Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» Film Room: Sen'Derrick Marks

The Jaguars' defensive tackle is a bit of a late bloomer, but he has become one of the bright spots in a dim season in Jacksonville.

09 Dec 2013

Week 14 Quick Reads

by Vince Verhei

You know your receiver's on a roll when his yardage total takes a three-digit dip from one game to the next, and he still has one of the highest sums of the week. After putting up 151 yards against New England, Cleveland's Josh Gordon is now averaging 127.3 yards per game, best of any non-strike season in league history. Assuming he plays each of Cleveland's last three games, he'll need 346 more yards (115.3 per game) to hang on to that slot, If he can amass at least 406 yards, then we'll be able to remove that pesky "non-strike season" qualifier.

Gordon's receiving value against the Patriots was erratic, and he finished with only four first downs in ten targets. He also led the team with 34 rushing yards, though, and when you include that value, he had a very good day, missing our receiver tables by just a few decimal points (in part because one of his teammates had an even better day). There's little doubt that he has been the breakout star of 2013, especially in the second half of the year. Has he been the most improved player throughout this season, though? Our team pages use Weighted DVOA to measure which teams are playing best lately, but there's no equivalent measure for individual players.

We can find something similar by splitting the season into two halves, the first covering Weeks 1 to 7, and the second covering Weeks 8 to 14. We'll use DVOA instead of DYAR, because DYAR will tell us more about health and playing time then it will about who has actually improved. (You don't need a spreadsheet to know that Nick Foles has a lot more DYAR after Week 8 than he did before that.)

Through seven weeks of the season, Gordon's DVOA was 7.1%. In Weeks 8 through 14, it has been 31.5%. That's an improvement of 24.3%, which is very good, one of the ten biggest improvements in the league, but not the very best. Of all receivers (wideouts or tight ends) with at least 25 targets in each half of the season, the biggest improvement has come from Michael Floyd, whose DVOA has soared from a near-average 0.3% to a league-best 45.8%. Since Week 8, Floyd is catching nearly two-thirds of the balls thrown his way, and averaging 19.3 yards per catch. It took a while for Floyd to develop chemistry with Carson Palmer, but lately they have been a very dangerous duo.

Other receivers who have improved greatly in the second half of the year include Jacksonville's Ace Sanders and Cecil Shorts (good things happen when Blaine Gabbert gets benched), Julian Edelman (a beneficiary of the general improvement of the New England offense), and New York Giants tight end Brandon Myers (like Floyd, in his first year with a new quarterback; he has now caught touchdown passes three games in a row).

What on earth has happened to Terrance Williams, though? The Dallas rookie's DVOA has plummeted from 38.2% in the first half of the year to -45.5% in the second, a decline of 83.8%. His Catch Rate in the second half of the year is only 30 percent. No other receiver has declined in DVOA by even 40.0%, but other sinkers include Denver's Wes Welker, Atlanta's Julio Jones, Houston rookie DeAndre Hopkins, and Chicago's Martellus Bennett.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: That should be Green Bay's James Jones, not Atlanta's Julio Jones. Hard to play worse in the second half of the year when you don't play at all.)

The most improved passer this year, from the first half of the season to the next, has been Tom Brady, who has been building chemistry with an almost entirely new set of receivers. His DVOA has climbed from -11.8% to 31.5%, an improvement of 43.3%, and since Week 8, he's averaging 8.3 yards per throw, with 13 touchdowns and only four interceptions. Other big improvers have been Carson Palmer (in his first year with Arizona), Russell Wilson (missing most of his offensive line for most of the first half of the season), Nick Foles, and Christian Ponder. At the other end of the spectrum, Terrelle Pryor's DVOA has fallen from -18.6% to -72.8%. Since Week 8, he is completing less than half his passes, with no touchdowns and five interceptions. That is why he was benched for an undrafted rookie. Fellow first-year starters Geno Smith and EJ Manuel also make the bottom five, as they learn how hard it is to play in the NFL, and the NFL learns best how to play them. Matt Ryan, not surprisingly, is playing much worse without Julio Jones than he did with him. Peyton Manning has also been much worse as of late, though that speaks mostly to his cartoonishly great start of the year. Still, five quarterbacks have been better since Week 8, some veterans (Brady, Brees, Rivers), some youngsters (Foles, Wilson).

On the ground, no running back has improved more in rushing DVOA than Denver rookie Montee Ball, who has gone from -30.6% in the first seven weeks of the year to 23.1% since then. His yards per carry has also climbed, from 3.2 to 5.3. Other second-half stars include New Orleans' Pierre Thomas, New England's LeGarrette Blount (have you noticed how many New England players I've listed here today?), Oakland's Rashad Jennings, and Cincinnati's Giovani Bernard.

The success of Ball and Bernard does not mean that all rookie runners should be expected to improve throughout the year. Witness Arizona freshman Andre Ellington, perhaps the only Cardinals player who has declined throughout the season. Through seven weeks, he was averaging 6.4 yards per carry, and led the league with a DVOA of 57.6%, more than double anyone else. Since then, he's still averaging 5.5 yards per rush, but his DVOA has fallen to just 2.8%. He hasn't posted a single-game DVOA better than 33.3% since Week 8, and he was particularly brutal against Jacksonville in Week 11 (eight carries, 3 yards).

Other runners who have seen big drop-offs include San Francisco's Kendall Hunter, Pittsburgh rookie Le'veon Bell, Indianapolis' Donald Brown, and Green Bay's James Starks.

