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» SDA: Bowl Spectacular Part II

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

11 Sep 2012

Week 1 Quick Reads

by Vince Verhei

The New York Jets shocked the world (and western New York) yesterday by scoring 48 points against the Buffalo Bills. It was the most points the Jets have scored since they hung 56 on Arizona in 2008. Does this mean the Jets have solved all their offensive problems? Or was it just one good game, soon to be forgotten? Do teams that score a lot of points in Week 1 continue to score throughout the year?

Between 2000 and 2011, 65 teams scored 30 or more points in Week 1, led by the 49 points scored by the 2002 Miami Dolphins and 2003 San Francisco 49ers. And more often than not, those teams continued to play well throughout the year, averaging 24.5 points per game over the course of their respective seasons. That's a scoring output that would have ranked 10th last season. Thirty-nine of those teams (60 percent) finished in the top 10 in scoring, 18 made the top five, and six led the league in points scored.

Of course, the Jets shot right past 30 points, beating that margin by three scores. If we limit our list to the 14 teams that scored 40 or more points in the same timeframe, things look even better for Gang Green. Four of those teams eventually led the league in scoring, and more than half finished in the top five.

Still, year-long success is not guaranteed. A quarter of the teams that scored 30 points in Week 1 finished in the bottom half of the league in points scored. The best example of unfulfilled Week 1 promise would be the 2003 Buffalo Bills, who scored 31 points in their debut against New England, but finished the year ranked 30th with 243 points scored, an average of only 15.2 per game.

In which of these groups will we find the 2012 Jets? First of all, we must remember that when we measure points scored, we're not just looking at a team's offense. The Jets, for example, got 14 points on special teams (a 68-yard punt return touchdown in the second quarter) and defense (a 40-yard pick-six by Antonio Cromartie). It would be unfair to the Jets to say those plays were lucky, but they're not the kind of thing you can rely on, either. The Jets aren't going to be scoring on returns every week.

Further, in many ways this was the absolute best game Mark Sanchez has ever played. He completed 19 passes in 27 attempts for 266 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception. That's an average of 9.9 yards per pass, the best mark of his career, with an NFL passer rating of 123.4, his second-best figure in that category. He also fared well in Football Outsiders' advanced metrics, finishing with 180 DYAR (explained here, besting his prior top game of 151 DYAR. (Note that Sanchez's DYAR for this game will change throughout the year as we learn more about the quality of the Bills defense, and how we should adjust Sanchez's numbers.) That's all very well and good, but does it really indicate that Sanchez has taken a big leap forward in his development? Probably not. More likely, it means this performance was an anomaly, and going forward we should expect more of the Mark Sanchez we saw from 2009 through 2011.

If any surprise performer on the Jets might be able to duplicate his performance against Buffalo, it would likely be Stephen Hill. The rookie wide receiver caught five passes in only six targets for 89 yards and a pair of touchdowns against Buffalo. Who saw this kind of production coming? Well, to a degree, we did. In Football Outsiders Almanac 2012, we released the latest version of Playmaker Score, our prediction system for wide receivers and their success in the NFL based on collegiate production and Combine results. The study was based on receivers who entered the NFL between 2005 and 2009. The top 10 Playmaker Score projections include Roddy White, Vincent Jackson, Sidney Rice, Hakeem Nicks, Braylon Edwards, and Santonio Holmes. Greg Jennings and Mike Wallace both made the top 15. The best Playmaker Score in that timeframe was put up by Calvin Johnson.

