Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» Futures: UCLA QB Brett Hundley

Beyond the immediate considerations of Hundley's potential, the quarterback's tape raises larger questions about the position.

08 Jan 2013

Wild Card Quick Reads

by Vince Verhei

Congratulations, Baltimore Ravens! It wasn't the prettiest game anyone's ever seen, but you made enough big plays this weekend to defeat the Indianapolis Colts 24-9 and advance in the playoffs. Your reward? A flight to Denver and a game against the 13-3 Broncos, champions of their division, top seed in the conference, and owners of an 11-game winning streak. And while Peyton Manning holds many records and MVP awards, the Broncos are just as fearsome on the other side of the ball. If the Ravens are going to take the next step in the playoffs, they'll need to overcome the mighty Denver pass rush.

Whether you prefer conventional statistics or Football Outsiders' advanced metrics, the Broncos come out on top of the heap. They finished the regular season with 52 sacks, tied with St. Louis for best in the league, and their 8.7 percent Adjusted Sack Rate was best in football. It won't be easy for the Ravens to keep Joe Flacco upright under all that pressure -- their offense was 14th in ASR -- but there is a three-step plan for stifling that pass rush. Following that plan will be easier said than done, but it will be necessary if the Ravens are going to move on to the AFC Championship game.

Step One: Stop Von Miller

Admittedly, this first step is not particularly insightful. It doesn't take an expert to point out that Miller, whose 18.5 sacks led the Broncos and ranked third in the league, is the key to the Denver defense. However, numbers from the Football Outsiders game charting project show that Miller has been even more dominant than his sack numbers suggest. Our project is not quite complete (we're still charting and processing four halves for Denver and five for Baltimore), but so far we've already credited Miller with 40.5 pressures. That's as many pressures as Kansas City's Tamba Hali had in all of 2011, and that was enough to lead the league. Adding Miller's sacks and pressures gives us 59 quarterback "incidents," nearly one-third of Denver's team total.

While many pass rushers play on the right side of the defense, Miller spends most of his time on the left side. That usually leaves him matched up with the offense's right tackle. No player gave up more "incidents" to Miller this season than Jeromey Clary, who plays right tackle for the San Diego Chargers. That leads us to a potential key mismatch in next week's playoff game, and to Baltimore's second step to success.

Step Two: Help Michael Oher

Between sacks and holding penalties, we've counted a dozen blown blocks for Baltimore's right tackle. That would have placed in the top five last season. Oher can't be counted on to block defensive ends week in and week out, and he certainly can't be counted on to block a defensive MVP-type like Von Miller by himself. As long as Miller is lining up on Oher's side, the Ravens will need to keep a running back or tight end (or both) to that side of the formation to chip Miller before releasing for a pass route, or just forget about the pass route entirely and leave an extra blocker in to help with Miller until Flacco can find a different target. Every time the Broncos are able to isolate Miller on Oher will be a win for Denver.

Step Three: Avoid passing situations

This is perhaps the most important step in Baltimore's game plan. The more obvious the passing situation, the more likely it is that a quarterback will be sacked before he has a chance to pass. That's true of all teams, but it's especially true for the Baltimore offense and the Denver defense. For example:

  • The average offense this season has a sack rate of 5.7 percent with two or fewer wide receivers on the field, a number that climbs to 6.3 percent with three or more wideouts. For the Baltimore offense, that number moves from 3.2 percent to 8.1 percent. For the Denver defense, it bumps from 6.5 percent to 9.6 percent.
  • On first and second down, the average sack rate is 5.2 percent, but on third and fourth downs, it's 8.0 percent. For the Baltimore offense, the numbers are 4.6 and 9.7 percent; for the Denver defense, 5.4 and 15.4 percent.
  • Those splits are even more obvious if we remove short-yardage third- and fourth-down plays. With 4 or more yards needed for a conversion, the average offense gives up a sack 8.8 percent of the time, compared to 11.1 percent for the Baltimore offense and a whopping 17.7 percent for the Denver defense.

The point of all these numbers is to show that if the Ravens want to protect Flacco, they'll need to open up their playbook and be unpredictable. If they wait until third down to pass, Flacco might not finish the game. Better to pass on first or second down and try to catch Denver by surprise. And speaking of catching Denver by surprise, the Ravens should rely heavily on two-receiver sets and try to keep Denver in their base defense. Remarkably, the Broncos had only three sacks in 156 passing plays with four or fewer defensive backs on the field, but 42 sacks in 451 dropbacks in nickel and dime sets. (The remaining seven sacks have not been charted yet.) Finally, since the Ravens don't seem likely to have a lot of third-down conversions, and probably won't have a lot of long drives, they'll need to hit some big plays downfield to get on the scoreboard. That's something the Ravens do quite often anyway, but it will be critical that they actually hit a good chunk of those throws against Denver. Flacco threw 126 deep passes (more than 15 yards past the line of scrimmage) this season, fourth-most in the league, but his average success rate on those throws was 42.9 percent, just a few decimal points more than average.

