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Tom and Mike perform the ritual "complimenting of the Loser League team names," pile on Marty Mornhinweg, and actually find a scenario where starting Geno Smith is a good idea.

27 Dec 2011

Week 16 Quick Reads

by Vince Verhei

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton only threw for 171 yards against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, but that was all he needed to set his latest benchmark. Newton now has 3,893 passing yards this season, breaking Peyton Manning's rookie record of 3,739 set in 1998. Newton also has 14 rushing touchdowns, the most for any quarterback in a single season, rookie or otherwise. Have we ever seen anyone - or anything - like this?

Frankly, no. At Football Outsiders, we use similarity scores to find historical matches for contemporary players. (Similarity scores were invented by baseball analyst Bill James and have since been used by many other statisticians for many other sports.) Our formula uses not just on-field performance, but also factors like size, age, and experience in an attempt to predict each player's future.

Newton essentially breaks our similarity score system. He's on pace for 719 rushing yards. The only quarterbacks who have rushed for more than 700 yards since the merger are Michael Vick, Bobby Douglass, and Randall Cunningham. (Vick has done it three times, and can make it a fourth with 114 yards against Washington next week. Tim Tebow needs 56 yards against Kansas City to join the club.) The system doesn't know to do with all that ground yardage, and tries to match Newton up with occasional scramblers like Mark Brunell and Don Majkowski.

Newton's rushing ability is no fluke, and at 6-foot-5 and 248 pounds, there's no reason to expect his numbers on the ground to dissipate anytime soon. To get a better picture of his performance, let's separate his passing stats from his rushing stats. Since we can't find anyone who could run and throw like Newton, let's start with players who threw like him, then look for those who ran like him.

Projecting Newton's stats over 16 games gives us 315 completions, 525 attempts, 4,153 yards, 21 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions, all at the tender age of 22. Here are the 10 quarterback seasons most similar to that since 1978:

Top 10 QBs similar to Cam Newton, passing only
Name Year Team G Cmp Att Yds TD INT AGE
Peyton Manning 1999 IND 16 331 533 4135 26 15 23
Bernie Kosar* 1987 CLE1 16 321 519 4044 29 12 24
Daunte Culpepper 2000 MIN 16 297 474 3937 33 16 23
Jim Everett 1988 LARM 16 308 517 3964 31 18 25
Ken O'Brien 1985 NYJ 16 297 488 3888 25 8 25
Aaron Rodgers 2008 GB 16 341 536 4038 28 13 25
Dan Marino 1985 MIA 16 336 567 4137 30 21 24
Bernie Kosar 1986 CLE1 16 310 531 3854 17 10 23
Carson Palmer 2006 CIN 16 324 520 4035 28 13 27
Peyton Manning 2001 IND 16 343 547 4131 26 23 25
* Strike year. Stats projected to 16-game schedule

Man, that's a good group of passers. Marino's in the Hall of Fame, Manning is on his way, and Rodgers looks destined to join them. Newton's numbers right now look like what those guys were going in their second, third, and fourth seasons. Daunte Culpepper (remember, this is looking at passing stats only) and Carson Palmer were two of the league's hottest young stars before injuries derailed their careers. And then we have a bunch of guys from the 1980s. That could be a reflection of Newton's strong arm and longball style, which is rare in today's NFL. He's presently averaging 13.2 yards per completion. That would be one of the top 20 rates this century, but it would barely make the top 100 rates of the 1980s.

And Newton, the rusher? He's projected to hit 128 carries for 719 yards and 15 touchdowns. Here are the running backs most similar to that since 1978 (not counting receiving stats):

Top 10 RBs similar to Cam Newton, rushing only
Name Year Team G Rush RuYd RuTD AGE
Marion Barber 2006 DAL 16 135 654 14 23
Herschel Walker 1986 DAL 16 151 737 12 24
Maurice Jones-Drew 2006 JAC 16 166 941 13 21
Brian Westbrook 2003 PHI 15 117 613 7 24
Ickey Woods 1988 CIN 16 203 1066 15 22
Pierre Thomas 2008 NO 15 129 625 9 24
Chris Ivory 2010 NO 12 137 716 5 22
Brad Muster 1990 CHI 16 141 664 6 25
Blair Thomas 1990 NYJ 15 123 620 1 23
Selvin Young 2007 DEN 15 140 729 1 24

Even restricting our list to running backs, it's hard to find players who have posted seasons like Newton. The touchdown totals start to drop pretty quickly. It's worth noting that Newton's four closest matches started their careers as parts of committees, but would go on to become not just feature tailbacks, but Pro Bowlers. That's the kind of ground game Newton brings to the table.

In short, it's fair to say that Cam Newton has played like a young Peyton Manning and a rookie Herschel Walker all rolled into one. Any questions about who the rookie of the year should be?

