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06 Jan 2011

Quick Reads: 2010 in Review

by Bill Barnwell

In last year's Quick Reads season-in-review column (which ran on ESPN only), we had a very odd perspective on what had happened in 2009. Thanks to a schedule that ranked amongst the hardest in NFL history, the advanced statistics at Football Outsiders suggested that Tom Brady had been the best quarterback in football.

This year, the numbers say the same thing. We suspect that it will be slightly less controversial this time around. Using our core advanced metrics -- DYAR and DVOA -- we've gone through the full-season totals at each position and identified the best and worst quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends from this past season. There's also a look at which players have had their performance most drastically impacted by their schedule, as well as those players who have had the biggest improvement or decline in their performance from a year ago.

Our annual disclaimer: Numbers are never perfect. While we certainly believe that our metrics do a better job of analyzing a player's performance than anything else you'll see, there are some things statistics can't account for. We'll point out where the data needs some missing context as warranted. Also, remember that DYAR is a cumulative stat, so players who miss time (like Michael Vick) will find it harder to make it to these leaderboards.

Quarterbacks

Top 5

1) Tom Brady, New England Patriots: 2,137 DYAR (2,141 passing DYAR, -4 rushing)
2) Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts: 1,674 DYAR (1,674 passing DYAR, zero rushing)
3) Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers: 1,658 DYAR (1,649 passing DYAR, nine rushing)
4) Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers: 1,622 DYAR (1,521 passing DYAR, 101 rushing)
5) Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints: 1,366 DYAR (1,366 passing DYAR, zero rushing)

Analysis: Although Brady actually had four more DYAR in 2009, he was more valuable this year because he accrued such an impressive performance in 73 fewer passing attempts. His 53.4% DVOA was the best figure in the league by a much wider margin (Ben Roethlisberger was second at 38.2%) and almost as good as his 56.9% DVOA during the incredible 2007 season. Likewise, Brees's performance gets pushed up by virtue of his 658 pass attempts; according to DVOA, which measures performance on a per-play basis, he was 12th in the league.

Bottom 5

1) Jimmy Clausen, Carolina Panthers: -651 DYAR (-607 passing DYAR, -44 rushing)
2) Max Hall, Arizona Cardinals: -511 DYAR (-511 passing DYAR, zero rushing)
3) John Skelton, Arizona Cardinals: -285 DYAR (-285 passing DYAR, zero rushing)
4) Todd Collins, Chicago Bears: -280 DYAR (-280 passing DYAR, zero rushing)
5) Matt Moore, Carolina Panthers: -267 DYAR (-267 passing DYAR, zero rushing)

Analysis: If you were wondering why the Panthers are picking first in the NFL Draft and the Cardinals had the worst record in one of the worst divisions in league history, this list should put you at ease. The other two Cardinals quarterbacks weren't much better, as Derek Anderson finished as the ninth-worst quarterback and Richard Bartel was 12th. The other quarterback on this list, Collins, had one of the single worst victories in NFL history. He got the start against Clausen and the Panthers after Jay Cutler suffered a concussion, and promptly threw four interceptions on 16 dropbacks before being relieved of his duties. It was the worst game of the season by our numbers; unfortunately for the Panthers, Clausen had the third-worst game of the year when he stepped on the field.

Better than his standard statistics made him look: Carson Palmer, Cincinnati Bengals: For the second year in a row, Brady faced the hardest schedule in football according to DVOA. Enough about him, though. The next-toughest schedule for a quarterback who played all season was Palmer's, thanks in part to a divisional slate with two great pass defenses (Baltimore and Pittsburgh) and an above-average one (Cleveland) . There was a difference of 3.6 percentage points between his DVOA and VOA (the same stat without defensive adjustments included) . That's notable, but not much compared to last year, when Brady had a difference of 9.5 percentage points.