OTHER NOTES: As requested, here are the top five running backs for Week 13, by rushing DYAR only: LeSean McCoy (76 rushing DYAR), Jamaal Charles (48), Marcel Reece (42), Giovani Bernard (35), Shonn Greene (34). Chris Polk was sixth with 29, which tells you how dominant Philly's rushing attack was against Detroit. Did running backs have an advantage in all that snow? Apparently not, because Detroit's Joique Bell (-29 DYAR) was the worst runner of the week. If we include quarterbacks, than the worst runner was Matthew Stafford. Those players had two fumbles apiece on running plays.

Meanwhile, if you're looking Andre Johnson in our receiving tables, you won't find him. The Houston wideout had a league-best 161 receiving yards this week (including a 7-yard DPI), but he finished with -2 DYAR. Those 161 yards came on a whopping 22 targets, second-most for any player in a game this year. (Vincent Jackson had 23 for Tampa Bay in Week 7; he finished with negative DYAR too.) Johnson's worst plays, by DYAR, were a trio of incompletions with 6 yards or less to go for a first down.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
1.
Peyton Manning DEN
40/58
404
4
0
247
247
0
Manning had an amazing 18 pass attempts in the red zone alone. That's the most in a game this season, besting the 16 that Matt Ryan had in Week 4 against New England. (Drew Brees also had 16 red zone attempts for New Orleans this week.) Case Keenum only has 15 red-zone passes in seven starts all season. On his 18 plays, Manning had ten completions for 61 yards, with four touchdowns, two other first downs, and no sacks or interceptions. By DYAR, this was the second-best red-zone total in a game this year. The best remains Nick Foles' Week 9 game against Oakland (7-of-7, 56 yards, four touchdowns, one other first down).
2.
Josh McCown CHI
27/36
348
4
0
238
220
18
3.
Andrew Luck IND
29/46
326
4
0
234
223
11
Luck's 69-yard touchdown to Da'Rick Rogers came on third-and-5, but otherwise, he went 3-of-9 on third downs for 17 yards and only one first down.
4.
Drew Brees NO
30/42
313
4
0
200
200
0
The Saints' first drive was a three-and-out, with Brees going 1-of-2 for 1 yard, plus a 4-yard scramble. On their next three drives, Brees went 16-of-19 for 182 yards with one sack, one DPI, three touchdowns, and 10 other first downs, and that was pretty much the end of the game.
5.
Jason Campbell CLE
30/43
391
3
0
192
178
15
Usually for Cleveland quarterbacks, I can just list there stats without throws to Josh Gordon to find something interesting. This week, though, the Browns had another viable target, as we shall discuss shortly. Instead I'll point out while the Patriots defense didn't always break, Campbell at least made them bend repeatedly. Inside his own 40, he went 14-of-16 for 243 yards with one touchdown and eight other first downs.
6.
Philip Rivers SD
21/28
249
3
0
178
178
0
There was nothing wrong with the way Rivers started this game, but he really poured it on after the Chargers took a 10-0 lead in the second quarter. From that point forward, he went 13-of-15 for 150 yards with two touchdowns and eight other first downs, plus a 36-yard DPI, two sacks, and one fumble.
7.
Andy Dalton CIN
24/35
275
3
0
178
165
13
Dalton excelled in short yardage. With 5 yards or less to go for a first down, he went 6-of-8 for 66 yards with a touchdown and four other first downs, plus two DPIs for 15 total yards and two more first downs.
8.
Carson Palmer ARI
27/32
269
1
0
168
168
0
Palmer's second incompletion of the game came with six minutes and change left in the third quarter. By that point Arizona was ahead 23-3. Before that, he had gone 19-of-20 for 189 yards with one touchdown and eight other first downs, plus one sack and one 15-yard DPI.
9.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
23/39
349
3
0
118
120
-2
Officially, Roethlisberger is credited with a completion and 62 yards on the Stanford band play that almost-but-not-quite won the game for the Steelers. By DYAR, it was his second-best play of the day. I think we'll all agree that over-rates the play, since it still sealed Pittsburgh's fate, but there's something to be said for gaining 62 yards on fourth-and-4. That was just about the only good play Roethlisberger had throwing to his right, though. Otherwise, he went 6-of-15 for 58 yards and only two first downs.
10.
Tom Brady NE
33/51
418
2
1
99
98
1
On New England's first seven drives (not counting an end-of-half kneeldown), they scored zero points, and Brady went 11-of-23 for 150 yards with seven first downs, plus a 10-yard DPI, three sacks, one fumble, and one interception. On their last five drives, they scored 27 points, and Brady went 21-of-27 for 268 yards with two touchdowns and 12 other first downs, plus one sack, one intentional grounding, and a 29-yard DPI.
11.
Alex Smith KC
14/20
137
2
0
78
76
2
Kansas City won by 35 points, and it could have been worse. In the red zone, Smith went 4-of-7 for 15 yards with one touchdown and no other first downs, with a pair of failed third-down plays.
12.
Russell Wilson SEA
15/25
199
1
1
75
76
-1
Throwing to his left or up the middle, Wilson went just 4-of-9 for 16 yards and two first downs. To his right, though, he went 11-of-16 for 183 yards with one touchdown, eight other first downs, and one interception (a last-second desperation heave that gets counted as a Hail Mary in our system). He was also sacked twice, with one fumble.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
13.
Matt Cassel MIN
17/38
265
2
0
59
62
-3
Casssel was at his worst between the 40s, where he went 3-of-9 for 35 yards and one first down.
14.
Geno Smith NYJ
