Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

06 Dec 2011

Week 13 Quick Reads

by Vince Verhei

In Week 12 against the Raiders, we saw what the Chicago Bears offense looked like without Jay Cutler, and the results were not pretty. Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, we saw what they looked like without Cutler and without Matt Forte, and the results were not watchable. Quarterback Caleb Hanie's performance was so hopeless that the Bears are reportedly looking to pick up Donovan McNabb off the scrap heap to try to save their season. It's obviously a desperate move. Could it be a wise one?

Hanie's first start was a loss to the Oakland Raiders. As we talked about last week, the Raiders focused their resources on shutting down Forte, and while they won the game, Hanie was able to make a few big plays in the fourth quarter and nearly rallied the Bears to victory. Forte missed most of the game against Kansas City, and as a result all the big plays were made by the Chiefs defense. Hanie was sacked seven times and threw three interceptions, while completing only 11 completions for eight first downs. Yes, he turned the ball over or hit the turf nearly as often as he connected with his receivers, and more often than he picked up a new set of downs. The Bears went 0-for-11 on third downs, and were 0-for-2 on fourth downs to boot.

Which brings us to Donovan McNabb. The veteran quarterback was waived by the Minnesota Vikings this week, and after every other team in the league (including the Bears) declined to pick up his contract, McNabb is now a free agent. Though he has now been dismissed by three teams in less than three years, McNabb's on-field performance in that stretch has been far from embarrassing. He ranked 20th in passing DVOA with Philadelphia in 2009, 29th with Washington in 2010, and 23rd this season. Since more than 40 passers qualify for the leaderboards each year, it's fair to say that McNabb has been better than about one-third of the starting quarterbacks in the league. That's not going to get him in Canton, but it's a big improvement over what the Bears have gotten from Hanie.

That's assuming, however, that McNabb would be the same quarterback for the Bears that he was for teams like the Vikings. And that's just not realistic. McNabb's receivers in Minnesota (Percy Harvin, Michael Jenkins and Visanthe Shiancoe) are probably a wash with those in Chicago (Johnny Knox, Roy Williams and Devin Hester), but the Bears' offensive line is a severe downgrade from that of the Vikings. That's enough to expect McNabb's performance to decline. And then there's the fact that he'd be joining a new team, with new players, new coaches, and a new playbook, and trying to learn on the go. Few quarterbacks have joined teams in midseason and seen meaningful starts. It has already happened once this season, though. The Raiders traded for Carson Palmer and threw him to the wolves, putting him on the field just a few days later. Palmer hit the ground running, then tripped and fell on his face, throwing three picks in each of his first two games with Oakland before settling down into a semi-competent groove. If McNabb had a similar learning curve with the Bears, then he'd be useless for at least two games. He would do the Bears no favors against the Broncos or Seahawks. In a best-case scenario, he might be ready to play in the last two games of the regular season, against the Packers and –- yes -– the Vikings.

And that's the best-case scenario, which assumes that McNabb has kept himself in peak physical condition. Instead, Tom Pelissero of ESPN 1500 in Minneapolis says that McNabb was out of shape when he joined the Vikings, and his condition has deteriorated since then.

