Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» Scramble Over/Unders: the Norths

The league's northern divisions pose a number of meaty questions, such as: "Is the Bears' offense due for a repeat performance?" "Why do the Lions have such pronounced splits?" and "Has Johnny Manziel made the Cleveland brass even crazier?"

14 Dec 2010

Week 14 Quick Reads

by Bill Barnwell

If there's any critique people can throw at Tom Brady these days, it's that his Patriots are running up the score in blowouts. Over the past two weeks, dominant victories over the Jets and Bears have been marked by the presence of Brady in the lineup late in the game, picking up passing yards while opposing defenders are plotting their disappointed postgame tweets in their heads.

On the other hand, DVOA suggests that Brady hasn't been saving his success for garbage time. Even before the Bears game, he comfortably led the league in DVOA and DYAR, and he still does. For the fourth week out of five and third week in a row, Brady had the best performance of the week by any quarterback. And that was in a driving snowstorm.

DVOA accounts for the game situation passing yards arrive in, but Brady can still get an impressive DVOA by outperforming the way an average quarterback performs in garbage time. Is that what's happening? Does he get a disproportionate amount of his yardage in the latter stages of blowouts, relative to other quarterbacks? Let's take a look at the numbers.

First, let's define blowout. As a simple construct, let's consider "garbage time" to exclusively be situations in the second half. In the third quarter, quarterbacks playing with either an 18-point (three-score) lead or deficit will be considered to be producing in garbage time. In the fourth quarter, we'll cut the figure to 14 points. We took every quarterback's play-by-play performance and captured their attempts and yardage, both inside and outside of these situations, including defensive pass interference penalties.

(Note: This definition looked a lot more reasonable before the Texans-Ravens game on Monday night.)

The answer is somewhere between yes and no. 16.6 percent of Brady's attempts have come in those "garbage time" situations; that's above the league average for starters with 200 attempts or more, 12.4 percent, but there are seven quarterbacks who have a higher percentage of garbage time attempts than Brady. Leading them is Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton, who has seen 23.2 percent of his pass attempts take place in a blowout of some sort. On the flip side, just one of Tony Romo's 213 attempts (0.5 percent) came in such a situation, while Joe Flacco is at just 1.2 percent.

If we use passing yards instead of passing attempts, it's not much different. 17.7 percent of Brady's passing yardage came in these blowouts, as opposed to a league average of 12.2 percent for those qualifying quarterbacks. This places Brady seventh among quarterbacks.

In all fairness, most of the quarterbacks ahead of Brady on this list are guys playing on losing teams; the only two quarterbacks who play on a winning team and sit ahead of Brady on both charts are Eli Manning and Jason Campbell, and Campbell's had a tenuous grasp on his job. So the answer to the question really depends on what the standard is. If you're wondering whether Brady gets a disproportionate amount of blowout yardage relative to other quarterbacks, the answer is not significantly so. If the question is whether he gets more opportunities in blowouts relative to other quarterbacks in the MVP race, though? Considering Michael Vick, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, or Philip Rivers have a below-average percentage of their pass attempts coming in blowouts, the answer is actually yes.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
1.
Tom Brady NE
27/40
369
2
0
205
205
0
We might as well continue on with Brady; as mentioned above, this is his fourth week in five with the best game of the week by any quarterback. His most devastating play of the day just barely failed to qualify as garbage time yardage, as Brady hit Deion Branch for a 59-yard touchdown on the final play of the first half. Despite the snowy conditions, Brady converted eight of the 12 third downs he faced against one of the league's toughest pass defenses.
2.
Peyton Manning IND
25/35
319
2
0
202
202
0
Peyton could have finished even higher; only 13 of his 36 attempts came in the second half, with just four passes in the fourth quarter. Although Blair White was possessed by some urge to get a pass defensed in the end zone, Manning ended up having a pretty effective rapport with his wideouts. On throws to his wide receivers, Manning was 17-of-22 for 251 yards, with 10 first downs, two touchdowns, and a seven-yard DPI.
3.
Kerry Collins TEN
28/38
244
3
0
189
189
0
Collins is back just in time to reap the benefits of two great things. One is Kenny Britt, who forced Randy Moss onto the bench upon his return from injury. The other is the upcoming Titans schedule: They get Houston next week, giving Collins his chance to light up the dismal Texans secondary. While Collins wasn't able to pull out the win late, he was 11-of-13 for 86 yards with six first downs and a touchdown on second down, and he converted the only fourth down he faced. Unfortunately, that was a touchdown pass to Bo Scaife with four seconds left.
4.
Jason Campbell OAK
21/30
324
2
0
129
129
0
Campbell was 8-of-12 for 116 yards on first down, picking up six new sets of downs in the process. Considering that the Raiders were able to run the ball effectively (and are generally regarded around the league as a team with a successful running game), I wonder if there's something to the idea that teams with good running games pass the ball more effectively on first down than teams who don't possess an effective rushing attack. Analyzing the question isn't as simple as ranking teams by their first down passing DVOA; I need to go make a list of teams with similar passing performances on second and third down that had wildly divergent success rushing the ball, and then see if one group had a significantly better performance passing the ball on first down than the other did. And the Raiders ranked 28th in the league on first down passes before Sunday (as opposed to 29th on second down and 17th on third down), so if there's a poster boy for this concept, chances are they aren't it. And while Campbell had a good game, it ended with a 16-yard completion to Jacoby Ford in the middle of the field with no timeouts, a seven-point deficit, and 39 yards needed for a touchdown. Some two-minute drills end with a quarterback frantically rushing up to the line, desperately trying to clock the ball before running out of time. This one ended with a shot of Campbell seemingly realizing, "Hey, that's not going to help us at all" as the clock hit zero.
5.
Philip Rivers SD
18/24
226
2
1
107
110
-3
Doesn't Rivers know he's supposed to be trying to set a passing record? Since coming off of the bye in Week 10, Rivers has averaged just 231 yards per game, and at his current average of 297.5 passing yards per game, he'll finish more than 300 yards short of Dan Marino's record total of 5,084. Of course, that's really of little consequence; Rivers' yardage total is mostly down because he's not throwing as frequently. He averaged 36.6 attempts and 9.2 yards per attempt before the bye, and while his yards per attempt have dropped to a merely-fantastic 8.4, Rivers has had to throw just 27.5 times per game during the last four weeks. He picked up seven of the ten third downs he faced on Sunday, and while the MVP is probably Tom Brady's trophy to lose, Rivers deserves to finish in second, regardless of whether the Chargers end up making the playoffs or not.
6.
Donovan McNabb WAS
22/35
228
2
0
96
96
0
That the Redskins offense produced just 16 points has a lot more to do with Graham Gano's dismal day than the way McNabb played. While he was aided by a running game that was dominant during the first half, McNabb didn't throw an interception and took just two sacks over 37 dropbacks. He led touchdown drives late in the second and fourth quarter, and while it ended up getting lost in the wake of the botched extra point and fifth down controversy, the final drive was pretty impressive. The Redskins took over on their own 25-yard line with 3:39 left and McNabb did it the hard way, with four to five first downs along the way, two third-down conversions, and a touchdown pass on fourth down with 13 ticks left.
7.
Josh Freeman TB
15/25
266
1
0
95
114
-19
Freeman was involved in just about the most damaging play you can pull off on offense, the six-point swing that is the fumble on first down at the 1-yard line. (An interception thrown into the end zone and promptly returned for a touchdown would have to be the most damaging context-free play, since it would be a swing of up to 14 points; obviously, a game-clinching interception like Matt Schaub's pass on Monday night or a holding penalty in the end zone in overtime would qualify as the absolute worst.) The official play-by-play lists the play as a Freeman run that resulted in a fumble, but I don't think that's the case; if it had been a sneak, the running back wouldn't have run up and dove over the line as part of play-action. It was likely going to be a pass play, and we should probably switch that to an aborted snap. In either case, Freeman was effective outside of that one disastrous play; he had two long bombs to Arrelious Benn, and he did a great job of identifying his mismatch on the touchdown pass that ended his day. Rocky McIntosh can't cover Kellen Winslow by himself, and Freeman threw the right pass at the right time to take advantage of it.
8.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
21/32
258
0
0
89
78
11
The place where Roethlisberger did his best work, strangely? Second-and-a-mile. He picked up 18 yards on second-and-12, 22 yards on second-and-20, and even 29 yards on second-and-30. In fact, on his last ten passes in second-and-more-than-10, Roethlisberger is 10-of-10 for 155 yards with five first downs. Of course, one of the reasons why he had so many second-and-long situations was his lack of progress on first down. After his first three attempts were successful, Ben's eight subsequent dropbacks on first down produced just one successful play, a 21-yard pass to Hines Ward.
9.
Drew Brees NO
25/40
221
3
2
79
77
2
Brees was 15-of-16 on throws to his running backs and tight ends, with those passes producing 105 yards and four first downs. While he has started a few games this year looking downright devastating with downfield throws, Brees mostly checked down at the beginning of this game. His first 13 passes produced 12 completions, but only one went for as many as 12 yards. His first pass longer than nine yards downfield didn't come until the end of the first quarter, when he hit Marques Colston in the end zone on third-and-goal from the 17-yard line. There was nothing longer than 19 yards until there was seven minutes left in the third quarter, at which point Brees started going deep, with five of his nine remaining attempts going anywhere from 22 to 46 yards in the air. Was this a product of Steve Spagnuolo's scheme, or something about the way the Saints are attacking teams right now?
10.
Matt Schaub HOU
31/61
393
3
2
75
70
4
How did Schaub get the Texans back into the game? Consider that he converted all four of the fourth downs he faced in the second half, which compensated for the mere two third downs he was pick up to get in the second half. Now, how did the Texans get in such a hole to begin with? Consider that Schaub started the game 0-for-6 on first downs, throwing a touchdown pass to Andre Johnson for a 46-yard score at the end of the first half to get off the schneid.
11.
Jon Kitna DAL
24/35
242
2
2
69
51
18
On passes up the middle, Kitna was 6-of-6 for 97 yards, with five first downs and a touchdown pass to Jason Witten. During his time as Tony Romo's fill-in, Kitna has a 55 percent Success Rate on throws listed as up the middle, and a 44 percent Success Rate on throws to either side. Is that something unique to his style of play? Not dramatically so. The rest of the league has a 51 percent Success Rate on throws up the middle, and a 42 percent Success Rate on throws to the outside.
12.
Alex Smith SF
17/27
255
3
0
58
60
-2
Smith basically got to take the second half off thanks to a 26-point lead. He only threw for five first downs on 29 attempts, but he had three touchdowns and five plays for 20 yards or more. Virtually all of those yards came after the catch; Smith didn't throw a single pass further than 13 yards downfield, and his receivers accrued 201 yards after catch. The 49ers seem to inspire solid games out of their quarterbacks each time they change the starter, so maybe this means David Carr will start next week.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
13.
Matt Ryan ATL
20/34
227
1
1
58
60
-2
Matty Ice started the second quarter with a sack, ended it with an interception, and was 6-of-12 for 50 yards with two first downs inbetween. Of course, he was up two touchdowns at the time, so it wasn't really a big deal, but that's pretty bad. 27 of his 35 targets went to Roddy White, Michael Jenkins, or Tony Gonzalez.
14.
Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF
14/23
142
1
0
56
35
21
15.
David Garrard JAC
12/22
159
3
1
53
46
8
Garrard didn't throw a single pass in the fourth quarter, as the Jaguars had just two drives. One consisted of two MJD runs and a stuff of Garrard as a runner on third down, and the other was Jones-Drew's 30-yard touchdown run to win it. Tangential, but I mentioned in Audibles that Jones-Drew should have kneeled at the one-yard line to seal the victory. Someone mentioned the Redskins fiasco as a sign that Jones-Drew should have taken the easy score, and there's some sense to that. If the Jaguars take a knee at the 1-yard line, they can burn the Raiders' last timeout on first down, 40 seconds after second down, and 40 seconds after third down. Jones-Drew crossed the plane with 1:36 left, so the Jaguars would have been kicking their field goal with about 16 seconds left, and they have about a 98 percent chance of successfully converting the field goal from two yards out (assuming they lose a yard on kneels). Assuming they would squib the kickoff (as they did in real life), that means the Raiders would have to advance the ball about 20 yards without any timeouts to get in Seabass's range for a 60-yard field goal he might hit about 40 percent of the time. I think scoring the touchdown and playing defense is defensible there. Certainly, though, I don't think the Raiders should have allowed Jones-Drew to score, as some on the Game Rewind page suggest. Stuffing the Jaguars forces them to kick a field goal from 48 yards out, and even preventing them from getting a first down leaves the field goal to be at least a little tricky.
16.
Drew Stanton DET
10/22
117
1
2
16
3
13
Stanton had one successful drive in him, one in the fourth quarter that saw him complete five consecutive passes for three first downs and a touchdown. Fortunately, the Lions only needed one touchdown to win. It was the best defensive performance for Detroit in six years; their last game allowing as few as three points was in 2005, when they held these not-really-the-same Packers to three points in Week 1. Mike Williams made his NFL debut by catching a three-yard touchdown, Kevin Jones ran for 87 yards on 25 carries with a long run of seven, and Brett Favre threw two picks. The Lions' last shutout was in 1996, a 27-0 victory over the Buccaneers.
17.
Eli Manning NYG
22/36
187
1
2
-13
-13
0
I don't put much stock in the whole Vikings-pillage-Eli thing as being meaningful, but it was definitely a bit of a weird game for Manning. Whether it was wanting to protect a returning David Diehl against Jared Allen, the effects of Hakeem Nicks's compartment syndrome, or a reaction to an early interception on a pass to Nicks, the Giants just didn't throw deep in this game. Only five of Manning's 36 passes went the 15 yards or more in the air that we use as the definition of "deep" throws. The first was intercepted, and only one of the other four -- a 17-yard pass to Nicks that produced 13 YAC afterwards -- was completed.
18.
Joe Flacco BAL
22/33
235
2
0
-15
-15
0
Although he was let down by Derrick Mason dropping what should have been a 75-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, Flacco simply wasn't all that effective against the league's friendliest pass defense. He had a 46 percent Success Rate, took five sacks, and fumbled once. His saving grace was converting seven of 14 third downs, including both of his touchdown passes.
19.
Matt Flynn GB
15/26
177
0
1
-16
-7
-9
20.
Aaron Rodgers GB
7/11
46
0
1
-45
-56
11
Even before he left the game with a concussion, Rodgers' 12 dropbacks produced just one first down, a 12-yard catch by Brett Swain. He was sacked twice and threw an interception.
21.
Carson Palmer CIN
20/32
178
1
3
-48
-44
-5
This would actually have been a very nice game if it weren't for the three ugly interceptions Palmer threw. Those picks produced -161 DYAR. The second one came at the beginning of a drive in the fourth quarter that started with the Bengals down six points; if he throws a touchdown to the right team, the fourth quarter could have gone in an entirely different direction.
22.
Brodie Croyle KC
7/17
40
0
0
-55
-55
0
I'm amazed that Croyle is this high. It basically comes down to opponent adjustments and avoiding turnovers, but there was no hope of him moving the ball on the Chargers at any point on Sunday. His 21 dropbacks produced more sacks (four) than first downs (two), although a third first down was brought back by a Barry Richardson holding penalty. He wasn't helped by the running game, either, as his nine third downs came with an average of 11.3 yards to go, including four plays with 15 or more yards needed to convert. Those nine plays produced -1 net yards.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
23.
Michael Vick PHI
16/26
270
2
2
-55
-61
6
Oh, this will go over well. How on earth is Brodie Croyle ahead of Michael Vick? Vick had those four big plays to DeSean Jackson, including passes of 60 and 91 yards. Obviously, those are very good. On the other hand, he threw two interceptions, although DVOA doesn't know about the tipped nature of the picks. He had just one successful pass play in seven chances inside the red zone. He scored on a one-yard plunge, but was stopped short as a runner on two other third downs and did not convert for a first down on either of his other runs. And while he ends up with -22 YAR on the day, opponent adjustments from the dismal Cowboys pass defense push him back into Croyle, while Croyle's -86 YAR get boosted up because he played the Chargers. Do I personally think that they played at roughly similar levels? No, I don't. But DYAR sees their productions as roughly similar.
24.
Tarvaris Jackson MIN
15/30
118
0
1
-70
-71
1
Jackson was knocked out of the game for a brief period of time with a knee injury; before the incident, he was 6-of-9 for 52 yards and three first downs. Afterwards, he was 11-of-26 for 74 yards with four sacks, a bad snap, an interception, and three first downs. I don't know if causation is correlation here, since Giants-Vikings was such a bad game that I started joining the Wilf Field crowd in doing the wave from my living room. But Jackson started off the game looking reasonably effective and ended it looking like the failing parts of an infomercial.
25.
Matt Hasselbeck SEA
27/42
285
2
4
-71
-74
2
Although Carson Palmer and Jake Delhomme get all the attention for being turnover machines these days, any struggling quarterback would admire what Hasselbeck managed to pull off on Sunday. In a 15-dropback stretch, Hasselbeck managed to turn the ball over five times. He threw an interception and, upon getting the ball back, was promptly stripsacked on his next attempt. He threw an interception on his final pass of the first half, shook it off, and then threw a pick-six on his first pass of the second half. After three completions and an incompletion, he finished it off with a red zone interception to Brandon Stokley. It's actually a testament to Pete Carroll's patience that Hasselbeck wasn't benched after that stretch.
26.
John Skelton ARI
15/37
146
0
0
-86
-91
5
27.
Jay Cutler CHI
12/26
156
0
2
-94
-103
9
Cutler's day reminded me a lot of Mark Sanchez's game against the Patriots on the previous Monday. He didn't look all that bad at first, as he was able to overcome the blustery conditions with velocity on his throws. His receivers didn't give him very much help, and once the Patriots got out to a big lead, Cutler was forced into mistakes while trying to catch up. He dropped back just five times before it was a three-touchdown game.
28.
Chad Henne MIA
5/18
55
1
0
-105
-105
0
As bad as Hasselbeck's stretch of futility was, Henne did a wonderful job of keeping the Jets in the game on Sunday. After throwing a touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall, Henne threw an incomplete pass and then had a five-yard completion. He followed that with three consecutive sacks, including one lost fumble. He completed a pass for 28 yards to Anthony Fasano, then lost the ball again on an aborted snap. Obviously frustrated by the whole endeavor, he threw seven straight incompletions, took a sack, had another incompletion, and was sacked again to finish the day. It's not like he was throwing bombs, either; outside of a 36-yard incompletion to Marshall, each of those eight incompletions at the end traveled eight yards or less.
29.
Mark Sanchez NYJ
17/43
216
0
1
-108
-121
13
On one hand, you have Santonio Holmes dropping a perfectly reasonable pass in the end zone in the second quarter. Unlucky. On the other hand, the Jets recovered three of Sanchez's four fumbles on sacks, including both of his fumbles on the final drive. He ended up with just one interception on the day, a testament to the trickiness of catching footballs when you're not paid to do so. Sean Smith could have had three picks alone. Through the first ten weeks of charting, Sanchez had 10 dropped interceptions, more than anyone in the league (the other 31 teams averaged 3.5 dropped picks). If he can play as poorly as he did today and still be lucky, how bad is it going to be if he plays like this and isn't lucky? And it's not that Sanchez is incompetent, because he's perfectly capable of making great throws and does so regularly. It's that his variance is downright incredible; he can look like the best quarterback in the league on one play and look like a college freshman on the very next one.
30.
Jimmy Clausen CAR
14/24
107
0
1
-110
-110
0
At one point, Clausen threw six straight passes to Brandon LaFell, completing four of them for a total of 20 yards. Not that Brandon LaFell lacks promise, but has there ever been a worse receiver thrown six consecutive passes? And to the incompetent-streak ranks, Clausen adds a stretch with four sacks, two completions for a total of 11 yards, and two incompletions that each came on throws behind the line of scrimmage.
31.
Jake Delhomme CLE
12/20
86
0
1
-124
-124
0
32.
Sam Bradford STL
19/32
231
0
2
-135
-144
9
33.
Kyle Orton DEN
19/41
166
0
3
-171
-172
0
A fair amount of Broncos fans undoubtedly want to see what Tim Tebow can do as the Broncos' starting quarterback. Apparently, Kyle Orton is one of them. After finishing 30th last week amongst quarterbacks, Orton currently sits in last place before the Monday night games at 29th. His -170 DYAR game came against Arizona, one of the league's worst pass defenses. To them, he offered up three interceptions; they gave him three defensive pass interference penalties back, but the DPIs only went for a combined 28 yards. One Orton stretch saw him produce seven straight incompletions or interceptions, while another saw him go 4-of-13 for 54 yards. You remember how targeting running backs in the passing game was supposed to be a key tenet of the Josh McDaniels offense? Orton threw 12 passes to his running backs and produced just 29 yards, with just two first downs and a pick-six amongst the throws.