16/25
219
1
1
43
20
23
On passes to receivers within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage, Smith went 9-of-15 for 82 yards with only two first downs and one interception.
15.
Nick Foles PHI
11/22
179
1
1
40
21
19
First eight drives: 4-of-13 for 35 yards with two first downs, one fumbled snap, and one interception. Last six drives: 7-of-9 for 144 yards with a touchdown and five other first downs.
16.
Colin Kaepernick SF
15/29
175
1
1
38
38
0
On first downs, Kaepernick went 7-of-15 for 82 yards with three first downs and an interception.
17.
Tony Romo DAL
11/20
104
3
0
36
36
0
18.
Chad Henne JAC
12/27
117
2
0
34
30
4
First three drives: 6-of-10 for 70 yards with two touchdowns and three other first downs, plus a 33-yard DPI. Rest of game: 6-of-17 for 47 yards with one first down, plus two DPIs for 37 more yards and one sack.
19.
Ryan Tannehill MIA
20/33
200
3
1
-4
-26
22
Inside the Pittsburgh 40, Tannehill went 11-of-13 for 78 yards with three touchdowns and four other first downs.
20.
Robert Griffin WAS
12/25
164
1
1
-8
-15
7
Griffin, like most of his teammates, appeared to have quit far before the final gun on Sunday. In the second half, before he was pulled, he went just 1-of-7 for 27 yards with a sack. Throwing to his right, he went 4-of-12 for 31 yards and two first downs.
21.
Matt Schaub HOU
17/29
198
1
1
-14
-16
2
On first downs, Schaub went 6-of-12 for 50 yards with one first down and one sack.
22.
Matt Ryan ATL
20/35
206
2
1
-14
-14
0
First four third-down plays: 3-of-4 for 52 yards with a touchdown and two first downs. Rest of game on third or fourth downs: seven plays, no conversions, two completions, 11 yards, one interception.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
23.
Matthew McGloin OAK
18/31
245
2
1
-32
-41
9
Third downs, first half: 2-of-5, 3 yards, no conversions, one interception. In the second half, he went 7-of-10 for 119 yards with two touchdowns and four other first downs, plus a 21-yard DPI. Each of those plays came with Oakland down by at least 13 points.
24.
Cam Newton CAR
22/34
160
1
0
-38
-45
6
First two third downs: 11-yard completions with 2 and 9 yards to go. Rest of game: 2-of-3 for 4 yards with no conversions and five, count 'em, five sacks. After all that, he did throw a 17-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-goal, down by 25 points with less than 6 minutes to go in the game.
25.
Kirk Cousins WAS
7/16
59
0
0
-43
-43
0
When you enter a game in the fourth quarter, and your team appears to have quit long before that, you get numbers like this. Cousins only had three first downs, and none in his last ten plays, a stretch where he completed three passes for 16 yards.
26.
Case Keenum HOU
16/29
159
1
1
-44
-52
8
Between his own 20- and 40-yard lines, Keenum went 7-of-12 for 36 yards and only one first down.
27.
Joe Flacco BAL
28/49
245
3
3
-47
-57
9
Flacco's third interception of the day came with a 5-point deficit and barely eight minutes left in the game, and seemed to be the final nail in Baltimore's coffin. From that point forward, Flacco went 7-of-10 for 91 yards with two touchdowns and four other first downs, plus DPIs of 18 and 37 yards.
28.
Matthew Stafford DET
10/25
148
0
0
-50
-18
-32
In addition to his two fumbles on running plays, Stafford also botched a pair of snaps. He was OK on third and fourth downs, but the problem was that he got to third and fourth down in almost every series. On first and second downs, he went 3-of-11 for 45 yards and only one first down, with both botched snaps.
29.
Ryan Fitzpatrick TEN
13/24
172
1
1
-57
-62
5
At the start of the fourth quarter, the Titans were only down by nine points and still very much alive. In the final frame, Fitzpatrick went 3-of-8 for -2 yards and a sack, with no first downs, and Tennessee had lost by 23 points. That's not entirely Fitzpatrick's fault. On one second-and-11 pass, Fitzpatrick hit Chris Johnson with a screen pass 6 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Johnson proceeded to run backwards for -8 yards of YAC. That's a net loss of 14 yards, tied for the biggest loss on a reception this year. Oh, and then Johnson fumbled at the end of the play, and Denver recovered. The fumble and recovery do not affect Fitzpatrick's DYAR. The backwards running, sadly, does.
30.
Eli Manning NYG
20/32
259
1
2
-67
-67
0
Deep passes: 4-of-5 for 140 yards. Why did they even bother throwing short?
31.
Mike Glennon TB
9/25
90
2
2
-73
-73
0
Throwing to his left, Glennon went 2-of-11 for 2 yards (not a typo) with one first down and one interception.
32.
Matt Flynn GB
24/32
258
1
1
-92
-87
-5
Flynn gets the biggest downgrade due to opponent adjustments of any quarterback this week. He was sacked five times by the defense that entered the weekend ranked dead last in Adjusted Sack Rate.
33.
Kellen Clemens STL
16/27
181
0
2
-100
-99
-1
Clemens, meanwhile, gets the biggest upgrade due to opponent adjustments of any quarterback this week — and he's still way down here. He had seven plays on Arizona's side of the field, none in the red zone. In fact, he never had a dropback inside the Cardinals' 30. On the rare occasions he did crack the 50, he went 3-of-5 for 26 yards and no first downs. He did pick up 10 yards and a first down on a DPI, but he was also sacked once.
34.
E.J. Manuel BUF
18/33
184
0
4
-203
-208
5
Seven sacks will do that to you. On third downs, he went 1-of-6 for 7 yards with one first down — and three sacks. This was the second-worst game of any quarterback this year, behind only Geno Smith's game against Buffalo in Week 11. Man, Bills fans have seen some crummy quarterback play this year.


