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» SDA: Bowl Spectacular Part II

The bowl games heat up with ranked teams facing one another, including matchups between Louisville-Georgia, Nebraska-USC, and Clemson-Oklahoma.

27 Sep 2011

Week 3 Quick Reads

by Vince Verhei

Both Chris Johnson and Frank Gore staged holdouts during their team's training camps in this abbreviated offseason, and both were rewarded with new contracts. The Tennessee Titans gave Johnson a four-year deal for more than $53 million (including $30 million guaranteed), while Gore signed a three-year, $21 million (more than $13 million guaranteed) extension with the San Francisco 49ers.

And what have the Titans and 49ers gotten for their money? Almost nothing. After three games, Johnson has 46 carries for 98 yards, an average of just 2.13 yards per carry. Dating back to 1960, only three running backs with at least 40 carries in the first three games of a season got off to worse starts. Heading (trailing?) the list is Reggie Cobb, who gained 68 yards on 45 carries in the first three games of 1993, a woeful 1.51-yard average.

And Gore? With 148 yards on 59 carries, he's averaging a robust 2.51 yards per rush. That's better than Johnson, but it's still the 28th-worst rate to start a season in the last half-century.

Is there hope for either Johnson or Gore to turn things around? Based on history, it's doubtful to expect either runner to be productive from this point forward. Of the 26 previous runners who have started a season as badly as Johnson and Gore have this year, only five finished the season with more than 1,000 yards:


Player
Year
Tm
First 3 Games
Rest of Year
Total
Att
Yds
Y/A
Att
Yds
Y/A
Att
Yds
Y/A
Jamal Anderson 1997 ATL 46 101 2.20 244 901 3.69 290 1002 3.46
Corey Dillon 2000 CIN 41 82 2.00 274 1353 4.94 315 1435 4.56
Shaun Alexander 2002 SEA 44 110 2.50 251 1065 4.24 295 1175 3.98
Travis Henry 2003 BUF 53 122 2.30 278 1234 4.44 331 1356 4.10
LaDainian Tomlinson 2007 SDG 57 130 2.28 258 1344 5.21 315 1474 4.68

Remember, these are the best-case scenarios for Johnson and Gore. Realistic projections should be much lower. The average slow-start runner has finished with 639 rushing yards. Even that figure, though, is skewed by the success of the Tomlinsons and Dillons of the world. The median season total for the slow-start runners was just 551 yards. That 500- to 600-yard window is where Johnson and Gore will likely end up, not in the 1,000-yard club. If you're offered either runner in a fantasy trade, politely but firmly decline.

If there's a silver lining to this dark cloud, it's that many of those slow-start runners had better seasons in their futures. Nine of them had at least one 1,000-yard season in their future (counting Travis Henry twice – he got off to slow starts in both 2001 and 2003, with his last 1,000-yard season in 2006). Thomas Jones had a slow start in Arizona in 2000, but later put together five consecutive 1,000-yard campaigns. Shaun Alexander finished with 1,175 yards after a slow start in 2002, and gained 1,000 yards in each of the next three seasons, leading the league in 2005. The year after his slow start, Jamal Anderson gained 1,846 yards on the ground for Atlanta.

For 2011, though, the outlook is dim for Johnson, Gore, and their teams. When running backs sign extensions, there's no guarantee they'll live up to those contracts. The Titans and 49ers are learning that the hard way.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
1.
Joe Flacco BAL
27/48
389
3
0
169
173
-5
Was June Jones coaching the Ravens on Sunday? Throwing out kneeldowns and counting scrambles as pass plays, the Ravens had 20 rushes and 52 pass plays against the Rams, even though they were up 21 points by the end of the first quarter. Flacco threw 47 passes without being sacked, then gave up two sacks in a row, which begs the question of why Baltimore even had him on the field with a 23-point lead and less than half a quarter to go, let alone dropping back and hitting the turf.

2.
Matt Hasselbeck TEN
27/36
312
2
0
161
161
0
Hasselbeck completed 27 of 36 passes, and though a lot of those were short throws, this was not a case of a quarterback padding his stats with useless third-down dumpoffs. Hasselbeck threw 14 first downs or touchdowns. He threw 13 completions that came up short of the sticks, but nine of those balls met FO's standards for successful yardage. He also threw a three-yard gain on first-and-10 and a six-yard gain on second-and-13 - failed plays, but minor failures. Meanwhile, he threw no picks and was sacked just twice (although he fumbled on one of those plays). Hasselbeck had gains of 22, 34, and 58 yards, but really this contest was a classic example of game management.

3.
Matt Schaub HOU
22/39
373
3
1
159
159
0
As good as Drew Brees was on Sunday, Schaub was better. He did give up two sacks and an interception, but that's not why Houston lost - Brees, after all, gave up two sacks and two picks of his own. The biggest reason the Texans came up short was red zone performance, scoring only one touchdown on five trips inside the Saints' 20, and Schaub bears some of the blame there. Although Schaub threw a pair of red zone scores, he threw seven other passes inside the 20, and completed just two of them. Schaub scores highly, though, for getting his team into scoring position so often. He had 16 throws for 10 yards or more, six for 20 or more, and three for 30-plus yards.

4.
Aaron Rodgers GB
28/38
297
3
1
149
151
-2
A weird, streaky, but very good day. Six of Rodgers' first nine dropbacks produced first downs (including touchdowns). After that he put the following strings together, in this order: 0-for-4, 5-for-5, 1-for-12, 4-for-4, 1-for-5. Those are numbers for first downs, not completions, so some of those negative streaks were broken up by the odd checkdown here or there.

5.
Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF
27/40
369
2
2
122
122
0
There was a period between the first and second quarters where Fitzpatrick looked like he did in his days with the Bengals. In one string of eight passes, Fitzpatrick had six completions for just 20 yards, one interception, and no successful plays. He finished the game, though, on a remarkable hot streak: His last five passes, each with Buffalo trailing or tied, all gained 18 yards or more.

6.
Drew Brees NO
31/44
370
3
2
110
116
-6
Brees had -74 DYAR throwing to his right on Sunday, the worst of any quarterback this weekend. Both of his interceptions went that direction, which doesn't help. He ended up going 9-of-15 to his right, but for just 56 yards, a rate of 3.7 yards per attempt that is very un-Brees-like.

7.
Matt Stafford DET
32/46
378
2
0
106
106
0
Detroit has a great wide receiver, a good tight end, and that's about it as far as passing options go. Stafford to Calvin Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew: 18-of-28, 220 yards, 166 DYAR. Stafford to everyone else: 14-of-22, 158 yards, 41 DYAR, thanks mostly to a 60-yard catch-and-run by Jahvid Best. He was also sacked five times for -101 DYAR.

8.
Tom Brady NE
30/45
387
4
4
99
99
0
In the 20-year history of DYAR, this was easily the best four-interception game. Boomer Esiason is second with 51 DYAR for the 1996 game where he threw 59 passes and had not just four picks but also 522 yards. Gus Frerotte is third with 48 DYAR for a game in 2000 where he threw 58 passes and had 462 yards. However, this was probably not the best four-interception game of all time. Pro Football Reference lists 12 other quarterbacks with higher passer ratings in games with four or more interceptions. The record is Ken Anderson's 1984 game against the Jets, when he went 16-of-22 for 316 yards, two touchdowns, and the four picks. That works out to only two passes that actually hit the ground, a 72.7 percent completion rate, 14.4 yards per attempt, and a 105.5 rating. If you prefer the adjusted yards per attempt metric PFR uses, Brady still stands behind a dozen men. One caveat: While we don't have sack data for many older games, we do know that Brady wasn't sacked once, so he'd almost assuredly leapfrog a handful of these men if sacks were taken into account.

9.
Eli Manning NYG
16/23
254
4
0
95
95
0
Philadelphia cornerback watch: Manning went 7-of-12 for 142 yards throwing to his wideouts. He was 3-of-5 for 25 yards to Hakeem Nicks, 1-of-2 for 7 yards to Brandon Stokley, and 3-of-5 for 110 yards to Victor Cruz. A big chunk of that came after free safety Kurt Coleman missed a tackle, turning what should have been a 10-yard gain or so into a 74-yard touchdown, but Cruz also outleaped Nnamdi Asomugha in the end zone for a 28-yard score. (Cruz, by the way, finished with 48 DYAR, 11th among receivers.)

10.
Mark Sanchez NYJ
27/43
369
2
1
92
92
0
Sanchez threw a league-high 13 passes in the "short middle" area of the field, completing 11 of them for 97 yards and 56 DYAR.

11.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
25/37
364
1
1
71
65
6
Isn't the Colts defense designed to take away big plays? On deep passes (more than 15 yards downfield), Roethlisberger went 8-of-11 for 223 yards, one touchdown, one interception, and 117 DYAR. On short routes, he was just 17-of-26 for 141 yards and 34 DYAR. He was also sacked three times.

12.
Tony Romo DAL
23/37
265
0
1
68
68
0
Hooray for stats padding! Romo had 10 failed completions, tied with Roethlisberger for the most in the league this week.

Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
13.
Jason Campbell OAK
18/26
156
0
0
68
62
6
Death by a thousand cuts: In his last seven passes of the first half, Campbell went 7-for-7 for just 45 yards, but every completion met FO's criteria for success. He converted three second downs in that stretch, none longer than four yards.

14.
Chad Henne MIA
19/29
255
1
1
67
65
3
Henne's fourth quarter: 2-of-7 for 17 yards, one sack, no first downs, -20 DYAR, one fall-from-ahead loss. His last two plays of the third quarter were an incompletion and a sack, by the way.

15.
Matt Ryan ATL
26/46
330
1
1
51
45
6
What's the opposite of Captain Comeback? Lieutenant Letdown? Sergeant Surrender? Ryan threw a remarkable 11 red zone passes (including one sack) with his team trailing in the fourth quarter. Seven were incomplete. The completions included a 7-yard gain on third-and-10, and only one touchdown. Ryan had two other red zone passes in the second quarter: an incompletion, and a 4-yard gain on third-and-8.

16.
Colt McCoy CLE
19/39
210
2
1
43
43
0
We can't credit McCoy for leading a come-from-behind win without mentioning that it was largely McCoy's fault the Browns were losing in the first place. He started 2-of-9 for 19 yards with one first down and one interception. By that point it was the second quarter and Miami was already up seven points.

17.
Jay Cutler CHI
21/37
302
2
2
39
33
6
Cutler was backed up all day, with a league-high 27 passes (including two sacks and one fumbled snap) inside his own 40. That's largely his own fault, as he couldn't get his team down the field — he completed only 13 passes back there for 179 yards, only six of them for first downs, and -35 DYAR.

18.
Cam Newton CAR
18/34
158
1
0
39
50
-12
The monsoon didn't help Newton or Blaine Gabbert. Playing a game almost literally underwater (and we really mean almost literally underwater) took away what Newton does best: throw deep. His average completion came 11.2 yards past the line of scrimmage in Week 1 and 8.0 yards downfield in Week 2, but just 2.6 yards downfield in Week 3, the lowest figure in the league.

19.
Philip Rivers SD
24/38
266
0
2
34
40
-6
Ordinarilay a long-bomber extraordinaire, Rivers had a league-best 173 DYAR on short routes, but a league-worst -83 DYAR on deep balls. He was 0-for-7 with a pair of picks on deep throws, 24-of-31 for 266 yards on shorter routes. He was also sacked twice.

20.
Alex Smith SF
20/30
201
0
0
30
30
0
Smith threw the shortest passes of Week 3. His average ball went just 4.7 yards past the line of scrimmage. The leader was Joe Flacco, whose average pass traveled 11.7 yards downfield.

21.
Tarvaris Jackson SEA
18/31
171
0
1
18
7
12
Jackson to Sidney Rice: 8-of-10, 109 yards, 74 DYAR. Jackson to everyone else: 10-of-21, 30 yards, 11 DYAR. He was also sacked four times for -56 DYAR.

22.
Rex Grossman WAS
22/36
250
1
1
17
17
0
Sometimes mediocre games are just mediocre games, forgotten as soon as Tuesday morning rolls around. I'm sorry, it's 2 a.m. and I've just got nothing insightful to say about Rex Grossman right now. The only thing harder to write would be a comment on Curtis Painter or something.

Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
23.
Donovan McNabb MIN
22/36
211
1
0
6
2
4
McNabb had 11 plays with five yards or less needed for a first down, tied with Matt Stafford and Kevin Kolb for the most in Week 3. He picked up the first down twice, he was sacked twice, and he threw seven incompletions.

24.
Matt Cassel KC
17/24
176
2
1
0
4
-4
Cassel went 6-of-7 in the first half, but the Chiefs did not pick up a single first down. Really. At the time, Cassel had 18 yards passing, no play longer than four yards, plus a sack for five yards on which Cassel fumbled. Every one of his first-half dropbacks fell short of the baseline performance. The fact that the Chiefs were even in this game in the second half is a testament to something. When in doubt, blame Norv Turner.

25.
Kevin Kolb ARI
25/38
252
1
2
-2
-4
2
Stop Larry Fitzgerald, you stop the Cards. The Seahawks limited Fitzgerald to three targets in the second half, two incompletions and a 5-yard DPI call. Kolb wasn't able to find a better option, going 11-of-20 for 113 yards with an interception and a sack-fumble in quarters two and three.

26.
Josh Freeman TB
22/32
180
0
2
-8
-24
16
Tampa Bay never trailed against Atlanta, which is kind of amazing when you consider Freeman's first quarter: 5-of-9 passing, 33 yards, a red zone interception, league-worst -63 DYAR.

27.
Michael Vick PHI
16/23
176
0
1
-11
1
-13
The Eagles' defense had its share of breakdowns, but Philadelphia might have won anyway with better performance in the red zone. Vick had seven total plays inside the 20, including one interception, one fumbled snap, one rush for no gain, one incompletion, and one completion for a loss of yards. His two completions for positive yardage produced one first down and no touchdowns.

28.
Kyle Orton DEN
24/39
173
2
2
-21
-21
0
Orton in the red zone: 6-of-9, 31 yards, two touchdowns, 44 DYAR. Orton everywhere else: 18-of-30, 142 yards, two interceptions, 1 sack, -65 DYAR.

29.
Kerry Collins IND
13/29
93
0
0
-24
-24
0
You can't say that Collins' teammates put him in bad situations — his average pass came with 8.1 yards needed for a first down. Only Philip Rivers and Kyle Orton needed less than that in Week 3.

30.
Curtis Painter IND
5/11
60
0
0
-29
-29
0
(Exasperated sigh.)

31.
Blaine Gabbert JAC
12/21
139
1
1
-51
-54
3
Picking on a rookie quarterback making his first start on a bad team may seem like poor sport, but after what Cam Newton did in his first game, the bar has been raised. Gabbert was one of the worst quarterbacks in the league in Week 3, and that's giving him credit for the Hail Mary touchdown he threw to Mike Thomas at the end of the first half. Gabbert converted only one third down in eight attempts and produced only five first downs or touchdowns all day. He fumbled three snaps, threw an interception on first down near midfield, and was sacked twice (once for a safety). He was still a massive upgrade over what Luke McCown did the week before.

32.
Sam Bradford STL
16/32
166
1
1
-66
-76
10
This may be our favorite stat from Week 3: In the first half of Sunday's game, the Rams, as a team, had four receptions for a total of 17 yards. Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith had more yards than that on each of his three first-quarter touchdowns. In 18 first-half dropbacks, Bradford had two successful plays (one of them a defensive pass interference penalty), two sacks, one interception, and 9 net yards.

33.
Andy Dalton CIN
17/32
157
0
2
-76
-78
2
Here's the amazing thing about Dalton's lousy game: He started out on fire, going 6-of-7 for 69 yards and six first downs. After that: 11-of-25, 88 yards, one sack, two interceptions, three first downs.


Five most valuable running backs
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Fred Jackson BUF
74
1
87
0
73
34
39
It's early, but the Bills are 3-0, and Fred Jackson has played like an MVP candidate. He's third behind the Raiders' Darren McFadden and New England's Wes Welker in yards from scrimmage, and it was Jackson, not quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was the driving offensive force behind Buffalo's upset of New England. Jackson rushed 12 times for 74 yards on Sunday, including three ten-yard runs and a one-yard touchdown. Eleven of Jackson's 12 carries came on first down, and he beat the baseline performance on eight of those runs, including gains of 11, 18, and 21 yards. That's 34 DYAR as a rusher. He chipped in with 39 DYAR as a receiver, catching five of six passes, including plays for 12, 27, and 38 yards.

2.
Ryan Mathews SD
98
2
51
0
71
44
27
Mathews' 44 DYAR on the ground made him the second-most valuable runner on Sunday. (Oakland's Darren McFadden was first -- he does not appear on this list because he had negative DYAR as a receiver.) 20 of his 21 carries gained positive yardage. He did his best work in the red zone, beating the baseline performance in each of his four carries, and his 2- and 4-yard touchdowns (each on second-and-goal) were his most valuable runs of the day. In terms of yardage, his biggest plays came as a receiver, including catches for 18 and 24 yards.

3.
LaDainian Tomlinson NYJ
38
0
116
1
63
12
51
Tomlinson makes this list on three big plays: a 74-yard catch-and-run in the first quarter; an 18-yard touchdown catch in the second; and a 20-yard run in the fourth quarter. More than a quarter of the Jets' total receiving yardage came on what Tomlinson did after the catch.

4.
Ray Rice BAL
79
0
83
0
56
10
46
Speaking of YAC specialists: Rice's average reception came behind the line of scrimmage, but he gained at least 14 yards after the catch on all of them. His eight carries included just one first down, a 53-yard gain in the second quarter. He also gained 17 yards on second-and-20, but his other six carries gained nine total yards.