Until this year, that is. Between his stellar production at Georgia Tech and his dazzling performance at the Combine, Hill wound up with a higher Playmaker Score than any other prospect we've found. Initially we guessed that Hill's statistics might have been skewed by Georgia Tech's triple-option offense, a run-dependent scheme in which most passing plays were deep lobs to Hill in single coverage. However, based on his performance against Buffalo, it seems that Playmaker Score has found a winner in Hill. The headlines are focusing on Mark Sanchez right now, but when we look back at this game in future seasons, it may be better remembered as the day the Jets' breakout receiving star was born.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
1.
Matt Ryan ATL
23/31
299
3
0
244
222
22
Three of Ryan's first five passes were targeted at Julio Jones. Two were complete for 36 total yards, and the third was an incompletion 29 yards downfield. The deep pass may not have been caught, but it served its purpose anyway, backing off the Chiefs' secondary and opening the vulnerable underbelly of their defense. Ryan then completed 10 passes in a row for 100 yards, none more than 15 yards downfield, but nine of them were successful plays. (The exception was a 7-yard gain on third-and-9.) The Falcons gave Ryan plenty of opportunity to pick up touchdowns: Inside the red zone, he had ten dropbacks, while the Falcons as a team had only six runs.
2.
Mark Sanchez NYJ
19/26
266
3
1
181
181
0
What might be most impressive about Sanchez's game was his consistency. (Yes, really.) After a mediocre start, his last 15 passes of the first half resulted in 12 completions for 145 yards and two touchdowns, plus a 5-yard DPI call. He only threw five passes in the second half, but he completed four of them for 82 yards and another score.
3.
Peyton Manning DEN
19/26
253
2
0
173
169
5
The play-by-play does not note precisely when Denver moved to a no-huddle offense, but at one point in the second quarter Manning was 8-of-12 for 80 yards with two sacks, just 5.6 yards per play. He then completed 12 of his next 13 passes (including a 9-yard DPI). His final 15 dropbacks produced 12 completions for 173 yards, plus the DPI, for two touchdowns and five other first downs. That's 11.5 yards per play.
4.
Robert Griffin WAS
19/26
320
2
0
161
167
-7
The Redskins devised a game plan that would get Griffin some easy completions, with a heavy reliance on screens (seven passes thrown to receivers behind the line of scrimmage), but the deeper Griffin threw, the more dangerous he was. On throws that traveled at least 10 yards past the line of scrimmage, Griffin went 8-of-10 for 240 yards, and that's not including a 32-yard defensive pass interference penalty that converted a fourth-and-1.
5.
Tom Brady NE
23/31
236
2
0
155
153
2
Brady's day against Tennessee might best be described as "quietly effective," with no turnovers and only one sack. he only had two touchdowns, and 16 of his completions gained 10 yards or less. He also converted only two of seven third-down plays. But he was so efficient on first and second down that it hardly mattered.
6.
Matt Schaub HOU
20/31
266
1
0
154
156
-2
Schaub started slowly against Miami, but started to heat up shortly before halftime and never looked back. (A theme he shared with Peyton Manning, actually.) At one point in the second quarter he was 5-of-14 for 80 yards and two sacks. From there forward he went 15-of-17 for 186 yards, plus a DPI for 26 yards.
7.
Tony Romo DAL
22/29
307
3
1
148
140
8
You may have heard that Romo has a reputation for playing badly in clutch situations. In Week 1 on national television on the road against the defending Super Bowl champions, Romo threw five passes in the fourth quarter, each protecting a slim one-score lead. He completed all five throws, each gaining 10 yards or more, for a total of 91 yards, one touchdown, and three other first downs.
8.
Joe Flacco BAL
21/29
299
2
0
142
161
-19
9.
Carson Palmer OAK
32/46
298
1
0
132
132
0
10.
Drew Brees NO
24/51
339
3
2
132
132
0
Surprised to see Brees this high? Keep in mind that DYAR is a counting stat, and Brees had 53 dropbacks this week, more than anyone except Michael Vick (not that it helped Vick out any, but we'll get to him). It was only the sixth time in Brees' career that he has failed to complete at least half his passes, and the first time since 2006.
11.
Jay Cutler CHI
21/35
333
2
1
113
113
0
Cutler took the whole "start slow, finish strong" theme of the week and went nuts with it. He started 1-of-10 for 13 yards with a sack, a pick-six, and two DPIs. He finished 19-of-24 for 320 yards with one sack and another DPI. Two of those DPIs came on first-and-goal at the 1, and technically gained the Bears zero yards. Twenty-eight of his 37 dropbacks came in the first half.
12.
Alex Smith SF
20/26
213
2
0
111
108
3
The addition of Randy Moss was supposed to open up the long ball section of the 49ers' playbook, but Smith threw only two passes that met the NFL definition of "deep" (and one of those just met the minimum threshold of 16 yards). For what it's worth, though, on throws that traveled at least 10 yards past the line of scrimmage, Smith went 7-of-9 for 110 yards.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
13.
Aaron Rodgers GB
30/44
303
2
1
109
98
11
Rodgers only had six plays inside the 49ers' 40, and that's largely because he played so badly in the middle of the field. Between the 40s, he went 9-of-16 for 63 yards with as many sacks (three) as first downs.
14.
Philip Rivers SD
24/33
231
1
0
100
100
0
15.
Christian Ponder MIN
20/27
270
0
0
100
107
-7
Consistent production: Ponder had 14 plays that gained 10 or more yards. Only Drew Brees and Jay Cutler had more. However, he didn't have to throw deep to do it. He only threw four deep balls, though he completed all four for 88 yards.
16.
Josh Freeman TB
16/24
138
1
0
81
67
14
First half: 12-of-14 for 152 yards (plus two DPIs for 30 more yards), one touchdown, eight other first downs. Second half: 4-of-10 for 16 yards, plus two sacks. His only first down after halftime was a 4-yard play on third-and-2.
17.
Kevin Kolb ARI
6/8
66
1
0
70
70
0
Kolb only played one drive on Sunday, and finished with 70 DYAR. He only had 70 DYAR in three of his nine games in 2011.
18.
Blaine Gabbert JAC
23/39
260
2
0
61
63
-2
Gabbert needs to throw deep more often. On passes behind the line of scrimmage, he went 4-of-6 for just 26 yards. On deep balls, he went 3-of-4 for 84 yards.
19.
Eli Manning NYG
21/32
213
1
0
59
59
0
Eli played well enough on his own side of the field, but really struggled when the Giants got close to scoring range. Inside the Cowboys' 40, he went 5-of-9 for only 34 yards, with only two successful plays and no gain of 10 yards or more (though he did throw a red-zone touchdown pass).
20.
Sam Bradford STL
17/25
198
1
0
46
51
-5
At the end of the third quarter, Bradford was 10-of-16 for just 95 yards with two sacks, but the game was still tied mostly because the Rams defense had collected three interceptions. In the fourth quarter, he went 7-of-9 for 103 yards (with a sack and fumble that hurt his DYAR numbers). And somehow, that is when the Rams lost the game.
21.
Jake Locker TEN
23/32
229
1
1
44
41
3
Locker has a strong arm, but also a tendency to check down. Going into Monday night, he led the league with 11 failed completions, even though four passers had more total completions.
22.
Matt Stafford DET
32/47
355
1
3
36
36
0
Stafford up the middle: 12-of-14 for 197 yards. Stafford to either side: 20-of-33 for 158 yards and all three interceptions.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
23.
Cam Newton CAR
23/33
303
1
2
22
41
-19
Newton made plenty of big plays. Going into Monday night, he was in the top 10 in yards per pass. The problem was the big mistakes, two interceptions, three sacks, and a fumble (recovered). He also converted only two of nine third-down opportunities.
24.
Matt Hasselbeck TEN
6/11
43
0
0
16
16
0
Hasselbeck threw 12 passes after Jake Locker got hurt in the fourth quarter. First six passes: 5-of-5 for 39 yards and three first downs, plus a DPI for 6 yards. Last six passes: 1-for-5 for 4 yards.
25.
Matt Cassel KC
21/33
258
1
2
11
-8
19
For about 2 1/2 quarters the Chiefs-Falcons game was close, with Kansas City hanging within a score of Atlanta. Cassel started 13-of-16 for 163 yards with one sack. As soon as Atlanta got a two-score lead, though, the wheels fell off for Cassel. His next six plays went incomplete, sack-fumble, sack, 15-yard completion, interception, interception, and the Chiefs never got closer than 23 after that.
26.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
22/39
245
2
1
2
3
-1
Roethlisberger ranks this low almost entirely because of his last five plays. Late in the fourth quarter the Steelers were down six and Roethlisberger had 94 DYAR. Then he threw a pick-six to ice the game, and on the Steelers' last desperation drive, he went sack, 10-yard completion (not a first down), sack, sack.
27.
Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF
18/32
195
3
3
-4
-9
5
Fitzpatrick's first pass of the second half was interepted and returned for a touchdown by Antonio Cromartie. At that point, Fitzpatrick had completed seven passes for 80 yards, and thrown three interceptions that had ben returned for a total of 46 yards. From then on Fitzpatrick went 11-of-19 for 115 yards and three touchdowns, putting up fantastic fantasy numbers in a lost cause of a game.
28.
Russell Wilson SEA
19/34
153
1
1
-26
-17
-9
Wilson had a lot of ugly numbers, but perhaps none uglier than what he did in the red zone: 2-of-9 for 11 yards, one touchdown, one DPI, and one intentional grounding.
29.
Andrew Luck IND
23/45
309
1
3
-37
-42
5
Third downs: 1-of-7 for 19 yards with an interception and two sacks. That's, um, bad.
30.
John Skelton ARI
14/28
149
0
1
-46
-43
-4
We talked earlier about Russell Wilson's bad red zone numbers. Skelton was hardly any better: 2-of-8 for 25 yards, no touchdowns.
31.
Andy Dalton CIN
22/37
221
0
1
-65
-59
-6
32.
Michael Vick PHI
29/56
317
2
4
-141
-138
-3
By now you know about his interceptions, but what you might not know is just how impotent Vick was for long stretches of this game. He had a string of 16 dropbacks over the first and second quarters where he failed to pick up a single first down, and only had one successful play. His numbers over that stretch: 6-of-15 for 38 yards and a sack.
33.
Ryan Tannehill MIA
20/36
219
0
3
-167
-154
-13
Man, the red zone failures just keep on coming. Tannehill went 3-of-9 for 14 yards and no touchdowns (or first downs, for that matter) inside the Houston 20-yard line.
34.
Brandon Weeden CLE
12/35
118
0
4
-221
-231
10
How bad was it? Without opponent adjustments, only 56 games have been worse than -221 YAR. With opponent adjustments, that number falls to 31. Since we don't know how good or bad the Eagles defense is, and won't know precisely until the end of the season, we can't adjust Weeden's numbers at this point. Suffice to say it was very, very bad. (Worst game ever, by the way: David Klingler's -302 DYAR on a 10-30-115, zero-TD, 3-INT, 7-sack game against the Houston Oilers in 1994.) Needless to say, Weeden had some miserable splits in this game. His second quarter was hardly any better than Vick's — this game must have been a real treat for the fans in attendance. For now, we'll go with Weeden's first down numbers: 2-of-11 with an interception, plus two sacks and a bad snap, for no first downs, only one successful play (A 4-yard gain on first-and-5. Go nuts.), and -8 (that's minus-eight) total yards.


Five most valuable running backs
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Stevan Ridley NE
125
1
27
0
59
46
13
Ridley collected 21 runs against Tennessee. Only once last season did a New England player get so many carries. Ten of Ridley's runs picked up first downs, and six gained at least ten yards.
2.
Ray Rice BAL
68
2
25
0
56
48
8
3.
C.J. Spiller BUF
169
1
-5
0
54
66
-13
Spiller had runs of 56 and 49 yards, which pretty much got him here on their own, but he chipped in eight other runs that gained at least 4 yards for good measure. And he didn't get stuffed in the backfield even once.
4.
DeMarco Murray DAL
131
0
9
0
47
44
4
Meet the anti-third down back. Murray only had two carries on third down, although both produced first downs, so maybe he'll get the ball in those situations more often. Murray's first seven carries were all failures in DVOA's eyes. After that, 11 of his next 13 runs were successful.
5.
Kevin Smith DET
62
1
29
1
38
11
27
Smith had runs of 13 and 19 yards in addition to a 5-yard touchdown, but he makes this list because of what he did as a receiver. Four catches in six targets for 29 yards may not sound like much, but all four receptions picked up first downs, including another 5-yard score.


Least valuable running back
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Ryan Williams ARI
9
0
17
0
-35
-38
3
These numbers do not include opponent adjustments, and Seattle's run defense looks pretty formidable, so in a few months Williams' DYAR for this game will probably rise. What won't rise, though, is his Success Rate of 0 percent. Yes, zero. His best run of the day was a 4-yarder on first-and-10, which was worth 0.5 DYAR. His other seven runs were each below replacement level.


Five most valuable wide receivers and tight ends
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Andre Johnson HOU
8
10
119
14.9
1
63
Each of Johnson's catches produced a first down or a touchdown, including three third-down conversions.
2.
Julio Jones ATL
6
9
108
18.0
2
59
Each of Jones' catches produced a first down or a touchdown, including three third-down conversions.
3.
Stephen Hill NYJ
5
6
89
17.8
2
59
Each of Hill's catches produced a first down or a touchdown, including four third-down conversions. In Football Outsiders Almanac 2012 (still available!), we noted that Hill had the highest Playmaker Score we had found, higher even than Calvin Johnson. So far, so good on that one.
4.
Calvin Johnson DET
6
7
111
18.5
0
58
Every pass thrown Johnson's way resulted in a first down or touchdown. Unfortunately for Johnson and the Lions, the touchdown was score not by him, but by Cortland Finnegan of the St. Louis Rams. In DVOA/DYAR, though, blame for interceptions goes to quarterbacks, not receivers. For wideouts (including Johson) they are treated like any other incompletion.
5.
Lance Moore NO
6
10
120
20.0
1
52
Each of Moore's catches produced a first down or a touchdown. Moore had three targets in the game's first three quarters, two incompletions and a 17-yard DPI. And then the Saints leaned on him heavily in the fourth.


