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» Futures: Texas RB Malcolm Brown

DeMarco Murray is the toast of the NFL, but injury and team issues clouded some observers' view of his talent. Texas RB Malcolm Brown might have the same problem this winter. 

20 Nov 2012

Week 11 Quick Reads

by Vince Verhei

When the Dallas Cowboys lost four times in five games, it looked like their season was over, but they've now won two in a row to get back to .500 at 5-5. At this point, they have a realistic shot at a postseason berth. They'll need some help to get there, but this is a dangerous team, a dark horse in the NFC that looks like it's about to go on a run. And in the process, they should redeem their unfairly criticized quarterback.

Despite their mediocre win-loss record, the Cowboys have been a strong club over the course of the season, and they rank 11th in Football Outsiders' DVOA ratings, dropping one spot from last week. Their .500 record says more about Dallas' opponents than in does about the Cowboys themselves. Each of the five teams that has beaten Dallas (the Giants, Seahawks, Bears, Ravens, and Falcons) would be in the playoffs if the season ended today, with a combined win-loss record of 36-14. And three of those were close games decided by a single score. Two of the teams Dallas has beaten (the Giants and Buccaneers) also have winning records. Up to Thanksgiving weekend, the Cowboys have only played three teams with more losses than wins (the Panthers, Eagles, and Browns), and beaten them all.

Now, though, things are about to get much easier. The only team left on Dallas' schedule that currently has a winning record is Pittsburgh, and it's not clear right now who will be taking snaps for the Steelers when they visit Dallas on December 16. Ben Roethlisberger has said that he would like to return in time to play Baltimore in early December, but the team thinks that's optimistic, and due to the unique nature of his rib injury there's no way to pinpoint when he'll be back, or how effective he'll be when he suits up again.

The Steelers aren't the only team that could face Dallas with a backup passer. On December 2 Dallas will travel to Philadelphia, where Michael Vick's health is also in question after he suffered a concussion against the Cowboys last week. Chris Chase of USA Today reports that Vick can't drive a car or sleep through the night. That doesn't sound like a man who will be ready to face Dallas again in two weeks. If Vick can't go, the Cowboys will face Nick Foles, who gave up two interceptions, three fumbles, and four sacks in his first start against Washington this weekend.

Both those games will be played in Dallas. Beyond that, the Cowboys play two other .500 clubs (the Bengals in Cincinnati, the Saints in Dallas) and a pair of bookend games against the Redskins, one on Thanksgiving in Dallas, the other in D.C. in Week 17. None of these games are locks, but none of them are unwinnable either, and the Cowboys will be favored more often than not.

The bad news for Dallas is that they need help. They've dug themselves a deep enough hole that they could theoretically win out and still finish behind the Giants in the NFC East. However, the Cowboys do have one clear edge in this race: They have only one loss within the division, while the Giants already have two. As long as Dallas takes care of business against Washington (twice) and Philadelphia, they would win the tiebreaker over the Giants in the standings. Further, while Dallas' schedule is about to ease up, New York's is getting rough, with upcoming games against Green Bay, Atlanta, and Baltimore. The Giants have also lost two games in a row and seem to be headed for their annual second-half collapse. The Cowboys should have an opportunity to claim the division crown.

That's important, because it looks like a wild-card berth will be out of Dallas' grasp. The Cowboys are two games behind Green Bay and one game behind Seattle for the two wild card spots, and they'd lose a tiebreaker to Seattle after falling to the Seahawks in Week 2. The Cowboys also trail two other 6-4 clubs (Minnesota and Tampa Bay) in the conference standings. Dallas would need to pass at least three of these teams to get a wild card spot, which is an awfully long shot. Realistically, it's the division or bust.