McNabb is freely available, and the Bears have nothing to lose by giving him a try. If they think he's going to save their season, though, they're probably in for the latest in a year full of disappointments.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
1.
Drew Brees NO
26/36
342
3
0
268
268
0
The turning point in Sunday night's game may have come at the end of the second quarter. The Lions' first touchdown made it a 17-7 game, and with 2:28 and three timeouts left, they had a chance to get a quick stop and get within one score at halftime. All the momentum was going Detroit's way, but Brees calmly led his team down the field. He went 7-for-7 on the drive (with one sack), picking up 83 yards and a touchdown to virtually end the competitive portion of the game. Over the course of the season, Brees has almost caught Aaron Rodgers in DYAR, although Rodgers still has a giant lead in DVOA.
2.
Aaron Rodgers GB
28/46
369
4
1
220
206
14
Rodgers has now been one of the top four quarterbacks 10 times in 13 weeks this season -- and in one of the other weeks, the Packers had a bye. His second quarter was reasonably human though: 8-of-13 passing for 91 yards with four first downs (including one touchdown), one sack, and one interception, for -12 DYAR. So there's that.
3.
Philip Rivers SD
22/28
294
3
0
205
205
0
This was Rivers' best game of the year, and it came two weeks after his third-best game of the year. Has he turned his season around? And is there enough time left in the year for that to matter?
4.
Dan Orlovsky IND
30/37
353
2
1
156
156
0
Best known for running out the back of the end zone for one of the funniest safeties ever while playing for the 0-16 2008 Detroit Lions, Orlovsky spent the past two seasons on the bench of the Houston Texans. The team that is currently starting T.J. Yates at quarterback decided Orlovsky was not worth keeping around, and he made his way to Indianapolis. The Colts preferred Kerry Collins (who played like he was still retired) and Curtis Painter (who played like he'll soon be retired) before finally giving Orlovsky a chance against the team that could wind up as the AFC's top seed. Orlovsky responded with the game of his life. Down 28 points after three quarters, Orlovsky led the Colts to three fourth-quarter touchdowns before running out of time. (Fourth-quarter DYAR: 136.) It helped that he was playing against the Patriots' wretched secondary, but Orlovsky still played far better than could have been expected.
5.
Cam Newton CAR
12/21
204
1
0
134
106
28
Newton had five 20-yard completions on Sunday, one 20-yard reception (27 yards, to be precise), and two 20-yard runs. He had seven total first downs rushing, including three touchdowns. This brings us to two of the more amazing stats about Newton's season: In 2010, the Panthers offense was tied for last in 20-yard plays, and dead last in rushing DVOA. This year, they are first in both categories.
6.
Tom Brady NE
29/38
289
2
0
132
126
6
In one stretch of the second quarter, Brady went 12-of-14 for 134 yards with 11 first downs (including one touchdown). However, he also had a (small) part in the Colts' fourth-quarter comeback, going 2-for-5 for zero yards, no first downs, and -36 DYAR. There's also the matter of opponent adjustments — playing Indianapolis takes Brady from 208 YAR (still below Brees and Rodgers this week) to 132 DYAR.
7.
Alex Smith SF
17/23
274
2
0
129
123
6
Second half: 4-of-5 passing for 146 yards, four first downs (including two touchdowns), one sack, 101 DYAR.
8.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
15/23
176
2
0
123
123
0
Roethlisberger was quite streaky on Sunday. He started off 2-of-5 for 10 yards. His next four throws (including a DPI call) picked up four first downs (including a touchdown) and 116 total yards. His next seven dropbacks resulted in two completions, one first down, two sacks, and five net yards. He then hit eight of his next nine passes for 77 yards and six first downs (including another score) before finishing up with a sack and an incompletion.
9.
Matt Stafford DET
31/44
408
1
1
114
114
0
At the start of the fourth quarter, the Lions were down only seven points. In the final frame, Stafford went 9-of-18 for 118 yards, only four first downs, one interception, two sacks, and -60 DYAR.
10.
Kevin Kolb ARI
16/25
247
1
0
86
84
2
First half: 7-of-11 for 44 yards, two first downs, four sacks. Second half and overtime: 9-of-14 for 203 yards, eight first downs (including one touchdown), one sack, plus one 9-yard DPI call, 121 DYAR.
11.
Matt Ryan ATL
20/45
267
1
2
85
81
4
Opponent adjustments bump Ryan up from 22nd to 11th. He started out going 11-of-28 for 129 yards, only five first downs, with two interceptions. He then finished the game going 9-of-17 for 138 yards and eight first downs (including a touchdown).
12.
Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF
29/45
288
1
0
75
85
-10
For the season, NFL quarterbacks are throwing touchdowns on 22 percent of all red zone passes, and 42 percent of all red zone completions. Fitzpatrick went 6-of-8 inside the red zone, but threw just one touchdown, and even that came on a fourth-down try. That all worked out to -1 DYAR.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
13.
Matt Moore MIA
13/25
162
1
0
72
64
8
First-down passing: 3-of-8 passing, 28 yards (including an 8-yard loss), -8 DYAR.
14.
Eli Manning NYG
23/40
347
3
1
72
72
0
Manning threw 11 passes at or behind the line of scrimmage, most of any quarterback this week except Matthew Stafford. He went 6-of-11 for 35 yards on those throws, with two first downs and an interception, for -89 DYAR.
15.
Tim Tebow DEN
10/15
202
2
0
66
68
-3
A week after he ran 22 times against San Diego, Tebow only had three carries against the Vikings. As a passer, he went 4-of-6 for 29 yards, one first down, two sacks, and one lost fumble in the first half, for a league-worst -61 DYAR. In the second half, he went 6-of-9 for 173 yards, with every completion a first down (including two scores) for 129 DYAR, third-best in the NFL.
16.
Tarvaris Jackson SEA
13/16
190
1
0
63
90
-27
Jackson completed his last eight passes against Philadelphia, for 95 yards and four first downs (including a touchdown). There was also a sack in the middle there.
17.
Christian Ponder MIN
30/47
381
3
2
57
50
7
First quarter: 6-of-9 passing, 27 yards, two first downs, one interception, a league-worst -89 DYAR.
18.
Tyler Palko KC
17/29
157
1
0
55
54
1
His Hail Mary touchdown to Dexter McCluster at the end of the first half was worth 38 DYAR. In the second half, protecting a one-score lead, Palko went 4-of-11 for 32 yards, just one first down, and -10 DYAR.
19.
Mark Sanchez NYJ
19/32
165
1
0
45
47
-2
Forget Ben Roethlisberger, this is the streakiest passer of the week. Sanchez started out 9-of-11 for 90 yards and seven first downs. His next 19 dropbacks produced seven completions for 35 yards and zero first downs. Then he hit Shonn Greene for 10 yards on third-and-four, then threw a 30-yard game-winning touchdown to Santonio Holmes, and he was done.
20.
Carson Palmer OAK
21/41
273
2
1
35
32
3
At the end of the third quarter, Palmer was 11-of-27 for 120 yards, only five first downs, one intentional grounding penalty, one interception, and a league-worst -84 DYAR. He played better after that, but by then the Raiders were down 34-0.
21.
Colt McCoy CLE
17/35
192
1
1
25
22
3
McCoy's average pass came 5.5 yards past the line of scrimmage, shortest of any starter this week. For the season, McCoy's average pass is going 6.6 yards past the line of scrimmage. Of the 42 quarterbacks with at least 100 pass plays, the only player with a shorter average pass is A.J. Feeley (who barely makes the list with 107 plays).
22.
T.J. Yates HOU
12/25
188
1
0
23
26
-3
We'll say this for T.J. Yates, the kid has chutzpah. A lot of inexperienced quarterbacks play gunshy, taking the low-risk checkdown even when the game calls for a big play. Not Yates. His average pass traveled 12.3 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, fourth-highest among starters this week.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
23.
Joe Flacco BAL
10/23
158
0
0
19
17
2
At halftime the Ravens were up only 10-0. They eventually prevailed thanks to Ray Rice and a punt return touchdown, but not for anything Flacco did in the second half: 3-of-9 passing for 56 yards with three first downs, one sack (with a fumble), -9 DYAR.
24.
Tony Romo DAL
28/41
299
1
0
18
32
-14
Second-down passing: 13-of-15 for 176 yards and eight first downs with one sack, 76 DYAR. That should also tell you how awful he was on first and third downs.
25.
Josh Johnson TB
16/27
229
1
1
18
2
16
Short passes (within 15 yards of the line of scrimmage): 11-of-19 for 88 yards, six first downs, one interception, a league-worst -51 DYAR.
26.
Rex Grossman WAS
20/46
221
0
1
3
3
0
Grossman had 48 pass plays this week. That's a lot, but it's not unique. Christian Ponder had 52, Aaron Rodgers had 49, and six other passers had at least 40. However, Grossman's 35 failed plays was first in the league by a wide margin. Ponder and Ryan Fitzpatrick were tied for second with 28 failures each.
27.
Andy Dalton CIN
11/24
135
1
0
-2
6
-8
Following his second-quarter touchdown to A.J. Green, Dalton went 3-for-8 for 20 yards with three sacks and no first downs.
28.
Matt Hasselbeck TEN
16/25
140
0
0
-9
-9
0
Hasselbeck's average completion came just 3.5 yards past the line scrimmage, shortest of any starter this week.
29.
A.J. Feeley STL
12/22
156
0
1
-31
-31
0
Feeley only had three plays in San Francisco territory, all down by nine points or more in the second half. Those three plays were an incompletion, an interception, and a sack, which is like the triple crown of sucking or something.
30.
Blaine Gabbert JAC
20/33
195
2
1
-39
-36
-3
31.
Vince Young PHI
17/29
208
1
4
-88
-96
7
Young dropped back to pass 31 times against Seattle, and picked up only 10 first downs. Meanwhile, he was sacked twice and threw four interceptions. Aside from one 47-yard completion to Riley Cooper, Young averaged fewer than six yards per pass. His third-down performance was particularly brutal: 3-for-7 passing, 21 yards, one first down (a 2-yard touchdown), one interception, -38 DYAR.
32.
Caleb Hanie CHI
11/24
133
0
3
-155
-154
-1
It may not surprise you to hear that Caleb Hanie was the worst red zone quarterback in the league this week with -84 DYAR. The amazing thing, though, is that he pulled this off despite being credited with just three red zone plays, two sacks and an interception. His red zone DVOA was -704.8%.


Five most valuable running backs
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
LeSean McCoy PHI
84
1
49
1
86
45
42
McCoy ran the ball 17 times against Seattle, and the Eagles threw to him on five other plays. McCoy gained 133 yards on those 22 plays. He finished with six plays for 10 yards or more and gained 11 first downs, including a pair of touchdowns.
2.
Maurice Jones-Drew JAC
97
0
91
1
63
16
47
Jones-Drew averaged 4.9 yards per rush against San Diego, and his 91 yards receiving came on six catches in just eight targets.
3.
Ray Rice BAL
204
1
10
0
51
49
2
If you're not familiar with FO, you might be wondering why the guy with 204 yards is ranked third this week. Well, it's partly because we include receiving value. Rice was also playing the Browns, whose run-defense has been quite bad this year. In rushing value alone, without opponent adjustments. Rice would be first, although his gap over the guy with 84 rushing yards (LeSean McCoy) would be awfully close. Rice had five carries for 10 or more yards, including a 67-yarder. Eighteen of his 29 carries gained 4 yards or less, and he was stuffed for no gain or a loss six times.
4.
Ryan Mathews SD
112
1
2
0
46
52
-7
In 13 runs, Mathews was stuffed for no gain or a loss four times. Of course, he also had runs for 9, 14, 14, 16, 21, and 31 yards.
5.
Marshawn Lynch SEA
148
2
0
0
42
42
0
Five carries for ten yards or more, plus three more for exactly 9 yards apiece, easily outweigh five carries for no gain or a loss.


