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» Impact of the NFL's Kickoff Rule Change

After three NFL seasons of kicking off from the 35-yard line, what has been the impact on touchbacks, returns, field position, scoring and injuries? Also, is this rule responsible for a record number of big comebacks?

18 Sep 2012

Week 2 Quick Reads

by Vince Verhei

When New Orleans coach Sean Payton was suspended for the 2012 season, nobody knew how that would affect the Saints offense. Two games - and two defeats - into this campaign, the changes are evident, and not promising. For the defense, though, it's been business as usual - which is bad news. In both a 40-32 defeat to the Washington Redskins in Week 1 and a 35-27 loss at the hands of the Carolina Panthers in Week 2, the Saints fell behind thanks to a sputtering offense and a defense that gave up too many big plays. Both times they staged a furious second-half rally, because they still have too much talent to be shut down for an entire game, but both times they came up short. Can New Orleans turn things around? And is there time left to save their season?

The first change to the Saints' offense is a matter of philosophy. The Saints have been a pass-oriented team since Drew Brees came to town. They ran the ball only 38 percent of the time in 2011, which ranked 28th in the NFL. This year, though, they've gone even more extreme, running just 26 percent of the time. And that's not just because they've been playing catch-up late in games - they've run just 33 percent of the time in the first half.

Worse still, when the Saints do run the ball, they're giving it to the wrong guy. Mark Ingram is getting nearly twice as many carries per game as Pierre Thomas, like he did last year. That needs to change. Thomas was Football Outsiders' top-ranked runner in football in each of his last two healthy seasons (2009 and 2011). We need to keep those numbers in context - thanks to Brees, Thomas rarely saw a defense with eight men in the box, and he enjoyed plenty of crushing blocks from Carl Nicks and Jahri Evans, the league's best guard combo. We could say the same for Ingram, though, and he was much worse than Thomas last season, finishing 22nd in our rankings. This year, despite getting barely half as many opportunities as Ingram, Thomas has 59 more yards on the ground and only one fewer first down. The Saints can avoid early deficits by making Thomas, not Ingram, their primary runner early in games.

Eventually, though, they will have to throw, and that's been a problem so far this year, particularly for the team's wideouts. In 2011, the Saints threw 45 percent of their passes to wide receivers, and those passes were complete 70 percent of the time. This year, only 40 percent of the passes are going to wideouts, and they're only being caught 47 percent of the time. Marques Colston has been a particular disappointment. The Saints' leading wide receiver last season has missed practice with a foot injury lately, and he has been ineffective in games, with only seven catches this year (and remember that Drew Brees has already put 101 passes in the air). Without their best outside receiver to draw coverage and stretch the field, the Saints' remaining wideouts have been shut down, and the passing game is largely limited to dumpoffs to Darren Sproles, who ranks second in the league in receptions going into Monday night. Getting Sproles the ball in space against defenses that have been stretched across the gridiron is a great idea. Relying on Sproles to crack defenses that are bunched up near the line of scrimmage? Less effective.

For all its faults, the offense has been productive at times this year. Not so for the defense. The Saints rank dead last in points allowed per game, after ranking 13th in that category last season. Looks like a collapse, but what it really shows is that without the support of a Hall of Fame quarterback at his peak, this defense is not and was not good. In Football Outsiders' rankings, the Saints finished 28th in 2011. Why the disconnect between the two measurements? Their middle-of-the-pack ranking in points allowed last seasonhad as much to do with their offense as it did with their defense. They benefited from great field position - the average drive against New Orleans started inside the opponents' 26-yard line, better than 27 other teams. And since the Saints were ahead so often, opponents were forced to give up on the run game. No defense saw fewer rushing plays, and that meant the safeties were free to stay deep and help out on any deep routes. This year? The average drive against New Orleans has started at the 30-yard line. May not seem significant, but over 12 drives per game that's more than 50 yards of real estate worse than a year ago. And due to the offense's struggles, no defense has seen more carries in 2012 than the Saints. That has forced the secondary to crowd the line of scrimmage, which in turn has left them vulnerable to big plays when opponents have passed. New Orleans gave up 49 completions of 20 or more yards in 2011. They have already given up 12 such plays this year.