If the Cowboys are going to get back to the promised land, they're going to have to do it on the arm of Tony Romo, but fortunately he should be up to the task. Romo has taken a lot of the blame for Dallas' rough start, but he's actually been very effective this season, placing in the top ten in Football Outsiders' quarterback rankings. That may be surprising for a passer who is second in the league in interceptions, but FO's metrics say that Romo has faced the most difficult set of pass defenses of any quarterback in the league. The difference between his DVOA and VOA is 8.7%, the highest in football. His overall numbers are also skewed by two bad performances against Chicago (the NFL's best defense, by far) and the Giants. In those two contests, Romo threw two touchdowns and 11 interceptions. In his other eight games, he has thrown 11 touchdowns and only four picks. That's the norm for Romo; the turnover festivals are the exceptions. Dallas' final six opponents have given up a total of 102 touchdown passes with only 50 interceptions. Expect Romo –- and the Cowboys –- to get fat on these cupcakes and contend for a playoff spot into the season's final days.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
1.
Matt Schaub HOU
43/55
527
5
2
192
192
0
Schaub played so well that even docking him 55 DYAR for playing the lowly Jaguars, he still finished on top of the pile. In the fourth quarter and overtime alone, Schaub went 25-of-30 for 287 yards, 16 first downs (including three touchdowns) and two interceptions. There have only been 105 instances this season of one player throwing for 287 yards in a single game. Oh, and he also had a 12-yard DPI in there.
2.
Chad Henne JAC
16/33
354
4
0
187
188
-1
This was a fun game with a lot of big plays, but by the end the stagecoach had turned back into a pumpkin. In the fourth quarter and overtime, Henne went 3-of-16 with a sack, although one of those completions was an 81-yard touchdown.
3.
Colin Kaepernick SF
16/23
243
2
0
172
173
0
Kaepernick gets 67 extra DYAR for playing so well against the mighty Bears defense.
4.
Tom Brady NE
24/35
331
3
0
171
171
0
Brady loses 67 DYAR for playing the Colts. Third-down passing: 7-of-10 for 83 yards, with every completion a first down or touchdown.
5.
Robert Griffin WAS
14/15
200
4
0
126
129
-3
OK, so why didn't Griffin lead all players in DYAR this week? First of all, the numbers above do not include his two sacks. Also, two his completions went for negative yardage, and another was a third-down completion that came up short of the sticks. And though he ran 11 times for 85 yards, one of those carries ended in a fumble another resulted in a 6-yard loss on second-and-1, and two others were failed carries on third down. Mostly, though, it's a matter of opportunity. He only had 17 passing plays. Four different players had at least three times as many chances. Griffin's passing DVOA this week was 130.2%. The next-highest starter was Chad Henne at 83.1%.
6.
Drew Brees NO
21/27
219
3
0
114
114
0
Red-zone passing: 4-of-4 for 25 yards and three first downs, including two touchdowns. His only pass inside the 20 that was not a first down was a 4-yard gain on second-and-5.
7.
Andy Dalton CIN
18/29
230
2
0
90
82
9
First six third downs: 2-of-5 for 21 yards with a sack and no first downs. Last five third downs: 4-of-5 for 54 yards and four first downs, including a touchdown.
8.
Cam Newton CAR
16/28
252
1
0
76
70
6
Newton was hot at the end of this game. He completed each of his last 10 passes, and though some of those were short completions in long-yardage situations, each of his last five throws resulted in a completion for 11 to 29 yards and a first down or touchdown, including three third-down conversions. So then the Panthers had a first-and-10 at their own 42, up eight points. Jonathan Steward ran for no gain on first down, Newton ran for a 2-yard loss on second down, and then Newton ran for 11 yards to set up a fourth-and-1 just across midfield. Rather than give the face of their franchise one play to pick up three feet, Ron Rivera opted to punt the ball away. Newton's defense then allowed Tampa Bay to drive 80 yards for a touchdown, pull off a two-pointer to tie and force overtime, and then take the opening drive of extra time 80 yards for a touchdown to win.
9.
Mark Sanchez NYJ
15/20
178
1
0
37
46
-8
It has been a rough year for Sanchez, who was one of the five least valuable quarterbacks in the league four times since Week 4. Sunday's game against the Rams, though, was his best since he burned the Bills for three touchdowns in Week 1. For a while it looked like it was going to be another long day for Sanchez and the Jets. At one point in the second quarter he was 6-of-9 for 54 yards with only two first downs and three sacks. Then he found Chaz Schilens for a 25-yard touchdown down the right sideline, and that play seemed to open the floodgates. After that pass, Sanchez went 8-of-10 for 99 yards, and though he didn't find the end zone again, he did pick up six more first downs. He finished on fire, going 4-of-4 for 48 yards, with each throw picking up a first down.
10.
Josh Freeman TB
25/45
248
3
2
19
14
6
Freeman's last pass of the first quarter was a pick-six, and then in the second quarter he went 5-of-8 for 28 yards with a sack and no first downs.
11.
Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF
17/27
168
0
0
18
11
6
Miami almost crawled back into this game, in part because of Fitzpatrick's struggles in the red zone. He went 1-of-5 for 14 yards, plus a 3-yard DPI and two sacks, inside the Miami 20.
12.
Tony Romo DAL
35/50
313
1
0
8
10
-1
Romo's first half was, um, bad: 10-of-17 for 74 yards and only two first downs, with three sacks. He played better in the second half, rallying Dallas from a 13-point halftime deficit, but it's largely his fault they fell behind in the first place.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
13.
Brandon Weeden CLE
20/35
210
2
0
5
5
0
Weeden needs to throw deep more and short less. On passes to receivers at or behind the line of scrimmage, he went 7-of-10 for 22 yards and three first downs. On deep passes, he went 4-of-6 for 79 yards and four first downs, including a touchdown.
14.
Byron Leftwich PIT
18/39
201
0
1
4
-13
17
On Baltimore's side of the field, Leftwich went 2-of-8 for 26 yards with two first downs, one interception, and two sacks, though he did run for one butt-ugly 31-yard touchdown.
15.
Peyton Manning DEN
25/42
272
3
1
3
3
0
This was Manning's worst game since Week 2 against Atlanta. Between then and now, he had at least 114 passing DYAR every week, and ranked in the top five in Quick Reads six times. He had a terrible first quarter against the Chargers, going 5-of-11 for 40 yards with two first downs and a pick-six. He got better after that, but suffice to say clips of this game will not be shown in his Hall of Fame induction.
16.
Aaron Rodgers GB
19/27
236
2
1
-7
-5
-1
Rodgers had some trouble on third and fourth downs, going 6-of-10 for 84 yards, but with only four first downs (including a touchdown) and a sack-fumble.
17.
Brady Quinn KC
9/14
95
0
0
-10
-5
-5
Quinn's presence lit something of a fire under the Chiefs, and he started out 6-of-7 for 64 yards and five first downs, with a sack. Then everyone remembered he is Brady Quinn and he had only one first down after that, going 3-of-7 for 25 yards with another sack.
18.
Joe Flacco BAL
20/32
164
0
0
-13
-13
0
On Pittsburgh's side of the field, Flacco went 7-of-13 for 45 yards, with only two first downs and two other successful plays.
19.
Andrew Luck IND
27/50
334
2
3
-35
-36
0
Fun fact: Before opponent adjustments, Luck's day was exactly replacement level. He's then dinged for having a bad day against a below-average defense. He made some big mistakes (two of his interceptions were returned for touchdowns, and he also fumbled the ball away on a third-quarter sack), but there were still plenty of reasons for optimism. On third downs, for example, he went 7-of-12 for 110 yards and seven first downs, although his sack-fumble also came on third down.
20.
Philip Rivers SD
24/40
258
2
2
-39
-39
0
Rivers' first pass of the game was a 13-yard gain by Antonio Gates on second-and-9. He then went twenty-two dropbacks in a row without picking up another first down, which came more than halfway through the third quarter. In that stretch he went 8-of-19 for 47 yards with one interception, three sacks, and two fumbles.
21.
Matt Cassel KC
8/15
93
0
0
-43
-39
-4
Cassel finished the first half, and his share of the action, and perhaps his Chiefs career, on a high note, going 3-of-4 for 55 yards and two first downs to lead Kansas City to a 66-yard drive in less than a minute that ended in a field goal. Of course, before that point he was 5-of-11 for 38 yards with two first downs and a sack-fumble.
22.
Matt Stafford DET
17/39
266
1
2
-61
-71
10
The Lions are one of the most pass-happy teams of all time, which means they're not catching anyone off guard when they pass on early downs. On first and second downs, Stafford went 10-of-26 for 93 yards with one touchdown, two other first downs, one interception, and two sacks.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
23.
Sam Bradford STL
23/43
170
2
1
-82
-85
3
"Sam Bradford" sort of rhymes with "Matt Stafford," and they had sort of similar games this week. On first and second downs, Bradford went 14-of-23 for 82 yards with one touchdown, two other first downs, and one sack-fumble.
24.
Ryan Lindley ARI
9/20
64
0
0
-89
-89
0
Turns out turning to sixth-round rookies with little preparation on a whim in the middle of the game is a bad idea. Lindley entered the game in the second quarter and threw for one first down before halftime. He gained two more first downs on Arizona's first drive of the second half, but that drive ended with a 14-yard sack and incompletion on third-and-21. After that, Lindley went 5-of-9 for 29 yards with one sack and no first downs. On all third and fourth downs, he went 3-of-8 for 15 yards with one first down, two sacks, and one fumble that was returned for a touchdown.
25.
Ryan Tannehill MIA
14/28
141
1
2
-91
-86
-5
Tannehill had -116 DYAR in his Week 1 debut, then had positive DYAR every game until the Dolphins' bye week. And since the bye week, he has been below replacement in four straight games. Through three quarters against Buffalo, he was 7-of-18 for 59 yards and only one first down (plus one other play that would have been a first down if Brian Hartline hadn't fumbled the ball away) with a sack. He was much more productive in the fourth quarter, going 7-of-10 for 82 yards and seven first downs (including a touchdown) plus a 30-yard DPI, but he was also sacked twice and threw two interceptions, the last of which ended Miami's comeback bid.
26.
Carson Palmer OAK
22/40
312
2
2
-93
-98
5
A classic example of stats padding. Late in the fourth quarter Palmer was 17-of-33 for 224 yards and 10 first downs (including a touchdown), with a 19-yard DPI, three sacks, and two interceptions. Palmer then took the field trailing 38-10 with about six minutes to go and promptly threw another interception, though the play was ruled incomplete after replay review. From that point, Palmer went 5-of-6 for 88 yards, with every completion a first down or touchdown. That's one-fifth of his completions, one-quarter of his yardage, one-third of his first downs, and one-half of his touchdowns in garbage time.
27.
Matt Ryan ATL
28/46
301
0
5
-112
-112
0
Five interceptions won't clinch a spot at the bottom of the list, it turns out. Ryan particularly struggled on second downs, going 4-of-14 for 27 yards with one first down, two interceptions, and a sack.
28.
Jason Campbell CHI
14/22
107
1
2
-163
-170
7
First half: 4-of-8 for 21 yards with three sacks, a fumble, and an interception. His only first down of the first half was a 6-yard gain on second-and-4 with 12 seconds left to go before halftime.
29.
Nick Foles PHI
21/46
204
0
2
-241
-241
0
Two interceptions, three fumbles, and four sacks will get you at the bottom of this list pretty much every time. Inside the Washington 40, he went 2-of-6 with a sack fumble, and those two completions were a 3-yard loss on second-and-5 and a 12-yard gain on second-and-16. The Eagles gave him plenty of chances to throw on first down, and he proceeded to go 4-of-14 for 22 yards with one sack, one botched snap, and no first downs. In one stretch over the third and fourth quarters, he went 3-of-10 for 22 yards and no first downs with a botched snap and three sacks. You get the idea.