Least valuable wide receiver or tight end
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Rod Streater OAK
4
10
27
6.8
1
-42
Quite an erratic night for Streater. His two good plays (a 13-yard catch in the second quarter and a 2-yard touchdown in the fourth) were each worth more than 7 DYAR. His eight bad plays were each cost him more than 3 DYAR, and seven of them cost him more than six, none moreso than his lost fumble on third-and-4 in the first quarter.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 11 Sep 2012

160 comments, Last at 14 Sep 2012, 12:20pm by Mr Shush

Comments

1
by Independent George :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 10:00am

Roethlisberger had -91 DYAR on his final five plays? How is that even possible?

3
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 10:06am

It was like watching a driver try to win the Daytona 500 in reverse gear?

35
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 12:35pm

I think the massive drop he took on that last drive (sack, short completion, sack, sack) was a little unfair. The game was basically over by that point, and until then he had a pretty good game, with various long third down conversions. Not a great game, but probably deserves to be a little higher.

38
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 12:39pm

It seems unfair because we tend to see DYAR as merely a reflection of the individual's player's performance, which, of course, it never is.

40
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 1:36pm

Read the bit on Roethlisberger again: his last five plays. The play before the 4 you listed as an interception returned for a touchdown, on a drive when the game was definitely not over. (The article makes this clear, because it lists the interception first).

I wouldn't be surprised if almost all of the negative DYAR came from that interception.

42
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 1:41pm

The fact it was returned for a TD is irrelevant in DYAR terms. My guess is the sacks combined are worth more than the pick.

49
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 2:13pm

Not close, actually. The interception had nearly twice the negative value of the sacks put together. Turnovers late in close games are bad, bad, bad news.

57
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 2:33pm

Ok. Good to know. That's better than Ben being seriously docked for those three sacks.

39
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 12:47pm

If Christian Ponder stays around the 15 spot, the Vikings are going to exceed my wins prediction for them by mid-November, but that still very likely means last place. Might be good enough for 1-5, or, with a lot of luck, 2-4, in the division, though. He was always the most unpredictable element of their roster.

RG3, with his skill set, could not have found a better coaching staff for him to play in the NFL with. I hope he avoids the big hits.

2
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 10:04am

Really excited to see how this Tannehill-Weeden battle is going to shape up long-term. Should be compelling. Compelling-ish, anyways.

7
by Mr Shush :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 10:19am

At least Tannehill is generally acknowledged to be a raw player with long term upside. Sucking as a rookie need not necessarily portend disaster for him. Weeden, on the other hand . . .

15
by Thunderbolt of ... :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 10:54am

Remember Joey Harrington and David Carr?

20
by coboney :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 11:12am

Only instead of riveting piano contests this time we get what - Fireman carry contests and Model Wife showoffs ?

34
by Noah of Arkadia :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 12:33pm

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Tannehill isn't nearly as raw as everybody seems to think and he didn't play nearly as bad as the stats made it look. Even DVOA, considering 2 of his 3 interceptions were on tipped passes by JJ Watts.

It's make-fun-of-Tanny time right now, but it'll show soon enough. The kid's special.

------
FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

154
by Mr Shush :: Fri, 09/14/2012 - 7:05am

I didn't hate the Tannehill pick at the time and he certainly did some things right on Sunday, but is repeatedly throwing passes through the approximate area of JJ Watt (the two interceptions weren't Watt's only tips) not a sign of rawness?

158
by Noah of Arkadia :: Fri, 09/14/2012 - 11:29am

I don't know. I mean, sure, every rookie QB goes trough some growing pains and all, but this guy looks confident, doesn't hold on to the ball too long, makes a lot of good decisions, and he even made some veteran plays.

About the tipped balls, I'm going to go with what Trend Dilfer said, that Tannehill’s five tipped passes last week was “freakish” and not the quarterback’s fault.

“I don’t think it’s correctable on Tannehill’s side,” Dilfer said Wednesday. “I don’t want this kid to start getting killed that he’s staring down receivers or his release is too low.”

“Typically, what allows you to not get balls knocked down is a quick release, or the shortest arc on the ball. And he has one of the quickest releases there is, so it doesn’t really make sense.”

“People studied Philbin’s offense in Green Bay, and knew it was going to be run in Miami,” Dilfer said. “I think it’s correctable by having a little bit more multiplicity offensively, a little more playaction, change the launch point, and now you won’t get so many balls knocked down,” Dilfer said.

------
FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

159
by dryheat :: Fri, 09/14/2012 - 11:47am

With all due respect to Mr. Dilfer, I don't think that something that happens 5 times in a game qualifies as "freakish".

160
by Mr Shush :: Fri, 09/14/2012 - 12:20pm

I dunno. 4 of them were batted by JJ Watt, and he is most definitely freakish.

Honestly, Tannehill really didn't look as bad as the numbers make him look. His receivers are terrible, and the Texans have a very good pass rushing front seven. It won't be the last time he posts a rancid stat line this season, but I actually like his chances to be a decent pro in the long run. I still think the Dolphins are favourites for the first overall pick given their schedule, though the Browns are probably a worse team and will run them close.

4
by RickD :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 10:08am

Curious about Chris Johnson's rating after his 11 carries netted only 4 yards.

9
by Podge (not verified) :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 10:26am

6 catches for 47 yards probably helps keep him out of the basement.

30
by Ryan D. :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 12:16pm

I can't believe DeAngelo Williams wasn't at the bottom of the list.

5
by RickD :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 10:13am

"Gabbert needs to throw deep more often. On passes behind the line of scrimmage, he went 4-of-6 for just 26 yards. On deep balls, he went 3-of-4 for 84 yards."

I'm pretty sure there's a fallacy here.

Sometimes good average numbers for long passes are a result of careful QBing. Forcing long passes into a defense might well backfire.

6
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 10:17am

Somewhere, Mike Vrabel is grumbling in disagreement, saying to himself, "I coulda' been a Hall of Fame receiver!".

8
by A Nonymous (not verified) :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 10:23am

The improved WR speed, improved RT, and huge improvement at Offensive Coordinator lead me to believe that 2012 Sanchez could be much better than the 2009-2011 Sanchez.

16
by Thunderbolt of ... :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 10:58am

I have never figured out why some people think Brian Schottenheimer is a competent coach.

41
by Newjamarcus (not verified) :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 1:37pm

I'll be watching both the Jets and Rams with great interest, with this in mind. Schottenheimer's schemes look great on paper, and some of the criticisms leveled at him -- too quick to give up on the run, too predictable in certain down-and-distance situations -- weren't really accurate.

But I, too, believe he was a bad coordinator, at least for the Jets -- his schemes were just too complicated for their personnel, with too many reads and too many changes week to week (stipulating that game plans must, of course, evolve over the course of a season so that they are not overly predictable). You could see that in the number of false starts, among other indicators.

This year will be a great test, though, of whether and how much Schottenheimer was holding back the Jets O, and also the development of Sanchez. I don't really know what to expect, although as I noted below, the additions of Hill and Howard alone make me think they'll be better this year.

10
by Jerry Garcia (not verified) :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 10:32am

Do you really have to be a genius to figure this out? Mark Sanchez has a great game, and he was not sacked. Mystery solved. So when he is getting his nose broken, and his shoulders slammed to the ground - and when he is running for his life he doesn't play as effectively... Is this a surprise? So if my research is solid - he plays better with protection and receivers that have time to get open, and his play suffers when he is getting smacked around.

14
by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 10:43am

That's the problem with football statistics...it's all too obvious, too easy.

118
by tuluse :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 5:44pm

This made me chuckle, well done.

117
by Paddy Pat :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 5:38pm

Having seen only the first quarter of the Bills-Jets tilt, I was very much under the impression that the NYJ Right Tackle was a holding machine, much as Mario Williams griped about after the game. I counted 3 hands to the face and a half dozen times when his technique was to lunge for jersey, grab Williams about the neck with both hands and attempt to fling him to the right. That can't be legal, can it?

11
by Paul R :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 10:36am

I'm a statistical dummy, so please pardon me if this is a dumb question but, is there a way to factor in O-line performance?