Least valuable running back
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
LeGarrette Blount TB
19
0
0
0
-34
-25
-9
Blount carried the ball 11 times against Carolina, finishing with only 19 yards and no first downs. He had two 6-yard gains on one drive in the second quarter. Aside from that, he averaged 0.8 yards (or, 2 feet, 4 inches) per carry. He was stuffed for no gain or a loss four times. The Buccaneers also threw him two passes. He didn't catch either one. He did all this, by the way, against the team ranked dead last in run defense DVOA.


Five most valuable wide receivers and tight ends
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Percy Harvin MIN
8
9
156
19.5
2
83
Harvin was a virtual non-entity in the first half. He gained only 2 yards on three carries, and though he caught each of the four passes thrown his way, they gained just 41 yards and one first down. And then the second half happened, and before you knew it Harvin had touchdown catches of 52 and 48 yards, plus a 13-yard run and an 11-yard catch. He had 10 DYAR in the first half, 73 in the second.
2.
Demaryius Thomas DEN
4
7
144
36.0
2
64
Before Sunday's contest, Thomas had gained 40 yards only three times in 16 games. He had three plays of 40 or more yards against Minnesota, plus a 21-yard touchdown. He finished with 144 yards. When he's gaining that kind of yardage, it doesn't matter that he caught only four of the seven passes thrown his way.
3.
Pierre Garcon IND
9
12
150
16.7
2
62
First three quarters: One catch in three targets for 13 yards, no first downs, -12 DYAR. Fourth quarter: Eight catches in nine targets, seven first downs (including two touchdowns), 137 yards, 73 DYAR.
4.
Malcom Floyd SD
4
4
108
27.0
1
61
Each of Floyd's catches gained at least 14 yards, and he converted on third-and-10 and third-and-14. He was actually the target on one incompletion, but the play was wiped out on an offensive holding penalty.
5.
Andre Roberts ARI
6
6
111
18.5
0
58
LaRod Stephens-Howling's touchdown in overtime made the highlight shows, but that play was set up by what Roberts did with three targets in overtime: a 14-yard catch, a 9-yard DPI on second-and-19 (which is not included in his statline listed above), and a 16-yard catch, for 17 DYAR.


Least valuable wide receiver or tight end
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Early Doucet ARI
2
6
0
0.0
0
-44
In the last three minutes of the first half, the Arizona Cardinals were tied at 3 against the Dallas Cowboys. They had a second-and-1 at their own 29-yard line, needing another first down to prevent a Cowboys two-minute drill. They threw back-to-back passes to Doucet. He caught them both, first losing two yards, then gaining two yards, leaving the Cardinals with a fourth-and-1 and a punt. The Cards' defense bailed Doucet out, preserving the tie going into halftime. Arizona threw Doucet four other passes on the day. He didn't catch any of them.

Posted by: Vince Verhei on 06 Dec 2011

116 comments, Last at 11 Dec 2011, 5:20am by hrodric

Comments

1
by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 11:16am

Don't know where Jordy Nelson ranks but two of his four catches were flat out incredible.

74
by Arkaein :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 3:26pm

Here's a link to a GIF of the best one, for those who didn't see it:

http://k.minus.com/ivCM8r66LVfRe.gif

2
by Danish Denver-Fan :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 11:36am

That extremely... ahm... unorthodox Broncos offense is causing me to reevauate verything i thought i knew. For instance, is the Broncos so extremely comitted to the run, that they are actually suceeding in setting up th pass in the second half?

70
by tunesmith :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 2:41pm

I'm not so sure it's their strategy, but it might be a side effect.

I do think it's possible that Foxball might be hiding that Tebow has already as a passer to a greater degree than most people think. In other words, the pound-the-ball approach might be more about Foxball than Tebow's limitations.

87
by Chirality (not verified) :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 7:20pm

Likewise, I think that Foxball is actually more to blame than Tebow himself for the consistent close games with silly fourth quarter comebacks.

I'm convinced that Fox simply refuses to run an offense that will gain yards unless it's late in the game, with his team trailing. Remember all of Fox's "Cardiac Cats" Panthers Teams? It's systematic, for he has now created what one of my friends refers to as the "Heart Attack Horsies".

3
by Kimchee (not verified) :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 11:40am

It seems to me that if Hail Mary interceptions don't count, then neither should the completions, especially a 40 yard throw which any NFL QB can make.

23
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 12:12pm

Hail Mary interceptions do count - as incompletions. The possession change has no influence on the rest of the game. As for not counting completions, when was the last time a hail mary pass was completed without having an impact on the result of the game?

Nearly every throw is one any NFL QB could conceivably make, so basing things on style points rather than results seems a very questionable tactic, IMO.

27
by Mr Shush :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 12:18pm

The question, I guess, is whether Hail Mary completions are essentially random rather than skill-based, and should be disregarded in the same way as fumble recoveries.

The play in question can hardly be attributed to the skill of the passer.

72
by RickD :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 3:15pm

How are you supposed to determine which completions are "random rather than skill-based"? Is it "skill-based" if the defense blows a coverage assignment, leaving the receiver wide open?
Really, you're better off not trying to make judgments about the difference between luck and skill. By definition, events that happen by luck alone are going to be distributed among the population in a way that should favor all competitors equally. And if it doesn't work out that way over the long haul, it's probably not luck.

79
by Led :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 4:18pm

I agree with you in principle, but a hail mary pass seems like a special case because (a) the outcome is unambiguously random and (b) it has such a large impact on the game. Even if the luck will even out over time, hail mary passes are infrequent enough that the time horizon we're talking about is years.

94
by Eggwasp (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 5:55am

I completely agree - you can't decide whether a Hail Mary is significant enough to predict the future (which is what we are trying to do here) or not depending on whether Red #82 or White #28 comes down with the ball. By definition a Hail Mary is a jump ball - it either should be in DVOA for both Red and White teams or neither.

97
by Mr Shush :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 11:38am

I'm saying that if there is a category of event which is entirely or almost entirely non-predictive and causes major swings (ie is worth a lot of success points) and works so infrequently that there is no room for randomness to be filtered out, the system would probably work better if it wasn't counted. Hail Marys seem like a classic case in point. There's already an arbitrary change to scoring for Hail Mary plays (counting interceptions as incompletions); why not simply scratch such plays entirely, as is done with various penalties and, yes, fumble recoveries?

4
by Jonadan :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 11:41am

There are times it seems truly unfortunate that DYAR/DVOA have no idea who's on the field - by which I mean Orlovsky, for all he's an upgrade over Painter, spent half the game playing against the second string of the Pat's "wretched secondary". I know the point's been beaten to death already, but hey.

---
"When you absolutely don't know what to do any more, then it's time to panic." - Johann van der Wiel

11
by Bernie (not verified) :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 11:56am

Orlovsky is clearly the answer the Colts have been looking for at QB. Now all they need to do is trade Peyton Manning for a handful of draft picks, trade the first pick overall for a kings ransom, and use the plethora of draft picks to surround King Orlovsky with enough talent to take us to 5 consecutive superbowl victories! I'm reading this situation right, aren't I?

83
by Purds :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 6:11pm

That's what I was saying to the Pats fans at the game who got awfully quiet when the Colts scored and then lined up for the on-sides kick with 35 seconds left. Priceless moment to see those who stayed get nervous about Orlovsky. Seriously, they were worried about Orlovsky?