Five most valuable running backs
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Willis McGahee DEN
55
0
18
0
32
31
1
Very effective and reliable in limited action. McGahee only carried the ball seven time against San Diego, but each of those carries gained 3 yards or more, six of them gained 5 yards or more, and three of them were first downs. Also caught one pass for 18 yards in two targets.
2.
C.J. Spiller BUF
91
0
39
0
30
14
16
Spiller leads the league in Success Rate, and 12 of his 22 carries against Miami gained successful yardage. Though he was stuffed for no gain or a loss four times, half of his carries gained 5 yards or more. He also caught three balls in four targets for 39 yards. For the season, Spiller is averaging 6.6 yards on 109 carries. The record for the highest average on 100 carries since the merger (running backs only) is 6.4 by Mercury Morris in 1973.
3.
Doug Martin TB
138
0
23
0
28
32
-4
Three of his 24 carries gained 20 yards or more. He now has nine 20-yard runs on the season, second behind Adrian Peterson (13). He had two other 10-yard runs, plus a 5-yard gain on third-and-1, with one fumble and only one stuff for no gain or a loss. Also had four receptions for 23 yards in five targets.
4.
Jamaal Charles KC
87
0
31
0
28
21
7
Exhibit A that the Kansas City Chiefs have no idea what they're doing is the bizarre usage of Charles. Through 11 weeks of the season, Charles has two games with fewer than ten carries, but also has two games with 30 or more. This week they split the difference, getting him 17 carries, which seems like an awfully happy medium. Charles responded with 87 yards, an average of 5.1 yards apiece. He was stuffed for no gain only three times, with eight carries for 5 yards or more and three for 10 yards or more, including two 17-yarders and five first downs. The Chiefs also threw him six passes and he caught three of them for 31 yards. Each of those receptions gained a first down, and the longest was a 16-yarder.
5.
Marcel Reece OAK
103
0
90
0
24
-2
26
Four of Reece's 19 carries were stuffed for no gain or a loss, while ten gained 5 yards or more and three gained 10 yards or more.He also caught four of the five passes thrown his way for 90 yards, including a 56-yard gain on third-and-5.


Least valuable running back
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
LaRod Stephens-Howling ARI
127
1
6
0
-32
-15
-17
Perhaps the worst 127-yard, 5.8-yards-per-carry, no-fumble day you'll ever see. Stephens-Howling had a 3-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, a 40-yard run in the first quarter, and a 52-yard run in the second quarter. Otherwise, he ran 19 times for 32 yards, a 1.7-yards-per-carry clip, with no first downs. He was stuffed for no gain or a loss eight times, and failed to pick up first downs on second-and-2, third-and-1, and third-and-2. He lost 3 yards on second-and-5. After halftime, in a game where Arizona never led or trailed by more than four opints, he ran 12 times for 14 yards, with half those carries going for no gain or a loss. Arizona also threw him four passes, resulting in a catch for 5 yards on third-and-6, a 1-yard gain on second-and-14, and incompletions on second-and-5 and third-and-21.
OTHER BACKS OF LITTLE VALUE: Jalen Parmele, JAC (24 carries, 80 yards, eight stuffs for no gain or a loss, -4 yards on four red-zone carries, twice stuffed for no gain at the goal-line; three catches for 3 yards in three targets); Alfred Morris, WAS (20 carries for 76 yards, seven stuffs for no gain or a loss, one fumble; one catch for 7 yards in one target); Ray Rice, BAL (20 carries for 40 yards, five stuffs for no gain or a loss, one fumble; five catches for 53 yards in five targets).


Five most valuable wide receivers and tight ends
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Andre Johnson HOU
14
19
273
19.5
1
85
Johnson caught them short (his game-winning 48-yard touchdown catch in overtime was caught behind the line of scrimmage) and he caught them long (four catches for 123 yards in eight deep targets. He caught them early (three catches for 74 yards in five targets in the first quarter) and he caught them late (seven catches for 141 yards in nine targets in the fourth quarter and overtime). But he did not catch them on third down. The Texans threw him two third-down passes, with 5 and 7 yards to go, and both were incomplete. He made up for it.
2.
Justin Blackmon JAC
7
13
236
33.7
1
82
Through 10 weeks of the 2012 season, Blackmon was the least valuable receiver in all of football. He caught only 44 percent of the passes thrown his direction, and with 250 total yards, was averaging less than 10 yards per catch, with only one touchdown. Then came Sunday's game against Houston. Each of Blackmon's receptions picked up at least 11 yards and a first down, including conversions on third-and-10, third-and-21, and fourth-and-10. He had one catch for 39 yards, another for 63, and finally an 81-yarder for the score. How much of that has to do with the early injury to Blaine Gabbert that put Chad Henne in the game at quarterback? Henne is no miracle-worker, and in two appearances against Oakland and Indianapolis (plus a cameo in the first Houston game) he completed 55 percent of his passes with fewer than 6 yards per pass. He only threw six passes to Blackmon in those games, completing three of them for 22 total yards. Still, Blackmon has averaged 4.5 yards per play on passes from Gabbert, and 13.5 yards per play on passes from Henne.
3.
Rob Gronkowski NE
7
7
137
19.6
2
70
Each of Gronkowksi's catches produced a first down or touchdown, six of them gained 10 yards or more, and three of them gained 20 or more, capped off by a 36-yarder. He leads all tight ends with 252 DYAR. Second-place Tony Gonzalez has 157 DYAR, which puts him on pace for 251. In other words, even if Gronk doesn't play again in the regular season, he could still finish as the most valuable tight end in the league. Also keep in mind these numbers could shift slightly as opponent adjustments change throughout the year.
4.
Garrett Graham HOU
8
9
82
10.2
2
57
A fourth-round draftee out of Wisconsin in 2010, Graham caught one pass for 24 yards in his first two seasons, and entering Sunday's game against Jacksonville he had never gone over three catches or 39 yards in a single game. That's the kind of player who can tear up the Jacksonville defense. He had a pair of goal-to-go touchdowns (one on third-and-1) and five other first downs, and also showed the ability to get open deep, catching passes 18 and 20 yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
5.
Danario Alexander SD
7
11
96
13.7
2
55
A non-factor in the first half (one catch for 8 yards in three targets), decent production in the third quarter (two catches for 23 yards in four targets, with one touchdown and one other first down), a playmaker in the fourth (four catches in four targets for 65 yards, with one touchdown, two other first downs, and an 18-yard gain on second-and-20).