This is not to say that Baltimore should discard the running game. A healthy diet of draws and screen passes might stop Denver from blitzing, which is when they're at their best. (The Broncos have a 10 percent sack rate when sending five or more pass rushers, and 12 percent when sending six or more.) And frankly, no team with Ray Rice should turn away from the running game too often.

Eventually, though, no matter what Baltimore does to protect him, Flacco is going to need to make some plays. Just three weeks ago, the Broncos handily beat Baltimore 34-17, and they didn't need a bunch of sacks to do it. Oh, they got to Flacco three times that day, but all three came with the Ravens trailing by 17 points in the fourth quarter. The key play in that game was an interception thrown by Flacco and returned by Chris Harris 98 yards for a touchdown. The pick-six came just before halfime, as Baltimore was about to cut into a 10-0 score, and it effectively ended the game. If Flacco plays like that again this weekend, then no game plan in the world will be enough to get Baltimore a win.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
1.
Joe Flacco BAL
12/23
282
2
0
129
129
0
Flacco gets a big boost from playing the Chicago Bears, whose defense -- whoops. Sorry. Force of habit. Flacco actually finished atop the leaderboard this week despite a pretty stiff penalty (about -30 DYAR) for playing the Colts. As discussed in the essay, Flacco likes to throw deep, and he was very effective with the long ball against Indianapolis. On deep passes, he went 5-of-7 for 157 yards and a touchdown. As a result, he had a pretty top-heavy day, in the sense that a lot of his value came on a small number of plays. Flacco's five biggest plays (touchdowns of 18 and 20 yards, plus three plays that gained 46 to 50 yards, one of those a conversion on third-and-19) were worth 139 DYAR by themselves, meaning he was below replacement level the rest of the day. His five worst plays (one sack, four incompletions) were worth -54 DYAR.
2.
Matt Schaub HOU
29/36
262
0
1
84
89
-4
As you can tell from his raw stats, Schaub did a lot of checking down against Cincinnati. On second down, Schaub went 12-of-12 for 86 yards, plus an 11-yard DPI. Only four of those plays went for first downs, but nine of them met FO's standards for a successful play. He also had some interesting splits on his 13 third-down plays. Five of them were completions for first downs, and a total gain of 53 yards. Four of them were completions short of the sticks, for a total of 30 yards. And four of them were incomplete, one of those a pick-six.
3.
Aaron Rodgers GB
23/33
274
1
0
79
75
4
As Aaron (Schatz) noted in his DVOA commentary, Aaron (Rodgers) and the rest of the Packers were pretty clearly not trying at the end of this game. Rodgers' 9-yard touchdown to John Kuhn late in the third quarter put Green Bay ahead 21-3. Up to that point, Rodgers was 19-of-25 for 260 yards and 15 first downs (including the scoring play), with two sacks. After that, he went 4-of-8 for 14 yards and one first down, with a sack.
4.
Russell Wilson SEA
15/26
187
1
0
25
24
2
Outside the red zone: 13-of-18 for 178 yards with eight first downs and five sacks. He also had five runs for 56 yards and three more first downs, plus a fumble. Inside the Washington 20, he went 2-of-8 for 9 yards, and while one of those completions was a 4-yard touchdown, the other was a 5-yard gain on third-and-7. His only run in the red zone was an 11-yard gain on first-and-10 from the 16.
5.
Robert Griffin WAS
10/19
84
2
1
0
-9
9
First two drives: 6-of-9 for 68 yards with six first downs, including two touchdowns. He also had three runs for 12 yards and two more first downs in that span. After that, he went 4-of-10 for 16 yards with one first down, one interception, two sacks, one hard-to-watch fumbled snap, and one run for 9 yards.
6.
Kirk Cousins WAS
3/10
31
0
0
-33
-33
0
Cousins hit two of his first three passe for 27 yards and a pair of first downs. Then he fumbled a snap. Then he threw five incompletions in a row, then completed a pass for 4 yards on third-and-10, then incomplete on fourth down, and that was that.
7.
Joe Webb MIN
12/29
180
1
1
-54
-78
23
The Vikings originally drafted Webb thinking they could turn the Alabama-Birmingham quarterback into an NFL receiver, but somewhere along the way those plans were scrapped. Perhaps it's time to go back to that idea. Webb's raw numbers don't really reflect how unsuccessful he was against Green Bay. His last four passes, each thrown while down by at least 14 points in the fourth quarter, were all completed for 119 yards with one touchdown and three other first downs. Those were his four longest completions of the day. Up to that point, he had gone 7-of-24 for 61 yards with two first downs, one interception, one intentional grounding penalty, one fumble, and three sacks. He also gained 68 rushing yards on seven carries.
8.
Andy Dalton CIN
14/30
127
0
1
-64
-65
1
You probably know about Dalton's horrible first half (4-of-10 for 3 yards, three of those completions gaining 1 yard or less, with one first down and one sack), but his third- and fourth-down numbers may have been even worse: 2-of-8 for 15 yards with a sack and no first downs. His only successful third-down conversion was an 11-yard DPI call, and it took him 55 minutes to even get that.
9.
Andrew Luck IND
29/54
288
0
1
-83
-94
11
On Baltimore's half of the field, Luck went 7-of-19 for 63 yards with three first downs, two sacks, one fumble, one intentional grounding, and one interception. On the day, he had four runs, all on third downs, for 35 yards and three first downs. That's nothing new for Luck. Half of his 42 rushes came on third or fourth downs, as did 15 of his 23 first downs on the ground.


