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» Scramble for the Ball: Quarter Pole Projections

Mike and Tom weigh the chances of this year's class of receivers, running backs and tight ends who are on pace to break the magical 1,000-yard mark for the first time.

02 Nov 2010

Week 8 Quick Reads

by Vince Verhei

Philip Rivers' numbers against Tennessee yesterday were good, but not dominant: 75 percent completion rate, 8.5 yards per attempt, two touchdowns, one interception.

Compare that to what David Garrard did against the Cowboys: 81 percent completion rate, 12.4 yards per attempt, four touchdowns, no interceptions. Sure looks like Garrard played the better game.

In fact, several other passers look better than Rivers on the surface – Vince Young, Jason Campbell, Josh Freeman, and Troy Smith each averaged at least 10 yards per pass, and combined for six touchdown passes with no interceptions. So why does Rivers' game find itself at the top of our rankings?

Rivers' position atop the quarterback heap this week is a testament to the value of opponent adjustments. Garrard was just the latest in a long line of passers to scorch the Cowboys secondary for big numbers, while Rivers was playing against a Titans defense that led the NFL in both interceptions and sacks going into yesterday's action.

Strength of schedule plays an enormous role over the course of an NFL season, let alone on one Sunday afternoon. Rivers and Garrard may have literally been playing on level fields, but they were not playing anything close to level opposition.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
1.
Philip Rivers SD
27/36
305
2
1
173
176
-3
Rivers was good on first downs, completing 9-of-11 passes for 118 yards. He was miserable on second downs, averaging 3.4 yards per pass with more interceptions (one) than first downs (zero). And he was a machine on third downs, completing 10-of-12 passes for 143 yards, with all 10 completions producing a new set of downs (he was also sacked once on third down).
2.
Vince Young TEN
10/21
253
2
0
166
165
1
This is one of the best games you'll ever see by a quarterback who missed on half his passes. Nine of Young's ten completions were first downs or touchdowns, and the tenth was a seven-yard screen pass on second-and-15. He completed four of ten deep passes for 157 yards, and another throw netted a 27-yard pass interference penalty.
3.
David Garrard JAC
17/21
260
4
0
138
134
4
Garrard took what the Cowboys' defense gave him, and there was a lot to be taken. He went 14-of-16 on short passes for 156 yards. Only two of those 14 completions failed to pick up successful yardage.
4.
Jason Campbell OAK
15/27
310
2
0
118
125
-7
Campbell ranked 30th in DYAR in Week 1 and 29th in Week 2 before being benched for Bruce Gradkowski. He made a relief appearance for Gradkowski in Week 5, finishing 11th, then he was 30th again in Week 6. And then some kind of magic switch was flipped and Campbell went to the other extreme, ranking fourth in Weeks 7 and 8. He has also eliminated turnovers, with no fumbles or interceptions the past two games after 10 combined mistakes in Weeks 1-6.
5.
Josh Freeman TB
18/25
278
1
0
118
108
9
Go deep, young man: On passes at least 15 yards downfield, Freeman went 4-of-4 for 151 yards. That makes up for the fact that he converted only one third down in eight dropbacks, six of them third-and-9 or less.
6.
Tom Brady NE
16/27
240
1
0
101
121
-20
Moss, schmoss. In Weeks 1-4, when Randy Moss was on the Patriots, Brady completed five-of-16 deep passes for 110 yards. Since then, he's completed 7-of-13 for 220 yards, and also drawn a 29-yard pass interference call on another throw.
7.
Drew Brees NO
34/44
305
2
1
101
101
0
If we only counted passes to wide recevers, Brees would have finished second this week behind Rivers. He went 22-of-27 for 238 yards to Marques Colston, Lance Moore, and company. He was much less successful when throwing to running backs (5-of-8 for 22 yards) or tight ends (7-of-9 for 45 yards).
8.
Sam Bradford STL
25/32
191
2
0
86
91
-5
Bradford has 11 passing touchdowns in the first eight games of his rookie season. That ties him with Peyton Manning, Dan Marino, and Ben Roethlisberger and puts him one score behind Mark Rypien for the best such start to a career since the 1970 merger with the AFL. Now consider the receivers these rookies were targeting. Rypien had Art Monk, Ricky Sanders, and Gary Clark; Manning had Marshall Faulk and Marvin Harrison; Marino had Mark Duper and Nat Moore; Roethlisberger had Hines Ward, Antwaan Randle El, and Plaxico Burress. Bradford is chasing records with Danny Amendola and Mark Clayton (non-Marks Brother version) as his primary targets. The kid is obviously something special.
9.
Troy Smith SF
12/19
196
1
0
84
99
-15
Smith brought the deep ball to the San Francisco offense, picking up four different 20-yard plays in his 12 completions. (Alex Smith has only 16 20-yard plays in his 143 completions this season.) He generally kept the ball out of danger - the Broncos finished with no interceptions and only one pass defensed. We've seen what Alex Smith has to offer in his 47 starts, but this was just the third start for Troy Smith. Isn't it time to find out what he can do?
10.
Chad Henne MIA
24/37
217
0
1
77
77
0
Henne was sixth in value this week outside the Red Zone, but once Miami crossed the 20, he was ahead of only Matt Hasselbeck (who took two Red Zone sacks) and Derek Anderson (who threw a Red Zone pick). Henne managed to avoid giving up the ball or going backwards, but 2-for-6 for seven yards (with zero successful completions) is about as impotent as you can get.
11.
Peyton Manning IND
26/45
268
2
0
74
69
4
Manning completed 57.8 percent of his passes last night, averaging 6.0 yards per attempt. That's by far the worst any quarterback has performed against Houston in either metric this season. Manning was redeemed somewhat with two touchdowns and no interceptions, but this was not a particularly good game.
12.
Brett Favre MIN
24/32
259
0
1
46
46
0
It was a tale of two fields for Favre. On the Vikings' half of the field, he went 12-for-13 for 140 yards, and seventh in DYAR. Once the Vikings crossed midfield, he went 10-for-19 for 119 yards, and 23rd in DYAR
13.
Kyle Orton DEN
28/39
369
