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30 Oct 2012

Week 8 Quick Reads

by Vince Verhei

If you didn't watch the Philadelphia Eagles lose to the Atlanta Falcons 30-17 on Sunday, here's the gist of the story: The Eagles are 3-4. They've lost three in a row and four of their last five. After the game, coach Andy Reid said he'd consider benching quarterback Michael Vick for rookie Nick Foles if he thought it would make the team better. Vick confirmed that Reid was considering a quarterback switch and vowed to stand by his coach's decision. Is it time to cut ties with Vick, or is there hope that he could have something in the tank for 2013?

We can try to answer that question by using Football Outsiders' similarity scores. Similarity scores were originally developed by baseball analyst Bill James and have since been adapted by countless other writers studying a wide variety of sports. The concept is simple: Plug each quarterback's numbers into a computer and search for which of his historical predecessors had similar figures, then examine how those predecessors played from that point forward. FO's system is primarily used to project future performance, so it includes off-field variables like height, weight, age, and draft round. For our purposes, we'll project Vick's 2012 stats over a full 16-game schedule, which would see him finish with 3,730 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 18 interceptions. We're also going to use Vick's 2010 and 2011 data to look for long-term matches and eliminate one-year flukes.

Top 10 QBs most similar to Michael Vick, 2010-12
Name
Team
Years
Com%
Yds/Gm
TD-INT
Rtg.
Sacks
Michael Vick*
PHI
2010-12
60.2%
245.2
57-38
86.3
103
Donovan McNabb
PHI
2006-08
60.0%
247.2
60-24
89.7
88
Archie Manning
NO
1978-80
60.9%
214.6
55-56
79.9
95
Jim Kelly
BUF
1991-93
61.2%
227.3
74-54
86.3
76
Joe Montana
SF
1988-90
63.7%
248.7
70-34
95.6
96
Joe Theismann
WAS
1982-84
60.6%
222.9
66-33
91.6
112
Steve McNair
TEN
2000-02
61.6%
203.9
58-40
85.7
82
Mark Brunell
JAC
1998-00
59.5%
211.4
54-32
84.9
111
Steve Beuerlein
CAR
1998-00
61.0%
245.0
72-45
87.6
156
Kerry Collins
NYG/OAK
2003-05
55.4%
246.8
54-48
74.4
92
John Elway
DEN
1989-91
55.5%
209.1
46-44
76.0
123
*2012 statistics projected over 16 games.

That's quite a mix of quarterbacks, largely made up of 20th Century Hall of Fame types and 21st Century mediocrities. It actually shows one of the weaknesses of similarity scores, which is that we've never been able to figure out an accurate way to do them so that stats are normalized for a player's era and the way the game has changed over time. In 1980, Archie Manning's completion percentage (60.7%), yards per game (232.3), and passer rating (81.8) were all among the ten best in the NFL. Vick's numbers this season look similar on the surface (59.0%, 260.0, 78.6), but he ranks 25th, 14th, and 25th in these categories in 2012.

The most intriguing name on that list might be Donovan McNabb, who falls somewhere between mediocrity and Hall of Fame candidate on the quarterback scale. It's quite a coincidence that the most similar player to Vick over the past three years is actually the man he replaced in Philadelphia. That probably shows the influence Reid had over McNabb, and has over Vick. Essentially, Vick has become McNabb with a little more rushing ability, but also with more sacks and turnovers. That may not be what the Eagles had hoped for when they signed Vick to a six-year, $100 million contract a little more than a year ago, but it's hard to say that they made a mistake shipping McNabb out of town. After 2008, McNabb had one more good year as a starter in Philadelphia, one bad year as a starter in Washington, a spectacular six-game flameout with Minnesota, and then retirement.

And that is the one unifying thread connecting the quarterbacks on this list: almost all were near the end of their careers. Six of Vick's most similar matches had two years or fewer left as starting quarterbacks, and only one had more than three seasons remaining. John Elway played seven more seasons after 1991, and probably could have played more if he wanted (in his final season, Elway was among the ten highest-rated passers in football and won the Super Bowl). If you think Vick's going to last more than another season or two, you're basically saying he's going to have the work ethic, training habits, and physical durability of John Elway, and you're going to be very lonely in that opinion.

On the other hand, only one player on that list (Beuerlein) never started again. It's been a rough start for Vick this year, but it's probably a mistake to say he can't play in the league anymore. And that makes the timing of this proposed quarterback switch so curious. Vick had 11 turnovers (counting interceptions and all fumbles, no matter who recovered them) in the season's first four games, but the Eagles won three of those contests thanks in large part to a defense that gave up only six touchdowns in that timeframe. Then the turnovers became too much to overcome, as the Eagles lost back-to-back games to the Steelers and Lions. The Eagles defense gave up three combined touchdowns in those two games, while Vick turned the ball over six more times. If the Eagles were going to switch quarterbacks, that might have been the time to do it. Instead, Andy Reid somehow looked at these results and determined that the defense was costing his team games, and fired defensive coordinator Juan Castillo.

Which brings us to the Falcons game. The Eagles lost, obviously, but it's hard to pin this one on Vick. It wasn't his best day, but he produced 220 yards of offense in 45 plays without a single turnover. Meanwhile, without Castillo, the Eagles defense played their worst game of the year, letting the Falcons score on each of their first six possessions before they spent the fourth quarter running out the clock. The proper thing to do here may have been to send flowers to Castillo's house with a note of apology and a request to return. Reid, though, decided that Vick was to blame, and alerted his quarterback that his job was in danger.

