Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

08 Sep 2014

Week 1 Quick Reads

Quick Reads Week 1

by Vincent Verhei

Matt Ryan is the MVP favorite! Jake Locker has turned his career around! Tom Brady is toast! Josh McCown is awful!

You may have read or heard sentiments similar to those in the past 24 hours after opening weekend. It is, after all, National Jump To Conclusions Week. Really, though, it's still way too early to determine the eventual fate of those players. (Well, maybe not McCown. After all, he has been this bad for most of the past decade.) We've been doing this Quick Reads thing for a while now, and there's ample evidence to suggest that what happens in Week 1 is no guarantee for where a player will end the season. A look back at every Week 1 in the past five years will show plenty of players didn't wind up where they started.

2009: In his NFL debut, Mark Sanchez goes 18-for-31 for 272 yards, one touchdown, and one interception against Houston, finishing seventh in Quick Reads. By the end of the year he ranks 38th among qualifying quarterbacks, and in his time with the Jets he never finished a season ranked higher than 20th.

Also in 2009, Matt Hasselbeck ranked fourth in Week 1 but was 43rd by the end of the year. Matt Schaub, meanwhile, finished the year ranked sixth, but he was 26th in Week 1.

2010: Kyle Orton, then playing for Denver, goes 21-for-33 against Jacksonville, for 295 yards with one touchdown and one interception. That was good enough to rank third in the first edition of Quick Reads that season. By the end of the year, he was 13th. He would play only five games for Denver in 2011 before being waived in favor of Tim Tebow. He signed with the Chiefs, but they let him go after the season so they could start Matt Cassell. Orton has since been gainfully employed backing up Tony Romo in Dallas and now EJ Manuel in Buffalo.

Also in 2010, Vince Young was ninth among quarterbacks in Week 1. He finished the year 18th. He was out of Tennessee at the end of the year, and out of the league a year after that.

2011: Ryan Fitzpatrick, already established as a below-average quarterback, has a stellar Week 1 game for Buffalo against Kansas City, going 17-of-25 for 208 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. He finished fourth in what was a very good opening week for quarterbacks. Fitzpatrick led the league that year with 23 interceptions, finishing 19th in the end-of-year rankings, and remains a below-average quarterback to this day.

There were a few other quarterbacks that season who reversed their fortunes from Week 1. Rex Grossman was seventh that week, but finished the year in 25th place, and hasn't played a regular season game since. On the other hand, two quarterbacks from the class of 2004 got off to bad starts in their seventh seasons. Ben Roethlisberger was in last place that week (three interceptions against Baltimore will do that to you), but he finished the year in ninth place, and the Steelers went 12-4 before losing to Tim Tebow's Broncos in the playoffs. Eli Manning was 27th in Week 1, but finished in eighth place, and of course he and the Giants would go on to win the Super Bowl.

2012: Hey, it's Mark Sanchez again! What got into that guy in season openers? Maybe Eagles coaches can get him a calendar that has September on all 12 pages. Sanchez went 19-of-27 against Buffalo for 266 yards with three touchdowns and one interception, finishing second among Week 1 quarterbacks. By the end of the year he was dead last among quarterbacks, and though an injury knocked him out of the 2013 season, the drafting of Geno Smith probably meant that his tenure in New York was coming to an end regardless.

Meanwhile, a pair of rookie quarterbacks made inauspicious debuts that day. Russell Wilson was 28th in Week 1, and Andrew Luck was 29th. They finished the year ranked eighth and 19th, and seem to have done just fine for themselves since then.

2013: The 2013 opener was a rough one for a pair of Super Bowl champion passers. Roethlisberger went 21-of-33 against Tennessee, but averaged only 5.8 yards per pass, with one touchdown and one interception. Similarly, Brady went 29-of-52 against Buffalo, but averaged only 5.5 yards per pass, with two touchdowns and a pick. Roethlisberger and Brady were 28th and 29th in the Week 1 rankings, but finished the year 11th and sixth.

There's no guarantee that the stars of Week 1 will still be stars a few months down the road, or that a rough season opener is a sure sign of a bad campaign. If you're favorite team played well this week, it's too early to celebrate, and if they played poorly, it's too early to panic.

Except for Tampa Bay. You guys can get right to work on that panicking.