Worse than his standard statistics made him look: Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs: Cassel and the Chiefs rode one of the league's easiest schedules into the AFC West title. While he was able to avoid turnovers (until Week 17) , one of the reasons he was able to do so was a schedule full of forgiving pass defenses. At one point, Cassel played the four weakest pass defenses in football, back-to-back-to-back-to-back.

Most improved: Cassel: Even with that easy schedule, Cassel still handily cleared his numbers from a year ago. In 2009, he was the third-worst regular quarterback in the league, with a DVOA of -24.3%. His 15.2% figure in 2010 moved him up to 16th. If we didn't include adjustments for quality of opposition, he would be all the way up to ninth. Michael Vick would obviously be part of the discussion here as well, but he only threw 13 passes a year ago.

Biggest decline: Brett Favre, Vikings: Well, this one was easy. Last year, Favre was the most improved quarterback (versus his season with the Jets in 2008) , and Cassel actually was listed as having undergone the biggest decline. Favre was fifth in DYAR in 2009, leading the Vikings all the way to the NFC Championship Game. In his disastrous 2010 campaign, Favre was 57th in DYAR. You will remember that there are only 32 teams in the league. Ahead of Favre were such luminaries as Brian St. Pierre, Rex Grossman, and Josh Johnson. Heck, even the pitcher Josh Johnson might have been able to do better.

All 2010 quarterback numbers here.

Running Backs

Top 5

1) Arian Foster, Houston Texans: 581 DYAR (371 rushing DYAR, 210 receiving)
2) Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs: 555 DYAR (405 rushing DYAR, 150 receiving)
3) LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles: 401 DYAR (223 rushing DYAR, 178 receiving)
4) BenJarvus Green-Ellis, New England Patriots: 385 DYAR (354 rushing DYAR, 31 receiving)
5) Danny Woodhead, New England Patriots: 341 DYAR (185 rushing DYAR, 156 receiving DYAR)

Analysis: Four of these five backs derive significant portions of their value from work as a receiver, something still criminally underrated by most observers. An eight-yard gain on a pass play on first-and-10 is just as valuable as those same eight yards on a run play on first-and-10, and they're easier to come by. If we just looked at rushing DYAR, this list would replace McCoy and Woodhead with Maurice Jones-Drew and Adrian Peterson. In addition, the list includes three undrafted backs and two players taken in the second (McCoy) and third (Charles) rounds. If you're wondering why teams continue to devote first-round picks and significant contracts to running backs, well, so are we. Finally, Green-Ellis and Woodhead obviously benefit from the presence of a dominant passing game. They aren't the fourth- and fifth-best running backs in football in a vacuum, but their level of production this year has been better than all but three other running backs.

Bottom 5

1) Laurence Maroney, Denver Broncos: -86 DYAR (-86 rushing DYAR, zero receiving)
2) Chester Taylor, Chicago Bears: -75 DYAR (-105 rushing DYAR, 30 receiving)
3) Mike Bell, Cleveland Browns/Philadelphia Eagles: -68 DYAR (223 rushing DYAR, 178 receiving)
4) Julius Jones, New Orleans Saints/Seattle Seahawks: -61 DYAR (-19 rushing DYAR, -42 receiving)
5) Thomas Jones, Kansas City Chiefs: -61 DYAR (-90 rushing DYAR, 29 receiving DYAR)

Analysis: Maroney only saw action in four games, but it's hard to figure that he could have done much worse in those four contests. His game of the year was a sublime 11-carry, five-yard performance against the Titans in Week 4 that included eight carries for no gain, a loss of yards, or a fumble. Taylor and Thomas Jones were used as the veteran handcuffs to keep their younger, more talented brethren in line, while Bell and Julius Jones are replacement-level backs who were kept desirable only by their agents. Every carry Thomas Jones sees on Sunday ahead of Charles is a victory for the Ravens.

Better than his standard statistics made him look: Green-Ellis: The Law Firm had the biggest difference between his rushing DVOA and VOA, clocking in at just under five percentage points. The only player really in the same ballpark was Brandon Jackson of the Packers (3.3 percentage points) .

