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18 Oct 2011

Week 6 Quick Reads

by Vince Verhei

Tales of failed red zone drives, Part I: Up 14-0 in the second quarter, the Philadelphia Eagles had a first-and-goal at the Washington 9. They threw three straight passes, but not one ball was thrown into the end zone (in fact, none of them even crossed the 5-yard line). The drive died at the 10, and Philadelphia settled for three points instead of seven.

Tales of failed red zone drives, Part II: Late in the fourth quarter, the New Orleans Saints trailed Tampa Bay 26-20, but had a first down at the Tampa Bay 12. The next three plays were an incompletion into the end zone, a 5-yard catch-and-run by Darren Sproles, and a Drew Brees scramble for a short gain. On fourth down, Brees threw into the end zone again, but the ball was intercepted and the game was effectively over.

Obviously, the scoreboard dictated in strategy in both situations, but the differences in philosophy were striking. Philadelphia threw balls in the field of play, hoping a receiver could catch a pass and slip across the goal line, while New Orleans aggressively attacked the end zone. (The Saints could have picked up a first down at the 2-yard line, making their dogged pursuit of six points look even more bold.)

Which is the best way to score at the goal line, then – throwing into the end zone, or throwing short of the goal line and hoping receivers can get six points after the catch? Intuitively, it would seem that throwing into the end zone would produce more touchdowns, with an increased risk for interceptions. And in this case, the numbers prove intuition entirely correct. Here are the statistics for every goal-to-go pass attempt in 2010:

Goal-to-go passing, 2010
Passes
Comp. %
Yds/Att
TD%
INT%
Into end zone
531
42.6%
2.06
42.6%
3.4%
Short of goal line
314
66.9%
2.98
20.7%
1.0%

Throwing into the end zone is clearly a better way to score touchdowns. A much better way. Throwing short of the goal line will produce a lot more completions for a few more empty yards, but it won't actually get you six points all that often. And while throwing into the end zone does carry an added risk of interceptions, as the Saints will tell you, sometimes that's a risk you have to take.

(Numbers for the first six weeks of 2011, by the way, are very similar, except that the difference in interception rates between the two types of passes is slightly smaller, 2.6 percent to 2.2 percent. That's likely due to a small sample size, but it makes it even more clear that teams should be throwing into the end zone when they approach it.)

Which brings us back to the Eagles. They've thrown 17 goal-to-go passes so far this year. Only New England and Dallas have thrown more. However, only six of the Eagles' goal line passes have actually been thrown into the end zone, a rate of 35.3 percent that is lower than all but two other teams, Tampa Bay and Baltimore. (And those two teams have thrown only nine goal line passes between them, so we shouldn't be too confident in any conclusions we draw there.) Whether it's due to the lack of an effective end zone target or just Andy Reid's fetish for bubble screens and shovel passes, that strategy goes a long way in explaining Philadelphia's red zone struggles, which in turn go a long way in explaining the four-game losing streak they just snapped.

ADDENDUM: After the first version of Quick Reads ran on ESPN.com, we got the following e-mail from a reader:

Looking at the first chart in this article, It screams out that the two situations aren't normalized for the actual yard line. Passes on goal to go from the 1 are much more likely to go into the end zone than passes on goal to go from the 10, and they're also more likely to result in touchdowns. I'll bet the conclusion holds in a lesser form when this is taken into account.

The red flag for me was the increased yards/attempt on passes not into the end zone. It appears that yards/completion is almost equal between the two, which makes no sense if the two situations averaged the same start yardline.

We separated the data into two sets: Goal-to-go passes from the 5 or closer, and those from the 6 or farther. There were 443 close passes, 339 into the end zone and 104 short of the goal line. The end zone passes scored touchdowns 46.0 percent of the time, while the short passes scored 26.9 percent of the time, a difference of about 19 percent (19.1 percent, to be precise).

There were 402 "deep" passes (and we are really stretching the definition of that term here), 192 into the end zone and 210 short of the goal line. The end zone passes scored touchdowns 36.5 percent of the time, while the short passes scored 17.6 percent of the time, a difference of -- well, look at this -- about 19 percent (18.8 percent, to be precise).