Five most valuable running backs
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
DuJuan Harris GB
47
1
53
0
28
11
18
Harris had a career-high 17 carries against Minnesota, and though he averaged only 2.8 yards per rush, he gets enough credit for his touchdown and his consistency (nine of his carries gained 4 yards or more) that he had positive value as a rusher. He was the most valuable running back of the week, though, because of what he did in the passing game: five catches in six targets for 53 yards, including four first downs.
2.
Alfred Morris WAS
80
0
0
0
25
25
0
In rushing DYAR alone, Morris was the most valuable back this week, but the Redskins didn't throw him a single pass. Only three of his 16 carries went for first downs, but nine of them gained 5 yards or more. Like the rest of the Washington offense, he did most of his damage early. First two drives: eight carries, 49 yards, one first down. Rest of the game: eight carries, 31 yards, two first downs.
3.
Marshawn Lynch SEA
132
1
9
0
24
18
6
Lynch's fumble at the goal-line was worth -27 DYAR, and is the only reason he isn't No. 1 in these rankings by a wide margin. In 20 carries, he ran for six first downs (only Adrian Peterson had more this week), with four runs of 10 yards or more (only Arian Foster had more), and he was the only player this week with multiple 20-yard runs. Meanwhile, he was stuffed for a loss just twice. However, like everyone else on his team, Lynch struggled in the red zone. He had a 15-yard gain from the Washington 17, but his other six red-zone runs netted 4 yards, including both stuffs and the fumble. Finally, Lynch caught the only pass thrown his way for a 9-yard gain on first-and-10.
4.
Adrian Peterson MIN
99
0
8
0
17
21
-4
Peterson rushed for seven first downs in 22 carries, and was only stuffed twice. He had three runs for 10 or more yards. Like the rest of the Vikings, there was an air of "too little, too late" to Peterson's day. Two of his longest carries, runs for 18 and 11 yards, came on his last two runs of the day. (He also had an 11-yarder in the first quarter.) The Vikings threw him three passes, all on first-and-10, and he caught just one of them for 8 yards.
5.
Bernard Pierce BAL
103
0
0
0
12
12
0
Without opponent adjustments, Pierce would have been the most valuable running back of the week. He gained 103 yards on only 13 carries, three of them gains of 10 yards or more, including a 13-yard gain on third-and-6 and a 43-yarder on third-and-1. He was stuffed only twice.


Least valuable running back
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Ray Rice BAL
70
0
47
0
-36
-49
13
Rice had two fumbles in 15 carries. That's the biggest reason he's this low, but not the only one. Although he averaged 4.7 yards per carry, only three of his runs were worth positive DYAR: a 13-yard gain on second-and-5 and two 5-yard gains on first-and-10. He also had an 18-yard gain that would have been positive, but it ended in a fumble. He also caught just one of the four passes thrown his way (although that one went for a 47-yard gain).
OTHER BACKS OF LITTLE VALUE: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, CIN (11 carries for 63 yards; two catches in two targets for -9 yards); Robert Turbin, SEA (eight carries for 22 yards; one catch in one target for 6 yards); Ryan Grant, GB (seven carries for 7 yards; one catch in one target for 16 yards).


Five most valuable wide receivers and tight ends
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Anquan Boldin BAL
5
7
145
29.0
1
64
First half: two targets, no catches. Second half: five targets, five catches, five first downs (including a touchdown), 145 yards, including gains of 46 and 50 yards.
2.
Michael Jenkins MIN
3
5
96
32.0
1
42
First 55 minutes: two targets, no catches. Last five minutes, all while trailing by at least 14 points: three targets, three catches, three first downs (including a touchdown), 96 yards, including gains of 30 and 50 yards.
3.
Owen Daniels HOU
9
11
91
10.1
0
28
In seven seasons and 95 games with the Texans, Daniels only caught nine passes in a game twice, and only surpassed 90 yards receiving eight times. He hit both those thresholds against Cincinnati, and that doesn't include the 11-yard defensive pass interference penalty he drew. Daniels had five first downs on the day, including conversions on third-and-4 and third-and-9.
4.
James Jones GB
4
4
51
12.8
0
23
Four plays, all in the second and third quarters: 20-yard gain on first-and-10, 3-yard gain on second-and-8, 9-yard gain on third-and-2, 19-yard gain on third-and-4.
5.
Kyle Rudolph MIN
3
3
42
14.0
0
19
Blah blah second half blah blah stats padding. His three plays: 6-yard gain on second-and-8 in the second quarter, 13-yard gain on first-and-10 in the third, 23-yard gain on second-and-10 in the fourth on the last play of the game.