On the other hand, from a Colt's fan perspective, he is worlds better than Painter. The easiest way to compare them is not in throwing, but how they take a sack. Painter either doesn't see the hit coming or tries to avoid the hit by swinging the ball away from his body, resulting in a fumble just about every other sack. Orlovsky at least just tucks the ball and goes down, but holds onto the ball.

85
by Nathan :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 6:51pm

Man is it a sad state of affairs when you prefer one of your QBs over the other because he takes a sack better.

93
by Purds :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 12:32am

Agreed! That is why I hope they keep Manning and draft Luck, Archie's opinion notwithstanding.

16
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 11:58am

DYAR doesn't know about any substitutions that have taken place. It thinks he was playing against starters.

21
by Eddo :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 12:10pm

This argument would be more persuasive if New England didn't have a bad pass defense (by DVOA, at least) already. Orlovsky's DYAR is already being depressed by playing the Patriots, starters or not.

73
by RickD :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 3:16pm

I know I'm depressed by the Patriots' secondary. Glad to see that Orlovsky's DYAR is having the same problem.

88
by ineedawittyname (not verified) :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 8:37pm

well played good sir, well played

5
by justanothersteve :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 11:44am

Palko's "Hail Mary touchdown to Dexter McCluster at the end of the first half was worth 38 DYAR." I was under the impression that Hail Mary's didn't count as they are essentially fluke/ luck plays. I don't think they count against INTs. Just looking for some clarification/ reason here as I'm puzzled.

10
by Briguy :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 11:55am

In a Hail Mary situation, the vast majority of QBs will throw an incompletion, so throwing one doesn't hurt you when compared to what a replacement level player would do. Also, in that situation, throwing an interception isn't going to be any more harmful than an incompletion, because you aren't losing anything - you wouldn't have any more tries anyway, and the other team can't take advantage of the turnover by going back the other way and scoring. This is why an interception doesn't count against the QB: it's essentially equal to the baseline expected value (incompletion).

On the other hand, scoring in that situation is VERY valuable.

14
by Kimchee (not verified) :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 11:58am

Recovering a fumble is also valuable, but that doesn't count here.

15
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 11:58am

It's valuable, but it's not predictive. Recovering fumbles is valuable too, but FO stats don't consider them.

I too was under the impression that hail mary's just didn't count as plays for DVOA/DYAR. Maybe it was close enough that it doesn't count as a proper hail mary for?

29
by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 12:31pm

We do count Hail Mary passes, but we don't penalize quarterbacks for interceptions. Interceptions are considered incompletions.

63
by Canadian (not verified) :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 2:08pm

On a related note, how do you count 4th down interceptions (which are often better for the offense than an incompletion)? Nothing annoys me more watching a football game than a QB making a "safe" throw on 4th down that has 0% chance of gaining his team a 1st down.

6
by Dean :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 11:45am

I expected Steven Jackson to be dead last, despite San Francisco having a pretty good defense. At one point he had a 3 yard run and it was his longest of the day and got his average back up to 1.0.

How bad does he look once everything is factored in?

77
by Vince Verhei :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 3:42pm

He only had 10 carries. Finished with -10 DYAR rushing, which is bad, but about negated with 8 DYAR receiving.

Worst rushing value was in that game, but on the other team: Frank Gore had -27 DYAR on the ground. He had one 20-yard run, but averaged 2.7 yards per carry and no first downs on his other 20 runs.

84
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 6:33pm

According to your ESPN article the niners did have two of the top ten receivers in Kyle Williams and Crabtree and having looked at the tape both of their long scoring passes came against a 8 man and a 9 man front.

86
by greybeard :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 7:16pm

Neither of which were due to Gore.

Crabtree touchdown was set up with two trick runs (one with Ginn around the right tackle, the other one Tanier's burn-this-play run around the left tackle by Walker). Rams were so concerned about run, but not specifically Gore, they had to put more people at the line of scrimmage. That was a great example of stretching the field horizontally so you can stretch it vertically.

Williams touchdown is even more unrelated to Gore. It was a pass play that Rams choose to blitz with many players. Smith beat them by throwing to the right guy for a first down and Williams scored.

I don't remember either one being a 9 men front, but will check when I get back home.

92
by greybeard :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 11:28pm

The Williams TD came on a 3rd and 11. Rams sent 6 rushers.
Crabtree TD: Rams thad 4 down lineman, 2 LBs. They had two safeties or 1 safety and a LB covering the two tight ends 5-6 yards out of DEs and a few yards behind the line of scrimmage. I don't know if that counts as 6 or 8 men front. Besides, when Ginn ran the ball two plays earlier, that was a 7 man front despite Walker being a HB and Gore being in the back.

95
by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 7:14am

The point I was attempting to make was that the Rams weren't playing very much two deep coverage, there was a lot of man free and some cover zero (the Williams play). This is likely to lead to limited and sporadic success for Gore and big plays alongside increased sacks from the passing game. Generally I still think that teams are trying to stop Gore first and that's why Alex Smith had a career high passer rating, even with Davis dropping one of the best throws Smith has ever made.

98
by greybeard :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 1:57pm

I think there is not much deep coverage for two reasons:
1) 49ers receivers are not fast or shifty
2) 49ers use a lot of formations that are tight end heavy.

I don't think it has anything with Gore and his success. Don't get me wrong. I think Gore is great and one of the best running backs in the league. But our OLine is not good, neither is our running game.

Also, read what Greg Roman said about Rams defense, how they do things unconventionally, that they would have empty zones, lots of gambles and surprises.

Reading what coordinators say has been a blessing this year. Like Fangio's comments about Skelton. Cosell says Skelton has a good arm -that was literally what he said after saying Alex Smith does not have a good arm and therefore not a good QB-. Then Fangio says to Billick before the game that 49ers would not put complex schemes in defense to confuse Skelton, since there is nothing to confuse, that all that Skelton does is to look for Fitzgerald.

99
by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 3:45pm

All I will offer in response is to point to the statements from Gore and Roman saying that they have repeatedly faced defenses loaded to stop Frank Gore, they said that the giants in particular were stacking the line to stop Frank.

102
by greybeard :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 5:59pm

Gore has been saying that almost every week. Which is curios, because he was not saying that before this year, where he was a much bigger part of the offense and passing game was much worse. And Roman said it for the Giants game, and indeed Giants stacked up the box. Mike Sando wrote that 49ers faced 9.2% of the time 8 or more man until that point and 19.2% in that game. That is 3 or 4 run plays that there are 8 or more fronts in a game on the average. 49ers have at usually 2 or 3 plays where they have an extra one or two offensive lineman in the game.

Except for the Giants game I don't buy it. The opponents stack up the box when 49ers put lots of people on LOS. Not because of Gore or good running game, but because they have to. And 49ers have been passing a lot from those formations. And when opponents back off then they run from those formations. This is just good play calling that one can do when they have good tight ends. However it also leads to more third downs and more field goals, which 49ers coaches seem to prefer over more TDs and more interceptions, sack/fumbles.

I am not disputing that 49ers face more 8 or 9 men fronts than other teams. Or the safeties are usually shallower than they are. My point is that is a result of the formations and the speed of their WRs they are putting on the field not because of their success in run game.

103
by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 6:59pm

OK, my final two cents because I don't think that we actually disagree that much. While the niners' run game is not going great guns I still think that most teams are thinking stop Gore first and that is part of the reason that Smith is having such a good year.

107
by greybeard :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 9:24pm

As long as they are winning I don't care how they win (excluding cheating).

After 8 years of losing football it is nice to have a discussion about to what they owe their success.