1
1
39
52
-13
After Sunday's game in London, 49ers coach Mike Singletary said he was mostly concerned with stopping Denver's league-worst rushing attack. That strategy allowed Orton to run wild on first down, going 15-for-20 for 234 yards. On second and third downs, when the 49ers apparently defended the pass, He was just 13-for-20 for 135 yards, plus four sacks and an interception.
14.
Aaron Rodgers GB
15/34
170
0
0
19
23
-4
If you were expecting massive opponent adjustments, guess again -- the Jets' pass defense has been nothing special this year. They're allowing a league-low 48.8 percent completion rate, but only Seattle is surrendering more yards per completion, and the Jets have only five interceptions on the year. On third down, Rodgers went just 4-for-11 for 33 yards picking up only two first downs. (He had one more third-down conversion on a 10-yard pass interference penalty.)
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
15.
Matt Stafford DET
26/45
212
4
1
17
17
0
First half: 8-of-18, 72 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception. Second half: 18-for-27, 140 yards, 3 touchdowns, no interceptions. That's still just 5.2 yards per attempt, but it was a good version of dink-and-dunk -- 14 of those 18 completions met DVOA's standards for success.
16.
Matt Cassel KC
14/24
152
1
0
-3
-2
0
Cassel was at his best in overtime, going 4-for-6 for 61 yards and four first downs. Of course, the Chiefs wouldn't have needed overtime if he had played better in the second half, when he went 3-of-5 for 20 yards and no first downs. He was also sacked twice.
17.
Kerry Collins TEN
8/15
52
0
0
-7
-7
0
All of Collins' passes came down by 8 points in the fourth quarter. This is a time for heroism and valor. Instead Collins played timidly. He completed barely half his passes, and only half of those completions were successful, with none longer than 17 yards.
18.
Derek Anderson ARI
16/24
234
1
2
-11
-11
0
Anderson's only good year came in 2007, when he realized he would never be an efficient, move-the-chains passer, so he may as well throw deep with abandon and try to win with big plays. That was the case here. Anderson completed 5-of-8 deep passes for 155 yards, but on short passeshe was only 11-for-16 (virtually the same percentage) for 79 yards.
19.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
17/28
196
0
1
-12
-12
0
The Saints defense is designed to play with a lead, but Roethlisberger actually played better once the Steelers fell behind. With the lead or the score tied, he was 8-of-16 for 72 yards with a couple of sacks. Once New Orleans jumped in front, he was 9-of-12 for 124 yards and just one sack. He was unable to pull off the comeback because he threw one interception, and a receiver fumbled one of his passes away.
20.
Carson Palmer CIN
17/38
156
2
1
-24
-24
1
Here's the scary thing about Palmer's numbers: His biggest play of the day, a 37-yard touchdown to Terrell Owens, actually hit a Miami defender in the chest and should have been intercepted. Palmer had 33 DYAR on that play; take it away from him and he's down below the Max Halls of the world. And if the pass had in fact been picked off, Palmer would almost certainly be the lowest ranked QB of the week.
21.
Mark Sanchez NYJ
16/38
254
0
2
-34
-39
6
We'll have more on this in Any Given Sunday, but Sanchez's completion percentage and yards per attempt are virtually unchanged since his rookie season. His interceptions are way down, but his passes defensed are way up. In other words, he's been finding open defenders for interceptions, but those defenders have been dropping the ball -- until now.
22.
Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF
25/48
223
1
1
-42
-48
6
Fitzpatrick's DVOA was -79.7% in the first quarter, -47.5% in the second, 23.4% in the third, 6.8% in the fourth, and -23.5% in overtime. So there's the best way use him: Put it off for as long as you can, and then as soon as he has any success, quit while you're ahead.
23.
Matt Schaub HOU
22/37
201
1
1
-50
-51
2
Schaub-to-Andre Johnson: 7-of-10 for 106 yards. Schaub-to-everyone else: 15-of-28 (53.6 percent) for 95 yards (3.4 yards per attempt.)
24.
Donovan McNabb WAS
17/30
210
1
1
-58
-64
6
The Lions sacked McNabb six times and put him on the turf another half-dozen plays. The vast majority of those hits were made by Lions linemen, not linebackers or defensive backs. So the problem isn't that McNabb was befuddled or confused by complex blitzes - the Detroit front four simply manhandled the Redskins offensive line, and there was nothing McNabb or any other quarterback could have done about it.
25.
Max Hall ARI
8/16
71
1
2
-75
-65
-10
Short passes are supposed to be safe, low-risk throws. Not for Max Hall, whose two pick-sixes were thrown a combined 11 yards past the line of scrimmage. Actually, for Max Hall those are deep throws -- 10 of his 16 passes were thrown within six yards of the line of scrimmage.
26.
Jon Kitna DAL
34/49
379
1
4
-87
-88
1
Here's one where game film trumps our numbers -- all three of Kitna's picks hit his receivers in the hands, but DVOA doesn't know that. We can try to measure the value of the plays Kitna did make by removing everyone's interceptions. If we do that, Kitna's DYAR shoots up to 139 and he would be fourth in the rankings -- and, oddly, he would still be one spot ahead of Matt Moore.
27.
Matt Moore CAR
23/37
195
1
3
-95
-95
0
The Panthers were actually in the game against the Rams, down seven points in the third quarter. Moore then had this sequence of plays: incompletion, sack on third down, pass to Steve Smith for -2 yards on third down (worse, Smith fumbled on the play and the Rams recovered), incompletion, interception, incompletion, sack and fumble (recovered). Then he caught fire, completing 10 of his next 13 passes for 98 yards, but it was too little, too late.
28.
Matt Hasselbeck SEA
13/32
160
0
1
-113
-113
0
This was a total team effort. Seattle's hodge-podge, duct-tape-and-bailing-wire offensive line had no cohesion, surrendering eight sacks and seven more quarterback hits. Meanwhile, Nnamdi Asomugha and crew were obliterating Seattle wide receivers with press coverage. Golden Tate, Mike Williams, Deon Butler, and Ben Obamanu combined for five catches and 72 yards on 20 targets.