Even if the Saints can find a way to fix all these problems, is their time left to save an 0-2 season? A few years back we looked at how likely a team was to make the playoffs based on their record at various points throughout the season. In 17 years' worth of data, teams that started 0-2 came back to make the playoffs only 11.4 percent of the time. That's bad news for New Orleans, and also for their opponents in Week 3. The Kansas City Chiefs are also 0-2, which makes their game against the Saints on Sunday critical for both teams. The loser falls to 0-3, which historically means a 3.5 percent chance of making the playoffs. The winner, though, will be 1-2, with a 22.7 percent shot at postseason action. Those are still long odds, but long odds are all the Saints have left.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
1.
Brandon Weeden CLE
26/37
322
2
0
149
148
2
A week ago in this space, we told you that Brandon Weeden was the league's worst quarterback in Week 1, and now we are telling you that he was the league's best quarterback in Week 2. That's largely because he played Cincinnati this week after his first game against Philadelphia, and these two games will look different when we apply opponent adjustments to DYAR. (Joe Flacco also looked much worse against the Eagles than he did against the Bengals.) In one stretch over the third and fourth quarters, Weeden completed 12 passes in a row for 178 yards, two touchdowns, and seven other first downs.
2.
Andy Dalton CIN
24/31
318
3
1
120
119
1
Was this the best shootout in the history of the Bengals-Browns rivalry? No. Including sacks, the two teams combined for 604 yards passing. They've topped that twice before, led by a 2007 contest when Derek Anderson and Carson Palmer combined for 722 yards and 11 touchdowns. The Browns won that game 51-45. Including a DPI, Dalton had six 20-yard completions (to five different receivers). Only Michael Vick and Eli Manning had more.
3.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
25/31
275
2
0
114
114
0
When Roethlsiberger hit Mike Wallace for a 37-yard touchdown in the third quarter, he was 15-of-19 for 196 yards with two touchdowns and two sacks. And then he went into a deep freeze. His next 11 dropbacks produced 47 yards (including a 25-yard gain on third-and-32, one of the longer failed completions you'll ever see) and zero first downs. He finished on an up note, converting third-and-4 and third-and-3.
4.
Cam Newton CAR
14/20
253
1
0
103
90
13
Newton only threw seven deep passes (16 or more yards downfield) against New Orleans, but he made them count, completing five of them for 167 yards. Only two of his runs were listed as scrambles, and neither of them were successful.
5.
Matt Ryan ATL
24/36
219
2
0
99
98
1
6.
Sam Bradford STL
26/35
313
3
1
94
88
7
Was this Bradford's best game ever? We'll see what opponent adjustments do to it at the end of the year, but for now it's second-best DYAR behind his Week 12 2010 game against Denver, when he went 22-of-37 for 308 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. By the way, if you're looking for Danny Amendola in the receiving tables, he finished 13th among wideouts this week. 15 receptions for 163 yards and a touchdown with only one incompletion, but he fumbled on his first reception. (Washington recovered the fumble for a touchdown, though that doesn't affect Amendola's DYAR.) If we ignore that play, Amendola would have finished third.
7.
Philip Rivers SD
24/32
284
3
1
93
90
4
How to finish off a defeated foe: The Chargers had a 14-point lead in the middle of the third quarter. Rivers proceeded to complete each of his last 11 passes for 125 yards and 10 first downs, including a touchdown.
8.
Eli Manning NYG
31/51
510
3
3
93
107
-13
The Giants may not have needed Eli's fourth-quarter comeback if he had played better on third downs. For the day, he converted only 4-of-12 third-down opportunities, and it's not because he was in long-yardage situations. On average, he needed less than 6 yards for a first down. He also threw two interceptions on third down, including his pick-six.
9.
Ryan Tannehill MIA
18/30
200
1
0
85
71
15
What a streaky day. Started out for 4-for-6 for 68 yards. Then he went 6-of-14 for 22 yards and no first downs, plus a sack. And then he finished up 8-of-10 for 110 yards and a touchdown, plus an 18-yard DPI.
10.
Alex Smith SF
20/31
226
2
0
75
69
5
Wasn't the Randy Moss signing supposed to bring the deep pass to the San Francisco playbook? Smith threw only two passes to receivers 16 or more yards downfield — and both of those were to Vernon Davis. He also only had two deep passes in Week 1, and one of those went to Davis too.
11.
Andrew Luck IND
20/29
224
2
0
74
62
12
First half: 11-of-16 for 146 yards. Second half: 9-of 13 for 78 yards, plus two sacks, including a 22-yard loss from his own 38 while protecting a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter.
12.
Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF
10/19
178
2
0
72
56
16
Started out 4-of-9 for 35 yards and only one first down. By that point, though the Bills were up 14-0. From then on he went 6-of-10 for 143 yards, including touchdowns of 10 and 49 yards.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
13.
Christian Ponder MIN
27/35
245
2
0
71
70
1
First three quarters: 12-of-15 for 105 yards, six first downs, with four sacks. Fourth quarter: 15-of-20 for 140 yards, including both touchdowns.
14.
Matt Schaub HOU
26/35
195
0
0
60
60
0
Schaub's only 20-plus-yard gain came on a DPI on his last throw of the game. In one stretch from the middle of the first quarter to the middle of the third, he went 15-for 25 for only 90 yards (that's 6.0 per reception, and 3.6 yards per throw) and three first downs.
15.
Russell Wilson SEA
15/20
151
1
0
53
39
14
First six drives: 8-of-12 for 79 yards with a sack, but only three first downs. Last three drives: 6-of-7 for 66 yards with five first downs, including a 22-yard score to Anthony McCoy, plus one sack. He also ran for two first downs in the fourth quarter.
16.
Michael Vick PHI
23/32
371
1
2
49
35
14
Vick scored the winning touchdown on a 1-yard run to cap off quite the hot-and-cold day inside the red zone. He had seven carries inside the Ravens' 20 (four of them scrambles) for 36 yards. Six of those carries were successful plays. The seventh was a 6-yard gain on third-and-seven; the Eagles converted a fourth-and-1 on the next play. His four pass plays in the red zone, though, were dreadful: one interception, one fumbled snap, and two incompletions, one of which was originally ruled a sack/fumble before being over-ruled on replay. On the other hand, outside the red zone, he went 23-of-29 for 371 yards, with an interception and two sacks.
17.
Tom Brady NE
28/45
316
1
1
48
52
-4
Brady's first pass of the game was intercepted, and he didn't fare much better for most of the game. Through three quarters he was 14-of-25 for 150 yards, with the INT, three sacks, and only six first downs. Then in the fourth he went 14-of-20 for 166 yards, with one sack and 11 first downs, including a 5-yard touchdown to Rob Gronkowski.
18.
Carson Palmer OAK
24/48
373
1
1
39
40
-1
Palmer's biggest play of the day was a 64-yard touchdown to Mike Goodson that was caught 6 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Goodson then produced 70 YAC that had little to do with Palmer. What Palmer had a lot to do with was Oakland's lousy performance on third downs: He went 3-of-11 on those plays for 19 yards, with just one conversion.
19.
Matt Stafford DET
19/32
230
1
1
36
31
6
Stafford threw 11 passes in the second and third quarters, and eight of them were targeted at Calvin Johnson. Five of them were caught, one for a 24-yard gain, the other four for 14 yards combined. Only two of his 12 fourth-quarter passes were thrown to Johnson, caught for 26- and 22-yard gains. He was also sacked twice in the game's final frame.
20.
Mark Sanchez NYJ
10/27
138
1
0
15
15
0
On the first drive, Sanchez went 4-of-5 for 81 yards and a touchdown, and also had 12 yards on a DPI, for four first downs. His next 19 dropbacks resulted in one sack, one DPI, three completions, 14 incompletions, two first downs, and 35 net yards. He made a few more plays in the fourth quarter, but by then the Jets were down by 17 points.
21.
Matt Cassel KC
24/41
301
2
1
11
1
10
First three quarters: 16-of 27 for 171 yards and nine first downs, with five sacks and an intentional grounding. At that point, the Chiefs were down by 32 points, and Cassel did some serious fantasy stat-padding going 7-of-13 for 130 yards and six first downs, including a pair of touchdowns. His interception on the last play of the game counts as a Hail Mary and is treated like any other Hail Mary in our system.
22.
Drew Brees NO
32/49
325
1
2
10
1
9
As noted in the main essay, Brees struggled to get the ball to his wide receivers. His first five passes were all targeted at Darren Sproles. Brees threw 49 passes, and only targeted his wideouts 13 times, completing seven for 93 yards.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
23.
Kevin Kolb ARI
15/27
140
1
0
4
5
0
A similar game to Sanchez, kinda. On his first drive, Kolb went 4-of-6 for 29 yards and two first downs to set up a field goal. in the rest of the first half, he went 4-of-9 for 30 yards and no first downs. He rebounded in the third quarter (5-of-8 for 74 yards and five first downs, including a 2-yard touchdown pass), and did almost literally nothing in the fourth (2-of-4 for 9 yards, no first downs).
24.
Robert Griffin WAS
21/29
206
1
1
-10
-55
45
That's a bit of an empty completion percentage for Griffin. Eleven of his completions failed to gain successful yardage, most of any quarterback in Week 2.
25.
Tony Romo DAL
23/40
251
1
1
-16
-16
0
First six third-down plays: 5-of-6, 78 yards, five first downs. Next six third-down plays: 2-of-6, 28 yards, one first down.
26.
Jake Locker TEN
15/30
174
1
1
-25
-32
7
The Titans only ran five plays in the first quarter against San Diego, and Locker only threw two passes, an incompletion and an interception. By the time Locker got his first first down, Philip Rivers had thrown seven, including two touchdowns, and the Chargers were ahead 17-0.
27.
Josh Freeman TB
15/28
243
2
2
-28
-28
0
Freeman didn't throw a single pass in the red zone, largely because he was so erratic in the front zone (the space between the Giants' 20 and 40) and mid zone (between the 40s). In that part of the field, Freeman went 4-of-11 with a sack and only two first downs. Of course, those first downs were actually touchdowns of 41 and 29 yards.
28.
Aaron Rodgers GB
22/32
219
1
1
-48
-48
0
Since Jay Cutler had such a bad day (as we'll explain shortly) and the Packers got a touchdown on a fake field-goal attempt, Rodgers' struggles largely flew under the radar. In the first half, he went 14-of-21, but only gained 128 yards and six first downs, while surrendering four sacks. He did throw a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to put Green Bay up 20-3, but then threw an interception to set up a Chicago touchdown before the game was entirely out of reach.
29.
Peyton Manning DEN
24/37
241
1
3
-52
-49
-3
30.
Blaine Gabbert JAC
7/19
53
1
0
-86
-87
1
Gabbert's first half, plus the first drive of the second half: 4-of-13 with two sacks, zero first downs, -4 net yards. His longest play to that point was a 6-yard gain on third-and-29. Jacksonville started their next drive at the Houston 37, and Gabbert hit Laurent Robinson for 32 yards and then Maurice Jones-Drew for the touchdown, and somehow it was a 10-point game. Gabbert would get five more plays, and they went like this: incomplete, 3-yard completion on third-and-14, sack, incomplete, incomplete. Seriously, he dropped back 16 times and gained successful yardage twice.
31.
Joe Flacco BAL
22/42
232
1
1
-97
-97
0
Flacco had four completions for 20 or more yards, one in each quarter. Otherwise, he went 18-of-38 for 111 yards with an interception, two sacks, and only five first downs. That's 2.3 yards per play. Obviously, all quarterbacks will look bad if you take away their biggest completions, but Flacco had a particularly drastic all-or-nothing day.
32.
Jay Cutler CHI
11/27
126
1
4
-234
-241
7
Last week, we tried to measure the historical badness of Brandon Weeden's first game. Well, without opponent adjustments, this was worse. ESPN Stats & Info has a piece on the rarity of four-INT, seven-sack games with all sorts of numerical trivia, but suffice to say that the last player to do it was Patrick Ramsey of the Redskins against the Saints in October of 2002, nearly a decade ago. Only once all game did he manage to go six straight dropbacks without a sack or interception, and in those six plays he went 3-of-6 for 33 yards. And that was the best string of plays he put together all night.