Five most valuable running backs
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Darren McFadden OAK
123
2
86
1
74
32
41
Although the Jaguars aren't exactly the league's toughest defense, McFadden was a one-man show at times on Sunday. As a receiver, he caught each of the three passes thrown to him, including a 67-yard touchdown catch on a dumpoff that required 65 yards after catch to hit paydirt. As a runner, he didn't produce a first down, but he did score two touchdowns on 16 carries; notably, a 36-yard touchdown run just before the two-minute warning that tied the game up for the Raiders. While DVOA doesn't know this, McFadden's run involved two broken tackles and an incredible stiff-arm inside the five-yard line, with McFadden arching back against his body to knock a Jaguars defender down solely with his upper-body strength. Although injuries and a sometimes-awful team have prevented him from showing it regularly, McFadden remains an incredibly talented player.
2.
Darren Sproles SD
53
0
51
0
53
17
36
Four of Sproles's six carries went for at least seven yards, and as a receiver, he had five targets and produced five successful receptions. That included three first downs.
3.
Chris Johnson TEN
111
1
68
0
48
13
35
He had a traditional Chris Johnson day, with a seven-carry stretch that saw his yardage bounce all over the place: 20, -3, 1, 1, 37, -1, -1. That stretch produced exactly 0.1 YAR, with the final carry coming on the goal line. Instead, Johnson's best work as a runner came at the beginning of the game, when his first nine carries produced five successes and two first downs. He also was 8-for-8 as a receiver with six successful targets.
4.
LeSean McCoy PHI
149
0
4
0
45
54
-8
McCoy had a 56-yard run to flip the field position for the Eagles while they were trailing in the third quarter, and once they got the lead back, he was extremely effective in helping close the Cowboys out. His six fourth-quarter carries produced 66 yards, with four gains of 12 yards or more and five first downs.
5.
Michael Turner ATL
112
3
12
0
44
37
7
Turner picked up three touchdowns on four carries inside the five-yard line, and finished with a 50 percent Success Rate on the day. He even got a first down as a receiver with a 12-yard catch-and-run; that's just his second first down of the year on 18 targets.


Least valuable running back
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Peyton Hillis CLE
109
0
10
0
-33
-20
-13
It's time to play one of our favorite games again: How do you finish last in our running back rankings despite running for over 100 yards? Well, first, those yards have to be useful. Hillis had 48 yards on his first five carries, including a 25-yard run, but he was stuffed for one yard from second-and-goal from the two and third-and-goal from the one-yard line. The Bills aren't supposed to stuff such a dominant power back. Second, you can fumble, and Hillis put the ball on the grass three times in 21 carries. Although the Browns recovered two of them, it's of no consequence to our measurements, which use history to find that recovering a running back's fumble is pretty close to random. Finally, you produce a big fat zero in the passing game, and Hillis didn't do much: He was thrown five passes, all on first-and-10, and caught four of them. Those plays produced a total of ten yards.


Five most valuable wide receivers and tight ends
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Pierre Garcon IND
6
7
93
15.5
2
71
Garcon's attracted some unwanted attention this year as one of the worst wide receivers to play regularly across from Peyton Manning; he's had his fair share of rough games this year, but he was the best wideout of Week 14. He caught six of the seven passes thrown to him, gaining three first downs and adding two touchdowns. One of those first downs was arguably the biggest non-scoring play of the game, a 43-yard catch that saw Garcon break a tackle and scamper for 38 yards after catch with 3:37 left. He also picked up a defensive pass interference penalty for another first down.
2.
Deion Branch NE
8
10
151
18.9
1
70
Branch converted three third downs and had three more first downs on second-and-9 attempts. The big play, obviously, was the 59-yard touchdown catch with no time left at the end of the first half.
3.
Andre Johnson HOU
9
14
140
15.6
2
64
I know that it came after some improvisation -- and that Jacoby Jones did his best to tip the ball away -- but how on earth does Andre Johnson end up wide-open in the back of the end zone with the game on the line and 30 seconds left to go? How do you not draw up a coverage that has someone on him at all times, or tell Ed Reed to go improvise and stay with Johnson no matter where Schaub is? The Ravens sorely needed a defensive timeout on more than one occasion during that two-minute drill, as Jon Gruden noted during the telecast. Their defense looked alternately tired and confused, and could've used a moment to catch up. Every single one of Johnson's catches was a successful one.
4.
Arrelious Benn TB
4
4
122
30.5
0
62
Four targets, four catches, four successful plays, three first downs, and two plays of 40 yards or more. That his final catch went for 43 yards and not 44 almost ended up costing the Buccaneers the game; Benn came down a few inches short of the goal line, and the next play was the aborted snap that gave the ball back to the Redskins. Obviously, that's not his fault, but there's a reason why plays get a bonus for being touchdowns as opposed to plays that come down at the one-foot line.
5.
Josh Morgan SF
3
3
82
27.3
1
52
Morgan's three targets were all third-down conversions; one was a 46-yard catch-and-run, and another was a 15-yard touchdown catch where the Seahawks seemed strangely disinterested in tackling him.


Least valuable wide receiver or tight end
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Donald Driver GB
2
9
12
6.0
0
-49
It's easy to point to the arrival of Matt Flynn and blame him for the bad numbers produced by Driver, but then again, Driver's spent his whole career with Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. Sunday's game against the Patriots could be the first time in Driver's entire career that he suits up for a meaningful game without a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback under center. Flynn went 1-of-6 for seven yards with two picks on throws to Driver. And while Driver's advanced statistics treat the interceptions on passes to him as incompletions, 2-of-9 for 12 yards against the Lions isn't a good day.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 14 Dec 2010

181 comments, Last at 25 Oct 2012, 8:45pm by fire damage

Comments

8
by Arkaein :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:03pm

The write-up for Rodgers ought to include the fact that the INT was 100% not his fault, and in fact probably would have been about a 75 yard TD had Jennings caught the perfectly thrown pass and not bobbled it right to the trailing defender.

Change that one play and Rodgers still doesn't have a great day, but anyone who saw the game knows he at least played better than Drew Stanton.

45
by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 5:12pm

It all evens out - think about all the times QBs throw it directly at a DB and they drop it (See MIA-NYJ week 14).

64
by Arkaein :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:04pm

"It all evens out - think about all the times QBs throw it directly at a DB and they drop it."

First of all, that's mostly true in the long run, but is not necessarily true over the course of even a single season due to the small sample size nature of interceptions.

"On the other hand, he threw two interceptions, although DVOA doesn't know about the tipped nature of the picks"

This is from Vick's write-up. If it's worth mentioning as an explanation for his low DYAR, it's worth mentioning for Rodgers, since Rodgers' DYAR was certainly affected more by elements out of his control on this play than almost any other player was likely to be affected on a single play.

The whole point of adding description to the stat line is to add context for the reader that play-by-play doesn't capture and that a reader who didn't see the game may not be aware of. The fact that the write-up mentions the pick without giving it context gives a completely distorted view of the actual player performance.

This does raise a larger point. Since play-by-play cannot capture the full context the way that the the charting project does there will always be these flaws in Quick Reads. For the most part these can even out over the course of a season if not a single game, but interceptions are probably one of the more distorting components of single game DYAR scores since the each event is a combination of relatively infrequent, high impact, and greatly varying in the actual responsibility of the individual QB.

Even if full game charting can't possibly be turned around in time for Quick Reads, it would probably improve the DYAR calculations, at least for single games, if all interceptions could be given a subjective responsibility score. That's probably too much to ask, but it might be the most important charting item that could be turned around quickly and have a major impact on single game DYAR.