Regardless of where the goal-to-go pass is thrown from, it's more likely to result in six points if it comes down in the end zone. If there's any caveat to this, it's that on 210 goal-to-go passes from the 6 or farther, only one was intercepted. If a field goal will absolutely win the game for you, it's probably best to check down. Otherwise, throw across the goal line, cross your fingers, and hope for the best.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
1.
Eli Manning NYG
21/32
292
0
0
191
191
0
This is one of the most valuable games you'll ever see for a quarterback who neither passed nor ran for a touchdown. He did, however, convert four of eight third-down opportunities (including two defensive pass interference penalties). He also had four 20-yard plays, including a 60-yard catch-and-run to Hakeem Nicks in the second quarter. Opponent adjustments also play a part here. The Bills had intercepted at least one pass in every game this year, and 10 in the past three weeks, but Eli managed to keep the ball out of their hands. On the other hand, the Bills have only four sacks on the year. It's not like Eli was running from Bruce Smith all day.
2.
Aaron Rodgers GB
17/28
310
3
1
148
143
5
Rodgers has now been one of the top four quarterbacks five times in six weeks this season. Rodgers operated almost exclusively from shotgun against the Rams, but when he was under center he was scintillating: Four-of-five passing for 146 yards, two touchdowns, and another first down.
3.
Andy Dalton CIN
25/32
264
1
0
120
120
0
Don't look now, but the Cincinnati Bengals are 4-2 and in the thick of the playoff race, and their rookie quarterback has a lot to do with it. (A soft schedule has even more to do with it - the four teams they've beaten have a combined record of 7-16 - but we're thinking positive here.) Dalton caught fire between the second and third quarters against Indianapolis, completing 13 passes in a row (with a defensive pass interference penalty mixed in for good measure) for 158 yards and nine first downs.
4.
Josh Freeman TB
23/41
303
2
0
119
121
-2
Freeman between his own goal line and the Saints' 40: 18-of-28 for 257 yards, plus a for 8 yards. Freeman inside the Saints' 40: 5-of-13 for 46 yards.
5.
Matt Ryan ATL
14/22
163
1
0
116
112
4
Ryan put together the following streak over the first and second quarters: 5-of-6 passing, 64 yards, four first downs (plus a 19-yard gain on first-and-20), one touchdown, plus two DPIs for 37 and 16 yards.
6.
Jay Cutler CHI
21/31
267
2
0
116
116
0
Cutler plundered the juicy center of the Minnesota defense, going 10-of-14 for 185 yards and eight first downs (including two touchdowns) on throws up the middle of the field.
7.
Joe Flacco BAL
20/33
305
0
1
100
92
8
Flacco's first quarter: 7-of-8 passing, 82 yards, five first downs, plus a 9-yard gain on first-and-10 and a 7-yard gain on first-and-goal from the 8, for 72 DYAR.
8.
Tony Romo DAL
27/41
317
1
1
95
86
9
Should Romo have been given a chance to throw in a long-yardage situation at the end of the game and try for a clinching first down? With more than 10 yards to go this season, Romo is 22-of-31 for 289 yards, with one sack and one interception, but only six first downs. Looks like the rewards don't merit the risk.
9.
Michael Vick PHI
18/31
237
1
1
82
69
13
Vick's final red zone numbers: eight dropbacks, two completions (a 7-yard touchdown and a 1-yard loss), four incomplete passes, one sack, one interception, -54 DYAR. He also had a run for no gain on second-and-goal from the 1.
10.
Mark Sanchez NYJ
14/25
201
1
0
63
52
11
11.
Matt Schaub HOU
22/37
223
1
0
57
57
0
Before opponent adjustments, Schaub had -4 YAR. Yes, the Ravens defense has been really, really good thus far. With no Andre Johnson, the Texans went screen-heavy, throwing a league-high nine passes behind the line of scrimmage. It didn't work. They completed five of those passes for only 23 yards.
12.
Drew Brees NO
29/45
383
1
3
55
48
7
Effective dink-and-dunkology: Brees had a league-high 11 completions in Week 6 that gained successful yardage, but did not gain first downs. On the other hand, he also completed seven deep balls. Nobody else had more than five. In short, Drew Brees is good at everything (except, for this week, ball security).
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
13.
Tom Brady NE
27/41
289
2
2
53
49
4
Brady's first quarter: 3-of-5, 20 yards, just one first down, with two sacks and an interception, -78 DYAR. He played better after that.
14.
Matt Stafford DET
29/50
293
2
0
46
39
7
Stafford led the league in red zone DYAR this weekend. He only went 3-for-9 in the red zone, but two of his completions went for touchdowns (including a 16-yard touchdown on third-and-10) and the other picked up a first down on third-and-5. Four of those targets, by the way, were thrown to Brandon Pettigrew. More on him later.
15.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
12/23
200
1
0
40
36
3
Roethlisberger's average pass attempt came more than 17 yards past the line of scrimmage. Next highest among starters was Rex Grossman, at less than 13. Roethlisberger had five attempts that traveled at least 40 yards downfield, although he completed just one, Mike Wallace's weekly 40-yard catch.
16.
Curtis Painter IND
23/34
191
1
1
38
54
-16
First half: 9-of-11, 61 yards, just two first downs, 24 DYAR. Second half: 14-of-23, 130 yards, seven first downs (including two touchdowns), one sack, one interception, one DPI for 26 yards, 31 DYAR. About the same in total value, radically different in style.
17.
Colt McCoy CLE
21/45
215
2
0
35
56
-20
McCoy had 16 first downs on Sunday, tied with Tom Brady for most in the league. This will probably be the last time you read "tied with Tom Brady" in Colt McCoy's comment this year.
18.
Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF
21/30
244
2
2
30
29
0
A rough day for the Fitzpatrick-Stevie Johnson connection: 5-of-10, 39 yards, two interceptions, -53 DYAR.
19.
John Beck WAS
8/15
117
0
0
28
13
15
Philadelphia cornerback watch: Beck and Rex Grossman went a combined 8-of-20 for 155 yards throwing to their wide receivers. That's more in line with what I was expecting from the Eagles defense when I started this in Week 1, but then, it was John Beck and Rex Grossman.
20.
Christian Ponder MIN
9/17
99
0
0
15
9
6
Well, you can't accuse Ponder of tunnel vision, that's for sure. His 17 passes were spread amongst nine different receivers.
21.
Jason Campbell OAK
6/9
52
0
0
6
21
-15
The saddest thing about Campbell's injury is that he has very quietly been having his best season. As of right now, he's top ten in both DVOA and DYAR. His DVOA is a career high, and with just one more good game he would have had the second-best DYAR season of his life. That's mainly due to his newfound ability to avoid sacks. For his career he's been sacked once every 15.5 dropbacks, but this year that's down to once every 34.0. Considering the ramshackle nature of the Raiders' line, that's kind of miraculous.
22.
Donovan McNabb MIN
19/24
177
0
0
4
4
0
McNabb's average completion came 6.9 yards downfield. His average incompletion came 4.4 yards downfield. Why no, that doesn't make much sense. He'd rank a lot higher if he hadn't been sacked five times.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
23.
Sam Bradford STL
28/44
321
0
1
-13
-6
-7
Bradford led the league this weekend in a rather unfortunate category: Most passes thrown when down by two scores. It's the second time this season he's finished first in this department, and for the season he's a runaway leader with 139 dropbacks (63 percent of his total pass plays) facing a big deficit. The second-place passer (Mark Sanchez, surprisingly) has only 90 such throws.
24.
Kyle Boller OAK
8/14
100
0
0
-21
-4
-17
Shane Lechler has a passing DVOA of 2,564.6%. The Raiders passing game should consist of nothing but fake field goals from here on out.
25.
Cam Newton CAR
21/34
240
0
3
-29
-56
27
The scary thing about Newton is how he can be a much better quarterback with some very slight improvements. He went 0-for-4 passing in the red zone against Atlanta, with two interceptions. For the season, he has -141 DYAR in the red zone. The only quarterback who has performed worse inside the 20 is Philip Rivers, of all people.
26.
Blaine Gabbert JAC
12/25
109
1
0
-42
-44
2
Gabbert didn't get much help from his teammates — his average completion picked up just 1.7 YAC, worst of any starter this week. His second quarter was, um, bad: 2-of-8 passing for 1 yard, no first downs, two sacks, -66 DYAR.
27.
Matt Moore MIA
16/34
204
0
2
-59
-59
0
Make no mistake, this was a very, very bad game, but it did come against the Jets. Moore had -108 YAR before opponent adjustments gave him an enormous boost.
28.
Alex Smith SF
17/32
125
1
1
-62
-61
0
Smith's average completion came 3.9 yards downfield, the lowest figure for any starter in Week 6. He threw 15 passes to Michael Crabtree, completing only nine of them, and six of those gained less than 10 yards.
29.
Rex Grossman WAS
9/22
143
0
4
-74
-74
0
The four interceptions would probably have put Grossman at the bottom of the list by themselves, but they were not the only bad plays Grossman had against Philadelphia. Grossman was also sacked once, and went 0-for-7 on third downs, including a 3-yard gain on third-and-7 and a 1-yard loss on third-and-2. Grossman threw for only six first downs on the day, and five of them came with the Redskins trailing by at least two touchdowns.