17
by Thunderbolt of ... :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 11:01am

There is no perfect way to factor it in, but you can look at statistics like Adjusted Line Yards, rushing success percentage, and sacks/hits/hurries to get an imperfect picture.

19
by coboney :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 11:10am

The issue is isolating the offensive line`s performance in general. FO has made some work on that in the run game but its tough to do because of the moving variables all around and so forth. So first you need to figure out a way to isolate what is or isn't the offensive line's fault on every play. Then you need to figure out how much of the play that makes up - and then factor it in.

21
by tuluse :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 11:29am

It's not really a question of using statistics. The problem is grading an offensive line in a consistent and proper way.

26
by Paul R :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 11:54am

Thanks for the replies. Pretty much what I expected. A line has to be drawn somewhere or else you find yourself factoring in weather, turf, home/away, amount of carbohydrates eaten for breakfast...
So, if we put Tom Brady on the field with Mrs. Wilson's third-grade class blocking for him, Tom is going to have bad numbers, and that's just the way it goes.

29
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 12:12pm

Well, there are exceptions. The Manning brothers, especially the elder one, have shown the ability, in the current rules environment, given decent receivers that they coordinate with well, to be productive with mediocre or less pass protection. I suspect Brady could as well, although he's never been asked to in the way Peyton has been in several seasons, and Eli was last year. I think Rodgers has done extremely well with mediocre pass protection. Roethlisberger, too.

Prior to the strict enforcement of rules prohibiting certain kinds of contact with receivers, it was much, much, more difficult for a qb to be very productive behind mediocre or less protection.

55
by JIPanick :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 2:31pm

Romo is also pretty fantastic at making a bad line look better than they are. Probably more so than anyone you listed other than Manning the Elder and Brady.

59
by Independent George :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 2:37pm

I agree with this, but it's funny - early on in his career, I would have said the opposite. I remember the Dallas OL being above-average when he started, but Romo had a tendency to scramble into pressure then pull out a miracle. He really seems to have grown and a QB, but most pundits seem stuck on their previous evaluations.

62
by JIPanick :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 2:43pm

I actually thought that early in his career was when it was most obvious - the line seemed to suddenly go from horrific to above average overnight when Romo replaced Bledsoe; I don't really think the line's level of play changed that much.

139
by Thok :: Wed, 09/12/2012 - 6:58am

That says more about Bledsoe, who always was a bit of a statue and was even more so at the end of his career.

60
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 2:37pm

Oh, I should have mentioned him; his harshest critics tend to overlook how horrendous his pass protection has usually been during his career. I love Brady, but he has never had bad protection, over the course of a season, in the way Romo has. I tell ya' though; the Giants in pass protection last year were pretty poor. Eli was terrific, especially with his receivers being banged up early. Roethlisberger has played behind some bad lines, too.

63
by tuluse :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 2:54pm

This is kind of cliche, but Eli's game against the 49ers is on the grittiest games I've ever seen a QB play. I lost count of how many times a defender wallomped him, and it seemed not to affect his performance at all. I don't think I've ever seen a QB get beat up like that with little to no effect.

65
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 3:01pm

That was an epic battle, and Eli showed incredible poise. He didn't have a great day, but considering that pressure, it was unreal what he was able to do through being sacked six times and hit countless other times.

It actually was similar to Brett Favre's performance in the 2009 NFC Title Game until that fateful interception. He faced ridiculous pressure (and, considering the bounty nature, dirty pressure) and other than the one first pick (on a play where he was hit low and should've not counted), Favre was really effective of staying in that game.

68
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 3:10pm

I was never a huge Favre fan, obviously, in all those years with the Packers, but I loved watchimg him play, even when he was beating the Vikings. Yes, a lot of the criticism of him (not talking about off the field stuff and media hype) has some basis, but it tended to get entirely overblown. I really irritates me that people will talk about that game in the Super Dome, and Favre's int at the end of regulation. but will ignore how decisively he outplayed Brees on that day.

70
by theslothook :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 3:16pm

Ill give favre this credit, i don't think he ever had anywhere near the offensive talent that rodgers has had and really, outside of a brief stint of sterling sharpe and a year of good javon walker, he never had elite receivers or really deep receivers either.

With that said, my opinion of favre was forever soured by that loony selfish int he threw against the eagles in that 4th and 26 game.

75
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 3:24pm

In the mid 90s Favre had some outstanding offensive lines; better than anything Rodgers has enjoyed. I do think Rodger's receivers are a little overrated. They are/were both great, and Rodgers has benefitted from having his entire career in the era of strict enforcement of rules against contact with receivers.

79
by Paddy Pat :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 3:30pm

I really only began watching steadily around 2001, but Favre, to me, could always be summed up in TMQ terms with his amazing propensity for cover-your-eyes, heave-ho plays, more often than not into triple coverage. He seemed to mature under McCarthy and then again in 2009, but there was a stretch there around 2005 when he was absurdly hubristic and rather chest thumping about it.

85
by dryheat :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 3:43pm

But there was also a stretch from ~1994-1999 when he was absolutely as good as he thought he was.

92
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 3:52pm

He always did better with a coach who would get in his face and openly challenge him, even if that coach was Brad Childress.

66
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 3:02pm

Don't look now, but Justin Smith just knocked David Diehl on his ass again.

69
by theslothook :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 3:14pm

Does anyone or even a pats fan remember the 2006 regular season game between the pats and colts after the colts had beaten denver and the pats had destroyed the vikings? In my mind, that was the greatest qb performance ive ever seen given the conditions manning was under. The defense was good, the pressure was consistent all night and the receivers were dropping passes and the run game got no traction. Manning had to scramble all night to make throws off his back foot and still pulled it off. Special game in the eyes of this colts fan.

As far as other memorable bullet ridden shoes of passers, I thought rodgers atlanta playoff game- the falcons actually got good pass rush on rodgers but he was just unreal. Every pass was on target and just always catching the falcons a hair before they got there. I remember after the game going -ok- Rodgers is now officially elite.

The other memorable ones were of warner in the superbowl against the pats.

74
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 3:24pm

Yeah, that was a really great forgotten performance by Manning. Manning's had a lot of those types of games as his line got worse and worse. I remember his gritty performance against Minnesota in the Superdome in 2008, where he led the Colts back from 15-0 down in the 2nd half. He had a similar game against Pittsburgh later that season in Heinz.

That 2006 game had some of the most insane throws by Manning. His first deep bomb to Harrison he threw right before being clobbered by Rosie Colvin (it was hte play where Rodney Harrison broke his arm - setting the stage for Dallas Clark's great performance in the title game).

86
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 3:44pm

I thought Warner against the Steelers was pretty amazing. He psyched the Steelers into abandoning the blitz, basically. He was just murdering their zone blitz.

81
by Paddy Pat :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 3:39pm

I thought NE pass blocking was mediocre in 2001 and 2006, and it would go South for stretches in 2002 as well, somewhat depending on Matt Light's play. Obviously, this kind of thing is really hard to measure, but I rewatched the 2003 season Super Bowl against Carolina recently, and the o-line looks really taxed in that game--the Panthers are often within a whisker of Brady and the difference is all in the speed of his release.

96
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 3:58pm

At their worst, the Patriots never pass blocked with the cover your eyes awfulness that the Cowboys have at times provided Romo during Romo's career. In 2010, the Colts blocking was simply hideous, as was evidenced by what happened when Peyton got hurt the next year.

128
by bcsj (not verified) :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 10:46pm

If there was a DVOA for O-line coaches, Dante Scarnecchia would be #1 each week. I'm conviced he has almost as much to do with Bill Belichick in helping Tom Brady's career. Matt Light, for example, was a mediocre talent who turned into an above average guard for 10 years. Scarnecchia has done this over & over again in getting so-so players to perform at high levels.

130
by Paddy Pat :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 11:51pm

Amen. Quietly, I think he is one of the very finest coaches in the NFL, a niche Wizard similar to Jim Johnson or Monte Kiffin in terms of his steady impact on his unit. There was a wonderful example in a 2009 game (Week 5 vs. Miami) when Matt Light went down with an injury. The Pats came out on the next series with Rookie Vollmer at Left Tackle and ran the ball over and over, and the sports commentators couldn't figure out why. Scharnecchia was totally calibrating the new line on the fly. One series all runs, and then they went right back to the game plan without missing a beat!

141
by dryheat :: Wed, 09/12/2012 - 8:15am

The Patriots have done a superb job of taking a late-drafted or undrafted lineman and putting him onto the practice squad for 2 or 3 seasons to immerse him in the system and letting him get practice reps, then moving him to the starting lineup without a hiccup. This year we're seeing it with Wendell, two years ago was Connolly, Stephen Neal is probably the most famous alum. Other guys have been poached and are now contributing for other teams (Maneri, Welch, Larson).