5.
Ahmad Bradshaw NYG
86
0
53
1
54
26
29
First half: Four carries for 56 yards. Second half: 11 carries for 30 yards. Bradshaw got six carries as the Giants were trying to kill clock with a six-point lead in the fourth quarter, and none of them gained more than 2 yards (although that 2-yarder did convert a third-and-1). He did, however, catch an 18-yard touchdown on a third-and-11 screen pass in the fourth to put the game away.


Least valuable running back
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
James Starks GB
8
0
9
0
-58
-46
-12
Starks had an 8-yard run in the second quarter against Chicago. His other ten carries totaled 0 (zero) yards, and none of them gained successful yardage towards a new set of downs. He was hit for no gain or a loss five times, and lost a fumble on one of those runs. That's all -46 DYAR rushing, and he had another -12 DYAR receiving, although that says more about how the Packers used him than it does about Starks' abilities as a pass-catcher. Aaron Rodgers used Starks exclusively as a third-down dumpoff option. He threw four passes in Starks' direction, each on third down with nine or more yards to go. Starks caught three of the passes, but none for more than five yards.


Five most valuable wide receivers and tight ends
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Wes Welker NE
16
20
217
13.6
2
124
In addition to his receiving numbers, Welker also had a 19-yard run. It all works out to 124 DYAR, the eighth-best day for a wide receiver in our database going back to 1992. The names on the top ten read like a list of the best wideouts of the past 20 years. The top game of all was a 291-yard, three-touchdown performance by Jimmy Smith against Baltimore in 2000. After that, you've got Jerry Rice, Chad Ochocinco (back when he was just a Johnson), Terrell Owens, and Randy Moss. Kenny Britt makes the list with his 225-yard, three-TD game against Philadelphia last year, then Andre Reed. Welker comes next, followed by Kevin Williams and Reggie Wayne. Wait, Kevin Williams? The Cowboys' kick returner from the mid-'90s? Yup. On Christmas Day 1995, he had nine catches, 203 yards and two touchdowns in 11 targets against Arizona. It was the only 100-yard receiving day of his career.

2.
Torrey Smith BAL
5
8
152
30.4
3
81
Three of Smith's targets came within four yards of the line of scrimmage. He caught two of them for 19 yards. His other five targets were thrown an average of 34.2 yards downfield, and he caught three of those for 133 yards and all three touchdowns.

3.
Jermichael Finley GB
7
8
85
12.1
3
62
The only ball thrown Finley's way that he didn't catch was intercepted, but DYAR does not blame receivers for interceptions. Of his seven catches, six produced first downs or touchdown. The seventh was an 11-yard gain on second-and-20, which still counts as a positive play when compared to the baseline for that situation.

4.
James Casey HOU
5
7
126
25.2
1
60
A tight end/fullback/special teamer, Casey's previous career-high was 48 receiving yards in 20 NFL games. He topped that total with his first catch of the game Sunday, a 62-yarder on third-and-8 in the first quarter. Three of his other receptions gained at least 14 yards and a touchdown or first down; the fourth was an eight-yard gain on third-and-14. He was the target on only two incompletions. He also rushed one time, an 11-yard gain on second-and-10.

5.
Greg Jennings GB
9
10
119
13.2
0
56
Yup, another Packers receiver. It's good to play with Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay leaned on Jennings early, throwing him six passes in the first quarter. He caught all of them, five for first downs, one a 9-yard gain on first-and-10. All nine of Jennings' receptions met FO's standards for success.


Least valuable wide receiver or tight end
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Kevin Ogletree DAL
4
8
29
7.2
0
-65
Ogletree's Monday night, one play at a time: A one-yard reception on second-and-14, which turned into a lost fumble after a video review; incompletion on first-and-10; intended target on an interception; incompletion on third-and-7; seven-yard gain on third-and-14; incompletion on third-and-goal (followed by a public tongue-lashing from Tony Romo); and finally the one thing he did right, a 20-yard gain to set up the winning field goal. Do not, fair reader, let that one big play be your lasting memory of Ogletree's performance, for it was the exception, not the rule.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 27 Sep 2011

125 comments, Last at 30 Sep 2011, 7:40am by bengt

Comments

1
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 11:10am

Gore was only guaranteed $2 million in new money, he has to remain on the roster next year to get the rest.

2
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 11:17am

Also pretty sure there's a typo in the Fred Jackson blurb and I can't work out if it's Matthews blurb that's migrated or a misnaming of Jackson.

7
by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 11:25am

Fixed.

3
by ASmitty :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 11:19am

"Detroit has a great wide receiver, a good tight end, and that's about it as far as passing options go."

Jahvid Best? Nate Burlson? Tony Scheffler? Titus Young?

Best had a 74-yard recieving game this week and was near the top of Quick Reads last week for a different recieiving performance. Scheffler has two touchdowns. Nate Burleson has a 93 yard receiving game this year, and Young has an 89 yard recieving game this year, despite missing almost all of camp.

Pettigrew, meanwhile, did basically nothing last week but dominated this week. Johnson is the constant, but the number two target for Detroit changes week to week. Which is what happens when you have LOTS of passing options.

29
by zlionsfan :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 1:14pm

Burleson's 16th in VOA through two weeks, Young is positive, and Scheffler's 14th in VOA through two weeks. Best was 11th in receiving VOA.

I think Verhei is confusing "this week" with "this season". As you point out, Stafford has a number of targets this season, and all except Young were part of the mix last season as well, so they know the offense. The non-contributor spot was filled by Bryant Johnson, and he's no longer around ... so that group of six should all be making significant contributions this season.

33
by ASmitty :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 1:27pm

Indeed. Through Week 3, all of Detroit's top six pass catchers (Johnson, Burleson, Best, Pettigrew, Scheffler and Young) have positive VOAs.

It's not their fault that there's only one football and that Johnson hogs all the red zone targets.

36
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 1:53pm

I would suggest that both of your posts actually suggest that there is an uncoverable monster called Megatron who opens things up rather a lot for the others. For similar results see, Johnson, Andre and the Houston Texans.

39
by ASmitty :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 1:59pm

This is not inconceivable, but I think the idea is somewhat undermined by the obvious talent of the other guys.

Best and Pettigrew are both recent first rounders who were known for their receiving abilities.

Burleson is a veteran who's always been solid.

Scheffler put up good stats in Denver before McDaniels arrived and banished the TE.

Young was a high second round pick this year.

The impact of Johnson is difficult to overstate, but it's not like the other guys are a collection of scrubs and unknowns. They're three blue-chippers and two solid guys who produced in the past for different teams.

On any given offensive down, I'd take Detroit's five pass catchers against pretty much any other five in the league. GB and NE also put out some fearsome fivesomes, but Detroit is in that class I think.

40
by Keith(1) (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 2:06pm

I am not sure I am reading this correctly, but are you saying that C Johnson / Pettigrew / Burleson / Young / Best is as good as any combination of Jennings / Driver / Finley / Jones / Nelson / Cobb / Starks / Grant or Branch / Welker / Woodhead / Green-Ellis / Gronkowski / Hernandez or even Colston / Meachem / Moore / Graham / Sproles / Ingram / Thomas / Ivory?

If that is what you are suggesting, I am not seeing it...

51
by ASmitty :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 2:26pm

Almost, but not quite. I think GB and NE both have superior depth to Detroit, but when you look at the actual FIVE on the field at any given time, and only as pass catchers, it's close.

For example, GB vs. Detroit:

RB: I prefer Best as a receiver to Grant or Starks. Advantage Detroit.

WR1: I prefer Johnson to Jennings. Advantage Detroit.

WR2: Driver has had a better career than Burleson, but aren't they pretty much the same guy now? Push.

TE: Pettigrew is good, but Finley is better. Advantage GB.

Wild Card: This is probably Scheffler or Young vs. Jones or Nelson, which doesn't seem clear to me at all. By virtue of past production, I'll say advantage GB.

So, that's two for Detroit, two for GB, and one push. Like I said, close.

Or, Detroit v. NE:

RB: Best is more explosive, Woodhead has better hands. Push.

WR1: I love Welker, but advantage Detroit.

WR2: See above. Aren't Branch and Burleson the same guy? Push.

TE1: Lot of similarities between Pettigrew and Gronkowski. Like with the RBs, I think Gronk has better hands, but I think Pettigrew is more explosive. Push.

Wild Card: Hernandez is better than Scheffler or Young. Advantage NE.

Again, in my opinion, pretty close. Now, if you start looking at running ability for the backs, or depth on the bench, Detroit falls off the pace. But for frontline pass-catching talent, I think Detroit is competitive with anyone.

53
by Keith(1) (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 2:35pm

I think you are pretty much way off, but we will never agree that you are wrong, so that will just have to be that.

Looking at the individual, from either side, the only player I would say is a direct improvement as a receiver over everybody else is Megatron. Best's body of work is marginal at best, while Green-Ellis and Woodhead have shown they can be very good...consistently. Pettigrew is nowhere near Finley, and if you throw Pettigrew, Gronkowski, Hernandez, and Scheffler into a sack and randomly chose one for either offense, they can probably do the same things.