Five most valuable running backs
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Jonathan Stewart CAR
48
1
24
0
38
34
4
Buffalo's Fred Jackson gained 80 yards on just one run, so how can Stewart be the most valuable running back of the week when he had just 72 total yards from scrimmage? The answer is efficiency. Stewart only had seven carries against Atlanta, but he made every one of them count. His worst carry of the day was a 4-yard gain on first-and-15, and even that was only a few decimal points below average production in that situation. His other six carries included three 10-yard plays, plus a 1-yard touchdown. Not one of his carries hurt his team. Jackson, on the other hand, put his team in bad situations over and over again, with seven runs for 2 yards or less, and four for no gain or a loss. Stewart, by the way, also chipped in as a receiver, with catches for 11 and 12 yards.
2.
Ahmad Bradshaw NYG
104
3
26
0
36
25
11
Bradshaw's most valuable run of the day was a 30-yarder in the fourth quarter. His next three most valuable runs were all 1-yard touchdowns. He had four other first downs on the day, two of which came on 11-yard runs. He also had a 17-yard gain on first-and-10 in the first quarter.
3.
Matt Forte CHI
87
0
36
0
36
26
10
Forte had four runs for 10 yards or more, plus a 9-yard gain on second-and-5 and a 5-yard gain on second-and-4. That offsets the fact he was stuffed for a loss five times. As a receiver, Forte caught six-of-seven passes thrown his way, including 10-yard gains on third-and-5 and second-and-15.
4.
Darren McFadden OAK
91
1
2
0
33
38
-5
In rushing DYAR alone, McFadden was the most valuable runner of the week. He didn't have tons of highlights, just two 10-yard runs, for 24 and 11 yards. However, 10 of his 20 carries gained 4 yards or more (including a touchdown), another four gained 3 yards, and he also had a 2-yard run on second-and-1.
5.
Fred Jackson BUF
121
1
47
0
33
18
15
We talked about his day as a rusher already, but not his day as a receiver. Jackson caught five of six passes thrown his way on the day, and though he didn't get a single first down, four of them still had positive value, including a 19-yard gain on second-and-20.