1
by Scott P. (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 3:48pm

"The answer is somewhere between yes and no. 16.6 percent of Brady's attempts have come in those "garbage time" situations; that's above the league average for starters with 200 attempts or more, 12.4 percent"

Yes, but how many plays have the Patriots run in garbage time relative to non-garbage time? They've blown a lot of teams out recently.

For example, if 20% of the Patriots snaps have come in garbage time, while 10% of the average team's snaps have come in garbage time (invented numbers for purposes of discussion), that would mean Brady throws less proportionate to the number of garbage time snaps than other QBs.

2
by SteveNC (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 3:50pm

That sort of adjustment would be "advanced statistics", which you shouldn't expect to see on a football website.

6
by T. Diddy :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 3:58pm

That's asking a different question, isn't it? The question leading off the article is: Do Brady's stats look better relative to other QBs in the league because he's accumulated statistics in blowouts? The question you're asking is: Are the Patriots "running up the score," as evidenced by passing the ball more often than other teams have in blowouts? Which is potentially an interesting question, as well, but a different one nonetheless.

11
by BSR :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:06pm

Unfortunately it doesn't answer either. It just says that Brady has more opportunities in "garbage" time over the average QB, not what he does with them.

16
by Scott P. (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:14pm

Since, the odd scramble aside, the only way Brady is going to "accumulate statistics" is by passing the ball, the two questions are equivalent.

21
by TBall (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:29pm

First sentence - "If there's any critique people can throw at Tom Brady these days, it's that his Patriots are running up the score in blowouts." The article does lead off with a question about 'running up the score' and attempts to answer it by determining if Brady is padding his stats in garbage time, unlike other top QBs in the league. And I'd cosign with the original observation, Brady has more garbage time opportunities (with a lead) than any QB in the league. I'd like to see PY/A or a passing/running play ratio in a blowout, with the lead, compared to other QBs

I don't think NE is running up the score, unlike 2007. Indy, Pitt, and Cinci have comeback to make it interesting in the 4th. I don't think this team can afford to take its foot off the pedal in the second half. When the offense takes it down a notch, the young defense takes it down a notch and trouble ensues.

3
by belichick251 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 3:53pm

To me, its irrelevant how much of Brady's stats are accumulated in garbage-time. The reality is, the offense slows down in garbage-time whether people want to say the Pats are running up the score or not. Look at the Steelers & Jets game, in particular, the final drives consisted purely of running the ball.

So, if anything, Brady is deprived of opportunities by having such large leads. The other QBs in the MVP are playing 60 meaningful minutes and are forced to throw for 60 minutes. In Brady's case, he's only had 45 minutes to accumulate his stats in a number of games.

So, frankly, it's a disadvantage. I think the point on garbage time and its affect on stats is missed.

112
by Scott C :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 12:38am

I completely disagree.

Completely.

When the Chargers are up by > 3 scores, they run all the time. When the Pats are, Brady is passing at a similar rate to normal. When I was watching the Jets game, I was shocked, half waiting for him to get injured throwing a pass when up by a gazillion points.

Plus the data here clearly shows he has a higher percentage of his throws in garbage time than other 'good' QBs. It would be interesting to see how the percentage of run/pass changes between normal, blowout lead, and blowout trailing by team.

4
by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 3:56pm

Stanton threw so many lollipops I thought he mistook Ford Field for a fire truck and that he was showering the Packers with candy during a parade.

That GB let him run for 44 yards is incredible.

13
by Arkaein :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:06pm

The killer in that game was that as bad as the raw rushing stats against GB looked, it wasn't even the running backs that did the real damage.

The longest RB carry by Detroit went for only 11 yards. The big gains were by Stanton and a 13 yard reverse to Calvin Johnson. Jahvid Best led the Lions in carries and didn't even average 3 yards per attempt.

5
by BSR :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 3:56pm

Consider that if Brady doesn't generate "garbage" stats against the Steelers, Colts and Charges then they would have lost all three of those games. How does that qualify as "garbage" stats? I think having to play with the 31st ranked passing defense throws the whole argument out the window. And why go through all of the trouble of creating the splits if you aren't even going to tell us how those "garbage" stats effected his performance?Honestly, this was some "garbage" analysis.

18
by RickD :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:18pm

+1

well, + 1/2 considering the gratuitous insult at the end

19
by BSR :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:24pm

Sometimes you just have to call it plainly. I expect a higher level of analysis from this site and that failed completely. I didn't mean it as an insult to Bill.

113
by Scott C :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 12:42am

The analysis failed to differentiate between being 3 scores AHEAD from being 3 scores BEHIND.

Throwing like crazy when you're behind more than 3 scores in the first 3 quarters is not racking up garbage time passing stats. Later in the fourth, when the defense is willing to let you gain yards it might be.

Being up 25 points and still passing 40% or so of the time in the fourth quarter is a different story.

118
by BSR :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 1:25am

They were ahead. What you fail to realize is those other teams scored. So if it wasn't for those garbage time stats they would have lost, hence they aren't garbage. How do you have garbage time stats in a game you win by three points?

165
by Noah of Arkadia :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 4:19pm

I agree that the definition of garbage time was way too loose. I doubt any coach in the league would consider an 18-point lead in the 3rd quarter garbage time. Maybe an 18-point lead in the 4th.

7
by tunesmith :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:01pm

I wish I knew what was going on with Orton. It doesn't seem that McD's firing is the entire cause because he started sucking when McD was there. The Denver columnists are saying that it's because defenses are either blitzing or dropping everyone into coverage with bracket coverage, and Orton can't figure it out, although it seems there's got to be more to it than that.

27
by Mansteel (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:39pm

It's because the Football Gods realized he actually had a chance to set the yardage-in-a-single-season record, and we all know that Kyle Orton shouldn't have his name in there ahead of Marino, Brees, et al.

100
by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 8:16pm

Why the hell shouldn't he?

31
by dryheat :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:50pm

Mercifully, I don't make a habit of watching Denver. However, I'm going to guess that opponents don't respect the running game. They might even be playing with 5 in the box for how effective it's been.

9
by Sander :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:03pm

The Freeman fumble is definitely an aborted snap. It got knocked out of his hand by his own pulling guard as he was dropping back. He never secured the ball from the snap.

10
by Snack Flag (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:05pm

I'll never understand the need to add a negative comment about solid performances. It's as if it is not perfect, it's not good. Campbell had a good day throwing the ball. With a little time left and the Raiders NEEDING a touchdown to tie and no timeouts, he tried to get it to Ford and have him make a play. Ford couldn't get OOB and the game ended. Four lines about this one play as if Campbell clearly had an opportunity, with the pocket collapsing around him, to throw the ball 20 yards down field and to the sidelines so his receiver could get out of bounds easily. Every week there's some criticism like this and it's not interesting or realistic.

12
by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:06pm

I agree with this sentiment.

102
by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 8:25pm

Were you watching the game? It turns out that great run-blocking line can't pass protect so well, and it turns out that Campbell has terrible pocket presence. It was bad in Washington, and it's bad in Oakland. When the defense could sell out on the pass rush (like with the Raiders NEEDING a touchdown to tie). So yes, Campbell has some strengths but coming back at the end of a game is not one of them.

140
by Snack Flag (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 10:35am

I have no idea what your point is. I'm not arguing that Jason Campbell is a good quarterback and should be treated as such. He did, however, have a good game passing the football and the final drive shouldn't take away from that.
I did watch the game. From my recollection (I'm too lazy to look at the game log because, hey, I'm just commenting on football) he had around 76 seconds and one timeout to lead his team about 80 yards and to a touchdown. Now, how would the average quarterback do in that situation? Does he get the touchdown 10% of the time? Whatever the percentage is, I'm guessing it's not above 50%. Even Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have come up in short in that situation several times.
In Campbell's situation, he has this bad pass blocking line (which you pointed out) and he's not exactly throwing to Andre Johnson. As with any end of game situation like this, protecting the sidelines is the defense's highest priority, making it very difficult for Campbell to complete anything outside of the hashmarks.
It seems to me that coming up short would be the expected result for most qbs in the NFL. So why are we criticizing them for an expected result? Getting the touchdown is not impossible, but it's also not likely. I don't see why we should expect these guys to perfect and negatively comment when they're not.

153
by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 12:26pm

Why have any comments at all? He could just present the numbers, and stray readers would have nothing to whine about.

162
by Snack Flag (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 2:26pm

Yeah, I read the site almost everyday, so I'm not a stray reader. And I wouldn't necessarily say that constructive criticism is whining. This is a comments section, where people can share opinions about the article or issues related to the article in a (hopefully) civil manner. I apologize if that's too much for you too handle. I should probably just blindly say "Good job!" and move on.

174
by bravehoptoad :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 11:41am

How constructive is it to say, "Barnwell sometimes has negative opinions, and I often don't like them?" We get a lot of those every week. If you were simply disagreeing with the comment about Campbell, fine, great. If the guy has opinions, you're not going to like them all, and they're there to provide a catalyst for discussion. But that's not what you're doing; you're casting much more general aspersions. Should he stop having negative opinions? Should he stop printing them? No one's making you read them, and the both article and the comments would be a lot more boring without them.

14
by Jeff Fogle :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:09pm

"On the other hand, DVOA suggests that Brady hasn't been saving his success for garbage time."

Is there any metric on the planet...any interpretation...any inkling from any set of eyeballs that Brady WAS saving his success for garbage time, after:

*Leading the Pats to a 33-0 halftime lead vs. Chicago (26-0 without the defensive score).

*Leading the Pats to a 24-0 halftime lead vs. NYJ.

*Leading the Pats to a 35-7 second half after trailing Detroit at the break on Thanksgiving.

Somebody watching New England jump out to a combined 57-0 first half lead vs. playoff contending competition in poor weather conditions (in games where they were laying just 3.5 and 3 points according to market expectations) believed that Brady was mediocre during the 57-0 run, but then exploded in the 24-7 second halves?

15
by theoldschooler (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:13pm

Evidently scoring 3 points in the second half is running up the score in garbage time.

73
by Arkaein :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:13pm

The Jets game is really the only one that looks like the Pats ran up the score. Leading 24-0 at the half means they put up another 21 mostly unnecessary points in the second half. The play-by-play shows that Brady threw a 1 yard TD as the first play in the 4th quarter after the Pats already had 31 points. He also threw on the first play after Sanchez was intercepted on the next drive. That's two first down passes with the game completely in hand.

Honestly I thought it was more stupid than anything, can you imagine if Brady had gotten hurt at that point? There was no upside other than padding stats or rubbing it in the Jets faces, and a ton of downside.

103
by Nathan :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 8:25pm

upside = beating them so bad they go into epic tailspin and miss the playoffs as the new york media crucifies them and their fanbase thinks "same old jets"

120
by BigCheese :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 2:34am

And what's the upside of having Brady getting saked in Soldier Field in the fourth quarter up by 30?

I think NE is the best team in the league but there is absolutely no exuse to have Brady still in the game, let alone dropping back to pass in the fourth of these blowouts.

That's the exact opposite of smart coaching, and we can all pretty much assume Bellichick knows this, so it's his desire to run up the score, or the stats, trumping the sensible decision.

- Alvaro

137
by Dingle-Doodah (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 10:14am

Up 31-3 on CIN, NE wins 38-24
Up 14-7 on NYJ, NE loses 28-14
Up 23-6 on SD, NE wins 23-20
Up 29-10 on PIT, NE wins 39-26
Up 31-14 on IND, NE wins 31-28

The IND game was the last game played by Brady where he and the rest of the team let up in the 2nd half, allowing their opponent to come back, and in the case of SD and IND, almost win. Since then we have scores of 45-24, 45-3 and 36-7, and now some are complaining that they're running up the score.

Anyone who believes that did not watch the team leading up to the DET game.

146
by Nathan :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 11:20am

This.

My phone is filled with the following text message conversations from pretty much every week prior to Thanksgiving.

Halftime

FRIEND: You guys look great!
ME: I don't trust any lead with this defense.

4th Quarter

FRIEND: Uh oh.
ME: Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck

114
by Scott C :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 12:52am

I was sort-of hoping that there would be an injury scare (not necessarily an injury, just a "stop passing you idiots" moment. The times he threw with the game completely in hand in the Jets game were not wise. At that point, either run a lot more than that (I'll take super short step drops, screens, or other 'safe -- not going to be sacked' plays), or bring in the backup QB. At that point, the goal is to run off the clock, not score points (though points are secondary).

When the Chargers were way out in front of the Colts, they ran, ran, and ran. Rivers even talked a little trash to Mathis in the 4th quarter (~ "having a hard time getting pressure tonight?") and Clary (the RT) told Rivers that he didn't need to provide Mathis with more motivation in the huddle. To that, Rivers quipped "What, you think we're going to PASS?".

119
by BSR :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 1:39am

Do you realize he only threw 3 times in the fourth quarter during that game? And since when should anyone copy a Norv Turner game plan in order to be successful?

17
by RickD :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:15pm

If Brady can "pad his stats" in a driving snowstorm, isn't that to his credit?

The question of what constitutes an "insurmountable lead" has to be viewed in the context of the quality of the defense. Before the past two blowouts, the Pats' defense was the worst in the league in terms of yardage allowed, and had become notorious for allowing a good number of teams to drive the ball at will late in the game. So you have that on the one side.

On the other side, you have the delicate feelings of grown men, paid exorbitant amounts of money to play a sport for a living, to consider.

I was particularly interested to hear if any Bears' fans whined about the score. I remember Super Bowl XX (46-10, Bears over Pats) pretty clearly. Nobody has ever chastised the Bears for running up the score that day. To their credit, I haven't heard a single Bears' fan whine about the score, though it undoubtedly helped that the Pats only scored 3 points after halftime.

Unrelated Nitpick: Jason Campbell plays for the 6-7 Raiders, not a "winning team" by the usual definition of being at or above .500.

50
by Marko :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 5:21pm

This Bears fan is not whining about the acore. The Pats kicked our team's collective ass fair and square and didn't run up the score. Although if I was a Patriots fan, I would have wondered (like Phil Simms did) why Brady stayed in the game so long and was still passing. I wouldn't want him exposed to potential injury. But that's their decision, and I have no problem with it.