Five most valuable running backs
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
LeSean McCoy PHI
217
2
4
0
76
76
-1
This was the best game by a running back this year, edging out Knowshon Moreno's game against New England in Week 12. The margin is close enough that changing opponent adjustments could still push Moreno in front, but for now let's just enjoy McCoy's results. Six of his 29 carries were stuffed for no gain or a loss, but he also had a 57-yarder, a 40-yarder, a 26-yarder, and three other 10-plus-yard runs. He had eight first downs on the ground. In the fourth quarter alone, he had 11 carries for 148 yards and two scores. The only pass thrown his way resulted in a 4-yard completion on first-and-10.
2.
DeMarco Murray DAL
146
0
9
0
60
58
2
3.
Giovani Bernard CIN
99
0
49
0
56
35
21
Only two of Bernard's 12 carries lost yardage. Eight of them gained 6 yards or more, and five of them gained at least 10 yards, capped off by a 20-yarder. He caught each of the four passes thrown his way, and while two of them were third-down dumpoffs short of the sticks, the other two gained 22 and 21 yards and a pair of first downs.
4.
Jamaal Charles KC
151
1
8
1
55
49
7
More fuel for the "Washington quit" fire: Charles' final three carries (all in the third quarter) gained 35 yards on second-and-20, then 17 and 33 yards on first-and-10. He had two other 10-yard runs on the day and finished with seven first downs, including a touchdown. Meanwhile, he was stuffed only four times in 19 runs. In three targets, he had two receptions for 8 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown.
5.
Danny Woodhead SD
42
0
52
1
50
21
29
Each of Woodhead's seven carries gained at least 2 yards, including a pair of 10-yarders. His four completions in five targets included a 6-yard touchdown and a 39-yard gain on third-and-4.


Least valuable running back
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Adrian Peterson MIN
13
0
4
0
-29
-7
-23
Yes, I do feel bad about kicking a great player when he's down. But none of Peterson's seven carries gained successful yardage, none gained more than 4 yards, and two of them lost yards. His two passing targets: an incompletion, and a 4-yard gain (and fumble) on third-and-5.


Five most valuable wide receivers and tight ends
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Jordan Cameron CLE
9
9
121
13.4
1
70
This was the best game by a tight end this year, and the only game by a tight end in the top 20 receivers games this season. If anything, Cameron's day was even better than the 100 percent Catch Rate or 13.4 yards per target would suggest. All of Cameron's catches resulted in a first down, including two third-down conversions, and seven of them gained at least 13 yards, capped off by a 21-yarder.
2.
Marques Colston NO
9
13
125
13.9
2
60
Eight of Colston's completions gained a first down; the ninth was an 8-yard gain on first-and-15. He had three catches on three targets in the red zone, resulting in 31 yards, two touchdowns, and another first down.
3.
Da'Rick Rogers IND
6
9
107
17.8
2
53
Your garbage-time star of the day. Rogers was below replacement level on four first-half targets, but scored on 69- and 2-yard touchdowns in the second half. Each of those scores came with Indianapolis down by 21 points.
4.
Keenan Allen SD
3
3
59
19.7
2
51
Three targets, in order: 43-yard touchdown on third-and-3; 12-yard gain on second-and-5; 4-yard touchdown on third-and-goal.
5.
Eric Decker DEN
8
12
117
14.6
1
50
Decker had a 7-yard DPI that is accounted for in his DYAR, but otherwise not listed in this table. Decker had seven first downs against Tennessee, including a 20-yard touchdown.


Least valuable wide receiver or tight end
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Torrey Smith BAL
1
5
11
11.0
0
-44
Smith's only completion went for 11 yards and a first down — and then Smith fumbled. Fortunately for him, the Ravens got the ball back.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 09 Dec 2013

76 comments, Last at 12 Dec 2013, 1:03pm by IceBlock

Comments

1
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 8:59am

Although last night's game, as evidenced by McCown's and Murray's rankings, was an insult to defense generally, it is ridiculous to consider how close Marc Trestman came to having a different career than one as a football coach, and how bad the Cowboys have been for years, despite having a pretty good quarterback.

I really can't figure out how Trestman has had such a vagabond experience in his career, and Giants and Eagles fans are very fortunate to have their division populated by two idiot owners.

8
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 10:57am

Unfortunately, "the image" plays into who gets hired in many walks of life. Too many mainstream fans, and I'm guessing owners, still prefer the emotional, loud, bombastic, "we have to get back to fundamentals!", archetype for coaches. I'm exaggerating, obviously, but Trestman is the polar opposite. Being measured, thoughtful, and analytical, he's the polar opposite of the Ditka-Parcells model.

11
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 11:18am

Parcells is a very analytical guy; there is absolutely no way he could have turned around so many bad situations without being thoughtful and analytical. Now, he also is much more demonstrative than Trestman, which is what I think you are getting at. However, there have been a lot of guys who have had good careers while being like Trestman; Dungy, Lovie Smith, Bill Walsh (although he was a late bloomer, too), Joe Gibbs, etc.. I think you are right that a fair number of owners will, all other things being equal, will go for the more demonstrative personaity, but even so, Trestman really seems to have had some bad luck with regard to getting a head coaching job, up until late last winter.