Least valuable wide receiver or tight end
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
DeSean Jackson PHI
2
9
5
2.5
0
-58
Jackson's worst play wasn't the interception thrown his way in the first quarter; in DVOA/DYAR, the blame for interceptions goes to quarterbacks, not receivers. His worst play wasn't any of the six other incomplete passes on which he was the intended receiver. No, his worst play was a reception for a 3-yard loss on second-and-5 in the red zone, when the Eagles only trailed 7-0 and were still threatening to make it a game. His best play was an 8-yard gain on second-and-10 in the first quarter.
OTHER RECEIVERS OF LITTLE VALUE: Denarius Moore, OAK (one catch, 9 yards, seven targets; one rush, -5 yards); Clay Harbor, PHI (one catch, -1 yard, six targets); Reggie Wayne, IND (seven catches, 72 yards, 18 targets).

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 20 Nov 2012

112 comments, Last at 23 Nov 2012, 9:43am by bengt

Comments

1
by Michael (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 11:19am

So Howling had 22 caries for 127 yards and he still had a -15 DYAR? You are basically saying that a replacement back would be expected to have 142 yards on 22 carries (6.5 YPC) in the carries Howling had. Thats ridiculous.

2
by CraigoMc (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 11:30am

That is ridiculous, which is why no one is saying that.

"Note that this doesn’t mean the replacement level quarterback would have gained exactly 1,344 fewer yards. First downs, touchdowns, and turnovers all have an estimated yardage value in this system, so what we are saying is that a generic replacement-level quarterback would have fewer yards and touchdowns (and more turnovers) that would total up to be equivalent to the value of 1,344 yards."

10
by Dan Slotman :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 11:53am

The DYAR formula punishes boom-or-bust runners because it likes consistency. The description of Howling's running clearly describes a boom-or-bust day. DYAR expects that a replacement back would have significantly fewer long runs, but have much better consistency. The replacement back wouldn't have many runs that didn't gain yardage.

16
by zdneal (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 12:15pm

This is funny. I'd like to meet this replacement back.

26
by rageon :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 12:32pm

(see e.g., 2008 Denver Broncos)

29
by zdneal (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 12:34pm

Oh, good point, this holds for one team. Must be correct replacement level.

44
by tuluse :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 1:52pm

It doesn't really matter if replacement level is set at the right value (personally I agree with you that's it's too high of a standard). All that matters is that it's a consistent baseline to compare players with.

48
by Some guy (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 1:59pm

The real issue is there is no such thing as a generic replacement player, otherwise various media would be calling for the team to sign them when their own players consistently underperform.

Any of these statistics that aggregate individual performances (or even team performances) are good for detecting trends and setting probabilities. Anything beyond that is a reach.

13
by RickD :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 12:09pm

Well, obviously having 7 carries for 55 yards is optimal.

(Yes, that's a nice group of 7 carries that McGahee had. But still, that's only 7 carries!)

27
by Anonymous37 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 12:33pm

Maybe it's just me, but I've long felt that DYAR, accuracy-wise, works well for quarterbacks, okay for receivers, and terribly for running backs. There are just way too many weeks where the DYAR results in no way pass an eye test or basic common sense for RBs.

It just seems like you can routinely look at the RB chart and prefer 2 or 3 results over the one that finished on top, and I almost never feel that way about the QB and Receiver groups.

42
by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 1:46pm

It's not just you. Every week it is the same: Some guy will have a big week in real numbers but end up way down the list because he was tackled for no gain a few times; some poster will point out how whack that is; then somebody will dutifully explain how DYAR loves consistency. The most consistent thing is the list frequently looks like it was randomized, which isn't a good thing if you're trying to sell people on its accuracy.

83
by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 3:51pm

Who is trying to sell people on its accuracy, exactly? DVOA and DYAR represent value to the team given situation, not fantasy football success. Basically anyone who can get a job in the NFL can break a long run if the blocking is good (by and large NFL running backs not named Turner are faster than NFL linebackers and D linemen, and as fast as NFL safeties and some cornerbacks).

Long runs are great, but they are neither repeatable nor as valuable to a team as the ability to consistently grind out 5 yard runs. If anything, big plays are probably overvalued from a predictive perspective because they have such an influence on the outcome of one game, but mostly are not repeatable.

LaRod S-H, for instance, had 90 yards on 2 carries, and 36 yards on his other 20 carries. Think of it this way. If all you did to advance the ball was run with LSH (which, by the way, is a very good description of the Cardinals offense on Sunday), and your possessions all started at the 20, he would have gotten you into opposing territory twice, giving you one shot at a pretty long field goal one of those times, and then gone 3-and-out on six other possessions.

That, ladies in gentlemen, is how to get 5 interceptions, and lose.

45
by tuluse :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 1:54pm

It's pretty awful for receivers, I would say much worse than it is for running backs. It doesn't taken into account usage patterns, eg an average receiver who is the best guy on his team will have the ball forced to him in a lot of situations which will hurt his DYAR when the problem is that the collection of receivers suck, not that this particular player did something badly on that play.

47
by tally :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 1:59pm

It's not just DYAR. Stephens-Howling has -0.21 WPA and -4.8 EPA according to Brian Burke's model as well. Yes, his few long runs helped but were outweighed by the many runs he had that killed drives or resulted in long yardage situations.

And it's hardly a plus if a metric conforms to the biases introduced by an eye test or supposed common sense. The eye test is easily swayed by the couple of long runs and forgets the numerous stuffs and lost yards.

55
by Snack Flag (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 2:24pm

The problem with these models, to me, is the attitude that long runs don't matter as much solely due to the thinking "Once he gets past the defense, it doesn't matter if he runs 20 or 80 yards." This strikes me as wrong for two reasons. It ignores how the RB got into open space in the first place - one Howling run I remember, he bounced it to the outside, beat the LBs to the edge, and then burst up field. Beanie Wells can't make that run. Michael Turner couldn't do that. There's a ton of value in that run, and it's unique to Howling's ability. These models also ignore that tons of RBs are caught from behind. But guys like Jamaal Charles or CJ2K typically aren't, and that's a big part of their value. So I disagree with the premise that the standard yardage state overvalues big runs.

This is also ignoring that Howling is behind one of the worst OLs in recent memory (and no threat of a passing attack). Of course he's going to have a bunch of runs that have little to no value. If anything, the fact that he was able to break off some decent yardage makes his day more valuable than many others above him.

62
by RC (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 2:48pm

Long runs do matter.

Its just that getting stuffed matters a whole lot too. A running back that runs for 100 yards every 10th carry, and gets stuffed 9 times out of 10 is a whole lot less useful than a guy who gets 10 yards every carry, because that first guy kills 3 drives before he makes a big play.

5
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 11:35am

I think a study of the home/road splits of qbs in their first, say, I dunno, 32 starts, against above average defenses, might be interesting. As I was watching last night's game in the first half, I kept thinking how much more difficult it would have been for Kaepernick to make those adjustments at the line of scrimmage, and how he likely woud not have been as comfortable in the pocket, if the game had been played in Chicago.

9
by Jimmy :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 11:49am

I think the adjustments bit is somewhat overblown. The Bears stayed in man free all night despite the fact they were getting shredded. The pre-snap read would have gone, 'Oh single high safety, again, everyone runs backwards and forwards, man coverage, again.' Rinse and repeat. For a team that has disguised its coverages brilliantly all year it was bizarre.

