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01 Nov 2011

Week 8 Quick Reads

by Vince Verhei

The subject of our essay was not the worst quarterback of Week 8, but he was the worst passer. Although Tim Tebow of the Denver Broncos chipped in with a handful of first downs as a rusher, he finished with only nine first downs through the air, at a cost of seven sacks, three fumbles, and an interception.

Most of his good plays came in the fourth quarter. It was the second time in two weeks that Tebow has stunk up the joint for 45 minutes before turning things around in the final frame. The first time came against the winless Dolphins, so Tebow's play overcame a small deficit and fell under the category of "heroics." This time, the Broncos were playing the playoff-contending Lions and facing a huge deficit, and Tebow's late-game efforts could be labeled as "stats padding."

Call it what you will, but Tebow's performance has clearly improved late in games. In the first three quarters of his two starts, Tebow has completed 34 percent of his passes for 3.6 yards per pass, with nine sacks in just 38 dropbacks. In his two fourth quarters (and one overtime), those numbers improve to 57 percent, 6.2 yards per pass, and four sacks in 41 dropbacks.

At Football Outsiders, our primary statistic is called DVOA (Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average). It measures not only how a player gains yards, but also his ability to pick up first downs and avoid sacks and turnovers. It's adjusted for down, distance, field position, score, quality of opponent, and other factors, which makes it ideal for comparing one quarterback to another, regardless of the situations in which those players performed. An average passer will have a DVOA of 0.0%, with positive numbers reflecting good performance and bad passers falling into negative figures. Tebow's DVOA in quarters 1 to 3 in his two starts is -109.4%, but it climbs to -1.8% after that.

Can we expect Tebow to continue to play his best in the fourth quarter? To see how fourth quarter improvement carries over from one year to the next, we looked for passers who 1) threw at least 75 passes (including sacks) in the first three quarters of games in 2010; 2) threw at least 25 passes in the fourth quarter and overtime in 2010; and 3) have thrown at least 100 passes so far in 2011. That gives us a group of 27 quarterbacks to examine.

In 2010, the five passers who improved the most in fourth quarter and overtime were Jason Campbell, Matthew Stafford, Michael Vick, Colt McCoy, and Philip Rivers. They had a combined DVOA of 9.9% in quarters 1 through 3 that year, but that DVOA climbed to 34.3% in fourth quarters and overtime. This year, their performance in the first three quarters rates a combined 10.8% DVOA. Their fourth-quarter/overtime DVOA of 13.7% means they're still playing better later in games, but the difference is so slight that it's hard to tell.

What about the other end of the spectrum? In 2010, the five passers whose performance declined most sharply in fourth quarters and overtime were Eli Manning, Chad Henne, Sam Bradford, Matt Cassel, and Aaron Rodgers. Their DVOA early in games last season was a combined 17.0%, but that number fell to -10.1% in fourth quarters and overtime. Unlike the first group of passers, though, these guys are showing the same in-game patterns this year. They've put up a combined DVOA of 22.2% early in games, but only 2.6% in the fourth quarter and overtime. Four of these five passers have declined sharply late in games this year. The exception is Manning, whose DVOA is 21.5% in quarters 1 through 3, but then soars to 52.0% in fourth quarters and overtime.