116
by hrodric :: Sun, 12/11/2011 - 5:20am

Gore has faced more 8+ man fronts than any other running back in the entire league...Mike Sando on the espn west blog did a report on this. Stacking the box definitely helps when it comes to stretching the field vertically. Opposing teams generally try to stop the niner run game first before the pass and gore is the main factor in this regard.

7
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 11:47am

I must remember DYAR is a counting stat. I was wondering how that was Rodgers 2nd best passing and best overall game of the year. He 210 passing and 214 total in week 7 (vs Minnesota). It's not like NY has a great passing defense so it's not adjustment. Then I remembered this was tied for Rodgers 2nd most completions in a game. But I'm curious as to what DVOA saw that was so different from conventional stats since by those measures this was Rodgers 2nd worst game by YPA, worst by comp %, tied for worst with ints. He had yardage, but it was only his 3rd best yardage game. He had 4 TD's but that is the 4th time this season he has done that. So I'm still not fully getting DYAR. Though really it's not that different for most of his other games. He has averaged 160.5 passing DYAR a game.

I get that it was a very good rushing game. 4 scrambles and 3 of them got firsts. I guess that since they ran 17 times on first down there were a lot of times where he was converting 3rd downs by the pass (I think there were 6 of them) and few first downs becoming first downs than in the past.

But this is the 2nd week in a row I've been a bit confused about what DVOA/DYAR are measuring. I know it's designed for teams, and I'm now very curious as to what it will say about the team this week.

I still think it's a good measure, but I'm not sure what insight this week is supposed to show me as by my eye test I'd say he's had 5 or 6 games that were better than this. Maybe I'm like the old passer rating and I over value completion percentage. I like it when stats help me see something I missed. I'm not sure what I missed here and the write-up didn't really give a lot of insight. Was it that the last drive was worth a lot more than I expected it to be? I'm curious.

11
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 11:56am

He was incredible on 3rd down, my guess is that's why his DYAR is higher than usual.

28
by BJR :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 12:22pm

It was almost as if the Packers were playing for the sake of Rodgers' DYAR, often running into the line once or twice before allowing the him to do his stuff.

50
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 1:27pm

You are correct but it didn't feel quite so obvious when watching. Considering how most of their first down runs this year have been while watching I didn't think first down runs were too bad, by Packers standards.

The first down runs. An (s) indicates a scramble.

5, 3, -4, 2s, 6, 4, 3, 1, 2, 3, 5, 3, 2, 4, 4, 3

I know that by FO metrics you need 4 yards to be a success on first down so only 6 of 16 were a success (37.5%), but a 3 yard run isn't horrible so that is 11 of the 16 first down runs weren't bad or awful. Again for a team that actually runs the ball well this is really bad. For the Packers this is actually pretty decent.

They had 3 runs on 2nd down that weren't after a first down run those were
2, 5, 8

So 2 of those 3 were successes and one was merely bad.

If that is where it stopped you have 62 yards on 19 carries. Which is only 3.2 yards but they only average 3.8 yards a carry. This is not as bad as Packers fans are used to the last couple of seasons.

They didn't stop there though they often then turned it into something awful on 2nd down.

They had 7 sequences where they followed a first down run with a 2nd down run. Those pairs were:
5, -2 = 3
3, -3 = 0
1, 13s = 14
3, 4 = 7
3, -2 = 1
2, 3 = 5
4, -2 = 2

So yeah they turned two successes into crap, two other OK runs into crap. Had one bad stay bad (the 2, 3), a Rodgers scramble that was good, and then one good sequence, the 3,4. Take away the scramble and you have -2 yards on 6 carries on 2nd down after a run on a first down. That is bad, even for this team.

So really you are looking at 19 times where they ran on 1st, 2nd, or both and those runs got them the following yards.

3, 3, -4, 2s, 2, 6, 4, 5, 0, 14s, 2, 7, 5, 1, 5, 2, 8, 4, 3

Of course these weren't all 3 down series, but they generally turned anything that was OK or good into poor on the next down out of the 20 . Nearly half of then 2nd down rushing yards were the 13 yard scramble.

Oh and for completeness they had 2 runs on 3rd down, both were scrambles that got a firs, both game after a 1st and 2nd down run (the sequences were 3, -3, 11s and 2, 3, 6s).

My conclusion based on this very limited sample? The Packers should never run twice in a row, unless one of those runs is a scramble.

39
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 12:55pm

Was he? I acknowledge the runs, I get those. But passing?

The team faced 14 first downs.
One of them was a missed FG
One of them was converted by penalty on a play that would have otherwise been an 11 yard sack of Rodgers.
Two of them he scrambled for first downs.

The other 10 would affect his passing.
On one of them he took a 7 yard sack.
On 4 others he had an incomplete pass.
So 5-10 for 48 yards on 3rd. The team is at 49.7% conversion rate on the year so that is better because some of those conversions are running. But it's not that much better.
Now there were 2 TD's but are those 2 really worth that much more than the 2 other TD's this game?

I'm not saying he played poorly on 3rd down, but it didn't seem to be that different than what he's done all year (he did better vs Denver on 3rd downs for example by raw play by play). It still doesn't seem to match up with this being his 2nd best passing game of the year by DYAR. NY had an 11.9% passing DVOA going into this game so that means this performance should have actually been adjusted down because it was against a below average passing D.

I guess I was just expecting something around 160, when you take out quality of defense it felt about the same as the Detroit game. I'm not saying it's hugely off. I'm just trying to learn where it doesn't match up with my perception.

44
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 1:01pm

All of those completions were conversions. So with the scrambles, that's 7 3rd downs he converted. 7 out of 12 is pretty good.

48
by Arkaein :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 1:14pm

I was suprised like you were, but keep in mind that the four QBs around Rodgers (Brees through Newton) in the rankings averaged close to 10 DYAR per pass attempt. Rodgers averaged about 8 DYAR per attempt, and made up the difference through more attempts.

60
by Vince Verhei :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 2:04pm

Rodgers' DVOA for the game (passing only) was 56.9%, which is still above his season average (52.7%). His worst games of the year were Week 2 against Carolina (27.5%) and Week 11 against Tampa Bay (26.3%).

He doesn't get extra credit or penalty for playing the Giants, who are effectively neutral in pass defense.

The short explanation for why his DVOA is higher than you might expect is that his bad plays (except his interception) weren't as bad as you might think. His sacks came in obvious passing situations (one on third-and-12, one late in the fourth), so the baseline for those situations is very low -- those sacks were barely any worse, in DVOA's eyes, than incomplete passes.

Meanwhile, he made a ton of big throws. Four touchdowns helps, obviously, but he also had seven other plays of 20 yards or more, and eight plays on top of that for 10 yards or more. Only four of his completions had negative value in DVOA. That's a very low for a guy who completed 28 passes. Ryan Fitzpatrick had 10 completions for negative value, in 29 total completions.

100
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 4:21pm

I watched the game again after reading this (love NFL Rewind condensed version) and I do see it now. I was guilty of over valuing completion percentage and also as already mentioned of forgetting DYAR is still a counting stat. It was a better performance than I initially thought and the drops were pretty bad this game. If only 4 of the 6 were caught the completion percentage would have been where I'm used to this year.

This is why I asked the question and thank you for the response. He really didn't have any awful passing related plays by the eyeball test, just a couple of not great, like DVOA points out.

8
by BlueStarDude :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 11:53am

I don't like to bring up drops, every QB has them, but Romo had three passes that weren't just drops: they were ripped right out of the receivers hands (twice it was Dez Bryant), and on those third downs the center Phil Costa was getting abused every which way except on those plays where Doug Free was playing matador. Romo was off the mark early in the game on a few passes but it's just not fair to say he was awful when his receivers don't get separation, the oline plays like garbage, and his head coach might as well be Herm Edwards.