Jennings and Welker are the next two best players after Megatron, and depending on what you want to do, you could take either one. I would say Driver has been and will continue to be (for maybe just this last year) much better than Burleson. If you really think Titus Young is as good as any other player, I may give you Cobb, but there is no way that any of the Lions receivers approach James Jones or Jordy Nelson, and I really think Branch is much, much better than Burleson's "veteran" ceiling.

All that said, I am certain that without Megatron, the rest of the Lions look pedestrian. Without Welker, the Patriots still roll. Without Jennings, the Packers still roll. But the Lions are not a bad bunch; there is just too much riding on what Megatron can do, and he does a lot.

57
by ASmitty :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 2:47pm

I actually think we're not far apart. I'm saying Detroit's top five are *competitve* with the best. Are they actually better? MAybe not, but the difference isn't an order of magnitude. I really don't have any problem with the way you're assessing them.

The only area I differ with you is in terms of the total "Megatron Effect." Personally, I believe it to be smaller than you do.

I do think Johnson is better than any guy on any of the teams listed, but that GB and NE both have two guys that are better than Detroit's next best after Johnson. I give more of an eye to Detroit players' potential over past production, however, since they haven't exactly been on the receiving end of Rogers or Brady the last few years.

73
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 4:58pm

You can't knock Best's body of work without knocking Finley for the same. Both are largely potential hampered by a history of injuries.

As for consistency: Woodhead has played one functional season. How are you defining consistency? Jahvid Best has more receptions and more rushing yardage than Woodhead does, in the same career length.

85
by Keith(1) (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 6:04pm

In 2010, Best has essentially the same rushing yards as Woodhead at twice the carries, and nearly half the average per carry. For receiving, he has far lower yards per catch than Woodhead. He was consistently a very good player last year, every time he touched the ball; Best is, at best, boom/bust. Granted, this year Woodhead has been seen much less, so there is much to be desired, and to compare them just yet would be unfair on either end.

Now, I will grant that Finley is working off his 2009 season and a small body of work in other seasons, but that year he was a long-ball tight end, getting 12.5 yards per catch. His 2009 was just "good numbers for a tight end"; they were, however, exceptional numbers for a second-year tight end in an offense already loaded with talent. He was already the third target in that offense in that year.

To compare, in 2010, Finley's good year, there were eight players with 20+ catches, as to only six such players on the Lions last year, or Best's good/only year. There is no player specifically comparable to Best on the Packers from that year, but Finley matches up nicely with Burleson, somebody who was mentioned as being a good enough ball player to warrant being considered; Finley's numbers are even slightly better.

To continue, there was only one player on the entire Lions roster with more YPC than Finley, and that was Megatron. There were four on the Packers with 20+ catches, so the fact that Finley got any long catches is amazing.

On the other hand, the Patriots had six players with 20+ catches last year and match up favorably with players from the Lions. Even with a quarterback like Brady throwing to them, the Patriots receivers were slightly outpaced by the Lions with Shaun Hill, so we cannot really use that as an "excuse." However, the Patriots played tons of long-ball last year, and it shows by nearly every receiver with 20+ catches on the Patriots having more YPC than all but Megatron on the Lions.

I guess what I am trying to say is, based on a consistent, getting plays off every time they touch the ball, the Patriots and Packers are the way to go. If you want big plays, the Patriots and Packers are the way to go. If you want boom/bust guys with flashy potential, the Lions are the way to go. That is not a bad thing, and being compared to the Patriots is not a bad thing, but they are not the Packers.

(By the way, this year, Greg Jennings has more catches for more yards and a better average than Megatron. Megatron is just Stafford's only Red Zone target, so his touchdown numbers are much better. In similar bodies of work, they are essentially the same player, and have been for a few years.)

89
by ASmitty :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 7:01pm

You are still comparing Tom Brady and Aaron Rogers to Shaun Hill and Drew Stanton.

Like I said before, your arguments aren't without merit, but until the end of this year we probably can't get a good baseline to evaluate your opinions versus mine. The quarterback play is just way too different.

I, for one, would be stunned if every Lion skill player didn't exceed their previous year's production this year. Quarterbacks are important.

113
by Keith(1) (not verified) :: Wed, 09/28/2011 - 9:19am

Again, I used last year's numbers for the Lions, and I said they favor comparably with the Patriots numbers, regardless of who was throwing to them. Of course they could go up; they could also go down. Realistically, the only player I see making a huge jump in production is Johnson, and that is only because I think his yardage total and touchdown total will rise. I do not think he will much eclipse his catch total from last year, simply because of the type of player he is. I see him around 80/1300/15, and that is a great season by all accounts.

109
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 09/28/2011 - 8:31am

(By the way, this year, Greg Jennings has more catches for more yards and a better average than Megatron. Megatron is just Stafford's only Red Zone target, so his touchdown numbers are much better. In similar bodies of work, they are essentially the same player, and have been for a few years.)
------------

I think the difference is that Johnson can make all of Jennings' catches, and Jennings cannot make all of Johnson's.

54
by Arkaein :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 2:37pm

Jordy Nelson is GB's WR2 now, in fact if not in name (more catches and yards, probably more snaps as well), and is definitely better than Burleson. I'd also say that Jones and Cobb might be better as well, but that would be more for your Wild Card pick, which is also where Driver should fit based on actual number of snaps this season.

55
by ASmitty :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 2:39pm

Or, to phrase it differently:

If Detroit offered to trade Johnson, Best, Pettigrew, Burleson and Young to GB for Jennings, Starks, Finley, Driver and Jones (and familiarity with the offense weren't a factor), would GB do it? Would they be TEMPTED to do it?

I don't think Brady or Rogers would see any decline in stats if they swapped their starting five weapons for Stafford's.

56
by milo :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 2:39pm

Well, Ivory is on the PUP list, so anybody is better right now. But you really ought to consider adding Henderson to the Saints receiving corps seeing as he leads the league in DVOA right now (and also led the entire league for the 2008 season).

61
by Keith(1) (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 3:00pm

I forgot him. But that just goes to strengthen my point. You can pick almost any five guys from the Saints and Packers and have five skill players that are a top-3 unit in the entire league. I am even tempted to say that even the Chargers top-3 is competitive with/better than the Lions top-3, and the next two are pushes; the same for the Eagles if "air" counted as a player next to Shady, Maclin, Jackson, Celek, and Avant.

62
by ASmitty :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 3:06pm

We shall have to agree to wait and see.

Comparing players who have been catching passes from Brady, Rogers, Rivers and even Vick for the past year or two to guys who have been catching passes from Shaun Hill, Daunte Culpepper and Drew Stanton is an inherently risky proposition.

If Stafford stays healthy, by the end of the year we'll know a lot more about the relative strength of Detroit's skill guys.

64
by Keith(1) (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 3:23pm

Let us do this: I will create my list of teams based on skill players and how they rank in the league, based on what I see so far this year and what we have seen in the past. If at the end of the year I am wrong, I will do, uh, a book review of whatever book you should have me to do. I guess we can use average end-of-the-year DVOA. The way we will do it for most teams is 3 receivers, 1 tight end, and 1 running back; in some cases, we can do 2 receivers, 2 tight ends, 1 running back; 2 receivers, 1 tight end, 2 running backs; or 1 receiver, 2 tight ends, 2 running backs. This would be my list:

ELITE: Saints, Packers (2)
VERY GOOD: Patriots (2/2/1), Eagles, Chargers, Bills (6)
GOOD: Lions, Falcons, Texans (2/2/1), Giants (2/1/2), Cowboys (11)
ABOVE AVERAGE: Ravens, Steelers, Buccaneers (14)
AVERAGE: Raiders, Colts, Panthers (1/2/2), Jets (2/1/2) (18)
BELOW AVERAGE: Cardinals, Redskins, Browns, Bears (22)
BAD: Titans, Rams, Vikings (25)
VERY BAD: Dolphins, Broncos, 49ers, Bengals (29)
UN-ELITE: Chiefs, Seahawks, Jaguars (32)

Here is to hoping you have an awful book in mind...

65
by ASmitty :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 3:36pm

Your list does not offend my eyes, though I think you're too bear-ish on the Lions and too bull-ish on the Bills.

And again, I don't consider rushing ability for RBs, though I'm not sure you're considering it either. Conceptually, it's more of a "if this team sent five guys out on patterns, how easy would they be to cover?"

At the top, I would move the Lions up one division, the Bills down possibly as many as two, and then collapse all of the top two divisions into one "Very Good" category.

66
by Keith(1) (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 3:47pm

I am also considering the effect on the defense in respect to the passing game. I see the Bills in a lot of shootouts because their defense. The Lions defense is better than the Bills, so they will not have to pass as much late in games. This will certainly not affect their DVOA by too much, but it will remove opportunity and therefore the ability to even calculate the effect.

While each section above and below average could be consolidated into fewer, larger groups, I think there needs to be a distinction between offense skill sets like the Saints/Packers and teams like the Giants, who, with all their best players, are still a notch or two below. The Lions may well move up and the Bills down, but my list is a general list, and it would not break my heart to merge/split in different areas.