As for Super Bowl XX, I don't think the Bears ran up the score. If anything, they held the score down. Jim McMahon only had 20 passing attempts before being replaced by backup QB Steve Fuller. One of the Bears TDs was a pick-6 in the third quarter, which made the score 37-3. You don't expect a DB to not try to take an interception to the house. The last 2 points came on a safety when Grogan was aacked in the end zone by a backup defensive lineman (Henry Waechter). The Bears took out the first string defense in the fourth quarter and let the backups play. The Patriots then scored their only TD. I doubt they would have scored a TD if Dent, Hampton, McMichael, Singletary, Marhall, Wilson, Fencik, etc. were still in the game. In fact, the Bears probably would have scored some more on defense if those guys stayed in the game.

The only plays that I can remember as evidence of running up the score/rubbing it in were (1) running a reverse on a punt return, (2) giving the ball to the Fridge on a run-pass option (he ended up eating the ball and not making the pass) and (3) giving the ball to the Fridge for the Bears' last TD, which made the score 44-3. The last two plays were more about Ditka having some fun with the Fridge (who was a national phenomenon) than they were about running up the score. As for the reverse on the punt return, there was no good reason for it. It was a terrible decision, too, as it basically ended the career of Leslie Frazier, who took the handoff on the reverse and tore his ACL on the play when tackled. Frazier was the Bears' best CB and was a very underrated player on that defense.

56
by B :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 5:29pm

That Fridge TD still outrages me, not because it's running up the score, but because Sweetness should have been given the chance.

61
by Marko :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 5:57pm

Me too. Every other Bears fan that I know feels the same.

63
by PatsFan :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:02pm

Hell, I'm a Pats fan and Ditka giving that to Fridge instead of Payton pissed me off because if a TD was going to be scored there Payton deserved to get it.

143
by MCS :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 11:10am

...and most Packer fans as well.

54
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 5:27pm

From what I heard on the radio, I agree with Marko. It was just a good old fashion ass-kicking, not running up the score.

121
by BigCheese :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 2:44am

As a Bears fan, let me clarify my post from earlier inthe thread:

I have absolutely no problem whatsoever with a team running up the score on the Bears, including the Patriots last sunday because:

A) If the Bears don't want to get sored on more, then they should stop the offense. Or if they decide to pull their starters, the more actual trying from the offense, the better for the back-ups' development.

B) One of these days a QB on a contending team is going to drop back to pass in the fourth quarter while up 30, get strip-sacked and suffer a broken bone in his throwing hand, and I won't stop laughing for weeks.

Just because I don't mind them running up the score, doesn't mean they're not doing it, and it also doesn't mean it's a very stupid thing to do.

Note: If they pull their starters, keep playing their normal offense, and keep scoring, that is NOT running up the score. That's getting the back-ups valuable live reps, and that's atually what I'd like to see more teams do.

- Alvaro

144
by PatsFan :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 11:10am

If the game was so irretrievably won by NE, why did Chicago have Cutler out there risking getting strip-sacked and suffering a broken bone in his throwing hand? I'll be waiting for you to stop laughing at that, too.

167
by tuluse :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 5:25pm

Actually, I do think they should have pulled Cutler at let Hanie get some reps. There was no upside to having Cutler play there, that game was over.

Should have done that in the Seattle game too (more so in this one because Cutler was getting beat up).

20
by Dennis Doubleday (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:25pm

You gotta love FO. Brodie Croyle finishing ahead of Michael Vick isn't an indication that there is something fundamentally wrong with DYAR as a measure of value, it's just an anomaly. DYAR can never fail, it can only be failed.

22
by drobviousso :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:29pm

You are right. We should adjust DYAR to align with our predetermined suppositions every week.

40
by Harry (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 5:06pm

Surely there's a middle ground. DYAR is not science - it's a statistical model based on fairly small sample sizes. If it produces results that seem wildly at variance with what most people believe then it's reasonable to suggest there might be an issue.

52
by Independent George :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 5:25pm

I agree, but the Vick writeup explicitly says that the opponent adjustments are why the numbers came out that way:

And while [Vick] ends up with -22 YAR on the day, opponent adjustments from the dismal Cowboys pass defense push him back into Croyle, while Croyle's -86 YAR get boosted up because he played the Chargers. Do I personally think that they played at roughly similar levels? No, I don't. But DYAR sees their productions as roughly similar.

In fact, YAR (unadjusted) does in fact meet the eyeball tests, as it's supposed to.

152
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 12:23pm

Also important to realize you're looking at YAR/DYAR, not VOA/DVOA. Croyle had only 17 pass attempts and 21 touches. Vick had 26 pass attempts and 36 touches. That means that Croyle was significantly worse per play than Vick was. The reason they end up similar in terms of "damage to the team" (YAR/DYAR) is because the Chiefs were so thoroughly dominated that he wasn't given the opportunity to suck more.

85
by Boots Day :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:32pm

There are a lot of things DYAR doesn't know. It doesn't know that the Cowboys have been playing much better since they cashiered their coach. It doesn't know that the Chiefs have an excellent running game, and that the Chargers apparently focused on stopping that and were willing to let Brodie Croyle take his best shot to beat them. There's a lot of value to an objective measure like DYAR, but it also seems silly to throw up your hands and say, "Well, if DYAR says Croyle was more valuable than Vick, then Croyle must have been more valuable than Vick."

35
by RickD :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:57pm

Outliers do not "prove" that "something is fundamentally wrong" with a statistic.

Statistic inherently serve the function of compressing a lot of information into a smaller amount of information. It is a practical impossibility to do such a thing, all the time, without having occasional fluky, weird behavior.

Good luck devising your own statistical system that always coincides exactly with your subjective feelings about the quality of various performances.

38
by Alex51 :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 5:01pm

2010 Passing DYAR
Michael Vick: 681
Brodie Croyle: -55

When DYAR thinks that Croyle had a better game than Vick, that's an anomaly. If it thought that Croyle had a better season than Vick, that would be a problem.

Also, interceptions are bad.

115
by Scott C :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 12:54am

On a per-play basis, Vick was much better. The comments should have mentioned that.

57
by AudacityOfHoops :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 5:32pm

Don't forget that DYAR is a counting stat. Both men were negative, but Croyle had about 40% fewer attempts, so I would assume his DVOA is quite a bit worse than Vicks. As was his VOA and YAR (non-opponent adjusted).

77
by chemical burn :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:16pm

But I think what looks so surprsing here is not only Vick being low, but Jackson not turning up in the WR section. He was 4 of 6 for 210 with no interceptions targeted inhis direction. I think its fair to say DYAR is underrating his performance - and the recurring complaint that DVOA/DYAR errs too hard against boom-or-bust players. It's a funny thing - I don't think Vick should have even been Top 10 (probably not even Top 15 with opponent adjustments) but there's no real defense of Jackson not being top 5. Sure, he didn't generate as many first downs as several other players, but he consistently got gigantic gains. There's something to be said for 4 huge gains being worth more than 7 moderate sized gains, there just is - especially once a player like Jackson shows it isn't a fluke.

Anyway, I knew DYAR and DVOA weren't going to love Vick this week, but I am at a loss as to why Jackson isn't there...

108
by Semigruntled Eagles fan (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 10:08pm

I thought that Jackson was targeted 8 times, not 6 (I believe one of the commentators mentioned this during the game). He also probably has a negative rushing DYAR for the game (2 carries for 6 yards), reducing his total DYAR. Given that Dallas has one of the worst pass defenses in the league, the opponent adjustments and catch rate probably downgraded Jackson just out of the top 5.

163
by Stats are for losers (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 3:42pm

FO efficiency stats have been good to Robert Meachem, whose production seems to come only on big plays... I'd be curious to see what's going on in this case.

168
by tuluse :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 5:26pm

DVOA loves big plays, it's a misconception that it doesn't.

However, it doesn't like unsuccessful plays. If you don't have a good ratio of success to non-success, it probably won't like you.

169
by DGL :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 6:32pm

Well... DVOA loves big plays considerably less than counting stats like raw yardage. An 80-yard gain on (say) first and ten isn't considered 20 times as valuable by DVOA as is a 4-yard gain on first and ten - it's more like 5 times as valuable. So it kinda doesn't love them all that much. Y'know, it'll hang out with them and have a good time, but it's not getting all serious about it.

23
by Julio (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:32pm

What you need is a stat that compares how effectively QB's are
at generating "garbage time". Obviously, Brady is great at generating
garbage time, which allows him to generate "garbage stats".
Maybe some of the mathematics describing intracules/extracules in
density functional theory might help. Or maybe something like
"speed at which the QB generates a 21-0 lead" in pts per minute.
I'll bet Brady would lead that category too.

24
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:32pm

That shot to the knee that Tavaris Jackson and Adrian Peterson gave each other occurred as a result of center John Sullivan once again being treated like a parking cone, which caused Peterson to start cutting too soon, thus resulting in the collision. Thus I was fated once again to bear witness to Brad Childress' greatest failing; his inability to evaluate talent adequately. John Sullivan is starting at center for the Vikings because The Chiller couldn't get along with a professional like Matt Birk, and because The Chiller thought Sullivan could be an adequate replacement. Sullivan has been a disaster, one which was covered up last year, but one which has been brutally exposed this year. Thus, on a team which has paid millions to a 41 year old qb, and has a third round choice squandered on a mental patient like Randy Moss, the idiot coach decided to alienate a good veteran who plays one of the two positions which touch the ball on every offensive snap, and replaced him with a guy who gets plays blown up with extreme frequency. Yeesh, what a screw-up.

The best thing about Stubbleface being done is that it precludes any psychotics within the Vikings organization from still believing that Tavaris Jackson (a long-running protege of The Chiller, of course) is a viable NFL qb. I think the drop-off after the injury was coincidental. Jackson can look competent when the first receiver in the progression is obviously open, but if that doesn't happen, he's mostly helpless.

70
by K (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:10pm

On the nose about TJack. I said in the 4th quarter that he has one discernible skill: he can hit an 8-10 yard out route to his first read after a three-step drop.

Of course he stares at his first read from pre-snap through release, and buzzing a linebacker (Keith Bulluck) underneath the route will force INTs, but Jackson is definitely making progress in his fifth season! He's studying lots of film and everything.

90
by jmaron :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:46pm

Yeah Sullivan, Cooper, Cook - all stiffs that can't play the position. Stick Sullivan with Degeare and Cook as guards and - oh my, what a mess.

Jackson is really kind of comical. He makes at least 3-4 truly weird or terrible plays every game.

I'm thinking there is going to be some really tough years coming for the Vikings. No QB, no offensive line talent, an aging defence.

Other than Peterson, Rice and Harvin - what's to get excited about?

95
by B :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 7:34pm

A high draft pick.
There must be some good QBs they can get in the first round.

131
by BJR :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 8:58am

Is there any chance Minnesota attempt to trade right up to the top of the draft this year to secure their QB? It's feasible that Carolina/Cincinatti would listen since neither desperately needs a QB.

151
by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 12:21pm

Wait, what? Carolina and Cincinnati both desperately need a QB. Clausen has looked terrible, and Carson Palmer couldn't scream "I'M DONE" any louder if he had a giant P.A. system standing behind him. Both those teams need a QB, and, if Luck comes out, they'll jump all over him.

159
by Mr. Show (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 1:24pm

Carolina... DOESN'T desperately need a QB?

25
by shake n bake :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:33pm

Garçon seems streaky. He had a really rough stretch where he couldn't catch anything last year, then went crazy in the playoffs.

This year he's awful for half the season, now he's catching everything and really showing off the physical nature that makes him unique among Colts WRs.

26
by Mongrel (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:38pm

How did DeSean Jackson not get into the top 5 with 4 catches for 210 yds and a TD? Do the receiving stats favor 3rd-down conversions that heavily? Or is it a matter of some lackluster runs dragging on his value?

30
by B :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:49pm

Four out of how many targets?

37
by RickD :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:59pm

I think it's a valid question. That's still 210 yards receiving. A monster game by most standards.

43
by johnnyxel :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 5:11pm

4 catches on 8 targets (edit: 9 if FO doesn't exclude an incomplete negated by RTP), 6 yards on 2 runs (neither successful). DYAR killed by diminishing returns on long plays?

44
by B :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 5:11pm

Which is why we should look at the whole context. He also had three incompletions, and two unsuccessful runs. So on the 9 times he was targeted in the offense, he was only successful on 4 of them.

51
by Joe :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 5:22pm

Nine targets - still a 23.3 YPA. Does not make sense to me that he's not in the top 5, although I expect the defensive adjustment has a lot to do with it.

80
by chemical burn :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:17pm

Where does 9 targets come from? I just went through the game the ball only came his way 6 times?

96
by B :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 7:36pm

I counted 4 pass completions, 3 in completions, and 2 end-around/reverses. There was one more incompletion negated by penalty, but that isn't counted by DYAR.

122
by asdfzxcv (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 2:47am

I don't pretend to be a statistician, but any *system* that values a 3 catch 86 yard day (or 4 for 122) over a 4 catch 210 yard day must have serious flaws. D. Jackson not being in the top five could be an anomaly, but I have honestly seen enough of these types of "anomalies" relative to player-game rating on this site to think that the problem must be more systemic. The Croyle over Vick "anomaly" is even more stark. (Yes, the arguement for the D adjustment: but that arguement follows that the Chargers D is so much better than the Cowboys D that we could expect Vick to have had a worse day than Croyle's 7 of 17 for 40 yards against the Chargers, and the transverse?)

The problem is FO seemingly using the same definition of "success" for teams and individuals. But first of all, the way FO gives "points" for individuals seems entirely arbitrary. There is no statistical argument I have seen on here showing that what they call "success" positively correlates to winning. They say "the objective is to get touchdowns" and there are two ways to do it "get yards and getting first downs." I mean theres already a problem with that argument, cuz they are saying that getting first downs and gettin yards are separate things that both cause socring. but getting first downs is acheived almost exclusively by getting yards. so, getting yards=>getting first downs. getting yards=>getting touchdowns. but getting first downs DOES NOT => touchdowns. getting first downs=> more downs or tries to get yards. First downs and touchdowns are a function of getting yards. So obviously using first downs as a measure of success for individuals is redundant and uneccesary. Think of it this way: getting yards causes first downs. getting yards causes touchdowns. Does getting first downs cause touchdowns, or does it just appear that way because yards cause both first downs and touchdowns? Correlation does not = cause.