Least valuable running back
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Tashard Choice DAL
14
0
16
0
-34
-18
-16
Choice was the mirror image of Stewart, doing a maximum amount of damage in minimal playing time. That's partly because he was a victim of circumstance, as Choice was the Cowboys' go-to guy in hopeless situations. He was the runner or pass target on five third-down plays, and three of those came with 14 yards or more needed for a first down. On the other hand, he did have 30 net yards and a lost fumble on ten total runs and targets, with just one first down on the day. So he certainly made the worst of a bad situation.


Five most valuable wide receivers and tight ends
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Calvin Johnson DET
7
9
113
16.1
0
54
The mystery is not how Johnson could be the best wide receiver of the week, not with seven catches (and just two incompletions) for 113 yards and six first downs (including one conversion on third-and-5 and another on fourth-and-10). No, the mystery is how the Lions could throw 50 passes against San Francisco and only target Johnson nine times. In the fourth quarter, Johnson had only three targets: a 9-yard gain on third-and-5, a 41-yard gain on first-and-10, and an 11-yard catch and lateral on the game's final play.
2.
Anquan Boldin BAL
8
9
132
16.5
0
51
He's alive! Boldin had his first 100-yard day since Week 1 of the 2010 season. Boldin's eight catches and 132 yards came on only nine targets, and included seven first downs and seven plays of 10 yards or more. He's the ninth receiver this year with at least seven 10-yard catches in a single game.
3.
David Nelson BUF
4
6
62
15.5
0
40
Nelson's four receptions each produced a first down, and three of them converted third downs. He had another third-down conversion on a 26-yard defensive pass interference call, which is not included in his numbers above.
4.
Devin Hester CHI
5
7
91
18.2
1
38
Hester is here for two plays: his 48-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter, and a 23-yard gain on third-and-13 in the second. Outside of that, he had negative value on the day.
5.
Jeremy Maclin PHI
5
7
101
20.2
0
35
Maclin had three third downs on the day, on gains of 10, 26, and 59 yards. He was also the target on Vince Young's interception, but for our purposes that counts as an incomplete pass for Maclin.


Least valuable wide receiver or tight end
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Brandon Pettigrew DET
8
14
42
5.2
1
-27
It's not that Pettigrew did nothing useful against San Francisco. His 16-yard touchdown on third-and-10 was a very valuable play. In his other 13 targets, though, he caught seven balls for 26 yards, no first downs, and just one other play that beat the expected production of an average tight end: a 6-yard gain on first-and-10 from the Detroit 31. In the second half, Pettigrew caught two balls in six passes for a total of 9 yards.