And that's the state of things in Philadelphia. Forget about fixing problems, this team can't even diagnose them properly. That's why a quarterback change won't fix anything, and neither will the dismissal of assistant coaches. There's only one man overseeing everything in Philadelphia, and after 14 mostly successful seasons it appears he has lost his touch. If Michael Vick is going to lose his job, then Andy Reid deserves to lose his too.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
1.
Tom Brady NE
23/35
304
4
0
246
242
4
The Patriots were so dominant that Brady threw 14 passes in the red zone alone. Before the Monday Night game, 49ers quarterback Alex Smith only had 14 red zone passes all season. Brady's numbers inside the Rams' 20: 7-of-13 for 71 yards, plus a 7-yard DPI, for four touchdowns and two other first downs.
2.
Matt Ryan ATL
22/29
262
3
0
190
183
6
Ryan threw touchdowns on each of Atlanta's first three drives, going 12-of-13 for 157 yards, plus two DPIs for 23 more yards. That's 10 first downs (including the three scores) in his first 14 dropbacks.
3.
Matt Stafford DET
34/49
352
3
1
180
179
1
Stafford's accuracy on third downs was unbelievable. In the first half he went 7-of-8 for 91 yards on third down, although only four of those completions gained first downs (including a 46-yard touchdown). In the second half, though, he dropped back seven times on third downs and produced seven completions for seven first downs, including the game-winning touchdown. Those seven throws also gained 56 yards.
4.
Alex Smith SF
18/19
232
3
0
148
145
2
5.
Peyton Manning DEN
22/30
305
3
0
137
138
-2
Of course, if you're really good on first down, you don't have to worry about third downs. Manning went 9-of-10 on first downs for 197 yards and eight first downs, including a touchdown.
6.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
24/33
222
3
0
122
127
-5
Roethlisberger was also at his best on first downs, going 12-of-14 for 130 yards and eight first downs.
7.
Russell Wilson SEA
25/35
252
2
1
120
114
6
Wilson's statline against Detroit was nice enough, but most importantly for Seattle is where Wilson had his success. In the first seven weeks of the year, Wilson had most of his success on deep passes. Counting pass interference flags as receptions, he completed 51 percent of his passes that traveled 16 yards or more past the line of scrimmage, higher than the league average of 45 percent. However, he lacked consistent touch and accuracy on shorter throws, hitting only 64 percent of the time (league average: 67 percent). Green Bay and New England can tell you all about Wilson's ability to hit the deep ball, but due to his erratic short passing the Seattle offense often sputtered and stalled. Against the Lions, though, Wilson found his short game, completing 23-of-30 short passes (that's 77 percent accuracy) for 218 yards. The Seahawks came up short on Sunday, but if Wilson keeps playing like this, they'll have many more victories down the road.
8.
Josh Freeman TB
19/36
262
3
0
87
91
-4
Quite a streaky game for Freeman. At separate points in this game, he went 2-of-7 for 9 yards and no first downs; 0-for-5; and 2-of-5 for 13 yards with a sack and no first downs. On the other hand, he also had streaks where he went 5-of-6 for 54 yards and five first downs, including a touchdown; 3-of-3 for 93 yards and three first downs, including a touchdown; and 4-of-5 for 71 yards and four first downs.
9.
Matt Moore MIA
11/19
131
1
0
48
48
0
Moore ranks this highly mainly because he had no turnovers, and his only sack was a 1-yard loss on first down, so it didn't kill him. Take away three third-down plays — a 4-yard touchdown to Anthony Fasano, a 30-yard play to Jabar Gaffney (his only catch this season), and a 37-yard gain by Marlon Moore — and the Dolphins' backup quarterback was below replacement level.
10.
Tony Romo DAL
36/61
437
1
4
38
30
9
All right, this is going to take some explanation. Why does Romo rank so high? Technically Romo threw four interceptions, but one of those came on a fourth-down and is treated like any other incomplete pass. Romo's other three picks, plus his four sacks, totaled -190 DYAR. How many good plays did Romo need to offset those seven bad ones? Ten. Romo's ten best plays included six completions of at least 20 yards, including a 55-yarder; a 20-yard DPI; a pair of 15-yard gains on third-and-5 and third-and-10; and a 1-yard touchdown on second-and-goal. And aside from those 17 plays, Romo went 27-of-49 for 229 yards, including 12 first downs and 12 other successful completions. Also, it was a pretty bad week for quarterbacks.
11.
Michael Vick PHI
21/35
177
1
0
36
32
4
The Falcons specialize in taking away the deep pass. Opponents have thrown only 36 deep balls against Atlanta. Only the Chiefs and Panthers have seen fewer deep passes, and those teams are a combined 2-12, so opponents haven't needed to gamble much with deep passes. The Falcons are undefeated usually protecting leads, and they still make sure to cover everything deep. Meanwhile, Michael Vick is a deep-ball specialist, fifth in the league with 58 such throws. Against Atlanta, though, he was neutered, throwing just one deep pass all day, a throw to DeSean Jackson 18 yards past the line of scrimmage on second-and-2 in the second quarter. The pass fell incomplete.
12.
John Skelton ARI
32/52
290
0
1
33
37
-4
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
13.
Matt Hasselbeck TEN
22/29
236
1
0
29
24
4
The Titans lost in overtime, in large part due to Hasselbeck's struggles inside the Indianapolis 40, aside from his 23-yard touchdown to Kendall Wright. He did complete seven of his eight other passes, but for only 28 yards and one first down, with a fumbled snap and two sacks.
14.
Carson Palmer OAK
14/28
209
2
1
23
23
0
One of Palmer's touchdowns was a 9-yarder to Denarius Moore on third-and-8. Otherwise he went only 1-of-8 on third downs, and that one completion was a 4-yard gain on third-and-8.
15.
Andrew Luck IND
26/38
297
1
1
19
17
2
The good news is that Luck went 7-of-9 on third downs for 81 yards and five first downs. The bad news is that in regulation, he went 1-of-5 in the red zone, and that only completion was a 9-yard gain on third-and-10. He did throw one red zone pass in overtime, and it was a game-winning 16-yard touchdown to Vick Ballard.
16.
Aaron Rodgers GB
22/35
186
2
0
9
6
4
Rodgers was unusually useless in the middle of this game. In the second and third quarters, he went 13-of-21 for 92 yards with two sacks and only three first downs.
17.
Cam Newton CAR
20/39
314
0
2
8
1
6
The Bears defense is really good. Without opponent adjustments, Newton would have been virtually tied for last place this week. However, they are somewhat vulnerable to deep passes. Newton went 5-of-10 on deep balls for 163 yards, although none of those completions were touchdowns.
18.
Blaine Gabbert JAC
27/49
303
1
0
4
11
-7
First half: 14-of-25 for 195 yards with 10 first downs, including a touchdown. Second half: 13-of-24 for 108 yards and four first downs, with a sack-fumble.
19.
Philip Rivers SD
18/33
154
0
0
-14
-14
0
On Cleveland's half of the field, Rivers went 6-of-11 for 28 yards and only two first downs.
20.
Matt Cassel KC
20/30
218
1
1
-16
-19
3
The Chiefs were only down 13-6 at halftime. Then Cassel's first play after halftime was a fumbled snap, recovered by Oakland. For the rest of the third quarter, Cassel went 7-of-10, but for only 45 yards and two first downs, and by the time the fourth quarter began Oakland was up 23-9.
21.
Drew Brees NO
22/42
213
2
1
-23
-22
-1
Third downs: one 9-yard gain on third-and-4, one 12-yard gain on third-and-20, nine incompletions, one sack-fumble.
22.
Robert Griffin WAS
16/34
177
1
0
-26
-20
-5
In the second quarter, Griffin hit Santana Moss for a 2-yard touchdown to make it 10-6, Pittsburgh. To that point, he was 5-of-8 for 58 yards and five first downs, including that touchdown. He then threw six incompletions in a row to end the first half, and the Redskins never got gloser than two touchdowns again. He was also held to three rushes for 11 yards.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
23.
Christian Ponder MIN
19/35
251
1
1
-27
-28
0
Ponder's first five passes of the game, three of them on third downs, were all incomplete. His next pass was complete for 4 yards on second-and-9, but the receiver (who will we get too before the end of this piece) fumbled the ball away. And that was the end of Ponder's first-quarter action. His first pass of the second quarter was complete to Percy Harvin for 32 yards, but by that point Minnesota was down 13-0, and the Vikings never really threatened to take the lead after that.
24.
Eli Manning NYG
15/29
192
0
1
-40
-39
0
As usual, Manning played best in the fourth quarter. Through three periods, he was 9-of-23 for 124 yards with four first downs, one interception, and one sack. In the fourth frame, he went 6-of-6 for 68 yards and three first downs.
25.
Brandon Weeden CLE
11/27
129
0
0
-45
-46
2
In San Diego's half of the field, Weeden went 1-of-8, with his only completion a 9-yard gain on third-and-10, with two sacks. He had no plays in the red zone. Keep in mind that Weeden played against Philip Rivers this week. What a spectacle that must have been.
26.
Jay Cutler CHI
19/28
186
1
1
-61
-59
-2
OK, seriously, why do the Bears ever throw in the first quarter anymore? Cutler went 3-of-4 for 29 yards and two first downs in the first quarter, with three sacks, one interception, and a fumble. Then, in the fourth quarter, he went 12-of-14 for 106 yards and eight first downs, including a touchdown. In the first quarter this season, Cutler has been sacked eight times and thrown four intereptions. He has -404 DYAR in the first quarter, far and away the worst in football. Nobody else is even at -200. However, he's fourth in DYAR in the fourth quarter and overtime.
27.
Sam Bradford STL
23/30
205
1
1
-65
-61
-4
Bradford went 9-of-10 in the second quarter, which sounds good, but he picked up only 50 yards and two first downs. On New England's half of the field, he went 2-of-6 for 15 yards with no first downs, one sack and two interceptions. Keep in mind this was the same game in which Tom Brady threw 14 passes in the red zone alone.
28.
Mark Sanchez NYJ
28/54
283
1
1
-65
-67
2
Honestly, Sanchez wasn't that bad on Sunday. He had a higher DVOA than Eli Manning, Jay Cutler, Brandon Weeden, or Sam Bradford. However, he was bad, and because he was bad over so many more attempts than anyone else, he ended up with more negative DYAR. He was, however, a disaster in the red zone. He did have a 5-yard touchdown to Chaz Schilens, but he failed to complete any of his other eight passes inside the Miami 20, and one of them was intercepted.