Leading Rushers

We like to rank running backs by their total DYAR, including rushing and receiving plays. Most of the time that data paints a more accurate picture of which runners were helping their teams win, or causing them to lose. We always get a few requests to rank running backs by rushing data only, though, so here they are:

  • Knowshon Moreno, MIA (48 DYAR): 24 carries, 134 yards, one touchdown
  • Marshawn Lynch, SEA (44 DYAR): 20 carries, 110 yards, two touchdowns
  • Justin Forsett, BAL (37 DYAR): 11 carries, 70 yards, one touchdown
  • DeMarco Murray, DAL (29 DYAR): 22 carries, 118 yards, one touchdown
  • Isaiah Crowell, CLE: Five carries, 32 yards, two touchdowns

Note that this list includes only running backs. The leader in rushing DYAR in Week 1 was actually a wide receiver, Minnesota's Cordarrelle Patterson (three carries, 102 yards, one touchdown, 57 DYAR). Seattle's Percy Harvin (four carries, 41 yards, no touchdowns, 29 DYAR) would also make the top five if you want to include all players.

The least valuable rusher was Jacksonville's Toby Gerhart (18-42-0, -40 DYAR). Fourteen of his 18 carries gained 3 yards or less.

Remember that since this is Week 1, opponent adjustments are not included. Games may move up or down the rankings by the end of the year when we know how good each defense actually is.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
1.
Matt Ryan ATL
31/42
448
3
0
259
258
2
Ryan was good in pretty much all categories against New Orleans, but no more so than on deep passes. He threw 10 passes that traveled more than 15 yards past the line of scrimmage on Sunday, completing eight of them for 205 yards.
2.
Matthew Stafford DET
22/32
346
2
0
197
186
11
3.
Colin Kaepernick SF
16/23
201
2
0
139
141
-3
Kaepernick only had five passing plays in the first quarter and still led the league in first-quarter DYAR. Four of those passes were completed for 75 total yards and two touchdown. The fifth was a 7-yard DPI. He also led the league in third-down DYAR, going 7-of-9 for 88 yards and six first downs.
4.
Peyton Manning DEN
22/36
269
3
0
136
136
0
Manning led the league in first-half DYAR, completing 16 of 22 passes for 199 yards and all three of his touchdowns. He was actually below replacement level after halftime.
5.
Drew Brees NO
29/42
333
1
1
136
139
-3
Brees was a machine on third downs, completing 9-of-13 passes for 117 yards and eight first downs (the one completion that did not pick up a first down was a 14-yard gain on third-and-19), though his red zone interception also came on third down.
6.
Jake Locker TEN
22/33
266
2
0
114
113
1
Death by a thousand cuts! Locker led the league in DYAR on short passes, going 20-of-28 for 208 yards, two touchdowns, and 14 other first downs.
7.
Carson Palmer ARI
24/37
304
2
0
102
94
8
8.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
23/31
365
1
1
101
103
-2
And then there's Roethlisberger, whose average completion traveled 9.3 yards past the line of scrimmage, deepest of any starter this week. He also led the league in DYAR throwing to his right, where he went 11-of-13 for 229 yards with one touchdown and six other first downs.
9.
Jay Cutler CHI
34/49
349
2
2
90
90
0
Cutler, on the other hand, had the best DYAR in the league when throwing to his left, going 19-of-27 for 234 yards, two touchdowns, and 11 other first downs, plus a 24-yard DPI.
10.
Matt Cassel MIN
17/25
170
2
0
80
80
0
Cassel stuck almost exclusively to short passes. His average pass traveled just 4.8 yards past the line of scrimmage, nearly a full yard shorter than the next shortest quarterback (Derek Carr, 5.6).
11.
Derek Anderson CAR
25/33
230
2
0
66
60
6
Throwing up the middle or to his right, Anderson went an amazing 18-of-19 for 177 yards. He was not so good going to his left -- just 6-of-13 for 53 yards and only two first downs (one of them a touchdown).
12.
Andy Dalton CIN
25/38
301
1
0
56
76
-20
Want to know why Cincinnati kicked five field goals? On Baltimore's side of the field, Dalton went 10-of-18 for just 65 yards and only three first downs.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
13.
Russell Wilson SEA
19/28
191
2
0
51
42
9
A weird, streaky game. Wilson started out 6-of-7, but those six completions gained only 27 yards, and he was also sacked once in that stretch. His next three passes were all completed for first downs, gaining 90 total yards, including a 33-yard touchdown to Ricardo Lockette. He failed to pick up a first down in his next 11 passes, completing only four of them for 20 total yards. And then he finished up 6-of-7 again, this time gaining 54 yards, a touchdown, and three other first downs.
14.
Ryan Fitzpatrick HOU
14/22
206
1
0
48
43
5
Fitzpatrick got a lot of help from his receivers. His average completion gained a league-best 7.8 YAC, a full yard better than that of the next-best passer (Drew Brees).
15.
Andrew Luck IND
35/53
370
2
2
38
36
2
If there's a weak spot in the Colts offense, it's probably Coby Fleener. Throwing to Fleener, Luck went 3-of-8 for 21 yards with one first down and one interception. DVOA and DYAR put the blame for interceptions on quarterbacks, not the receiver. Otherwise, Fleener probably would have winded up at the bottom of the receiver tables. (As it was, he was third to last.)
16.
Chad Henne JAC
24/43
266
2
0
28
24
4
On third and fourth downs, Henne went 4-of-11 for 29 yards with only two first downs.