34
by Nathan :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 12:51pm

Is it me or is Phil Costa just godawful? I've watched maybe 3 Cowboys games this year and in each one I've thought, man that center is terrible.

61
by AnonymousD (not verified) :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 2:04pm

Yes, he's bad. He or Bradie James (ILB) is their worst starter. Unfortunately, Costa plays all of the offensive snaps where James' snaps can be minimized by playing one ILB or putting a S in his spot.

9
by TomC :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 11:54am

It may not surprise you to hear that Caleb Hanie was the worst red zone quarterback in the league this week with -84 DYAR. The amazing thing, though, is that he pulled this off despite being credited with just three red zone plays, two sacks and an interception. His red zone DVOA was -704.8%.

This made me laugh through my Bear-fan tears, so thanks for that. However, as bad as Hanie has played (and he has been epically bad), I would claim that most of that -704.8% is on Roy Williams and the coaching staff. The two sacks happened when the Bears went empty-backfield and someone came unblocked (on consecutive plays, no less), and the pick was one of the best passes Hanie threw all day.

32
by Steve in WI :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 12:42pm

The sacks (all of them, not just the red-zone sacks) I would blame primarily on the play calling and the awfulness of the O-line, and only partially on Hanie. I think he holds onto the ball too long, but given the horrible decisions he made against Oakland I can't blame him too much there. The interception was 100% on Williams - Hanie's throw was darn near perfect.

I still can't figure out how he looked so terrible for most of the game, and then so great for a few plays. I'm not sure if I'm remembering this correctly, but I believe that before the Roy Williams interception he'd completed his last 5 passes, and all of them had looked impressive. (And as I said, I give Hanie credit for a good throw to Williams - it's just too bad he bobbled it and gave the ball to a defender). Anyway, that drive was Cutleresque.

I think at this point the Bears just have to stick with Hanie and hope for the best. With 4 games to play, they have to win 3 of them...and since one of those games is against the Packers, realistically, the other 3 are must-wins. I don't think bringing anyone in from outside gives them a better chance to beat the Broncos than Hanie does, even if that other person may be a better QB overall.

41
by Eddo :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 12:59pm

I was at the game, last row, north end zone(*), and I thought many of the sacks were Hanie's fault. Martz didn't help by calling seven-step drops, but Hanie gave a clinic on not seeing receivers breaking open.

There were several plays where a receiver would make a cut, and a pro QB should have thrown the ball, as the receiver was about to be open. All game, Hanie was waiting for the receiver to actually be open, instead of throwing the ball to a spot the receiver should be open at (I hope this makes sense, I feel like I've done a poor job describing this).

Whereas Cutler's major flaw is that he thinks he can make throws to almost any receiver, no matter how covered he is, Hanie's is that he seems to have absolutely no confidence that he can hit any receiver that doesn't have ten feet of separation from a defender.

(*) I mention this because I love our seats due to the perspective it gives on this type of thing. It's a great way to see how passing plays develop and to see what kind of coverages are being used.

------

I think Martz called a very uneven game. Too many long drops, but he also was actively trying to help Hanie at times, calling rollouts (which play to Hanie's strength, his athleticism). Of course, Hanie often rolled out too far; I distinctly remember one play where a Bears' lineman had the far edge sealed for a rollout, about ten yards wide of the tackle box, and Hanie overran him, allowing the defensive player to simply turn around, shed the block, and pursue the QB.

------

And you're absolutely right. The Bears have to hope that Hanie gets a little better, and then that Cutler is ready for the playoffs. No QB brought in now will make enough of an impact, and Hanie's flaws do seem correctable with experience (though I don't believe he'll ever actually be an above-average backup, let alone an actually good pro QB).

52
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 1:37pm

That's my man Martzie; stubborness untethered from observation. Whether it continuing to use a great qb to pass, when handing off to a HOF rb a dozen times likely wins a championship, or calling for 7 step drops with an inexperienced qb unequipped to deal with pressure, Martzie just knows he is right, and the world must be wrong.

I'd like to go back and look at the Rams against the Bucs and the Titans, in the '99 post season, with an eye towards how Martzie may have almost blown the making of his reputation.

78
by Steve in WI :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 3:48pm

Makes sense. It was hard to tell from the broadcast whether or not receivers were reasonably open when Hanie was taking those sacks, but I can definitely believe he could have made throws on some of them.

49
by Jimmy :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 1:26pm

I think it is a but unfair to the line to blame it for the sacks. Hanie was holding onto the ball for eternity. By the time he even started looking to get it out quickly the defense was sending huge blitzes that the line was struggling to keep enough players in to block. I can't recall him hitting a hot route all game (or at least not until the last drive when the Chiefs let up with blitzing to keep their safeties deep). When the defense knows you can't hit the hot route you are toast and I am not sure five all pros could have protected Hanie under those circumstances. He threw half a dozen passes at the end of the game but apart from that he was terrible, holding the ball too long and then missing receivers when by some miracle he actually managed to get the ball out.

Nathan Enderle must really suck if he can't play any better than this.

54
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 1:44pm

"Nathan Enderle must really suck if he can't play any better than this."

Did you not watch him in preseason? He was not good at all and that is against 3rd stringers running a vanilla defense.

As for Hanie it looked like his default reaction to pressure is to sprint to his right. If the defense is ready for that he's toast. The question now is, can he learn to find those hot routes?

I expect Josh McCown to be in the game at half time on Sunday.

56
by Eddo :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 1:49pm

By all accounts, McCown looks absolutely awful, which is why he wasn't even active for the Chiefs game.

59
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 1:57pm

Well in that case better hope Hanie learns fast.

I still think Denver, Seattle and Minnesota are all winnable games. Mostly due to the defense.

62
by Jimmy :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 2:06pm

I couldn't watch preseason as I have to watch online and my computer broke. I liked what I saw from Idaho tape (or what you could try to discern from Idaho getting outclassed on pretty much every play) so I was somewhat hopeful. I suppose one month to try to learn the system whilst the coaches are (presumably) more worried about getting the starters ready can't have helped him.

13
by nat :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 11:56am

Hmmmm.... love that garbage-time DYAR

Three quarters DYAR:
Brady: 168
Orlovsky: 20

Fourth quarter DYAR:
Brady: -36
Orlovsky: 136

This isn't to say that Orlovsky's production wasn't real exactly. But it is certainly true that fourth quarter DYAR is subject to a host of analysis issues that the first three quarters don't have.

As always, the best solution is to call out the fourth quarter DYAR, just as Vince did here.

17
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 12:00pm

Nothing like seeing your QB being almost twice as bad as the 2nd worst QB of the week.

18
by Ferguson1015 :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 12:01pm

"In rushing value alone, Rice would be first"

Isn't Mathews rushing value higher than his? Or am I reading this wrong?

19
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 12:03pm

The original article goes up on ESPN prior to the Monday night game. On Tuesdays they post it here with the Monday players included.

57
by Vince Verhei :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 1:50pm

Whoops. I was reading from the wrong column. That entry has been slightly re-written now.

20
by Null_void (not verified) :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 12:06pm

Does Newton's 27 yard screen reception count towards his total DYAR? I guess it might only be a couple of points, but he nearly had a TD passing, rushing, and receiving (has a QB done that in an NFL game? Raiderjoe?).

24
by Eddo :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 12:14pm

To begin, you should be summoning Travis, not Raiderjoe (though this is certainly something Raiderjoe could know).