Five most valuable running backs
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Doug Martin TB
135
1
79
1
68
42
26
Nine of his 29 carries went for no gain or a loss, but four went for 10 yards or more, including a 41-yarder, plus a touchdown on third-and-goal from the 1. Only caught three of the six passes thrown his way, but those three receptions were a 6-yard gain on first-and-10, a 9-yard gain on second-and-8, and a 64-yarder on second-and-11.
2.
Trent Richardson CLE
122
1
12
0
48
41
8
Richardson has very good games and very bad games, and almost nothing in between. He was among the bottom five running backs in total DYAR in Weeks 1, 6, and 7, when he averaged 39 yards from scrimmage. However, he finished in the top five in Weeks 2, 4, and 8, when he cranked out 128 total yards per game. Richardson ran 24 times for 122 yards against San Diego. He was stuffed for no gain or a loss five times, but he had 13 runs of 4 yards or more and five carries for 10 yards or more, including a 26-yard touchdown. He also caught the only pass thrown his way for 12 more yards.
3.
Willis McGahee DEN
122
1
33
0
48
30
17
Only one of his 24 runs resulted in a loss of yardage (and that one was fumbled away), but four runs for 10 or more yards four other short runs for first downs, including a goal-line touchdown. Also caught both of the passes thrown his way for gains of 14 and 19 yards.
4.
Stevan Ridley NE
127
1
0
0
39
39
0
Ridley only had 15 runs against St. Louis, and five of those runs resulted in no gain or a loss. However, he had a 1-yard touchdown, and five big runs for 11, 16, 20, 30, and 41 yards.
5.
Joique Bell DET
25
0
33
0
34
8
26
Seven carries that each gained between 2 and 5 yards, but Bell did his real damage as a receiver. He caught each of the four passes thrown his way. Three of them picked up first downs (including an 11-yard gain on third-and-10), and the other was a 5-yard gain on first-and-10.


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
58
0
6
0
-41
-40
-1
Seven of his 24 carries went for no gain or a loss, one a stuff on fourth-and-1, and he also had a fumble. He had only one run over 10 yards, an 11-yarder in the third quarter, and had only one other first down all day. The Falcons threw him two passes and he caught one for 6 yards.
OTHER BACKS OF LITTLE VALUE: Felix Jones, DAL (13 carries for 25 yards and a fumble, no catches in three targets); Alex Green, GB: (22 carries for 54 yards, four catches for 28 yards in six targets); Darren McFadden, OAK (29 carries for 114 yards, seven runs for no gain or a loss, four catches for 23 yards in six targets).


Five most valuable wide receivers and tight ends
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Julio Jones ATL
5
5
123
24.6
1
84
The Falcons threw him six balls, and counting a 22-yard DPI, five of them produced first downs. The other was a 6-yard gain on second-and-10. Had a 63-yard touchdown and another gain of 37 yards. Also had one carry for a 9-yard gain.
2.
Titus Young DET
9
9
100
11.1
2
68
Only two of his catches gained 10 or more yards, including his 46-yard touchdown. However, four of his seven shorter catches produced first downs, including the game-winning score in the fourth quarter.
3.
Demaryius Thomas DEN
7
9
137
19.6
1
51
Six of Thomas' catches produced first downs, including a 1-yard touchdown, plus four plays of 20 yards or more, including a 41-yarder.
4.
Michael Crabtree SF
5
5
72
14.4
2
50
If you're looking for Jason WItten and his 18 catches, he was in fifth place before Monday night.
5.
Rob Gronkowski NE
8
13
146
18.2
2
46
All of Gronkowski's catches gained at least 7 yards and a first down, including three gains of 20 yards or more, capped off by a 32-yarder.


Least valuable wide receiver or tight end
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Jerome Simpson MIN
2
7
37
18.5
0
-44
Simpson's best play was a 33-yarder on third-and-12. Other than that, all he had was a 4-yard gain that he fumbled away and five incompletions.
OTHER RECEIVERS OF LITTLE VALUE: Robert Meachem, SD (no catches in three targets; one carry for -6 yards); Victor Cruz, NYG: (two catches for 23 yards in eight targets); Mike Thomas, JAC (four catches for 19 yards in seven targets).