19
by mehllageman56 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 12:15pm

Bill Walsh wasn't really a late bloomer, it's just that Paul Brown wouldn't let him get hired out of Cincinnati. Teams were interested in him, but Paul Brown kept bad-mouthing him.

21
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 12:28pm

I didn't mean it as Walsh not being great until he was deep into his career. He just didn't get a chance until late, and Brown was real A-hole for doing that.

It isn't just the quiet guys. Lombardi didn't get a top job until he was 47, which isn't really late, but it isn't young, either.

32
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 1:42pm

Agree with everything you said. I didn't mean to imply that someone who's demonstrative (like Parcells') can't be analytical. I mean that the more demonstrative, soundbite-friendly guy gets more attention.

Interesting that you mention Tony Dungy. I remember in the early 90's a lot of people were puzzled as to why he wasn't getting head coaching offers despite the outstanding work he did with the Minnesota defense. Many suggested it was the race thing (Art Shell was the first and only black head coach at that time). Perhaps another factor was the fact that he didn't fit into the old-school vision of what a coach should look/sound like?

45
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 2:42pm

I don't disagree with the race argument for why Dungy didn't get a job sooner, but wasn't he at the time working under Dennis Green, making Art Shell not the 'only' black head coach at that time.

57
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 4:15pm

Damn, I always forget about Denny Green. I guess my recall skills are what we thought they are.

12
by Independent George :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 11:23am

I agree, but that's always struck me as odd given the NFL's long history of success with 'measured, thoughtful, and analytical' head coaches. Landry, Knoll, Brown, Walsh, Dungy, and Belichick were not exactly known for being fire & brimstone guys. Hell, the guy Trestman replaced was every bit as measured and analytical (and I happen to think very highly of him, too). And it's not like Parcells or Jimmy Johnson were dumbasses - they were emotional, but also a heck of a lot smarter than most of their opponents.

ETA: Ninja'd. Interesting that we mentioned a lot of the same names.

14
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 11:25am

Hell, one of Trestman's mentors, Bud Grant, never raised his voice in games or practice, and he ended up with an ugly yellow blazer.

15
by Charles Jake (not verified) :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 11:32am

Trestman had the misfortune of working for guys who got fired, so he wasn't part of a sexy coaching tree.

17
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 12:02pm

The work he did with the 2002 Raiders was great. Just a smart playcaller. It was amazing he was languishing in Canada for so long.

76
by IceBlock (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 1:03pm

Languishing? How about honing his skills in a league with different rules (some better, some not), and succeeding where others who come up with a USA-football centric mindset fail.

34
by Independent George :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 1:55pm

Yeah, but Bud Grant looked the part. He may not have yelled, but he had one of the great scowls of all-time.

Hank Stram, on the other hand... I love the fact that a guy like Hank Stram not only got a job as a head coach, but also managed to make the HoF. I'm trying to imagine what talk radio would have made about Hank Stram today.

40
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 2:30pm

The great thing about ol' Bud is that, image notwithstanding, he never took any of it too seriously. Tarkenton would talk about Bud talking about stuff other than football, sometimes during a timeout; kind of like Joe Montana, from the huddle, pointing out John Candy in the stands.

I loved Stram, which was not expected from a five year old Vikings fan who witnessed Super Bowl IV. After coaching, Stram was my favorite game analyst ever. The guy really broke down film in preparing for his game assignment, and it showed. He'd consistently correctly predict the next play call, based on situation, personnel, and formation, and you'd make some sound investment moves based upon an upset he'd predict, after looking at the matchups.

22
by Hurt Bones :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 12:40pm

I was just thinking today that once little Danny Boy and Shanahan part ways, Snyder should hire Wade Phillips. I think he’d be perfect. Better winning percentage than Shanny (.573 to .557). Hey coach do you have a problem with a meddlesome owner? No problem I worked for Jerry. Inept franchises on your resume? Cowboys check. Bills check.
Isn’t the Washington head coaching job just an extended interim job, and who is the king of interim coaches. Really is there anything that will happen in Washington that Wade won’t have seen before? Plus his world weary calm might help RGIII.

23
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 12:44pm

That would be hilarious.

65
by Bobman :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 1:34am

AFCS fans are already sending McNair letters lobbying for the hire of Philips. He's a very good DC, but I don't think much of him as a HC. Now it may have been the organizations, or the talent... or the HC. Wait, he has a better win pct than Shanny? Meh, I still want him to stay in Houston.

44
by jayman4 :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 2:41pm

But he tried a long FG on second down in OT. Mostly in jest, though that call drove me crazy. I like him.

16
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 11:41am

Back to my other point, Romo is on pace to have another top ten DYAR season, and yet again the Cowboys are mediocre at the very, very, most. In today's qb era, to have such little to show in the wins column, despite consistently good qb play, is just inexcusable. Giving Jerry Jones an NFL franchise to play with is like taking a 5 year old to a Michelin 3 star restaurant. Actually, that isn't fair to the 5 year olds; they may not appreciate the nine course tasting menu, but they wouldn't necessarily toss any plates on the floor, either.

26
by BJR :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 12:56pm

I don't enjoy defending Jerry Jones, and I enjoyed your humor, but I think this is a little overblown. Dallas will likely be 8-8 for the third straight year and each year they have been dead middle of the pack by overall DVOA. I agree this is disappointing given the consistently good performance of their passing attack, and the lack of progress is frustrating, but it's not as if they are crapping the bed in a competitive division (ok, maybe not so competitive this year).