The guy did play extremely well, I just thought the bears' gameplan was lacking.

14
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 12:10pm

I'd have to see it again to be sure, but it seems as if nearly all of the explosive passing plays the Niners had in the first half came after the play was changed at the line of scrimmage. I'm not saying you are wrong, but I do think those changes would have been more difficult to make in Chicago.

40
by RichardD (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 1:37pm

It will be interesting to see how Kaepernick performs in the Superdome next weekend if he gets the start. Not that I'm comparing the Saints' defense to Chicago, but the atmosphere in the 'Dome is going to be extremely inhospitable to the opposing QB.

43
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 1:50pm

The Saints are so soft defensively that the Niners may just play sluggo ball with a silent count, and control the game.

79
by c0rrections (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 3:39pm

Yeah I thought the writeup on Romo was extremely unfair given his make shift line and how lousy they were in pass protection especially early.

3
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 11:33am

I'm torn between my enjoyment of anything that causes Jerrel Jones to frown, and my belief that Romo has at times been unreasonably criticized while playing most of his career behind lousy pass protection, as the Cowboys season improves.

8
by JohnD (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 11:46am

Quarterbacks come and go; obnoxious owners seemingly live forever.

19
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 12:20pm

I just think it very interesting how context free are our narratives about NFL quarterbacks. I think, for instance, if you swapped the pass protection that Romo and Brees have suffered and enjoyed the past five and a half years, what NFL fans would be saying about these two guys would be a bit different.

46
by tuluse :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 1:57pm

Probably, but then you have someone like Peyton Manning who is just amazing no matter what his teammates are like and it throws the whole thing out of whack.

52
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 2:12pm

"Peyton Manning" is a synonym for "extreme outlier".

107
by Bobman :: Wed, 11/21/2012 - 2:24am

He's such an outlier that his wife makes him sleep in the garden shed. Granted, it's a heated, 3,500 SF garden shed with an indoor pool, media room, more marble than Versailles, and killer view of the Rockies. But it's where they keep their fleet of Mercedes Benz lawnmowers, ergo, the shed.

49
by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 2:01pm

when I read this my immediate thought was Brees is much better because Romo doesn't take care of the ball as well, just seems to me he fumbles a lot and throws to many ints compared with Brees...but I look up the stats and see they fumble at almost exactly the same rate, and throw ints at about the same rate (2.6% for Brees 2.8% for Romo, which amounts to about 1 more int a year). On top of that Romo averages about a 1/2 yard more per attempt.

That surprised me quite a bit. I've always believed that in life circumstances make heroes and villains more than anything else. But that isn't something most people like to believe, because it all seems so unfair and makes life seems so accidental.

51
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 2:09pm

On top of that you have to consider that fast pressure causes qbs, more than any other factor, to exercise less care with the ball. The guy in Dallas has had to deal with fast pressure over the last five and a half years a lot more than the guy in New Orleans. Hell, I bet Brees would have missed at least twice as many games as Romo, if Brees had been given Romo's protection.

67
by TomC :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 3:02pm

I'm rooting for a complete Cowboys meltdown this year. Well, actually, I root for that every year, but this year I'm especially rooting for it in the hopes that JJ blames it on Romo and ships him out of town, preferably somewhere that has a competent O-line.

74
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 3:20pm

Seeing the we Vikings fans have not seen our favorite team draft a long term solution to filling the qb spot since 1961, and even that guy had to be reacquired in a trade, I find it easy to think about how Romo would do with an effective, very physical, offensive line, a HOF-caliber runningback, a young tight end with talent, and a talent with great versatility like Harvin. That'd be a pretty effective offense, even with the other lunch meat playing wide receiver.

The mirror image of that is that I hate to see a talent get underutilized, like Harvin, with the wrong team. Sure, it's easy to think of Harvin with a team with a great qb, like in Denver or New England, but I think of how a guy might be utilized by a Harbaugh, and I'd like to see it happen, if the Vikings are to be mired in mediocrity anyways. Man, with the Niners, with all the different formations they utilize well, Harvin would be a nightmare for opposing defenses.

85
by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 4:02pm

Tony Romo (and to a lesser extent some other quarterbacks: Eagles QB, Aaron Rodgers, and both Mannings come to mind) are underappreciated because they have played so much of their careers behind really poor pass protection. Comparing him to Brees is only the most egregious example (Brees and Brady, in different ways and for different reasons, run up very impressive statistics which arguably say less about their play than other players).

I know it seems silly to cite Peyton or Aaron as "underappreciated", but it is also probably accurate. What Rodgers is doing this year and what Peyton did with a noodle arm in 2010 are probably two of the most impressive feats of quarterback play in history - more impressive I think than Rodgers' 2011 or Peyton's 2004 (and certainly more impressive than Brady's 2007 or Brees' 2011, both of which involved simply stellar offensive talent at all positions).

92
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 4:12pm

Well, "history" encompasses a lot of territory. I can't emphasize enough how different passing the ball was prior to the 70's rule changes, and how much it changed again with the very tight enforcement of the 5 yard contact zone. In many ways I think it renders comparisons almost impossible.

108
by Bobman :: Wed, 11/21/2012 - 2:32am

This makes me think of Andrew Luck, who seems to wear another uniform almost as much as his own. Unfortunately, that other uni has a defender in it, trying to remove his spleen through his rib pads. He tends to hold the ball a little long to extend plays, but man he gats swarmed a lot. And has been producing prodigiously for a rookie. Which leads me to Ben R--I am not sure how to measure the quality of his pass pro, because he tends to hold the ball even longer and extend things more, but he does some of his finest work while wearing an opposing LB like a mink stole. Is his pro that bad, or is it his bad habits, or a combination? His career production is pretty stellar, and those two rings don't hurt, either.

I still vote for Peyton's 2004, in which he sat for 9 or 10 quarters, or more than two full games worth of action. Admittedly, advanced stats discount garbage time production, but week 17 (when he played one series) wasn't garbage time and if you give him two more games to actually play that year and he might have had a decent year.

90
by justanothersteve :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 4:10pm

Will, I wouldn't go that far back. Tommy Kramer was pretty good when healthy. Culpepper was also a good QB until he blew out his knee. That's better than the Packers' string of disasters between Bart Starr and Favre. (Dickey was acquired by trade - as was Favre - and every QB drafted between Starr and Favre sucked.)

94
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 4:21pm

What did Culpepper have, three good years as a starter? Kramer had 5 seasons when he started more than 9 games. True enough, that was mostly due to gettting killed in the early 80s, but saying they beat the Packers record between Starr and Favre is damning with faint praise.

100
by justanothersteve :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 5:15pm

Will, I guess my point is that the Vikings have had success at QB. They've also had Moon, Gannon, and several years of good short-term rentals (Johnson, Cunningham, George, and Favre). While it may be maddening when you compare it to the Packers or Patriots, the truth is the Vikings QB has been mostly a decent position since Tark left. It's certainly been better than Lions or Bears on average over the last 30 years, not to mention several non-NFC North teams.

The Packers lucked out on two consecutive likely HoF QBs. I'll even admit that. But it's not as if the Vikings haven't tried to address their QB situation, which is what you seem to be saying. And I'd guess that if you averaged NFL QB play over the past 30 years, the Vikings would probably fall within the top one-third of teams.