Posted by: Vince Verhei on 18 Oct 2011

63 comments, Last at 19 Oct 2011, 2:27am by dbt

Comments

1
by andrew :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 9:24am

I figured DVOA would show the truth of McNabb... going by standard quarterback rating he is in the 90s (while Ponder was in the 70s). I see zero benefit to not pulling the plug on McNabb now. I doubt the raiders would want him, but I'd happily send him their way if they did.

I have no ill wishes to the guy, I'd like to think Ponder got some benefit from sitting behind him, but he is done.

I ended up flipping between that game and the Walking Dead, and most of the walkers were livelier than the Vikings offense...

18
by dbt :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 11:43am

My guess, without access to the raw numbers, is that McNabb's stats were crushed by third down drops.

38
by Deelron :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 1:58pm

After watching that game it was the first time I thought all season McNabb wasn't the problem (mind you, I don't think he was the solution either, but the Vikings failures in that game didn't have much to do with him).

44
by tuluse :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 2:37pm

I can see not wanting to play Ponder if you don't think he's ready, and let McNabb take the beating behind that line.

45
by Nathan :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 2:40pm

Bad timing... Ponder just named the starter.

2
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 9:31am

I'm quite surprised Sanchez ranked as high as he did, considering he had a few good drives and then utter crap the rest of the night. Six drives where the offense gained less than five yards?

6
by Sean McCormick :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 9:57am

I think there are two things at work here. One is that the offense very much perked up after that terrible first 1-1/2 quarters. The second has to do with the terribleness of the playcalling in the first half, which protected Sanchez as far as responsibility goes. The Brian Schottenheimer offense is incredibly predictable--first down pass off a three step drop, likely for short gain, followed by a run on second down, followed by something goofy on third down, except after the crowd starts booing the terrible display of offensive football, at which point there will be runs on first and second down in order to "establish the identity" or what have you. When you are calling LT halfback tosses on 3rd down, it's going to get Sanchez out of the hole as far as DVOA goes.

17
by Led :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 11:41am

For a while there in the 1st quarter, I thought Schotty was accidentally using his play sheet from the Pats game. They ran the same plays in the same order. It's the definition of insanity...

46
by RickD :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 2:45pm

Shh...maybe the Chargers' coaching staff won't figure this out.

3
by zlionsfan :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 9:37am

I don't think it's a mystery why Stafford targeted Megatron just 9 times. I'll know more after charting, but on first viewing, it looked like Stafford was very concerned with the 49ers' pass rush. The 49ers seemed content to let the underneath crossing routes stay open, knowing they could close and tackle short of the first down, and Stafford frequently dumped the ball short as soon as he felt pressure, whether or not it was actually there.

He was hit a lot and sacked five times, but two of those sacks came in the fourth quarter, so it wasn't like he was hammered on the first couple of drives and got happy feet after that. Stafford just seemed to be unwilling to look for his second and third reads if Pettigrew was open for a dumpoff (thus the low DYAR for Brandon). He also had some accuracy issues (as mentioned in Audibles) early in the game, so that didn't help matters any.

26
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 12:19pm

That's the niners' D in a nutshell. The front seven can contain most running games without safety help and they trust Willis and Bowman to limit the damage done by underneath throws. It's a decent plan. One thin I did notice from this game is that Willis seemed to be in man coverage on Pettigrew the whole game, which the niners don't normally do.

27
by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 12:43pm

And look at Pettigrew's DYAR.

The battle didn't seem that lopsided during the game, but then I'm not the most educated football viewer.

32
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 1:09pm

It would be fair to note that Pettigrew had beaten Willis like a drum on that corner route in the end-zone and would have had a sure TD if he hadn't stumbled.

4
by Sunset Shazz (not verified) :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 9:47am

I'm surprised LeSean McCoy's heroics were insufficient to break the top 5 DYAR.

25
by chemical burn :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 12:05pm

It was easily his least impressive game of the season and I'm betting his receiving numbers brought him down a bit as well. (Getting screwed on that ridiculous spot on 2nd and 2 to the ice the game probably didn't help him either.) The problem with the whole "they should run McCoy more" theory is that one of the reasons McCoy is so effective is that teams have to concentrate on Vick and the passing game when they play the Eagles - Reid can pick his spots with McCoy. McCoy simply isn't dominant (I know, I know he's #1 in both DYAR and DVOA) in a "line 'em up and let him run" kinda way - look at their short yardage and redzone woes if you want proof that when teams know the run is coming, they can shut down McCoy with relative ease. McCoy's more effective the less he is used...

5
by P (not verified) :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 9:49am

I'm a little surprised Grossman's numbers weren't worse. He barely "beat" Alex Smith.