155
by Mr Shush :: Fri, 09/14/2012 - 7:49am

Who's for an irrational Scarnecchia/Dennison debate thread?

84
by duh :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 3:42pm

Patriot sack totals
2007 21
2008 48
2009 18

This while the LT LG C RG RT were the same all 3 years ....

Brady's 'good protection' has more than something to do with Brady as well as the line.

89
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 3:47pm

This assumes Cassell was about average. That's a big leap for a QB who hadn't played since high school.

90
by theslothook :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 3:47pm

Sacks do not measure o line performance as we have noted before, brady is obviously not matt cassell

93
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 3:52pm

Or that Matt Cassel is really, really bad in pocket presence, which he most certainly was. He held onto the ball way too long on a lot of plays. I'm not saying Brady doesn't have the ability to succeed with an awful line, but he usually seems to have a lot more time to throw than P. Manning, or Rodgers, or Eli.

107
by Paddy Pat :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 4:39pm

Perhaps the key feature of the Pats' offensive line is that the coaching is simply phenomenal. The personnel has been quite lacking at several junctures, but no matter which whodat they plug and play, Scharneccia gets the most out of him. Seriously, check out a list some time of who's played right tackle for the Patriots while Brady's been there: Brandon Gorin... Tom Ashworth... I guess the point is that the Pats seem sometimes to have a line that's at least as untalented as some of these others, but it never plays poorly.

132
by t.d. :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 11:56pm

Well this year will be a great test of that, as he's going to have to deal with an inexperienced, possibly gimpy line against a brutal set of defenses. I understand on paper why FOA projects the Pats to have an easy schedule, but it looks like their schedule is loaded with good defenses

95
by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 3:56pm

I'd agree, but I've never seen Brady play behind a line that wasn't league-average or better, so I guess I can't really venture an opinion. The fact that two of Brady's best-known games involved failure of protection has more to do with how awesome a healthy Justin Tuck (and now Jason Pierre-Paul) is than anything about the line.

Roethlisberger has to be the poster boy for this, although his style is very different from Manning's. Manning adjusts at the line and gets the ball out with ridiculous rapidity. In 2010, he was lobbing passes he would have fired in 2006 just to get the ball out of his hands a fraction of a second sooner (or so I was convinced, watching). Roethlisberger isn't that great at adjusting, and isn't as fast releasing the ball, but he is absurdly big and strong for a quarterback, and moves around really well. Nothing is more frustrating than watching highly compensated pass rushers for your favored team turnstile his linemen and then flounder after him like Wile E. Coyote for four or five seconds while he waits for coverage to break down.

133
by Alternator :: Wed, 09/12/2012 - 12:27am

Brady's offensive line has generally been about average, and occasionally been very good to great. His offensive line COACH, on the other hand, is the best in the league, and because of that, there has not been a truly bad pass protecting line during the Brady years.

I suspect that younger Brady would have done fine with a bad offensive line, because he was very good at sliding around quickly and getting the ball out. He's lost some of that speed, though, and by now probably needs at least an acceptable line to perform well--I think he's passed beyond being physically able to compensate for bad line play.

67
by nedhenry :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 3:06pm

Who on earth is Mrs. Wilson, and why would her third grade class block for Tom Brady? That seems a tad silly, don't you think? I don't think you really thought that out. I don't know who this Mrs. Wilson is or where she teaches, but I think it's highly unlikely that those third graders are ever going to block for Tom Brady...even if he plays for a very long time.

73
by Independent George :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 3:21pm

Plus, it ignores the defense. I mean, if they went up against Mrs. O'Briens third grade class, he'd smoke them, but Mrs. Egan's class has Jimmy Martin on it, and he'd tear right through Mrs. Wilson's OL like safety scissors through tissue paper.

129
by Paul R :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 11:44pm

You didn't hear? Jimmy Martin tested positive for cooties. Two-game suspension.
With him out, Brady should at least be able to beat the spread. (Unless it's Goober-Grape. Goober-Grape is awesome.)

12
by Newjamarcus (not verified) :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 10:39am

I certainly can't imagine the Jets will be an elite offensive team this year, or that Sanchez will routinely play as well as he did last week.

But I do think there's a reasonable chance they'll be better than average offensively this year -- in part because of the analysis Vince has done, and in part because, well, as to scoring, they were better than average last year (ranking 13th, I believe)!

Granted, last year's performance had a lot to do with superior red zone performance, which may not be repeatable. On the other hand, it sure seems that Hill>Burress and Howard>Hunter -- and to me Burress and Hunter were the two biggest factors in the offense looking worse in 2011 than it did in 2010.

22
by Alex K (not verified) :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 11:39am

As a Patriots fan I am already deathly afraid of Hill. He looked really, really good. But I would like to see a couple more weeks of the Buffalo defense (which got relatively little pass rush from the Mario-Williams-Mark-Anderson-two-headed-salary-cap-monster). I'm guessing Sanchez won't be that effective again this year, but I'm glad he played that well in the opener, because it means he who really should not be named will remain on the bench.

13
by jklps :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 10:39am

Interesting how Robert Griffin III had negative running DYAR...but as long as people are afraid of him running and it opens things up, I don't mind.

18
by Paddy Pat :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 11:06am

I like the comment about Fitzpatrick's first pass being "interepted". I read that over and over, trying to figure out if you meant "interpreted" or "interrupted" before I finally went... oh.

82
by nedhenry :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 3:40pm

Bright boy.

127
by dbostedo :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 10:45pm

Or clever girl?

131
by Paddy Pat :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 11:56pm

:P

134
by tuluse :: Wed, 09/12/2012 - 1:45am

That would be interaptored.

23
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 11:42am

By now you know about his interceptions, but what you might not know is just how impotent Vick was for long stretches of this game.

Wait, when was Vick not impotent? Maybe the first drive, I guess, but I'm not going to get excited about 3 passes for 20 yards. The only reason the final drive ended well was because he got lucky, with the ball he fumbled bouncing and staying right in front of him (plus the dropped pick). That ball turns a little more in the air and bounces on its end, and there's no way he's recovering it sandwiched between Browns.

Vick just looked bad, period. Pretty much nothing redeeming at all about the performance.

43
by dryheat :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 1:44pm

Quite simply the worst QB performance by a supposed good quarterback I've seen. If a report came out today that said that Vick has been diagnosed with Green-White color blindness, I'd believe it. Even though it doesn't exist. Brandon Weeden made better decisions with the ball Sunday.

24
by Insancipitory :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 11:49am

The annoying this about Russell Wilsons numbers is they don't reflect how many of those passes hit his recievers in the hands. I continue to lament the departure of Nate Burleson.

25
by bernie (not verified) :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 11:50am

I'll be interested to see how Andre Luck bounces back this week. He looked very rattled by the constant pressure the bears were getting, and it showed in his very erratic throwing. He missed Reggie Wayne wide open in the flat twice, which would have resulted in first downs, he underthrew Donnie Avery twice which resulted in interceptions (by Tim Jennings of all people) the first of which looked like it could have been a touchdown if he'd aired it out enough to hit Avery in stride, and then he overthrew Fleener and Avery over the middle when they were wide open about another 3 times. He didn't look anywhere near as collected as he did during the preseason (which isn't really a shock I guess).
I think he's going to learn more from this week's film than the whole of preseason put together.

27
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 11:57am

Where's Frank Gore?

136
by David :: Wed, 09/12/2012 - 2:36am

Santa Clara?

28
by t.d. :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 12:03pm

Sanchez has had great games before. He outplayed Brady in the playoff game in 2010, ferchrissakes. He just hasn't been able to consistently do it, which is the ultimate measuring stick. It's not like he hasn't improved every year he's started (last season's interception frequency notwithstanding, as interceptions are highly variable for all qbs from year to year,and not indicative of qb quality)

31
by Nathan :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 12:17pm

Getting a chance to watch the WAS / NO replay. I don't watch much college football, are all those fake zone read WR screens and swing passes something people run a lot? Seem really effective here on the first drive, the D is really biting on the fakes and it's clearing a lot of real estate for the WRs.

32
by Nathan :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 12:24pm

Also really like how they started out with all the PA zone read fakes, taking advantage of a D who had clearly prepared for them to run a lot of zone read, then switched to actual zone read runs on the third drive. Nice play calling.

37
by Nathan :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 12:37pm

At 13:03 in the 3rd there's a really cool zone read counter from the pistol in kind of an offset I look (that didn't work) where RG3 pulls it back from the FB and rather than running off LT spins and runs off right tackle, with the HB coming around as the pitch man. Didn't work but really nifty design.