I guess the original point still stands -- the Lions are much better than most teams this year, and have equals, but I do not think those equals are Patriots/Packers as you first listed, and I do not even know if the Patriots are even as good as the Packers.

[As an aside, I proposed this question to another football-junkie in the office and without any options, he chose the Packers with Rodgers and the Lions with Stafford, but a handful of other teams if the Lions did not have Stafford. I guided him in no way; that is just who he chose. And he is a Giants fan. {Another aside: the Saints fan picked the Saints.}]

75
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 5:03pm

The reason being that Shaun Hill is more of a captain checkdown than Matt Ryan, and his presence largely defeats the purpose of having Megatron.

With Hill as the starter, I would consider trading Johnson for Welker straight-up. I think both QBs might be the better for it.

As a Lions fan, I wouldn't trade Detroit's starters for GB's or NE's, but I might think about Houston's, if only to get some competent big backs. At the moment, Detroit's offense looks like they robbed either Andy Reid or Mouse Davis in the night.

124
by CaffeineMan :: Thu, 09/29/2011 - 3:24pm

"With Hill as the starter, I would consider trading Johnson for Welker straight-up."

As a Pats fan, my jersey says "Welker" on the back, but I make that trade in a heartbeat. Megatron uber alles. However, I'll agree with those that say that the sum total in NE is greater than in DET.

68
by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 3:57pm

I guess any amateur ranking every team in the league is going to have some gaffes, because you'll be grading mostly on reputation. I only know 2 teams fairly well, and 49ers 2/2/1 would be much better than "VERY BAD." Edwards, Crabtree, Davis, Walker, Gore are a pretty good bunch. The problem with that team is a horrible o-line and a slow-thinking quarterback, not its skill-position players.

71
by Keith(1) (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 4:11pm

At the end of the year, are the 49ers using 2/2/1 going to be a good offense? Will they be average? Below average? As it is, even counting Frank Gore for his past production, is he going to be good this year? Is counting Walker better than counting Morgan? Or would it even be better to say that 3/2/0 is better than adding any running back? That is the issue I am having with some of these teams, and so I left most of them in a base.

116
by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 09/28/2011 - 11:34am

Forgive me; I thought you were rating skill-position players, not offenses as a whole.

69
by BJR :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 4:00pm

The UN-ELITE receivers category belongs to the St Louis Rams, on their own. There is a reason Sam Bradford is often languishing in the doldrums of the DYAR rankings (see above), and it is not his lack of talent. If they had the Seahawks 2011 receivers (Sidney Rice, Mike Williams, Zac Miller) they would be a lock for the NFC West.

102
by Mr Shush :: Wed, 09/28/2011 - 7:54am

I broadly agree with your rankings, but unsurprisingly think (homer alert) that the Texans should be higher, and should be listed as (2/1/2), since Casey now plays predominantly fullback. Once Foster comes back, he and Casey will cause horrendous matchup problems in the passing game, as the very real running threat will frequently lead to them both being man-covered by linebackers. Not many linebackers can cover either of those guys. The Texans also have the distinction of being able to run out no fewer than 9 good receiving options, including deep threat Jacoby Jones, reliable short area possession receiver David Anderson, dangerous slot option Bryant Johnson and solid all-purpose tight end Joel Dreesen. The Texans arguably have more flexibility than any other team in terms of types of multi-option receiver groupings they can run out - it just happens that where the Saints and Packers create their biggest mismatches by going five wide and targeting dime backs, the Texans do it by targeting linebackers out of a pro set. Of course, the Packer/Saint policy probably is more advantageous in a 2 minute situation.

But certainly factoring in running as well, I wouldn't even think about trading the Texans' non-QB skill players for anyone else's.

114
by Joseph :: Wed, 09/28/2011 - 11:18am

Mr. Shush--at least you admit your homerism.
If Bryant Johnson and Dreesen are considered "dangerous" & "solid", why isn't the Texans GM trying to trade either guy for somebody decent in the secondary??? (The fact that the Cards & Lions didn't try to retain BJ means he is no better than replacement level--not "dangerous"--unless you mean "dangerous to the team because there might be another rookie/2nd year WR that could benefit from his practice/game reps."
Fact is--Lance Moore is the Saints 3rd receiver--he's only dangerous because he runs Welker-style routes and is practically NEVER covered by a CB--even the dime one. He's always covered by a S/LB--and this produces predictable matchup problems (see Saints 2nd TD drive of the 4th Q Sunday).
As multiple commenters at multiple sites mentioned when Moore was an RFA, he is more important to the Saints than practically anybody else--simply because he is not asked to do something he can't (be a starting WR).
BTW, is there ANY team that targets anyone else's 3rd TE in FA??? Not saying they don't change teams, but when you have a situation like the Saints had last year (3rd TE Jimmy Graham actually WAS a dangerous receiver), one guy is gone (usually the older guy=Shockey), and they keep the other two (in the Saints' case, Graham and David Thomas).
Re: David Anderson--I don't follow HOU, but isn't he just Kevin Walter lite?
To sum up--I can't get nine. AJ, KW, JJ, AF, JC, OD=6 Since you can't get more than 5 on the field at any one time, more than 6 (in case one is injured) just means a different way to match 5 receiving options in different plays--the defense doesn't have to account for the guys on the bench.

4
by Temo :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 11:20am

If I say I enjoy Vince's QR more than Barnwell's, will Vince then get a job writing Rick Reilly's new start-up pun-centric sports website or something?

5
by ChicagoRaider :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 11:25am

Wait a sec... McFadden has one of the biggest rushing days ever against a Rex Ryan coached defense and does not make the top 5? Was he supposed to average 15 yards per carry against the Jets or something? I mean, how much negative does it take on the passing to offset the rushing and what should be a fairly large defense adjustment?

8
by ASmitty :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 11:26am

I don't believe there is any defense adjustment until Week 4. These are really just VOA and YAR at this point.

14
by Biebs :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 11:44am

By my quick count, I think he was only successful on 36% of his plays (8/22). I imagine that's a big reason why. He had 5 plays for 129 yards, and only a few other 10 yard plays.

I was surprised he wasn't there either, but I'm guessing that's the reason.

17
by JasonK :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 11:48am

Read the Ryan Matthews comment. McFadden was 1st in rushing YAR, but had negative receiving YAR.

18
by BigWoody (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 11:50am

Your answer is in the write up on Ryan Mathews.

Mathews' 44 DYAR on the ground made him the second-most valuable runner on Sunday. (Oakland's Darren McFadden was first -- he does not appear on this list because he had negative DYAR as a receiver.)

6
by Lance :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 11:25am

"Hooray for stats padding!"? I'm not sure I follow.

9
by Temo :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 11:29am

It seemed clear that Romo had instructions to use Witten and sometimes a RB (Choice or Jones) as an outlet anytime he felt pressure and needed to avoid getting hit. Thus he had a lot of "empty calorie" completions where nothing very productive happened. "Stat padding", I guess, especially early in the game.

That's not Romo's game though, as we know. He's more likely to "fuck it, I'm dragoning" than dumping off, which is why I'm pretty sure it was part of the gameplan.

19
by DEW (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 11:50am

Things like an 8-yard completion on 3rd-and-10. It inflates the completion percentage and yards total but accomplishes nothing on the field.

10
by djanyreason :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 11:31am

Things I don't understand:

On long passes, Ben Roethlisberger gets 117 DYAR. On short passes, Ben Roethlisberger gets 34 DYAR. 117+34 = 151. Yet Ben Roethlisberger's reported passing DYAR is 65.

He was sacked 3 times, two of which resulted in fumbles. Are those three plays counted in his passing DYAR, and worth a total of -86 DYAR? That seems like quite a lot...

11
by ASmitty :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 11:33am

Stafford was sacked five times, and fumbled once. In his blurb, it says those sacks were worth -101 DYAR.

So they can definitely be worth that much.

12
by Arkaein :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 11:36am

Turnovers are very bad for DYAR, and fumbles are considered about half of a turnover. Throw in the loss of down and yardage on a sack and that seems about right.

41
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 2:07pm

Sacks seem worth quite a lot.

If you traded INTs for sacks, Brady and Stafford had the same game.

15
by The Powers That Be :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 11:45am

Sacks are bad. Fumbles are really really bad. They do tend to slaughter DYAR.

32
by drobviousso :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 1:25pm

One of his sacks was epicly bad, too, knocking the Steelers out of FG range. I'm not sure how much DYAR takes into account field positions, but it was a huge WPA swing.

119
by Rocco :: Wed, 09/28/2011 - 1:41pm

It would have been a 53 yard FG from there had he thrown the ball away. The sack spared us from Tomlin sending Suisham to miss a long FG and give Indy great field position.

120
by Intropy :: Wed, 09/28/2011 - 2:50pm

I agree with this. I thought the Steelers were in four down territory. I'm not saying going for it on that fourth down would have been the right choice, I mean that they should have played the series like they were going to use four downs on it.

13
by Philly Phan (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 11:39am

Where is Mike Kafka?

16
by prophetik (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 11:47am

hiding.

26
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 1:00pm

I think I swatted him this morning as he buzzed around my Krispy Kreme.