Posted by: Vince Verhei on 30 Oct 2012

106 comments, Last at 31 Oct 2012, 7:02pm by tgt2

Comments

1
by cubeofmoon (not verified) :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 10:05am

Sam Bradford only had one interception, not two. Kellen Clemens had the other.

2
by armchair journe... :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 10:15am

Count me among those expecting to see Witten. Damn but that was an efficient performance.. Seemed like every catch was a "success."

//AJMQB

6
by STI (not verified) :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 10:28am

My guess is that lots of little short dumpoffs don't generally do much for DYAR.

15
by Independent George :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 10:43am

They do when they result in first downs, or come close enough to be counted as a success.

16
by armchair journe... :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 10:48am

Since when are 9-15 yard plays considered dump-offs?

It was a showing made for DVOA to love. Looking at the other 5 guys, my guess is DYAR "overrates" TDs, as they're essentially being converted to a yardage value.

//AJMQB

34
by The Powers That Be :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 12:20pm

Would that all dumpoffs were like these.

It was a pretty amazing performance. He had 13 catches on 1st-and-10, for 14,11,10,9,9,9,9,8,8,7,6,6, and 4 yards. That's 12 successes and 3 first downs. Every one of his 2nd- and 3rd-down catches resulted in a 1st down. I guess the lack of TDs and the 4 incompletions kept him off the list, but wow.

69
by DRohan :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 3:08pm

4 yards on 1st and 10 is a success, too, is it not?

72
by Ryan D. :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 3:34pm

It is not. 45% on first down is the required number, which requires 5 yards on a 1st and 10 play. Of course, not all 1st down plays have 10 yards to go, so any 1st down play that gets 45% or more needed yards is a success.

75
by LionInAZ :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 3:59pm

No.

46
by Bjorn Nittmo :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 1:24pm

Second. I thought for sure that Witten's peformance would top the DYAR list not just for the week but the year. I'd think that he didn't crack the top 5 for the week would be a red flag to look under the DYAR hood.

3
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 10:19am

Gronk should get bonus DYAR for his touchdown celebrations.

4
by Athelas :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 10:24am

At least his first one.

20
by RickD :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 11:10am

Reading my mind.

And for referring to the guard at Buckingham Palace as "that Nutcracker dude".

60
by Tballgame (not verified) :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 2:22pm

All of Gronk's receptions went for touchdowns?

73
by Athelas :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 3:39pm

"All of Gronkowski's catches gained at least 7 yards and a touchdown"

All of Gronk's catches gained a touchdown?
All of Gronk's catches gained at least a touchdown?

Grammatically, it doesn't work, but I'll take a few minor typing errors in exchange for getting this up so quickly--thanks Vince!

79
by Vince Verhei :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 4:29pm

Whoops. Should have read FIRST down, not touchdown. It's been fixed.

5
by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 10:25am

regarding Romo - since 2002 there have been 8 games where a team threw 4 ints and won. In that same period teams there were 53 games where teams threw 3 ints and won.

So not surprisingly it's very rare indeed to win a game where you toss 4 ints.

To me that fact makes Romo's positive rating a little suspect.

7
by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 10:29am

Continuing on my Romo theme...

in the same period I mentioned....

teams throwing 4 ints lost 136 games
teams throwing 3 ints lost 444 games

so if you throw 4 ints you will lose 17 times as often as you win
and if you throw 3 ints you will lose 8.37 times as often as you win

I would think that fact alone makes me pretty confident that any QB that throws 3 or 4 ints, was very likely pretty awful that day.

11
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 10:34am

Also his DYAR is 38, which is not lights-out great by any means, it was just an unimpressive week for QB's. It's a reflection the fact that he had to do a lot of good things to offset the turnovers and keep his team in the game.

18
by tuluse :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 11:03am

It's also on 61 passing attempts. Michael Vick got 26 DYAR on just 35 attempts.

21
by RickD :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 11:16am

Also, it's important not to get too hung up on the ordinal numbers. What's important here is the DYAR. Even though Romo is listed at #10, his DYAR of 38 is closer to Blaine Gabbert's DYAR of 4 (#18) than to Josh Freeman's DYAR of 87 (#8).

29
by The Powers That Be :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 12:00pm

This is a pretty silly argument. You're saying that MOST teams lose when their QB throws 3 INTs, and therefore ALL QBs were "pretty awful" in those games. My guess is that it's just as rare for a QB to have positive DYAR while throwing 3 INTs as it is for their team to win that day. Doesn't mean it doesn't happen. Romo's performance is just at one end of that distribution, just like those 50-odd winning teams' were.

42
by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 1:16pm

I don't think it's "pretty silly" to argue that when you throw 4 ints in a game you have probably not had a positive effect on your chances of winning regardless of what you do the rest of the game. It might not be accurate, but I think it's safe to say it's not "pretty silly".

If you make that many turnovers your defence better play a really good game or you won't have a chance to win. If you force your defence to play really well to win then I don't see how you have had a positive effect on winning.

47
by tuluse :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 1:24pm

Positive DYAR does not mean positive effect on winning. All it means is that he was better than a borderline 3rd stringer (theoretically).

56
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 2:03pm

"I don't think it's "pretty silly" to argue that when you throw 4 ints in a game you have probably not had a positive effect on your chances of winning regardless of what you do the rest of the game".

You're right, but also missing the point. To take an oversimplified real-world example, if you get caught cheating on your wife, that would lead to a divorce in a large proportion of marriages. However, if your wife thinks that there are enough other things about you as a husband that awesome, she may overlook the infidelity one time and not divorce you. If she thinks you're an average husband to begin with, then not so much.

Similarly, even though Romo's interceptions are pretty horrific, he made enough other awesome plays to (barely) make it to the positive side of the ledger of DYAR.

68
by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 3:04pm

That example is the equivalent of the Cowboys not cutting Romo.

I am not missing your point. DYAR is assigning positive and negative values to plays - those are values that the creators of the systems have assigned. What I am saying is that it makes no sense to come up with a positive overall value for a game when a QB throws 3 or 4 ints because it forces the defence to play far better than average to win that game in almost every situation. If you force your defence to play far better than average because of your negative plays than there is no way that you have had a positive effect on the outcome of the game.

Having said all that - 3 or 4 ints might have nothing to do with the QB - maybe every pass was perfect and the receiver screwed up somehow and tipped it to a defender. But that gets into the complexity of assigning positive and negative contributions to an individual in a team game. And that is an entirely different argument.