Five most valuable running backs
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Jamaal Charles KC
177
0
61
0
88
57
31
Charles was ridiculously effective on first downs, averaging 11.1 yards on 12 carries, including nine gains of six yards or more. He also led the team with four catches and 61 yards in only five targets, and all four catches resulted in first downs.
2.
Arian Foster HOU
102
1
65
0
74
41
33
Holy garbage time, Batman! Foster had five receptions for 40 yards on the Texans' final pointless drive. He was nigh-dominant when he got the ball in the early portion of the game, gaining successful yards on 73 percent of his carries. Remarkably, he had only one third-down carry in the game, as the Texans went 3-for-11 on third downs. He also had only eight first-half carries, while Matt Schaub had 17 first-half dropbacks. The Colts didn't play Foster any better than they played him in Week 1 -- they're just lucky that Gary Kubiak forgot about him.
3.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis NE
112
2
11
0
71
67
4
The Williams Wall has, apparently, fallen. Or at least we know they can get tired. Nine of Green-Ellis' carries came with a lead in the fourth quarter. He gained 71 yards, and seven of those carries were successful.
4.
Adrian Peterson MIN
92
1
50
0
51
25
25
Peterson averaged 5.8 yards per carry up the middle, with an 83 percent Success Rate. Of course, he only ran up the middle six times. It's almost like the people in charge of the Vikings don't know what they're doing.
5.
Michael Bush OAK
51
1
55
0
39
14
25
This one's a fluke. All of Bush's value came from his receiving, and his receiving statline consists of one "target" that hit a wide receiver in the hands and bounced 10 yards sideways into Bush's mitts. He won't be on this list next week.


Least valuable running back
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Fred Jackson BUF
64
0
-1
0
-31
11
-42
How does a running back get -42 receiving DYAR? Part of it is an error in the gamebook where Jackson is listed as the intended receiver on a sack, and is thus "credited" with a 12-yard loss on third down. Even if we ignore that, though, he was still the target of eight passes, catching three of them for 11 yards, with the only success a 5-yard gain on first-and-10. These all came within one yard of the line of scrimmage. This is the state of the Buffalo offense -- they can't even check down correctly anymore.


Five most valuable wide receivers and tight ends
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Mike Sims-Walker JAC
8
10
153
19.1
1
67
All eight of Sims-Walker's receptions were either a first down or touchdown.
2.
Steve Breaston ARI
8
11
147
18.4
0
62
Breaston was Derek Anderson's preferred long-ball target, catching three of four deep balls from Anderson for 106 yards.
3.
Antonio Gates SD
5
7
123
24.6
1
56
The first two passes to Gates were incomplete. He caught everything after that, with every catch a first down or touchdown, including three third-down conversions and a 48-yarder.
4.
Calvin Johnson DET
9
15
101
11.2
3
50
Though none of Johnson's catches gained more than 15 yards, seven of them produced a first down or touchdown, and the others were a nine-yard gain on second-and-10 and a 12-yarder on second-and-15. He had two other catches for 19 yards apiece wiped out on holding penalties.
5.
Andre Johnson HOU
7
10
106
15.1
1
41
Arian Foster gets only one third-down carry, and Andre Johnson gets only two third-down targets. And you wonder why Houston lost.


Least valuable wide receiver or tight end
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Jacoby Jones HOU
2
5
6
3.0
0
-48
It's never good when you have more fumbles (one) than successful completions (zero). Jones also muffed a punt return, which is not accounted for here. A lousy night all around.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 02 Nov 2010

67 comments, Last at 05 Nov 2010, 1:20pm by Alex51

Comments

1
by Hixxinsoulard (not verified) :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 2:04pm

I wish Sam Bradford still had Mark Clayton. The kid has been relatively amazing and a more-than-huge upgrade over Bulger.

