, for helping Ol' Vince find his career. When a qb who can break a huge gain with his legs on any play, and who can throw the ball even just moderately well downfield, is paired with a running back who can score every time he touches the ball, it puts unbearable strain on a defensive scheme. 11 guys just ain't enough to cover all of that.

I'd love to see the Vikings rookie 3rd string qb, Joe Webb, make enough progress to get on the field at least occasionally before Adrian Peterson gets used up. Webb can really run, and unlike the 2nd string qb, is quite elusive, with sound instincts. A qb who can really run, pass moderately well, paired with a non-aged Adrain Peterson, and a migraine-free Percy Harvin, would be quite a handful for a defensive coordinator.

83
by MCS :: Thu, 09/16/2010 - 2:55pm

Joe Webb? Wasn't he a cop in the 60's?

19
by tuluse :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 2:40pm

This quick reads matches my eyes perfectly. Jay Cutler was amazing, and everyone else wasn't.

20
by Eddo :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 2:46pm

Yep. Though I semi-disagree with Bill on the strip-sack. Yeah, Omiyale didn't block his guy, but Cutler should be able to sense the pressure better, especially coming from his front side.

84
by kbukie :: Thu, 09/16/2010 - 3:04pm

Well, Forte was good at catching passes, and Knox was adequate. Everything else about the offense was terribad, though.

22
by Joel (not verified) :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 3:17pm

Is there someone tracking the number of INTs a QB has thrown that were made via deflections by the receivers? Cause I feel like Eli's career would lead the league in that category by a lot. I mean, it even happened during the Super Bowl of all times.

35
by RichC (not verified) :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 4:53pm

If Eli didn't consistently throw high across the middle, that wouldn't be the case.

24
by aaa (not verified) :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 3:31pm

Rice as an intermediate receiver? Without really looking at anything and just going based on gut feel from last year, I'd call Rice the deep threat, and Harvin the intermediate receiver. Rice caught a ton of deep jump balls last year. I don't remember Percy getting deep much.

Obviously that could be bias from me on how I view the two, but that Favre capsule definitely was the opposite of how I viewed the team last year.

27
by tuluse :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 3:39pm

From what I've seen, Rice was pretty valuable at all ranges.

I think Chilly used Berrian and Percy's speed to threaten deep to open stuff up for other receivers though.

29
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 3:59pm

Yeah, the biggest difference is that Rice has shown an ability to outfight defenders and come down with the ball, while Berrian and Shiancoe tend to only catch balls when they have gained significant seperation. This has a huge impact on qb performance, especially the ability to make plays while being pressured.

34
by Vince Verhei :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 4:49pm

Vikings receivers in 2009, with short/mid/deep/bomb percentages:

Rice: 23%, 52%, 13%, 12%
Harvin: 40%, 36%, 16%, 8%
Berrian: 32%, 41%, 15%, 12%

So Rice was the dominant intermediate (6 to 15 yards) guy. Harvin was usually short (5 yards or less) or long (16 yards or more), and rarely in the middle. Berrian fell somewhere in the middle, although he went deep slightly more often than either Rice or Harvin.

39
by Eddo :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 5:13pm

According to those figures, Harvin was short-to-mid more than anyone else, and deep-to-bomb less. They refute the Harvin-as-deep-threat idea pretty well.

40
by tuluse :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 5:18pm

If you think the 1% difference between Harvin and Rice is meaningful.

It looks more like all receivers got deep targets, while Harvin got more short targets compared to Rice's mid range targets.

44
by Eddo :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 5:52pm

I don't think it's necessarily meaningful. I was moreso pointing out that Harvin isn't the deep threat that some seem to think he is. The numbers above suggest that the Vikings don't really have set roles for receivers.

50
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 8:01pm

I think it may be a case of a certain stubbled old media whore not having set roles, other than a preference to throw the ball to the guy who he is confident will catch the effin' ball.

55
by Eddo :: Wed, 09/15/2010 - 12:27am

That could be it, though is Favre known for calling his own plays?

53
by NHPatsFan (not verified) :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 9:30pm

It's more the shape of the curve each set of %'s draw. Anyone know the league average?