101
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 5:26pm

I was referring to drafting qbs. They haven't drafted a guy who went on to start 80% of their games in a five year period, since Tarkenton. Which is why I think about the Vikings acquiring good qb play from other methods than the draft.

81
by usernaim250 :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 3:47pm

As a Redskins fan it's hard to root for Romo but he's got to be the most unfairly maligned athlete in professional sports. And horrendous drops of great throws in key moments of key games (from the 2007 playoff game against the Giants to this years' Ravens game) have essentially written his career as "loser" when in other circumstances he could be a multiple SB winner.

104
by BJR :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 10:09pm

You can add half-assed receiver play to that lousy pass protection.

4
by zdneal (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 11:34am

What would Jackson's DYAR have been if he had intentionally dropped those two passes?

6
by PerlStalker :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 11:37am

McGahee only had seven carries because he tore up his knee and will be out 6-8 weeks. Denver's running game will be ... interesting for the rest of the season.

25
by The Hypno-Toad :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 12:31pm

I'm hoping for a 2008 broncos-esque result (hopefully without the attendant six additional running backs lost to injury) where the broncos basically never run, but because of that, their few runs are really successful.

7
by bobby b (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 11:42am

It would be nice if DYAR accounted for the awful offensive line.

22
by RickD :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 12:27pm

That would be OLDYAR, or even better, AOLDYAR.

54
by DRohan :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 2:20pm

You need to think of a stat name that accommodates the acronym, YE OLDE YAR.

65
by Scott P. (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 2:58pm

And then you have to correct for Adjusted Games Lost, which I think gets you AULD LANG SYNE.

66
by Scott P. (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 2:58pm

And then you have to correct for Adjusted Games Lost, which I think gets you AULD LANG SYNE.

11
by BlueStarDude :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 11:58am

Your headline had me checking the calendar to make sure it wasn't April 1st. Please don't get my hopes up. I'm not sure Romo will survive the Redskin game on Thursday unless Smith and Cook can get healthy; the line was bad enough as it was, but now it's like 5 Gabe Carimis going against 5 Aldon Smiths.

EDIT: "it's largely [Romo's] fault they fell behind in the first place"... Not really. Dez tip-toeed out of bounds a yard short of a 1st down, Felix alligator armed two or three passes, Smith got hurt and the line became even more of a sieve, and the defense couldn't get off the field. Romo wasn't blameless but he was nowhere near the biggest reason they fell behind.

68
by TomC :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 3:05pm

Barely 12 hours after the final whistle, "Gabe Carimi vs. Aldon Smith" has become the benchmark for offensive tackle awfulness. I love being a Bears fan sometimes.

69
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 3:06pm

I think Winston Justice vs. Osi Umenyiora v. 2007 still wins.

12
by DDK (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 11:59am

You seem to be using the term replacement-level player to refer to an average NFL starter at their respective position. Why would you use that term to mean that? In baseball, it's used to refer to the quality of player who is not starting for any major league team, and therefore regularly available, and usable to replace. In this case, however, the term is very confusing

17
by RickD :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 12:17pm

Not seeing where you're getting that. This is what the info page says:
"This is where we arrive at the concept of replacement level, borrowed from our partners at Baseball Prospectus. When a player is removed from an offense, he is usually not replaced by a player of similar ability. Nearly every starting player in the NFL is a starter because he is better than the alternative. Those 300 plays will typically be given to a significantly worse player, someone who is the backup because he doesn’t have as much experience and/or talent. "

21
by zdneal (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 12:27pm

I think during a 10 game stretch of baseball you'd find much more than half the everyday starters were above replacement level. Here half the QBs are above and half are below. Saying something measures replacement level doesn't mean something actually measures replacement level.

Getting replacement right is one of the most contentious issues in baseball.

30
by RickD :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 12:36pm

Ah, now I understand. Yes, you would expect the majority of starting QBs to be playing significantly better than replacement level. And, in theory, any QB consistently below replacement level would be replaced.

Well, at least their definition of "replacement level" is correct. Whether it's calibrated properly is beyond my knowledge. If you look at the season-long stats, they have 24 QBs above replacement level. The 10 below are Ponder, Skelton, Tannehill, Kolb, Vick, Cutler, Sanchez, Gabbert, Weeden, Cassel. About the only surprise there is Cutler, and his rating takes major hits for all the sacks the Bears allow.

FWIW, the QB whose DYAR is closest to 0 is Jake Locker.

39
by nuk :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 1:28pm

You'd expect replacement level QBs to average around 0 DYAR - some are going to have good fortune, some bad. By that standard, I'd say the system considers everyone from around Flacco's +285 DYAR and below to be around replacement level. Are Flacco, Dalton, Rivers, etc. replacement QBs?

50
by tuluse :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 2:02pm

You didn't look at the list of QBs with too few attempts to get in the big list. That adds 5 QBs above replacement level.

Still that means only 29 are above that level, there should be about 60 QBs in the NFL above replacement level. Now these things are going to be difficult, because a lot of those 60 will never play, but even if you add 10 QBs who are above replacement level who haven't got on the field, it still seems low.

56
by DRohan :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 2:27pm

Yes, for the season the number of QBs above and below 0 makes more sense. That half of the QBs on a given week measure out as below replacement level is simply a good indication of natural variance.

35
by Thok :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 12:50pm

But a lot of starters right now are replacement QB's: Colin Kaepernick, Chad Henne, Jason Campbell, Byron Leftwich, QB Arizona, and arguably QB Kansas City are only playing because injuries are forcing their teams to play them.

Maybe you want replacement level to be third string QB rather than second string QB, but teams typically only play one QB at a time.

58
by zdneal (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 2:33pm

Well, in baseball Replacement doesn't mean the next guy on the bench. It means the next guy available to take a roster spot. The guy you can pull from the minors or pickup for basically nothing in a trade.

In the NFL it'd be the top available in-season free agent.

72
by nat :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 3:10pm

You should read Our New Stats Explained. For DYAR, replacement level for QBs is almost exactly "the next guy on the bench", who might be a free agent or might be the actual backup QB. For other offensive positions, it means "the guys who get the last ten percent of the attempts".

How that compares to the best available in-season free agent is anybody's guess.

84
by usernaim250 :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 3:55pm

Most teams if they carry a third QB don't do so because they ever envision said player replacing their QB. They are developmental prospects. During every season there are a several free agent QBs available who are better than most teams' 3rd QB (or practice-squad QB). But they only get called upon if a starter on a team with playoff aspirations goes down.

In other words I believe that the 2nd stringer is appropriate "replacement-level" QB. There are a lot of "2nd string" QBs out there who have demonstrated they are not starting quality and hence are unwanted.

106
by Ryan D. :: Wed, 11/21/2012 - 1:48am

I'm surprised that no one is calling David Garrard yet. Before the season, there were rumors he would be starting for Miami in week 1 while Tannehill got acclimated.

15
by Bill (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 12:10pm

Am I the only one who just feels in his gut like the Cowboy's pending Thanks game vs. Wash is going to end their season? I don't claim anythig like objective forecasting data or argument, just a really strong feeling.

Bill

112
by bengt (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2012 - 9:43am

Care to tell us your other picks for this weekend?