20
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 11:54am

Hmm I thought Starks had another 6 yard run on first down in the 3rd quarter. Though maybe that was the 3 and long run.

Interesting I think you look at where the GB running backs were running you'd see closer numbers between the two. Starks had more runs outside the tackles, neither GB back did anything outside. Starks only had I think 4 attempts that were between the tackles and while he didn't do as well as Grant he didn't look awful on them.

I can't blame the coaches on the usage, Starks IS better at making the corner or going off tackle than Grant, but the Packers have always been poor at blocking that, and Chicago has very good edge speed. I think much of it was done to help set up other plays though. But I was pleased with either back between the tackles and the line for that matter, I saw a lot of second level blocks on Urlacher and Briggs that I just didn't see last year at all.

I am curious as to what Grant's rushing DYAR was.

21
by battlered90 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 11:57am

I am surprised to find Schaub so high on the list of QBs. How would players rate if you limited plays to only red zone touches? I would assume on a week to week basis the sample size would be too small to gain much insight but it might be interesting to look at this on a seasons (or multiple seasons) worth of samples. After last week's stomach punch of a game (and the franchise history of underperforming expectations), the prevailing thinking in Houston is that Schaub is not good enough to get the Texans to the promised land. Even Schaub defenders (like me) are losing faith. What is FO's take on this?

24
by theshadowj :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:57pm

I don't know where you go to find people that think Schaub is the problem, but I'm glad I have managed to avoid those places.

104
by Mr Shush :: Wed, 09/28/2011 - 8:03am

There is a sense in which Schaub is the problem, in that I think if you exclude quarterbacks from consideration, the Texans have hands down the best offense in football (not even close) but including quarterbacking they're probably somewhere between 3rd and 7th. Schaub is good, but equally he is not in the same class as Brady/Rodgers/Rivers/Brees/Manning, and because the rest of the offense is so awesome, being merely good makes Schaub the weak link (provided you view the offensive line as a unit, not individuals).

30
by zlionsfan :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 1:15pm

Hmm ... seems like the "blame the defense on the QB" disease is spreading in the AFC South ...

59
by tuluse :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 2:53pm

Well to be fair, I didn't see Schaub out there covering anyone or rushing the passer.

38
by sundown (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 1:57pm

Losing in faith in what? That your defense will ever give up less than 40 in a game? Schaub brought you back umpteen times in the Saints game and your D gave it back every single time. Moses himself would be incapable of leading the Texans to the promised land with a defense giving up that many points.

103
by Mr Shush :: Wed, 09/28/2011 - 7:58am

You would not believe how many Texans fans think the offense is substandard. It's just . . . wierd.

22
by mickeyg13 :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:21pm

So you are telling me that if someone offered an over/under of 650 rushing yards for the remainder of Chris Johnson's season, you would happily bet the under on that?

It's *incredibly* misleading to focus on the entire class of runners who started this poorly...on average that class of runners is far worse than Chris Johnson. We know a lot more about Chris Johnson than just that he is a member of that class of poor starters...we know, like LT and Dillon, he has a few years of evidence of being one of the best backs in the league. Three games is far too insignificant of a sample size to alter projections *that* much. In a Bayesian sense, you should use this poor start to update (and downgrade) your prior belief, but you don't throw out all prior knowledge.

I'm not saying CJ is going for another 2000 yard season; I'm saying it takes a whole lot more than 3 games of evidence to change our opinion *that* strongly on him.

35
by RickD :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 1:37pm

Or, as a Bayesian would say, use a better prior.

44
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 2:10pm

It's not without possibility.

Sanders started 1997 with 25 carries for 53 yards, then rushed for 2000 yards in the next 14 games.

23
by MVPFF (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:55pm

I think Gore is just not that good anymore. The 49ers should start Hunter.

I think the Titan situation is much, much different. I don't think it's a coincidence that CJ's stats have been putrid while Hasselbeck keeps posting top 5 days according to FO. With all due respect to Hasselbeck and the Titans passing game, against an honest defense, those numbers just aren't there.

To me, CJ's future success this year will be controlled by how defenses play the Titans. If Tennessee keeps winning games with CJ doing nothing and Hasselbeck as the 2nd most efficient QB, I would anticipate defenses would start letting up the pressure on the run game.

But who knows if that will happen...especially with Britt done for the year.

But...essentially...these things don't happen in a vacuum. The Gore situation is vastly different from the CJ situation.

83
by Chill (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 5:57pm

As regards Gore, you can't blame him for the travesty that has been the 49ers o-line this season. 2.5 y/c is neither bad nor good in this case, it is simply a product of no holes. I like Kendall Hunter, but Gore is still probably the best bet at HB.

84
by Chill (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 5:59pm

As regards Gore, you can't blame him for the travesty that has been the 49ers o-line this season. 2.5 y/c is neither bad nor good in this case, it is simply a product of no holes. I like Kendall Hunter, but Gore is still probably the best bet at HB.

25
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:58pm

We Viking fans are in agonized suspense regarding the only contest that matters to us; which team tied for the worst record in the league, playing home games west of the Mississippi (a category the Vikings slip into by a mere 3/4 of a mile), has the worst quarterback? It's gonna' be a nailbiter!

27
by Stuart (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 1:02pm

McFadden is the latest in many running backs to have not appeared at the top of your MVRB list despite outrushing all of his peers. I understand that FO embraces the counter-intuitve logic of these results by suggesting that the metrics show that we typically undervalue the importance of good recieving RB and overvalue a hard runner who offers little after the catch in terms of recptions. That the former 'add more value' and the latter 'add less' than is commonly percieved.

I am not unsympathetic to such a narrative as a yard is a yard in football, it makes no sense to vaue yards recieved whilst rushing over those whilst recieveing due to some pre-concieved notion of what the primary role of a running back is. Each play should instead be judged on its contribution to sustaining drives and scoring scoring points. This is the pirnciple that FO are trying to capture.

However, I do wonder if the metric may be penalising RBs who play actually play an important recieving role on downfield passing teams. I will present the sort of scenario that I refer to. A QB takes a 7 step drop as his recievers run down the field, the RB is asked to stay behind the line to add protection against pass rushers in order to allow the slow play to develop. The QB is presented with blanket coverage and after chipping any rusher the RB offers a a dump off option to the QB that goes for 2 or 3 yards. Such a play by FO would give a negative DYAR to the rb as it would count as unnsuccesful. However, the alternative to such a play was not really a succesful gain or a big play but rather a sack, a throw away or a potential intnetional grounding penalty. The RB has added value on a passing down despite making an 'unnsuccesful' play by FO metrics.

I only mention such a scenario because as a follower of downfield passing team, The Steelers, I see it quite often- Mewelday Moore makes a living out of it. I did not watch the Oakland game but they too are downfield passing tema and McFadden's negative DYAR in revieiving suggests he did not make the list as a result of a number of unnsuccesful plays in the recieving game. I am then only offering an unsubstantiated theory as to why FO might undervalue performances like McFadden's, however it might suggest a wider point that the DYAR system punishes dump off options, who in fact add value to their team by limiting the losses suffered when the planned play is not available.

31
by ASmitty :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 1:19pm

Yeah, I call it "Ray Rice Disease," and it's an oft-pointed out problem. For the most part, I take FO's individual player stats with a grain of salt because, while they try to do a better job of placing stats in context than traditional metrics, they can and do still penalize plays that were obviously not bad in their context.

34
by drobviousso :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 1:31pm

This is well known. You have to read these as {player name}, playing in {scheme}, with {quarterback} and {o line}.

No one thinks Shady McCoy would produce the same results in Pittsburgh that he does in Pilly, nor Mendenhall in Philly as opposed to Pittsburgh.

42
by David :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 2:08pm

I'm not entirely certain, and have insufficient time to check, but I believe that DYAR (along with DVOA) rates how a player does in that situation - not just as a successful/unsuccesful situation.

So a running back that is better at taking that dump-off for five yards than the league average of three yards (all number courtesy of "Pulling Stats out of my Ass (tm)"), still gets positive YAR

However, you're right, it doesn't affect that he is more useful than the RB that just stands around on the same 3rd & 17 while the QB gets pancaked ("Goddammit, Donald!")

95
by Stuart (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 9:02pm

But surely FO metrics are not as sophisticated as that- they do not calculate how a RB does in comparison to average (or replacement level) on dump offs, just how he does in comparison in terms of down and distance. So if Rashard Mendenhall, Ray Rice or Darren McFadden (insert running back of deep passing team of your choice) receive a dump off on 2nd and 10 for 2 yards they are judged against the standards of Jamaal Charles, Chris Johnson, Danny Woodhead or Jahvid Best (insert running back who receives a lot of bubble screens and the like) who are the beneficiary of a designed YAC play. Whats important about this is that the false comparison will also inflate the value of those screens. Hence an explanation for FOs love of receiving RBs that does not simply correspond to the 'a yards a yard so they are underrated' narrative.