33
by Jim Z. (not verified) :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 12:29pm

Huh. Wouldn't that be something if RGIII turns out to be the Canton-bound one and Luck *gaps* turns into a more pedestrian sort of bust?

It couldn't happen to a better NFL owner! Tank the season in hopes of getting your next Peyton Manning, and then watch Manning win a Super Bowl with the Broncos and watch your #1 draft pick get thoroughly outplayed by the guy that went #2.

Truly the disaster scenario for the Colts. Might even happen. Let's see.

36
by Nathan :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 12:36pm

Jim Zorn is that you?

50
by RickD :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 2:13pm

I highly doubt Jim Zorn would hate Irsay more than Snyder, or, indeed, any owner over Snyder.

How quickly people forget who coached the Skins before Shanny came to town.

126
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 10:33pm

Well, Snyder did give Zorn a shot which no one else was offering. And I feel like not even Zorn would argue that the Skins were going in the right direction with him.

150
by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 09/13/2012 - 1:39am

Lick not going to bust. Clots offensive game plan kinda stupid on Sunday. Tema didn't support Luck with run game. Have to mix in run a lot better in future. Also, Chi Bears legit tema.

Redskins play vs crappy defense Saints team. Did not pick Saimts to make playoffs. Redskins offensive game plan really good. Lots of screens and slant pattern combination routes to help out the rookie qB. Also had running attack. Morris low average per craay but effective. Effective short passing game and rubning attack able to lead to some bigger throws later in game.

Luck and Griffin both going to be food QBs. Bad QB is Weeden. If you get sacked by American flag not good omen. Tannehill and r. Wilson? Not sure yet what thy going to be.

152
by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 09/13/2012 - 8:43am

What's odd is they barely left in people to help block, and the Colts o-line is just putrid. Hard for Luck to do much. Peyton was one of the rare people who could do something with that sad Colts o-line, and if anything, the line is worse now than it was from 2008-2010, and Luck just isn't there yet, obviously.

As for RGIII, it really was terrific gameplanning. I think I saw Mike Shanahan smile for the first time in his Washington tenure, he seems to actually be enjoying himself. As you said, the Saints are not a good defense. I didn't like Spagnuolo for them, becuase the Saints have so little up front in their d-line, which Spag's has always had in his previous defensive stops.

153
by Will Allen :: Thu, 09/13/2012 - 11:23am

"sacked by American flag"

....yeah, joe, but if the regular officials had been working, it may have at least drawn a roughing penalty!

44
by theslothook :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 1:45pm

IS anyone else surprised the worst qb performance in history WAS NOT that rex grossman Christmas eve 0 passer rating day against the packers where he admitted he had been partying the night before and didn't bother to prepare?

45
by tuluse :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 1:53pm

He only had 12 attempts that game.

48
by Marko :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 2:08pm

Actually, that game was on New Year's Eve, not Christmas Eve. And he didn't say he was partying the night before; he said he was thinking about his plans to celebrate New Year's Eve after the game.

And that game isn't even the worst Rex Grossman game that comes to my mind. The worst was the Monday Night Miracle (or Meltdown, depending on your rooting interest) in Arizona. That was the game that the Bears won (or, more accurately, the Cardinals lost) due to 2 late defensive touchdowns and a very late Devin Hester punt return TD. Of course, that game resulted in this famous rant from Dennis Green: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_N1OjGhIFc

71
by theslothook :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 3:20pm

Game A) 14 of 26, 144 yards, 0 tds 4 ints with a comp % of 37.8 and an AYA of -.97

Game B) 2 of 12, 33 yards, 0 Tds 3 ints with a comp % of 16.7 and an AYA of -8.50

Now you be the judge of which game was a worse performance. and then guess which performance happened in which game.

And btw, my mistake about the dates and reasons for said performance, but hey, rexy did lead them to the SB!

105
by Marko :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 4:29pm

Dude, no need for the snarky response ("Now you be the judge of which game was a worse performance. and then guess which performance happened in which game.").

I don't need to guess which performance happened in which game, because I know which was which. But you left out a few other facts: In the Arizona game, Grossman also lost 2 fumbles. So combined with his four INTs, he was responsible for 6 turnovers. That's abysmal. (I don't know how many times a team has won despite their QB being responsible for 6 turnovers, but it can't have happened more than a handful of times.) Also, that game against Arizona actually mattered, and the Bears were trying to win (it was in the middle of the season). In contrast, the game against the Packers was utterly meaninngless. It was the last game of the season, the Bears had the #1 seed locked up, and the Packers were already eliminated from the playoffs. The Bears to a certain extent treated that game like a preseason game. So I really dismiss that game and don't even think much about it.

120
by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 6:23pm

Michael Vick, this week.

121
by theslothook :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 6:24pm

Sorry if that came out as snarky, it really wasn't my intention at all. I just wanted to show everyone how absurdly horrible grossman's game against the packers was. It was made so memorable given the fact that the bears were the number 1 seed that year and they had this kind of qb play.

146
by The Ninjalectual :: Wed, 09/12/2012 - 7:41pm

Rex Grossman did not lead the Bears to the super bowl. He was hurt throughout the playoffs, and a young (rookie?) Kyle Orton started at QB. But it was the defense leading the team.

147
by Marko :: Wed, 09/12/2012 - 8:11pm

Well, you're right that the defense led the team to the Super Bowl. But Rex Grossman was the QB that whole year (2006); he wasn't hurt in the playoffs. And he actually did make some big plays to help them win playoff games against Seattle and New Orleans.

You're confusing that year with the prior year, when Orton played most of the year due to Grossman's injury, which he suffered in a preseason game. But Grossman did return late in that 2005 season and was the starting QB in the playoffs, which for the Bears consisted of one game (a home loss to Carolina in the "Steve Smith Game").

148
by Marko :: Wed, 09/12/2012 - 8:16pm

double post

46
by EvanZ (not verified) :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 1:55pm

I love it. Niners don't have any valuable players, yet they're the best team in football. Maybe the models need a little work.

51
by tuluse :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 2:13pm

You might notice there are no defenders listed.

53
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 2:15pm

Or maybe the individual player rating models aren't supposed to be measuring the production of players in the trenches, which is where the 49ers have the largest edge on opponents.

I love it. Snarky remarks without any thought put into them.

54
by RickD :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 2:17pm

Or maybe the 49ers aren't the best team in football?

56
by JIPanick :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 2:33pm

Yeah, it's not even that close. I'm still only expecting 9-7 from 'em.

61
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 2:41pm

Care to expand on why you think they aren't close to the best team in the NFL?

I don't think they are the best team, but they aren't that far off. Only three teams seemed 'better' in Week 1, with the Patriots and Ravens being the most impressive, and the Texans being impressive in a 'They didn't even play that well on offense, and still won by 20' way.

The 49ers had the most impressive road win of the week, thoroughly outplaying a team that had won been utterly dominant at home last season (save for the playoff game).

80
by JIPanick :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 3:35pm

Many of the same reasons they had such a low projection from DVOA coming into this season. The 2011 version of SF had a lot of the classic red flags:
1) Suddenly good, after no history of success.
2) Best TO ratio in the league.
3) Unusual health.
4) Extremely easy schedule. (Although I suppose this one will hold up this year, too.)
5) Heavy reliance on an excellent defense, with the usual regression that entails.
Overall, I saw the 2008 Titans when I watched them.

Those red flags still mean more to me than a single game sample of this year so far. They'll probably win the patty-cake West handily, but I really don't see adequate reason to suppose they are on the same level as the Packers and Falcons, let alone the Patriots/Ravens/Steelers triumvirate.

91
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 3:48pm

Wait, they have one win on the books, with six more games coming against divisional rivals that you concede are weak, along with games against the Vikings, Bills, and Dolphins, and you'd be surprised to see them win 10 games? I think DVOA is a valuable tool, but it isn't a harsh criticism to say it doesn't fully capture everything. One of the things it doesn't fully capture, I suspect, is superior line play, and the Niners may be the best team in football, in terms of the front 7 on defense, and 5 offensive linemen.

97
by JIPanick :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 3:59pm

I stated I was picking up on some of the same things DVOA was, not that DVOA was a factor in my analysis. I've been down on the 2012 Niners for a long while.

101
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 4:06pm

Just out of curiosity, if they win their next game, against the Lions, will your degree of confidence in their inability to win 10 games start to recede significantly?

110
by JIPanick :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 5:04pm

If it's convincing, sure.