For example, a 10 yard gain by an individual on 3 and 11 should almost never be less valuable than a 2 yard gain on 3 and 1. The down-to-go is an entirely arbitrary way to measure "success." Why? Cuz you have to look at each individual play as independent of previous plays (becuz it would get too complicated or impossible to consistently measure the impact a player had on getting the team from 1 and 10 to 3 and 1, or 3 and 10). Look at it this way: a 10 yard gain means u are 10 yards closer to the goalline. A 2 yard gain means u are 2 yards closer. You can't hold the player responsible for what down the gain occurs on. The down is incidental. If u still dont get it think like this: On 1 and 10 Shady McCoy runs for 2 yards. On 2 and 8, Mick Vick is sacked for a 3 yard loss. On 3 and 11 Shady McCoy runs for 10 yards. 4 and 1, punt. McCoy was unsuccessful by FO system. Now think of it this way, 1 and 10, MoCoy runs for 10 yards. 1 and 10 Mick Vick is sacked for 3 yard loss. 2 and 10 McCoy runs for 2 yards. 3 and 8 . . . McCoy was successful by FO system. But there is NO DIFFERENCE.

Combine all that with adding extra success points. A successful play= 1 point. A "big play" gets increasingly more points, again points seemingly added at arbitrary markers (10 yard play= 3 pts, 20=4, >40= 5). What model did they use to decide that a 20 yard play is worth 33 percent more than a 10 yard play? Since the authors of this site are NOT mathematicians, and since they go to lengths to hide their formula, its proly reasonable to conclude they were just picked arbitrarily.

Also, and this is huge and unexplained: That 10 yard 3rd down run by McCoy that didn't go for a first down . . . is this a success or a failure? Since a "big play" of 10 yards is worth 3 points that should be worth 3 points right? But since the 10 yard run didn't get a first down, it was "unsuccessful" and worth zero points, right? So what the f*ck is it?

We dont know becuz they dont tell us. I am pretty confident their formula is hidden becuz if it was known it would be torn to shreds by anyone with a basic college level understanding of statistics.

I DO like how they normalize success points against all others at that circumstance. But their assumptions are all wrong and arbitrary in terms of defining success.

Or am I wrong?

124
by BigCheese :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 3:27am

"Or am I wrong?"

Yes, on several points I think you definitely are.

While I don't think DYAR is a perfect meassure by any means, I think several or your points are fundamentally flawed:

"but that arguement follows that the Chargers D is so much better than the Cowboys D that we could expect Vick to have had a worse day than Croyle's 7 of 17 for 40 yards against the Chargers, and the transverse?)"

I'm pretty sure it's not saying that at all because of two factors: 1) DYAR is a counting stat and 2) They both had negative numbers.

Since DYAR meassures value relative to a replacement player, that means that Brodie Croyle aquired A LOT of negative value in just 17 plays (yes I know I'm taking out sacks and scrambles, but let's stick to that number just for simplicity's sake). That means that, on average, each of his plays was well below what a replacement players might do.

Meanwhile, Vick had many more plays to aquire his negative value, so that on average, he was far more efficient than Croyle, although still below what a replacement player might do (wether I consider if he truly was worse than a replacement player is another matter entirely, but that is what the metric is telling us). So, even though it tells us that Vick managed to accumulate more unsucsefull "points" than Croyle did, if we actually look at the number of attempts of both players it's clearly showing us that he played better than Croyle.

"The down-to-go is an entirely arbitrary way to measure "success." Why? Cuz you have to look at each individual play as independent of previous plays"

And here is where I think you're being completely naive. Down to go situation is a HUGE part of wether a play is sucessfull or not and does decrease or increase the value of yards and, more importantly, the value of the play as a meassure of a player's performance, because of at least two factors:

1) Defenses play 3rd and 1 VERY diferently from 3rd and 20. I will bet everything I own and will ever own that, if we take the exact same offensive unit vs the exact same defensive unit and I tell the deense to play down and sitation, while I tell the offense to call a run (whichever run they want to call) every time, and I have them do it 100 times from 3rd and 10 and 100 times from 3rd and 1, with the first down marker at the defense's 10-yard line, the yardage gained in the 3rd and 10 set will be orders of magnitude larger than the yardage gained in the 3rd and 1 set.

2) Are you really arguing that a 2-yard run that makes it 4th and 8 at midfield forcing a punt, is jsut as valuable to the success of the teama s a 2-yard run that makes it first and 10 at midfield, allowing the drive to continue? Becasue that's pretty much insane. I will gladly argue that an 6-yard run that makes it 4th and 4 is still pretty much useless, while a 2-yard run that makes it 1st and 10 directly increases the chances of scoring and thus winning. And I honestly can't even comprehend how anyone could argue otherwise.

And finally, I'm positive the formula isn't public because it's a proprietary asset that would loose a lot of it's value if anyone had access to it, and not because they are afraid you'll find flaws with it.

Or are you also convinced that Coca-Cola or KFC keep their recepies secret because they don't want you criticizing them?

- Alvaro

166
by Noah of Arkadia :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 4:28pm

Well said. It's not the first time I hear people say that "5 yards is 5 yards no matter what" and I don't understand it.

138
by RichC (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 10:25am

"I don't pretend to be a statistician, but any *system* that values a 3 catch 86 yard day (or 4 for 122) over a 4 catch 210 yard day must have serious flaws"

The problem isn't the catches. Its all the times that Jackson was thrown at and DIDN'T catch the ball.

The 4 catches for 210 were of course very valuable. The end arounds cost his team points. The incompletions cost his team points.

So yeah, its possible for a guy with 3/86 to be more valuable than a guy with 4/210 if that 4/210 is really 4 of 7 for 210, and two running plays that ended drives.

147
by Nathan :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 11:22am

If I throw to a guy twice and he drops both, then I throw to him a 3rd time and he scores an 80 yard touchdown did those incompletions cost me points?

154
by AudacityOfHoops :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 12:37pm

You talking about this? It's the situation from the Eagles-Cowboys game that came the closest to above.

-------------------------------------------
4th Quarter
Philadelphia Eagles continues ...
1-10-DAL 30
(15:00) (Shotgun) 7-M.Vick pass incomplete deep left to 10-D.Jackson. Pass incomplete left corner of the end zone 5 yards deep on "fly" pattern; heavy pressure by Hatcher
2-10-DAL 30
(14:54) (Shotgun) 7-M.Vick pass short left to 25-L.McCoy to DAL 32 for -2 yards (56-B.James) [51-K.Brooking].
3-12-DAL 32
(14:09) (Shotgun) 7-M.Vick pass incomplete deep right to 10-D.Jackson.
4-12-DAL 32
(14:02) (Field Goal formation) 2-D.Akers 50 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-46-J.Dorenbos, Holder-6-S.Rocca.
...
[Dallas drive & punt]
...
(11:43) 7-M.Vick pass short left to 10-D.Jackson for 91 yards, TOUCHDOWN. Pass caught at the 19 sideline before cutting back toward the middle. PENALTY on PHI-10-D.Jackson, Unsportsmanlike Conduct, 15 yards, enforced between downs.
----------------------------------------

Because, yeah, those first two incompletions cost the Eagles points. The expected net value of a first down on your opponent's 30 yard line is 3.3 points. After 2 incompletions, and a -2 yard run, Philly's expected net value was 1.2 (this accounts for both predicted FG% and the value of the opponent's ensuing field position). You can work through the math yourself via the page I linked, but the summary is that those two incompletions took about 1 point off the Eagle's expected value.

Or, to put it more simply, starting on the opponent's 30 is awesome field position, yet the Eagles only got a field goal out of it, thanks in large part to two incomplete passes to Jackson.

171
by dude (not verified) :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 4:36am

Right. But, what is the expected value of having the ball on your own 9 yard line? I don't have the time to look it up on advancednflstats.com but from what i recall about that article its probably negative . . . so Jackson gettin 6.3 points or whatever when the expected net value of their field position was negative, doesn't that make up for the lost point on the incompletions? just sayin.

173
by Eddo :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 11:41am

Yep, that 91-yard catch most likely makes up for the points lost on the incompletions. However, no one is claiming Jackson's day was a net negative, just that it wasn't as positive as the five receivers listed in the article.

155
by DGL :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 12:43pm

It depends on the context of the drops.

To take an extreme case, if they each occurred on fourth and goal plays, then of course the incompletions cost the team points.

If you meant that you threw to him on first and ten (dropped), second and ten (dropped), and third and ten (80 yard TD), then in that scenario obviously the drops didn't cost points - but you have to look at the first and second down plays in context of what might happen on subsequent plays, not in the context of what actually happened after the fact.

If a QB drops back to pass, is strip-sacked, but the ball bounces into the hands of the RB who whiffed on his blocking assignment, and the RB manages to run 80 yards for a TD, you're not going to tell your linemen to stop blocking because doing so resulted in a TD.

156
by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 12:48pm

Yeah. If he scores another six touchdowns, those incompletions still cost you points.

Are you saying we should ignore someone's bad plays because they made a good play?

164
by Mr. Show (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 3:58pm

A week or two ago there was a list of the top offenses according to DVOA of all time. The 1998 Minnesota Vikings did not come into the top 30, with the reasoning being that their ability to consistently get super long gains was not compliant with DVOA's preference of gaining lots of first downs consistently. Jackson fits into that argument well as a guy who can get huge yardage with relative consistency but isn't going to produce a lot of first downs and is inevitably not going to have the greatest of catch rates because of the type of passes he is thrown.

28
by Bjorn Nittmo (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:46pm

OK, I'll bite: how on earth did neither Brandon Jacobs (116 yds on 14 carries, 1 TD, no fumbles) nor Ahmad Bradshaw (103 on 11, 1, 0) crack the top 5, running against the #5 DVOA running defense? Reasons I can think of: too much of Jacobs night came on 73-yard run and no passing production to speak of for either. But take away Bradshaw's 48-yard run and he still average 5.5 YPC. Don't see how both of these performances don't trump everyone on the list except maybe McFadden.

52
by rdy4thefiesta :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 5:25pm

I obviously don't know exactly how DYAR is calculated but if I had to guess:

Jacobs: Most of the value came on the one long run, and DYAR probably suppresses the value of that run.

Bradshaw: My guess is bad production in the passing game, where he had 5 catches for 12 yards with a long of 4. At least a couple of these were on third and long.

Overall, there were a few short gains on first down and on second and long. Regardless of all this, both players ran great last night and as a Giants fan, I'm excited that the running game is looking awesome again.

29
by B :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:48pm

Garbage time to me is attempting to score touchdowns while protecting an insurmountable lead or facing an insurmountable deficit. So the question is what is a reasonable amount of points that can be considered insurmountable. So, let's look at how many points a really good offense can score in a quarter. The Patriots seem like as reasonable a choice as any, and looking at their recent performances, I'd say 36 points in a half, or 18 a quarter is an a good place to start. So, I think we need to narrow the definition of garbage time before we can get a good answer. I suspect what we're going to see is very few QBs have much opportunity to pile up yards in these situations.

42
by RickD :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 5:08pm

"18 in a quarter is a good place to start".

That depends on the opponent. 18 points with a quarter left is certainly not insurmountable by the Colts. Or the Saints or Eagles or Texans (witness last night).

With the Colts, my cheat sheet
Lead of
3 or less points - Colts don't have the ball, and other team can run out the clock without needing any more first downs
4 - 8 points - 10 seconds or less on the clock, and Colts are at least 80 yards from a TD. (I'm willing to debate this, it might be too lenient).
9 - 11 points - 1 minute or less on the clock, and your special teams unit is decent at covering onside kicks
12 - 15 points - 2 minutes or less regardless of field position, or 4 minutes or less if the Colts are at their own 25 or worse.

Point being that Peyton Manning can run two TD drives in five minutes or less, and has done so many times in his career. Given him 15 minutes and I'd say 35 points is well within his team's capability.

To keep it simple, if you're playing the Colts, and Peyton Manning is in the game, you shouldn't run your offense as if your lead is insurmountable, unless you feel certain he won't touch the ball again. If the Colts think the game is out of reach, they can always give Manning a rest.

82
by Bobman :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:18pm

I'd agree that there are some teams against which garbage time is meaningless; you point out some above. I'd throw in the Pats, as well as the 09 Vikings from recent memory. The Packers when Rodgers and crew are healthy probably fits the mold as well. And as a Colts fan I'd object to somebody "piling on" with a 28 pt lead at the start of the 4Q, but I'd understand it as well. (unless Manning was in a body cast. Pretty sure a 1 pt lead on a Curtis Painter-led team is safe.)

The Ravens/Texans game last night supports this as well as the Colts slowing things down enough to let the Titans challenge late on Thursday. (Of course the Titans' D gets some credit for tightening up as well after going down 21-0.)

But what does that say to your defense? Hey you 20 defenders, we know you are pathetic and cannot hold a lead, so we're gonna go out and gun for 60 pts today. You okay with that? Can you make that stand up?

55
by gman (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 5:27pm

There are several points to be made about "garbage time".
1. During garbage time you want to run out the clock. That means time consuming drives, whether they end in scores or not. Time consuming is not 3 runs and a punt but 10-15-play drive without stopping the clock (no out-of-bounds and no pass incompletions). So if you're trying to run the clock down, passing for first downs and staying inbounds seems like a very good tactic. If you can get a 10-play drive and take up 7 min, that seems the best strategy during garbage time.
2. If a team can score 35 points in the first half, the other team, theoretically, can score 35 points in the second half. I can't see the beginning of the 2nd half can ever be called garbage time, no matter what the score. There have been several cases of teams coming back from over 21pts down in the 2nd half in the past couple of years so I wouldn't want to define garbage as less than 28pts in the 3rd quarter.
3. There have been several cases of teams coming back from 17pts down in the 4th quarter and winning so I wouldn't want to define garbage as less than 21 pts in the 4th quarter.
4. If a team never gets up enough to get into garbage time, then it's quarterback will have 0% passes in garbage time. If a team only gets into garbage time in the last 2-4 min of the game, running the clock tactics will be different than if you get into garbage time in the 3rd quarter.
5. All this leads me to think that it is hard to define true garbage time and if passes during garbage time are any less meaningful (see pt 1 above).

g-man.