The problem the last couple of years has obviously been the defense where Jones can be held accountable for questionable coaching appointments (although Rob Ryan doesn't look so bad now), and for not building sufficient depth on his roster to withstand a barrage of injuries. But there is a good argument to say that even with average health on defense Dallas would have been a playoff team last year and this and all would seem ok.

30
by NRG :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 1:17pm

Jones has proven it year after year. He really knows how to build a .500 team. This may be his best .500 team yet. Just ask him.

31
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 1:17pm

When your QB has been top 10, by DYAR, nearly every year, and sometimes top 5, playing .500 isn't that far from crapping in the bed. What if they hadn't gotten lucky with an undrafted free agent qb?

35
by JIPanick :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 1:56pm

Yeah... Since the last playoff run with the Parcells core (the Cowboys were actually an excellent organization with Parcells in town) in 2009, in spite of being gifted a multi-Pro Bowl quarterback by the previous regime, the Cowboys are overall 29-32 and have not appeared in a playoff game.

That's below where I would have pegged the floor for a team with such a quarterback prior to this run (and the simultaneous and somewhat similar Norv Turner Chargers fiasco). It's sad to watch, much worse than teams like the Raiders/Bills/Browns/Jaguars because at least those guys aren't wasting a superb QB while sucking.

42
by Jeff88 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 2:36pm

Kind of makes you think what Rex Ryan can accomplish with an even replacement-level starter at quarterback. Instead of... well pretty god awful play at QB

51
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 3:10pm

The degree to which coaching records are determined by random chance in qb selection is not recognized as much as it should be. Now, some coaches (cough! CHILDRESS! cough!) make their lousy qb luck, and some coaches get really lucky, and then improve their luck with good coaching of the lucky qb pick, like McCarthy did with Rodgers, but make no mistake, a good chunk of a coach's w-l record is just The Great and Terrible Randomness God playing around with who ends up taking the snaps.

52
by Independent George :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 3:21pm

And then there's Marty Schottenheimer, who got the most out of Bernie Kosar, Steve DeBerg, Steve Bono, Elvis Grbac, and Tony banks, while failing to exploit Rich Gannon, Drew Brees, and Philip Rivers to their full potential.

64
by dbostedo :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 12:10am

Gannon started 2, 4, 9, and 12 games - so never really the consistent starter. Still, they went 13-3 with Gannon starting 9 games in 1997.

Also :
12-4 with Brees in 2004
14-2 with Rivers in 2006

That seems to be getting full potential out of them I think - but I guess I'd need to go check the passing game and offensive DVOA's those years.

54
by dryheat :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 3:32pm

I don't think Rex cares about what happens on the offensive side of the football all that much. If he can get his defense to not allow a point, the quartrebaque du jour will be fine.

61
by mehllageman56 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 7:56pm

I think Rex does care what happens on offense, but what he wants is not realistic in today's game. He would prefer if the offense took the opening kick off for a touchdown while draining the entire clock of the first half. Then, his defense could force a 3 and out, and the offense would again drain the entire second half. The one time I've seen him get really upset about the offense was a couple of years ago when Sanchez took a time out too early at the end of the first half against the Pats, allowing Brady enough time for a drive. He wants what Parcells had in the 1990 Giants, but that isn't going to happen in today's NFL.

66
by Bobman :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 1:41am

Foie gras is squishy. Fun to rub into daddy's hair.

A better analogy might be if Jerry owned a 3-star restaurant, he'd insist on running it, decorating it, creating the menu, and overseeing the kitchen staff on a day to day basis, knowing nothing about the specific requirements or techniques of their individual responsibilities. "Hey you, get a bigger knife, you can cut more at once and be more efficient. Here's one of them Ginsus. No don't thank me, jus' doin' my job." or "That's right, I own this joint. And I'm the sommelier, too. I like reds. How about you? Here, try this. Covers up that fishy taste of the bouillabaisse. They age it for a solid month in barrels made from old dog houses. And when one my chefs turns out a stinker, I make him live in those dog houses for weeks at a time."

72
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 12:49pm

Perfect.

73
by akn :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 7:14pm

Comment of the Week.

27
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 12:57pm

I would love to be in the interviews that are conducted with potential coaching candidates. What could Mike Singletary have said that would make something think he would be a good head coach?

74
by Bobman :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 3:00am

If you hire me, I promise to NOT drop my pants to make a point. Once or twice a season, tops. I mean it.

The owner assumed he was showing he had a player-friendly lighter side, a sense of humor. Little did they realize he was dead serious.

2
by COINFLIP (not verified) :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 9:02am

How did Shane Vereen not crack the top 5 backs?

Admittedly, he only had 3 carries for 9 yards, but one was a TD. 12 catches in 17 targets for 153 yards and 6 first downs has to be a lot of DYAR. How badly is he penalized for the failed 2-PT conversion, or is it the opponent adjustment that knocks him out?

3
by coboney :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 9:41am

I have to wonder if there's some way that DYAR could adjust for the fact that players with extremely high target counts end up outside the top even when having very good days. Obviously there is value to players who can be effective and absorb such a large target load.

Perhaps there'd be some way to add in calculation of expected gain on the target number beyond say 15 adjusting for games where the player is the high target of the game and judge how effective they are in that context.

7
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 10:57am

High target players do fine.