Five most valuable running backs
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
C.J. Spiller BUF
123
2
47
0
80
59
22
In 15 carries, Spiller had more gains of 10-plus yards (three, capped off by a 38-yarder) then stuffs for no gain or a loss (two). He finished with five first downs, including two scores. He also caught each of the three passes thrown his way, including gains of 19 and 27 yards.
2.
Ben Tate HOU
74
2
23
0
58
43
15
Ten of Tate's 12 carries gained positive yardage and six gained first downs, including a pair of red-zone touchdowns. He also caught each of the four passes thrown his way for two more first downs.
3.
Pierre Thomas NO
110
0
33
0
57
44
12
On the one hand, the 48-yarder on his last run kind of skews Thomas' average for the day. On the other hand, three of his other nine runs also gained at least ten yards, and he gained at least 2 yards on every carry. He also caught four of the six passes thrown his way, including three first downs.
4.
Willis McGahee DEN
113
2
11
0
50
53
-3
McGahee had three 10-yard runs in the first quarter, including a 31-yarder. His last seven carries of the game came in the red zone. All seven gained positive yardage, two were touchdowns, two others were first down, and six qualified as successful plays.
5.
Trent Richardson CLE
109
1
36
1
50
32
18
Kind of a quietly effective day. Richardson's 19 carries produced only two first downs (including a 32-yard score), but he had six other successful runs of 3 to 9 yards, and was stuffed for a loss only twice. He also caught four of the five passes thrown to him, including a 23-yard touchdown.


Least valuable running back
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Michael Turner ATL
42
1
0
0
-43
-38
-5
You know who was happy to see Turner so ineffective on Monday night? Ryan Williams of the Arizona Cardinals, who was saved from being the least valuable running back for the second week in a row after gaining 13 yards and a fumble in ten carries against New England. As for Turner, he only had three successful carries all night: a 1-yard touchdown (on third down, after he was stuffed on first and second down, including a second-down fumble that Atlanta recovered), a 5-yard gain on second-and-8, and a 15-yard gain on Atlanta's final drive to run out the clock. His other 14 carries averaged 1.5 yards each. And he's Michael Turner, historically useless as a receiver, so of course his only catch gained zero yards.


Five most valuable wide receivers and tight ends
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Hakeem Nicks NYG
10
15
199
19.9
1
68
In addition to the numbers seen here, Nicks drew a 16-yard DPI. He had four plays of 20 or more yards, including a 40- and 50-yarders.
2.
Dante Rosario SD
4
4
48
12.0
3
49
Three of Rosario's catches were red-zone touchdowns, two of them on third downs. His other catch was an 18-yard gain on first-and-10.
3.
Roddy White ATL
8
11
102
12.8
1
45
The first two passes thrown to White were incomplete, and the next was an 8-yard gain on first-and-10. Each of his other receptions gained a first down, including gains of 20 and 21 yards.
4.
Malcom Floyd SD
6
8
109
18.2
0
42
Each of Floyd's catches gained 11 to 27 yards and a first down, including two 20-yarders.
5.
Victor Cruz NYG
11
17
179
16.3
1
42
Two of the passes thrown to Cruz were intercepted, though in DYAR it's Eli Manning who gets the blame for those, not Cruz. It's usually Cruz, not Nicks, who specializes in big plays for New York, but Cruz only had two 20-yarders to Nicks' four. Of course, one of Cruz's went for 80 yards. So there's that.


Least valuable wide receiver or tight end
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Dez Bryant DAL
3
7
17
5.7
0
-52
The first four passes thrown to Bryan were incomplete. The next was a 1-yard gain, which he fumbled (Dallas recovered). The next was a 5-yard gain on third-and-8. Finally, he caught an 11-yard pass on second-and-6, an actual good play. But then Seattle's offense went into extreme ball-control mode, and Bryant didn't see a target in the game's final 15 minutes. For more on Dallas' loss and Bryant's performance, please see this angry, loud, vitriolic, profane, and very much Not Safe For Work video rant by a distressed Cowboys fan. Trust me, it's worth your five minutes.

Posted by: Vince Verhei on 18 Sep 2012

94 comments, Last at 21 Sep 2012, 2:14am by The Hypno-Toad

Comments

1
by Roy G. (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 10:55am

One thing we can say conclusively after 2 weeks. The Eagles pass defense is much better than the Bengals:

Weeden against the Bengals week 2: 148 DYAR Passing
Weeden against the Eagles week 1: -231 DYAR Passing

Flacco against the Bengals week 1: 161 DYAR Passing
Flacco against the Eagles week 2: -97 DYAR Passing

6
by FrenchEagles :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 11:44am

I think it's quite rare to see two teams get the exact opposite opponents for two consecutive weeks, so it's funny to compare stats of these two games.