70
by DRohan :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 3:13pm

The Cowboys came within a fingernail of winning. This reflects the positive plays which (almost) offset the negative ones.

71
by theslothook :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 3:20pm

I think statistically, what you're trying to get at is DVOA and DYAR should have some non linear coefficient on the number of interceptions or turnovers, ie- they start to compound in negative grade the more you have rather a coefficient of 1 I'm guessing.

We can have a debate about how much better it might be this way. Keep in mind, DVOA is meant to correlate better with winning, so maybe the creators did think of doing it this way and found it hurt R2 and decided against it. Or maybe they didn't, I don't know.

AS far as I'm concerned, I don't think it should have a cumulative effect on your grading. Evaluating a qb should be over the entirety of his throws, not a selection of three or 4 poor throws. Sure, they may hurt your team more, but do we really assume that once the first int, Romo is actively getting worse as a qb? Do we believe after the 2nd int, the team itself is now going to play worse than after the first int? He might and they might, but I doubt it. The point of dyar is to paint an accurate picture of his entire body of work and in that game, he did just slightly more good things to offset all of the bad

ps- I recognize it wasn't all on romo, my comments are more about the cowboys passing game at large.

105
by tgt2 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 6:57pm

You throw 4 interceptions, which is really 3 interceptions + an incomplete on 4th down. You tough the ball 12 other times in the game, and throw a touchdown pass each time. Clearly, you had a net hurt on the team.

8
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 10:31am

They did mention that while 4th INT counts as an INT on the stat sheet, it's really the same as an incomplete pass, as far as its effect on his team's chances of winning...kind of like a hail mary INT.

43
by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 1:17pm

I don't know how dyar treats such a play but not converting in that play had to be a huge negative.

78
by LionInAZ :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 4:22pm

Not converting on that play was bad in any case. Throwing the INT wasn't any worse than if he had missed the throw, a receiver had dropped it, or if it had been caught and fumbled.

83
by The Powers That Be :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 6:54pm

In fact, the optimal play for the defender there was to knock the ball down, making it an incomplete pass. By catching it, he cost the Giants a couple yards of field position vs. an incompletion.

9
by Thok :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 10:32am

I'm pleased to see Crabtree in the top 5: it seemed like he had 5-10 yards after catch each time he caught the ball, and even his 22 yard pickup on 3rd and 23 had value since it let the Niners kick a much shorter field goal.

12
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 10:35am

I'd love to know what the DVOA/DYAR is for a 22 yard gain on 3rd and 23. Is it a successful play or not?

14
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 10:40am

I thought any play short of the sticks on 3rd down is considered unsuccessful, no matter what the raw yardage. I don't think they take gains in field-position or shorter field-goal attempts into account.

17
by Eddo :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 10:53am

It's unsuccessful when computing success rate, but that doesn't mean it has zero value in YAR terms. It depends what a replacement-level 3rd-and-23 play is like - and I'm guessing it's a good deal less than 22 yards.

19
by Brent :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 11:09am

Pretty sure that's wrong. For one thing, it's not a binary "successful"/"unsuccessful" measure. Every down, distance, field position has a value. Shorter field goals have a higher probability of makes, so getting the shorter field goal has value. If the team wanted to go for it on 4th down, 1 yard to go is very make-able, so that has value too. I'm guessing it's a positive DVOA on that play, but I don't know. The question DVOA asks is how that play compares to the average of what teams do on 3rd and 23 from that spot on the field (adjusted for competition).

27
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 11:51am

Taken verbatim from the website's explanation of DVOA/DYAR:

"On first down, a play is considered a success if it gains 45 percent of needed yards; on second down, a play needs to gain 60 percent of needed yards; on third or fourth down, only gaining a new first down is considered success."

They don't make any mention of how many yards were needed for a first down. It's probably easier, generally speaking, to make a 22 yard gain on 3rd and 23 (where the safeties are way back) than it is on 3rd and 10. Which is why it counts for less value in the former situation.

45
by Brent :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 1:24pm

Ah, yes. OK. I still think it's more instructive (at least, that's what I think in the sense of the OP's comment) to think about how much value one gets from a play than to think about a binary success/failure.

22 yards on 3rd and 23 should certainly count less than 22 yards on 3rd and 10, but it should count for quite a bit more than an incomplete. It's probably a better-than-average play (I'm guessing there is a fairly high failure rate on 3rd and 23).

50
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 1:43pm

I agree with you there, a 22 yard gain on a 3rd and 23 is much more valuable than a 9 yard gain on a 3rd and 10 play, and should be treated differently. I'm pretty sure they take the average success rates of the two different distances into account.

52
by tuluse :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 1:46pm

DVOA measure success points for getting a first down, and success points for field position, so I think it's got it covered.

It also compares success points gained to the average for similar situations, so if you do better than the average team you have positive DVOA.

106
by tgt2 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 7:02pm

How about we go to what Aaron said on this very topic 3 weeks ago:

http://www.footballoutsiders.com/extra-points/2012/fo-mailbag-dvoa-expla...

Success points are on a sliding scale. It isn't a firm point or no point. Partial success is noted.

10
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 10:33am

Vince, I love your work but I really hate similarity scores for football. Some of those results aren't even very similar, Joe Montana's for example has only passing yards in common, other than that Montana is much better.

23
by RickD :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 11:29am

That raises the question of how the scores are calculated. Montana's yardage is really quite close. But the rating is not.

Seems weird to include QB rating as one factor in the similarity score, since the QB rating itself is just a function of all of the other stats.

Looking at Montana's '89 numbers...wow.

26
by Peregrine :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 11:47am

Rather surprising that Montana never exceeded 4,000 yards in a season. But for the youngsters and foreigners around here, I can confirm that he was a heck of a player. If he were playing now, he could put up plenty of numbers too.

28
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 11:55am

If the 1980's 49ers didn't have such good defenses and running games (that no one seems to remember), Montana undoubtedly cracked the 4,000 yard barrier a few times.

32
by tuluse :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 12:13pm

Joe Montana only played in all 16 games 3 times in his career. It's hard to top 4000 yards when you're hurt for 3 games.

13
by @MichaelEdits :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 10:40am

The Panthers always play hard from the start of the game to their first celebration dance.

22
by Podge (not verified) :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 11:21am

Sam Bradford's standard QB rating: 91
Sam Bradford's ESPN QBR: 65.7 (13th for the week).

Hello opponent adjustments.

53
by Dean :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 1:50pm

You mean that stat still exists?

65
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 2:46pm

Pretty sure that QBR does not have opponent adjustments, only "clutch" adjustments.

66
by tuluse :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 2:56pm

I think you've missed his point, QBR thinks he had a pretty decent day, DYAR thinks he was awful.

87
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 12:54am

Ah, you're right, I wasn't paying attention.