Least valuable wide receiver or tight end
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Josh Morgan WAS
1
7
0
0.0
0
-39
Does that statline really warrant further analysis? Fine. Six of Morgan's seven targets (including the zero-yard reception) came in the second half.
OTHER RECEIVERS OF LITTLE VALUE: Donnie Avery, IND (eight targets, two catches, 12 yards, plus one rush for 15 yards); Jermaine Gresham, CIN (seven targets, two catches, 7 yards); T.Y. Hilton, IND (13 targets, eight catches, 66 yards, only one catch for more than 10 yards -- and that was a 25-yard gain on third-and-26).

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 08 Jan 2013

54 comments, Last at 10 Jan 2013, 6:21am by jebmak

Comments

1
by Danish Denver-Fan :: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 10:27am

Could you run Griffins DYAR after two drives, Vince? That could be interesting.

2
by hh (not verified) :: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 11:02am

Baltimore needs to do more than just no huddle. They need discard their coordinator. Caldwell is better than Cameron but not by much. Caldwell had Manning as a security blanket for a quite a few years and was exposed last year. Amazingly senior management thinks that these coordinators have a clue about anything. This includes the Josh McDaniels, Charlie Weisses, Kevin Gilbrides, and Clyde Christiansens of the world who need marquee players to prop up themselves up. They all have amazing players to prop themselves up. Just notice how bad Mcdaniels is out of the New England nest for example.

12
by Anonymous21 (not verified) :: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 12:22pm

So in your mind who's a good offensive coordinator then?

49
by Brent :: Wed, 01/09/2013 - 4:49pm

I'm trying to think of a really top-notch offense that doesn't contain elite talent to "prop it up." I'm drawing a blank.

Is it the players propping up the offense? Or the other way around? Or, most likely, one needs a good scheme AND good players to be successful.

50
by jebmak :: Wed, 01/09/2013 - 7:04pm

Sea? SanFran?

52
by JIPanick :: Wed, 01/09/2013 - 10:11pm

Just because elite talent is on the line and not under center doesn't mean it isn't there.

54
by jebmak :: Thu, 01/10/2013 - 6:21am

And just because a QB has time or a RB has space, doesn't mean that there is "elite" talent on the line. Good talent, sure, but I would argue the scheme is more important in these specific situations.

Also, fwiw, your comment sounds condescending.

3
by eclectic :: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 11:25am

What about Arian Foster? He didn't make either list. His raw numbers were good, so I'm surprised he wasn't in the top 5.

4
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 11:36am

"T.Y. Hilton, IND (13 targets, eight catches, 66 yards, only one catch for more than 10 yards -- and that was a 25-yard gain on third-and-26)."

Well, to be fair, that 25 yard gain allowed the Colts to attempt (and make) a 52-yard FG on the last play of the half. DYAR might say that's not getting 100% of needed yards on 3rd down, but converting the 1st down there wouldn't have mattered other than to make the FG one yard closer. I'm not sure how DYAR scores it, but that play definitely had positive value.

26
by Cuenca Guy :: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 2:35pm

I'd have to imagine just about any 25 yard gain would be positive DYAR. Even if you had to punt, the field position change would be big.

44
by Bobman :: Wed, 01/09/2013 - 3:19pm

Agreed--DVOA is supposed to be contextual, but this is a total mischaracterization of that play. 8 second left in the half, the LOS is out of FG range--in this case there are only two "wins" on such a play, a TD or get them in FG range (which he did). Added to the play was his getting out of bounds with 3 seconds to go. If he had run for ten more yards down the middle of the firld to the 25 and been tackled, DVOA would have recorded that as a "positive" play, but time would have expired, and the stupidity would have screwed the Colts out of 3 points. On that play at least, TY > DVOA.

5
by In_Belichick_We... :: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 11:38am

My eyes told me that Luck played fairly well despite his supporting cast. My eyes also told me that Flacco gained much from his supporting cast.
Boldin was a beast and the Indy receivers sucked (and Indy's tackles weren't very good either).

29
by Tino (not verified) :: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 2:43pm

Yeah, I thought Luck played OK considering he was under pressure most of the day and didn't have a consistent running game to rely on. But DVOA/DYAR seems to be more about "what happened" rather than "why/how did this happen".