Another comparison:
Richardson against the Bengals week 2: 50 DYAR Rushing
Richardson against the Eagles week 1: -21 DYAR Rushing

I don't have the stat for Rice against the Eagles but I suspect it will be lower... (48DYAR against the Bengals).

The Eagles defense is much better than the Bengals (and seem to be one of the great defenses this year).

9
by Thunderbolt of ... :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 12:01pm

Juan Castillo... good? That sound you hear is the explosions of the heads of the Eagles' fan base.

30
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 1:18pm

It's not impossible. Clark Shaughnessy was a great DC, too.

2
by wr (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 11:09am

And we can conclusively (so far) state that the NO defense bears
a remarkable resemblance to 11 turnstiles. Are they trending towards
a record bad DVOA?

67
by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 5:32pm

I kept reading this as the "no defense" bears

3
by Joseph :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 11:19am

Holy Bizarro QB rankings, Batman!!

[Seriously--Brady, Rodgers, Brees, Cutler, P. Manning, Flacco, Romo & Stafford in the bottom half!!, and Weeden, Tannehill, Luck, Russell Wilson, Bradford, Alex Smith, Fitzpatrick, & Ponder in the top half!! Me thinks that Blaine Gabbert didn't get the memo didn't get the memo--of course, since the NFL ignores JAX, this is probably why he played normally (for him, at least).]

8
by PackersRS (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 11:58am

I'm probably wrong, but the QBs who have been sucessful so far don't play in pass-oriented teams. Or at least have a capable running game.

Maybe the refs are somewhat responsible. There's been a lot, a lot more contact after 5 yards that aren't being called, and the "elite" qbs work with timing passes, and can't rely on the running game consistantly.

Not saying it's the single reason, but I believe it's a factor. Of course, sample size is 2 games, there's the matter of strenght of the defense...

15
by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 12:23pm

If our great quarterbacks of the past few years could be magically transported back into the 1970s, is this what they'd look like?

69
by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 5:35pm

We could find out using my working time machine. I'd demonstrate it for you but in this economy I can't afford the 900 D-cell batteries it needs for power.

79
by rfh1001 :: Wed, 09/19/2012 - 2:49am

This is a brilliant thought, I think. I would like everyone to focus on it, please. It is the 'little' every-play things that less good refs miss that change a game radically.

The thought could be wrong, but I think it is absolutely something worth scrutinising.

88
by NOLASaintsFan (not verified) :: Wed, 09/19/2012 - 3:26pm

I've been watching this and there are two trends that are really bearing out:

Defenses that are playing man coverage in the secondary and on the corners are doing much better against the pass than Zone teams. The only thing that I can see that's different here than last year is that DPI/illegal contact called on Man coverage teams is WAY down from past years. This leads me to the hypothesis that since man coverage teams are getting away with more contact, then those receivers are less likely to be where they are supposed to be in their routes, and less likely to be able to catch a ball thrown to them. Anecdotally, when watching the two Saints games that I've seen this year, I have noticed that the receivers are being messed with a bit more. That's hardly the Saint's only problem. Their line is not pass blocking as well as they have in the past.

The second thing is, and this relates to the first, is that run-first teams seem to be having more relative success this year. It appears that, in general, defenses have been getting more and more designed to stop the pass, and are even weaker against the run. Also, since many of them don't tend to pass down the field regularly, they aren't seeing the contact affects as much this year.

In passing against zone coverage teams, since it also seems that the replacement refs aren't calling holding as much, teams seem better able to give their quarterbacks more time in the pocket. With that being the premis, it would seem obvious that receivers given more time to run their routes would be able to get to the holes in the zone coverage schemes in those types of defenses.

All in all, it is my opinion that the markedly different tendencies of the replacement refs as opposed to the regular crews has had a non-trivial impact on the game as a whole. Looking at the top 4 performing offenses of last year, and comparing their performance to this year, and you'll see a lot of what I mean. I feel that this will only get amplified for the next two weeks as defensive coordinators continue to adjust their coaching to reflect the new rules enforcement environment. I do not expect to see any improvement in Zone teams though, it's too much of a change to switch from zone to man mid-year, especially if there's no assurance that the regular refs won't suddenly be back in two weeks. Some might attempt to make the change during their by-weeks.

4
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 11:22am

Can we really look at the numbers of Ingram and Thomas, over a tiny sample size, and conclude that one is clearly the better player? If I'm not mistaken, there are 21 other players on the field. I'm not saying you are wrong, Vince, and if somebody has broken down the film on each carry for each guy, great, but I'm trying to understand how the evidence put forth here clearly proves the conclusion you have made.

10
by Thunderbolt of ... :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 12:03pm

The sample size for Thomas, at least, is four seasons long and indicates that he's been a highly successful runner. Ingram's sample size is much smaller, but is still big enough to indicate that so far in his career he hasn't been nearly as effective.

13
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 12:17pm

No, Ingram's sample size isn't nearly big enough to make a strong conclusion. Not even close. Now, the sample size, combined with in depth film analysis, could be instructive. I know for a fact that the Saints coaching staff has made that in depth film analysis. I'm asking whether there is anything but Ingram's relatively small sample size which is leading Vince to make the conclusion he has.

59
by Joseph :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 4:36pm

Will, as a guy who has seen many a Saints game, I would bet a LOT of money that the runs where Thomas broke MORE than 1 tackle would outnumber the runs where he didn't break any. I'm not as sure, but I'd bet Ingram has more where he didn't break any than runs where he broke at least one. Plus, Thomas is much better in the screen game, pass protection, etc. It's rare to see the first guy bring him down.
EDIT: I'm talking about arm tackles and everything, not FO's definition. Think more like yards after contact.

61
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 4:38pm

I don't have an opinion; I don't see them enough. I was just inquiring as to the use of stats in this manner.

71
by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 5:51pm

Is it possible the Saints' current staff is caught up by Ingram's first round draft status, and the fact that Pierre Thomas isn't as flashy as Sproles so he's therefore the worst of the three?

65
by tuluse :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 5:11pm

There is one big problem though. Thomas is unlikely to finish a season when being given starters snaps.

75
by LionInAZ :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 6:39pm

Perhaps, but they might as well use him while they can and maybe win games instead of losing games with him sitting healthy on the sideline.

89
by NOLASaintsFan (not verified) :: Wed, 09/19/2012 - 3:28pm

Since they routinely have him sit large stretches of the season injured, and miss him BADLY in playoff games where he doesn't play (or gets concussed early in the game), I'm sure that they want to protect him early and keep him healthy.

5
by sundown (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 11:28am

Good analysis of the Saints, though I'll nitpick on the line saying their offense is "sputtering." They've got issues which the article clearly addresses, but they're still averaging 29.5 points per game. They're 6th in points, 3rd in yards, and somewhat amazingly for a team that only runs 26% of the time, they're even top 20 in rushing yards thanks to averaging over 5 yards per carry. What's really killed them are turnovers (the pick 6 this past week in particular) and their lack of a defense.