98
by Jerry :: Wed, 09/28/2011 - 2:23am

To take it a step further, that 2-yard gain on 2nd and 10 is compared to all 2nd and 10 plays, including the long passes to Mike Wallace. From the team point of view, it makes sense, since the play ended up being an unsuccessful 2-yard gain, regardless of who made the play or how much worse it might have been. From the individual perspective, it can be misleading, which is why I take the individual numbers a little less seriously than I do the team.

P.S. "I did not watch the Oakland game but they too are downfield passing tema" was a nice touch.

99
by Eggwasp (not verified) :: Wed, 09/28/2011 - 3:11am

I completely agree with this - for team-DVOA the approach is fine but the problem is where the individual stats are taken as an indicator for the quality of the RB. I would go as far as to say that DYAR/DVOA for individual players needs to take a completely different approach to the team stats. Are the 32 NFL teams/GMs/scouting departments all getting it wrong when they prioritise rushing ability over pass-catching for their feature backs? Pass-catching is important to RBs, but I just can't agree that its AS important as their rushing yards. I think it should be weighted lower in the DYAR calculations etc to reflect this.

(Also one minor point - McFadden takes a dump-off on 3rd & 20 (which surprisingly and thankfully hasn't been seen in Oakland as much this year so far!) and gains 12 yards back. Does McFadden get the benefit of the 12 yards of field position (which adds say a third or so to the net field position after the punt) or does he just get penalised for not converting?)

IMHO, I also think there is more value in a three yard run on first down over a five yard pass, in the context of the gameplan. Even in today's league, you have to mix things up to stop the defense dropping 8 guys back into coverage. So even if you have a dire running game, you still increase the success % of your passing game by at least pretending to be a bit more balanced, even if the individual plays aren't perceived as successful. So I think that the yard-is-a-yard approach also undervalues the importance of the running game (and by implication the running back).

100
by tuluse :: Wed, 09/28/2011 - 3:25am

McFadden takes a dump-off on 3rd & 20 (which surprisingly and thankfully hasn't been seen in Oakland as much this year so far!) and gains 12 yards back. Does McFadden get the benefit of the 12 yards of field position (which adds say a third or so to the net field position after the punt) or does he just get penalised for not converting?)

He does get some credit for field position (I believe those adjustments are small though). He also doesn't get penalized for not converting. He would get credited for how well he does compared to the average 3rd and 20 play. I would guess that 12 yards on 3rd and 20 would be pretty close to average so he would get around 0% DVOA for that play.

As to your first paragraph, FO does actually separate rushing and receiving stats for running backs, you just have to look at the in depth pages. This article is exactly what it's title says "quick reads." Just who had the biggest impact for their team in a given week.

And to your final paragraph. You may be right, but it's really difficult to quantify that on a per player basis. However, it should be reflected in the team's overall offensive stats as they would convert more first downs and have a more successful offense. I'm not even sure they should try to quantify that on a per player basis. Just because a 3 yard run on 1st down might be beneficial to an offense it doesn't say anything about the value of the running back who got those 3 yards. I would guess most running backs in the NFL can consistently get you 3 yards on 1st and 10.

101
by Jerry :: Wed, 09/28/2011 - 3:59am

To the minor point: the raw yardage has some value, so a 19-yard play is worth more than a 12-yard gain is worth more than a 5-yard gain. There's also the bonus for a "successful" play. The fifth and sixth paragraphs under "DVOA EXPLAINED" here go into some more detail.

DVOA calculations don't take play type into consideration; they just treat run/pass as a coach's decision. Obviously, they're split out afterward. If running with a "dire" running game helps the passing game, it will be reflected in the passing results, but the run DVOA is still appropriately dire.

28
by ScottyB (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 1:09pm

Jason Campbell's performance should be preserved under "Exhibit A" for effective game management. No mistakes, few risks, good decisions.

37
by young curmudgeon :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 1:57pm

"begs the question" does not mean "raises the question." It means setting up your premise to establish what you are supposedly trying to prove. We already have plenty of ways of saying "raises the question" and not too many of saying "begs the question" (fallacy of petitio principii, anyone?)

43
by David :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 2:09pm

Yes, you're entirely right - and the changing usage patterns of language in no way invalidate your premise...

63
by young curmudgeon :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 3:20pm

Nicely done!

And I do recognize the descriptivist notion that what a word or phrase means can change based upon what people mean when they use it. Language evolves and many usage shibboleths are pretty much arbitrary. Perhaps because I took a lot of philosophy courses, I do regret seeing "begs the question" go, however.

80
by dbostedo :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 5:40pm

I'd guess the real meaning of "begs the question" is long gone. I actually brought this up to several friends recently, and not one of them believed me that it doesn't mean "brings up the question", much less had they ever heard of the real meaning. (Wikipedia proved it to them.)

For what it's worth, I much prefer the common meaning to the proper one. The definition of "begs" in the proper meaning is just too arcane. Plus, the more common usage has made it officially into Meriam-Webster as the #2 meaning of "begs the question" (at least online) and will likely only move up from there.

87
by young curmudgeon :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 6:38pm

I'd like to be part of a group of friends that actually discussed the proper meaning of "begs the question"! (Actually, a group of my friends from college did have a discussion of the difference between "arcane" and "recondite" at a New Year's Eve party (!) a few years ago....ah, good times)

110
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 09/28/2011 - 8:48am

Had to look recondite up, but the first synonym was abstruse, which helped.

The difference is difficult (recondite) versus unknown (arcane), right?

106
by Mr Shush :: Wed, 09/28/2011 - 8:22am

I agree that the original meaning is doomed as far as general usage is concerned, but I do think it's a pity.

If more people knew what "begging the question" meant, they might do it less often, or notice more often when someone else did. A world where people reasoned better would be a better world.

111
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 09/28/2011 - 8:51am

The usage is long gone, perhaps. The meaning is still there, and still needed. Despite a surfeit of words, we don't have an adequate replacement for an answer from the premise.

Maybe German has a word we can steal. Maybe, out of schadenfreund, it doesn't.

125
by bengt (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2011 - 7:40am

Maybe German has a word we can steal.
Very close in meaning, but not a direct replacement, would be 'Zirkelschluss': A proof that relies on the (unproven) starting hypothesis and is thus invalid (circulus vitiosus).
(If I misunderstood you and you were looking for something else, let me at least tell you that it is 'Schadenfreude', as in 'joy', not 'friend'.)

82
by David :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 5:51pm

Yes, I'm not wholly onside with descriptivist ideals, particularly when taken to extremes, but whilst I applaud the effort, I think the battle for "begs the question" is long-lost

88
by young curmudgeon :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 6:40pm

I'm afraid you are right.

This thread is just another reason I love FO.

91
by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 7:53pm

It still serves the function of making you feel superior whenever you see someone use it instead of "raises the question."

The worst of these is "nauseous," which until recently meant "invoking nausea." "I'm nauseous," someone will say, looking queasy and sick, and despite that it's hard not to laugh at them or say, "No, really, you're quite good looking."

94
by Intropy :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 8:20pm

I often demonstrably sniff in the direction of the person making the declaration and then pronounce my agreement with the analysis.

96
by Stats are for losers (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 10:09pm

It's not technically incorrect--when one is nauseated, it's likely intrinsic.

105
by Mr Shush :: Wed, 09/28/2011 - 8:15am

The difference is that we still have a perfectly good word for the original meaning - "nauseating" does the job that "nauseous" used to do. To put it another way, we still have a .nauseous1. term. The trouble with "begging the question" is our lack of a suitable replacement .begging the question1. term.

117
by tuluse :: Wed, 09/28/2011 - 11:50am

So why don't philosophers just come up with a new phrase that is more intuitive?

46
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 2:12pm

I've been thinking about the Pats offense for a while and I'm putting my thoughts here whether it's the right place for it or not.

Basically, I've been thinking about how a defense would go about covering their 2 receiver, two tight end package and maintain the standard two deep coverage. It's nearly impossible to do with base personnel from a 3-4. If Hernandez and Gronkowski are split out as wide receivers then only the middle linebackers are likely to stand a chance of matching up with them, there are very few, if any, outside linebackers who will be up to the job. That leaves the defense with no middle linebacker, meaning either man coverage on the running back with an OLB or limiting both players from their rush as they will have to keep their heads up and cover Woodhead if he slips out on some Banjo-style read. It's a little more viable from a 4-3, as you should have three linebackers who are good in coverage but even then very few teams would be able to match up well in man coverage.

If you go to zone, you have two main risks. Firstly, you will telegraph your defense to a qb who's rather good at his pre snap reads. Secondly, you have probably got to cover Welker in space with a linebacker. Even if the LB only has responsibility over a limited area, Welker is an expert at finding the hole in the zone.

It's a real head scratched for a defensive coordinator. You've been forced out of your base coverages and will probably have ton audible out of most of the complicated blitzes you would like to send at Brady.

48
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 2:19pm

I've always loved a two tight end set for the match up pressure it puts on a defense, and not just when passing. Of course, what is difficult is getting, and keeping, two tight ends on the roster who are versatile enough to optimize such a set.

76
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 5:08pm

So do what the Jets do, and play nickel against it, in a 2-4.