30
by Dean :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 3:52pm

The scary thing isn't how good Bradford's looked. Because at times he's made mistakes and looked like a rookie. But man the potential is exciting. Bradford isn't going to be paying for beers (or anything else) at Johnny's any time soon.

The really scary part is that he's doing it throwing to the likes of Brandon Gibson and Danny Amendola.

For that reason alone, I'd be sorely tempted to put in a waiver claim on Moss if I were Devaney and Spags.

2
by B :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 2:06pm

Wow. Jason Campbell really is Jim Plunkett.
Also, in fairness to Manning, the Colts receivers had a lot of drops.

21
by Dave :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 3:09pm

Not really any more than usual. The two to start the game are all I remember. And one by Wayne I guess.

More disturbing to me than the low YPA was the horrid pass protection and penalties.

I was actually amazed by how much better Houston's coverage was. Not having Clark or Collie helped but they played pretty tight on everyone. Big improvement for them over their bye. Too bad for them their coach is a moron.

(Great routes by Tamme on his TD drive, btw. Very Clark-like.)

49
by Bobman :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 6:29pm

Colts RT Ryan Diem had two or three flags on one series (false start, hold, maybe another false start?)--I was waiting for Gruden to say something like "he's going for the trifecta" (clipping) or "the grand slam" (clip, facemask).

I thought Manning was a bit off last night--some sailed high, some wobbled low. I'd say there were about 4 legit drops and at least as many balls that were "off", with the rest being just typical miscues (QB/receiver not on the same page, or good D). His main contribution was in play-calling. The TV crew did a nice job of replaying one Hart run when Manning IDed the likely blitz corridor between the RT and TE, and changed the play to a left-wide run on which Hart picked up 6-8 yards.

3
by B :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 2:07pm

Edit: Squirrel!

4
by ammek :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 2:07pm

So Palmer narrowly missed going from first to last in one week. Has anyone managed that?

After watching the Ravens-Bills game I don't think the Buffalo offense is as bad as you half-jokingly make out. Who would have been the worst running back in DYAR if the gamebook had been correct? Ryan Torain?

8
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 2:13pm

It would have been very close between Jackson and Marshawn Lynch -- nine carries, seven yards, one successful run (a 7-yard run on second-and-3), four negative-yardage runs, against a subpar run defense. Yes, that means Seattle would have had the worst quarterback and the worst running back.

61
by ammek :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 5:43am

Ted Thompson does another little jig in his office.

5
by andrew :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 2:09pm

"It's almost like the people in charge of the Viking don't know what they're doing."

Almost?

Re: Favre's great success on his own half of the field and lack of it on the Patriot's half.... maybe Moss did stretch the field, but only when there was enough field to stretch?

6
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 2:09pm

I know Aaron needs to keep the formulas propietary, but I'd love to be able to play with the numbers. For instance, how do Brady and Favre's positions change, if Brady's horrible throw gets intercepted, instead of going through the defenders hands for a 32 yard gain to the Vikings 11, while the Patriots' defender doesn't make a great play to take the ball out of Harvin's hands on Favre's bad throw at the Patriots 26.

I really think charting can give us better insight into qb performance, by measuring db drops of what should be routine interceptions, and when a db makes a great catch, although the latter may be way too subjective.

9
by Arkaein :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 2:15pm

Remember that Harvin had two deep targets that basically canceled each other out.

Besides the one that Harvin bobbled right into the DB's hands, there was also the one right to the DB that Harvin had to reach around (close to OPI) to break up.

I'd say that Favre earned as many INTs as he actually threw, just on different plays.

12
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 2:25pm

Yeah, the deep throw to Harvin that Harvin broke up would not have had huge effect if it had been intercepted; it essentially would have been a forty yard punt, which the Vikings did two plays later anyways, after a Favre completion short of a first down. Now, if the Patriots defender had tipped into the air, without interference from Harvin, and then Harvin had caught it for a forty yard gain, then it would have had the effect of Brady's completion to the Vikings 11.

15
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 2:33pm

Or just leave Favre out of it. If Brady's day becomes 14 for 26, for about 200 yards, with an interception, after converting the 32 yard gain into an int, and taking away the short completion that followed the 32 yard gain, what happens to his advanced stats? I know this is not entirely right, either, because absent the lead, the Patriots throw the ball a lot more on their last possession, but it would be interesting to look at.

32
by BSR :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 4:19pm

I think it is a horrible idea because it makes it way too subjective. How do you know it is the QBs fault and not the WRs? Maybe the WR took the wrong route to the ball and the DB made a good play vs the QB making a poor throw. Look at last years superbowl for instance where every Indy homer claims that the pick 6 was Waynes fault and not Mannings. Sometimes it very well could be the WR's fault but there is no way of knowing without know the specific reads and routes.

40
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 5:16pm

Counting db drops is no more subjective than counting wr drops, which the charting project does. We already have interceptions counted, without knowing who is at fault. I understand that qb stats don't necessarily really measure qb performance, and counting db drops doesn't change that at all; all we would be doing is adjusting further for defensive performance.