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
1.
Aaron Rodgers GB
21/29
283
5
0
247
247
0
Rodgers had an off day in a Week 14 win over Oakland, then followed with his worst game of the year in the Week 15 loss to Kansas City. It looked like the start of a bad pattern, but Rodgers rebounded with his best game of the year against Chicago on Christmas night. What's amazing is that at one point in the second quarter, Rodgers was 10-of-14 for just 86 yards, with only four first downs (including one touchdown). From that point on, he was 11-of-15 for 197 yards, with every completion gaining a first down (including four touchdowns).
2.
Matt Stafford DET
29/36
373
3
0
236
235
1
Stafford did not throw back-to-back incompletions against San Diego (although he did go sack-incomplete on back-to-back plays in the third quarter). Meanwhile, he had three separate stretches of five or more completions in a row. He also went 6-of-10 on deep passes (more than 15 yards past the line of scrimmage) for 168 yards.
3.
Drew Brees NO
23/38
307
4
2
150
149
2
Brees now leads Aaron Rodgers by 52 DYAR and Tom Brady by 160 DYAR as the MVP race comes down to the wire. More on this in the DVOA commentary later today.
4.
Michael Vick PHI
19/31
293
2
0
131
134
-3
Second quarter: 7-of-8 for 133 yards and six first downs, including a 5-yard touchdown.
5.
Tom Brady NE
27/46
304
1
0
130
105
25
As we discussed in Audibles, something changed drastically for Brady between the first half (7-of-19 for 87 yards with three sacks, -32 DYAR) and the second (20-for-27 for 217 yards and a touchdown, with no sacks, 137 DYAR).
6.
Cam Newton CAR
12/17
171
3
0
106
93
13
Newton is penalized somewhat for throwing only 17 passes and running only six times. In terms of total DYAR per total play, he would have ranked third this week behind Rodgers and Stafford. In 23 plays, he produced 236 yards and eight first downs. Remember that when we get to Mark Sanchez.
7.
Matt Ryan ATL
35/52
373
1
0
103
100
2
8.
Dan Orlovsky IND
23/40
244
1
0
94
97
-3
What a weird day on third down. Six or fewer yards to go: three conversions in ten plays. Eight or more yards to go: Five conversions in six plays.
9.
Josh McCown CHI
19/28
242
1
2
77
71
6
McCown's last start came four years ago almost to the day, on December 23, 2007, for the Oakland Raiders, in a 49-11 loss to Jacksonville. The Raiders opted to let McCown go after the season and stick with JaMarcus Russell. Two years later, the Panthers let McCown go so they could stick with Jimmy Clausen. Not surprisingly, the guy who couldn't beat out Russell and Clausen had no other takers, and he spent 2010 out of the NFL. The desperate Bears called him a few weeks ago, and McCown left his high school coaching job to put the helmet on one more time. Expectations were low, but McCown managed to not humiliate himself against Green Bay, although he did some stats padding in the fourth quarter, when the Bears were down by multiple scores. He went 11-of-14 (including ten in a row at one point) for 107 yards in the fourth.
10.
Matt Hasselbeck TEN
24/40
350
1
2
75
72
3
Hasselbeck had trouble hooking up with Nate Washington. He was just 4-of-11 throwing to Washington this week for 71 yards, with both of his interceptions. Washington has been the target on five of Hasselbeck's 14 interceptions this year.
11.
Joe Flacco BAL
11/24
132
2
1
61
48
13
Third-down passing: 7-of-13 for 115 yards, with six first downs and two touchdowns.
12.
Charlie Batch PIT
15/22
208
0
1
57
57
0
Batch on passes at or behind the line of scrimmage: 6-of-7 for 24 yards, no first downs, only two successful plays.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
13.
Philip Rivers SD
28/53
299
1
2
54
54
0
Rivers threw seven red zone passes against Detroit. The first was an 11-yard touchdown to Malcolm Floyd. The next six, all thrown inside the 5, were all incomplete.
14.
Andy Dalton CIN
18/31
154
2
0
46
32
14
Second half: 3-of-9 for 18 yards, one first down, plus a sack. That is how you turn a 20-point halftime lead into a seven-point win.
15.
Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF
15/27
196
0
0
45
29
16
Red zone passing: 3-of-9 for 11 yards, no first downs, plus a sack. And yet the Bills won by 26.
16.
Seneca Wallace CLE
19/33
147
1
1
43
46
-4
In the first three quarters, Wallace had 26 passing plays for 109 yards and six first downs (plus an interception). In the fourth quarter, he had 11 plays for six first downs and 66 yards, including a touchdown.
17.
Tarvaris Jackson SEA
15/27
163
1
0
39
60
-21
First five plays: 14.8 yards apiece, three first downs, including a touchdown. Rest of the day: 26 plays, 6.5 yards each, five first downs, three sacks. He also lost a fumble as a rusher.
18.
Kyle Orton KC
23/36
300
1
2
36
41
-5
Orton completed seven of his last eight passes, each while driving for a potential tying or go-ahead score. They totaled 116 yards and netted six first downs, including a game-tying touchdown to Dwayne Bowe.
19.
Josh Freeman TB
28/38
274
1
1
35
35
-1
Freeman's second half was incredibly streaky. First 15 plays: 74 yards, no first downs. Next seven plays: 95 yards, six first downs. Last five plays: 12 yards, no first downs.
20.
Stephen McGee DAL
24/38
182
1
0
33
25
8
McGee didn't start, but he did lead all quarterbacks this week with 11 failed completions.
21.
Chris Redman ATL
6/9
61
0
0
30
30
0
22.
Carson Palmer OAK
16/26
237
1
2
30
30
0
Somewhere, Al Davis watched this game and smiled. Not only did the Raiders beat the Chiefs, but they did it an old school, Daryle Lamonica, long bomb way. Palmer went 3-of-6 for 134 yards on deep balls, but just 13-of-20 for 103 yards (plus two interceptions) on the short stuff.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
23.
Christian Ponder MIN
8/13
68
0
0
22
17
5
Incredible streakiness, continued. First six plays: 14 yards, no first downs. Next four plays: 38 yards, four first downs. Last four plays: 15 yards, no first downs.
24.
Alex Smith SF
14/26
179
0
0
22
31
-8
First half: 6-of-15, 43 yards, two first downs, one sack. Second half: 8-of-11, 136 yards, six first downs, one sack. Did you know that Smith and Eli Manning are tied with Tim Tebow for most fourth-quarter comebacks this year?
25.
Matt Moore MIA
17/33
294
3
1
14
14
0
Moore threw 14 deep passes against New England, the most of any player this week, and Reggie Bush threw another. Moore went 5-of-13 for 172 yards, plus an 18-yard DPI. Bush also drew a 17-yard DPI.
26.
Rex Grossman WAS
26/40
284
2
1
12
12
0
Third downs: 4-of-10 for 67 yards, only three first downs. Five of his failures came with eight or fewer yards to go, but all three conversions came with nine or more yards to go.
27.
Eli Manning NYG
10/27
225
1
1
-12
-12
0
Including DPI calls, Manning has completed 67 of 152 deep balls for 1,974 yards this season, leading the league in all three categories. Against the Jets, he went 1-of-8 for 36 yards on deep balls.
28.
T.J. Yates HOU
13/16
132
0
0
-50
-50
0
First half: 5-of-7 for 45 yards (29 of them on one play), one first down, plus two sacks and a lost fumble. Yet somehow the Texans were ahead and halftime and went on to lose.
29.
Mark Sanchez NYJ
30/59
258
1
2
-56
-45
-11
In 63 plays, Sanchez produced 271 yards and 14 first downs. Second half: 12-of-31 for 113 yards, only three first downs, four sacks, two interceptions.
30.
Kellen Clemens STL
9/24
91
0
0
-61
-47
-14
In 24 plays, Clemens had four first downs. Those four plays totaled 53 yards. This week alone, there were eight different passing plays that went for 53 yards or more. Meanwhile, when Clemens wasn't picking up first downs, he was averaging 1.9 yards on his other 20 plays, including three sacks.
31.
Blaine Gabbert JAC
21/42
198
0
1
-90
-91
0
In the first quarter, Blaine Gabbert — Blaine Gabbert! — went 5-of-5 for 68 yards and four first downs. Then he turned back into Blaine Gabbert, finishing up 16-of-37 for 130 yards and eight first downs.
32.
John Skelton ARI
23/43
297
2
3
-138
-141
3
Skelton put together this amazing stretch starting in the first quarter and ending in the third: 5-of-14 passing for 49 yards, one first down, with three interceptions and four sacks. And yet the Cards had a chance to win in the fourth.
33.
Tim Tebow DEN
13/30
185
1
4
-173
-171
-3
The Broncos never gave Tebow much of a chance against Buffalo. He only had seven plays in the first half, when the game was close. Meanwhile, Willis McGahee, Jeremiah Johnson, and Lance Ball collected 18 carries between them. That led to a 17-7 halftime deficit, and only then, when Buffalo knew Denver had to pass, did Tebow get to drop back regularly. Still there's never a good excuse for four interceptions and a fumble in one half, especially against a lousy defense like the Bills. You can see the ugly totals for yourselves, and that doesn't include Tebow's three sacks. He also ran nine times for 35 yards and four first downs (including a touchdown).