Worse than his standard statistics made him look: Chris Ivory, New Orleans Saints: Although he missed his second chance at the league's worst run defense (Tampa Bay) , Ivory faced a slate of easy run defenses during his time as the lone back standing in New Orleans. There was a difference of five full percentage points between his VOA and DVOA. Among part-time backs, players like Darren Sproles (7.1 percentage points) and Brian Westbrook (seven) also saw their raw numbers inflated by an easy schedule.

Most improved: McCoy: A year ago, Shady McCoy was an afterthought behind a gimpy Westbrook and a question mark for a team that appeared to be rebuilding its offense around Kevin Kolb. Well, things change. With Michael Vick turning around the Eagles' offense, Philly had the third-best rushing DVOA of any team in the past 18 years. McCoy went from 36th in rushing DVOA to fourth.

Biggest decline: Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams: Go figure. Supremely talented back spends years toiling for awful team without complaining once. By the time the team gets a great quarterback and a competent defense, Jackson struggles with minor injuries and has his worst year in recent memory. Even with the dreadful lack of talent that surrounded him a year ago, Jackson finished seventh in rushing DYAR and wasn't far off from our overall top-five. This year, Jackson had -51 rushing DYAR (39th in the league) and -6 total DYAR. Even if we consider how much the Rams rely upon him, Jackson's done much more in the past.

All 2010 running back numbers here.

Wide Receivers

Top 5

1) Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers: 457 DYAR
2) Brandon Lloyd, Denver Broncos: 406 DYAR
3) Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers: 330 DYAR
4) Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons: 294 DYAR
5) Andre Johnson, Houston Texans: 287 DYAR

Analysis: Wallace was the number-one player in our Top 25 Prospects list before the season, and just like previous number-one Miles Austin did the year before, Wallace delivered on his promise. Consider that he led the league in DYAR on just 98 targets while the other four guys in this list averaged 149. He naturally led the league with a DVOA of 47.1%; the next-best figure for a guy with 50 targets or more was Austin Collie, and he was at 28.5%. Collie was closer to 22nd place than he was to first. Passes to Wallace produced an average of 12.8 yards; nobody else with 50 targets or more was above 11.0 yards per attempt (DeSean Jackson) .

Bottom 5

1) Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers: -153 DYAR
2) Laurent Robinson, St. Louis Rams: -141 DYAR
3) Early Doucet, Arizona Cardinals: -122 DYAR
4) Bryant Johnson, Detroit Lions: -109 DYAR
5) Andre Roberts, Arizona Cardinals: -102 DYAR

Analysis: While we can point to the unsettled quarterback situation in Carolina as the primary driver of Smith's poor season, this isn't the first time Smith has had to spend the year with one of the league's worst quarterbacks throwing to him. Heck, he had a half-decade with Jake Delhomme, and his numbers have never been this bad. Roberts made the bottom five thanks to a dismal Week 17 game that produced -79 DYAR and rated out as the worst individual game for any wide receiver this year.

Better than his standard statistics made him look: Wes Welker, New England Patriots: Yes, listing Patriots in this category can get quickly cumbersome, but it's true. There was a gap of 4.5 percentage points between Welker's DVOA and VOA, signaling how dramatically his numbers were affected by a slate of tough schedules. The closest player to him with more than 50 targets is Brian Hartline of the Dolphins, who had a gap of 3.8 percentage points. In other words: The AFC East is hazardous to receiving stats.

Worse than his standard statistics made him look: Austin Collie, Indianapolis Colts: Before his season ended due to concussions, Collie got to play some of the worst pass defenses in football. His two 10-catch games came against the worst (Houston) and second-worst (Denver) pass defenses in the league, and he got to play twice against the third-worst (Jacksonville) .

Most improved: Lloyd: The Broncos inexplicably signed Lloyd to a two-year contract last offseason, but it ended up being one of the biggest bargains in football. Lloyd raised his catch rate to 50 percent, just enough to become a dominant downfield threat that actually uses his lavish athletic gifts to his advantage. While Denver had the league's worst rushing attack and an injured offensive line for most of the year, Lloyd was the one player they could count on for a big play. His Pro Bowl nod was well-deserved.