90
by Bobman :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 2:16am

Clutch adjustments only kick in if he drove a manual shift car to the game. Driving a stick on the opposite side of the road is very challenging the first time one tries it, so in the case of UK games, the adjustment should be automatic. (oh God, that last pun was not intended) I better stop now ....

24
by BJR :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 11:39am

"Richardson has very good games and very bad games, and almost nothing in between. He was among the bottom five running backs in total DYAR in Weeks 1, 6, and 7, when he averaged 39 yards from scrimmage."

Richardson injured his ribs early in week 6 before ultimately being taken out of the game, and was obviously still injured in week 7 where he received only 8 ineffective carries before being replaced.

25
by Anonymous3737 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 11:40am

Deion Branch didn't have one catch but he had at least two DPI on third down to keep the drive going. Just curious how much his zero catch stat line was worth?

30
by Flounder :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 12:08pm

I have been wondering if Rodgers was concussed on his fumble at the tail end of the 2nd half. The cameras were on him a number of times in the third quarter where I thought he looked completely out of it.

31
by BroncFan07 :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 12:12pm

Would Peyton's DYAR have changed much if the original call had stood on McGahee's TD reception instead of it being overruled, and him rushing it in on the next play instead?

33
by Ferguson1015 :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 12:13pm

On Cleveland's half of the field, Rivers went 6-of-11 for 28 yards and only two first downs.

Even more telling, 4 of those 5 incompletions were the final 4 plays of the game for San Diego's Offense.

35
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 12:50pm

The Browns stadium seems to be a mecca for terrible quarterbacking. Remember that classic 6-3 battle that Charlie Whitehurst and Colt McCoy was involved in last year?

48
by Independent George :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 1:27pm

Don't forget this classic:

BUF 0 @ CLE 8
Edwards: 13/33, 124 yds, 0 TD, 0 INT
Anderson: 9/24, 137 yds, 0 TD, 0 INT

Of course, the re-match in Buffalo two years later was an even bigger barn-burner:

CLE 6 @ BUF 3
Edwards: 16/31, 152 yds, 0 TD, 1 INT
Anderson: 2/17, 23 yds, 0 TD, 1 INT

49
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 1:38pm

Good lord those (standard) stat lines are astoundingly bad. It's really amazing to think about the fact that Trent Edwards and Derek Anderson somehow managed to stay on NFL rosters for multiple years in a row.

57
by Independent George :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 2:08pm

The first game's Quick Reads is not in the archive (I think it was published on Fox Sports back then), but here is the QR for the second game.

Anderson's -92 DYAR actually edged out JaMarcus Russell (-99 DYAR) on account of incomplete passes being better than sack/fumbles.

74
by BigCheese :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 3:55pm

Also, don't forget that it was actually Anderson who "won" that game.

- Alvaro

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

67
by ammek :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 2:58pm

Browns-Bills was disappointingly eventful in the intervening year, but Cleveland made up for it with a humdinger against the Bengals — quarterbacked by a future Bill — which they lost 14-0.

Fitzpatrick: 5/9, 55 yds, 1 TD, 0 INT
Ken Dorsey (!): 10/17, 64 yds, 0 TD, 3 INT

Dorsey was replaced by Bruce Gradkowski, who finished 2/5, 8 yds, 0 TD, 1 INT.

77
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 4:20pm

Have we already had an offseason article titled "Worst single-game quarterback performances by both teams" yet? If not, they need one. FO's all-time worst lists are morbidly entertaining.

81
by Independent George :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 5:55pm

JaMarcus is always good for one-half of a duel. The Raiders actually managed to put up 23 points (McFadden and Bush rushed for over 200 yards) in this epic rivalry game:

OAK 23 @ KC 8
Russell: 6/17, 55 yds, 0 TD, 0 INT
Thigpen: 14/33, 151 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT

Damon Huard played only briefly, but sure he did his best to help with the fireworks.

Huard: 2/4, 17 yds, 0 TD, 1 INT

84
by LionInAZ :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 7:43pm

I love this idea.

85
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 8:19pm

Another good option might be: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/199810110rai.htm I think most Ryan Leaf games (like most JaMarcus) games would be a good place to start. Both teams used two QB's.

On the San Diego Side you have
Leaf 7-18 78y 0TD 3INT
Whelihan 3-6 19y 0TD 1INT

Oakland did a little better
Hollas 12-35 101y 0TD 1INT
Wilson 1-7 68y 1TD 0INT

I'm worried that Wilson's lone completion to James Jett might mess things up too much, I mean if you combine the QB's for each team you get SD 10-24 97y 0TD 4INT and Oak 13-42 168y 1TD 1INT. Those look pretty bad.

DVOA only going back to 91 limits some of it, but that game was just awful on so many levels. 15 first downs total, 354 total yards. I vaguely remember it was the only game I could get, though I can't recall why, but it was just a lot of inept offense.

99
by BJR :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 11:49am

That first game was played in a blizzard.

36
by Paul R :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 12:52pm

RGIII got his stats hosed by his own team this week. What's a quarterback to do when he puts 8 or 9 passes right into the hands of his receivers and they drop the ball like it's a hot ferret?
DYAR should have an adjustment for the Hot Ferret factor.

44
by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 1:22pm

I don't think I've ever seen a more accurate passer than RGIII...granted I've only watched about 5-6 games now counting a couple of college games, but I'm literally amazed how many balls hit the receiver exactly where the ball should be.

51
by tomdrees :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 1:44pm

The Steelers went with the rarely seen "Rubble Rubble" defense.

92
by Bobman :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 2:33am

Maybe RGIII and Russell Wilson can compare notes. I came away from the one Seahawk game I've seen this year (vs SF?) thinking, man, that kid is good and throws a beautiful ball. Then I saw the stat line and wondered how my perception and the numbers could be so far off, until I remembered the horrid catching inabilities of his receiving corps.

98
by Paul R :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 10:37am

I guess the thing that's so frustrating about those passes is that the quarterback was entirely successful at his part of the job, but takes the statistical blame for an unsuccessful play.
For example, if a ball carrier has a 65-yard touchdown run called back for holding, you can argue that he wouldn't have gotten free for the long run if the holding hadn't occurred. Or, if a quarterback misses an open receiver because poor blocking made him scramble and hurry the throw, the most you can say is that he would probably have made the throw if not for the lousy blocking.

Perhaps passing stats could be adjusted something like this: If a thrown ball touches both the receiver's hands--on the palms, not the fingertips--or, if the ball hits the receiver on the numbers on the front of his jersey, then the pass is considered to be a successful pass. If it's not caught after that, it's the receiver's fault.