7
by johonny (not verified) :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 10:02am

Yeah outside of those to reception I certainly can't remember another play Hester made:)

8
by JasonK :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 10:05am

I'm guessing that the "TD%" column is the percentage that scored TDs on that play. I submit that this is not the best measuring stick-- you want the % of plays that scored a TD on that series.

The main goal, as I see it, of throwing a pass short of the end zone in a situation like 1st&G at the 9 is that, if you can get to the 4 or closer, it makes the run and the playaction fake a realistic threat on 2nd & 3rd downs. That one play with only a 20%-ish TD chance can buy you 2 plays with a 60%-ish TD chance.

15
by Jeff M. (not verified) :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 11:23am

This is absolutely correct. The "research design" that they use doesn't do anything to tell us whether you should pass into the end zone or not.

To actually answer this question, we would first want to match on down, distance, and yard-line. Then we want to find the effect of throwing into the end zone vs. throwing short (you could also compare to a run), but not in terms of TD% or INT% on that play. The outcome variable of interest should be expected points for the drive.

47
by RickD :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 2:46pm

+1

50
by Viliphied (not verified) :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 3:26pm

OK, going over to advancednflstats and using their expected points calc, and using FO's numbers for pass outcomes (except I used a 4 yard gain as non-TD avg, since FO doesn't have #s for yardage on "long" passes):
1st and goal from the 9: 4.83 expected points
Into the end zone -
36.5% chance of +2.17 expected points (TD)
60.5% chance of -.46 expected points
3% chance of approximately -5.17 expected points (int recovered in end zone)
Total value of throwing into end zone: .35865 expected points

Not into the end zone -
17.6% chance of +2.17 expected points
49.3% chance of -.07 expected points
32.1% chance of -.46 expected points
1% chance of -5.17 expected points
Total value of non-end zone passes: .14805 expected points

Throwing into the end zone wins comfortably

54
by Viliphied (not verified) :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 3:48pm

Whoops, I futz'd up my non-end zone calcs.

2nd number should be +.17xpts not -.07

so, recalculating gives us an expected value of: .26637 points.

End zone still wins, but not as handily.

53
by Bjorn Nittmo (not verified) :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 3:41pm

Exactly what I was thinking reading this.

9
by BlueStarDude :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 10:29am

I know most QBs see their share of drops but poor Matt Moore last night. What'd the Phins have, like six of them at least?

11
by Burbman (not verified) :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 10:55am

It almost looked like Brandon Marshall was trying to throw the game, what with his endzone drops and his running out of bounds on another sure touchdown.

14
by killabe7 :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 11:19am

I was going to post something similiar. It didnt *look* like Moore played all that poorly as he got no help from his teammates. Hartline dropped a pass that would have converted a second and long deep in Jets territory and the fullback dropped another pass that would have been a big gain (granted you shouldnt be throwing deep to fullback but Moore made a good throw). Add that to Marshall's performance and Moore's numbers look bad. Has there been any though about incorporating drops into FO's QB metrics?

33
by Mike W :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 1:15pm

Not to mention Revis's mugging of the receiver on the pick-6.

10
by BlueStarDude :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 10:32am

Alex Smith just knows how to win. Who knew?

Next thing you know Jimmy Johnson will be saying Garrett should show Romo some Smith game tape so he can see how to manage a game.

24
by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 12:04pm

His worst game in a long time, after a pretty good one. What is with that guy? He's so nice, and still I want to slap him.

If the 49ers had an average quarterback, they'd be pretty scary right about now.

Give us your Matt Hasselbacks, your Kyle Ortons, your Josh Freemans, yearning to breathe free.

34
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 1:26pm

I'm going to try to restrain my inner Freemancrush long enough not to smite you for putting him in the same sentence as "Kyle Orton".

52
by Viliphied (not verified) :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 3:36pm

Alex Smith DYAR ranking - 18th. Alex Smith DVOA - 7.8%

What about that ISN'T "average"?

60
by zenbitz :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 8:53pm

yes, he was average last year too. The weird part was when he was 10th after the TB game.

56
by greybeard :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 4:02pm

His numbers are bad because he had a sack/fumble at the very first snap that had nothing to do with who he quarterback is and had 6 or 7 drops by the receivers. He also had to work on the average longer distances with so many penalties. He was also without his #1 and #2 receivers.

Mind you that I am not saying he played a good game, he did not, but he was not bad as his numbers suggest.

The numbers also does not take into account that in both of Gore's long runs Alex Smith changed the play at the LOS (at least it look to me that way on TV).

I will take Alex Smith any day over Matt Hasselback and Kyle Orton. This year he is better than average QB and so was he last year.