7
by Ben Stuplisberger :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 11:54am

Agreed, that the offense is a problem seems like a reach. I am not convinced that the run/pass balance is a problem or a change in philosophy either. Brews led the league in success rate last year. Wouldn't it make sense to pass more? Additionally, a two game sample seems too small to declare that their philosophy has changed. How many plays are we talking about?
The rest of the analysis sounds good.

11
by Dan :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 12:05pm

Watching the game against the Panthers, I thought the Saints offense played pretty well except for the pick six. They weren't getting much down the field or to their WRs, but they moved the ball effectively. Despite starting with bad field position all game (just inside their own 20, on average), they drove for 7 scoring chances in 11 possessions (resulting in 3 TDs, a short FG, a long FG, a turnover on downs, and a punt after intentional grounding took them out of FG range).

31
by NotMe (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 1:19pm

Remember the 2011 Saints? The team where a historically good offense covered for a terrible defense? And how they still have the majority of the personnel from 2011? If their offense faces a drop to just "very good", it might as well be sputtering because we saw the Saints be extremely successful in 2011 with the offense carrying the defense.

34
by Joseph :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 2:00pm

As a long term Saints fan, the Saints offense is "sputtering" because of the 3-and-outs, as well as Brees' discomfort back there. I personally think that the O-line hasn't quite gelled yet, and Brees is down 2 WR's from those he has known the last 4 yrs (Meachem is gone, and Henderson is injured with a concussion). Since Colston appears to have trouble getting separation + rust (both resulting from his foot injury), this leaves the team with 1 WR threat (Lance Moore), plus Graham and Sproles.
And let's face facts, even those of us who are Saints fans: the defense looks to be BAAAAADDD. The offense must sustain drives to keep the defense fresh and able to play at a mediocre level. IMO, at this point, Brees is trying to do too much to try to support the defense, and it has hurt them in both games with the INT's. Hopefully, playing KC's defense (which looks to be just as porous as NO's) can be a cure for what is ailing the offense.

56
by Joseph :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 4:24pm

sorry double post

38
by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 2:33pm

I'd venture their looking disjointed goes beyond just Payton being gone. They did everything possible to avoid having a single strong hand in charge in Payton's absence, right down to going with two interim coaches for the season. (And that was their second choice to an outsider like Parcells coaching for the year. A single internal candidate was obviously their absolute last choice.) Maybe that's just symbolic and it hasn't affected anything internally, but it looked odd when they first announced it and it's even more questionable now that they've sputtered out of the gate.

18
by Ferguson1015 :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 12:27pm

I'm happy to see some Chargers' receivers in the top 5. They were a big question mark heading into the season. Meachem is still a question mark

25
by Drunken5yearold :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 12:56pm

DVOA has always liked Malcom Floyd: 51.4% (2), 9.6% (23), 23.7% (7), 58.9% (ur). It seems like he pulls in nothing but 15 yarders and does so with a decent catch percentage.

I haven't seen much of Meachem in San Diego, but it appears to me like his skill set is a duplicate of Floyd's (only he's not as good). But Floyd has been in San Diego for a while and works well with Rivers. I wouldn't expect Meachem to do much this year but maybe in the future he'll do better? He can also serve as insurance for Floyd, who gets injured often.

Royal also seems to be fragile, and supposedly SD is not using him right by forcing him into the slot. According to Broncos fans, Royal only did well when he was the #2 WR and lining up on the outside. But the Chargers have the upcoming (but injured) Vincent Brown to be that guy, so they have even more duplication in the receiving corps.

San Diego hasn't had a decent slot receiver since Eric Parker retired, which is one of the reasons why they haven't been as good at sustaining long drives in recent years. I see a lot of screen passes and dump-offs to running backs on plays that should go to the shifty slot receiver that can get open 10 yards down-field on third down.

12
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 12:12pm

What a weird game on Monday Night. I'm surprised Matt Ryan grades out as well as he did, and in a way I'm surprised Manning grades out as well as he did (barely worse than Rodgers).

What was Manning's DYAR after the first quarter? In a lot of ways this game was very similar to his 6-pick disaster in SD, except here he didn't get a chance to complete the comeback.

16
by MarkV :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 12:23pm

I was really curious what Knowshon Moreno's DYAR for the game was. Counting stats make 3 carries hard to bottom out, but those were 3 epic bad carries.

28
by BroncFan07 :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 1:09pm

On the plus side, No-Show made it through almost 5 full quarters this season without fumbling.

94
by The Hypno-Toad :: Fri, 09/21/2012 - 2:14am

I'm surprised that Turner grades out so terribly, although after many years on this site, I probably shouldn't be. Oh... I just remembered his fumble that he recovered on the goal line... I can't imagine that the system had anything nice to say about that when computing his YAR.

14
by Supadome :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 12:23pm

Saints really miss Nicks. Grubbs looks like a terrible replacement until you realize that Nicks was the one covering for Bushrod on the end.

One of the keys to Drew Brees' success was that he was able to have confidence in his front men to give his routes time to develop. That confidence is going away, and he's making hurried throws to the wrong team as a result.

Is there a rule of thumb about new DCs installing new systems and how long that takes to get traction? I figure an overhaul of this magnitude will take several games to really start showing results.

19
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 12:29pm

I had a strong suspicion that losing Nicks was going to greatly affect Brees. I take from your tag that you watch the Saints closely enough to confirm that.

17
by Sergio :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 12:25pm

So... Reggie Bush didn't make the top 5? Huh.

-- Go Phins!

51
by johonny (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 3:15pm

Their system generally doesn't reward boom-bust backs like Bush as much as steady ground gainers.

20
by TLA (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 12:38pm

Surprising to not see Reggie Bush in the top 5. He had a slow first half, but I think its hard to make an argument that 5 RBs were more valuable to their team this week.

76
by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 6:41pm

The numbers didn't have any problem "making that argument."

21
by Basilicus :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 12:38pm

That video at the end is really worth it.

To Dez Bryant: "If you don't get your sh*t straight, you're gonna find your ass in Cleveland. [pause] At best."

77
by Jonadan :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 8:08pm

It really is spectacular.

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

22
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 12:39pm

I'm actually shocked that Stafford managed a positive YAR for that game (Of course it will likely be higher once it's adjusted for the 49ers defense). His game looked much worse in real-time. I'm officially worried him now, as he looks to be at the beginning of a regression year. I keep trying to remind myself that it's only two games, but some of the easy throws he missed on Sunday are hard to forget.

-I'm not Billy Bad-Ass.

27
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 1:02pm

Well it isn't Stafford's fault they kept running straight at the 49ers.

29
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 1:13pm

True, but it is his fault that he missed Johnson on a wide-open crossing route on 3rd and 4 that killed a drive, dirted a wide-receiver screen to Johnson that would have likely converted a 3rd and 1, and misfired on his interception that led directly to a 49er touchdown.

-I'm not Billy Bad-Ass.

91
by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 09/19/2012 - 3:40pm

True, but it isn't his fault that Johnson was running drag routes all night. I do not understand why the game plan didn't involve more of Johnson running deep posts, with Titus Young opposite doing the same. It looked like the 49ers would have double covered both; if so, that drag route would actually be open underneath.