Five most valuable running backs
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Marshawn Lynch SEA
107
1
24
0
71
63
8
Following a Seattle blocked punt in the second half, Lynch became the first player this season to score a rushing touchdown against the 49ers. That score was mainly a result of special teams, but Lynch did plenty of his own damage on the ground. He wasn't stuffed once in 21 carries, and he gained 4 or more yards 11 times. Over the course of the season, the 49ers have allowed runners to gain 4-plus yards on only 40 percent of all runs, the third-lowest rate in the league. Lynch also caught both of the passes thrown his way for 24 yards.
2.
DeAngelo Williams CAR
66
2
18
0
59
42
17
Williams was nearly the most valuable running back of the week, and he only touched the ball nine times. His seven carries (all on first down) produced four first downs (including two touchdowns) and runs of 14, 18, and 22 yards. He also caught both of the passes thrown his way for a pair of second-down conversions.
3.
Evan Royster WAS
132
0
15
0
55
61
-6
A sixth-round draft pick out of Penn State, Royster didn't play this year until after Thanksgiving, and totaled only 17 carries for 83 yards in his first four games. He ran 19 times for 132 yards against Minnesota, with remarkable efficiency. He wasn't stuffed even one time. He had seven first downs and 12 runs of 4 yards or more, including gains of 11, 16, and 28 yards.
4.
Rashard Mendenhall PIT
116
1
35
0
54
33
21
Mendenhall's production basically comes down to three plays: a 35-yard reception in the first quarter (his only pass target of the day); a 52-yard run in the second quarter; and a 1-yard touchdown in the fourth. He was basically replacement level the rest of the way. He's also dinged heavily for playing the Rams. Without opponent adjustments, he would have been the top-ranked running back this week.
5.
Darren Sproles NO
67
0
22
1
48
30
18


Least valuable running back
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Tashard Choice BUF
27
0
-8
0
-50
-13
-36
Yes, the worst passer and the worst runner this week played in the same game. Choice ran nine times for 27 yards against without picking up a single first down. His longest run was an 11-yarder on second-and-17. Otherwise, he averaged 2.0 yards per carry. The Bills also threw him five passes. Four fell incomplete. The fifth was caught for an 8-yard loss on third-and-3.


Five most valuable wide receivers and tight ends
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Jared Cook TEN
8
8
169
21.1
1
78
Cook's raw numbers speak for themselves. One of his catches was a 4-yard gain on second-and-8. Each of the others gained at least 10 yards and a first down, including a 55-yard touchdown. A third-year pro, Cook didn't go over 100 yards receiving in any of his first 43 games, but he's now done it twice in a row (he had nine catches for 103 yards in the loss to Indianapolis).
2.
Jordy Nelson GB
6
7
115
19.2
2
69
Nelson saw seven passes against Chicago. One was incomplete, and one was caught for no gain. The other five balls were all caught for first downs, including gains of 16, 17, and 25 yards, with touchdowns both long (55 yards) and short (2 yards). Nelson is now third in FO's season rankings of wide receivers behind Wes Welker and Calvin Johnson, despite ranking third on his own team in pass targets (behind Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley).
3.
Victor Cruz NYG
3
7
164
54.7
1
54
Three catches in seven targets is not very good — unless those three catches go for 29, 99, and 36 yards. The 29-yarder converted a third-and-11.
4.
Percy Harvin MIN
5
6
65
13.0
1
53
Four of Harvin's catches led to first downs, including an 8-yard touchdown. The other three gained 10, 9, and 36 yards, and two of them converted third downs.
5.
Calvin Johnson DET
4
6
102
25.5
1
51
Each of Calvin's completions gained a first down. His 14-yard touchdown was his shortest catch of the day; the others went for 21, 21, and 46 yards.


Least valuable wide receiver or tight end
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Brandon Lloyd STL
3
12
29
9.7
0
-32
Three catches for 29 yards would be a decent game for a slot receiver or tight end. Unfortunately for Lloyd and the Rams, he's supposed to be their primary target, and those three catches for 29 yards came with the added burden of nine incomplete passes. A 25 percent catch rate for 2.4 yards per pass? Yeah, that's the worst receiving performance of the week all right.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 27 Dec 2011

91 comments, Last at 30 Dec 2011, 10:48am by Arkaein

Comments

1
by JIPanick :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 12:01pm

Kyle Orton - team DEN?

3
by Walshmobile :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 12:08pm

It's the same with Brandon Lloyd, it probably keeps the team in the system from the start of the season

4
by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 12:19pm

Oh yes, we'll have to fix that... I'll go fix in the table.

2
by P (not verified) :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 12:07pm

His number of plays probably disqualifies him from this list, but what did Joe Webb's numbers look like?

30
by M :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 3:41pm

I second this request.

Also, wouldn't Denver be smart to try and obtain a backup for Tebow with a similar skill set such that the offense doesn't need a wholesale redesign once the inevitable injury happens? I'd venture MN would part with Webb for a 2nd or 3rd rounder given their sizable investment in Ponder, and MN has so many holes that stockpiling draft picks is the only way to improve.

Will - Was Brad Childress actually a worse coach than Les Steckel, given the long-term damage that he's done to the Vikings franchise?

49
by andrew :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 4:32pm

Brad Childress could be infuriating, but I'm not gonna put him down in Les Steckel's class. Heck I'd probably rate him somewhere on par with Mike Tice.

He had many flaws that worked against him, but he wasn't without ability, his strengths as a play designer were there. And he did have them that close to a superbowl, arguably as close as Denny Green was able to get.

Whatever Joe Webb's strengths, it was Childress who drafted him and then decided he needed to keep him at QB. In some ways Joe Webb seems to be what Childress hoped Tarvaris Jackson would become all those years. Heck, I even get their schools confused.