61
by zenbitz :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 8:54pm

most of those drops were 50+% on Alex, he was having minor accuracy issues all day, what I like to call "Alex Smith Syndrome". It was in remission for most of the year until now. (Seriously, I think it might be shoulder-injury related)

12
by Nathan :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 11:09am

Cutler plundered the juicy center of the Minnesota defense

Ya'll have been reading too much MMQB.

16
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 11:23am

Nah, then it would have been "Cutler investigated the colon of the Minnesota defense."

21
by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 11:59am

Ding! You got me, Milkman.

13
by Eddo :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 11:13am

I can't recall the last time (if ever) the Bears had a top-ten QB, a top-five RB, and a top-five WR. My mind is blown.

And seriously, I start to give up a little on Cutler's potential, and he puts together his best two-game stretch as a Bear. Huh.

22
by Charles Jake (not verified) :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 12:03pm

I was afraid that they had ruined him by hiring Martz, because his system doesn't play to any of Jay's strengths. But, if Martz can keep calling it like he did against the Vikes, and maybe employ a moving pocket, this might work out after all.

Unless Jay tells him to go screw himself one time too many.

49
by RickD :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 2:52pm

It was weird - we were all settled on the couch awaiting the usual sack fest, and suddenly it wasn't there! How long has Martz been in Chicago? And it took this long (and yelling on the part of the QB) to figure out "hey, maybe we should use more blockers"?
Perhaps it won't work against better defenses, but it looked pretty good this week.

Edit: coach/couch, meh.

55
by Jimmy :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 3:58pm

To be fair to Martz he has used plenty of extra blockers many times in the last two years. It isn't really his fault if Messrs Manumaleuna, Olsen, Davis and random RB didn't block anyone. The difference in this game for my mind is that Sunday was pretty much the first time all the extra blockers and the linemen seemed to be on the same page.

This may be thoroughly anecdotal (mainly because it is) but I think the Bears do a much better job of blocking 40 fronts than 30 fronts.

58
by MJK :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 6:29pm

To be fair to Martz he has used plenty of extra blockers many times in the last two years. It isn't really his fault if Messrs Manumaleuna, Olsen, Davis and random RB didn't block anyone.

Yeah, we shouldn't blame Martz for drawing up a play that requires players to block people if they don't and the play fails. We should blame the person that is responsible for making sure the players all know their jobs, know how to do their jobs, and can do them. You know, the person responsible for coaching them. This is ultimately the head coach, but for offensive players, it generally falls to the OC. Who's that again?

I think one thing that we all forget at times in talk of X's and O's, and drawing up plays, and making in-game decisions and clock management, etc., etc., is that the primary job of the coaching staff is to coach the players. Probably 90% of their job occurs between Monday morning and Saturday night, and probably more than half of that consists of actually coaching players as to how to play on the field, not analyzing film or drawing up plays.

You can complain about a GM or a scouting department giving the coaches bad players to work with, but some of a player's failure to execute on field falls on the coaches. There's a reason why some teams have good line play year after year, and other have terrible play year after year, regardless of the players involved. It's coaching. And some of that has to fall on Martz.

62
by Led :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 11:56pm

This point really cannot be overemphasized. Coaches are primarily teachers, even on the professional level.

63
by dbt :: Wed, 10/19/2011 - 2:27am

What does that tell you? With a max protect on, Hester and Knox and Roy Williams were all able to get open running 2 and 3 man routes against the Minnesota secondary? Most of the time the Bears can't go max because they can't get open.

19
by PatsFan :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 11:44am

Should Romo have been given a chance to throw in a long-yardage situation at the end of the game and try for a clinching first down?

Of course, if Dallas had called something other than two doomed runs before that 3rd down, it may well not have been a long-yardage situation.

51
by JIPanick :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 3:32pm

Yeah, no kidding. Garrett is off to a disappointing start as a gameday coach in 2011, after a brilliant 2010.

57
by Dan :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 4:58pm

Agreed. The most befuddling call was the run on 2nd & 12, when the Patriots were clearly selling out to stop the run and had already stuffed them for a loss on first down.

20
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 11:57am

I'm not sure NY's defense had anything to do with Moore looking as terrible as he did. He's just terrible.

23
by steveNC (not verified) :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 12:04pm

>Roethlisberger's average pass attempt came more than 17 yards past the line of scrimmage

I saw him pump fake about 3 yards after crossing the line of scrimmage, but this is going a bit far.

28
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 12:57pm

"The Bills had intercepted at least one pass in every game this year, and 10 in the past three weeks, but Eli managed to keep the ball out of their hands."