None of this proves that certain passers do or do not improve late in games. We're talking about a 24-game sample of just ten quarterbacks. Most telling for Tebow, though, is the group of passers who meet only two of the three criteria we mentioned earlier. A number of passers who improved in the fourth quarter in 2010 have seen little or no action in 2011, guys like Jimmy Clausen, Derek Anderson, and John Skelton. Skelton's DVOA climbed from -62.2% early in games to 24.7% in the fourth quarter, the biggest fourth-quarter improvement for any passer last year. Arizona was so impressed they traded a starting cornerback and a second-round pick for Kevin Kolb, banishing Skelton to the bench. Expect a similar fate for Tebow and the Broncos if he can't start producing earlier in games.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
1.
Michael Vick PHI
21/28
279
2
0
161
137
24
Something about Sunday Night Football brings out the best in Vick. Last year he ripped the Redskins for six total touchdowns and more than 400 yards of offense. Last night he wasn't quite so great, barely topping the 300-yard mark and throwing just a pair of touchdown passes. Vick was sacked on his first dropback against Dallas, but he followed that by completing 11 of his next 13 passes for 164 yards, with two touchdowns and eight other first downs. Vick's rushing value must also be taken into account. Though his longest run was just 15 yards, he picked up three first downs on the ground and also had a 7-yard run on first-and-10 and a 5-yard gain on second-and-6.
2.
Eli Manning NYG
31/45
349
2
0
148
148
0
Quite the hot streak for Eli. He was No. 1 in these rankings in Week 6, the Giants had a bye in Week 7, and Eli would be No. 1 again this week were it not for Vick’s rushing value. Manning was sacked just once against Miami. He had 15 first downs passing, with 17 completions for 10 yards or more and five for 20 yards or more. He went 8-for-16 on third/fourth downs, including both touchdowns.
3.
Matt Stafford DET
21/30
267
3
0
134
124
10
Stafford completed his first seven passes, then missed four in a row. He then hit 14 of his next 18 throws before finishing 1-of-3.
4.
Matt Schaub HOU
16/29
225
1
0
117
110
7
Schaub on third downs: 8-of-12 (with eight first downs, including a touchdown) for 102 yards.
5.
Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF
21/27
262
2
1
100
99
1
Fitzpatrick led all quarterbacks with six 20-yard plays this week (including a 34-yard DPI call). Scott Chandler had two, and Fred Jackson, C.J. Spiller, David Nelson, and Naaman Roosevelt had one each.
6.
Alex Smith SF
15/24
177
1
0
78
71
7
Smith’s second quarter: 6-of-8, 72 yards, six first downs, one touchdown. The Niners only scored seven points in that quarter, though. They only had two drives, and on one of them Frank Gore was stopped on fourth-and-goal at the 1.
7.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
36/50
365
2
1
75
78
-3
Here’s all you need to know about what Mike Tomlin thinks of New England’s secondary: In the first quarter, Ben Roethlisberger had 21 dropbacks, while the Steelers had five total rushing plays. Roethlisberger is the first quarterback to hit 20 first-quarter passing plays this season. Alex Smith only had 26 dropbacks in the entire game against Cleveland.
8.
Cam Newton CAR
22/35
290
3
0
71
60
11
Ball security, young man. Newton’s first and last plays of the first half were both sacks with lost fumbles. They set the Vikings up in Panthers territory twice, and Minnesota turned both drives into touchdowns. Take those two plays away and Newton’s total DYAR climbs to 149, second behind Michael Vick for the week. Newton hasn’t fumbled once as a runner, but he’s now fumbled seven times on sacks. Only Kevin Kolb and Blaine Gabbert have put the ball on the ground more often. Never mind, I was misreading the database. Newton has fumbled three times on sacks, with another aborted snap.
9.
Tarvaris Jackson SEA
21/40
323
0
1
70
72
-1
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll actually started Charlie Whitehurst at quarterback against Cincinnati, hoping to rest Jackson and his sore pectoral muscle. Whitehurst being Whitehurst, Carroll soon changed his mind, and determined that his best option was an injured Tarvaris Jackson. Jackson produced a number of big plays, with five completions for 20 yards or more, and almost rallied the Seahawks to victory before a couple of late scores made the game look like more of a blowout than it was. Jackson's last play of the day was an interception that was returned for a touchdown by Cincinnati's Reggie Nelson, but in FO's system that was counted as an incomplete Hail Mary for Jackson, with no penalty for the turnover.
10.
Tom Brady NE
24/35
198
2
0
67
67
0
Brady’s average completion came just 4.5 yards past the line of scrimmage, the second-lowest of any quarterback this week. (A.J. Feeley: 1.9 yards).
11.
Christian Ponder MIN
18/28
236
1
0
61
70
-9
Ponder got a lot of help from his teammates. His average completion included 7.7 yards per catch, more than any other passer this week except for Kevin Kolb. For more on this development, please see the “Five most valuable running backs” section.
12.
Matt Hasselbeck TEN
23/33
224
1
0
30
30
0
Hasselbeck had 14 receptions that gained fewer than 10 yards on Sunday. Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady each had more than that, but those four quarterbacks averaged 46 dropbacks each. Hasselbeck had his 14 short completions in just 33 dropbacks.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
13.
Andy Dalton CIN
18/29
168
2
2
26
29
-4
Dalton played well overall, but finished as cold as cold could be, completing three of his last nine passes for 17 yards with two interceptions as Seattle inched back into the game. Fortunately for Dalton, special teams and defensive touchdowns still count on the scoreboard.
14.
Colt McCoy CLE
22/34
241
1
1
25
8
17
McCoy had this dreadful stretch starting in the third quarter and going into the fourth: 5-of-10 passing for 21 yards, no first downs, one sack, one interception, and one fumbled snap.
15.
Matt Moore MIA
13/22
138
0
1
18
-6
24
Moore was mediocre when the Dolphins had the lead. Once New York pulled ahead though... Oh God. Oh, dear God. Two completions, four sacks, one net yard, one interception (although it was thrown on fourth-and-23 with less than two minutes to go, basically a Hail Mary situation), -139.0% DVOA, -33 DYAR.
16.
Matt Cassel KC
19/31
261
1
2
7
1
6
17.
Philip Rivers SD
26/41
369
0
2
-7
-4
-2
18.
Tony Romo DAL
18/35
203
1
1
-14
-17
3
Philadelphia cornerback watch: Romo went 11-of-16 for 158 yards throwing to his wide receivers. That sounds pretty good, but in the first half he went just 2-of-3 for 22 yards, all three targets to Laurent Robinson. The Eagles completely removed Miles Austin and Dez Bryant from the game until the second half. By then, Dallas was already down three touchdowns.
19.
Joe Flacco BAL
31/51
336
0
1
-20
-32
12
First half: 12-of-23 for 98 yards, with an interception, two sacks, a fumble, and a league-worst -123 DYAR. Second half: 19-of-28, 238 yards, plus three DPIs and one sack, for a league-best 92 DYAR.
20.
Drew Brees NO
30/44
269
1
2
-25
-25
0
Brees had 14 completions that failed to pick up first downs. Only Joe Flacco (16) had more. For the season, though, Brees is blowing away the field in this obscure category. He has 102 non-first down completions. Matt Stafford is second with 82, meaning he is as close to 16th place (Jay Cutler, 62) as he is to Brees at No. 1.
21.
A.J. Feeley STL
20/37
176
1
0
-36
-38
2
A.J. Feeley on passes at or behind the line of scrimmage: 8-of-10 passing, 67 yards, three first downs. All other passes: 12-of-27, 109 yards, seven first downs (including a touchdown).
22.
Kevin Kolb ARI
10/21
153
1
1
-40
-44
4
Here, in order, are all of Kevin Kolb’s third-quarter plays: a 9-yard sack on third-and-13; a 10-yard sack on first-and-10; a 3-yard completion on third-and-16; and an interception on first down. In just four plays, he managed a league-worst -77 DYAR. In the same quarter, Joe Flacco had 21 plays and 73 DYAR, both the highest totals in the league. In other news, did you hear that Arizona blew an 18-point halftime lead against Baltimore this week?
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
23.
Curtis Painter IND
26/49
250
0
2
-48
-82
34
Painter’s average third down dropback came with 4.3 yards needed for a first down, by far the fewest of any starter this week. What did he do with all those short third downs? 4-of-11 passing, three first downs, 44 yards, one interception, plus two sacks.

OK, I wrote that up, then noticed Painter’s red zone performance, which is even more distressing: 5-of-12 passing, 15 yards, no touchdowns, no first downs, 1 (one) successful play.
24.
Blaine Gabbert JAC
10/30
97
1
2
-98
-102
4
Gabbert’s 10 completions combined led to only 24 yards after the catch. There were eight separate catches around the league in Week 8 that had at least 24 YAC. Fred Jackson did it twice.
25.
Tim Tebow DEN
18/39
172
1
1
-117
-138
22
A commenter on the ESPN version of Quick Reads had the best idea for Tebow: He should only play in the fourth quarter. Hey, it works for Mariano Rivera.
26.
John Beck WAS
20/33
208
0
2
-118
-100
-18
Buffalo's defense had only five sacks in the first seven weeks of the season. In Week 8, they got to John Beck nine times. In the second and third quarters, Beck was sacked seven times in just 21 dropbacks, while picking up only three first downs. When he wasn't hitting the turf, he was checking down. Twelve of his 20 completions gained 10 yards or less. He also threw two interceptions and fumbled once. Keep in mind that if we discount scrambles and look only at passing plays, Beck was better than Tebow.


Five most valuable running backs
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
LeSean McCoy PHI
185
2
15
0
80
80
0
Yes, it was a good game for the Eagles. The Cowboys defense had given up only five ten-yard runs in the first seven weeks of the year, but the Eagles had eight big runs on Sunday night, six of them by McCoy. McCoy also chipped in with a 16-yard reception. He didn't do much else - 16 of his 30 carries gained three yards or less - but against the stout Dallas defense, it was good enough to put him at the top of the running backs list. For the season, McCoy now trails only Minnesota's Adrian Peterson in total rushing value.
2.
Adrian Peterson MIN
86
1
76
1
59
7
52
Speak of the devil. Peterson actually did most of his damage as a receiver this week, catching all five of the passes thrown his way. Four of them gained at least 12 yards and a first down, and he had a 22-yard catch on third-and-15. His rushing numbers were blah overall, but he did have three ten-yard runs, giving him 22 on the season. Only McCoy (LeSean, not Colt) has more (29).
3.
Fred Jackson BUF
120
0
74
0
41
17
25
Jackson had a 46-yard catch in the second quarter, a 43-yard run in the third quarter, and a 24-yard catch in the fourth. His other 27 carries plays just three first downs and averaged 2.6 yards a pop.
4.
Beanie Wells ARI
83
1
0
0
35
35
0
The opposite of Jackson. Wells’ longest play was just 16 yards, but 14 of his 22 runs had positive DYAR, including a touchdown and five other first downs. Opponent adjustments also do him an enormous favor — he had just 18 YAR, so nearly half his DYAR total comes simply from playing the Ravens.
5.
Ray Rice BAL
63
3
36
0
34
24
10
Opponent adjustments can be funny some times. Rice caught seven-of-nine passes, but for only 36 yards. He had -2 receiving YAR, but the Cardinals are pretty good at covering running backs, so that gets boosted to 10 DYAR. As a rusher, Rice had three touchdowns and three other first downs, good for 35 rushing YAR. However, the Cardinals are lousy at run defense, so that gets knocked down to 24 DYAR. His total YAR and total DYAR are virtually indentical, but the distribution between the two changed radically.