116
by Scott C :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 1:02am

I agree with your points.

Look at the end of the Pats/Jets game though. Many passes thrown with a 4+ score lead, and not just for creating long drives, or with very safe passes.

There is one extra point you did not mention:

* When up by a lot, avoiding injury to your most important player is a good idea.

123
by BigCheese :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 3:02am

Also, it's not like the starters can't come back in if needed. Witness Brady coming back into the game in 07 after a Hoyer pick-6 cut the lead to "only" 21 with under 10 minutes to play...

In my mind, there are exactly three situations where it's defensible to have your starting QB throw more than a couple of passes in the 4th quarter when up by 21 or more:

- A rookie or similar player at QB who needs the reps.

- A comically bad Defense and/or Special Teams

- Facing an explosive offense like the Colts, Patriots or Texans.

Neither applied to either the Jets or Bears games, so why exactly is Brady being exposed to injury in that situation?

- Alvaro

160
by dryheat :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 1:52pm

If it was 07, it would have been Cassel Or Gutierrez. Your point stands, and I agree with your overall point regarding exposure to injury. Belichick's opinion appears to be that 1) Brady makes a lot of money to play football and should be playing football, 2) Brady wants to go back in, and he wants to keep his QB happy, and 3) Instilling in his team to give 100% for 60 minutes.

Again, I tend to side with you.

EDIT: I thought this bit from this morning's Brady press conference was interesting in light of this thread, via Mike Reiss:

“Our job is to score points every time we have the ball. We should have scored more points against the Bears. We were only 2 of 5 in the red zone. We screwed some things up. We have to get better. If we’re in a tight game we better be able to score more. We’re trying to make improvements.”

It appears that the Patriots try to derive real value from each possession, even if it's nothing more than a full-speed, full-contact practice

150
by BSR :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 11:42am

In the Jets game the patriots ran 13 plays in the 4Q, 3 of them were passes.

In the Chicago game the patriots ran 17 plays in the 4Q, 7 of them were passes.

They certainly aren't exposing him too much.

142
by SandyRiver :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 11:09am

"Many" equals 7, the number of passes after the score went to 31-3. Though I didn't watch the game, I'm guessing none of those 7 were deep - the only one gaining more than 15 yards was the 3rd-and-4 shovel pass that Woodhead broke for 50. The 15-yarder, on 1st down from inside the Pats' 10, probably was a reaction to 9 in the box or some such. It's not as if the Pats' running game can control the clock on its own. 14 runs got 50 yards in the 2nd half, and 8 of those got 2 yd or less. Probably the only deep pass after halftime was the 35-yarder to Hernandez (assuming it was deep middle rather than YAC), when it was 24-3. Since the Pats' last 2 possessions in the 1st half were feeble 3-and-outs and the Jet's opening one in Q3 was a long drive, no way is that garbage time.

I do agree that Brady had no business being in the game after it went to 38-3 early in Q4, even though all the plays after that point apparently had clock-killer intent. (I'm assuming that final 3rd-and-7 incomplete was such a play.)

132
by dryheat :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 9:19am

Finally, a voice of reason (re: point 1). Running out the clock is done by keeping possession and keeping the clock moving, regardless of means. If the defense is stacked 9 at the line, unless it's kneel-down time, the offense should pass the ball. The receiver should then catch the ball, get the first down, and go down in bounds.

Garbage time, to me, is defined by when the defense stops trying to stop the offense. If the defense is playing in a prevent with 10 minutes left, and the quarterback throws 15 5-yard passes taking 9 minutes off the clock, those are 75 garbage time yards.

32
by JMM* (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:52pm

On Roethlisberger: To say the 2nd and longs were a result of "his" failure on 1st down is misleading. The failures were mainly (totally?) the result of holding calls on the O-line. Some of these took otherwise successful plays off the boards.

An interesting number would be how many yards were lost due to a penalty (if a 1st down gained 10 and was nullified due to holding, that would be 10+10) If those yards were counted, the Steeler offense might have gotten 50% more yards.

94
by troycapitated p... :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 7:24pm

While there probably were holding calls that took away successful plays, holding calls don't result in loss of down, so he would get another chance to make a successful 1st down play. Apparently the second chances were also largely unsuccessful, putting him in a situation where there was an opportunity to be successful on a number of second-and-longs.

33
by Sancho Gaucho (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:53pm

Sorry, it's completely OT, but I would like to share this terribly great feeling I have with you.

Imagine if NFL breaks its rules in order to make that the AFC and the NFC champions must play against the european champion and the mexican champion to go to the Super Bowl. It sounds strange but it's formality, almost a bye week. The years pass by, and the Super Bowl keeps being played by an AFC and a NFC team just as always.

Then, your greatest rival wins the Conference, your life is just miserable, and they seem to be the favorite to win it all. When you finished the rope to hang yourself in disgust (metaphorically speaking, of course), out of nowhere come the 1,000,000:1 underdogs and beat them!

Well, that is what just have happened in Soccer Clubs World Cup...

Almighty Mazembe (that's their actual name) from Congo is in FIFA Club World Cup final. SC Internacional from BRAZIL is out.

I've completely ODed in Schadefreude!

Best.

47
by RickD :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 5:15pm

Cool.

I think I heard of Almighty Mazembe in some classic black-and-white Creature Double Feature film.

All Hail Almighty Mazembe!

67
by nick_thunderdome (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:06pm

Wow, who would have ever thought that a game that usually ends in a 1-0 or 0-0 score could have an upset by a vastly inferior team!?!?

86
by Sancho Gaucho (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:36pm

It's FOOTBALL! Association Football, but still. And, of course, as we all know well, in football surprises can happen on any given sunday.

It's the 6th edition under the new format, and there was never -even close- a chance to a surprise like the one that has happened to day. It's not a soccer problem.

The game ended 5 hours ago, and, at the same time one can read the Brazilian press calling this THE BIGGEST HUMILIATION of brazilian club soccer internationally, it's still possible to listen some fire works and car horns blown by a happy fan whenever things start to calm down. You can never get tired of annoying your friends that cheer for the other team in town, can you?

How can anyone not love rivalries?!

149
by dryheat :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 11:40am

It's much more rare than in football, where last I knew the average score was 20-17. Kind of inane to bring the score into the conversation. It's not like the Patriots scored 36 times to score 36 points against the Bears. Would you feel better if a soccer goal was worth 6 points? Then many games would end 6-0 or 12-0...now we have a blowout on our hands!

It's also much harder for a vastly inferior team to pull the upset in soccer, since it's much closer to 60 minutes of game action (maybe 55), as opposed to the 20 or so in football. They can't take 29 seconds in between snaps to shorten the game.

130
by Sancho Gaucho (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 8:09am

It's easy to translate the outcome in football terms.

It was a 14-6 game, where the loser had more yardages and time of possession, but their offense couldn't score touchdowns and their kicker was not in his best evening. The winner had a great red-zone defense, and scored two touchdowns in a mix of good execution and its opponent's mistakes.

And the unthinkable have happened...

34
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:55pm

Oh, and can we fans of sub-.500 teams be spared from any more Brady glamour shots? I mean, how about a picture with his helmet on, as opposed to Tom Terrific looking all dreamy in his flowing locks glory? What's next, Tom in the locker room, holding his towel provocatively, like a Sports Illustrated model? Not that there is anything wrong with that, of course...

41
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 5:06pm

He really needs a scraggly, graying beard. Oh yeah, that's what you Vikings fans like, isn't it, baby.

46
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 5:12pm

Quarterback porn; I can't define it, but I know it when I see it!!

Where's that nortorious forehead fetishist known as bobman?

66
by Bobman :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:06pm

Who doesn't like a signal caller with a really, really big... brain?

Okay, my wife, whose anti-regional accent bias has her convinced that anybody with a regional accent is a HS dropout.

"Hon, look at that fivehead--he's really smart!"
"Sounds like a turnip farmer to me."

93
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 7:09pm

It's what you find on Jenn Sterger's phone.

139
by RichC (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 10:33am

Hold on, we've got a vikings fan complaining about seeing too much of another team's quarterback?

36
by are-tee :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:58pm

"It's that his variance is downright incredible; he can look like the best quarterback in the league on one play and look like a college freshman on the very next one."

That's from the Sanchez capsule, but it could really be said about guys like Cutler and Favre, too. Even Eli Manning, who has been pretty accurate this year, has as many turnovers (Interceptions and lost fumbles) as touchdown passes.

Having watched the Jets closely for years, I can honestly say that I don't remember seeing their receivers drop so many passes. I'll bet Cotchery has more drops in 2010 than he's had in prior years combined. I wonder if there's something about Sanchez's balls that makes them harder to catch, which would also account for all the dropped interceptions.

79
by Jeremy (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:17pm

I'll fully admit to giggling at your last sentence about Sanchez's balls.

39
by nat :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 5:01pm

Meh. I'd like to forgive the bogus "analysis" since you only have a few paragraphs. But honestly, this is trolling of the worst sort. The definitions are screwy (18 point lead at the second half kickoff is garbage time?), the underlying theory is crap (what, the Bears stopped trying to play defense in the second half? Really?), and the wrong stats are analyzed anyway (total yards? number of attempts?) You're not even clear on the questions you're trying to answer. It looks like you semi-randomly did calculations and hoped they meant something.

Bleh. Yich. Not up to FO quality. Again.

49
by ammek :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 5:21pm

No comment on Jake Delhomme's day, but I'd like to know where his DYAR ranks among Browns' QBs versus Buffalo since the franchise was resuscitated in 1999. By passer rating, in descending order:

1) Derek Anderson, 2007, 57.1
2) Brady Quinn, 2008, 55.9
3) Delhomme, 2010, 49.2
4) Luke McCown, 2004, 25.4
5) Anderson, 2009, 15.1

For Buffalo, Ryan Fitzpatrick had the first rating over 53 in this now-annual toilet fixture. His 142 passing yards were marginally better than the average (131.2) for Bills QBs against Cleveland (v 2.0).

The last three Sunday games between these teams have finished with scores of 13-6, 6-3 and 8-0.

125
by BigCheese :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 3:35am

Well, unless the AFC East plays the AFC North next season (which for all I know they do), there won't be a Bills-Browns game in the regular season (hey, anything can happen!) next year.

- Alvaro

129
by Jerry :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 6:46am

The East and North play each other this year. Next year (assuming there is one), the North plays the South and the East battles the West. Unless the Bengals win their last three games while the Browns lose theirs, Buffalo will play Cincinnati next year.

133
by dryheat :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 9:21am

You mean if the Jags win the South we won't have a Pats/Colts game next year? About freakin' time.

48
by MJK :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 5:21pm

To me, the whole issue with the "padding stats" question is that it is bad strategy to do anything else.

Say you have a team that doesn't have an overpowering run game that can grind out 5 ypc when the other team is stacking the box (this is most teams). Said team can run the ball effectively when the defense has to respect the pass, and passes quite effectively when the defense thinks that there is a fair chance they might run. (This is most teams with a decent offense). Since passes are more effective on average than runs, the team passes slightly more than runs, but still runs sometimes. (This is most teams with a decent offense and a good head coach...maybe about six to eight teams total).

Now imagine that team has used it's effective, reasonably balanced attack to build a massive lead at half time.

What is a better strategy for winning? To continue doing what got you the massive lead in the first place...passing a lot with occasional runs to keep the defense off balance and keep possession of the ball, adding to your score when you get close and denying your opponent the opportunity to test your defense? Or saying "we're going to be sportsmanlike and stop doing what works, because it might be viewed as running up the score, and instead come out in a heavy I and run the ball into a stacked box twice for 1 yard each time, throw incomplete on third down, and then punt. We're going to continue to do this until the other team has pulled to within 3 and our entire team is demoralized".

In a couple of their games this year, when they built an early lead, the Patriots did exactly the second thing (i.e. against Buffalo, or Indy). Their defense is too young to hold up to repeated 3-and-outs by the offense brought about by not "running up the score".

I would not fault them for wising up and choosing the first strategy against the Steelers, Jets, and now the Bears.

58
by PatsFan :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 5:33pm

And (courtesy of the Boston Herald's Ian Rapoport) having some passes mixed in to keep a long, time-consuming drive going is exactly what NE did against Chicago in the second half:

Second half drives: 4

Results: Field goal (7 plays, 2:55), turnover on downs (11 plays, 6:03), punt (11 plays, 6:04), kneel (10 plays, 6:31).

Second half yards per drive: 49.25

Second half time of possession: 21:33

59
by rk (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 5:35pm

You've made an error in the MJD downing the ball scenario. The clock would have continued to run had he stopped at the one. The Raiders would have taken their last timeout immediately. The Jaguars would kneel 3 times without the clock ever stopping until they called timeout with 1-3 seconds left. The FG attempt would have been the last play of regulation.

106
by tunesmith :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 9:10pm

Is missing a close time-expiring field goal more likely than the raiders scoring a last-second touchdown after a kickoff with that much time left?

107
by Dan :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 9:52pm

You are correct.

60
by Bobman :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 5:53pm

It's probably more accurate to say that the Pats don't necessarily change their style of play unless they see a need to. If their game plan going in is an 8:1 pass ratio and it works and they are up by 21 in the 4th quarter, they don't change. (Correct me if I am wrong, Pats watchers.) That is not exactrly traditional and tends to gall some people.

There is nothing wrong with keeping your foot on the pedal per se, but compared to other teams who "call off the dogs" and play more conservatively at that point, it seems a little like a bully running your nose inthe dirt. He's already taken your lunch money and called your sister a slut, there's no great need for the nose thing, but he does it anyway. (Look above at the description of Peyton Manning's 3rd and 4th quarters when the Colts were up a LOT but also nearly lost the game--1st half: 23 passes, 3Q: 9, 4Q: 4. Would I have preferred a 14 pt win? Yes. What if Peyton started todssing up pick-sixes? But if they're up by 14 over the Titans with three minutes left, I see no reason to keep chucking it downfield.)

So like in 2007, based on norms of more typical NFL playcalling, it IS padding. Brady's 50 TDs came via many more minutes played than manning played in 2004 and he had 70 more attempts. Their win margin was greater than the Colts' in 2004. It was padding. But they're just doing what they're doing. Brady never read the "Kneel To Win" article, that's all.