94
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 3:54pm

1) Suddenly free from Singletary/Nolan/Martz/Raye/Hostler(urrgh, Hostler)/Manusky
2) There should be some truth to this but I don't see them being risky with the ball on offense and a hard hitting defense that pressures the passer with two safeties deep is probably going to cause some turnovers.
3) It wasn't that unusual, they weren't even first in the league and were in line with their health the year before last.
4) Yep
5) The idea of regression to the mean being more likely on defense is rooted in offensive performance being more dependent on one player, the quarterback. As defensive performance is founded on all eleven (give or take a bit) the odds of returning the same eleven is considerably lower and they have eleven times the odds of getting hurt. The niners have avoided half of this by returning basically the same personnel.

It was obviously just one game but surely beating the Packers in Lambeau at least earns them the right to be considered in the same breath as the Pack? They shut out the Steelers last year and I for one am really looking forwards to the New England game.

98
by JIPanick :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 4:03pm

I don't feel that one game - even an impressive one - is grounds to throw out everything we knew before that. I don't feel that one game is adequate to put the 49ers at the same level as the Packers; I also don't feel there is adequate cause right now to put the Redskins at same level as the Saints or the Broncos at the same level as the Steelers.

104
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 4:22pm

I think you are underestimating what it means to win one of your most difficult road games, in terms of affecting your odds of winning 10 games, when you have an overall schedule as weak as the Niners have this year. If they beat the Lions next, it is likely that AT LEAST 9 of their remaining 14 games will be against teams with decidedly less talent, with two wins recorded already. Throw in that the Niners are well coached, and it becomes really hard to argue that the Niners won't make it to 10 wins.

111
by JIPanick :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 5:09pm

You may have a point, although the Lions aren't beaten yet. I may not be correcting enough for SoS; I try not to give it that much weight early in the season given the difficulty of projecting who the good teams are and are not these days.

115
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 5:27pm

Yeah, it's a tricky thing; I try to pay attention to the quality of opposing qbs, but ironically enough, the Niners are an outlier in terms of that being a useful tool.

149
by The Ninjalectual :: Wed, 09/12/2012 - 9:10pm

That's funny, I absolutely put the 49ers on the level of the Packers (if not above), Just like I put the Redskins on the level of the Saints (if not above), and the Broncos on the same level as the Steelers (if not above).

156
by Mr Shush :: Fri, 09/14/2012 - 8:15am

Redskins and Saints is far, far too early to say, for me, but I now regard the 9ers as probably on a similar level to the Packers and I already expected the Broncos to be better than the Steelers, who I anticipated (and anticipate) having a down year (by their standards - they may well still make the playoffs).

100
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 4:04pm

So the fact that they just beat the Packers pretty convincingly in Lambeau isn't some sort of indication that they are on the same level as the Packers.

As for your points:
1.) This is true, but same thing happened with the Falcons with Matt Ryan, or Baltimore with Flacco.
2.) Fine, but limiting turnovers does seem to be a skill that some teams/QBs have so that side of the ledger I would bet stays pretty low.
3.) Fine, but they are pretty deep defensively (the secondary, Larry Grant is a good young LBer, Sopoaga can come and fill in).
4.) Fine, but all that changes this season is replacing the AFC North with AFC East (a downgrade, to me) and the NFC East with the NFC North (probably a wash). Their only new games are Packers and Saints, one of which they've already played and won.
5.) Excellent defenses don't always regress. What does is a sudden jump in defense (like the Texans, although I doubt that declines too much either). The 49ers were 15th in defense in 2010, and 5th in 2009, and added two key players in ALdon Smith and Carlos Rogers coming into 2011.

Also, the 2008 Titans were bad mainly because of an 0-6 start where Kerry Collins suddenly became his age (probably won't happen with SMith) and Vince Young replaced him. They actually finished that season 8-2.

112
by JIPanick :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 5:14pm

...and 8-8 overall. I try not to put too much weight on the order of games.

I should have added a caveat to 1) dealing with the improvement not being tied to an obvious, major improvement in personnel; I don't see that on the 49ers, although some might disagree and that's fine. I'm also not sure the 2008 Ravens should count in any event; they were coming off a down year, but had had major recent success in 2006, going 13-3.

With 4), because the year-to-year correlation to team quality isn't that high, even playing the same slate should be assumed to be somewhat more difficult than last year; those teams have a lot more room to improve than to regress.

5) Yeah, not always, but they do do so more often than offenses. Karl Cuba's point about personnel continuity is interesting though, will have to think about that one.

157
by Mr Shush :: Fri, 09/14/2012 - 8:32am

Texans run defense looks extremely ropey. It wasn't actually that strong last year, but Cushing appears to be playing hurt and Bradie James looks like a car crash. It may improve somewhat if and when Sharpton returns from injury. Then again, it may not.

The pass defense, on the other hand, will be strong for as long as Joseph stays healthy, and not a moment longer.

125
by zenbitz :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 9:21pm

niners fan here. The most obvious reason why the Niners might not be one of the top teams in the NFL is IF the Packers aren't either.

There is a reason why VOA isn't adjusted until week 4!

Also - one of the "regression" knocks on the 49ers is health luck. Which is more likely to be a factor later in the season.

All that being said - their defense looked pretty good (as long as they rushed 4), and they ran the ball well - which I think is extremely key for their 2012. (Passing was good too - but hey, Green Bay pass defense is the suck, we suspected that coming in).

64
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 3:00pm

I'll take any action that says they don't do any better than 9-6 the rest of the way. They are just not going to give up many points, and they don't turn the ball over, and they have seven games against teams quarterbacked by Christian Ponder, Kolb/Skelton, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Russell Wilson, and Ryan Tannehill. They just played a team that went 15-1 lat year, is projected to be #2 by DVOA, and the Niners physically knocked the snot out of them, on their home field.

Yes, the game has gone in a direction that doesn't favor the Niner's style, but the Niners are very, very, good at that style.

(edit) That first line was merely figurative, if any FBI agents read this site.

99
by rageon :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 4:03pm

Yes, the game has gone in a direction that doesn't favor the Niner's style, but the Niners are very, very, good at that style.

I've been thinking for a while that with the NFL going the way of passing on most downs and plenty of receivers, perhaps the teams that don't follow suit may-well turn out to be the ones best-suited to succeed.

I would expect that teams are now putting a heavy emphasis on players who can defend against the pass. We can't simply build a super-human football player who can do it all (although Victor Conte may pull it off some day), and having players on the field who are better against the pass would likely mean having fewer players on the field that can tackle. I would expect that a team would have increased success running on that defense. While the top passing offenses and QBs will likely still success against a defense built to defend the pass, the copycat teams likely will not.

Similarly, while I don't have the actual numbers to back it up, I'm assuming teams are playing more dime/nickel coverage than in the past. I'm no expect by any means, but I would assume doing so puts a strain on the D-line to perform. I'd also expect a greater importance on the ability of those players not back in coverage to read the run and make tackles, as there are likely fewer players up at the line to do so.

I'm not that familar with San Fran, perhaps they fit that description, perhaps not. But I do think that the teams that follow the Patriots/Saints examples (and you could argue the Pats have already changed), but don't do it well will not have success. Maybe 5 years ago a team could put up crazy offensive numbers by going with a spread offense because teams weren't ready for it, but I think those days are gone, and I'd almost suspect a team is better off not following the leader in that case.

102
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 4:15pm

It all starts with an ability to stop the opponents' passing sttack. Do that, and don't commit dumb turnovers, like Niners uncharacteristically did against the Giants in January, and playing the Niners offensive style works fine for winning 10 games. Of course, that first part is really, really, hard in today's rules environment, and the Niners are one of the few teams with the personnel that lends confidence to accomplishing the task.

47
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 2:07pm

Curious about Chris Johnson's rating after his 11 carries netted only 4 yards.

Worst rushing DYAR of the week, but positive receiving numbers (six catches for 47 yards in seven targets) kept him out of the bottom spot.

I can't believe DeAngelo Williams wasn't at the bottom of the list.

He had one productive carry, which is one more than Ryan Williams, and also caught the only pass thrown his way for five yards. Also, and I should have put this in Ryan Williams’ comment, but he had a fumble. DeAngelo Williams didn’t.

Where's Frank Gore?

Just missed the list. Negative receiving value (no incompletions, but his only catch gained just one yard) hurt him.

52
by RickD :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 2:14pm

Thanks for the info.

83
by Ryan D. :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 3:42pm

Agreed. Thanks a lot, Vince!

Maybe in the future we could also get a bottom 5? :)

87
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 3:45pm

Thanks.

Crabtree? Didn't he go 7 for 9?