Biggest decline: Randy Moss, New England Patriots/Minnesota Vikings/Tennessee Titans: This one doesn't require much in the way of statistics. Moss went from being the sixth-best wide receiver in football in 2009 to a replacement-level wideout and punch line on those rare occasions where he actually does make a catch.

All 2010 wide receiver numbers here.

Tight Ends

Top 5

1) Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers: 371 DYAR
2) Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots: 249 DYAR
3) Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys: 216 DYAR
4) Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers: 207 DYAR
5) Aaron Hernandez, New England Patriots: 160 DYAR

Analysis: Gates managed to lead all tight ends by a wide margin despite suffering from agonizing injuries on both of his feet throughout the year. His 79.5% DVOA is handily the best for any tight end during the DVOA Era (1993-2010) , and he even finished with more DYAR than he did during last year's fantastic season. He did all this on 65 targets! He had 155 more DYAR than Jason Witten -- who had a great year -- in one-half of the targets.

Bottom 5

1) Daniel Graham, Denver Broncos: -133 DYAR
2) John Carlson, Seattle Seahawks: -94 DYAR
3) Dante Rosario, Carolina Panthers: -79 DYAR
4) Stephen Spach, Arizona Cardinals: -55 DYAR
5) Martellus Bennett, Dallas Cowboys: -53 DYAR

Analysis: Graham's season was about as bad as Gates's was good: He had a DVOA of -60.7%. Graham caught 49 percent of the passes thrown to him, the worst figure in the league for a tight end with 30 or more targets. The only tight end who was close was Kevin Boss of the Giants, who had a 50 percent catch rate. Boss doesn't appear on this list because he averaged better than 15 yards per reception when he did get the ball. Graham averaged only 8.5 yards per reception, meaning that he both didn't catch the ball very frequently and did little with the rock upon its arrival.

Better than his standard statistics made him look: Rosario: Rosario didn't have a good year even after we adjust for strength of schedule, but he faced a tough slate of opposing defenses and probably deserved better than a 55 percent catch rate.

Worse than his standard statistics made him look: Zach Miller, Oakland Raiders: Miller had a gap of 2.9 percentage points between his VOA and DVOA; that doesn't seem like much compared to other positions, but it's the biggest difference for tight ends with more than 30 targets.

Most improved: Anthony Fasano, Miami Dolphins: Most of the Dolphins ended up having lost seasons, but Fasano ended up having a very nice season when things were all said and done. After ranking 41st in tight end DYAR last year, Fasano moved up all the way to sixth in 2010. The biggest reason why? Consistency. Although he was only thrown seven more passes than a year ago, he improved his catch rate from 58 percent to 65 percent and averaged better than 2.5 yards more per reception.

Biggest decline: Graham: Graham was an effective receiver in 2009, finishing with a 65 percent catch rate and averaging better than 10.3 yards per reception. He's never had a catch rate below 61 percent as a pro, so his disappointing performance this year is likely a one-season fluke.

All 2010 tight end numbers here.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 06 Jan 2011

36 comments, Last at 10 Jan 2011, 10:15pm by Shattenjager

Comments

1
by erniecohen :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 6:48pm

Was Steve Smith really this bad, or was it just a matter of CAR QBs conditioned to throw the ball in his direction whenever they're not sure what to do?

2
by Pass to Set Up ... :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 7:46pm

Kinda surprised to see Brent Celek wasn't the biggest decline among TEs. He went from the Eagles' #1 receiver last year to a virtual disappearing act this year.

23
by Kevin from Philly :: Fri, 01/07/2011 - 3:08pm

I was thinking the same thing. Maybe that TD against the Giants propped him up a little.

25
by stephenbawesome :: Fri, 01/07/2011 - 3:21pm

While his play has declined, I think he's been involved in enough first downs and successful plays where his advanced statistics will say it's more of a lack of opportunity than a lack of production.