Least valuable running back
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Chris Johnson TEN
34
0
17
0
-39
-27
-12
Johnson's best run on Sunday was an 11-yard gain on first-and-10. His other 13 carries gained only 23 yards, and he was stuffed for no gain or a loss five times. This was against the Colts, a defense that came into the game giving up 4.6 yards per run. He was equally impotent as a receiver, catching three-of-five passes for 17 yards, with his longest gain a 10-yard catch on third-and-19. For the season, Johnson is dead last in FO's rankings for total rushing value, and he also has negative value as a receiver. By the end of the game Sunday, Johnson had been essentially benched for Javon Ringer. If the Titans are smart, they'll make that switch permanent for the rest of the year.


Five most valuable wide receivers and tight ends
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Calvin Johnson DET
6
7
125
20.8
1
65
Johnson caught six-of-seven passes against Denver. All six of them picked up first downs, five of them gained 10 yards or more, and one was a 54-yard touchdown.
2.
Anquan Boldin BAL
7
12
145
20.7
0
55
The Ravens only threw to Boldin five times in the first half, completing two of them for 28 yards. And then they decided Arizona could not cover this man, so they were just going to throw him passes until they ran out of footballs. They threw him a whopping 10 passes in the third quarter alone. He caught five of them for 117 yards (remember, this is just the third quarter), two fell incomplete, and three of them resulted in defensive pass interference calls for another 33 yards. Hakeem Nicks, Lance Moore, and Santonio Holmes are the only other receivers to draw three DPI calls this season. (The DPI numbers are not accounted for in his receptions, targets, or yardage listed above.) At that point Arizona apparently threw every defensive back available at him, up to and including Roger Wehrli, Larry Wilson, and Aeneas Williams, because Boldin was not the target of a single pass in the fourth quarter.
3.
Victor Cruz NYG
7
9
99
14.1
1
47
Cruz caught the first seven passes thrown his way, each with the Giants tied or trailing. His last two targets, each thrown when the Giants were ahead, were both incomplete. Maybe he should only play when New York is losing.
4.
Ben Obomanu SEA
4
4
107
26.8
0
45
Obomanu had his best season in 2010, but the acquisition of Sidney Rice and surprising development of Doug Baldwin have meant a reduced role in 2011. Obomanu came into the game on Sunday averaging less than three catches per game and just eight yards per reception. Against the Bengals, Obomanu caught each of the four passes thrown his way, including gains of 13, 32, and 55 yards.
5.
Malcom Floyd SD
5
7
107
21.4
0
43
Each of Floyd’s catches produced a first down. Three of them gained 20 yards or more. His two incompletions came on third-and-16 and second-and-18.


Least valuable wide receiver or tight end
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Jason Witten DAL
4
12
28
7.0
0
-44
The Eagles' cornerbacks shut down the Dallas wide receivers for most of the game Sunday night, so Tony Romo was left to force the ball to Jason Witten, who was the target on eight incomplete passes. His four receptions included a 3-yard gain on second-and-8 and a 2-yard gain on third-and-10.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 01 Nov 2011

131 comments, Last at 04 Nov 2011, 1:44pm by Pat (filler)

Comments

1
by EasyLikeSundayMorning (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 10:58am

Now that it is Tuesday, if Tebow can lead a comeback against the Lions, I'll really believe that he can work miracles.

23
by Sophandros :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 12:34pm

How many comebacks have the Christians historically had against the Lions?

-------------
Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

35
by resident jenius :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 1:09pm

+1

113
by BroncosGuyAgain :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 6:06pm

Now that's funny.

76
by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 10:55pm

I suppose someone will eventually point out that after 2000 years the Lions ended up being the losers.

2
by Southern Philly :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 11:01am

"Something about Sunday Night Football brings out the best in Vick. Last year he ripped the Redskins for six total touchdowns and more than 400 yards of offense"

That was a Monday Night Football game.

3
by Jonadan :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 11:12am

Edit: nevermind, apparently there's a - there that my browser shoved onto the previous line. Though -139.0% DVOA is almost equally unbelievable.

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

5
by CraigoMcl (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 11:13am

It's off by about 278%.

7
by CraigoMcl (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 11:19am

Ninja'd, sorry. Matt Moore with a positive DVOA qualifies as a "Is computer drunk?" red flag.

4
by Canadian (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 11:12am

A comment on the 4th quarter stats. Is a guy like Rogers penalized by having more leads (and in particular big leads) in the 4th quarter? GB is going to pass less and take fewer chances when up big, which I believe would severely hurt his overall performance.

This is also the case for RB's, for example, with a 3 score lead, Buffalo was content to run Fred Jackson on 1st down almost every time in the 2nd half. This will hurt his stats (gaining 2-3 yards on basicaly tipped running plays is good but not good enough), yet still advances the teams goals.

Anyways, not sure that much can be done to avoid this, but my gut tells me that this is why Rodgers appears to be an "unclutch" player.

6
by CraigoMcl (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 11:17am

The stats are adjusted for time remaining and score to avoid the garbage time effect.

57
by Packer Pete (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 3:44pm

The Packers have led into the fourth quarter their last 13 games, all of which they've won. (This times the NFL record for consecutive wins never trailing in the fourth quarter.) Mike McCarthy certainly changes the play calling late in games, and I think he takes away some of Rodgers' strengths, such as downfield throws on play action passes. The Packers have also gotten a bit sloppy; in the Viking game, Nelson dropped a key third down pass and another receiver dropped a key pass also. Rodgers also has one of his three picks in the fourth quarter, also.

8
by Stat Guy (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 11:19am

I am channeling Douglas C. Neidermeyer here:

"Charlie Whitehurst's incompletions were so profound and disgusting, that decorum prohibits showing his DYAR here."

9
by Kevin from Philly :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 11:20am

I exepcetd McCoy to be on top, based on Dallas' high ranking against the run. Vick at #1 is a little bit of a surprise. He had a solid game and made few mistakes (one ball nearly picked off is all I can remember), but it was not one of his knock your socks off performances. On the other hand, Witten had one of the worst performances I've ever seen, so least valuable receiver is'nt a shock. All in all, probably the best game the Eagles have played in a long time.