Its players with a lot of targets and not a lot of catches who don't. If you're targeted 20 times and only catch 6 of the passes, you didn't have a good day.

DYAR is a counting stat. All things equal, the guy with the 10 catches on 16 targets is going to end up with a higher DYAR than the guy with 5 catches on 8 targets.

13
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 11:23am

This is the context even the advanced stats fail to capture. It may be that you were targeted 20 times because you are the only receiver on the roster who belongs in the NFL, you get doubled on nearly every play, but your qb still sees you as being the best option to throw to. 6 catches in 20 targets in that context may be a decent day.

18
by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 12:14pm

And it is a decent day, just not one of the very best days of the week according to this particular measure. No stat is ever going to work perfectly in all situations.

20
by Boots Day :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 12:17pm

There's also the notion that a team has to run a lot of plays if it wants to win the game. You can't just target Keenan Allen for three excellent plays and decide, "OK, we're done for the day." Somebody has to get the ball on the other 67 offensive snaps, too.

25
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 12:51pm

DVOA isn't trying to tell you how good the player is. Or how valuable the player is.

It's trying to tell you how valuable the PLAYS are that the player was involved in.

6/20 for a small amount of yards may mean that the player got open a lot, and the QB just did a shitty job, but the takeaway is that the PLAYS weren't valuable.

Which is another reason for something I've said for a very long time: the individual player DVOA ratings are almost entirely useless. They're more misleading than helpful.

67
by Bobman :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 1:50am

Makes me wonder about Marvin Harrison's 2002 (just before FO set up shop). 143 receptions, 1,722 yards, 11 TDs, no fumbles. 41% of Manning's 4,200 yards (Used to be considered a lot of yards "back in the day") and 41% of his 27 passing TDs. That year a limping Edge James racked up 989 yards and 2 TDs. Manning to Harrison was basically the entire game plan every week. I wonder what his target number was....

Next highest reception total was Reggie Wayne with 49/716/4. How many teams have a dropoff from their #1 receiver to their #2 receiver of 94 catches and 1,006 yards??? Marvin had great hands, but I got the impression that Peyton threw to him just about every freakin' time. 15 targets a game? Maybe not with a 66% completion percentage. Maybe *just* 12 targets a game.

71
by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 4:03am

We have that info, and for all wide receivers going back to 1989. Harrison had 205 targets in 2002.

75
by Bobman :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 3:03am

Vince, damn you're good. Thanks. So that's (rounded) 13 targets per game and 9 receptions a game for a 70% catch rate. While double-teamed (and sometimes tripled) every time. Not a bad year. I know the receptions are a record, and assume the targets are as well.

29
by garsonf@gmail.com :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 1:15pm

It's a challenge that the advanced metrics in a lot of sports are still trying to address (I don't mean that negatively -- they wouldn't be "advanced" metrics if they didn't acknowledge analytical challenges and try to address them). Players in all sports tend to trade efficiency for usage. Advanced metrics tend to reward the most efficient players. But how do we reward the league-average innings-eater, the high volume shooter (not Monte Ellis or Rudy Gay, but a guy who has to handle the ball a lot and take a lot of shots, and converts them at a league average rate), or the high target WR whose completion percentage is only average because of the attention he attracts? All of these guys help teammates perform in ways that are very hard to quantify for metrics. Brandon Marshall has more YAR (so this isn't an opponent adjustement thing) so far this year than he did all of last year. I think he was actually a more valuable player for the Bears last year than he has been this year as part of a much more effective, dangerous overall unit. One other note (from glancing at the WR stats for the past couple of years just now): holy crap, is Calvin Johnson a beast. I mean, I knew, but, man.

4
by BJR :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 10:23am

The Browns certainly look in a nice position if they can get their hands on one of the highly rated rookie QBs. That has probably been said many times before, however.

6
by drobviousso :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 10:32am

Gotta wonder if they don't decide to try Hoyer for another year though.

39
by mehllageman56 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 2:28pm

Playing Hoyer while leaving the rookie on the bench is not a bad idea. Just ask the Jets how good an idea it is to play your rookie quarterback immediately.

68
by Bobman :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 2:05am

It all depends on the rookie and maybe not even surrounding cast. Ask the Colts, Falcons, Hawks, Panthers, Steelers..... It can work fine. Sanchez was just a train wreck, despite his lofty playoff success.

5
by dryheat :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 10:30am

No other receiver has declined in DVOA by even 40.0%, but other sinkers include Denver's Wes Welker, Atlanta's Julio Jones, Houston rookie DeAndre Hopkins, and Chicago's Martellus Bennett.

I, for one, fine it shocking that a guy who hasn't played since Oct. 7 has seen his DVOA decline in the second half of the season.

9
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 11:00am

Probably opponent adjustments.

10
by BJR :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 11:17am

I suppose it's valid to observe that Jones' early season performances might not have been as good as they looked at the time as we have found out more about the defenses, but it's still pointless (and wrong) to include his name in a list of players who's performance has declined as the season has gone on. I assume this was just an oversight by the author.

28
by EricL :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 1:00pm

The Knife is the best cover corner in the league. Shuts you down completely every time. Defensive adjustments must be huge.

55
by fb29 :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 3:37pm

Matt Ryan hasn't been the same guy since Julio Jones went down, hence the depressed DVOA for Julio Jones.

24
by Ryan :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 12:49pm

I love seeing Andrew Luck ranking so highly--I actually thought this was one of the better games of his career, and that he was playing well in the first half and got no help from anyone. Things started clicking in the second half, when of course the game was out of reach. But how does that explain him ranking 3rd this week--garbage time points and yards, and poor third down performance?