46
by Bobman :: Wed, 01/09/2013 - 3:29pm

Luck's sack/fumble (or other horrid play) came on a shotgun snap he had to jump up high to catch. He's 6-4 and just standing with his arms up should be able to reach about 8 feet high, so the snap was maybe 9 feet in the air? Combine that with porous protection and he never had a chance on that play. It's technically on him, but context says otherwise. I wonder how much that one play contributed? He also had a ton of drops (to be fair, two of the drops were Ravens' drops), particularly late when they might have mounted a comeback.

6
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 11:40am

Flacco is funny, one of the "top heavy" pieces was actually a terrible throw, that was about 15 yards short of its intended target, only for a completely different receiver to come in and snatch it away from the two defenders in the area.

Overall, Joe was pretty poor, though he did improve as the game went along. He'll need to play a lot better next week to stay within three scores of Denver, though.

8
by Hurt Bones :: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 12:00pm

15 yards short of its intended target

The 50 yard throw to Boldin was supposed to be a 65 yard throw to Tandon Doss? That would the equivalent of a hail mary from your own 35 yd line. While it wasn't beautiful it was 3 and 19. I'm guessing both Doss and Boldin were both running about 50 yards on that play.

10
by 3 Monkeys (not verified) :: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 12:13pm

It looked to me like a few of Flacco's' big throws were thrown up for grabs. Against Denver's secondary, those are picks

13
by Hurt Bones :: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 12:33pm

It was 3rd and 19. For sure the throw was up for grabs. If it had been intercepted, 50 yard punt. I don't know what other big throw was really up "for grabs". The Boldin TD was in a tight window and the defender got a hand in, but I wouldn't call it up for grabs.

Joe has his problems, he gets sacked too much and it's not always Oher and company's fault, and he fumbles too much. But only Brady and Rodgers have lower career int%.

"Against Denver's secondary, those are picks" I would say more likely is in the same 3rd and 19 situation, Denver sacks Flacco or pressures him enough that he can't throw it that far down field.

15
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 12:51pm

Yes, he was trying to hit the outside receiver and intended for that to hit the receiver who had a couple steps beyond the defender.

16
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 12:54pm

Ug, {reminds self to proof read}. Let's try that again.

Flacco intended for that throw to hit the outside receiver in stride (or as close as possible to it) because he was a couple steps beyond the defense. The fact that Boldin was there was a complete accident and it would have been picked otherwise.

27
by Cuenca Guy :: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 2:36pm

And you know this how?

33
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 3:27pm

Did you see the EZ replay? It is prety obvious that is where he was going when you look at it from that angle.

39
by Anonymouss (not verified) :: Wed, 01/09/2013 - 3:38am

hmm except his QBR was 129, had 282 yards on just 12 completions, and dropped about the most perfect throw you can make when he dropped a 50 yarder in over Boldin's shoulder. Yeah other than that he sucked. k bro

45
by Bobman :: Wed, 01/09/2013 - 3:24pm

Yeah, I was unhappily really impressed by his deep rainbows. If they are accurate they come down at such a vertical trajectory that most DBs can't get to them. Add in that the Colts DBs were watching the WR and not the ball, and it helps a bit. Add in further that Boldin made beastly catches with the DB's arm in between his without losing the ball and you have a damn fine day on the long balls. Crappy on the rest, as if that mattered....

7
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 11:41am

Is the fumbled snap "credited" to RG3 or the center? And if it goes to RG3, is it considered a rushing or passing play for DYAR purposes? Just curious how that's scored. From watching it on TV, it looked like the center's fault to me, especially since he did it again a few plays later with a different QB.

9
by Rick S (not verified) :: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 12:10pm

As a lifetime Bronco fan with memories of the '96 Jacksonville game, I hope Denver doesn't look ahead to New England and get complacent by taking the Ravens lightly.

Denver definitely has a tougher road to the AFC Championship game than New England. The Ravens are an experienced team that has won playoff games on the road before, while Houston is a fading scheme dependant team that is just hanging on after a quick start....

17
by Paul R :: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 1:13pm

It's possible, but you can't forget the Manning factor.
One of my favorite jokes from The Onion is from their Great Moments in 2007 Pro Bowl History: "2007--In hopes he can find different ways to pick the NFC defense apart, Peyton Manning stays up the entire night before the game analyzing film."

19
by RickD :: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 1:17pm

Presuming that either Manning or Brady makes the Super Bowl, what are the odds that the other of the two has a mysterious injury that keeps him from playing in the Pro Bowl?

I'm thinking they're pretty high.

23
by bernie (not verified) :: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 2:09pm

Actually I'd be surprised if Manning din't show up....he's pretty much played in every Pro-bowl he's been eligible for.