25
by are-tee :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 3:35pm

The funny thing about Sanchez was that in week 1 of 2009, he was terrific on third down.

28
by marc (not verified) :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 3:56pm

fitz might not be perfect but derek anderson couldnt throw the ball in the ocean, he missed fitz continually, it was a miracle larry was able to even get a hand on some of those balls...

32
by ammek :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 4:40pm

Good call to keep this feature as it was for the FO site: it's the best stat analysis that you do, consistently informative and (happily) counter-intuitive.

And so, after one week, the top two QBs are …… Brady and Manning. This is becoming like the Scottish football league.

65
by Dean :: Wed, 09/15/2010 - 8:59am

Brady and Manning are Scottish?

67
by Andrew Potter :: Wed, 09/15/2010 - 9:16am

Don't tell Craig Levein...

68
by nat :: Wed, 09/15/2010 - 9:19am

Sure. They're quarterbacks for the Bravehearts and the Shetland Ponies. They can toss the haggis better than anybody!

70
by Mr Shush :: Wed, 09/15/2010 - 11:34am

Since immemorial, the only teams with a credible chance of winning the championship in the top division of Scottish soccer at the start of pretty much every season have been Glasgow Rangers and Glasgow Celtic. In the 110 year history of league football in Scotland, one or other of those two teams has been champions 94.5 times (there was a split title in 1891). The last time another team won the title was Aberdeen in 1985, coached by current Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson, a credible candidate for the title "greatest coach in soccer history". Spain's nearly as bad, with 45 of the last 60 titles going to either Real Madrid or Barcelona.

72
by Dean :: Wed, 09/15/2010 - 12:11pm

I guessed it was something like that, but I figured it's never a bad time to take a cheap shot at soccer.

81
by Sander :: Thu, 09/16/2010 - 6:46am

Please don't call Celtic F.C. 'Glasgow Celtic'. I realise there's a need to add a city or region name to every sports team in the US, but this sounds really stupid to soccer-following, European ears.

And most soccer leagues work that way. One of the main reasons is a complete lack of any kind of parity rules, and the huge financial boost Champions League football gives clubs.

82
by Mr Shush :: Thu, 09/16/2010 - 9:34am

I'm both European and well aware that the word "Glasgow" features in neither club's official title. I don't really see how it's any different to referring to Internazionale as Inter Milan - it's a way of clarifying, to an audience who might not otherwise know, which city a club is from (and in Rangers' case sometimes of making it clear that you're not talking about QPR).

36
by shah8 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 4:54pm

When 6 of the 10 quarterbacks are the ones who lost, some of them in not-really-a-contest-game--well, they should be penalized. It does seem that this system is penalizing super-efficient offenses with fewer plays, and it's penalizing high quality game management.

37
by tuluse :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 4:57pm

Peyton Manning is responsible for his defense being unable to stop Arian Foster?

54
by Basilicus :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 11:26pm

Tom Brady would've tackled Arian Foster.

59
by Bobman :: Wed, 09/15/2010 - 2:27am

Or had his wedding goons shoot him.

But seriously, a few more 3rd down conversions would have gone a long way toward limiting Foster. When your D is playing like that, it's almost time to take a page out of the opponents' playbook: kill the clock and eliminate touches for the other team's O. 3rd down conversions are part of that. Even if you score in one 80-yard strike every time, you just give Foster a chance to pull a Taylor/Jones-Drew on your D again and six plays later he's in the endzone.

For Colts fans, this may be a good omen, since after that horrid Jags game in 2006 they went on a memorable tear.

69
by Basilicus :: Wed, 09/15/2010 - 10:53am

I don't agree. I think keeping the other offense off the field works best against a high-quality passer. Quarterbacks are the players on the field most effected by rhythm. All the extra time does for a running back is give him more rest. Now, keeping a defense on the field to tire them out is another matter entirely, but while keeping Schaub off the field may have an effect, keeping Foster off the field would only give him more of a chance to recharge.

74
by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 09/15/2010 - 3:42pm

Randy Moss might have. He was in as a safety in the Bengals game. Kid you not.

75
by nat :: Wed, 09/15/2010 - 3:47pm

Randy Moss is routinely in as an extra DB on hail-mary plays. He's quite good at it: He's tall. He's fast. He jumps well. He never commits pass interfer... erm, well, ahem, He jumps well.