10
by CraigoMcl (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 11:26am

Dallas has (or had) a highly rated defense. Maybe that's it.

Looking over the list, he had the highest YPA and TD%, with no INTs or fumbles. I don't know about his first downs, but that's an awesome game no matter who you're playing.

13
by Yuri (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 12:01pm

Vick did have one stripsack that the Eagles recovered. But I agree, maybe the Cowboys defense was not it was cranked out to be. And also, there's "Andy Reid after Bye" effect on offense that DVOA/DYAR does not adjust for.

16
by FrontRunningPhinsFan :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 12:07pm

The answer is DVOA Loves The Eagles.

46
by dryheat :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 2:11pm

The Dude, however, does not.

85
by beargoggles :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 1:15am

definitely not into the Eagles, that guy

43
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 1:50pm

I think part of the reason you might not be putting Vick so high in your head is that the game was very short: just 8 drives long for Philly. And yet they scored 34 points - if that game was normal length (~12 drives long) Vick's stats would've been in the nutso range.

Also it's not like Dallas had been a bad passing defense, either. They were ranked 4th in passing DVOA.

11
by Thunderbolt of ... :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 11:44am

"In his two fourth quarters (and one overtime), those numbers improve to 57 percent, 6.2 yards per pass, and four sacks in 41 dropbacks."

So in the 4th quarter, Tim Tebow improves significantly... all the way to being a terrible QB. To put those 4th quarter rate statistics into context, they're pretty similar to Derek Anderson's stats last year in Arizona, or Matt Moore's this season for Miami.

12
by zlionsfan :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 11:44am

lol. Closer is the wrong baseball analogy for Tebow. You're looking for mop-up reliever. Or perhaps, unless he develops an ability to throw accurate passes, he can be a September callup, a guy who looks great in AAA but is really only suited for being that sixth starter when you want to stretch out your rotation, and when you've got a deep enough pen to cover for him when he gets bombed.

14
by Nathan :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 12:03pm

The way his passes flutter the correct analogy is in fact knuckleballer.

15
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 12:04pm

Nah, Tebow is the utility infielder that you put on the mound when you are behind 17-1, in the 8th inning of the first game of a August doubleheader, so as to save the rest of your bullpen.

88
by akn :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 1:32am

Didn't we already agree to leave baseball metaphors out of FO commentary?

17
by Purds :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 12:12pm

How great is it that there is a site that investigates a statistical hunch and then presents the findings even if they don't add up to much?! I am serious. It's good to remind ourselves that the guys at FO are looking to figure out the game, not to sensationalize. I loved the exploration of QB play in the essay, even though the net result was no pattern found. Thanks for presenting what you find, not some trumped up sensationalistic crap. (Now, if you could find some way to get the Colts a win or two, I would think you're really miraculous.)

37
by jebmak :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 1:29pm

As a Dolphins fan, I endorse this.

18
by nat :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 12:17pm

I was going to comment on how Brady was only 8 yards behind Roethlisberger despite throwing 15 fewer passes. Then I remembered: DYAR is adjusted for the opposing defense. And the Pats defense stinks.

This is yet another reason to show YAR and DYAR together. Brady probably played better (per play), but he got worse results because the Steelers pass defense is quite good. If the table had YAR, this would be more obvious.

20
by Nathan :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 12:20pm

Brady probably played better (per play), but he got worse results because the Steelers pass defense is quite good.

This does not pass the eyeball test. From where I was writhing on the couch, the entire Pats offense played like shit. Although it was mostly on the receivers.

28
by nat :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 12:57pm

Remember, you were watching them play against the Steelers defense, which is reasonably good. So, playing well against the Steelers will look (and get results) much worse than playing with the same level of skill against the Patriots' defense. That's what the D in DVOA and DYAR means.

The "eyeball test" is the wrong test to make when we're talking DVOA and DYAR and the level of skill demonstrated on the field. YAR is what your eyeballs see. DYAR is what your brain should be thinking when it considers the quality of the defenses being faced.

Yet another example of why listing YAR would help people understand what's going on.

31
by Nathan :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 1:03pm

I understand what's going on and I get what the D in DYAR means. I just don't think these results pass my personal "eyeball test."

DYAR is not what my brain should be thinking. It's a formula, not a cult.

64
by nat :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 4:24pm

The point being "Eyeball" by itself is the wrong organ to be using if you want to take the quality of the opponent into consideration. "Eyeball" can only tell you the results on the field. You need "Eyeball + Brain" to adjust for the quality of the opponent. "Brain" usually benefits from something like quality stats to help with the heavy lifting.

I'm guessing you mean some kind of intuitive judgment that may or may not include a good adjustment for the quality of the opponent, and may or may not have built-in biases. If so, that's fine. It's just very subjective.

67
by CraigoMcl (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 5:37pm

The stats tell you what a player did, not how they did it. That's why you watch the film.

27
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 12:52pm

The pick by Ben probably didn't help. But yeah, most of the difference is probably due to opponent adjustments.

19
by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 12:20pm

Tebow played worse than Blaine Gabbert, for a team which was competitive with Kyle Orton (who appears in the dictionary next to "Replacement Level"), unlike the Jaguars, who have not been competitive in some time. John Fox is smarter than this, I have to assume they're trying to showcase Tebow for a trade. Too bad he's demonstrating just how unprepared and unskilled he is.

21
by Alexander :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 12:32pm

Orton is clearly above replacement level, he is better than 10-15 starters in the league.

58
by TomC :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 3:47pm

Orton is clearly above replacement level, he is better than 10-15 starters in the league..

Yes. People often say "replacement level" when they mean "average"; in fact, the two can be significantly different. For instance, only 6 opening-day 2011 QBs have negative DVOA, but by definition, 16 starting QBs in the NFL are below average. I would even argue that Orton is above average, but he's certainly above replacement.

68
by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 6:13pm

Upon reflection, you're all correct that I was understating the virtues of Kyle Orton. That said, a "replacement level" quarterback is probably better than 10-15 starters in the league right now, right? And better than Tim Tebow (come to think of it, Brady Quinn sounds like a good candidate for our poster child, although it's hard to skip over actual replacements-many-times-over, like Gus Frerotte and AJ Feeley.

70
by tuluse :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 6:44pm

Gus Frerotte and AJ Feeley are both a good deal better than replacement level players. Which is why they kept finding teams willing to pay them.

100
by DGL :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 1:13pm

Actually, by definition, 16 starting QBs in the NFL are below the median. (/end pedantry.) If I'm counting right, according to the 11/1 QB rankings, 14 starting QBs in the NFL are below average (negative DVOA). Of those, 8 have negative DYAR. Flacco, Freeman, Cutler, Jackson, Painter, and Bradford have negative DVOA but positive DYAR.