48
by Bobman :: Wed, 01/09/2013 - 4:05pm

He has always spoken highly of it--the rock star treatment (particularly after winning the SB), playing with HOFers he'd not otherwise get to play with, etc. (What was his full quote after the Vanderjagt ruckus, something like "I'm here at the Pro Bowl. I'm about to go out there and throw a touchdown pass to Jerry Rice, and we're talking about our idiot kicker who got liquored up and ran his mouth on Canadian TV?" The Vandy references got the most air time and are more memorable, but he clearly was relishing the fact that he got to throw the ball to Rice (and who wouldn't?).

He now has two little kids at home, so maybe he's not game for travel, but I'd expect him to go.

11
by bernie (not verified) :: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 12:17pm

Is there and equivalent stat to DYAR for defenders? If so, Cassius Vaughn would have to have one of the lowest totals of all DBs this year. He has been really awful all season long.
Although part of me wonders how much of it is him, and how much of it is the colts defense. I've become used to Colts cornerbacks being some of the worst players in the league, and then going elsewhere and becoming legitimate threats ( a la Ray Buchanan, Ashley Ambrose, Tim Jennings).

20
by turbohappy :: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 1:18pm

Although as a counter-point, Jason David left and was even worse in New Orleans.

21
by The Hypno-Toad :: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 1:31pm

Well, he wasn't particularly good in Denver either... But I don't remember him being as atrocious as he's looked in the few Colts games I've seen this season. What I've seen this season reminds me of the dismantling of Roc Alexander that Manning dished out in the playoffs in... 2004? Poor, poor Roc Alexander.

14
by cb60 (not verified) :: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 12:47pm

In my opinion, the criticism of Josh Morgan is a bit unfounded, considering the actual run of play for him in the game against Seattle. The only poor moments that stand out are his seventh and possibly his second target, as follows:

Q1 10:04 2nd-GL at 4+
Split left nasty cross left, caught at T9 and hit out-of-bounds. INC

Q3 7:12 1st-10 at 21-
Trips bunch left, jet completion at LOS, possibly his fault due to fading back during throw, allowing a lane around TE82’s block for Browner to make the tackle. CMP

Q3 5:49 3rd-10 at 21-
Gun tight 11 personnel, split right runs a shallow cross to the 30-, Griffin puts the ball 5’ behind him and into the head of Earl Thomas. INC

Q3 :42 2nd-14 at 2-
Aligned at flanker wide left in a 2-1 Gun, runs a deep comeback to the 13-, Griffin overthrows high to avoid Trufant coming underneath. Might have been catchable. INC

Q4 12:02 1st-10 at 31-
Aligned wide right out of weak I-form pistol, runs a deep comeback to the 46+, Griffin overthrows high out of catchable radius. INC

Q4 4:27 3rd-14 at 41-
Cousins at QB, Gun tight 11 personnel, split left runs shallow cross to 43-, fades toward LOS while passer is under duress, ball is thrown late and behind. INC

Q4 1:04 2nd-10 at 20-
Aligned flanker right in a 2-1 Gun, runs an open slant to the 27-, drops a catchable pass. INC

I would rather see receivers ranked by DVOA over DYAR in the weekly rundown, personally.

18
by RickD :: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 1:14pm

So yes, the stat line does warrant further analysis. At least it requires understanding that Griffin was having huge issues with his accuracy because of the knee injuries.

28
by Cuenca Guy :: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 2:39pm

I imagine it'd still look pretty bad with DVOA given one reception for zero yards in seven targets.

22
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 2:04pm

"Cousins hit two of his first three passe for 27 yards and a pair of first downs. Then he fumbled a snap. Then he threw five incompletions in a row, then completed a pass for 4 yards on third-and-10, then incomplete on fourth down, and that was that."

Yes, if you consider when the center throws a shotgun snap directly into the ground as though he was excreting last night's dinner, then yes, Cousins fumbled the next snap.

He also hit receivers in the hands on 4 of those 5 incompletions. WAS has some terrible receivers.

31
by GroshKar (not verified) :: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 3:18pm

Maybe the hits from the Legion of Boom were starting to take a mental toll, and the recievers were looking for where it was coming from too soon.

24
by cisforcookie (not verified) :: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 2:14pm

so the question remains, is joe flacco's flukiness the result of his own mediocrity or that of his receivers? boldin sure had a good statistical game, but the man is completely unable to get open. it's too early to know about torrey smith, but he needs to make a big improvement in his route-running and ability to play the whole field before he can be taken too seriously. and pitta is going to be 28 next year, so he's clearly not getting any better. there's no talent in the pipeline either, and it would probably take at least 1-2 years to develop any, assuming the ravens learned how to draft receivers.

35
by RickD :: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 6:30pm

I think it's a combination of all the factors you mention. Flacco isn't quite as accurate as he needs to be. And his receivers aren't quite elite, with the exception of Ray Rice.