41
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 5:28pm

The charting project does count dropped interceptions, as well as interceptions that were first "dropped" by an offensive player. But we won't have that data until the end of the year.

45
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 5:38pm

Don't mind me; I'm just being ignorant while I avoid work!

46
by tuluse :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 5:41pm

What's the horrible idea? Will Allen isn't saying we should pretend the interception actually happened, he is just curious what the advanced stats say about his performance if he had thrown a pick there.

50
by BSR :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 6:54pm

Because its a judgment of performance and not an actual event. When does something become a dropped interception? Maybe one charter would view it as an interception while another wouldn't. There isn't a standard and therefore a bad idea.

52
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 8:10pm

So charting is a horrible idea?

53
by countertorque :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 8:11pm

If a pass hits a defender first, it should be recorded as a negative play, no matter what happens next. That's not a judgment call and it would improve the advanced stats.

58
by tuluse :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 11:37pm

So you only want to judge outcome and not process?

66
by BSR :: Fri, 11/05/2010 - 11:16am

To answer all three of you together, yes its a horrible idea as how can you judge process when you really don't even know the process. How do you know if the WR ran the wrong route or not? Where is the cut off between a bad throw by a QB and a great play by a DB? There are no solutions to these questions and therefore its less about data and more about opinion. The information from charting may be interesting but it will have a large margin for error and will be only as good as the charter.

67
by Alex51 :: Fri, 11/05/2010 - 1:20pm

How do you know if the WR ran the wrong route or not? Where is the cut off between a bad throw by a QB and a great play by a DB?

You could ask the exact same questions about actual interceptions, and they would be just as impossible to answer. But you apparently don't have a problem with using interceptions, so why do you feel differently about dropped interceptions?

7
by Brent Hutto (not verified) :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 2:13pm

It felt obvious watching the game that from the very beginning Kubiak was making a huge mistake trying to win against the Colts with something other than Foster-Foster-Foster-playaction-Foster as a strategy. Right up until the pick-six and 14-0 on the scoreboard it would have made perfect sense to revert back to what had worked in Week 1 and forget about trying to double-cross Indy by passing.

But here's an interesting question, perhaps. Did it still make sense when starting behind by two touchdowns in what was presumed to be a track meet with Manning and his targets-of-the-week? Or could Kubiak have committed to the running game at that juncture and still made up for the first quarter's lost ground?

Bonus question...is the answer to this influenced at all by the fact that down by two scores and abandoning the run lets Mathis and Freeney (and Sessions!) tee off on your quarterback just like their defense is designed to do?

I think the answers are that he should have switched to the running game any time up until the middle of the third quarter and yes especially so given the devastation the Colts defensive personnel can wreck on a passing game that is playing catchup.

11
by RickD :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 2:21pm


Did it still make sense when starting behind by two touchdowns in what was presumed to be a track meet with Manning and his targets-of-the-week?

Yes. Haven't we learned that the way to beat the Colts is to keep their offense off the field? Even if you're down by 2 touchdowns, when you have a back like Foster who can consistently gain yards on the ground, you use him!

Getting into a "track meet" with the Colts is silly, unless you have the 2007 Patriots or 2009 Saints. Terrible game plan by Kubiak.

44
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 5:36pm

"Yes. Haven't we learned that the way to beat the Colts is to keep their offense off the field?"

Shorten the game, not keep their offense of the field. Gaining first downs any way you can keeps them off the field, but when you've got a team with a great offense, like the Colts, you want to shorten the game to minimize the effect it has.

But I don't agree that Houston was doing anything different this game. In the first game, Houston had a 3 point lead at the half, and *that's* when they had the Foster-Foster-Foster-Slaton-Slaton-... drive. They passed just about as much as they ran in the first half in both games. But in the second game, instead of having a 3 point lead (which they got half of from a long punt return and a deep pass interference penalty) they were *losing* by 21 points.

That's when they first touched the ball in the second half. Down 21 points. To Peyton Manning and the Colts. And on the next drive, they *still* went run, run, run, play-action, etc. And scored a touchdown, putting them down 14. Then Manning and the Colts chewed up 6 minutes and made it a 3-possession game.

Down 3 possessions. Start of the 4th quarter. Yeah, at that point, it's time to go pass-happy.

23
by Dave :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 3:13pm

Oh, absolutely. There was no need to go pass-happy til the 4th quarter. Yet they started the game throwing. Then it became clear that the DL was having a great game and Brown was overmatched... and they kept throwing. Very very poorly.

It was perhaps the most stubborn refusal to use a brain that I've ever seen. Schaub was forced into looking bad in many cases, but he looked bad. He was getting hit. And Foster was getting 6 yards a carry and regularly getting to the third level untouched. And yet... pass pass pass. At one point in the 2nd quarter I believe they were actually getting double the yards per attempt rushing vs passing.

Great game for the Indy pass rush, certainly. But there's still really no reason to think that any patient and competently run offense can't walk up and down the field against them.

47
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 5:53pm

"Yet they started the game throwing."

They started off the first game passing, too.

"And yet... pass pass pass. At one point in the 2nd quarter I believe they were actually getting double the yards per attempt rushing vs passing."

Actually, the only drives that contained 3 successive passes in the first half were the first and the last. All the other ones were about balanced between running and passing, and in standard downs (S&P terminology), they were a little over 50% runs, which is exactly what they were in the first game.