I don't think the Vikings would part with Webb for a 3rd rounder. I'd hate to see him go for a second. I'm not 100% sold on Ponder being the answer. He might be, but the shine of "not being McNabb" has kinda worn off.

Webb... remains very intriguing. He only three 5 passes, but it was not like they needed to. Something of the threat he presents seems to tap in to the same kind of opportunities Tebow opened up. I'm hoping they let him start vs Chicago, to give him another look vs a team that is preparing for him.

54
by M :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 5:12pm

Les Steckel's inepitude was suprisingly restrained to that one season, as the Vikings quickly reversed their mistake and also massively improved their roster after that season.

However, giving Childress the final say on roster construction was a HUGE mistake, and it is one that has resulted in the horribly flawed team we now see. Frankly, he lucked into having AP fall to him, was also similarly lucky for Brett Favre to have that amazing season in 2009 (I expected a repeat of his 2008 Jets season).

He also had the luxury of working for an owner actually willing to spend money on the team, whereas past coaches had to make do with some pretty big cheapskates or financially constrained ownership groups.

Regarding strategy, he built the Vikings as a team that would have done very well in pre-1978 rules, but did not have the prerequisite strengths to be a truly elite team in the current NFL.

Combine all of the above with his legendary ability to alienate others in the organization by via a passive-aggressive dictatorship style of running things, and I truly think he was a much worse coach than his W/L record shows.

53
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 5:10pm

Well, Steckel was such a disaster as a manager that he was only in the job for about 12 months, so he didn't have much chance to ruin things. Childress' unforgivable sin was to alienate productive, talented veterans, some of whom were extremely professional in their habits. There is absolutely no excuse for an NFL coach who does that.

I'm going to argue that Tice was a better, albeit flawed, head coach. One cannot overstate how badly he was undermined by McCombs' ownership.

59
by M :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 5:31pm

Tice was quite clearly a better strategist and teacher than Childress. I always felt that Wilf gave Tice a raw deal considering how much the team turned around in 2005 after the disastrous first half of the season. They really looked like one of the 2-3 worst teams in football, and lost their starting QB for the season, and endured a huge PR scandal. That team could have easily quit and went 4-12 that year (their schedule was too easy for a worse record).

Mr. Wilf has given Frazier a much longer leash since he took over in 2010 with much worse results. Other than the historically horrendous secondary, I'd argue that the talent level of the 2011 Vikings is much higher than that 2005 team. Yet somehow they pulled a 9-7 miracle out of that squad.

If Tice and Childress could have been reversed in their tenures, I'd argue the Vikings would have performed like the Lions from 2002-05 while Tice would have probably been able to get the team to playoff contention as early as 2006. Of course, this would mean that AP never makes it to MN, which is why these "what if" discussions always fall apart quite easily.

Still, Childress was often viewed as a joke in the league, and the fact that the 2008-09 teams had quite possibly the deepest roster (except QB) in the entire NFL is especially damning. While that may not have been true in hindsight, that was the perception those years.

60
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 5:59pm

I've stated frequently that the 2008 Vikings were my favorite Vikings team since the Super Bowl years of the 70s, because, in my opinion, they were, hands down, the best team in the league on the line of scrimmage that year. I think that if Favre had gone full A-hole that July, and forced his release from the Packers, instead of accepting a trade to the Jets, that team may well have won it all, with some ease.

Wilf may have made a mistake in firing Tice, and certainly made one in hiring Childress, but it is the sort of error one expects in a new owner. The current team is still suffering from the draft errors of the last ownership group (take a look at the 2005 draft!), along with the mistakes made by Childress, the brief Fran Foley debacle, other self inflicted wounds, and some bad luck.

The biggest issue the franchise faces now, of course, is where they will be located in five years. I have to admit that I've grown so sick of the sight of billionaires and millionaires benefitting from hundreds of millions in taxpayer subsidies, that if it comes down to it, I'd rather see them them leave Minnesota, than see them get a half billion or so, and stay. Football is in some ways more fun when you have no strong rooting interest in a team.

61
by M :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 6:14pm

Agreed on all accounts - including the stadium issue. I just hope that if they move they don't call them the "LA Vikings"; while obviously the "Lakers" have built up the name more in LA than MN, it's still extremely stupid to have a team in LA named "Lakers". It's just not quite as stupid as the "Utah Jazz".

The way I see it, if the Vikings leave, then I get to see more games with terrific QB play as it becomes quite likely that MN becomes Packer territory regarding regional telecasts of games. I'm a bigger fan of excellent QB play at this point than I am a fan of a specific team.

64
by andrew :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 7:22pm

And Wilf will probably get his way here in spite of everything.

Frazier has been given a fairly long leash, but I dunno, just don't see him being the guy to really change their fortunes around. If they do make a change, dunno. Having doubt enter Peterson's future makes this an even less desirable coaching destination, even if they do get a new stadium in the works. Honestly I'd be happy with someone like a Sporano running the group. I live in south florida and always felt he was under appreciated here.

5
by Boots Day :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 12:23pm

One more notable thing about the list of Newton's similar quarterbacks is that they're all older than him. Newton is the youngest player on the list.

62
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 6:32pm

But it also doesn't discount for this being perhaps the easiest passing season in NFL history -- a result of Roger Goodell's continuing war against defense.

6
by Jonadan :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 12:40pm

I have only one question: what in the ever-loving #*(@& was Sanchez doing throwing 59 times?

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

14
by Andrew Potter :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 2:02pm

That's not even counting his four sacks. 63 pass plays, in a close game, with the Jets offense?

21
by justanothersteve :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 2:45pm

At this point I'm trying to figure out if Brian Schottenheimer or Josh McDaniels is a worse OC.

22
by RickD :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 2:48pm

McDaniels has the 2007 Patriots on his resume.

27
by CraigoMc (not verified) :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 3:33pm

IIRC correctly, he ran three very different offensive systems in three years, and managed good numbers and a winning record each time - the Brady ball-control offense of 2006, the 2007 spread, and the 2008 Cassel system, which took a little bit from both. The personnel changed greatly each year as well.

28
by dryheat :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 3:36pm

Schottenheimer (and K. Shanahan, for that matter) wouldn't be in the NFL without that noblest of calling cards, nepotism.

To my knowledge, McDaniels doesn't have any legacy in the NFL. He's been mediocre on his own merits.

72
by armchair journe... :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 10:10pm

and when was the last time a qb got bailed out by the tuck rule twice in the same game?

as an aside to the aside.. he deserved an intentional grounding on the second. or a KCW award at least, for trying to throw the ball directly at the oncoming rusher.

at least karma got him with the doubly-earned safety in the end.