104
by Dan :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 6:47pm

There are some statistics that account for dropped passes, including ESPN's QBR and various stats at Pro Football Focus (like their Accuracy Percentage).

37
by Insancipitory :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 12:58pm

Stafford reall was brilliant. He wasn't just throwing balls with placement good enough to defeat coverage, he was hitting guys in stride, in their hands, leading them through holes in the defense.

39
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 1:11pm

Yes, taking into account the quality of the defense, that was best game of his career so far. The only one that comes close (against a good defense) was his 2010 game against the Jets.

People who like to undervalue his 2011 season rightly point out that he did most of his damage against mediocre to bad defenses, while not showing up against the good ones. Sunday against the Seahawks was definitely an encouraging sign (one that this Lions fan needed after the Bears game).

38
by Jonadan :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 1:08pm

I have now been saying this for three weeks: as a Lions fan, can we just ignore Bell's lack of pedigree and just make him our primary back?

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

41
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 1:13pm

Bell has great receiving value, no doubt, but LeShoure is a still a better runner.

40
by Nevic (not verified) :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 1:12pm

I thought for sure that Alex Green was going to get least valuable RB. Thank God Matty Ice could pass well Sunday or that game could've been as ugly as GB-JAC.

64
by Arkaein :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 2:46pm

It's pretty hard to be the least valuable RB by DYAR without fumbling at least once.

80
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 4:40pm

He wasn't that bad in the first quarter and probably about average in the passing game for the whole game.

1-10: 2y (bad)
3-08: 0y incomplete pass (bad)
1-10: 5y (success)
2-05: 3y (success)
1-10: 1y (bad)
2-09: 12y reception (successful reception))
1-10: 7y (success)

So at that stage he likely had a slightly positive DYAR, a 60% success rate on runs and a 50% success rate on receptions, and that was 1/4 of his plays (22 runs, 6 targets). Interestingly he was involved in 7 plays each quarter.

His 2nd quarter was pretty awful with the only good play of his 7 being the 11 yard run on first and 10.

3rd quarter was a bit better, though again the only success was 6 yards on 3-1, next best was 4 yards on 1-10

4th quarter had a 3rd and one conversion, and it looks like two other runs that would be successful since the metrics change in the 4th quarter when the team has a lead. It wasn't good, but again it likely wasn't hugely negative.

Basically it was clearly a better game than last week when he was the worst at -52 DYAR, improving to -36 or so DYAR (my guess) was slightly less bad than the -41 by Turner. As mentioned, no fumbles and at least a few successful plays and a first down conversions will at least keep you off the very bottom.

86
by LionInAZ :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 8:20pm

Michael Turner is becoming a regular feature here as Least Valuable RB. It would be fun to know just how many games he's had negative DYAR over the past 1-1/2 years.

54
by Dean :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 1:50pm

I said a month ago that the dogkiller was disintegrating before our eyes and got creamed for it. Funny how fast that bandwagon is filling up.

Here's an interesting question. If he cuts down on his turnovers, is that enough? Lets suppose he continues to be a 59% passer, and he continues to throw a TD on 3.4% of his attempts, continues to have 6.9 ypa, continues to take sacks once every 13 dropbacks (his numbers so far this season), but cuts his fumbles from 1.28/game to, say, 0.25/game or so, and cuts his INT% from 3.0 to, say, 1.5% or so – will that be acceptable production for someone who has $40 million guaranteed money in his contract? What if we just look at this year? Is that worth this year’s salary of $12.5 million? Even if you call that a sunk cost and choose to look forward, is that level of production acceptable for his $16.5 million salary next year?

55
by TomC :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 1:55pm

However, [Cutler is] fourth in DYAR in the fourth quarter and overtime.

ClutchSauce McCutler!!!! He just wins, baby!!!

Can we start trotting out win-loss record as proof of Cutler's QB value, like we used to do for Kyle Orton? That would be so splendidly paradoxical that my head would hurt with joy.

88
by The Hypno-Toad :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 1:29am

I accidentally heard some of Colin Cowherd while I was driving to pick up some lunch last week. He and whoever he was talking to were discussing Can Newton's demeanor. I came in just in time to hear Cowherd say, "Obviously Jay Cutler does the same things, but he's proven he's a winner." or some very similar phrasing.
The moral of this story is that Colin Cowherd is an effing buffoon and the fact that he has access to a microphone and an audience is a serious symptom of why it's better to never discuss sports anywhere other than the FO message boards.

89
by BigCheese :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 2:12am

Hey wait. That's not fair! I mean, yes Collin Cowherd is the biggest buffoon in sports talk (and that's not an easy bar to clear), but saying that you should never discuss sports anywhere other than here is like saying you should never discuss politics because of Ann Coulter or Rush Limb... come to think of it, yeah, carry on.

- Alvaro

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

93
by The Hypno-Toad :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 2:41am

He is the Sergei Bubka of sports talk idiocy. There is no bar he cannot clear.

94
by The Hypno-Toad :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 2:44am

Apparently I meant to type that as Sergey, rather than Sergei.
I'm not sure I've ever seen the pole vaulter's name written before I just checked it, only heard it spoken. The spelling I used (and presumably the link that it became?) refers to a tennis player that I don't know anything about.

96
by theslothook :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 3:39am

IMO, Colin Cowherd is FARRRRR more acceptable than the likes of Skip Bayless and the racist Steven A Smith. There really is no consistency to either men, though I'm shamed for expecting it in the first place.

100
by The Hypno-Toad :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 12:17pm

That's probably fair. I forget about the talking heads on espn because the only time I ever watch the network is during Sunday night football. By contrast, I spend a lot of time flipping through radio stations in my car, so the awful radio personalities bother me more.

102
by tuluse :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 12:30pm

They're all terrible in their own ways, so I think it comes down to personal preference.

Cowherd is the biggest blow hard at ESPN, which is truly an astounding achievement.

Skip is a troll plain and simple. He just says things to push people's buttons.

Steven A, well personally, I find him entertaining in his own way, and I don't think he's nearly as bad as the other two in terms of lowing the level of discourse.

58
by theslothook :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 2:15pm

Ill ask Bears fans, what is wrong with culter? i thought the o line was improved and I know their receiving core is better. So what gives? I've really defended cutler for years but he, like rivers, is really starting to get me to scratch my head.

62
by Independent George :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 2:32pm

The OL improved from godawful to just plain bad, and Cutler holds on to the ball too long and has lousy pocket presence. Some of this is related - you see a lot of 6 and 7-man max protects, which means Cutler has to hold the ball longer to wait on the receivers to get open.

In Carolina game, Cutler was responsible for most (but not all) of the sacks. I haven't seen the all-22, but even if the receivers weren't open, it's still on him to move around and either check down or throw it away.