The entire difference in Schaub's performance in the first game to the second game was basically one drive, when Schaub went 3-3 for 66 yards. In the other drives, he was struggling as well. So I'm not really sure, from Kubiak's perspective, that it would've made sense to back off from passing even more.

25
by Monkey Business (not verified) :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 3:31pm

The problem with sticking with the running game is that it's not fast enough. The Colts can march downfield and score faster than you can run it and score. If you're down by two TDs, there's no way you're gonna be able to just run run run run and make up for lost ground. What you're left with is doing 3 step drops and hoping your protection holds up long enough to get the ball off before the dynamic duo zeros in.

That, and Kubiak is a terrible coach.

26
by Arkaein :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 3:42pm

If you're only down two scores early in the second quarter it's ridiculous to think you don't have time to run the ball.

Two scores is not that big of a deficit. If you have the ball on offense, one TD drive makes it a one score game. Even if that drive takes 8 minutes, you're only one defensive stop and another successful drive from tying it up. Based on that amount of time, and assuming a few minutes on defense to get a stop, running the ball would be a viable option if it's working well even in the mid-3rd quarter.

Now if your defense can't stop the other team marching right down the field it really doesn't matter what the offense does, because it's impossible to win when trading TDs from a 14 point deficit. But with more than half the game left there is plenty of time to run any kind of offense.

35
by DEW (not verified) :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 4:34pm

And honestly, the Texans defense didn't do that bad a job against the Colts O, holding Manning, Wayne, and a cast of baling wire and duct tape to 23 points. The running game was working fine in gaining first downs, changing field position, and moving the Texans towards points whenever Kubiak remembered that he had it. As the husband of a Colts fan, I was basically cheering every time the Texans dropped back to pass.

And as far as the "it takes too long" argument goes, well...if the passing game doesn't produce points, then it doesn't matter how long it does or doesn't take.

10
by Led :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 2:16pm

"We'll have more on this in Any Given Sunday, but Sanchez's completion percentage and yards per attempt are virtually unchanged since his rookie season. His interceptions are way down, but his passes defensed are way up. In other words, he's been finding open defenders for interceptions, but those defenders have been dropping the ball -- until now."

This statement is more or less true until the last two words. The INTs on Sunday were fluke plays. On the Keller/Woodson play, in particular, the pass hit Keller in the chest. Sanchez had a fair amount of good luck earlier in the season so a bit of bad luck was inevitable, but the picks on Sunday were about bad luck not "finding open defenders for interceptions." To put Sanchez's numbers in context, one also needs to mention the dropped passes, of which there were between 6 and 9 depending on your definition. Sanchez actually played a decent game, particularly in the second half. Not great by any means, but decent.

16
by Arkaein :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 2:38pm

Seems like the two things balance each other out.

Before Sunday Sanchez had fewer INTs than could be expected from the throws he had made (good luck). On Sunday he had more INTs than would normally be expected (bad luck). In one game it looks flukey, but over the course of a full season these types of things will usually strike a fair balance. In this case it was unlikely that Sanchez could maintain his low INT percentage.

The dropped passes are a decent point as far as completion percentage goes.

51
by Led :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 8:00pm

Agree with all of that.

13
by Jimmy :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 2:31pm

The comment about Bradford not having any weapons is a little contrived. No he may not have a great receiver but he does have Jackson lined up behind him and that guy is a beast.

I will admit to having been way too critical of him at draft time, sorry Sam.

31
by Dean :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 3:55pm

A beast with 9 fingers right now. And a beast who is much closer to the end of his career than the beginning.

Not only that, a beast that just might go .500 and host a playoff game in January.

14
by drobviousso :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 2:31pm

Not having watched the game or looked at the box stats, I'm kind of surprised by Troy Smith's negative DYAR. He's pretty spry for QB, and Baltimore tinkered around a little bit with making him a wildcat QB.

17
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 2:40pm

The Williams Wall had no reason to be tired; they were hardly on the field in the first half, and not a lot more in the 3rd quarter. Pat Williams is simply done, I'm afraid. I'm not surprised, but I'm sorry to see it. The guy has been one my favorite players since he arrived from Buffalo.

22
by jmaron :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 3:13pm

Yup he sure looks done. The only time you ever see penetration from the tackles it's K Williams or one of the backups (Evans, Guion).

28
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 3:45pm

Kevin is still a dominant performer. Jimmy Kennedy appears to have so completely reverted to his early career that he can't get on the field. Jared Allen has been poor to mediocre, and Ray Edwards seems to have forgotten that he is playing for a signing bonus. This is the one aspect of the Vikings which has surprised me. I knew Pat Williams could go at any moment, but I expected both defensive ends to have good to great years.

18
by TayloreatsBrady (not verified) :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 2:58pm

Every week, no matter how well Henne plays, the quick reads commentary on him is negative.

19
by Joseph :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 3:00pm

Obviously we shall see what the season holds for the Saints once they get Bush & Thomas back (or at least Bush), but if Brees maintains his performance from SNF throwing to his WR against the STEELERS' D, the Saints will be hard to beat again. Much of Brees' struggles is tied to the fact that Betts & J. Jones don't know the offense & Brees' tendencies like Bush & Pierre Thomas. Not to mention, on several of his throws to RB's & TE's, it looked like those were plays where Bush/Thomas would have been the receiver. Both are shiftier & faster than Betts/Jones/D. Thomas/Shockey/et al. that have been catching those passes in the last couple of games.