//AJMQB

79
by db :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 1:22am

Easy. Scottenhiemer wants Rex's job. Last week they dumped a running game that was producing at 4.38 per (net of Sanchez). Two weeks ago when they were 3 of 6 for 63 yards on the deep ball they did not throw another the rest of the game. This whole stop whats working plan has to be more than bad luck. Ryan is being set up by Marty's boy and should dump his ass as soon as possible.

7
by Anonymous454545 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 12:48pm

Tom Brady's rushing DYAR is off the charts! He might not wow the scouts, but he has a "nose for the endzone." Good thing Todd Haley isn't with the Pats. Truly bizarre game against MIA. Brady doesn't have a lot of "athletic" highlights, but he'll put that DYAR up with his juke of Ulacher.

58
by Ivarsson.se :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 5:25pm

He was one-upped when Rodgers juked Urlacher and Briggs simultaneously this weekend...

83
by Anonymous454545 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 10:46am

Yeah, but Brady's juke of Ulacher is the only juke of his career. Rodgers is a terrific athlete and has numerous highlight scrambles per season if not per game. You never see Brady run out of bounds because there's no way he beats any defensive player to the sideline. Yet he still avoids sacks and hard hits consistently.

8
by Boots Day :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 12:55pm

I have to say, although I still very much enjoy Quick Reads, the commentary hasn't been very good lately, as exemplified by stuff like this:

Third-down passing: 7-of-13 for 115 yards, with six first downs and two touchdowns.

So, that's.... good, I guess. The entire stat line seems unremarkable to me, although it's severely cherry-picked. And it confuses me to see that someone could have eight successful plays on only seven completions, until I remember that he's counting touchdowns as first downs. That means Flacco had six successful plays on 13 third-down dropbacks, which seems pretty average to me.

I guess I just have no idea why this is significant.

10
by Scott P. (not verified) :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 1:18pm

And if you look at his passing DYAR, Flacco was very much in the middle of the pack. His rushing DYAR is what bumped him up to #11.

9
by RickD :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 1:16pm

Being similar to Herschel Walker's rookie season is not all that impressive. Indeed, Walker really was a bit of a bust as a pro, given that he was expected to be the next Tony Dorsett. At this point, his biggest impact on the NFL was being the foundation for the Cowboys' dynasty of the '90s, when the Vikings gave Jimmy Johnson far too much for him in a trade.

12
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 1:51pm

It'd be interesting to look at film of Walker's play at Georgia. My guess is that he had huge holes to run through, that required very little from him, other than straight line speed. In the NFL he never seemd to have especially good vision or feel for where there was room to make the best yardage, nor did he have especially good balance by NFL running back standards. I remember several short yardage situation with the Vikings where, if he had been able to keep upright after a somewhat glancing blow to his lower legs, he was poised to break huge td runs. He never, or rarely, was able to do it, however. I've always heard that Jimmy Johnson was astounded and bemused that another team's management could not see on film what he thought was so obvious.

37
by Dean :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 3:51pm

It's been 30 years, so the memory is hazy, but I always recall him having a shoulder injury and never recovering fully from it. I don't recall if the shoulder happened at Georgia or in the USFL. But I always felt like the guy we saw in the NFL was about 90% of the guy he was before he got hurt.

89
by MC2 :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 11:38pm

According to PFR, the 10 players with careers most similar to Walker were: Earnest Byner, Ottis Anderson, Corey Dillon, John L. Williams, Eddie George, Fred Taylor, Floyd Little*, Larry Csonka*, John Riggins*, Jim Taylor*.

The last four are in the HOF, and the first six all had very good careers. That's not exactly what I would call a list full of busts.

90
by Vincent Verhei :: Fri, 12/30/2011 - 2:47am

And he spent the two best years of his career in the USFL.

11
by Anthony Coleman (not verified) :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 1:48pm

"Brees now leads Aaron Rodgers by 52 DYAR and Tom Brady by 160 DYAR as the MVP race comes down to the wire."

No Rodgers has the MVP locked up after the thrashing of the Bears. The fact that he carved up one of the best defenses in football with the best defensive end in the league, the Pack locking up home field advantage, very low interception total, leads the league in TDs, Yards Per Attempt, and QB rating all are MVP deciders by themselves. Add to the fact that the Packers beat New Orleans and though Brees got the record, he threw two interceptions, had a so-so interception percentage (but good yards per attempt) it is fair to say that Rodgers is going to win this thing. It looked like for a week that Brees was going to catch Rodgers for the MVP, but after these two games there is no chance whatsoever of this happening.

13
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 1:59pm

I have no strong opinion on the MVP contest, mostly because I think the MVP contest in a sport with as much player interdependence as football is a waste of time. I do have a strong opinion on defensive line play, however, and I doubt Peppers is the best defensive end in the game. I don't mean this as harsh criticism, because he is a great player. If you were to poll the league's coaches and GMs however, and ask them which defensive end they would like to have on their roster for the next game, with their life depending on winning it, I don't think that Peppers would get the most votes.

15
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 2:04pm

Just curious, who do you think is the best end in the game?

18
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 2:27pm

I don't know if I could single out one guy. Hali is really consistently wonderful, from what I have seen. Pierre-Paul has racked up a very impressive 61 solo tackles this year. Aldon Smith is really showing himself to be terrific. I'll put in a word for a guy on a bad team in Jared Allen, who along with leading in sacks, has forced 4 fumbles, and has 45 solo tackles. I haven't seen Chris Long this year, but people tell me he is great.

Nobody knows, of course, who qould win such a poll of guys who see enough film to have an opinion worth paying attention to. I just doubt it would be Peppers at this point. Like I said, however, I'm not trying to rip Peppers; he is still a great player.

19
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 2:37pm

I doubt it would be Peppers as well. He doesn't have the ability to knife through the line and get to the QB before he even knows what's happening like some other guys do. Like I said, I was just curious who you liked.

23
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 2:54pm

Obviously. I'm lumping in 3-4 linebackers into the discussion. In this era of passing dominance, I think it is more useful to discuss edge pass rushers in one category, even if the overall responsibilities are different. Like you, it seems to me that the ability to just explode at the snap, and get into the qb in a flash, is what counts most. However, I also like to see a guy who plays the run honestly; who sets the edge effectively, while also not allowing a gash to the inside. It's a pretty difficult skill set to combine, of course.

85
by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 6:46pm

Defending against the run also belongs in the discussion, and Peppers has been very good at that too, although not so much this year.