23
by justanothersteve :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 12:50pm

Michael Turner knows how to go out and celebrate winning this week's least effective RB honor.

24
by RickD :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 12:53pm

So I thought Brady had a bad week, and then I see him ahead of Brees, Rodgers, and Peyton.

And then I see Wheeden at #1 and it all makes sense. These are the Bizarro rankings, aren't they?

26
by tuluse :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 12:59pm

This Bears fan hopes so.

33
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 1:47pm

Well, Brady didn't have a good week (I think DYAR is a little kind to his performance) but neither did any of those three. Manning I guess had just one awful quarter, but Brees and Rodgers were both underwhelming.

It is odd to see the names on top of the list. A very strange first two weeks indeed.

32
by zenbitz :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 1:38pm

Bizzaro Alex Smith... indistinguishable from Alex Smith!

35
by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 2:22pm

Manning after the 3rd drive: 20/29 for 194 yards and a touchdown.

Other than the three picks, his performance was actually as-good-to-superior to Ryan's. Are the Falcons the new Chargers? Manning had better hope so, since the old Chargers are in-division now.

37
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 2:31pm

I really wanted him to get the opportunity to finish off that comeback, do it in front of Jon Gruden, as he comes back from another 20+ point deficit on the road in MNF.

I haven't gone back and rewatched, but the only pick that just looked like a duck of a throw was the 2nd one. The other two seemed to be more bad decisions than anything. That Falcons defense started the game out really well.

Surprised that the Broncos defense played as well as it did even without getting that much pressure on Matt Ryan. This is a really tough stretch for the Broncos, and if they can get to the bye at 3-3 (the have vs HOU, vs OAK, @ NE and @ SD up next) I think they will be fine.

39
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 2:39pm

If Porter manages to finish off that great play on the Ryan pass, or if Decker makes a difficult, but certainly not spectacular, catch deep down the middle, both towards the end of the game, and the elder Manning may managed a spectacular turnaround as well.

40
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 2:46pm

Didn't they score on the drive where Decker nearly caught the deep post?

I remember that play a lot because it made me feel a little more comfortable about Manning's arm. That, to me, was the best deep ball he's thrown in his first two games (there was also the one against Pittsburgh that went through Thomas' hands).

It's funny that Eli and Peyton both had games where they threw three first half picks and Eli made the comeback and Peyton came close.

I still think there is no QB ever that comes close to Manning at bringing a team down from 10+.

47
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 3:01pm

I can't remember if they scored on that drive or not, but even getting a td a couple minutes more quickly may have made a big difference. Decker seems to have had a few balls like that in the first two weeks. He needs to start catching some of those.

48
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 3:04pm

True.

It's ironic that Decker is having troubles because so many people thought he would be the biggest benificiary of Manning's arrival and not Thomas, and through two weeks it hasn't worked out that way at all (Thomas actually seems to be Manning's go-to guy)

50
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 3:08pm

I'm a little surprised, because Decker displayed pretty spectacular ball skills in college.

52
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 3:18pm

He did have Asante on him most of the night.

82
by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 09/19/2012 - 12:20pm

Being FO-commenters, we ought to be looking for reasons why quarterbacks named Manning play so poorly in the first half, rather than lauding their ability to come from behind.

My theory is that the first quarter game plan is more scripted, and even Peyton and Eli are given less freedom to respond at the line to what the defense is doing. But I have no idea if that is true.

83
by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 09/19/2012 - 1:02pm

I have more knowledge of Peyton and his career, and this has been a problem in a lot of games. Obviosuly, three picks is a fluke, but slow starts have been a part of the Manning era even dating back to Indy (hence why he's had so many great large comebacks, because he's down in the first place).

Honestly, I think Peyton is great at in-game adjustments and takes a while to understand exactly what the opposing defense is doing. After he figures it out, he's money. It happened in both of his AFC Championship Game wins (overcame slow starts with amazing second halves), or even the past two weeks. His response to what new scheme the defense cooks up is the trump-card that Manning can play, and I think Manning's game has always been more of a response-style scheme, with so many option routes (this was definitely true in Indy) where his best assett was adjusting the game to beat what the opponent was doing.

41
by theslothook :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 2:48pm

Ironically, i thought physically, manning looked closer to the old manning. His throws actually had zip and there were a few throws that had some good zip on them and great location- specifically the dropped near td by thomas, the td to thomas, the near catch by decker, etc.

The real issue to me, isn't so much with manning, but with the broncos getting use to the no huddle. I just think they aren't completely with it yet, especially since i suspect much of manning's arsenal of plays out of the no huddle is still pretty limited right now. Over time, they should be able to work out many of these kinks.

43
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 2:57pm

Playing a good team, in their domed stadium, in front of a liqoured up Monday Night crowd, is about as bad an environment as the Broncos will face this year for their no huddle offense.

45
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 2:58pm

I agree. I don't think it was an arm issue other than the duck he threw on the 2nd pick (but he threw ducks before the surgeries as well from time to time).

The TD catch by Decker was a great throw. The post to Decker was a great throw in terms of speed and zip (accuracy was just off - still could have been caught).

I agree with the no-huddle part. That a tough situation for Manning and the Broncos in a loud dome against a defense that looked like it had not slept a minute in preparation for this game.

I don't really think that that game changed my opinion of the two teams at all other than making me think better of the Broncos defense and a little less of the Broncos pass protection (that might be no-huddle, audible issues). The Falcons offense was a little disappointing given the field position they had most of the night, but they didn't turn it over and finished off the game with a huge 3rd down conversion.

49
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 3:06pm

I can't emphasize enough how tough it is for a tackle in an environment like that, with a quality speed rusher like Abraham who has an edge in quickness. I wish more teams would more frankly acknowldge that, and give the guy help from the first snap.

62
by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 4:47pm

WA: True, and given that Manning has no problem finding wideouts with his passes, the Broncos could afford to keep a back or TE in you would think. It isn't like Brees or Brady, who are addicted to TE and RB passes.

Manning has a reputation as a great thrower, but apart from accuracy, his throws have never looked nearly as good as the results would attest. He's probably midpack in terms of arm strength and spiral tightness among NFL starters, and this goes back to before the surgeries (remember, Manning had the surgeries to FIX the nerve issues, not the nerve issues as a result of the surgeries). And Eli always had the better arm of the two... and Eli is not top tier in arm strength (I would think Cutler and Stafford are no brainers. Probably Vick and Big Ben, and then maybe some of the younger guys... but I don't know them as well.)

63
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 5:00pm

It is a constant source of irritation for me; a tackle with unexceptional quickness, in a very noisy road environment, often on turf, is asked to block a guy he can't physically handle with those handicaps, and an entire half of possessions is wasted before the concession to reality is made.

81
by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 09/19/2012 - 12:17pm

/signed.

If Charlie Johnson were here, he would /signed too!

85
by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/19/2012 - 2:01pm

I understand why a gameplanner just doesn't want concede on the number of guys available to run patterns, both ojectively, and as a matter of personal selfishness; keeping guys in to block just doesn't afford as much obvious opportunity for the gameplanner to demonstrate how creative he is, and, yes, there is a real objective cost in going down that road. However, it is just as important to be objective about the odds of your players being able to execute their assignments.