76
by Dean :: Wed, 09/15/2010 - 4:31pm

Too bad he didn't get a chance to guard Owens and/or Ochocinco.

80
by Shattenjager :: Thu, 09/16/2010 - 1:40am

He had an interception on one last year. I was hoping he would score a TD as well to join the rather exclusive club of players with an interception and a receiving TD in the same game since 1960 (http://www.pro-football-reference.com/play-index/tiny/IHHBK), but he did not.

42
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 5:24pm

Matt Cassel is not the problem in KC. Get him an OL and he'll be an adequate QB.

45
by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 6:20pm

It's DYAR. It rates the total "acheivement" of the team, not the acheivement per play. That's why quarterbacks who throw a lot of passes are high on the list. If they sustain an above average performance for longer, they get more DYAR. People, quit complaining that the statistics measure what they're supposed to.

46
by shah8 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 6:40pm

In many situations, high success rate later was because of low success rate earlier. In other situations, the style of play itself, with many completions, results in losses, because you've gassed your own defense--AirKubiak last season, for example.

52
by AlanSP :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 9:05pm

How exactly does having many completions gas your defense?

77
by Basilicus :: Wed, 09/15/2010 - 5:11pm

A pass-heavy offense may have a greater number of failed drives, three-and-outs, and drives (even successful ones) that consist of few plays, meaning it puts your defense back on the field more immediately. In other words, a pass-heavy offense may not have the ability to or experience with extending drives. Specifically, few teams can effectively replace a running game with a passing game, meaning your tired defense will be back on the field that much faster compared to the average, especially in games you're leading or that are close. I think that's what he meant.

79
by AlanSP :: Wed, 09/15/2010 - 10:53pm

That's sort of what I figured he meant, and I'm extremely skeptical that this is actually the case. I estimated the average number of plays per drive for each team last year (it's an estimate rather than an exact calculation because I got the drive numbers from FO's drive stats, which don't include kneel downs, and the play numbers from pro-football-reference, which do include kneel downs, though I doubt this makes a huge difference). There's no correlation whatever between frequency with which teams pass and their average number of plays per drive (R=.04). Incidentally, last year's "Air Kubiak" team had an above average number of plays per drive, ranking 10th in the league.

I think the widespread perception that passing offenses don't stay on the field long and therefore give their defenses less rest arises at least partly from the fact that people tend to psychologically conflate time of possession (i.e. time run off the game clock) with actual time (time run off the clock on your wall/wrist). Pass-heavy offenses don't run as much time off the game clock as their run-heavy counterparts, so as a viewer, it feels like they aren't out there as long, but that doesn't mean they give their defenses less rest. In situations where the offense huddles, about 35-40 seconds elapses between plays regardless of whether they're passes or runs, so that "Air Kubiak" offense was actually giving their defense more time on the sidelines than the average offense did.

62
by Podge (not verified) :: Wed, 09/15/2010 - 8:15am

I feel I should point out in the interests of fairness (and homerish defence) that the Rams played the end of the game with the Cards with only 2 CBs, with Justin King and Kevin Dockery going down injured, meaning we were covering WRs with either a backup safety or, surprisingly unsuccessfully, with OLB Larry Grant. Before that we were looking decent against Anderson.

The intentional grounding was a thing of beauty. Anderson had to look around and have a think about who he should try to pretend he was trying to throw to. I think "one of my defenders on the sideline" was his eventual guess!

I don't think there'll be many more games we go into with only 4 WRs and 4 CBs active, given that at one point we were down to 2 WRs as well, as Amendola and Gilyard were both getting looked at (both did return though).

78
by Basilicus :: Wed, 09/15/2010 - 5:17pm

It's always struck me that, early in the season, you'd want to err on the side of having more skill-position players active. I don't know if this is supported by injury histories, but it always seems that the skill positions are the ones that end up short-handed in the early weeks, and the linemen are more often the victims of attrition over the course of the season, where you may need a larger pool later in the season when half of your O- and D-lines end up listed as questionable. This is purely observational; I have zero evidence to support this theory.