48
by Humil (not verified) :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 6:11pm

Honestly, Bush is a mix-bag for me. As a Saints fan watching him closely for a few years now...I have come to terms with his value in diversifying formations to benefit others receivers and help mask the over-achievers on the line, despite seemingly mediocre stats (for the $). Dances too much and lacks truly outstanding vision to be a great back, but has improved some after all these years. Nonetheless he was not good at all in fielding punts (too many muffs and poor decisions, and again dances too much) and only slightly less bad in kick-off returns. Mostly likely having to do with needing open field and good blocking to be effective. Glad he hasn't been asked to do much of either this year (Roby clearly better fit for the jobs).

Thomas is shifty and has underrated vision (all the YAC on screen plays...that's something special). Betts'/Jones' unfamiliarity with system probably caused them to be an ineffectual blockers in the complex schemes, fillers for the time being anyhow. Ivory is a beast of a runner, though not yet a good blocker.

The most worrisome aspect is the OL; I've seen too many botched blocking assignments this year, whatever happened to our great unit last year? I now understand why Payton is ok with the $8M decoy... Stinchcombe get exposed more than a bit, Nicks has not been on par with his former self, Bushrod up-and-down for the foreseeable future. Brees' regression (if can be called that) is not that bad, still a bad-ass, fundamentally superb QB, but seems less careful and on-point than his own standards; opponents probably have really done homework and not as intimidated by him as last few years.

Impressed by the D's resilience, but must find another LB worth some salt, losing Fujita to CLE must compounded something awful with the disastrous loss, and loss to AZ was just shameful... that was a team-wide execution meltdown.

The dirty birds (kudos for the improvements, BTW) have little on the Saints, if we can just get back our parts to function properly. Mostly cupcakes until playoffs, so no more excuses!

20
by dub_rex (not verified) :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 3:05pm

I think Rivers's stats are even more impressive when you consider all three starting SD WRs weren't on the team when the season started, and two of them were brought up from the practice squad last week. He can't be operating with the full playbook with that WR corp.

24
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 3:25pm

Curious as to where LeGarrette Blount falls here, though I assume the fact that he was running against the less-than-impressive Cardinals dragged him down a bit. However, if DYAR factored in pure awesomeness, he'd have a big boost from that hurdle at the end of the game.

Josh Freeman last year in 10 games--18 INT, 10 fumbles.

Josh Freeman this year in 7 games--3 INT, zero fumbles.

While opponent adjustments certainly play a part in that, that is one seriously impressive improvement from year one to year two.

27
by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 3:45pm

Well, I'm sure his fumble didn't help.

43
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 5:34pm

Curious as to where LeGarrette Blount falls here, though I assume the fact that he was running against the less-than-impressive Cardinals dragged him down a bit. However, if DYAR factored in pure awesomeness, he'd have a big boost from that hurdle at the end of the game.

Ninth. The fumble hurt a lot, but it was a boom-and-bust day overall -- in 22 carries, he gained more than 3 yards just seven times (and one of those was the fumble).

54
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 8:43pm

Thanks. I remembered it better, it sucks when reality contradicts my optimism.

60
by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 1:32am

It's great to have some insight into the rest of the running back list. GIVE US MORE! Pretty please with sugar on top! Or, if you prefer to keep this stuff for premium subscribers then let us know that we get this for premium but please let us see more of your wonderful content.

29
by Kevin from Philly :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 3:48pm

Of course, you know you're risking total RaiderJoe retaliation by saying Michael Bush won't be on the list next week?

33
by onetime91 :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 4:28pm

Just because the sacks McNabb took were by the defensive linemen, then that means that they can't POSSIBLY be his fault? Give me a break. So if he's in the pocket for 10 seconds and takes a sack, then you're putting that on the Redskins O-Line? How about, on the contrary, if it's a corner blitz where no one touches the guy and he nails the QB; then that's the quarterback's fault? Get a clue.

37
by nat :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 4:37pm

Read a little more carefully. The initial assertion is that the problem wasn't complex blitzes confusing McNabb, not that he wasn't at fault. Vince goes on to assert that the Redskins line was getting manhandled. That may or may not be right, but the bit about defensive linemen getting the sacks isn't used in its support.

It is a capital mistake to rant before one has read.

59
by onetime91 :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 12:53am

It is clearly implying he wasn't at fault. I think you need to read a little more carefully. Simply because it doesn't say the words "HE IS AT FAULT" doesn't mean that's not what it is insinuating. Considering you responded to some of my previous posts with a flimsy argument such as that one, I am not surprised at your weak reply.

I think you should re-take some SAT prep courses and work on YOUR reading comprehension.

62
by Alex51 :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 8:43am

Ok, let's be extra clear about exactly how each of you are interpreting this passage:

The vast majority of those hits were made by Lions linemen, not linebackers or defensive backs. So the problem isn't that McNabb was befuddled or confused by complex blitzes - the Detroit front four simply manhandled the Redskins offensive line, and there was nothing McNabb or any other quarterback could have done about it.