86
by tuluse :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 7:14pm

What? He's been great this year. At pretty much everything. Just not quite as great as some other players.

73
by armchair journe... :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 10:18pm

I don't think he's close to being there yet, but JPP will be the best end in the game.. when he gets the football smarts and fundamentals to go with that insane talent. Giants staff has done a hell of a job coaching him up-- I've never seen a player go from that raw to near-domination in such a short window of time. Dude looked completely lost last year, and now? Sheesh. Can he keep up that rate of improvement?

//AJMQB

25
by dryheat :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 3:04pm

I don't think accomplishments like "...defensive end in the league", "locking up home field advantage", and "the Packers beat New Orleans (in week one)" carry much weight with MVP voters.

the MVP vote is going to be very, very close between Brees and Rodgers...and it's fairly ridiculous to proclaim the race over because the Packers beat a team than might be the worst in football over the last five(?) weeks the same week that Brees beat a very good team and broke a 25 year-old record doing so.

69
by Packer Pete (not verified) :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 8:15pm

And Tom Brady will surpass this 25-year-old record this weekend also, which takes a little luster off of Brees' accomplishment.

71
by Joseph :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 8:55pm

Except that Brees surpassed it in less than 15 games--he sat out the entire 4th Q of the Colts game, and iirc, most or all of the 4th Q of the Vikings game. In both of these games, he could have definitely picked up a lot more stats. Not to mention, he is going to break the record by more than 300 yds. Not to mention that Brees almost nearly broke it 3 yrs. ago.

Regarding the MVP vote, I think that Brees is playing the Culpepper role to Rodgers in Manning's 49 TD year.

80
by troycapitated p... :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 1:56am

In less than 15 games, but already 50 more attempts than Marino had in 84.

84
by Anthony Coleman (not verified) :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 1:19pm

From going by the chatter Rodgers in the media, Rodgers has this in the bag. All the things he accomplished this season and his team locking up home field has given him a big edge. Another big thing was the fact that Rodgers was proclaimed the MVP by Thanksgiving is also helping him out too. The momentum is very strong. He got this won and I could see Brees winning a share based off the record and what he has accomplished for his career, but I'd be shocked if Rodgers doesn't get it.

87
by t.d. :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 6:46am

Interception rates are highly variable, even for great quarterbacks, and awarding the MVP based on them seems akin to awarding the baseball mvp on rbis. Doesn't mean Rodgers doesn't deserve it, beccause his record is what it is, but there's very little difference between Brady, Brees, and Rodgers at the top, and Brady's historically low interception rate last season didn't do him any good in the playoffs

91
by Arkaein :: Fri, 12/30/2011 - 10:48am

Rodgers career INT rate is 1.8%, best all time according to PFR.

Brees career INT rate is 2.7%, 26th all time.

INT rates are not as variable as you imply. They are slightly more variable than other passing stats, but in Rodgers case his year to year INT numbers have only varied slightly more than his TD numbers, for example.

In any case, I don't see the comparison with RBIs, which are far more dependent with where the batter is in the lineup and the skill of the players ahead of him. QBs rely on their offensive teammates, but as a whole. And INTs are much more important. After YPA (which Rodgers leads Brees by by a full yard, last I checked), INTs are most important stat for a QB. Any QB who can throw for a high YPA with a low number of INTs is almost certain to lead a successful offense.

16
by Danish Denver-Fan :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 2:12pm

I think that it is a bit of an abusive way to use similarity scores, Aaron. I mean it's a basic assumption, when using former players to project the succes of new ones, that the stats on which the scores are based should be compiled in similar situations.

Herschel Walker and Cam Newton have had to gain yards and touchdowns in entirely different ways. Aaron Rodgers is a very effecient runner, but I don't think he'll keep up that production because his stats are similar to some runningback's.

I guess your method is somewhat valid when making a case for something like OROY, but I'm not convinced that we can draw any predictive conclusions based on it.

17
by BD (not verified) :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 2:23pm

Doesn't Dalton compare favorably to Newton, at least as a passer? I know there's almost no way Newton won't win OROY, but Dalton has played well enough to at least be in the discussion, right?

44
by Exy (not verified) :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 4:21pm

If the Bengals make the playoffs, I think there's a significant chance he wins it just based on writers with votes going "welp who's playing in January? Newton may have all those fancy stats and all but Dalton just winz gamez!!! Lalalalala I can't hear you about their teams' defense lalala"

A.J. Green would get my vote before Dalton though.

45
by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 4:23pm

You're kidding, right?

One guy is leading his team to the #4 Off DVOA and other to the #17 DVOA (Which actually isn't that bad).

20
by Steve in WI :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 2:43pm

Watching the Bears-Packers game was painful for a whole bunch of reasons, but I for one think McCown looks an awful lot like a serviceable backup going forward. The Bears have so many huge needs in a number of positions that I'd be happy with them signing McCown for next year - I can't imagine he'd be very expensive.

And let's face it - if your franchise QB gets injured, barring a miracle you're not going to win a Super Bowl anyway. I would much rather see the Bears devote their money and energy toward finding upgrades for positions that they need to improve on regardless of who's playing QB (O-line and wide receiver are the obvious ones, but they need help on defense too) than try to find a backup who's significantly better than McCown, who hopefully won't play in any meaningful games next year anyway.

24
by Eddo :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 2:58pm

A strategy I like, regarding backup QBs: if you have a clear #1 QB that you expect to be your starter for the next 5+ years, then there's no sense having a young, developing QB as your primary backup. It makes much more sense to have a veteran like McCown to back up Cutler than an unknown like Hanie.

I'd be perfectly fine with Josh McCown on the Bears' roster next year, is what I'm saying.

26
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 3:18pm

I can see where you're coming from, but on the other hand the Packers drafted and traded away several QBs while Favre was winning MVP awards.

The Bears probably should have traded Hanie this past off season while his stock was high.

Also, Hanie is in his 4th year, that's not really that young.

29
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 3:36pm

Good grief, the Packers have had an astounding combination of luck and skill in acquiring qbs in the last 20 years. Favre, Brunell, Hasselbeck, Rodgers, and I know I'm leaving some guys out.

32
by NYMike :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 3:45pm

I think it's more than luck and skill. The Packers have done a tremendous job of coaching up their QBs as well. Matt Flynn looks pretty good, and he as a 7th round draft pick (Brian Brohm bombed as a 2 that year). I don't think anyone thought much of Matt Flynn, and I think if he'd ended up on, say, the Rams, you still wouldn't think anything of him. Tom Clements is a very good QB coach, and the Packers have had a succession of them (Andy Reid, Steve Mariucci, Darell Bevell) that have gone on to bigger roles in other organizations.