3
by Dan :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 8:06pm

Pro Football Reference had an article two seasons ago arguing that Steve Smith's performance was highly dependent on his quarterback play. When he had a somewhat competent quarterback (Jake Delhomme when the article was written, and Matt Moore the past two years) he's put up huge numbers, but Smith has done much worse when he had crap at quarterback (Weinke, Carr, and Testaverde when the article was written, and since then Clausen, St. Pierre, and the 2009 version of Delhomme).

This season, in just under 4 games with Moore as his quarterback, Smith had 257 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns on 20 receptions and 37 targets (3 full games and parts of two others). With QBs other than Moore this season (around 10 games), Smith had 297 receiving yards and 0 touchdowns on 26 receptions and 62 targets.

4
by tuluse :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 9:56pm

I have to ask is Steve Smith unlike any other receiver in history in this regard?

What receivers have been successful with Chris Weinke?

10
by Loadser :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 11:33pm

Peter Warrick, in college, but after that, nobody. And that pains me a lot as a Seminole to write.

5
by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 10:02pm

At some stage there must be a mass realisation of the fact that Bellichick is the best coach in the NFL and not all the players on his team are really great. Maroney leaves the Pats and becomes one of the worst rbs in football. Similar story for Graham. Similar story for Moss. The list of players who've been productive for the Pats and been very poor elsewhere is growing by the year.

Bellichick should be regarded as not only one of the best defensive minds in the game but should now be seen as one of the best offensive coaches too. The next most important guy in the building is probably the offensive line coach.

(and if there are any aussies reading this, 3-1 baby, 3-1)

6
by tuluse :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 10:08pm

Hasn't he been considered one of the best coaches of all time for like 5 years now?

8
by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 10:46pm

Well some of us think that he might have tested the 'if you're not cheating you're not trying' mantra a little too far and so have marked him down a bit.

Has he been considered one of the best offensive minds for five years? I think that offensive scheme he's running is very, very clever. The players are so spread out that you can only view their presnap locations in terms of probabilities, it's a quantum offense.

9
by tuluse :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 11:18pm

He's been considered one of the best head coaches for years, I don't know what more you want.

16
by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 01/07/2011 - 10:21am

OK, in the first post I meant to add ,"and it's not very close" to the end of hte sentence where I said he's the best coach in the league. That's more the gist of what I'm trying to say.

11
by Rich Arpin (not verified) :: Fri, 01/07/2011 - 12:48am

By quantum offense what do you mean?

If anything, having tight ends more involved this year is putting more pressure on opposing linebackers, it's just that freak of nature lb's are usually asked to rush the passer and not cover Tall and fairly quick TE's (Gronk) or speedy Tweeners (Hernandez).

In regards to the TE position; Wow, Gates is impressive.

17
by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 01/07/2011 - 10:30am

The quantum offense thing is a bit of a (lame) joke. In quantum mechanics the exact position of the particles cannot be predicted, you can only arrive at a probabliity of where they will be, I was comparing the variability of the positioning and versatility of the Pats offensive to this idea. Probably wasn't worth it.

I thought I made it clear that I really admire the Pats offensive scheme. It must be a nightmare to scout and then align your defense against this lot. Woodhead is, in theory, a running back but could pop up anywhere on the field for the Pats, the same can be said for TEs which means that you better have a very versatile set of linebackers or the Pats will very quickly find a matchup they like. Or you can drop back into a zone but I wouldn't advise it, they're too good at reading them and finding the holes.

35
by Shattenjager :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 10:02pm

I thought it was a pretty good joke. Which may be a sign that it was lame.

13
by Camp Bras (not verified) :: Fri, 01/07/2011 - 6:19am

Hey, Kuba. Greetings from Brazil. Win the Ashes 3-1 away is outstanding. It seems the wind is finally blowing England's way...

Australian Cricket is on fire this summer.