114
by TomC :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 11:54pm

Actually, by definition, 16 starting QBs in the NFL are below the median.

Indeed. Well played.

115
by Kal :: Thu, 11/03/2011 - 2:05am

Actually, the correct pedantic way to say it would be that 50% or more of all starting QBs are at or below the median QB level. If this sounds confusing, think of the sequence 1,2,2,2,3 and figure out what the median is.

119
by Intropy :: Thu, 11/03/2011 - 3:18am

2!

121
by DGL :: Thu, 11/03/2011 - 9:08am

Only if you feel compelled to address the special case where the 16th and 17th-rated starting QBs in the NFL have the same DVOA, and that is a level of pedantry that I arbitrarily judged to be unnecessary. Because, after all, if you can't be arbitrarily pedantic, why bother?

123
by Kal :: Thu, 11/03/2011 - 10:07am

Also wrong. If many nfl qbs have the same value in the middle they're still at or below the median. In the above example 80% of the values are at or below the median.

Another example: in the sequence 1,2,3,4,5,6 you can pick a median value of 3 or 4 and be totally correct; 50% or more of the values are below 3 or 4, and 50% or more of the values are above 3 or 4. In any arbitrary selection of an even-numbered sequence of numbers you can do this as well, so 32 applies here too; you can pick the 17th ranked QB as the median and be correct.

124
by DGL :: Thu, 11/03/2011 - 10:51am

If you are comfortable picking either the N/2 or the N/2+1 member as the median of a population with an even number of members (instead of the arithmetic mean of the N/2 and N/2+1 members), your pedantry is even more arbitrary than mine.

29
by DEW (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 1:02pm

Well, playing Tebow serves a bunch of purposes:

1) The Broncos suck. They had no chance of making the playoffs with Orton, Quinn, or Tebow. Possibly not with a healthy Payton Manning. Orton was their best option, and the early games showed that they weren't going much of anywhere. This means that they can start looking at the other questions below.

2) The fans wanted Tebow. Even if they'd been 5-0, they'd have wanted Tebow. They will continue to want Tebow until it is proven beyond a doubt that there's no reason to want Tebow (okay, some will want him even them, but). Playing him gives him the chance to play like he did against the Lions to shut the fans up and let the football administration manage the football team.

3) If Tebow proves to be adequate or even good, they can play him and have a QB. As we're so often reminded, Orton and Quinn are FAs after this season.

4) If Tebow isn't completely hopeless, as you say, they can showcase him for a trade and get at least some value back.

30
by deflated (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 1:03pm

Close but no cigar. They aren't showcasing him for a trade, they are showcasing his actual abilitites as a QB to the screaming hordes of Tebow fans so they can dump him and move on with the rebuilding at the end of the season.

32
by Flounder :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 1:08pm

No, they are trying to showcase his ineptitude to the fan base so they will stop clamoring for him, and thus allow the team to move on by either switching him to a different position or cutting him.

33
by Marko :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 1:09pm

I don't think they are trying to showcase Tebow for a trade. Who would trade for him (and the circus that would come with him via the the media and the fans)? And if anyone would trade for him, what would you get? A conditional 7th round pick? A cooler full of Gatorade (trading one UF product for another)?

I think they know they can't compete with Orton (or Quinn) and know their QB of the future is not on their roster now. They will have to draft that QB next year. But if they don't play Tebow now (and watch him inevitably fail spectacularly), his fans will be in an uproor claiming it's not fair, they didn't give him a chance, etc. Even after he fails, many of them probably will claim that he wasn't given enough time, he still will develop into a great QB, etc. Nothing you can do about that, but at least they can't say he never got a chance to play. Then next year he will either be released or have to change his position.

40
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 1:39pm

I think the most interesting question regarding Tebow is whether he likes playing NFL football enough, and likes being on a NFL team enough, that he will throw himself into learning a different position, once nobody in the NFL will pay him to be a quarterback. Will he be a Nolan Cromwell, a great college qb who became a damned good NFL safety, or will he be Eric Crouch, who only wants to play one position, and will go do so in Canada or the UFL? Or will he think that it just isn't worth it if he can't play qb in the NFL? He likely won't need the money, after all.

45
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 2:07pm

If there's a resume spot for "future motivational speaker and then political candidate", that'll be Tebow.

49
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 2:54pm

I haven't really seen anything yet from the guy that suggests to me that he is a big enough A-hole to want to be a politician. He may be a genuinely good guy who would devote his time to helping people who need help.

91
by akn :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 1:43am

He already has an autobiography at the ripe old age of 24. That's usually the first step to a political campaign.

111
by BroncosGuyAgain :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 5:50pm

Love the cynicism, Will.

I don't think you meant the Nolan Cromwell analogy to be so direct, but Tebow is way too slow to play safety. Assuming he can catch, he'd make a fine H-back.

66
by tunesmith :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 4:44pm

Well, on the one hand, he volunteered to play emergency wide receiver a few weeks back, and the coaches said he graded well on his assignments. On the other hand, I think he's so intent on being a leader and how that fits into the rest of his life goals (I think), he'd probably just as soon opt for missionary work and public speaking.

95
by Martial (not verified) :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 8:26am

Special teams captain. He'd be great.

101
by Intropy :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 1:32pm

Is missionary an NFL position?

102
by Nathan :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 2:00pm

It's certainly a position.

72
by The Hypno-Toad :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 7:34pm

The new narrative from the Tebow camp is that clearly, since the Broncos called an actual, NFL-style offense on Sunday, they're clearly trying to make Tebow fail. There's very little willingness among group to entertain the notion that maybe, just maybe he's not automatically the greatest thing ever.
I will say that even as someone who actually would rather not see Tebow succeed, there will have to be *some* concessions made by the coaching staff if they want to see if there's anything there to work with. I'm not advocating implementing the full Urban Meyer system, but calling a higher percentage of early plays out of the shotgun seems like a no-brainer that would increase his comfort level while also allowing them to judge whether he's making improvements.

73
by tunesmith :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 8:03pm

I will say that even as someone who actually would rather not see Tebow succeed

Why? Unless you're a fan of another AFC West team?

74
by The Hypno-Toad :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 8:25pm

It's irrational unfair to a (by all accounts) great guy in Tebow. But as a Bronco fan living in Denver I am so sick of hearing about him, that I just want this to go away, and the quickest route to this going away is him failing. Secondly, I hate Josh McDaniels, maybe even more than I like the Broncos. So I don't want Josh McDaniels to be able to point at Tim Tebow at some theoretical future point and say, "See, I was right about him!"
I am completely aware of how stupid my position is on this.

77
by birmingham bruce (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 11:01pm

Take how you feel about Josh McDaniels and multiply by at least a factor of 10 and this is how Lions fans feel about Matt Millen.

112
by BroncosGuyAgain :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 6:03pm

I think you are grossly underestimating both McDaniels' incompetence and the level of abhorrence of him among Broncos fans. Still, Millen certainly presents a spectacular opportunity for commiseration.