18
by CeeBee (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 12:17pm

Dallas' offensive line is so bad and banged up that I just don't see them going 5-1 to have a shot at the division. They have a really tough game with Washington this week and still have to play PIT, as you mentioned.

37
by Kurt :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 12:58pm

But they don't need to go 5-1 to have a shot at the division. They need to go 3-3 to have a shot, 4-2 or better would win it.

Edit: If they sweep the Redskin games and lose the rest, 7-9 would still give them a decent shot at it.

38
by RickD :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 1:15pm

You think the Giants might go 1-5 to finish the season?

I see that you've fallen for their annual November swoon.

I see them losing to Green Bay to finish November. But after that, they have Redskins, Saints, Falcons, Ravens, and Eagles. They should beat the Skins and Eagles, and I would take them over the Saints and Ravens too.

71
by Bjorn Nittmo :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 3:08pm

Cowboys are actually in a better tiebreaker position v. Giants than you describe. They're ahead in division games (2-1 v. 2-2 for Giants), and they've also clinched the next-level tiebreaker (record in common games) compared to Giants. So all Cowboys have to do is tie Giants in division record and they own the tiebreaker. Even if Giants beat Eagles and Skins to go 4-2 in division, Cowboys would still have a loss to give. As a Giants fan, really hoping the Skins surprise them this Thursday, since I'm not seeing the Eagles putting up much fight for the rest of the year (until week 17 of course when Nick Foles transforms into an All-Pro when they play in New York).

96
by RickD :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 4:42pm

"They're ahead in division games (2-1 v. 2-2 for Giants), and they've also clinched the next-level tiebreaker (record in common games) compared to Giants. So all Cowboys have to do is tie Giants in division record and they own the tiebreaker."

Would they still have the tiebreaker at the end of the season? That's the question here. The Giants have 2 divisional games left while the Giants have 3.

My local rooting interest (i.e., the NFC team I root for when the Pats aren't playing) is the Redskins, so I'll be pulling for them on Thursday. By no means is it clear to me that the 5-6 Cowboys should think that sweeping the 4-6 Redskins would be easy.

Agree completely about the Eagles (except for Week 17). They're done. The team has given up.

87
by usernaim250 :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 4:03pm

I wouldn't want to bet on (or against) the Giants ever but, I don't see the Redskins as an easy game based on last year and this and it's on the road; the Saints dismantled the Giants defense last year; the Eagles in disarray may be the easiest game, but they have beaten the Giants four of the last five; the Ravens are never easy; and though I'm not a Falcons believer, I imagine they will be HIGHLY motivated after their playoff embarrassment.

I would be surprised at 1-5 but not shocked. 2-4 seems perfectly reasonable (as does 4-2).

105
by Kurt :: Wed, 11/21/2012 - 1:01am

This is about how I see it. They should win the Eagles game, the Redskins (on Monday night, mind you, where the fans will be crazy after the Skins beat the Cowboys on Thursday and then get a week and a half of rest) should be 50-50 or slightly worse, and the Giants should be solid underdogs in all the other games. 2-4 is about my baseline expectation, 1-5 is certainly possible.

20
by RickD :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 12:25pm

This is the kind of thing that makes evaluating these stats a bit screwy:

"No, his worst play was a reception for a 3-yard loss on second-and-5 in the red zone, when the Eagles only trailed 7-0 and were still threatening to make it a game."

I remember that play. The blame for this play has to lay with the O-Line. Foles had no time to pass and had to scramble around to avoid being sacked. DeSean Jackson was offering himself as a option for a possible gain. Now it turned out that he had nowhere to run, and he would have been better off dropping that pass.

Where am I going with this? Well, I didn't lose any respect of fear of DeSean Jackson watching that play. But yeah, it was a dreadful result.

23
by zdneal (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 12:29pm

That's why I asked what his DYAR would be if he would have intentionally dropped both his receptions. Likely, a true replacement level player may not even have been targeted on them.

28
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 12:34pm

The actual least valuable receivers, as any Viking fan can tell you since Randy Moss left, except for one year with Sidney Rice, are guys who don't have any metrics to record, because no qb not in the depths of an ether binge would consider throwing the ball in their direction.

31
by zdneal (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 12:40pm

Hey, my man Percy is still there. But, yes, other than that. Randy also showed you how a Randy type can make a sub-replacement level QB look like a world beater.

36
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 12:51pm

I just don't categorize Harvin as a receiver in the normal sense, although that doesn't mean I don't think he's really good. The Vikings have now had a substantially below average passing attack for six and and a half of the past seven and a half years, playing at least nine games a year inside. It is amazing that they have won as many games as they have, in this passing-driven era.

53
by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 2:14pm

60-62 in that stretch...toss out the good passing year and they are 48-58....so the inability to pass the ball has definitely made them a below average team.

In that span they are 23rd in passing yards, 22nd in passing tds, 20th in ints...that's with Favre's great year...take that out and they are very likely right in the bottom few teams.

77
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 3:23pm

To essentially win almost 7.5 games a year, over 6.5 years, while being really, really, bad at passing, playing at least 9 games a year indoors, in this era, means that some other guys, besides the qb and receivers, were playing extraordinarily well.

57
by DRohan :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 2:30pm

You're describing Ocho Cinco's season last year with the Patriots.

24
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 12:30pm

You really can't take these stats as an accurate description of how an individual performed. I use them all as a measure of how a unit performed.

33
by Intropy :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 12:46pm

You want a number for how well a player performed you look at DVOA rather than DYAR. But that still won't work since it doesn't desperate a player from the other 10 very well. And even if it did you still miss all the "why's" behind the stats. I buy into the idea you can get a good picture over several games, but a single game is just too much at the mercy of things like a tipped interception, a lineman stepping on a foot, a defender timing a snap perfectly, etc.

32
by chrischase (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 12:43pm

I just lost the slightest bit of respect, quoting anything written by Chris Chase.

34
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 12:48pm

So if Doug Martin scored a TD on that goal-line run (which he did) instead of it being called a fumble (which it wasn't), he'd have presumably led (which in my world he did).

41
by ian :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 1:44pm

"Turns out turning to sixth-round rookies with little preparation on a whim in the middle of the game is a bad idea." And yet he still outperformed FIVE(?!) other QBs this weekend. Brilliant.

59
by ChuckC (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 2:36pm

If someone had told me on saturday that Kaepernick was going to start and his DYAR would be just behind Chad Henne, I would have been in a panic all weekend.

63
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 2:49pm

Nicely said.

60
by RC (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 2:43pm

"He's then dinged for having a bad day against a below-average defense. He made some big mistakes (two of his interceptions were returned for touchdowns, and he also fumbled the ball away on a third-quarter sack), but there were still plenty of reasons for optimism."

I think the Patriots defense is kind of interesting at this point. They definitely give up a shit-ton of yards, and they haven't kept points all that low (they're middle of the pack), but they do one thing extremely well: force turnovers.

The top of the league looks like this in TO:
Chicago: 30
NE:27
NYG:27
AZC:22
...

The bears defense is clearly fantastic, but its interesting to me that we have both these well coached teams giving up a ton of yards (and being middle of the pack in DVOA) and forcing a ton of turnovers in 2nd and 3rd.

In 2011:
Patriots 3rd
NYG 8th

2010:
Giants: 1
Patriots: 2

It just seems interesting to me that these teams have consistently had high turnovers while not being particularly good defences (aside from the 2010 giants, who were great).