I also understand why guys want to pass so much; the rules just dictate it. However, if you do have a competent defense, and a tackle who is very likely not going to be quick enough to block a pass rusher, in the pass rusher's noisy stadium, it seems to me the way to go is start by at least occcasionally running at the pass rusher, and giving your tackle help in the first half on passing downs. After half time, AFTER you've punched the pass rusher hard in the mouth several times, AFTER you've made him expend a lot energy against double teams, THEN you see how your tackle does without help.

What if the Broncos had gone max protect in the first quarter, with Manning deciding to simply throw the ball away if none of the 3 receivers in patterns were open? Would they have been any worse off?

86
by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 09/19/2012 - 3:18pm

It is true that going max protect does give up one of the main advantages of hiring Peyton Manning; the ability he has to use every receiver. Having only three receivers instead of four or five negates this advantage, whereas with saaaaay Mark Sanchez, he's throwing to Read One or Read Two anyway, so the other receivers are just decoys.

I'm not disagreeing, but I can see how easy it would be, given PM's past success with an open door at left tackle.

42
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 2:51pm

The Chargers thing is interesting because it is overblown in a way. Manning has had two just awful games against the Chargers. One was his 6-pick disaster in 2007, where the Colts spotted the Chargers those six picks and two special teams TDs and would've won if VInatieri hit a 24 yard field goal at the gun. The otehr was in 2010 when he threw four picks and had two returned for TDs. This was during the worst stretch of Manning's career (or at least since 2002) where he threw 11 picks in three games, had four of them returned for TDs.

Outside of that, his record against SD is not great, but his performances usually have been good. The real problem they had against SD was that Jamal Williams would just abuse Jeff Saturday, and the Colts never got any run game in any of those games.

44
by theslothook :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 2:57pm

I may be in the minority, but the single worst game of P Manning's career imo was the 2nd playoff game at NE where one of the greatest offenses in nfl history was held to an amazing 3 pts. Part of it yes was the players around him sucking, but I felt like he was just so frustrated that it got to him. He was so afraid to turn the ball over, i felt like every throw was made without any confidence and played right into the defenses hands. I can stand those pick laden performances because he usually stayed resilient and found a way to fight back, but this one was just gut wrenching for me because it of course, energized the pats fans and the media about manning being a choker.

46
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 3:00pm

Totally disagree.

That was the best game the Patriots ever played on defense. They tackled exceptionally well. Their running game controlled the game (went on 8 and 9 minute TD drives in the 3rd and 4th quarters).

The worst game was the year before in teh AFC Title Game where he threw four picks, and all of them were awful. Sure, teh Patriots abused the illegal contact rules, but even as a Colts fan I know that had little to do with the final outcome other than stopping a potentially game-tying drive that probably wouldn't have been completed anyway. That was the one playoff game where I put the loss squarely on Peyton. The rest of the team (run game, defense) played well, he played terribly.

36
by theslothook :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 2:29pm

This was't even the worst loss Dallas has suffered within the last 5 years. It wouldn't even be in their top 5 worst losses. Maybe I'm dissimilar to most fans, but as a fan who finds himself too emotionally attached to his team sometimes, I don't become a raging freak after losses. You would think, after watching enough football, he realizes that any team can lose any week in just about any way. Thats why every sunday, i feel stressed and the big emotions after the game game range from disgust to relief. I suspect being a hardcore nfl is almost a bit like having a drinking problem. :P

However, as a fan who HAS seen his team win the superbowl, its kind of a unique feeling afterward. Its a combination of relief but also you really get an offseason filled with joy. I guess that one feeling alone is worth all the hardache you get from every other season. Unless you're a soulless pats fan, at which point you just feel like bellichick after every win and loss. (that was a joke btw)

57
by Jake (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 4:25pm

I think Dallas fans are mainly reacting to two things: the final score and that Seattle decisively outplayed Dallas in the second half. They're right about the second thing, but the final score is a bit misleading. Dallas outplayed Seattle in the first half but were down 13-7 at halftime due to two turnovers and a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown.

I don't think anything new was revealed about Dallas in this game. They have problems on the offensive line and Ware is their only big time pass rushing threat. Hopefully when the all 22 film is available someone will break down the matchups between Dallas' receivers and Seattle's secondary. It was hard to tell who was winning them consistently.

58
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 4:35pm

I think I know what you mean, but saying team A outplayed team B in the first half, but was behind due to two turnovers and a blocked punt, is a little like saying that the really famous cruise ship (damned spam filter), that they made a couple movies about, had the best ocean crossing in the spring of 1912, except for a leakage problem.

68
by Jake (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 5:33pm

I understand. Let me try to provide some context.

-On the opening kickoff, Felix Jones fumbles the ball. One of his own blocker's helmets, not a Seattle player, dislodges the ball. Seattle recovers and kicks a field goal.

-Dallas goes three and out on their first possession. Dallas' punt is blocked and the ball bounces in front of a Seattle player who returns it 3 yards for a touchdown.

I'd say those plays are indicative of fortuitousness rather than skill. What's worse is that Seattle now has a 10-0 lead, at home, by 10:23 left in the 1st quarter. It allows them to play much differently.

Additionally, by halftime Dallas has outgained Seattle in total yards 211-118. Each offense had 5 drives. Dallas' yards per drive (42.2) is nearly double that of Seattle (23.6).

With that said, Seattle outplayed Dallas overall and deserved to win the game. My response had in mind Cowboys fans, like the one Verhei mentioned in Quick Reads, who have gone off the handle over the loss.

70
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 5:41pm

Like I said, I had an idea of what you meant, but I'd say the plays you mention are more indicative of poor performance by the Cowboys, which means the Cowboys did not outplay the Seahawks. Getting a punt blocked in particular is just unforgivable.

64
by jimbohead :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 5:04pm

I had a reaction somewhat similar to that guy after the niners loss to the Eagles in 2010 on SNF, where Singletary kept taking QBs in and out of the game based on how the QB was wearing his chin on the sideline, and the team just generally melted down. I had such high hopes for that year, but watching how that coach and that team operated, I knew the season was over, even if it was only week 4 or 5.

Anyways, after being a terrible person for a few hours, I realized that I needed to re-structure my life priorities, and took the next couple weeks off football.

53
by Mike Jones (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 3:41pm

"Goodson then produced 70 YAC that had little to do with Palmer."

Fair enough, but that play just goes to show how difficult the attribution of credit really is. Goodson didn't really "produce" much on that play, other than evincing basic pro football speed and agility. He caught a simple slip screen at the -30, bent it towards the sideline for 10 yards, and then ran roughly in a straight line untouched for the next 60 yards. On the way, he got a beautiful cut block from a Raiders lineman and some great stalk blocking by Heyward-Bey. He showed a certain elusiveness in out-angling two Dolphin defenders to the edge, but again nothing spectacular.