I can't believe I've reached this point, but I am actually jealous of Lions fans. Your team is certainly on the right path, and I'm watching little people dance around a miniature Stonehenge. I wish you continued good fortune.

118
by The Hypno-Toad :: Thu, 11/03/2011 - 3:18am

Not to minimize the General Sherman that Millen pulled on the Lions, as that was painful to watch even without a rooting interest, but in my opinion, if McDaniels had been given as much time as the decision-maker for an NFL team, there would be no question that McDaniels was significantly worse than Millen.

122
by Hurt Bones :: Thu, 11/03/2011 - 9:18am

Comparing Millen to Sherman gives Millen too much credit. Had Millen been on the Bears, Packers or Vikings payroll and had dismantled the Lions the way he did, a comparison to Sherman might be appropriate. Sadly Millen was like a six year old left alone in his family plantation with a zippo and a can of kerosene.

129
by The Hypno-Toad :: Thu, 11/03/2011 - 6:13pm

Fair enough, I was just going for the destructive-ness analogy, not necessarily an allegorical story. But you're right, I probably should have found something more directly applicable. And I like the image of Millen (looking like he does today) sitting on a plantation starting fires.

78
by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 11:05pm

I don't think it's all that irrationally unfair.

First, you can take the POV that he should never have been a 1st round pick. If McDaniels had taken him in the 4th round, there would not have been such high expectations.

Second, Tebow was advised not to go into the draft as a QB, but he did anyway. Chalk that one up to hubris.

Third, Tebow wasn't Fox's or Elway's choice -- he was dumped on them by the previous management.

Being a great guy doesn't make one a great NFL QB. Tough, but c'est la vie.

103
by JonC :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 2:50pm

Tebow was also told he had a crappy throwing motion, went through the motions of improving his motion to convince teams he would fix it....and since getting drafted has apparently done nothing to improve his motion and is demanding through surrogates that the team change its offense to revolve around him. Sounds like a politician to me, not so much a "great guy," as "entitled."

104
by Nathan :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 2:58pm

Wait, what?

120
by The Hypno-Toad :: Thu, 11/03/2011 - 3:22am

If McDaniels had taken him in the fourth round, he'd already be on another team. I seriously don't think he could have made the roster after the (admittedly, shortened) offseason he just had without first round investment from the team to protect.

22
by Dr. Third Down Conversion (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 12:33pm

Can we assume Heath Miller is number 6 on the TE/WR list, or did some other players push him further down?

24
by CraigoMcl (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 12:37pm

If the NE defense did anything right yesterday, it was shutting down Miller after that first drive (when he was, for all intents and purposes, the entire PIT offense).

47
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 2:28pm

20th. It was a good day -- seven catches, all successful, five first downs, only two incompletions -- but nothing special.

He had no targets in the second or third quarter, and just one in the fourth. That's probably why you expected to see him on here. He put up a monster first quarter, convincing you he was having a great game, then disappeared.

105
by armchair journe... :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 3:55pm

I was actually more impressed with Wallace.. Not accustomed to seeing him play like a possession receiver, grabbing first down after first down, with nary a deep route or a drop.

_______________________________
armchair journeyman quarterback

25
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 12:40pm

So a QB's play improved late in a blowout game when the defense was playing shell coverage and doing nothing more than trying to prevent the deep ball, allowing the offense to complete a high number of short passes while bleeding out the clock?

26
by Chase (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 12:52pm

Why is everyone ignoring the obvious about Tebow's "late game heroics?" It's called PREVENT DEFENSE. He doesn't get better at the end of the game -- the defense just backs off. It happened in Miami. The Dolphins changed the D that they had been playing for 55 minutes and started playing "not to lose" with prevent defense. Lo and behond, the field opened up and Tebow started making plays. Ditto Lions. It got to the end and the game was well in hand, so the Lions D backed off. So Tebow finally got a TD drive.

Now if Tebow could just find an opponent that would play prevent D for 60 minutes...

36
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 1:19pm

Tebow was playing so poorly and the Lions' lead was so large, their defensive players acknowledged simply getting bored, which allowed Denver to stat-pad a little.

44
by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 2:05pm

All he needs to do is play Denver... oh wait I see what you did. But seriously, there are a few defenses in the NFL that are basically prevent for four quarters. Indianapolis is the one I think of, at least under Caldwell (to the end of my days I will watch Indianapolis' corners play off-man with a 10 yard cushion on 2nd and 6 in the '09 Super Bowl, while down a touchdown in the 4th quarter).

79
by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 11:12pm

I agree that the Dolphin defense visibly relaxed around the middle of the 4th quarter. That was a huge mistake. It's one thing to relax when you're up by 35, another to relax when your up by 2 scores. Bad coaching.

And I couldn't help thinking that the two TDs scored by the Broncos against the Dolphins were a bit fraudulent. I'm convinced that the 1st TD was a trap, and on the 2nd TD it looked very much like the Broncos had two OL illegally downfield before the catch.

So I'm not sure Tebow's 4th quarters are even that impressive. It's just part of the hype.

92
by akn :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 1:48am

It was incredibly Lucky, wasn't it?

34
by QQ (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 1:09pm

Exactly, Tebow's Legendary 4th Quarter status will only grow as he continues mop up duty in blowout over blowout. Tebow remind me of this famous Simpsons Clip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NryGUl-by0

Aaron Rodgers by contrast is hindered by McCarthy changing from Aggressive Play Caller to Scared Play Caller in every 4th Quarter (If you want to recent example watch Wild Card Game vs Philly and Week 1 vs NO)

83
by greybeard :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 12:19am

Hindered on what? Collecting DYAR? I doubt he, or any other QB for that matter, cares about it.

87
by beargoggles :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 1:25am

That clip is a classic, although in fairness to horseface, he did have a number of meaningful comebacks.

38
by andrew :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 1:31pm

Ponder had "7.7 yards per catch"?

is that supposed to be yards after catch? (would fit more with the observation that he got help from his friends, and 7.7 ypc is pretty mediocre, not to mention less than his yards per attempt...

42
by P (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 1:43pm

Must be...Peterson and Harvin were gashing the Panthers repeatedly on screen-like routes, dumpoffs and short crosses.

62
by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 4:15pm

I think 7.7 is a high figure....I looked at the top 40 YAC leaders and they averaged about 6.8 YAC. Middle of the pack guys ranked 81-120 averaged 4.25 YAC.

Of course you get a lot higher YAC average when you throw to backs and guys like Harvin. But Ponder also made several good throws down the field and he didn't get much YAC at all on those throws.

I thought he played much better in the Carolina game than he did in the GB game.

39
by Passing through (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 1:31pm

Alex Smith: ABOVE AVERAGE QUARTERBACK!!

It's time to start complaining about his tools (e.g. Crabtree)

50
by Aloysius Mephis... :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 2:55pm

Tools? With explosive deep threats like Isaac Sopoaga and Joe Staley, that offense is an embarrassment of riches.