7
by Dre538 (not verified) :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 10:29pm

Looking better or worse than standard statistics shouldn't be based solely on schedule strength. Sure, that's a major factor, but it's not the only one. Listing Green-Ellis and Welker as the players most better than their standard stats is really strange to me considering they play with the best quarterback of the year and perhaps of all time. While I think they both are talented players, I also think they're a product of the supreme efficiency of Tom Brady. No RB/WR with Brady can be considered to be even close to the most better than standard stats.

In addition to teammates I also think consistency can play a role in standard stats vs. real value. Green-Ellis (despite my opinion that Brady overrides this factor) is actually a very relevant example in this case. He averaged a solid but unspectacular 4.4 yards per carry, yet DVOA shows him to be one of the most effective backs in the league per carry. Clearly given down and distance his carries were much more effective than 4.4 YPC would indicate. Contrast that with Chris Johnson who had similar YPC (4.3) yet has a below average DVOA.

15
by TBall (not verified) :: Fri, 01/07/2011 - 10:16am

The 'better than the stats indicate' is really just code for 'compiled these stats against the toughest defense scheduled for this position'. Patriot players kept showing up under this heading because they faced the toughest slate of defenses. The category is not intended to step any further outside the numbers than that.

19
by nat :: Fri, 01/07/2011 - 12:57pm

Except when he "steps outside" to skip over Brady. Enough about him, though.

28
by BigCheese :: Fri, 01/07/2011 - 9:49pm

Really? Really?

Are Pats fans' egos just so fragile they HAVE to have constant praise heaped upon their team? He did NOT step outside the stats on Brady because the player that was named was... Brady! Which is, you know, what the comment about steping outside the stats was about. Nothing about the secriptions.

This bis almost as bad as something I read the other day. A Pats fan saying that SB XLII shouldn't count because the Giants cheated. WTF??? I still can't wrap my brain around someone actually making that statement.

Really?

- Alvaro

30
by nat :: Fri, 01/07/2011 - 11:33pm

Oh, for crying out loud. I was just making a (correct) observation about the exception to the rule. I wasn't complaining. I wasn't going on a rant, like some I could mention.

Oh, your poor bruised feelings! I'm sorry I hurt them by actually reading the article, and by actually reading and understanding another person's post, and by noticing something interesting related to their post.

Get ... a ... life.

32
by BigCheese :: Sat, 01/08/2011 - 1:41am

This would be funny if it wasn't so sad: The whole point is that no, you did not understand the post. At all. They were saying that the numbers are meassuring what they are meassuring, and they aren't stepping outside of that meassure (in order to meassure teammate effects).

It takes a special kind of delusion and/or lack of reading skills to read that, jump to saying that they did step outside on brady because the comment made on him (after the numbes meassured what they meassured) was not extensive enough, and THEN claim superiority because you actually understood what was said.

Get... an... education.

- Alvaro

33
by BSR :: Sat, 01/08/2011 - 10:42am

Chill out dude. He wasn't pointing it out as a slight to Brady. He was pointing out that they did go further than the team that faced that played against the toughest defenses. That's exactly what the post he responded to was saying. He was simply pointing out an exception to the rule and you turned it into a anti-pats fan rant.

34
by nat :: Sat, 01/08/2011 - 12:59pm

Thanks for having my back.

It's getting a little tedious when merely mentioning QB-who-shall-not-be-named causes the crazies to go ballistic.

20
by Dre538 (not verified) :: Fri, 01/07/2011 - 2:12pm

To me "standard stats" means fantasy football numbers. When someone says "better than standard stats" I think about a whole host of factors, not just schedule strength (though that is a big factor). Maybe I misinterpreted what the article was going for but to me it was just strange to only see schedule strength brought up.

29
by BigCheese :: Fri, 01/07/2011 - 9:51pm

I think you did. And you aso skipped the introduction. And the point of DYAR...

- Alvaro

12
by Steal Your Face (not verified) :: Fri, 01/07/2011 - 6:01am

Interesting, Dre. Wonder if there is a mechanism for identifying the quality of a player's supporting teammates (those who are integral to doing his job) and incorporating this info into the overall assessment. Certainly a terrifying pass threat and smart o-line should help.