63
by Eddo :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 2:39pm

A few things, in my opinion:
1) He still holds onto the ball way too long at times. I'd put three of the six sacks this past Sunday on him, for that reason.
2) The line is still not very good. The tackles (Webb in particular) look better now than six weeks ago, but are still just passable. The middle of the line consistently gets pushed back by the pass rush, so Cutler rarely can step up in the pocket to make throws.
3) His decision-making earlier in the year was poor, trying to force things to Marshall. Subjectively, I'd say he's better now (the interception this week was not a poor decision, I thought, but a poor throw).
4) The play-calling early in games has been terrible. Three times (Colts, Packers, Panthers), he's been sacked on the very first play from scrimmage, and all three were on long-developing plays. As the games progress, Tice seems to adjust fairly well, calling more slants and max protection schemes.

76
by BigCheese :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 4:06pm

i thought the o line was improved

There's your first mistake right there. Gabe Carimi came back from injury and proved Mike Tice right when he pretty much said, "thanks for the first round tackle. He'll play on the left side over my dead body."

Chris Spencer went from playing reasonably well at left Guard to being benched for Chilo Rachal (!!!!) at Right Guard.

Chris Williams went from starting Guard, to back-up, to innactive, to waived in the span of six weeks.

When your two best players on the line are a converted Guard at Center and a 7-th round LT that is better known for tweets asking for Taco Bell cupons than blocking, it's really hard to call that an improvement.

If it wasn't for Arizona's line, the Bears would still have the worst O-Line in football.

Cutler certainly hasn't been great, but he's benn thrown around like a rag doll out there. Aside from the Suh hit, the Panthers game started with him clutching his left hand in pain after a sack. It did not get better from there. Until the fourht quarter, like usual.

Also doesn't help that Alshon Jeffrey is hurt, meaning Hester is getting 50+snaps on offense and even Eric Weems is getting intot he action.

- Alvaro

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

82
by TomC :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 6:36pm

This discussion of the OL is accurate but incomplete, in that it only discusses pass protection. Remember that Lovie "gets off the bus running," and Tice is a former road-grader OL himself, so it's not entirely surprising that the two of them have apparently prioritized run blocking over pass protection. Both tackles have been more than adequate in the run game, and Rachal is almost certainly out there for his run blocking (there's no way he's better at pass pro than C. Williams was, for instance). As a result, DVOA now thinks the Bears are a better-than-average run blocking offensive line but can't pass block for shit, and I think most people would agree that's what it looks like on the field.

I know the discussion started with "what's wrong with Cutler," so the discussion of pass blocking is appropriate, but I wanted to point out that the Bears coaching staff have not simply replaced better O-linemen with worse ones. I don't necessarily agree with their priorities, but they're not acting illogically if you accept their axioms.

Arizona's line sucks horribly in both capacities.

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by BigCheese :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 2:18am

I never implied that they replaced better O-Linemen for worse (although the case could be made that shifting Spencer from one Guard spot to the next did decreese the overall line quality), mostly because you'd have to have better O-Linemen for that to be the case. I'm saying they keep playing musical chairs on the Titanic. If the chairs were all missing a leg, or the seat, or were covered in bird poo. It's a matter of picking which horribly flawed piece you want.

As for Rachal not being better in pass protection than Williams, I wouldn't bet the house on it.

- Alvaro

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

59
by Vince Verhei :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 2:21pm

Count me among those expecting to see Witten. Damn but that was an efficient performance.. Seemed like every catch was a "success."

Pretty close. He had one 4-yard catch on first-and-10 that was a slightly negative play. But his biggest play was only 9 DYAR, and those four incompletions offset some of the receptions. Meanwhile, Crabtree had three catches that were worth 12 DYAR or more.

I don't know how dyar treats [Romo’s fourth down INT] but not converting in that play had to be a huge negative.

Oh, it was. It was an incompletion on fourth-and-1, which is a highly negative play. but only about one-third as negative as an interception would be.

I'd love to know what the DVOA/DYAR is for a 22 yard gain on 3rd and 23. Is it a successful play or not?

He got 0.8 DYAR on the play. Although it was not a successful play, it had positive success value, but it was barely any better than what the average receiver would have done in the same situation. It’s pretty easy to pick up 15 to 20 yards on third-and-23.

Seems weird to include QB rating as one factor in the similarity score, since the QB rating itself is just a function of all of the other stats.

It’s not. The only rate stats we use are completion percentage and yards per pass. Everything else is a counting stat. I don’t have room in the table to include everything, so I threw rating in there as a quick-and-dirty statistical catch-all since we don’t have DVOA or QBR for guys like Archie Manning. Maybe I’ll just use yards per pass next time, since TD-INT and Comp. % are already in there.

Deion Branch didn't have one catch but he had at least two DPI on third down to keep the drive going. Just curious how much his zero catch stat line was worth?

3 DYAR.

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by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 12:21pm

It’s pretty easy to pick up 15 to 20 yards on third-and-23.

I wouldn't think this was true in situations where that 15 or 20 yards is in field-goal range.

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by Vince Verhei :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 6:42pm

Very small sample size theater: This season, on third-and-20 or more in the Mid and Front zones (between the offense's 40-yard line and the red zone), wide receivers have caught 9 passes in 12 targets for 123 yards. That's a 75 percent catch rate, 10.3 yards per pass, and 13.7 yards per completion. Median gain (including incompletes) was 10 yards; median reception gained 13 yards.

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by Vince Verhei :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 2:29pm

Second. I thought for sure that Witten's peformance would top the DYAR list not just for the week but the year. I'd think that he didn't crack the top 5 for the week would be a red flag to look under the DYAR hood.

Guys. Witten had a ton of catches with a few incompletions, but it was almost all short stuff. He averaged 7.6 yards per target. Everybody above him was at 11 yards per target or higher. Julio Jones was at 24.6 yards per target. He could have dropped 10 passes in a row and still averaged more yards per play than Witten. It was a very busy, very good day, but best game of the year?

95
by Dan :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 3:22am

Witten had a 77% success rate on 22 plays, which is the kind of game that DVOA loves in a running back. Why not in a receiver? Perhaps it's because it uses different baselines for passing plays than for running plays, which inflates the value of the steady gains on running plays and depresses their value on passing plays.

The main stat at Advanced NFL Stats, Expected Points Added, uses a single baseline and it did love his game - he led all position players for the week.

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by Vince Verhei :: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 3:42am

Here's another way of looking at this. On plays that resulted in a reception, Witten beats Jones, 70 DYAR to 62. However, Jones also drew a DPI. Including that gives Jones a slight lead, 75 to 70.

Now let's look at the incompletions. Witten had four, for -30 DYAR. Jones had no incompletions, for zero DYAR. And that's the difference.