-----

Interpretation 1:

There are two separate arguments being made, Argument (1) and Argument (2), with two separate pieces of evidence used in their support, Evidence A and Evidence B.

Argument (1): McNabb was not befuddled by complex blitzes.
Evidence A: Most of the hits were made by Lions linemen, not LBs or DBs.

Argument (2): The sacks were not McNabb's fault.
Evidence B: The Detroit front four manhandled the Redskins offensive line.

In this interpretation, it is assumed that Vince Verhei actually watched the game, and saw the Detroit front four manhandle the Redskins offensive line, or has some other independent confirmation that this is what happened, aside from the distribution of hits amongst linemen, LBs, and DBs.

-----

Interpretation 2:

There are three arguments being made in succession, Arguments (1), (2), and (3), and one piece of evidence used to support the chain of arguments, Evidence A.

Argument (1): McNabb was not befuddled by complex blitzes.
Evidence A: Most of the hits were made by Lions linemen, not LBs or DBs.

Argument (2): The Detroit front four manhandled the Redskins offensive line.
Evidence: Argument (1): McNabb was not befuddled by complex blitzes.

Argument (3): The sacks were not McNabb's fault.
Evidence: Argument (2): The Detroit front four manhandled the Redskins offensive line.

-----

Nat is taking Interpretation 1, while you are taking Interpretation 2. Now, both interpretations are consistent with what was written. The information that's missing is whether Verhei actually watched the game, and saw the Detroit front four manhandle the Redskins offensive line.

63
by nat :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 12:37pm

That neatly sums it up.

I'll concede this: If Vince was arguing that the preponderance of hits by the DL is enough proof that the OL was getting manhandled, it's an incomplete argument. You'd also need either to observe the game, or have some stats about time elapsed before each hit.

My impression was he wasn't making that argument. Instead, he was offering an alternate explanation for the hits and sacks, based on his observation. I could be wrong.

So, Vince? Did you watch the game?

65
by Alex51 :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 5:12pm

That neatly sums it up.

Yes, I neatly summed up a 219 word discussion with a 326 word post. The brevity of my writing is truly astonishing, isn't it? ;)

64
by ChaosOnion :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 3:17pm

I watched the game and the DET d-line made the WAS o-line look like a bunch of JV players. When it was established, the WAS pocket was tiny and shortly after a DE penetrated it from the side, Suh collapsed it in the middle. McNabb has not been under that much pressure since Winston Justice started on the left and sent Osi Umenyora to the pro-bowl. The Grossman lowlight all over football coverage that weekend was very representative of the line battle that game. The difference was the QB.

It is a testament to his mobility and strength in the pocket that the game was as close as it was at that point. That being said, McNabb started anticipating the pocket collapse midway through the second quarter. He was able to extend some plays, but just ended up spraying the ball wildly. When he had running lanes, McNabb broke the pocket a few times and picked up yards, including the 36 yard scramble on the first WAS TD drive. There were hints of a McNabb "lift the team on his shoulders" games, but not this day. The running game was stymied, the DET pass rush was relentless, Stafford found Megatron, Shannahan put in Grossman and that was all she wrote.

It was truly a day for the DET big uglies. Suh is a beast and KVP had a game.

34
by onetime91 :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 4:32pm

"Here's one where game film trumps our numbers -- all three of Kitna's picks hit his receivers in the hands, but DVOA doesn't know that."

So, in other words, you will continue to begrudglingly post these ratings each week even though you admittedly think they do not even remotely portray how the player really performed? Nice work.

36
by DEW (not verified) :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 4:36pm

Yes, because one example of when the system fails to account for repeated instances of the same unusual blind-luck play clearly means that the system itself should be junked. /sarcasm

57
by RaxGrissman :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 9:58pm

Yeah you fail. I feel bad for Kitna though... he played a pretty good game overall.

38
by RichC (not verified) :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 4:40pm

"Moss, schmoss. In Weeks 1-4, when Randy Moss was on the Patriots, Brady completed five-of-16 deep passes for 110 yards. Since then, he's completed 7-of-13 for 220 yards, and also drawn a 29-yard pass interference call on another throw. "

Now, if only Wes Welker could get open.

39
by Dan :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 4:51pm

Jason Campbell's passing DYAR per attempt, by week:

week 1: -3.4
week 2: -4.0
week 5: 3.8
week 6: -4.5
week 7: 6.6
week 8: 4.6

Three weeks where he's been over 3 yards/att better than replacement, three where he's been over 3 yards/att worse than replacement, and nothing in between. Weird.

42
by BJR :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 5:31pm

Drew Brees suddenly remembered how to play at an insane level in the second half on Sunday night. If he can sustain that, and the Saints' RBs can get healthy, the rest of the league should watch out.

55
by sam :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 9:50pm

"All eight of Sims-Walker's receptions were either a first down or touchdown, and seven of them came with the Jaguars protecting a slim three-point lead."

I'm pretty sure that jacksonville did not at any point in the game have a 3-point lead.

--
sam! or the original sam from the old FO

56
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 11/02/2010 - 9:57pm

Whoops. Read from the wrong column there. Three points was under "home score," not "gap." That should read "all eight receptions came with the Jaguars down three, up 18, or somewhere in between." Which doesn't have the same panache.