37
by Hummingbird Cyborg :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 2:21pm

Opponent adjustments.

69
by Bobman :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 2:08am

I was surprised as well, but assume that's it, too. DVOA doesn't know Geno Atkins is out. His OL seemed to play their first decent pass pro day of the last couple months. Also, targeting Darrius Heyward-Bay only three times (as opposed to five or six or seven) has got to help anybody's production. If rookie Da'Rick Rogers replaces DHB entirely, Luck might just magically become better.

33
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 1:52pm

I think if Cassell had started every game for the Vikings, they would have 6 wins, right now, and still be playing meaningful games. As it is, they'll probably have too many wins to get a no brainer qb draft pick.

36
by pm :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 2:10pm

Maybe I'm missing something but your table has Manning at 40/58, 404 yards. According to ESPN, he was 39/59, 397 yards on Sunday. How do you account for that discrepancy?

38
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 2:24pm

nfl.com agrees with FO (I think they pull their numbers from nfl.com). http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2013120809/2013/REG14/titans@broncos#menu=...

So, I would assume ESPN is wrong.

43
by Hurt Bones :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 2:40pm

um no.

NFL.com

http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2013120809/2013/REG14/titans@broncos#menu=...

has 39/59 and 397

as does PFR

If you go to the play by play and manually count the plays you get 59. So it appears to be an FO error.

46
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 2:43pm

Well, FO removes spikes and hail marys, so that's probably where '58' instead of '59' comes from. Where the 40th catch comes from I'm not so sure.

47
by Hurt Bones :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 2:52pm

and the extra 7 yards. Manning did have one spike so that explains the attempts.

48
by Independent George :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 2:55pm

Does DPI/Holding count as a completion?

49
by Hurt Bones :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 3:00pm

No, but if they did they would also have to count as attempts.

56
by dbt :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 4:15pm

There was one DPI for 7 yards, I think that's where the extra completion and yards come from. FO does count those as positive for the offense.

58
by Hurt Bones :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 4:22pm

If that were the case, then Flacco would be listed as 30/49 and 290 yds instead of 28/49 and 245 yards

50
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 3:01pm

Hmm, I swear I read 404 there when I posted it. I must be going insane.

53
by RickD :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 3:23pm

Nah, you just had a 404 error. My browser does that often.

41
by mehllageman56 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 2:30pm

The Steelers-Dolphins game is holding that 7 yard pass hostage until the refs finish looking at all the laterals.

62
by Jerry :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 8:04pm

To my surprise, the referee didn't look at that last play. I guess the guy up in the booth was satisfied that Brown was out of bounds.

59
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 5:34pm

How did Shane Vereen not crack the top 5 backs?
Admittedly, he only had 3 carries for 9 yards, but one was a TD. 12 catches in 17 targets for 153 yards and 6 first downs has to be a lot of DYAR. How badly is he penalized for the failed 2-PT conversion, or is it the opponent adjustment that knocks him out?

4 DYAR rushing (gets a big hit for a zero-yard gain on second-and-2), 43 DYAR receiving. He had four failed third-down targets, two incompletes, and two catches for 20 yards. Two-point conversions are not accounted for in DVOA/DYAR.

No other receiver has declined in DVOA by even 40.0%, but other sinkers include Denver's Wes Welker, Atlanta's Julio Jones, Houston rookie DeAndre Hopkins, and Chicago's Martellus Bennett.
I, for one, fine it shocking that a guy who hasn't played since Oct. 7 has seen his DVOA decline in the second half of the season.

Aggh. JAMES Jones, not Julio. It’s been fixed.

I love seeing Andrew Luck ranking so highly--I actually thought this was one of the better games of his career, and that he was playing well in the first half and got no help from anyone. Things started clicking in the second half, when of course the game was out of reach. But how does that explain him ranking 3rd this week--garbage time points and yards, and poor third down performance?

DYAR by quarter: 13, 18, 55, 137 (most fourth-quarter DYAR in the league this week). Also gets a big boost from opponent adjustments.

Maybe I'm missing something but your table has Manning at 40/58, 404 yards. According to ESPN, he was 39/59, 397 yards on Sunday. How do you account for that discrepancy?

I have no idea how that happened, without manually going line-by-line through the PBP and finding the discrepancy. We get our data from the NFL.com gamebooks, so it should match up with their numbers. I know that due to the weather, there was a lot of delay in getting some of these gamebooks up, so maybe there were errors made or changes fixed after they were put up.

60
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 5:54pm

Wait, I figured it out. We get our data from the gamebooks ... except for replay reviews, which have to be fixed manually. We've got Manning with a 7-yard completion on a call that was overturned and ruled incomplete. That's why we have him with 40 completions and 404 yards instead of 39-397. And then we removed one pass attempt because it was a clock-stopping spike.

63
by pm :: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 8:57pm

"We've got Manning with a 7-yard completion on a call that was overturned and ruled incomplete."

That's interesting. I'm pretty sure they scored a TD on that play (overturned later), so the gamebook should have led to saying that Manning had 5 passing TD's on the day, but the table you had gave him 4 (the correct number).

70
by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 4:02am

Well, it's funny (and wrong), but our spreadsheet lists him with a completed pass for 7 yards and second-and-goal from the 7, but no first down or touchdown on the play. Then the next play is correctly listed as third-and-goal from the 7. It's a small error that doesn't really effect his DYAR, and we'll fix it in short order.