Having just mildly defended them, I did find that last pass of the first half--when his coaches were saying KNEEL--bush league and galling. As a Colts fan, I would be ashamed if Manning did that, and I would point out to my kids that is NOT how you should play the game. But at the same time, I cringe when they go conservative late (like Thursday), partially because they cannot run-block, partially because, I'll admit it, gaudy stats are nice.

62
by PatsFan :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:00pm

NE Second half drives: 4

Results: Field goal (7 plays, 2:55), turnover on downs (11 plays, 6:03), punt (11 plays, 6:04), kneel (10 plays, 6:31).

Second half yards per drive: 49.25

You have quite the odd definition of "padding".

71
by RickD :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:11pm

It's a classic case of not letting facts getting in the way of a good argument. Bobman made exactly the same argument in 2007. He was full of shit then and he's full of shit now.

83
by RickD :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:19pm

Um, you're full of shit.

The criticisms launched against the Patriots in 2007 were entirely unprecedented, and flew in the face of traditions of many dominant teams in the prior three decades who had casually run up the score without having to worry about media criticism.

The hand-wringing about how Belichick "ran up the score" against Joe Gibbs was particularly ludicrous, considering Gibbs' own background, and how happily his Redskins ran up the score against inferior teams during their heyday.

Why did the media start criticizing Belichick this way? It all traces back to "Spygate". The media was (bizarrely, BTW) appalled at the notion that Bill Belichick could have employed somebody to videotape games being played (in a public location, where hundreds of casual fans had video cameras, I'm guessing) and found a way to gin up outrage. But when they felt that Belichick wasn't getting sufficiently villified for that, they turned on him for "running up the score". Even though every winning coach: Mike Shanahan, Jimmy Johnson, Bill Walsh, Bill Parcells, Vince Lombardi, Chuck Noll, Don Shula, John Madden, etc., etc., had been doing exactly the same thing since the NFL was founded.

It's up to the defense to stop the offense. It's not up to the offense to stop the offense.

117
by Retire FireOmarTomlin (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 1:11am

It all traces back to "Spygate". The media was (bizarrely, BTW) appalled at the notion that Bill Belichick could have employed somebody to videotape games being played (in a public location, where hundreds of casual fans had video cameras, I'm guessing) and found a way to gin up outrage.

So, the fine, and the lost draft pick were all from ginned up outrage? Interesting. I never heard that theory before.

127
by BigCheese :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 3:58am

Speaking of being full of shit:

"The hand-wringing about how Belichick "ran up the score" against Joe Gibbs was particularly ludicrous, considering Gibbs' own background, and how happily his Redskins ran up the score against inferior teams during their heyday."

Really? Can you please point me to the games where Gibbs (or anyone else you mentioned. really) went for it on 4th down at the opposing 7 when up 38-0 in the fourth quarter and after the game said "What did you want us to do? Kick a Field Goal?" Or anything even close to that.

"The media was (bizarrely, BTW) appalled at the notion that Bill Belichick could have employed somebody to videotape games being played (in a public location, where hundreds of casual fans had video cameras, I'm guessing) and found a way to gin up outrage."

Wow, that's some serious denial / attempt at retconning history you have got going on there. From your description it sounds like Bellichick found a perfectly legal loop-hole to do something really bening and then everyone overreacted. All that's needed for that to be true is throwing out the part where the NFL sent a memo to all teams, that Bellichick aknowledges he recieved and willfulyl ignored, specifically reminding them that this behavior was strictly porhibited and against the rules of the game. Wonder why people were outraged by that...

- Alvaro

136
by dryheat :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 9:32am

Really? Can you please point me to the games where Gibbs (or anyone else you mentioned. really) went for it on 4th down at the opposing 7 when up 38-0 in the fourth quarter and after the game said "What did you want us to do? Kick a Field Goal?" Or anything even close to that.

Generally I find this to be the source of most disagreements about running up the score -- those who feel that kicking a field goal in the 4th quarter to turn a 38-point margin into a 41-point margin to be the sporting thing to do, instead of running the ball up the middle with your backup fullback. Those people are wrong. Kicking a short field goal is an almost guaranteed 3 points and stops the clock. Running a dive play keeps the clock moving, and in fact is the play that the defense, if they haven't punched out for the day, should have the best success of stopping.

There was one pass in that game that I felt was gratuitous...but I suspect that was a Brady audible.

145
by BSR :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 11:12am

:rolls eyes:

The level of outrage, hate and vitriol spewed towards Belichick and the Patriots went way beyond the rules violation that they committed. Where was the hate and outrage when the Broncos systematically violated the salary cap for years? Same with the 49ers? How about the 49ers with their tampering? How about every player that has violated the steroid policy? The fact is that every single one of these violations has 10x the effect or more of videotaping signals for the purpose of film review and yet they receive 1% of the coverage that stupid spygate did. So yeah, I think the term "ginned up outrage" is appropriate in this case.

158
by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 1:20pm

How about the 49ers with their tampering?

How about it? What effect did it have? Briggs re-signed with the Chicago Bears. And how many teams tamper without getting charged? How many players sign their contracts minutes into the free-agency period?

A measure of the 49ers tampering severity was that it cost them a 5th-round pick (and switching 3rd round picks with the Bears). A bit less than a 1st-round pick, wouldn't you say?

So...that's 10x the effect of illegally videotaping signals?

By what measure, praytell?

161
by BSR :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 2:02pm

It doesn't matter what the effect it had. If I failed to successfully rob a bank does it make the severity of a bank robbery any less? The fact is that the 49ers are guilty of tampering with a highly prized free agent.

As for the measure, in one case we are talking about the signing of a highly regarded impact free agent. The other is a tape of something that is open to 60,000+ viewers every game. Do I really need to explain how one is more significant than the other? Really?

170
by Retire FireOmarTomlin (not verified) :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 12:35am

Do I really need to explain how one is more significant than the other? Really?

There was no site like football outsiders when the Broncos were punished for their salary cap violations. The NFL thought spygate was worth a first round pick and a fine which seems to me a harsher punishment than the 49ers received. So, I would say it is pretty clear which infraction the NFL finds more significant, and your explanations are borne from some strange faux persecution by proxy complex.

172
by PatsFan :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 10:31am

You mean "Roger Goodell thought", not "the NFL thought".

We'll never know, but I'd bet a considerable sum of money that if Rozelle or Tags were still commish when Spygate happened the penalty would have been a lot less. Likewise, were Goodell commish during the 49ers or Broncos shenanigans the penalty would have been more.

Also, I will go to my grave believing that the primary reason for the severity of the penalty wasn't the specifics of what the Patriots were doing but rather because Belichick ignoring a specific memo from the brand new commish was perceived (rightly so) as a big middle finger to Goodell and so both because Goodell was pissed off by that and because being brand new he had to act to cement his authoritay he gave it back to Belichick with both barrels.

177
by BSR :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 3:00pm

No because as the other poster points out there isn't a single "NFL" that metered both those punishments. One was done by Goodell the other by Tagliabue. They are two different commissioners with two totally different grades of punishment. For anyone paying attention, they would have noticed that Goodell has emphasized personal conduct over his term thus far by increasing penalties and the institution of conduct policies. So no, I don't think that is a very good measurement at all.

All you really need to do to figure out which one is more significant is think about it. It isn't hard really. Would you rather have a high impact free agent or a bunch of tapes of defensive signals which may be of use if you can decode them and the other team hopefully decides to not change them, although you can just have one of your scouts legal copy them down by hand during the next game anyway. Don't think to hard.

179
by Retire FireOmarTomlin (not verified) :: Fri, 12/17/2010 - 1:01am

All you really need to do to figure out which one is more significant is think about it.

Depends on what I was trying to accomplish. If it was win now I would go with the tapes, if it was win eventually I might go with player tampering.

I like how you dismiss the importance of the tapes. Keep believing the tapes were of no importance in any Patriots victory. The fact remains the Pats were fined and lost a draft pick.

180
by BSR :: Fri, 12/17/2010 - 10:26am

I'm not the only one to do so. Jimmy Johnson, Bill Cowher, Chuck Knox and Bill Parcells have all said that they were all of minimal impact.

Believe what you will but that doesn't make it reality. At the very worst, the practice can be said to have an unquantifiable impact. In light of the context of this thread, I think it is very fair to said that the outrage generated wasn't on the same level as the outrage of other violations which may be more quantifiable.

The worst part is I think the average fan is pretty much ignorant of the facts. Most think that stealing signals is illegal when the truth is it is not. Most think that this practice was some unique technique developed by Belichick when it has been a part of the league for decades. Most think that this practice was some covert spying, when it was done out in the open and known to most opposing teams. Most think that this was some sure fire can't miss way to know what the opposing defense was going to do, when it absolutely wasn't the case. The blatant and purposeful misinformation perpetuated by the media in this instance is nearly as unethical as that of Belichick.

175
by bravehoptoad :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 12:28pm

It doesn't matter what the effect it had.

It certainly does, since it's your misbegotten point about effect that I'm disputing:

The fact is that every single one of these violations has 10x the effect or more of videotaping signals....

Furthermore, it's clear to anyone who knows anything about the case that the 49ers were not particularly more guilty of tampering than many, many teams; they were punished as an example. If you want to argue the point that no one else tampers, when there's plenty of evidence each and every free agent period, I'm game.

It would be beside the point, however, that your initial assertion was either thoughtless or something less flattering. Since you seem not to remember what you were talking about, I'll go with thoughtless.

178
by BSR :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 3:07pm

Nonesense, if there was clear evidence that other teams tampered then they would have been punished as well. That being said, I don't believe the 49ers were the only ones that did it by any stretch of the imagination. The problem is that it is typically a very difficult thing to prove. That has nothing to do with the magnitude of the violation, however. The fact that they weren't successful at it or that others were doing it is irrelevant. Do you think Goodell tried to measure the success of those stolen signals before he delivered his judgment? Of course not, he hadn't even reviewed the tapes at that point, he just saw it as a violation based on what they attempted to do not on what they actually got out of it.

The fact of the matter is that videotaping signals (illegal) as opposed to trying to steal signals by conventional means (legal) has only the most marginal effect on the game if any. If you want to show me how free agent tampering has less an effect then that then go right ahead.

And save your sanctimonious crap about thoughtlessness for someone else. If you can't argue the point effectively then just stop typing.

68
by Anonymous454545 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:09pm

I'm surprised that the last pass before the half upset the Bobman so much. I've seen the pats run fake spikes in blowouts, and I think that's far worse that throwing the ball deep in the first half. Pats tend to treat these blowouts like practice, sometimes-- running plays based on the field position rather than the scoreboard. What margin would be appropriate for Brady to throw that pass? Two scores? 10 points? Is it the not listening to his coaches that makes it so bush league? Otherwise, you take the high reward/low risk throw at that time of the game.

Speaking of the Pats routine thrashing of supposedly good NFC teams. Will any of the 2007 Redskins still be on the team, when the Pats play them next year? There's really no tangible fallout from thrashing an NFC team, four years later it's a dim memory for all but the interweb crawlers.

81
by RickD :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:18pm

Bobman is upset because the Pats are 11-2 while the Colts are 7-6. There's nothing more to see here.

128
by Kulko :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 5:42am

I just want to point out, that not all Pats fans or Brady fans find a well written article discussing the advantages and disadvantages of various strategies "full of shit" just because it doesn't adore #12 enough.

69
by Trevor (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:09pm

You found it galling that they wanted to score in the 2nd quarter? That's the quarter before half-time? That is the most insane thing I've ever read.

75
by RickD :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:14pm

It's a classic example of bias, complete with an invented, uncredible assertion that he would be just as pissed at his own team if they did the same thing.

No, the Colts never seek to build a big lead early in the game.

Unbelievable.

84
by chemical burn :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:22pm

Yeah, Manning has never tried a quick snap to catch a defense napping. Certainly not with a big lead. What a load of horseshit.

Oh yeah, and Manning has never ignored coaches at a crucial point and, say, waived off the punt unit.

It's the nfl, good players at every opportunity and don't spare their poor widdle opponents feelings. Pay me $2 million dollars a year to play CB and Brady is welcome to run up the score on me each and every week. If I don't like it, well somebody paid me $2 million dollars to stop him.

87
by Dave :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:36pm

Bob, come on. If you don't think Manning has changed into a play like that in the past, you're killing any credibility you have here.

I agree about 04 vs 07, and I think it's possible to fall on both sides of the "it's their job to stop us" / "running up the score" fence (to me it seems obvious that that team wanted very much to rub it in whenever possible and set those records, and while I didn't like it, I didn't hate it), but when the defense decides to blow something that obviously in the first half and says "HEY - Free Yards!" you take them, and boy oh boy has Peyton taken some free yards in the past. If anything I'm proud of Brady for catching that and going after it. Good for him. It strikes me as a very Peyton-like thing to do.

The whole garbage time thing seems like a waste of time. I didn't hear anyone making that argument before, so I don't see why it was worth examining. Brady's counting stats are a touch misleading to me simply because I'm seeing some of them inflated by a few big plays here and there that maybe weren't 100% the result of great play/execution. Both his recent long passing TDs to Branch, for instance, were underthrown and due largely to a massive defensive collapse. These inflate his yards, and thus his YPA, and thus his passer rating (had Smith made any of the several tackles he missed, for instance, Brady's "perfect" game goes away, even with a TD pass on the very next play), and that annoys me because it strikes me as inaccurate, but it's really not a very big deal at all. Their offensive greatness is captured more fairly in VOA and DVOA than those stats anyway, and we all know they're imperfect. (Inflating is != padding, btw.) I don't hold that stuff against Brady, because I know he knows what he did right and where he got lucky. I'll never forget his post-2007 finale interview talking about Moss when the reporters were trying to make excuses for him and he interrupted and said "bah - I just underthrew it" and shut everyone up. Of course, correcting the mistake on the very next play helped too...

I suppose it's quite understandable that we as Colts fans could get a bit sick of the Brady adulation, but let's not lie: In the more recent past he has absolutely been playing up to all the hype he got earlier in his career when the QB debates were truly irrational. And whether there's a bit of running up the score or luck or not, he's playing Reeeeeeeally well. And that team scares the shit out of me. For as banged up and non-dominant as our team is, I'm very proud of them for nearly beating those Pats on the road.