33
by Rocco :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 3:46pm

Aaron Brooks was drafted by the Pack as well.

65
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 7:42pm

A notable failure.

74
by armchair journe... :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 10:30pm

While I understand your moniker requires you to say that.. Brooks was much more a mixed-bag than a failure. When he was on, incredible things could happen, like the first respectable Saints season (and inaugural playoff win). When he was off, incredible things could also happen, like 20-yard backwards passes. No, failure is too simplistic to describe the enigma of one Aaron Brooks.

And either way... He was a hell of a fantasy football QB.

//AJMQB

34
by M :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 3:46pm

Compared to the inepitude that the Bears, Lions, Vikings, and Bucs have had regarding QBs over that same period, it's really quite a significant advantage when you are consistently MUCH better than the rest of your division at the most important position in the game.

This brings up an interesting tangent - what position is more important to team success - a QB in (American) football, a goalie in soccer, or a goalie in hockey?

36
by NYMike :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 3:48pm

I would say goalie in hockey. Teams can win championships with a hot goaltender and two goals a game. Trent Dilfer won a Super Bowl. The other positions are important, but without a goalie playing very well, no hockey team can win the Stanley Cup, and with one, any team can.

41
by RickD :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 4:02pm

Agree with this.

For starters, a goalie in hockey can do a lot more by himself than a goalie in soccer can. No soccer goalie in the world can stop two Brazilians free in the box.

As for hockey goalie vs. football QB, I think that football is much more of a team-dependent game than hockey. Even the best QBs in football require blocking.

42
by M :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 4:08pm

Historically, yes, that's a no-brainer. However, looking at how the NFL has evolved to the current game we see every week, I'm not so sure that's such an easy question to answer any more.

I'm not a huge hocky fan, but I recall hearing that 2 seasons ago the Blackhawks' goaltending would come back to haunt them in the playoffs. Yet they won the Stanley Cup for the first time in almost 50 years.

By comparison, who the top teams are every NFL season is increasingly driven by quarterback play. No team seems able to build the combination of superior defense/running game/special teams that allows a true SB contender to succeed with a mediocre QB. The last team fitting that bill was the 2006 Bears, who were also in a very weak conference that year. As Will Allen has attested, the 2008 Vikings could have done that had they had terrific special teams as well as a less fumble-prone Adrian Peterson.

Other than those two teams, who really fits that description over the past 5-6 seasons?

47
by TomC :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 4:27pm

I'm not a huge hocky fan, but I recall hearing that 2 seasons ago the Blackhawks' goaltending would come back to haunt them in the playoffs. Yet they won the Stanley Cup for the first time in almost 50 years.

That's not a very good example, because the Hawks' goalie that year (Antti Niemi) ended up playing extremely well, especially in the early rounds of the playoffs. The Hawks probably would have lost to Nashville in the first round if they'd had even average goaltending.

46
by Eddo :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 4:24pm

I don't disagree that hockey goalie, at the game or season level, would be the correct answer. The bigger issue is that goalie play, outside of the truly best-of-the-best (your Haseks, Roys, Brodeurs, etc.) is not as sustainable. The best goalies in year N can crater in year N+1, and vice versa. In that sense, it's not necessarily wise to make a huge investment at the goalie position.

48
by TomC :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 4:29pm

Agree on both points. That's why, despite my post above, I was not angry when the Hawks let Niemi go.

51
by M :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 4:47pm

Thanks for the insights, all. I also can't believe I misspelled the word hockey.

So if hot goalie play isn't sustainable year vs. year, does that support my initial hypothesis that QB is the most important position in all of team sports?

Maybe this is only correct in regards to team-building for year-after-year success, whereas for an individual game a hot goalie is far more important.

67
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 7:50pm

No.

Hockey goalies are still more essential than NFL QBs, but differently. You need a hot goalie, whether that be a good goalie playing above his head, or a great goalie playing to his norm.

Even hockey has the occasional solidly good goalie having multiple wins, ala Chris Osgood, so long as he plays behind a great team and can whether the terror vs boredom and lack of rhythm aspects of goal-tending behind a good team. (He's sort of like hockey's Ben Roethlisberger)

I don't see what repeatability has to do with it. But you see this in the NFL, too. Kurt Warner was infamously hot and cold. Gannon had only a couple of great seasons. Marino never repeated his brilliant Super Bowl season (like the NFL's Giguere).

81
by Intropy :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 2:04am

My vote is for either person on a doubles tennis team.

66
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 7:45pm

As the 2003 playoffs showed, a really hot goalie only needs 1 goal per game. The Finals had 4 shutouts in 7 games, and Giguere gave up one goal total in the Western Conference Finals.

40
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 3:59pm

Aaron Brooks I know at least, possibly another one or two.

That Ron Wolf guy might have known a thing or two about evaluating QBs.

55
by Steve in WI :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 5:18pm

The Bears probably should have traded Hanie this past off season while his stock was high.

Was Hanie's stock ever high, though? (In absolute terms, I mean. Comparatively speaking, clearly he was way more promising after last season than he is now). I agree that he's worthless now.

56
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 5:24pm

I don't know. I think they could have tricked someone into giving them a 6th or maybe 5th round pick for him.

On second thought, they probably should have just kept him but got a real (ie not Todd Collins) veteran from the beginning of the year.

50
by TomC :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 4:38pm

Watching the Bears-Packers game was painful for a whole bunch of reasons, but I for one think McCown looks an awful lot like a serviceable backup going forward.

But didn't that make it even more painful? I've been tortured for the last 48 hours with thoughts of how many games the Bears might have won against the old AFCW if they'd had that level of QB play. You can probably toss out Oakland, because McCown had just been signed and wasn't ready. But they certainly would have beaten KC and Denver if their QB had made as many plays as McCown did Sunday night, and that would have been good enough (assuming a win next week over Minnesota) for a playoff spot, and possibly a Cutler return.

Then again, without Forte, Knox, and Hester, the Bears were still probably going nowhere.

52
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 4:51pm

Also Conte is out, which appears to have had a large impact on defense.

My off season wishlist.

1) A starting caliber corner to pair with Tillman
2) The offensive line to stay reasonably healthy (I may be insane, but I think there is talent on this line now, if they can all play at least 14 games and come together as a group)
3) A good big receiver (like what Roy Williams would be if, when the ball hits his hands, he holds onto it instead of batting towards the nearest defender)
4) Depth at safety (this could come from players on the team, but I'm not expecting it)
5) A consistent pass rushing threat to pair with Peppers. The combination of Melton, Okaye, and Idonije comes close, but I would like an upgrade there.