I can't seem to find the answer using Google (or Travis's site), but I do know that both Walter Payton and David Patten have had a passing, rushing, and receiving touchdown in the same game. There are more, I'm certain, and neither of those guys were QBs, but it's a start.

36
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 12:51pm

Jim McMahon came close. He has two games with a receiving TD, but in one game didn't get a rushing TD and in the other didn't get a passing TD.

25
by zlionsfan :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 12:16pm

Not since 1960. pro-football-reference shows 7 players who've accomplished that; none were QBs. (The last was LaDainian Tomlinson in 2005 against the Raiders.)

Tomlinson's "QB rating" for the game - meaning that pass - was 122.9, the only one of the seven who didn't get a perfect rating. His pass was thrown from the 4, so it wasn't exactly his fault.

35
by Travis :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 12:51pm

One QB did it, but it took bizarre circumstances. From the New York Times, October 30, 1944:

"Midway through the third period the Eagles registered again. From the 22 [Roy] Zimmerman passed to Tom Miller, who lateraled back to Zimmerman for the score as he was being tackled on the 15.

The touchdown was recorded in the box score as "Roy Zimmerman 15 yard pass from Roy Zimmerman (Roy Zimmerman kick)." Shades of Bugs Bunny.

The other 4 players who ran, caught, and threw for a touchdown 1940-1959 were all halfbacks - Tony Canadeo, Ray Renfro, Frank Gifford, and Gene Gedman.

68
by Drunkmonkey :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 2:36pm

I think Kordell Stewart had something like a passing, rushing, and punt return TD in one game against Carolina at some point. I'm not 100% certain on this, and don't have the time to look it up, but I think he scored a TD 3 different ways once.

22
by drobviousso :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 12:11pm

Re: Ben - Has there ever been any real analysis done on which is more valuable, streaky or consistent (assuming DYAR and DVOA are the same). Seems like streaky would be more valuable, but hard to say.

Also, is streakyness a consistent quality for some QBs?

26
by Eddo :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 12:17pm

Like variance at the team level, I would guess that being streaky (really, another term for "high variance", no?) would be a positive attribute for poor QBs, and a negative one for good ones.

If you are a good QB, you want to be consistent, so you're good all the time. But if you're a bad QB, if you're streaky, that means that at least some of the time you come out as above-average.

40
by drobviousso :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 12:55pm

Well, it's variance in a particular dimension. Scoring touchdowns is, even for a good QB, a tough goal that isn't achieved on every single drive, and even they would benefit from having a few good drives and a few bad drives, I would think.

Anyway, I was thinking more like would you rather have 3 series of 3 and out + 1 80 yard TD drive, or would you rather have 4 series of moving the ball 30 yards and punting four times. And this is all in the context of a sport where where only three good drives can win you a game.

43
by Andrew Potter :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 1:01pm

Anyway, I was thinking more like would you rather have 3 series of 3 and out + 1 80 yard TD drive, or would you rather have 4 series of moving the ball 30 yards and punting four times.

Ask the Jets. Option 1 is basically their offense.

53
by drobviousso :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 1:43pm

Yeah, I noticed that Ben lost a bit of his 4th quarter magic around the same time Sanchez found his, which was right around the same time Santonio started wearing green.

45
by Eddo :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 1:02pm

Those are some good points. I was thinking more along the lines of game-to-game variance, as opposed to drive-to-drive (or even play-to-play).

And of course, variance/streakiness is all relative. No QB will ever be perfectly consistent (a la Robo-Punter); but some would be more consistent than others, of course.

30
by dryheat :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 12:35pm

Not extremely germane to Quick Reads, but I'm trying to figure out the reasoning why Brady's lateral to Gronkowski for a TD was changed to a running play and no touchdown pass for Brady, yet when Brady threw an identical play in the fourth quarter (a clear lateral) for a three yard loss, those yards came off his passing yardage totals.

Seems inconsistent. If a lateral isn't a pass, then it isn't a pass. Either those should count as negative rushing yards for the receiver (Hernandez, I think), or the rule should be tweaked to count balls thrown more than a couple of yards as passes, regardless of where the ball was caught relative to where it was thrown.

37
by PatsFan :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 12:54pm

Probably because the scorer was asleep on the Q4 play.

I bet if you look at the stats you'll see the Q4 play remained a pass in all aspects (counted as passing yards, counted as a completion, counted as an attempt, counter as a reception for negative yards to the receiver) while the Gronk play turned into a run in all aspects (did not count as a completion or as an attempt, no passing yards, Gronk credited with a run).

The PBP for that Q4 play:

(7:11) (Shotgun) 12-T.Brady pass short right to 81-A.Hernandez to NE 41 for -3 yards (27-J.Lacey).

46
by Travis :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 1:04pm

If the play was as you describe (I didn't see it), the play should be corrected to a run sometime in the next few days, as has happened several times this season.

The only reason I can think of is that touchdowns get reviewed sooner. Non-touchdown stat corrections typically take several days to make, which is why ESPN fantasy football results aren't made official until the following Saturday morning.

31
by dryheat :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 12:39pm

Manning threw 11 passes at or behind the line of scrimmage, most of any quarterback this week except Matthew Stafford

I'm confused. Aren't all passes thrown at or behind the line of scrimmage?

33
by Steve in WI :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 12:44pm

I'm assuming they mean passes that were caught at or behind the line of scrimmage, but I had to think about it for a few minutes.

38
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 12:54pm

I think both of you are confusing "at" with "from"

42
by dryheat :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 1:00pm

Aren't "at" and "from" essentially synonyms here? I think the problem was confusing "at" with "to".

Peterson takes the handoff at the five.....1st and 10 at the Bears' 32...

47
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 1:05pm

At can be a synonym of to.

I threw the ball at the tree from the ground.

64
by Agamemnon :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 2:10pm

I think the original poster is thinking that Manning threw (while he was) at or behind the line of scrimmage, a perfectly legitimate assumption. I'll admit that it is pretty confusing, and probably needs more words for clarification, especially since there is no object or indirect object given. Far better would be "Manning threw to receivers at or behind the line of scrimmage".

65
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 2:11pm

It's mildly confusing, but from the context there is only one meaning that makes sense.

51
by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 1:31pm

Anyone else think it's strange that the Chargers suddenly play convincing football as soon as there's an announcement that Norv will be fired? You can tell a lot of interesting stories based on that turn of events.

66
by greybeard :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 2:27pm

Since he is not fired and that is just a rumor for now, most sensible explanation would be that his players do not want him to be fired and are playing extra hard for him.
I guess that was not what you had in mind.

67
by dryheat :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 2:28pm

There was an announcement? From whom?

69
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 2:37pm

If Martz is leaving Chicago then will Norv be his replacement? Seems a good fit, the schemes are very similar and I can't see anyone offering Turner a head coaching job, though then the Bears would probably regret trading Greg Olsen.

71
by dryheat :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 2:49pm

I guess that would largely depend if there is any hard feelings between the Bears and Ron Turner.

75
by RickD :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 3:27pm

I think the Chargers' relatively strong performance was related more to the quality of the opposition than to any rumors being banded about by the sports media.

76
by Ferguson1015 :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 3:31pm

I think it is just a combination of players playing harder and the fact that they were playing the Jaguars (Which admittedly are actually pretty good on Defense this year). The Chargers have shown flashes of this kind of play the entire year, but only for quarters/halfs of games. Maybe the reality check of the possibility of missing the playoffs (and a possible turnover of staff) lit a fire under them like it has every single year they have been under Turner.