It was a nice delivery by Palmer going backwards, but admittedly not a tough throw. The Dolphins brought a weak CB blitz and were in a 3 deep, 3 under coverage. With no flat defender, that screen was a great call. So, maybe we should attribute everything to play calling. The minions on the field just executed well! lol

54
by Vince Verhei :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 4:11pm

I was really curious what Knowshon Moreno's DYAR for the game was. Counting stats make 3 carries hard to bottom out, but those were 3 epic bad carries.

-24 DYAR rushing, 10 DYAR receiving.

So... Reggie Bush didn't make the top 5? Huh.

38 DYAR rushing, 1 DYAR receiving. He actually had negative rushing DYAR aside from his two big runs (one of which converted a third-and-1). Fourteen of his runs gained 3 yards or less.

84
by Richie :: Wed, 09/19/2012 - 1:55pm

My comment to fellow Dolphins fans shortly before Bush scored his first touchdown:

"Reggie Bush needs to just run. He spends too much time dancing and waiting for the perfect hole."

87
by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 09/19/2012 - 3:20pm

He's still Reggie Bush. Occasionally he knocks off a highlight reel type run. Most of the time he's a bad running back with great top end speed.

93
by The Hypno-Toad :: Fri, 09/21/2012 - 2:10am

I tell you what, after a few years of watching Knowshon Moreno, I'd totally take that. Moreno runs, stylistically, like he's fast... Lots of dancing and looking for the perfect hole. But he's just not actually fast. So the Broncos get all the indecisiveness and hesitation of the traditional "lightning" back, with some fraction of the speed of a "thunder" back.
It's like genetically engineering a creature with the strength of a lemur and the agility of a rhino.

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by AnonymousFog (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 4:21pm

The Ingram sample size may be small but anyone who has watched the Saints play over the last two season could tell you that Pierre Thomas is in another league when compared to Ingram. Thomas is a tackle breaking machine while Ingram will get what the offense line opens for him, if it is a gaping hole.

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by DisplacedPackerFan :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 4:37pm

A comment on how unusual it is as a fan to see Rodgers play that poorly. So in 2010 and 2011 Rodgers had one game with a negative passing DYAR*, the 2010 week 14 game vs the Lions where he was knocked out of the game in the 2nd quarter suffering a concussion that made him miss the NE game. He was -56 in that game. I've been tracking the quick reads passing DYAR stuff for him since 2010 because I was working on comparing DYAR, ESPN's QBR, and traditional passer rating since the last two have nothing about rushing I was just using the passing DYAR from quick reads.

I had made a comment in another thread here recently commenting that Rodger's traditional stats really weren't that much worse than a typical game vs the Bears, or really any cover 2 defense, even if you include last year where he was just lights out nearly every game (he had less than 100 passing DYAR twice last year week 11 vs Tampa Bay at 81 and week 15 in the lass vs KC at 27). I was fairly confident in that assessment, he wasn't good but I didn't think he was much below average, but I've had a chance to watch the coaches film (thank you NFL Rewind) of the whole game now and yeah the -48 DYAR feels right, though if James Jones runs the correct route and that is a catch or just an incomplete he's likely around a 0.

The coverage in that game by both teams was very good. Even if the QB's weren't pressured receivers were rarely open, and when they were open throws generally had to right on, or it was under a fairly tight zone that was only allowing a short gain. A lot of the drops or should have made that catch I think were influenced by that. The receivers had to work harder to even get open and from anecdotal evidence from all teams that I've watched when they are playing against tight coverage and their QB is being consistently pressured drops are more likely.

The offenses were bad and made mistakes, but getting to watch the game a couple times from broadcast and then coaches film perspectives, I really do think this was a case of two defenses playing good to great causing a lot of that.

*It's possible final adjustments would have made his 2010 week 5 game vs the Redskins negative, I only have quick reads data to go on and he was a 9 in that game and Washington finished with a 12.4% passing defense so it was fairly poor.

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by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 5:26pm

There are actually a surprising number of 4 INT 7 sack games:

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/play-index/tgl_finder.cgi?request=...

I especially like the six interception game turned in by Donald Hollas in 1998; three players threw passes for Oakland that day, but Hollas threw all six interceptions going 12 for 31 for 152 yards with one touchdown. It isn't immediately apparent who took the 8 sacks, but I'm going to go with Hollas for a majority.

Note that in 1983 the Dallas Cowboys had a 4 INT 7 sack game, AND WON. Drew Pearson, a receiver, was 0 for 1 and the fourth pick, so Danny White's day wasn't as bad as it could have been.

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by Vince Verhei :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 6:00pm

Yeah, the Play Finder at PFR sadly does not include individual sack data. I didn't think of using the Team Game Finder.

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by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 6:07pm

There are some fun ones in here:
http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/198910290rai.htm

The Skins have 7 sacks, 4 INTs, 4 fumbles lost (8 total fumbles!). But it's close at the half, because the Raiders can't hold onto the ball either, and the Skins get a 99 KO return. Also, they throw for 462 yards.

--
http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/196711190dal.htm

Threw Dallas QBs combined for 4 INTs, but also 3 TDs. Hayes and Rentzel combined for 358 yards receiving on 24 catches. Dallas almost dug out of a 27-6 4th quarter hole.

Philly had two such games in 1954, and went 1-1.

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by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 6:34pm

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/197809240sdg.htm

Three San Diego QB's have at least 7 throws, and they combine for 5 interceptions. Nonetheless, San Diego outgains the Packers almost two to one: 245-127, but scores only three points and loses by three touchdowns, one each on offense, defense, and special teams (a blocked punt to go with the sacks and interceptions).

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by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 09/19/2012 - 3:36pm

The game finder is so much fun:

Of all games in which a QB has a passer rating of less than 20, only one game since 2000 is in the top ten for attempts: Matt Hasselbeck's 14-for-41 against Arizona in 2004. One quarterback you may know has the distinction of FOUR passer rating 20-or-less games in the top 50 for # of attempts: Troy Aikman (is there any doubt that he is the most overrated player in the history of the NFL)?

As I expected, the most attempts ever with a rushing average under 2 YPC is Edgerrin James' monumental performance for Arizona against Chicago (although, to be fair, he was the only Arizona player who could apparently see Brian Urlacher that game). What I didn't remember was his long run of 12 yards. Without that, the other 35 carries went for 43 yards. Curtis Martin, Larry Brown, and Eric Dickerson each managed 30-carry games under 2 YPC.

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by ScottyB (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 10:59pm

I’m surprised no one here mentioned this regarding the Jets loss. Before getting speared in the head by Timmon’s helmet early in the 2nd quarter (it rightfully drew a roughing penalty), Sanchez was 6 for 8 for 80 yards and a TD. After, he was 4 for 19 for 58 yards and 0 TDs.

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by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 09/19/2012 - 12:13pm

So what you're saying is that we were living with a strange bizarro-Sanchez before that hit, and now we're back to the real deal?

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by BJR :: Thu, 09/20/2012 - 5:46am

I mentioned it in the Audibles column. Although Sanchez got straight up and did not miss any plays, I would be very surprised if a hit like that did not have some lasting repercussions.