81
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 5:51pm

And then you're out of your base defense and they have a positive matchup if they want to run the ball. They won't run, they don't like to much but they could. In the opening week against the Dolphins, Miami was using a dime against the Pats base offense and then they couldn't stop the run.

112
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 09/28/2011 - 8:54am

That's the thing. The Pats don't run, and possibly can't. They've had two games now that were begging for runs, and they stubbornly kept passing.

As for base sets, who cares? The Packers' base set *is* a nickel.

115
by ASmitty :: Wed, 09/28/2011 - 11:30am

And yet DVOA consistently loves their running game.

This is an example of something I will modestly refer to as "Adam's Law of Run/Pass Balance":

The more you do something, the more impressive success becomes, and the more excusable failure becomes.

And its corollary:

The less you do something, the less impressive success becomes, and the less excusable failure becomes.

Applied to the Patriots, I think it means their passing game is actually better than the statistics suggest; everyone knows they're going to throw, and yet their efficiency in the passing game remains astounding. On the other hand, it means their running game is much worse than the statistics suggest; everyone is trying to stop the pass, so it's not nearly as difficult to run the ball with success. A TRULY top tier running game in NE would totally gash defenses if NE maintained the same run/pass split they use now.

Now, take a look at the Lions. The analysis is the same, but in the case of Detroit, it really highlights how horrific their run game is. Everyone is expecting pass, everyone is defending the pass, and yet they still can't run the ball for more than about two yards a pop when they do try to surprise the defense with a run of some sort.

118
by Eddo :: Wed, 09/28/2011 - 12:30pm

In general, I think that's true; it's basically using regression to the mean to mentally adjust how impressive a team's passing/rushing figures are.

Specifically, in the Lions' case, I think you *might* be missing something with regards to cause and effect. I haven't seen the Lions much, but it might be that they do *want* to run the ball, but are ineffective, so they pass instead. It's not necessarily that they come out passing as an overwhelmingly primary option, like New England, so their run numbers *should* be really high.

An example would be the Bears; they've thrown the ball much more than they've rushed. However, they are trying to establish the run; however, it's so ineffective, they are forced to pass all the time in order to actually gain yardage. Their running game still stinks, but you don't necessarily need to downgrade it even more due to a small sample size.

97
by MJK :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 11:07pm

What the Bills just did actually worked pretty well. I re-watched a bunch of the game to see what they were doing. For much of the game, they were actually double-covering (by rolling a safety over) BRANCH, focusing on taking him completely out of the game. With Ochocinco ineffective, this essentially took away the outside recievers. Then the Bills crowded their other players up to the line and focused on stopping the run and short passes to the RB, and clogging up the short passing space that Gronk and Welker were working in with a zone defense. At least, that's what it looked like to me.

The result was that Gronk and Welker were matched up against guys they could beat, and had holes in the zone to find, and both had big days. However, with the running game stalled and no outside receivers to throw to, Brady ONLY had them as viable options, and the Bills were able to clog the zones just enough to bat his passes or bait him into a bad throw, and to jump on the routes that Welker and Gronk were running.

It was a very risky strategy, but it obviously worked. However, I'm not sure it can be duplicated. First, if Hernandez had played, it woulnd't have worked as well--with three viable inside options it would have put more pressure on the zone. Second, it relied on Ochocinco not being able to beat single coverage...but that may not continue (and if it does, he'll be replaced). Finally, given time the Pats O-coordinator or Brady might figure out what the Bills were doing and get around their aggressive route jumping.

45
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 2:11pm

Picking on a rookie quarterback making his first start on a bad team may seem like poor sport, but after what Cam Newton did in his first game, the bar has been raised.
----

Your boy Cam had a negative DYAR as well, due to that same monsoon.

50
by Keith(1) (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 2:25pm

Actually, Cam had positive passing numbers, except for his rushing. He only fumbled one snap, and had a fairly productive day playing in those conditions. He has a big, strong grip, so his throws, while modified, were not altogether terrible. Gabbert really did have a bad game; Cam Newton had a middling game, and his numbers reflect it.

47
by Bad Doctor :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 2:18pm

Out of curiosity, I took a look at how cumualtive (D)YAR is sizing up next to that newfangled QBR, to see if I could get a better sense of where the two stats differ. After three weeks, the quarterbacks who are doing the best at YAR relative to QBR -- the ones most overrated by Football Outsiders, if you will -- are Cam Newton, Mark Sanchez, and Michael Vick.

I don't know what that means yet, but I do know that it's very funny.

At least one of the FO "underrated" quarterbacks is Eli Manning ... so we're not quite to dogs and cats living together.

60
by tuluse :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 2:56pm

QBR is a rate state, so you would be better comparing to it DVOA, not DYAR which is a counting stat.

49
by AHBM :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 2:20pm

I'm pretty sure the opposite of Captain Comeback is Major Letdown...

52
by drobviousso :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 2:32pm

+1

107
by Mr Shush :: Wed, 09/28/2011 - 8:27am

There's a Colonel of truth in that.

(General Groans)

121
by Xao :: Wed, 09/28/2011 - 10:55pm

Privately, I was thinking of Major Malfunction, but I don't want to be petty about officer titles. I think our chief concern is to establish a specialist term to designate the offender in lieu of corporal punishment. It's not something we can generally afford to leave up in the air, man.

122
by Intropy :: Wed, 09/28/2011 - 11:38pm

-1 Privately
+1 Major Malfunction
+1 petty... officer
+1 chief
-1 specialist
+1 corporal
+1 generally
+1 air, man

I give you an 4 / 0.5 for the post. But we'll know more in four weeks when difficulty adjustments kick in.

123
by Eddo :: Thu, 09/29/2011 - 12:11am

Come on, "air, man" counts as at least +2.

58
by FrontRunningPhinsFan :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 2:53pm

Don't accept ANY trade for CJ or Gore? I got offered my backup QB, who happens to be Hasselbeck, for CJ. That's gotta be worth it, right?

108
by Mr Shush :: Wed, 09/28/2011 - 8:28am

Good God yes.

67
by Brazilian (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 3:55pm

Hahahah!

I knew I saw that photo at Carolina before. In Brazil! Brazilians, we are more creative, though.

http://globoesporte.globo.com/platb/bolanascostas/2011/02/28/natacao-no-...

70
by Bjorn Nittmo (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 4:05pm

Surprised Eli's performance didn't rate higher -- with 11 YPA, 70% completion, no turnovers, and 4 TD's (QB's DVOA is blind to YAC, right?) against what I would assume must have been a highly-rated pass defense before week 3, I thought he had a chance to take #1 spot. I'm guessing Travis Beckum falling down (after 2 yards on a 4th and 3) cost him a couple of spots. Guys ranked ahead I suppose threw a lot more passes for a lot more yards.

72
by Joseph :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 4:29pm

Bjorn,
There's no "D" in the DYAR yet. It probably will be higher once the D is added in.

79
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 5:30pm

He was also sacked three times and had several failed completions. Compared to the average baseline, he actually had more bad plays than good plays.

74
by Stones1981 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 4:58pm

Do all sacks count against the QB's DYAR? For example, Mathew Stafford was sacked 5 times against Minnesota. On 4 of those he wasn't even finished with his drop back. He had no chance to avoid those sacks as Detroit's tackles were horrible. Sometimes the QB holds the ball too long and should be at fault, but it doesn't seem right to penalize Stafford in this instance.

77
by ASmitty :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 5:19pm

They all count. As with running backs who get penalized for catching dump-offs on third and long, you just have to make the mental adjustment.

78
by CraigoMc (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 5:21pm

This gets brought up in regards to tipped or dropped interceptions and other plays where it seems like the player in question doesn't "deserve" to be penalized.

The answer is yes, they count. The reasons is that when you start to parse the results subjectively, you get in the weeds very, very quickly. Sure, there are obvious examples, but there's a fine line between those cases and those that are debatable, and soon enough an "objective" stat becomes little more than the scorer's opinion.

There's a place for that sort of thing, like in the Under Pressure series, but that place is not DVOA or DYAR. Best to keep things objective - players get credited for positive results and penalized for negative results - and let it even itself out.

86
by Stones1981 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 6:13pm

Thanks. That definitely makes sense.

90
by Intropy :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 7:47pm

A running back can provide hidden value by forcing players into the box. I think Chris Johnson is doing that and some of the passing game's effectiveness results therefrom. I'm not saying you should be able to measure that with DVOA or anything like that, or even that I think the effect is enough to earn his pay (or even bring him up to average), but I do think he's more "productive" for his team than the numbers would otherwise indicate.

I'm also curious about Mike Wallace and Rashard Mendenhall's figures. I thought the former had a shot at the top 5 list, and the latter was in the running for least valuable.

92
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 8:05pm

Indeed. Mendenhall was fifth-worst among RBs. Wallace was seventh among WRs.

93
by Intropy :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 8:17pm

Thanks a bunch. It's good to hear that my detectometer is at least within operational parameters. On the other hand, four RBs had worse games than Mendenhall, ugh.