51
by Nathan :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 3:01pm

Why would he complain about Crabtree? Dude seems like a complete tool.

80
by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 11:18pm

+3 for best thread on this post. LOL

41
by ScottyB (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 1:40pm

Maybe a better comparison is Tebow's 4th quarter performances against the 4th quarter performances of rookies/1styearstarters of the past few years. One could make an argument that better 4th quarter stats are indicative of in-game learning that may result in better year 2 performance.

81
by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 11:21pm

Too bad that it doesn't translate to next-game 3-quarter performance in Tebow's case.

116
by Kal :: Thu, 11/03/2011 - 2:08am

One could make that argument, but only if it turned out that quarterbacks played 64 consecutive quarters without interruption against the same team. Turns out they don't, so it's not that great.

48
by Aloysius Mephis... :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 2:38pm

Given DVOA's love of positive consistency over gaudy totals I was surprised Mike Wallace didn't make the top five. Seven targets, seven completions, seven plays gaining successful yardage, five first downs. His worst play was a five yard gain on first and ten inside the red zone. The only blemish is that he did it against the Patriots pass D.

EDIT: Just read Vince's comment on Heath Miller above; it probably applies equally to Wallace.

52
by CraigoMcl (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 3:06pm

1. Roethlisberger spread the ball around pretty well, making it hard for any one receiver to stand out
2. Roethlisberger only had 78 passing DYAR himself. To paraphrase a poster above, his day passed the eyeball test, but it was nothing special according to the system

54
by Aloysius Mephis... :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 3:17pm

He only had 78 passing DYAR, but he got sacked five times and had an interception and a fumble, so I bet the aggregate DYAR of his receivers was a good deal higher than 78. But he did spread the ball around.

53
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 3:12pm

17th. In his case, it's more a lack of big plays (which is an odd thing to say about Mike Wallace). All of his catches were successful, but two of them (a 7-yard gain on first down in the first quarter and a 5-yard gain on a red zone first down in the fourth) were effectively zero DYAR each.

55
by Aloysius Mephis... :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 3:31pm

Interesting about the two successful zero DYAR plays. It's a basic concept, but I hadn't really considered how a successful play can still be a replacement-value play. Of course it makes sense that there are some situations where you'd expect a replacement-level player to succeed. Can a successful play have negative DYAR? Like a 1-yard gain on second and inches?

61
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 4:05pm

Each play is given a point value that is based first on whether it was successful or not, but then that play is compared to every other play made by players at that position in that situation. So a 7-yard gain on first down is a successful play, but compared to what happens when other teams throw to wide receivers on first down, when many of them gain 10, 20, 30 yards or more, and that seven-yard gain starts to look more mundane. It's better than an incompletion or a fumble, but it's reasonable to expect more from a receiver in that situation.

65
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 4:28pm

Plus you said DYAR, not YAR, so I'm guessing there's an opponent adjustment there as well. Basically you're saying "yes, well, any wide receiver in the NFL can catch a 7 yard pass on 1st down against the Patriots."

Sounds pretty reasonable to me.

106
by armchair journe... :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 4:00pm

ehh... should've scrolled down. thanks for the explanation.

71
by Intropy :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 7:07pm

For both Miller and Wallace, remember it's DYAR not DVOA. DYAR likes volume. For Miller in particular, also remember that they're only considering receptions and not contribution to blocking.

56
by InTheBoilerRoom :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 3:33pm

I'm looking for some clarification on the statistics stated in the Cam Newton snippet. Vince notes that Newton has no fumbles on runs, but has fumbled seven times on sacks. I was just checking the stats on ESPN and NFL.com to compare that to the rest of the league, and those websites indicate that Newton has one fumble running, and three fumbles passing (I assume they're on sacks) and the two of those four total fumbles were fumbles lost. Where does the seven fumble total come from? Are you using a different criteria for fumbles than just the box score? My first thought was that ESPN and NFL.com were only listing fumbles lost, but then discovered that was not the case. I also checked PFR just to confirm, and they too list only four total fumbles. Am I missing something?

60
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 3:57pm

Whoops, screw-up on my part. I was counting fumbles on completed passes as fumbles by Newton, not the receivers. Will fix.

59
by Jim Glass (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 3:54pm

Can we expect Tebow to continue to play his best in the fourth quarter?

As long as he's playing against a burn-time prevent defense down 35-3 like he was this past week, sure, why not?

110
by BroncosGuyAgain :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 5:47pm

Also, Vince set the bar pretty low. Playing Tebow's best is a not the same as playing well.

63
by Bjorn Nittmo (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 4:22pm

"In 2010, the five passers who improved the most in fourth quarter and overtime were Jason Campbell, Matthew Stafford, Michael Vick, Colt McCoy, and Philip Rivers." I'd like to know how much of Vick's quarter splits can be attributed to the final 8 minutes of the Disaster at the Meadowlands (as the game is referred to in textbooks in New York).

69
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 6:22pm

Don't you mean "textbooks in New Jersey"?

98
by JasonK :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 11:03am

That gets tricky, as large parts of NJ are in the Philadelphia-sports sphere of influence.

75
by Camp Bras (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 9:23pm

It seems -please, I have said 'it seems'- that Tebow is playing like a lot of people expected him to play.

However, as I have read in some blogs in the Broncosphere, some are blaming how their offense are set with Tebow in the field. The argument, and I don't know if it is true or strong enough, is basically that the UF offense was organized for Tebow to flourish. He was never prepared for the pro game while there.

So, those that advocate this basically give Denver two options:

a) play a more college-like offensive scheme that would hide Tebow's weeknesses and get advantage of his streghts; or,

b) since the team is completely awful as a whole, take this year as sabbatical and make Tebow practice and learn the skills needed to succede in NFL football (even if he would suck for a long time before he becomes good; if he is able to be good, of course).

How is the possibility that Denver is actually taking the "b" route? If the team is doing that, how long they could handle the pressure to take Tebow out of the field?

82
by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 11:26pm

The argument "UF offense was organized for Tebow to flourish" is the same as saying "he'll never be a good QB in the NFL".

You can't take a college offense and make it work in the NFL. It's been tried before. The triple-option didn't last, the wishbone didn't last, the Wildcat (a high school offense, no less) has shown its limitations.

96
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 9:24am

The wishbone flourished in the NFL for 25 years.

NE runs a variant on the UF offense (Basically one where the running QB is replaced by a JUGS machine). Drew Brees was criticized for running a super-spread offense in college that would never work in the NFL. Then Sean Payton ran it to a SB title, and made people realize that it hadn't worked before because Spurrier was an ass and Ramsey was just awful. The Falcons ran the spread-option for a couple of years. GB runs a college-style 5-wide, as well as a college-style fullhouse and Maryland-I backfield. I've seen teams running the Pistol -- which is as college-y as an offense can get!

Face it, no one runs the prototypical NFL formation, the Pro Set any more. We see as much shotgun spread as we do Ace or I-formation. College formations are all over the NFL. You can make a Tebow offense work -- it just needs to work a lot like a power version of what the Eagles run.