That said, I watched most of 16 Pats games this season. Green-Ellis was awesome on a play-by-play basis, even more so when you consider his cap hit.

14
by Jerry :: Fri, 01/07/2011 - 8:21am

(D)VOA and DYAR just measure the success of plays against the average. Individual numbers are based on plays where the player in question handled the ball (or was targeted) with no attempt to adjust for teammates. Obviously, accurate teammate adjustments would be a major improvement, but there's not enough useful data to start such a major undertaking.

18
by MilkmanDanimal :: Fri, 01/07/2011 - 11:36am

I will openly admit both that I am a Bucs homer and that also I have a massive enough man-crush on Josh Freeman that I expect a restraining order to be coming down the pike within the near future, but . . .

Year 1: -295 DYAR, -26.2% DVOA (39th in both)
Year 2: 1031 DYAR, 20.5% DVOA (9th in both)

I'm curious if, to use a Bill Simmons term, there could be kind of a "jump" index, showing players who showed a significant improvement from year one to year two (or other years). And yes, I do realize there are big one-year anomalies in performance (Garrard's 3 INT season springs to mind), but I'm just wondering if there's any statistical significance to that much progression in one year; I know there are similarity scores for careers and such, but is there any value in examining a "jump" between years like Freeman had?

Also, JOSH PLEASE CALL ME YOU CAN BRAID MY HAIR I'LL WAIT BY THE PHONE.

22
by tuluse :: Fri, 01/07/2011 - 2:43pm

I know Lewin's research showed that QBs make the biggest jumps in performance in year 2 and year 5 traditionally.

Also, from what little I've seen of the Buc, Josh Freeman is a fun QB to watch.

21
by Bay Area Bengal (not verified) :: Fri, 01/07/2011 - 2:37pm

Palmer BETTER than he appeared? My word, he looked absolutely lost in the games I saw. He'd put together a couple solid throws, then just throw blindly into double or triple coverage. I'm sure some of his errant throws were miscommunications with the receiving corps, but he just looked flat out BAD most of the games I watched.

24
by stephenbawesome :: Fri, 01/07/2011 - 3:19pm

I'm an unabashed Gronk fan, and I have been for years. You can see his player page to see my comment on that, but I had him in fantasy college football when he was a freshman and he's been on every team of mine ever since.

Going into the year, I made outlandish predictins of double-digit touchdowns for him, but I honestly was blown away by just how effective he's been.

A rookie coming in and getting second best DYAR amongst Tight Ends is pretty impressive. Much less a rookie who didn't even play college ball the year before. Considering his back problems and the bout with mono when he was a sophomore, he hadn't even put together a full season in college. He was coming off surgery leading up to the draft, and was still playing stiff through the OTA's in June.

I honestly am in disbelief at the statistical analyses from this site and Pro Football Focus that have highlighted his absurdly good rookie season.

I just wish he was an Eagle, instead.

26
by BSR :: Fri, 01/07/2011 - 4:44pm

I've liked Gronk every since he and his family did the Gronk chant at the draft and his interview with Sanders. Very likable kid. What these numbers also fail to capture is how devastating a blocker he has been this year. He has quickly become a fan favorite.

27
by ChicagoRaider :: Fri, 01/07/2011 - 7:12pm

I guess I am missing why Darius Heyward-Bey is not a bottom 5. Is it because he was expected to be that bad?

31
by BigCheese :: Sat, 01/08/2011 - 1:30am

No, it's because he wasn't as bad as the other five. Expectations have nothing to do with it.

- Alvaro

36
by Shattenjager :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 10:15pm

I was slightly confused too, so I'll tell you what I did in case it's the same: He's 4th-worst among those with a minimum of 50 passes, which is the first chart on the Wide Receivers page, but Bryant Johnson and Andre Roberts managed to surpass him and each had 49 passes.