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Buffalo's defense is terrible. Half of those picks had little or nothing to do with the defense. It was entirely predictible that they would dry up and there wouldn't be anything behind it.

29
by RickD :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 12:58pm

"Before opponent adjustments, Schaub had -4 YAR." And after them, he had 57 DYAR.

So, hypothetically speaking, if Schaub had attempted no passes, he would have had a 61 DYAR. Right? That is to say, a QB who faces the Ravens, but never does anything at all, would be better than the majority of NFL QBs in a given week, according to DYAR.

35
by rk (not verified) :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 1:29pm

A QB that does nothing will throw 0 incompletes and 0 interceptions, never get sacked, and never fumble. That's difficult to accomplish against Baltimore's defense.

36
by Arkaein :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 1:41pm

No, because every pass was adjusted upward. The adjustment is not just tacked on at the end of the game.

Basically, Schaub threw 37 passes for -4 YAR, so about -0.1 YAR per pass. Then the adjustments kick in and his average pass is bumped up by about 0.3 to have about 0.2 DYAR per pass on average.

Attempting no passes would generate 0 YAR, and there would be no adjustments because there would be no attempts to adjust, so the DYAR would be 0 as well.

48
by RickD :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 2:47pm

Thanks for the explanation. That makes a lot more sense.

30
by anon455 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 1:04pm

Someone please send this link to Peter King who seems to think the Giants are competitive due solely to the run game and pass rush. Memo to King--Eli Manning has been keeping the Giants competitive this season. Get with the program and give the guy some props.

31
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 1:06pm

If I may be so bold, would it be possible for the wonderful staff to state what Frank Gore's DYAR was, seeing how he ran all over the Lions?

37
by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 1:46pm

He had two long runs, but his success rate was pretty low. Burke gave him an SR of only 33%.

40
by Vince Verhei :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 2:00pm

That's odd. Gore had a first down on 40% of his carries. Is there some way a first down could count as a failure? Or does he lump rushing and receiving numbers in together?

41
by Ugarles (not verified) :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 2:03pm

And I'm curious about how close Pierre Thomas was to Tashard Choice. 7 carries for 11 yards - including one 6 yard monster - plus a fumble in FG range for the Bucs.

43
by Vince Verhei :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 2:26pm

In rushing alone,-23 DYAR, worse than anyone else except Ray Rice (which is kind of amazing, on 7 carries). However, he had "only" -1 DYAR receiving. Choice was more versatile in his failure.

39
by Vince Verhei :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 1:59pm

I'm surprised LeSean McCoy's heroics were insufficient to break the top 5 DYAR.

16 DYAR rushing, -1 DYAR receiving. Six runs for 10 or more yards is very good. 16 runs for 2 yards or less is very bad.

Yeah outside of those to reception I certainly can't remember another play Hester made:)

This counts Hester’s receiving numbers only. His kick return touchdown is irrelevant here.

If I may be so bold, would it be possible for the wonderful staff to state what Frank Gore's DYAR was, seeing how he ran all over the Lions?

38 DYAR rushing, which ties McFadden for most rushing value, but -23 DYAR receiving. He had five targets, and below-average production on every one of them: three incompletions, a 3-yard loss on first-and-10, and an 8-yard gain on third-and-19.

42
by brendan (not verified) :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 2:11pm

Regarding optimal goal-line passing strategies, I think you're missing another important point.

So, you show that TD rates are higher for end-zone passes than non-end zone passes even when yard-line is controlled for. I follow you so far. But then you claim that it must follow that if teams knew this and attempted to throw more passes into the end-zone, that TD rates would rise. I disagree. You haven't controlled for whether someone is open in the end-zone or not and it'd be pretty hard to do so. If a team runs play action, primary option tight end corner route, secondary option full back flat, whether the team throws into the endzone is determined by whether the tight end is open.

Another example: Lebron's effective FG% is much higher than his team's average. That might imply he should shoot more, but not neccessarily, because the marginal shot Lebron passes up is a covered mid-range jumper, whereas his average FG% includes dunks and layups etc.

What matters is TD rates (or FG% rates) at the margin, not on average.

59
by BSKazzy (not verified) :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 7:28pm

Maybe this was addressed in the comments, but don't you also have to look at the end result of the drive? A team might throw short on first down, cut the distance to the goal line down, and then score on the next play. If the assumed intention of a short pass is to slip into the end zone, then, yes, these charts get at that. But if the intention is to position the team for a score on a subsequent score, this chart doesn't really help with that.

Additionally, we can't assume that the short pass was the primary read on a play. The play may have been drawn up for an end zone pass but no one was open, making the dump off almost definitively the right play, unless time is an issue.