It seems to me in the modern NFL, with more prolific offenses, and the baseline drive getting longer, field position becomes less valuable, and taking away possessions more valuable. I'm wondering if this is an artifact of the data, or something that these teams have picked up on.

64
by tuluse :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 2:50pm

Well it remains to be determined if you can build a sustainable defense in such a manor. Turn overs are pretty rare events, and if that's you're only way to stop the other team, it's going to lead to trouble.

It would be interesting to look at some per-drive stats, as I image the Patriots face more total offensive plays than most teams, so that might make their per play rate stats look worse than their per drive rate stats.

73
by RC (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 3:19pm

We're talking roughly 35-40 turnovers a season (and roughly 45-50 events if you count unrecovered fumbles). That's roughly 3 events a game. That's not a big sample by any means, but its not really a rare even at that point.

61
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 2:48pm

It's a pity that the 49ers still need to find a 'pocket passer' like Foles or Osweiler.

99
by theslothook :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 4:56pm

LOL thanks Karl :P. AS i said in an earlier thread immediately after this game(of which I was at), I got a full serving of crow from my right(49er die hard) and my left(another 49er die hard). And yet, all I could think about was...man, I know Karl has one last serving left for me, this one nice and plump and juicy, and ready for the table as soon as I look on today's quick reads. Sigh, no one deserves this!

70
by justanothersteve :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 3:07pm

The QB list reads like some sort of opposite world list. Henne and Kaepernick are 2 and 3, and ahead of Brady and Brees. Mark Sanchez makes the top ten and is ahead of Rodgers, P Manning, and Ryan. Maybe the world does end next month.

75
by Steve in WI :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 3:20pm

Relax...the Bears' QB is in the bottom five, so something must still be right with the world.

76
by Steve in WI :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 3:22pm

Are players from Monday's game not counted in most/least valuable receivers and backs? I ask because I'm surprised Matt Forte didn't at least get an honorable mention. I seem to recall that he was averaging a yard a carry at one point, and I don't recall him making any impressive plays later in the game.

78
by theslothook :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 3:34pm

Some thoughts I had from the game and watching the tape afterwards.

First the obvious one's...

I always felt like o line play is a bit overrated(see browns and dolphins), but last night and the 49er cards game made me realize theres a baseline level of o line play you absolutely cannot get past, no matter how great your skill positions are(and the bears are not). The real Pièce de Résistance was that double team wiff on Aldon Smith that led to the sack fumble. It wasn't even like Aldon did any super "reggie white" like move to get past them either.

80
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 3:47pm

To reiterate, o line play became overrated when covering receivers became so much more difficult, due to how contact with receivers was more tightly enforced. Prior to that, it was much more critical, because you couldn't count on guys getting seperation from defenders quickly. Kurt Warner, in his prime with the Rams, really needed an Orlando Pace playing at a HOF level. An aging Kurt Warner with the Cards did not.

You are right, though; a tackle who whiffs like a bad little league hitter still won't work.

82
by theslothook :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 3:50pm

Some other thoughts:

I wouldn't get too worked up about the bears d this game. They probably expected their line to win like the rams did a week ago. They probably also expected Kap to be skittish in the pocket. When neither of those two things happened, they basically got thrown for a loop. Its amazing how often the 49ers audibled to a slant and the bears were just not adjusting to it early. Eventually they did, but even then they were reacting either too fast or too slowly(i saw twice urlacher was late getting there and once when conte tried to jump one and was totally out of position). They also flat out got burned in both zone and man against Davis. Still, if they played again, I think the bears wouldn't get so flummoxed.

86
by theslothook :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 4:02pm

Hey Will,

I agree with you, we should move the legal contact zone up to 7 yards. I frankly hate how short passing has completely changed the concept of defense and inflated the numbers on offense.

88
by usernaim250 :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 4:07pm

Liberalizing contact would possibly reduce the concussion threat. If you can more easily bump and run, you are less likely to play off with a safety running a full speed towards a receiver catching a short pass.

89
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 4:10pm

Are players from Monday's game not counted in most/least valuable receivers and backs? I ask because I'm surprised Matt Forte didn't at least get an honorable mention. I seem to recall that he was averaging a yard a carry at one point, and I don't recall him making any impressive plays later in the game.

He ended up with -6 YAR, but gets bumped up to 12 DYAR for playing the 49ers. Didn’t break anything longer than 8 yards, but he gets extra credit for several short-yardage conversions.

95
by Steve in WI :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 4:27pm

Ah, I see. Thanks!

91
by Bjorn Nittmo :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 4:11pm

"The Giants have also lost two games in a row and seem to be headed for their annual second-half collapse. The Cowboys should have an opportunity to claim the division crown."

If you're going to buy into the November swoon for the Giants, you need to give equal weight to the Cowboys' December swoon. Agreed that their schedules give a big edge to the Cowboys, but I have faith that they'll lose 1 or 2 very winnable games.

102
by JIPanick :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 5:51pm

Dallas' December troubles are mostly an artifact of backloaded schedules. This year that (finally!) didn't happen - I wouldn't bank on the wheels falling off again.

103
by justanothersteve :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 7:26pm

I wouldn't go that far. They still have the Saints, Eagles, and Steelers. The Saints and Eagles haven't been as good as predicted while the Steelers may not have a healthy Roethlisberger. Plus, they usually have trouble against the Skins, and still have two games against them. I think it's more the NFL's backloading of the schedule didn't pan out.

93
by theslothook :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 4:17pm

I also want to add...its pretty amazing that this is now 4 years running and the bears offensive line is still a ridiculous trainwreck. I realize they've been hamstrung by now first rounders for two years and without a 2nd in one of those years, but its really amazing that they haven't progressed at all. On top of that, they got really really unlucky. Both their first rounders spent on the tackles really haven't paid off(with williams a complete bust). On top of that, they've totally whiffed on their guards and centers as well, ending up with horrible starters instead of middling ones.

97
by RC (not verified) :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 4:44pm

I'm not sure "unlucky" is the most likely explanation.

Its probably more likely that they're doing an extremely poor job in their training/player development/etc.

Draft enough guys and eventually you'll get one with talent if drafting is the only issue. If player development is the issue, it really doesn't matter who you draft. Even the talented guys are going to look terrible.

98
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 4:52pm

I don't know if he'll get enough time to right the ship, but if Tice gets to work for the team for another year or two, I'd wager that he'll get the performance out of what talent is available among the offensive linemen. Last year was a bit of a waste; Martz was just a terrible choice for that offensive roster.

109
by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 11/21/2012 - 9:23am

Heh. I'd been thinking Martz looks pretty good in retrospect. A lot of the O-line problems got blamed on his style of play-calling, when it's now more clear that no, it's just a crappy O-line.

110
by Duke :: Thu, 11/22/2012 - 3:29pm

I'd like to think that--because there's a decent chance that Tice will be here for 2 more years. But this is the third year Tice has been working for the Bears. And the offensive line has been horrible each year.

Maybe it's time to start wondering if Tice is part of the problem instead of the solution.

111
by Vincent Verhei :: Fri, 11/23/2012 - 2:18am

Dear Internet,

In lieu of the events of Thanksgiving Day, please erase the main essay of this week's Quick Reads from your database. Thanks.

Sincerely,

Vince Verhei