91
by Trevor (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:53pm

You can pick out plays for every QB where they benefit from great catches or runs after catch.

You can't say Brady's numbers have been inflated by plays like the Branch one, unless you also say they've been deflated by plays like the Brandon Tate drop of a perfect pass that would have been a 67 yard TD.

98
by nat :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 7:59pm

I did find that last pass of the first half--when his coaches were saying KNEEL--bush league and galling.

You've just totally destroyed any respect for you that anyone here had left.

Oh, wait. Never mind.

109
by RichC (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 10:10pm

"
It's probably more accurate to say that the Pats don't necessarily change their style of play unless they see a need to. If their game plan going in is an 8:1 pass ratio and it works and they are up by 21 in the 4th quarter, they don't change. (Correct me if I am wrong, Pats watchers.) That is not exactrly traditional and tends to gall some people
"

They've been much more run heavy in the second half of the blowouts, and significantly less effective because of that.

135
by dryheat :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 9:27am

Your last paragraph puzzles me, on one of two levels. Did you find it galling because you feel like they were running up the score in the first half? Should they not have thrown to a barely-covered receiver? If so, it's the first suggestion yet that scoring in the 1st half is running up the score.

Or did you find it galling that Brady ignored the coach's play call? Which I find curious because I believe Manning runs more audibles than any QB in the league, which I imagine you find to be the mark of an intelligent quarterback.

65
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:04pm

I dunno, Bobman. I have a hard time calling any attempt, no matter the score, to get another td in the first half bush league. Yeah, the coaches called for a kneel, but I'd imagine they did not do so with the expectation that the Bears would decide to not cover a forward pass. I'll concede that it may be possible to run up the score in a pro game, but until a team is running fake kicks with five minutes to go while ahead by 30 points, I'm hesitant to say it happened.

It really isn't all that important, I guess, whether a team tries to score 40, or score 60.

72
by RickD :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:13pm

I find it amazing that we've gone in two weeks from discussing how no lead for the Patriots could be considered safe, considering how mediocre their defense is, to talking about "padding the score", complete with Bobman wheeling out the same pejorative nonsense he was saying three years ago, complete with personal attacks on the character of Bill Belichick.

104
by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 8:30pm

+1 for logic

105
by Eddo :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 9:08pm

I don't recall Bobman specifically ranting about running up the score in 2007. Yeah, he's the most high-profile Colts fan who posts here, but he's usually pretty even-tempered.

In this instance, yeah, he's wrong. The running-up-the-score talk is just as annoying as it was in 2007. I will caution that your repeated attacks of Bobman are inching to that territory, too, though. And I generally have enjoyed your other posts, RickD.

I'm a Bears fan who has zero problem with the Patriots, or any team, "running up the score".

EDIT: I googled for Bobman's comments with regards to the 2007 Patriots and running up the score. I don't claim this is comprehensive, but I didn't see any whining about it then. In fact, this comment suggest otherwise:

2007-10-24: "James, you're right. I'm a Colt fan with minimal excess love for NE, and I thought TMQ had just stepped over the edge. He went from writing amusing pieces peppered with some stats, some appreciation of FO, some claim to being above the fray (while also dropping his moralizations, and various pet peeve rants) to a 100% goofy opinion piece and he assumes everyone else agrees with him." (Comment #108, referring to a TMQ article criticizing the Patriots.)

This comment is a little more negative, though he's mostly just wishing the Patriots would admit they wanted to score as much as possible:

2010-11-21: "It is a moot point. They are the best. Possibly of all time. I'd just like a litle honesty, which we won't see until the memoirs get published in 15 years or so. I'm hoping for a "Scott McClellan moment" since he's in the news today--the first insider book that comes out and trumpets the "of course we were running up the score!" angle will sell like hotcakes, much better than the one that offers up the standard cliches. Then of course we'll have to take that with a grain of salt too, because he's washed up and just trying to sell books." (Comment #104.)

And here, he's again just asking for honesty. And in fact, he appears to encourage scoring as much as you can:

2007-10-22: "Puh-leeze. It's considered shabby to say "we're going for all the records there are while we can," but they are and it's, well, a little tacky, but life is short and these kinds of things don't come around too often (as in never before), so you might as well dive in while you can.
Face it, we'd all like to have these problems. Going 16-0 is cool, 19-0 cooler. Doing it with 60 TD passes, 88 team TDs, 5,500 yds passing, an average pt differential of 21, etc, is even cooler. The only thing they're missing is 150 rushing yards a game and 4 defensive sacks or INTs a game. I guess there's always next year to work on those."
(Comment #24.)

------

OK, I've exhausted even my downtime now. I can't believe I actually went searching.

74
by Lyford (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:14pm

I did find that last pass of the first half--when his coaches were saying KNEEL--bush league and galling.

Good lord, why? It's still the first freakin' half! Why in God's name should the Patriots refrain from taking something that the defense is giving them?

As a Colts fan, I would be ashamed if Manning did that, and I would point out to my kids that is NOT how you should play the game.

And again I ask, why?

If they'd been down on the Bears' 10 yard line with 5 seconds left, would you still contend that it was "bush league and galling" to throw for the end zone? If so, why? If not, why is it "bush league and galling" to throw from their own 41? They didn't even run a trick play - no statue of liberty or hook and lateral or double reverse - just a straight pass play. All the Bears had to do was prevent them from going 59 yards on the play. A prevent can be frustrating, but usually prevents 60 yard completions. How is it the Patriots' fault that the Bears didn't run one? What obligation could the Patriots possibly have not run a play there that they thought would work?

76
by RickD :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:16pm

It's a New Rule.

Tom Brady isn't allowed to pass to an open receiver.

88
by PatsFan :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:37pm

Another Polian-created rule, no doubt :)

78
by ScottB (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:17pm

Flynn only threw one pick in the game, you might want to re-check your stats on Driver.

89
by Dave :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:40pm

What a shockingly bad week for QB play when Kerry Collins can come in third in DYAR, and I, having watched him play poorly, can't find a single QB below him that I'd argue should've ranked higher.

92
by K (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:57pm

I couldn't believe 7 QBs had worse games than Tarvaris Jackson

97
by AnonymousYo (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 7:43pm

I'm a little surprised that Ryan Torrain's 24 carries for 172 didn't make the top five, but not seriously. After all, while he was running well the Redskins we're still settling for (missed) field goals, and he pretty much disappeared in the second half.

99
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 8:01pm

They came in huge chunks, and yeah, he vanished in the second half. Add to that opponent adjustments in that Tampa's run D isn't exactly great and that was probably enough to bump him down just enough.

110
by Dr. Chomsky Hierarchy (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 11:17pm

(An interception thrown into the end zone and promptly returned for a touchdown would have to be the most damaging context-free play, since it would be a swing of up to 14 points; obviously, a game-clinching interception like Matt Schaub's pass on Monday night or a holding penalty in the end zone in overtime would qualify as the absolute worst.)

As far as context-sensitive play evaluation goes (ignoring the DVOAesque theory of treating interception return results as non-predictive events), there is a spectrum of "absolute worst" plays. Even worse than throwing a pick-six from second-and-10 on one's own 9-yard line in overtime was throwing a pick-six from one's own 35-yard line in overtime (click my alias for link). I'm sure there are a few (but only a few) even worse plays out there.

111
by bema03 :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 12:34am

Trying to define what a blowout is is difficult, as it should probably somehow take into account both the losing team's offense's ability to score often and quickly, and the winning team's defense's penchant for giving up scores often and quickly. The Patriots were ahead of the Colts by 17 points with 8 minutes left in the game, and ended up being lucky to come away with a win. That was a blowout?

And as an earlier commenter wrote, Brady has had an above-average number of pass attempts in so-called blowout situations because the Patriots have gotten big leads early.

To me it's about the eye test. Was Brady accumulating a lot of garbage time stats in 2007? Looked like it to me. This year? Nah.

126
by t.d. :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 3:44am

I don't think people object to dvoa's estimation of Vick/the Eagles. I think it's one writer's commentary that they find dismissive.

134
by fongs2 :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 9:22am

Blowout or no blowout, the Patriots stay the same. Basically, they have a ball control offense that is predicated on Brady passing 60% of the time. It's skewed toward passing because Brady is incredibly accurate AND doesn't turn the ball over.

If you are up by three scores in the third quarter, are you really going to put Hoyer in? One pick-six and you'd have demoralized your team and put the game back into the balance! One three and out and your young defense might start getting exposed.

All those 'blowout' games that Brady couldn't sustain a drive ended up as three and outs came to bite them in the end. Basically they couldn't sustain a drive BECAUSE they changed their game plan with such a large lead. You can be sure that Belichek learned his lesson and will stick with what's working until the game is WELL out of hand.

141
by RichC (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 10:38am

"Blowout or no blowout, the Patriots stay the same. Basically, they have a ball control offense that is predicated on Brady passing 60% of the time. It's skewed toward passing because Brady is incredibly accurate AND doesn't turn the ball over."

Except that they don't. They still pass quite a bit, but they run a whole lot more in the second half of these games then they do in the first.

The big 'problem' is that their 'ball controll kill the clock' offense, while not as effective as the offense in the first half, is still good enough to put points on the board.

148
by Nathan :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 11:26am

Yeah, they run twice and then throw if it's 3rd and 3 or more to extend the drive. I don't see what the problem is, except for the risk of injury to Brady.

157
by Safety First (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 12:50pm

You know, I personally had always thought "garbage time yards" referred to instances when the team on the _losing_ end of a blowout started putting up some yards and points on a fourth quarter prevent defense. In other words, it's a way for a bad QB (or a bad offense) to look a little better because during the last 4 minutes of the game, the other team - up by 30 points or so - backed off and let them score once.

You can't really apply the same argument to the team on the _winning_ end of a blowout unless you also specify that the losers - e.g. the Bears vs. the Pats - took out their first team defense and basically started collectively pulling a Haynesworth and taking three-second naps during plays some time during the third quarter. Until that happens, it's first team offense on first team defense, the stats from which match-up should "count" irrespective of whether the point differential is at 7 or at 28. From the standpoint of sound statistics it should count, at any rate, unless someone can come up with an objective measure of when the losing team in a blowout "stops trying" (other than pulling the starters).

Accordingly, I think the entire underlying premise for this article is way, way off. You count Brady's stats against all first team defenses he's played thus far, blowout or not (subject to the "Haynesworth Condition"), and then if you want to do a "strength of schedule" adjustment to the formula to get to some sort of a "weighted" performance rating - ok, but that's a separate statistical calculation which merits its own discussion.

Now - alternatively, you could run a study to see how many teams that won blowouts (e.g. by 20 points or more) continue to score in the fourth quarter, let's say (because that's a more objective way of looking at it than, say, run vs. pass plays - what if your entire gameplan had been run-run-run from the first quarter onwards?), and how much they score relative to Q1-Q3 (e.g. 3 points to 30 points or 15 points to 20 points), and has that varied over time/across different conferences/however you want to break it down. But again, this has not a lot to do with what the article - I think - is attempting to accomplish, and potentially requires a different statistical model as well. Plus I'm not sure what predictive properties such a study would have, since I'm _guessing_ you'd end up with team-specific correlations (e.g. this team in this season will likely put up another X points in the fourth quarter when leading by Y points at halftime) which don't mean much in terms of forecasting next year's season record and playoff chances.

Insofar as the concept of any team running up the score, ever - as long as the opposition keeps the starters in, and those starters aren't sitting on the turf and/or playing touch/flag football, why the hell would you expect the other team to suddenly "back off for the sake of sportsmanship"? [Compare and contrast with line play on kneel-downs - generally, everyone knows that it's the last play of the game and so you don't clobber your guy over the head with your forearm on the snap. That - I get. Changing playcalling from pass to run with 10 minutes left in the game because the other guy is losing by "too many points" - that, I don't get.] _Can_ you back off? Yes, if that's your pleasure. That's like saying some defenses like to go prevent and sit on a lead (and, not infrequently, lose that lead as a result), while others keep blitzing to the very end even with a huge lead - it's the coaching staff's choice. _Should_ you back off (whether on offense or on defense)? Why? Because it's morally right to do so all of a sudden? Did the other team stop tackling your guys all of a sudden? Are they putting fourth string rookies in, making this a de-facto preseason scrimmage? Have there never been games in the NFL where weird stuff happens and someone comes back from a 28 point deficit in the fourth quarter (or score two touchdowns in the last two minutes of the game)?

So the whole discussion of "Brady [or whoever] running up the score" is a bit nonsensical to me. You can talk about playing aggressively or conservatively (Martyball vs. whatever else), but complaining about "going for it on fourth down instead of kicking a field goal" - again, not dissimilar from complaints about "blitzing rather than dropping into quarters coverage and riding the game out" on the defensive side of the ball - is basically on the slippery slope to declaring that "once any team is up by 30 points, the game is called". Ok, that works in boxing - sometimes - when the ref has to choose between stopping the fight and watching a guy literally get killed; but football, starters on starters? Give me a break...

176
by Joseph :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 1:14pm

How about looking at the play clock?
If Team A is fairly ahead in the 2nd half, and there are consistently 25 to 30 secs in between plays, then they may be padding stats somewhat against a weaker opponent. If there are more than 35 secs between plays, then they're trying to burn clock (to some extent, at least). I've got NO problem whatsoever if you're throwing WR screens, TE drags, etc. to keep the chains and clocks moving, and then snapping the ball with 2 or 3 secs. left on the play clock. That's what teams call their 4 minute offense. Let's face it, the Eagles and McCoy gashing the Cowboys D for 10 to 12 yd gains every play doesn't happen that often.

Regarding the Brady to Branch TD at the end of the 1st half: I mentioned in Audibles, and will repeat here: that one is all on the Bears and their coaches, and their total lack of situational awareness. I spent the 1st couple of minutes of halftime teaching my 8 yr old the right thing to do in that situation. As a CB, I made a similar mistake in HS (on a 4th down, not end of half) and I was justifiably chastised. [Thankfully, we were a small HS, I played both ways, and was able to stay away from the coach enough. After a minute, he's calling plays, and refocused on the game. But I never forgot it. My worst play ever, and not even close.]

181
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