FWIW, receivers don't take long to develop - at least the very good ones don't. (See AJ Green).

You would think that Ozzie Newsome, who

a) is one of the best drafters in the league
b) is a former receiver himself

would be able to find better talent at the WR position.

25
by RavensJimbo (not verified) :: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 2:15pm

Good write-up, though the line in the essay that "If they wait until third down to pass, Flacco might not finish the game," is pretty silly. The guy has played 90 games (including post-season) over the last 5 years without missing a series, despite playing in the NFL's most physical division. Other than arm strength, durability is Flacco's greatest strength as a QB. And, yes, I realize that's damning him with faint praise. And, yes, I also realize I am now inviting him to sustain a game-ending injury the first time he attempts a third down pass.

30
by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 3:15pm

"As Aaron (Schatz) noted in his DVOA commentary, Aaron (Rodgers) and the rest of the Packers were pretty clearly not trying at the end of this game. Rodgers' 9-yard touchdown to John Kuhn late in the third quarter put Green Bay ahead 21-3. Up to that point, Rodgers was 19-of-25 for 260 yards and 15 first downs (including the scoring play), with two sacks. After that, he went 4-of-8 for 14 yards and one first down, with a sack."

Nonsense. Was he also not trying in the 1st half the game in Minnesota when he went 11/19 for 103 with 2 sacks for -21 yards included? Was he trying to get behind to make it interesting?

32
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 3:27pm

Could you run Griffins DYAR after two drives, Vince? That could be interesting.

82 DYAR passing, 4 rushing.

What about Arian Foster? He didn't make either list. His raw numbers were good, so I'm surprised he wasn't in the top 5.

Opponent adjustments did him in. He had 28 YAR rushing, the most of the week, but only 6 DYAR rushing. He also had negative value as a receiver. He caught eight passes in eight targets, but for only 34 yards, including two catches that lost big yardage.

"T.Y. Hilton, IND (13 targets, eight catches, 66 yards, only one catch for more than 10 yards -- and that was a 25-yard gain on third-and-26)."
Well, to be fair, that 25 yard gain allowed the Colts to attempt (and make) a 52-yard FG on the last play of the half. DYAR might say that's not getting 100% of needed yards on 3rd down, but converting the 1st down there wouldn't have mattered other than to make the FG one yard closer. I'm not sure how DYAR scores it, but that play definitely had positive value.

That play was in fact worth 4 DYAR.

Is the fumbled snap "credited" to RG3 or the center? And if it goes to RG3, is it considered a rushing or passing play for DYAR purposes? Just curious how that's scored. From watching it on TV, it looked like the center's fault to me, especially since he did it again a few plays later with a different QB.

It counts as a passing play for Griffin. I agree that it was probably the center’s fault, but A) we don’t calculate DYAR for linemen, and B) ALL of these stats are still teammate-dependent. Dropped passes count as incompletes for quarterbacks, bad passes thrown 5 yards behind a receiver count as incompletes for that wideout. So on that note, let’s talk Josh Morgan...

So yes, the stat line does warrant further analysis. At least it requires understanding that Griffin was having huge issues with his accuracy because of the knee injuries.

Again: DYAR does not separate the performance of the wide receiver from his quarterback.

I would rather see receivers ranked by DVOA over DYAR in the weekly rundown, personally.

Morgan’s DVOA was -85.1%. The only wide receivers worse than that were Devin Aromashadu (-96.3%, no catches in three targets) and Tandon Doss (-109.9%, no catches in three targets).

34
by RickD :: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 6:22pm


Again: DYAR does not separate the performance of the wide receiver from his quarterback.

We know that. But your comment about the stat line implied that Morgan had simply played a horrid game. Had you simply posted the DYAR without comment, no defense of Morgan would have been made.

41
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Wed, 01/09/2013 - 10:51am

"82 DYAR passing, 4 rushing"

So RG3 had 86 combined DYAR in the 1st quarter, and -86 after that. Sounds about right. If anything, I'm a little surprised it was ONLY -86 in the 2-4th quarters. I can only assume that's due to the fact that Wash ran so few total plays during that time (only 23 offensive plays from the second TD to Griffin's injury).

36
by andrew :: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 8:29pm

The Vikings had two of the top 5 receivers.....yghjk,gh,iu

37
by justanothersteve :: Wed, 01/09/2013 - 12:38am

Lies, lies, and damn statistics!

38
by shah8 (not verified) :: Wed, 01/09/2013 - 1:19am

Take a read of this:

http://smartfootball.com/football-history/t-j-yates-and-inexperienced-qu...