58
by JIPanick :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 2:33pm

"You may have heard that Romo has a reputation for playing badly in clutch situations."

True, but that reputation is so disconnected from reality that it should have been beneath the dignity of a stats-not-hype site like FO to imply there is anything to it.

88
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 3:46pm

Yeah, the reality is that he's streaky as hell and can self discombobulate during any game, it's the caveman effect that means we notice when he does it in big games.

106
by RickD :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 4:36pm

January 2007. In his first playoff game, the Cowboys lose when holder Romo drives into the Seahawks defensive line after a botched FG attempt. Cowboys lose.

January 2008. In his second playoff game, the Cowboys lose when Romo throws an endzone interception with the Cowbowys down by four, without timeouts, and 30 seconds on the clock.

OK, at this point I'll just cut-and-paste from Wikipedia.

"In what became a de facto third playoff game for Romo shortly prior to its start, on December 28, 2008, Romo and the Cowboys failed to compete against the Philadelphia Eagles in a 44–6 loss.[18] Romo committed three turnovers in the game and went 21/39 for 183 yards and no touchdowns.[19] The loss dropped Romo's combined record in December to 5–8 and again raised questions concerning Romo's performance in games of consequence.[20]"

2009 season:
"The Dallas Cowboys became the NFC East division champions with their season finale shutout of the Philadelphia Eagles, the second division title in Romo's three full seasons as the starting quarterback.
Romo had a 104.9 passer rating in a 34-14 win of the Philadelphia Eagles in the first round of the playoffs, earning the first play-off win in 13 years for the Dallas Cowboys, and his own first career post-season win.
However the following week in the NFC divisional rounds against the number two seed Minnesota Vikings, Romo had three fumbles (losing two), an interception and was sacked six times in the 34-3 loss."

No, really, these things really did happen! Romo's reputation as a choker didn't magically appear in the brains of 99% of football media at the same time out of some kind of hive mind fluke. He's got one playoff win and this is his seventh season as the Cowboys' starter. Nor has he been saddled with bad teams.

108
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 4:52pm

So Romo's rep as a qb in big moments is in good measure based upon his performance holding for point-after attempts?

Also, Billy Martin was a better post season hitter than Ted Williams, but I don't think anybody should pay much attention to that.

The Romo years have also been, for the most part, years of bad pass blocking, and poor play by Cowboys' defensive backs. The most wrongheaded cliche in the NFL for several years now has been the idea that the Cowboys had a talented roster.

113
by JIPanick :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 5:18pm

No QB completes 100% of their passes; every QB gets sacked sometimes; every QB throws picks occasionally. Romo's career numbers in regular duty vs crunch time are very similar (as are most QBs with real sample sizes, Eli being the glaring active exception).

The idea that Romo fails in crunch time more than any other QB with a similar overall level of play should be expected to is entirely a media construct.

114
by tuluse :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 5:22pm

I don't doubt that Romo is about the same in the clutch compared to the rest of the game. However, when he does fail, he find ways to make it hilarious.

122
by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 6:28pm

I know he isn't active anymore, but Kurt Warner's playoff and SB numbers were insane.

135
by BigCheese :: Wed, 09/12/2012 - 1:52am

Well, anyone who holds that Seahawks loss against Romo's aility to perform underpressure is a complete moron. Like not being able to cleanly field a long snap for a FG in the rain has any correlation to playing QB.

Not to mention that the blame on that falls entirelly on Parcell's shoulders. I can see not removing Romo from hodler duties after he had gotten rpomoted to QB #1 because of his familiarity. But failing to do so in the bye week inmdeiately following the firing of Gramatica was indefensible. And directly led to that loss and the reputation that followed.

- Alvaro

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

137
by theslothook :: Wed, 09/12/2012 - 3:35am

I thought Tom brady served as the prime example of why the choking concept is itself so ludicrous. Tom brady was the definition of clutch and then he wasn't.

The romo debacles just illustrate the main point that he ISN't an elite qb. note, hes committed heinous turnovers in games well before December and yet they aren't remembered and repeated with such gusto until the playoffs or near playoffs.

It reminds me a bit of that aaron rodgers can't win close games bs i heard over and over. I remember barnwell pointing out how several members of the media kept repeating how rodgers had a losing record in games decided by 4 pts or less. Ironic, because it turns out, in games decided by 3 pts or less, he had a slight losing record, in games decided by 1 pt or games decided between 5 and more pts, he had a winning record.

I know your a statistician RickD as am I actually(econometrician), and so I'm a bit surprised by you believing in choking. Has anyone conclusively ever proven choking really exists or this is just another media concoction?

138
by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/12/2012 - 4:13am

I have no problem believing that human beings' physical performance is often negatively affected by anxiety, some more so than others. I think the instances where we can get sample sizes large enough, with elite athletes, to determine, with confidence, which elite athletes those are, are exceedingly rare.

I don't think anxiety improves the performance of any elite athlete. In short, I don't think "clutch" exists, but think it likely that "choking" does, but we'll never really know who is more likely to "choke".

140
by dryheat :: Wed, 09/12/2012 - 8:10am

I think that's indisputable. The "Clutch" guys don't get better under pressure, they just don't get worse. It doesn't matter the vocation or avocation, many people get the yips under pressure and/or scrutiny, and their form/mechanics/thought process dips enough to cause a dip in performance.

Hopefully these people aren't heart surgeons or skydivers.

142
by tuluse :: Wed, 09/12/2012 - 11:15am

I think there is another factor clouding everything, which is how the player perceives pressure. If he doesn't see the situation as a high pressure situation then his performance wouldn't change even if other people think it is one.

143
by JIPanick :: Wed, 09/12/2012 - 12:53pm

Here's the other thing, though: there's no reason why "choking" should be predictive. Pressure is something that you can learn to handle.

That kind of the shoots the ol' "run him out of town, he's a choker" mantra all to heck anyway; I'd rather bet on a good "choker" learning to be clutch than a lousy "clutch" player learning to be good.

151
by Dan :: Thu, 09/13/2012 - 3:09am

There is another aspect of "clutch", which is having the skills that are most relevant to late-and-slightly-behind situations. In the NBA that means being good at creating your own shot; for an NFL quarterback it means being good at running the two-minute offense. A QB for whom the hurry-up is not a strength (like McNabb) is going to have a hard time developing a reputation as "clutch".

144
by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 09/12/2012 - 1:31pm

Romo actually doesn't commit more turnovers than other elite QB's. He had fewer turnovers than Brady, Brees, Stafford, Eli Manning, or really any starter in the league other than Rodgers last year.

Obviously, I agree with your broader point, but I think that Romo's skills are undervalued by this community, given his statistical success, partially because he has missed parts of seasons to injury and failed to compile fancy statistical numbers.

145
by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 09/12/2012 - 1:33pm

"Clutch" = "Sample Size Theater"

That's all you need to know.

72
by BJR :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 3:21pm

After last night's Raiders game are we going to be seeing YAR for long snappers any time soon?

77
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 3:30pm

Good grief coaches are chickensh*t sometimes. Lemme see.......you are past mid field, your backup longsnapper hasn't gotten any work.......nah, you wouldn't want to go with a four down strategy.

103
by BJR :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 4:16pm

Maybe we are doing the coaches a slight disservice and the guy who messed up had taken plenty of practice reps but simply froze on the big stage. Still, certainly by the third time you might have thought a change of strategy was in order.

109
by Joseph :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 5:00pm

Will, don't look now, but TMQ made the same (very valid) point.

116
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 5:30pm

Ouch, that hurts!

78
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 3:30pm

Good grief coaches are chickensh*t sometimes. Lemme see.......you are past mid field, your backup longsnapper hasn't gotten any work.......nah, you wouldn't want to go with a four down strategy.

123
by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 6:32pm

Will, I find myself agreeing with most if not all of what you've put up this year.

I just do not understand the idea of punting with less than ten yards to go from opposition territory. With an unreliable long snapper, doubly so. With an unreliable long snapper who already screwed up, and a QB hitting close to 75%...

76
by Jerry Garcia (not verified) :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 3:26pm

I thought the reality was that Romo plays very poorly in clutch situations.
(I didn't even know he had a reputation . . .)

119
by nedhenry :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 6:22pm

Thanks for putting this together Vince! You posted 34 QBs. May we possibly see top 10/15 RBs and WRs? Thanks again!

124
by Nathan :: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 6:54pm

I'm watching the CHI/IND game on replay now. Luck's first interception (the long one) he thought he had a free play. He went with the hard count and (arguably) got someone to jump into the neutral zone, then went for it all and got picked. I wouldn't hang that one on him too much, I thought the guy jumped offsides. Also the CB made a hell of a play.