I'm curious where the Bears come out in the FO injury stat this year. After being spectacularly healthy last year, I feel like they've lost a lot of players this year.

57
by Steve in WI :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 5:25pm

But didn't that make it even more painful?

To a degree, yes. I agree with your analysis that the Bears would likely be 9-6 right now or even 10-5 (the Oakland game might have been winnable if McCown hadn't been too rusty, who knows though) and headed to the playoffs if McCown had been playing all along. But in a way I'd rather have them miss the playoffs than exit in the 1st or 2nd round, which I think is what would happen with all of the other injuries. (Of course, with the Bears' inept ownership and management I don't think missing the playoffs is going to signal to them that they need to make big changes anyway).

Emotionally, I've been checking out of this season starting after the Chiefs game and I officially gave up hope after the Seahawks game (which, mercifully, I was spared from watching thanks to being on vacation).

88
by t.d. :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 7:03am

backup quarterbacks have a surprisingly good record in Super Bowls, depending on your definition. Off the top of my head, Brady, Warner, Dilfer, Hostetler, Morrall, and Doug Williams won Super Bowls in seasons they entered as backups, and Bradshaw had stretches where he lost the job in Pittsburgh, too, though I'm not sure if they were in any Steeler championship seasons.

31
by AJ (not verified) :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 3:43pm

This argument against peppers seems a bit strange...sacks can be one of the most misleading stats in the game. Sacks can come from great plays, broken plays, scrambles into them, all out blitzes, and so forth. Not too mention, how many times do 3-4 olb take on running backs or are flanked out wide against tackles while the 4-3 de is faced 1on1 or 2on1 against the tackle and or guard? FO may be great, but it still hasn't provided the necessary stats to measure individual greatness...that includes qbs btw.

On a side note: I read profootballfocus which said peppers annihilated the packers this week.

35
by NYMike :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 3:46pm

The Packers couldn't run at all. Was that Peppers? Other than that, Rodgers never getting touched all night seemed to me that Peppers was pretty invisible, at least when it really mattered to the Packers.

39
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 3:58pm

Hey man, I love Peppers and think he is sure fire hall of fame candidate. He can be downright dominant, and I think I've seen maybe 2 games from his time as a Bear where wasn't at least very good.

All that said, he doesn't posses the ability to get those near instantaneous sacks other ends do. You don't think Jared Allen is getting double teamed with a similar frequency as Peppers?

38
by JonFrum :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 3:54pm

The similarity scores I've seen in the past are usually full of howlers. In both the NBA and NFL I've seen All-World players matched with JAGs regularly, to the point that I stopped looking at them. Is Football Outsiders really doing better?

IN this case, I don't see the sense of comparing a rushing QB with RBs. Would Newton get the same yards playing behind the QB and getting the call on rushing downs? I don't know, but I suspect you'd get different results.

And regarding Brady last week - first half, patchwork O-line, no blocking. Second half, patchwork O-line, good blocking. Same Brady in both.

43
by NYMike :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 4:08pm

I would guess that the problem with similarities scores in any sport but baseball is that the statistics in the other sports do a poor job of describing how an individual plays, whereas in baseball, the statistics are a very accurate description of how a player plays, especially batting and pitching.

63
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 7:13pm

His number of plays probably disqualifies him from this list, but what did Joe Webb's numbers look like?

15 DYAR on five rushes, 76 DYAR on six passes.

So, that's.... good, I guess. The entire stat line seems unremarkable to me, although it's severely cherry-picked. And it confuses me to see that someone could have eight successful plays on only seven completions, until I remember that he's counting touchdowns as first downs. That means Flacco had six successful plays on 13 third-down dropbacks, which seems pretty average to me.

Officially, touchdowns count as first downs. I usually try to separate them out (“X first downs, includind Z touchdowns.”) Also, Flacco and the other middle of the pack guys are often, well, unremarkable, which makes it difficult to remark on them. When I was a reader of Quick Reads as opposed to a writer, I was always annoyed when players had no comments, so now that I’m writing it I try to include something for everyone (except the Monday Night guys), no matter how mundane and uninsightful. But basically, there’s just not much to say about Flacco’s game.

Indeed, Walker really was a bit of a bust as a pro, given that he was expected to be the next Tony Dorsett.

I mildly disagree. He’s one of 11 men with 8,000 rushing yards and 4,000 receiving yards, and was also a good kick returner.

I think that it is a bit of an abusive way to use similarity scores, Aaron.

Aaron didn’t write this, but that’s OK. I was just pointing out how special Newton’s rushing numbers are.

Doesn't Dalton compare favorably to Newton, at least as a passer?

Their passing numbers are very similar. Cam has a few more interceptions and sacks, but his yards per pass is a full yard higher (7.9 to 6.7), and his rushing numbers really puts him over the top. The funny thing is, I’ve argued for weeks that we should run a piece promoting A.J. Green for rookie of the year. By the time we finally got to it, here in Week 16, I really can’t make that argument anymore.

68
by Hurt Bones :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 8:05pm

Also, Flacco and the other middle of the pack guys are often, well, unremarkable, which makes it difficult to remark on them. When I was a reader of Quick Reads as opposed to a writer, I was always annoyed when players had no comments, so now that I’m writing it I try to include something for everyone (except the Monday Night guys), no matter how mundane and uninsightful. But basically, there’s just not much to say about Flacco’s game.

I watched the the game and well:

It was the best of games, it was the worst of games, it was the age of catches, it was the age of drops, it was the epoch of touchdowns, it was the epoch of interceptions, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of Flacco, it was the winter of Lewis, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the game was so far like the present game, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

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by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 8:17pm

I stand corrected.

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by nat :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 12:16am

It is a far, far better correction that you make than you have ever made; it is a far, far better comment that you respond to than you have ever known.

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by Intropy :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 2:05am

Call me Flacco.

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by armchair journe... :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 10:35pm

Fantastic.

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by armchair journe... :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 10:56pm

Not in the top-5, but worth a mention:

Reggie Bush, 1000-yard rusher.

Vince, if you're ever short on column lead ideas, it might be interesting to see what DVOA/DYAR thinks of his season. Perennial FO punching bag makes good?

Haven't seen much of the Dolphins this year, so I really have no idea, but it reminds me a bit of the Tiki path (minus the fumbles).. long-time scat back makes an unexpected late career resurgence as a bona-fide ball-carrier. Seems a worthwhile curiosity to explore, especially given the digital ink spilled here over the years on the mercurial figure..

//AJMQB

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by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 12:17am

I did pick him as my player most likely to beat his KUBIAK projection this year. Thank you very much.