He was trying to perform, as a raw passer, under the worst circumstances possible. First snaps under fire all year. On the road at Lambeau, at night. With sixty minutes notice. And no plans or plays installed for him. You can bet your salami that, as bad as his first half was, he got himself a great deal of credibility in the locker room for getting his mechanics fixed and making pass plays. I mean, you didn't see Matty Ice do anything after the game was well lost last year, at home, in the playoffs, did you? During the end of that game, Webb showed why people thought he should be a starter over Ponder (you know, completes an out like a routine play, oh, and hits the open deep guy once), and the game would have been radically different if the Webb we'd seen before shown up in the first half.

He put up 248 yards of offense with a TD, flying completely by the seat of the pants. That's why old man Jenkins is up there. And that's why Percy Harvin went bananas at Seattle, given Speilman's fixation with AJ Feeley 2.0.

40
by BJR :: Wed, 01/09/2013 - 9:25am

Can the "raw passer" excuse really be trotted out when Webb has now completed three full years in the league?

42
by Will Allen :: Wed, 01/09/2013 - 11:14am

Say, does he gain a great deal of credibility by not realizing that he needs to step up into the pocket, and not step back and trip over a Clay Matthews laying on the ground? Was Kalil, when he tossed up his arms, after witnessing the sack he gave up after the sacker was prone on the ground, two yards away from the qb, communicating the thought, "My, what credibility I will now be granting Joe Webb!"? When did you surreptitiously install a finely calibrated credibil-o-meter, with which you obtain evidence of how much credbility Joe Webb has obtained in the Vikings locker room?

43
by shah8 (not verified) :: Wed, 01/09/2013 - 3:19pm

Watch that sack again. It's not as if Kalil couldn't be disgusted for his own play, or generally frustrated, or angry at the refs for the illegal leg whip. You only know what you yourself was thinking, not by the expression on the telly, man.

Thing is, while every injury is different, I've never heard of a QB or any other positional player not playing due to a simple deep bruise, especially not in a playoff game. There are rib bruises, and some thigh bruises that have kept people out, but...well, Tom Brady played through the latter half of last season with a similar injury to his triceps (perhaps it was less severe). You see RG3 and Dez Bryant go onto the field with joints that already needed genuine medical help.

Yanno, it does wound up being about "who was there for you when the stakes were at their highest?" And I do think everyone in the organization knows they pretty much asked the moon of Joe Webb, essentially to repeat Michael Vick's efforts of 2002 with no prep. I was really dissappointed in Webb's effort at first, since I was rooting for him (I really, really, hate Ponder), and I thought he was as naturally talented as Kaepernick. So I started doing research about what his odds genuinely were, which is how I found that Smart Football post. They weren't good. Given that there are calls to get Matt Moore and the like, I looked up veterans like him--Matt Moore has won one game against a competent adversary, and one good game against a good team with a weak defense in New England last year. David Carr was an even worse prospect. Yes, most of these vets would have been able to complete simple passes, but they would not have been able to make any *plays*. As it was, players like Frank Reich and Doug Williams are extreme exception to the rule.

People are mostly talking about the *aesthetics* of Webb's passing attempts, when what really killed the offense were untimely sacks whether those were on Webb or not. And you know something? Amost every backup QB that enters a game on short notice gives up wierdo and bad sacks. They don't know where the receivers are going. They aren't usually particularly accurate. That same grade on a curve that people routinely give Andrew Luck, can just as easily been given to Joe Webb, who, all in all, for all that his night was a disaster, had a better game than Ponder in Lambeau, a better game than something like *six* of Ponder's games, and probably gave the team a better chance to win. I don't think Ponder would have done very well, given the improved defensive line play from the regular season. When his passing mechanics improved, he made credible outs and threw long passes casually (remember that stretch of no completions longer than 15 yards in the air?). Had his mechanics been proper from the start, he probably would have wound up having a stronger game than perhaps 12-14 or Ponder's games. Straight up, on no notice, he played with more bravery and capability than Andy Dalton, was more effectual, ultimately, than Andrew Luck. That's why you see two Minn receivers on that list. Couldn't happen if Joe Webb truly was warmed over feces.

47
by Will Allen :: Wed, 01/09/2013 - 3:45pm

I'm not the one who made a claim as to having insight as to Webb's credibility in the Vikings locker room. That was you. Supply the evidence, please.

I don't like or hate people I don't know. As to football player performance, I go by what can be observed. I think the odds of Ponder being a good NFL qb someday are poor. I think it is absolutely absurd beyond description to say that the odds of Webb being so are better than Ponder's. In all likelihood, neither guy can play. Trying to have a debate about this is akin to debating as to whether you'd rather hit your ring or index finger with a hammer.

51
by theslothook :: Wed, 01/09/2013 - 7:48pm

"I don't like or hate people I don't know." - Jay Cutler would like to know if you're telling the truth here will.

53
by Insancipitory :: Wed, 01/09/2013 - 10:23pm

Jay Cutler Dooooooonnt Caaaaaarre