Also as an aside, just the mere mention of the name "Leaf" on a football forum is like a punch to the gut for this Charger fan. I'm sure it is just incidental, but even after all these years it still causes a cringe.

55
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 1:49pm

I think it likely that Ponder is, absent injury, going to progress enough by next year, that if his team gets another receiver with speed and ball skills that have to be respected, and a left tackle who is merely competent, Percy Harvin can have a historically great year. Harvin could have a great year just on YAC on underneath routes, if there was another receiver on the field who was more than an inanimate carbon rod.

58
by The Rod (not verified) :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 1:57pm

Sure, but that inanimate carbon road was a hero in space.

82
by wyatt (not verified) :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 5:16pm

+1

80
by Eddo :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 4:22pm

I was looking for something in last year's Quick Reads, and I was struck at how much more well-written and less combative the player comments are this year.

What I'm trying to say is nice job, Vince.

81
by Vince Verhei :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 4:33pm

Thanks!

89
by nat :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 9:53pm

I'll second that. Vince, you're doing a fine job.

90
by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 9:55pm

1. I'm surprised no one has made the obvious point that the Bears don't run the West Coast offense that McNabb has played in his entire career. A much bigger argument for why he won't be rescuing the Bears this year.

2. I'm slightly surprised that Nate Burleson did not end up as least valuable WR, given his four 15 yard penalties against the Saints.

91
by Vince Verhei :: Tue, 12/06/2011 - 10:16pm

At this point, we don't include OPI in individual DYAR/DVOA calculations. Even if we did, Burleson's raw numbers (five catches, all for first downs, 93 yards, eight targets) were probably good enough to keep him out of the bottom slot.

104
by Steve in WI :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 7:07pm

I agree with your point about McNabb, but I think the situation the Bears are in now, coupled with the Martz offense, makes it moot. I firmly believe that:

- the Bears must win their next two games to keep their playoff hopes alive (needing 3 out of 4, I'm assuming the Packers game is a loss no matter what)
- no available QB, regardless of overall skill, can come in and learn the Martz offense in a few days and be better than Hanie this week and next. (Could we get a guy who would be better than Hanie given a few weeks to prepare? Maybe, but what good does that do? We have our franchise QB and I don't see anyone available who is close to as good as a healthy Cutler. Either Hanie can win 3 of the next 4 games and get us into the playoffs, where hopefully Cutler can return, or he can't).

The only way I'd want the Bears to grab another QB at this point would be if it was someone who might be a longer-term solution as a backup, since Hanie is not only bad but unlikely to be with the Bears after this season. (I would've loved to see Orton come back to us for that reason, though I don't think he'd be satisfied with being a backup for the long term).

96
by Christopher (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 7:18am

It seems a shame to me that Alex Smith doesn't get any credit for a literally perfectly thrown ball about 40 yards in the air into the endzone. Obviously, play by play simply calls it an incompletion, because Vernon Davis had a horrible drop, but that is one of the biggest problems with just using that one source, or any uncorrected stats -they leave out critically important, and highly predictive things simply because they are not available in the format used.

Additionally, Aaron Rodgers game winning drive seemed utterly inevitable. It is extremely rare to see one team get so easily manhandled in what was a very close game. Such prowess has me very worried as a 49ers fan, because the road to the Super Bowl will go through Green Bay, and the 49ers are vulnerable to a good passing attack. The secondary, which has only Carlos Rogers as a cover guy, relies on the receivers to be inept enough to not beat them too badly, and the quarterback to be inaccurate enough that they can make a big interception or two, causing the opposing head coach to turtle. The 49ers have perhaps the best defense in the league against ultraconservative offenses, but a very vulnerable one to elite QBs when they are allowed to attack.

101
by Joseph :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 5:09pm

Christopher--not to dump on you, but it's probable that the 49ers will have to beat the Saints before going to the frozen tundra. (Luckily for them, they will be at home--the Niners will have to lose 2 of their 4 games, while the Saints win out, to drop to the #3 seed [conf. record tiebreaker--Niners have 1 NFC loss, while the Saints have 3.])

105
by Jerry :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 8:55pm

At the team level, the 49ers didn't make the play, and it was just an incompletion. Smith may have deserved better, but assigning that kind of credit arbitrarily becomes a real swamp. In the long run, great catches of not-so-well-thrown balls will pretty much balance drops of well-thrown passes, and the numbers will actually be reasonable.

106
by greybeard :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 9:17pm

"In the long run, great catches of not-so-well-thrown balls will pretty much balance drops of well-thrown passes, and the numbers will actually be reasonable."
This is not really true. If you do have bad WRs and TEs they will drop catchable balls more often than they would catch hard to catch ones. It is hard to capture in a statistical analysis, but that does not mean everything averages out.

Specifically for 49ers, they had by far the highest drop rate in the NFL (19 drops out of 300) before last week. Notably, Vernon Davis dropped two 40 yard touchdown passes. It makes such a big difference in an individuals statistics and perception if that QB has 2 more 40+ yards plays, 2 more TDs and 80 more yards overall.

108
by Jerry :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 9:46pm

"If you do have bad WRs and TEs", your DVOA should reflect that. This is where we get into the standard FO disclaimer about individual player stats reflecting their teammates, coaches, etc.

109
by greybeard :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 10:01pm

Whether DVOA captures that and a disclaimer is enough to make up for it or not, my comment was about your claim for things balancing out. They don't.

For using DVOA itself as a tool to capture the performance of individuals, I think it is quite useless and have said it so many times.

110
by tuluse :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 11:31pm

It can useful for comparing players on the same team.

111
by greybeard :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 2:17am

That is true. I did not think of that.

112
by Jerry :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 2:41am

How about if I claim that luck balances out in the long run, and what's left reflects talent? Montana to Rice missed occasionally, but less often than Smith to Davis.

113
by greybeard :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 4:22am

I think I understand your point more clearly now. I believe you are sating that, if DVOA for Alex Smith is a (predictive) measure of performance of him, but also his receivers and Oline, etc, then correcting ir for Vernon Davis' drop would be a bad thing to do as he will be throwing to him in the future and Vernon would be dropping a few other 40+ yards passes in the future.

That would be absolutely correct in my opinion if that is your argument.

Having said that, my observation is more often than not (if ever) people on this message boards use DVOA as the obsolete truth. Many times I have seen people arguing so and so has played better look at his DVOA.

Secondly, DVOA sucks as a predictive tool. (I have not seen a single time this website put an in depth analysis of how successful DVOA was on predicting stuff. I am sure they would have done so if that were the case). So it really does not matter of Vernon will drop more passes. If you would like to get a true sense of the performance of an individual, then you need to go fix the analysis for these drops and tipped interceptions and OLine beaten for sacks. Hard and probably impossible, I know, but then what is the point of grading someone if you cannot grade them fairly. You end up with disclaimers.

114
by Jerry :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 4:55am

To clarify a bit more: (1) DVOA is necessarily a team stat. There's some value to trying to apply it to individuals, but, like you, I don't put too much stock in it. (2) Trying to apportion blame for a given incompletion is usually difficult. There's the occasional drop of a pass on the hands, but even if a QB misses his receiver by 5 yards, is it a bad throw or a bad route? (3) If Davis' hands are that bad, and Smith persists in throwing to him, then he's going to have to live with the results. (Yeah, I realize that sometimes Vernon is the best option.)

115
by tuluse :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 10:52am

They have articles up about the predictive nature of team DVOA. It correlates better to future performance than previous win-loss, or point differential.