17.
Brian Hoyer CLE
19/31
230
1
0
21
30
-10
This was even streakier than Wilson's game. His first pass was a completion to Jordan Cameron for 47 yards. From then until halftime, he went 3-of-10 for 10 yards with no first downs and two sacks. On Cleveland's first four drives of the second half (three touchdowns and a field goal), Hoyer went 13-of-15 for 175 yards with one touchdown and nine other first downs. And from that point forward, he went 1-of-4 for 3 yards with no first downs and two sacks.
18.
EJ Manuel BUF
16/22
173
1
1
16
9
6
Manuel tore apart the Bears on deep passes, going 5-of-7 for 118 yards.
19.
Ryan Tannehill MIA
18/32
180
2
1
-7
7
-13
Tannehill's first deep pass was a 22-yard completion to Mike Wallace. His next three deep passes -- all in the second quarter -- were all thrown to Wallace, none of them complete, one intercepted. He threw only one deep pass after that, an incompletion to tight end Dion Sims in the fourth quarter.
20.
Derek Carr OAK
20/32
151
2
0
-10
-10
0
Carr's first third-down play was a 3-yard gain on third-and-2, and his next was a 12-yard touchdown. He failed to convert a third down for the rest of the game, going 2-of-6 for 9 yards and two sacks.
21.
Aaron Rodgers GB
23/33
189
1
1
-11
-11
0
Remember that these ratings do not include opponent adjustments. Odds are that this game will look a lot better by the end of the year. On Seattle's half of the field, Rodgers went 9-of-13 for 61 yards with one sack and four first downs, including a touchdown -- which came with the Packers down by 19 in the fourth quarter.
22.
Philip Rivers SD
21/36
238
1
1
-14
-19
5
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
23.
Geno Smith NYJ
23/28
225
1
1
-33
-8
-24
The secret to Smith's career-best 82 percent completion rate? A bunch of short passes. His average completion came a league-low 3.5 yards past the line of scrimmage. Eleven of his 23 completions were thrown to receivers at or behind the line of scrimmage.
24.
Tony Romo DAL
23/37
281
1
3
-38
-38
0
This was a day of extremes, even more than you know. Romo led the league in DYAR on passes up the middle (9-of-13 for 159 yards and a touchdown), but was last on passes to either side (13-of-23 for 109 yards with three interceptions). In the red zone, he went 5-of-10 for 46 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Only one quarterback had a worse DYAR inside the 20.
25.
Joe Flacco BAL
35/62
345
1
1
-43
-46
3
No quarterback had a worse DYAR inside the 20, where Flacco went 1-of-7 for 7 yards with two sacks and no first downs or touchdowns. He also threw a whopping 28 passes to the middle of the field. No other passer threw more than 17.
26.
Robert Griffin WAS
30/37
267
0
0
-45
-41
-5
That looks like a pretty decent completion rate, but don't be fooled. Griffin led the league with 12 failed completions, including four that failed to gain positive yardage, and three that failed to convert third downs. Each of his first 13 passes resulted in a gain of less than 10 yards.
27.
Austin Davis STL
16/23
192
0
1
-46
-46
0
Davis took over for Shaun Hill at halftime. On first down, he went 4-of-7 for 25 yards with one sack and one first down.
28.
Shaun Hill STL
8/13
81
0
1
-67
-67
0
Hill was pulled from the lineup with a strained quad. It's not clear when he suffered the injury, but that might explain why he had the league's worst DYAR in the second quarter, going 2-of-6 for 24 yards one interception and a sack-fumble.
29.
Nick Foles PHI
27/44
322
2
1
-71
-71
0
Foles' DYAR and ranking by quarter: -77 (last), -76 (third-to-last), 23 (seventh-best), 62 (second-best). (Note: The Monday night games changed some league-wide baselines, which slightly tweaked Foles' DYAR totals.) He had back-to-back sack-fumbles in the first quarter. He had the worst DYAR in the league when throwing to his left, going 6-of-13 for only 32 yards (!) with one first down and one interception.
30.
Eli Manning NYG
18/33
163
1
2
-95
-95
0
31.
Alex Smith KC
19/35
202
1
3
-101
-98
-2
Smith's first third-down pass was a 14-yard gain on third-and-1. He had 10 other plays on third and fourth downs after that and converted only one of them, going 3-of-7 for 24 yards with an interception and three sacks.
32.
Tom Brady NE
29/56
249
1
0
-102
-105
4
Brady has 27 fourth-quarter comebacks since he became the Patriots' starter in 2001, second to Peyton Manning's 30 in that timespan. So it was pretty surprising see him put together the fourth quarter from Hell against Miami. New England trailed by 3 at the start of the fourth, but from that point forward -- you might want to sit down -- he went 6-of-20 for 31 yards (that's just depressing) two first downs, two sacks, and one fumble.
33.
Josh McCown TB
22/35
183
2
2
-115
-130
15
Josh, Josh, Josh, Josh, Josh. McCown was the league's worst quarterback in the third quarter (6-of-8 for 40 yards with two sacks, one fumble, and one interception), on short passes (21-of-32 for 164 yards with two interceptions), on first downs (8-of-12 for 56 yards with an interception), and in the middle of the field (5-of-7 for 37 yards with two picks). And even when things did go right for McCown, they didn't go that right. He threw for 10 first downs on the day (including his two touchdowns), and the average gain on those 10 plays was only 11.4 yards. That was the lowest average gain on a first-down play of any quarterback this week.