97
by Arkaein :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 10:07am

College offenses tend to be very one note. You may see a lot of variety between different teams, but not a lot within the same team.

NFL offenses have lot more internal diversity because you can't rely on one tactic to the same degree. You've pointed out both GB and NO, and both of those teams emphasize formation diversity to a greater degree than probably any college team.

I haven't watched Tebow play, but I think he could probably benefit from some plays adapted to his strengths, good coaches do that. However, basing an entire offense around his limitations won't work for long, NFL teams have too much practice time and do too much film study. They will adapt and find ways to stop almost any diversity-lacking offense.

99
by DGL :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 1:03pm

The other question is how suitable would these plays be to the other 10-15 guys who regularly see offensive snaps? Does the quarterback contribute so much to the success or failure of the offense that it makes sense to accept sub-optimal performance on the part of the rest of the offense because the plays work better with the QB? Or would that dropoff be small enough that it wouldn't matter?

125
by Mr Shush :: Thu, 11/03/2011 - 12:29pm

What I wonder is this: could a team succeed by assembling an offense constructed largely out of players whose skill-sets were in some way deficient for the purposes of a normal pro offense (and who were therefore cheap) but who had real (and complementary) strengths suited to a wackier approach, thus enabling the unit as a whole to be league average or only slightly below, while dedicating cap and draft resources to building a dominant defense. Don't just sign Tebow: sign Tebow and Vince Young and a bunch of offensive linemen who are devastating run-blockers but can't pass protect worth a damn and every hybrid THIRST back-scat back-WR you can find and a whole load of TEs but no conventional wide receivers. I'm not certain it would work, but I'm not certain it wouldn't, either. You'd just have to have a very understanding owner to even think about trying it . . .

127
by tuluse :: Thu, 11/03/2011 - 2:40pm

Wasn't this what Miami did with the wildcat?

128
by Vincent Verhei :: Thu, 11/03/2011 - 4:43pm

It's not like Miami used the Wildcat exclusively, or even the majority of the time. It was something they'd bust out three or four times a game. In 2008, the first year they started using it, Chad Pennington was top 10 in passing yards.

130
by Mr Shush :: Fri, 11/04/2011 - 9:06am

They didn't go anything like as far, and I think there's a world of difference between drafting Pat White and adding Tebow and Young. The point would be that total commitment to the strategy would enable you to acquire talent that was absolutely elite for that particular purpose, not just reasonably suited. I think lining up Tebow and Young in the same backfield would create horrendous match-up/diagnosis problems for defenses.

117
by Kal :: Thu, 11/03/2011 - 2:12am

The statement "NE runs a variant on the UF offense" is similar to saying "NE runs a variant of the wishbone". It's true, but it's completely watered down.

There are no zone read plays in the NE offense. None. There is no threat of the QB running the ball except in very odd cases and very short yardage situations. There are no jump passes.

There are quick slants and audibles from a run to a pass. These are essentially the same as they are everywhere; all teams have smoke routes and the like, though NE uses them more.

Yes, Belichick checked out the Florida spread offense in 2007 and used some ideas. There are some plays - like the bubble screen - that he uses. That doesn't make it a variant of the spread run or the spread in general.

84
by greybeard :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 12:20am

What was Frank Gore's rank? He seemed to have a good game.

86
by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 1:17am

A good game? In what way? He ranked 15th. Zero targets. Three carries for 10 yards, but 14 carries for 1 yard or less.

90
by greybeard :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 1:32am

Watching it, it looked good to me while I was watching it. Though second half Browns usually were able to get penetration and stop him with little or no gain.
He had ten successful plays. 5 yds on 1st and 10, 5 on 1st and 9, 24 yds on 2nd and 9, 5 on 2nd and 7, 26 yds on 1st and 10, 14 yds on 2nd and 10, 5 yds on 1st and 10, 6 yds on 2nd and 7, 6yds on 2nd and 10, 6 yds and 2nd and 9.
Three of these gained 64 yards. Are these long gains also capped liked the WR long gains?

107
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 4:19pm

Wait, 10 successful plays out of 31 rushes? That's not a good day, that's a mediocre day at best. I don't think you need the gains to be capped in order for that to be mediocre - putting your team in worse position on 2/3 of your plays isn't going to be offset by 3 "kinda long" runs.

108
by greybeard :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 4:56pm

I said he played good. I did not say he had lots of "successful" runs. They are not the same thing. In the second half the Browns defense played better than SF offense. However, as an individual Gore played pretty well. Whether his runs were successful or not is a result of a what the entire offense does, not just Gore.

131
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2011 - 1:44pm

"However, as an individual Gore played pretty well. Whether his runs were successful or not is a result of a what the entire offense does, not just Gore."

Oh, okay - then the answer's simpler. See this disclaimer on the RB page:

These numbers do not separate the performance of a running back from the performance of his offensive line. (You'll find numbers that try to do that on this page.) Be aware that one will affect the other.

"Frank Gore" is just shorthand for "Frank Gore + offensive line + other factors" (or 'plays in which Frank Gore carried the ball').

Though I'm really not sure you could give Gore anything other than an "incomplete," since if you want to say it's the offensive line's fault that the majority of those runs went nowhere, you still can't say Gore played well. You can only say you don't know how Gore would've done, because he didn't have the chance.

89
by beargoggles :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 1:32am

I would be interested in his 1st half DYAR numbers. In the second half the Browns clearly overplayed the run, and he had a number of negative plays. I wouldn't worry about it too much. He's showing speed and tackle-breaking ability I thought was gone, and that's a good thing (if you're a Niner fan). Amazing the transformative power of a competent offensive scheme and legitimate enthusiasm generated by hope after years of losing.

I hope Stephen Jackson enjoys similar a similar experience in a different division.

109
by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 4:58pm

First half: 19 carries (!), 30 DYAR.

Second half: 12 carries, -14 DYAR

93
by BigCheese :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 3:34am

A commenter on the ESPN version of Quick Reads had the best idea for Tebow: He should only play in the fourth quarter.

So basically, if we had LeBron play the first three quarters and then subbed in Tebow for him we'd be unstoppable, right?

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

94
by the K :: Wed, 11/02/2011 - 8:11am

Actually if I'm not mistaken, the Bills had four sacks entering Sunday, not five.

Which means they sacked Beck literally more than twice as much as the previous six QBs combined.

The biggest reason is likely the Redskins' woeful, banged-up offense. However a part of it was also Dareus moving to the nose to fill in for injured Kyle Williams. He's an absolute stud in that position and needs to be put there full time. Williams of course is too good a player to be a backup, so I'm interested to see what happens. He could probably be a reasonably effective DE, especially against the run.

126
by Mr Shush :: Thu, 11/03/2011 - 12:35pm

Surely he'd be worth more in a trade than he would as a DE? Looking at his contract, I don't think the cap acceleration would be prohibitive - a little under $4m.

That may just be Texans fan wishful thinking, of course.