Five most valuable running backs
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Matt Forte CHI
82
0
87
0
61
18
44
Four of Forte's 18 runs failed to gain positive yardage, but he had five first downs, including a third-down conversion. He added nine receptions in ten targets, with four more first downs and a 13-yard gain on second-and-17.
2.
Marshawn Lynch SEA
110
2
14
0
57
48
9
Here's a case where even advanced stats don't tell the whole story. Nine of Lynch's first ten carries (a stretch that lasted into the third quarter) qualified as a successful play; his only "failure" was a 5-yard gain on second-and-10. He had 10 more carries after that, each with the Seahawks nursing a double-digit second-half lead, with both teams knowing Seattle was only looking to kill clock, and he only had two more successful carries from that point forward. He also caught the only pass thrown his way.
3.
Le'veon Bell PIT
109
1
88
0
53
15
38
Bell's 22 carries resulted in five first downs (including a 38-yard touchdown and two 11-yard scampers) and only three plays that failed to gain yards. He caught six of the seven passes thrown his way, producing four more first downs.
4.
Knowshon Moreno MIA
134
1
0
0
51
51
0
Only one of Moreno's 24 carries failed to gain positive yardage. Meanwhile, he had a touchdown and six other first downs, 13 runs of 5 yards or more, and three runs of 10 yards or more.
5.
DeMarco Murray DAL
118
1
25
0
38
35
3
Murray caught three of the four passes thrown his way, and though none of those plays gained a first down, each was considered a success. His fumble that resulted in a 49ers touchdown got most of the attention, but Murray had only one run for negative yardage, while producing eight first downs on the ground, including his touchdown. Twelve of his 22 carries gained 5 yards or more, and three gained 10 yards or more.


Least valuable running back
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Mike Tolbert CAR
11
0
6
0
-38
-21
-16
As we noted in Football Outsiders Almanac 2014 (still available!), Tolbert is usually a reliable short-yardage runner. His two third-and-1 carries against Tampa Bay, though, resulted in a zero-yard gain and a 1-yard loss. All told he averaged 1.6 yards on his seven carries. His two completions on four targets gained 3 yards each, one on first-and-10, one on third-and-10.


Five most valuable wide receivers and tight ends
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Calvin Johnson DET
7
11
164
23.4
2
72
2.
Cordarrelle Patterson MIN
3
5
26
8.7
0
58
See the essay for Patterson's rushing data. He was actually below replacement level as a receiver, though he did produce two first downs through the air, including an 11-yard gain on third-and-7.
3.
Antonio Brown PIT
5
6
116
23.2
1
56
Brown's touchdown went for 35 yards, and he had three other first downs on gains of 41, 18, and 16 yards.
4.
Anquan Boldin SF
8
9
99
12.4
0
46
Boldin had six first downs on the day (including a 37-yarder). His other two catches were both 7-yard gains on first-and-10.
5.
Devin Hester ATL
5
6
99
19.8
0
46
Hester as a first-string wideout? Not a good idea. Hester as a third option exploiting holes created by Julio Jones and Roddy White? Pretty scary. Four of his receptions produced first downs (including a 35-yard gain on third-and-8). The other was an 8-yard gain on first-and-10.


Least valuable wide receiver or tight end
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Denarius Moore OAK
2
8
8
4.0
0
-49
Moore's first six targets all resulted in incompletions, three of them on third downs. His first reception was an 8-yard gain on third-and-11 with the Raiders down six in the fourth quarter, and his last went for no gain on first down with the Raiders down by 12.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 08 Sep 2014

84 comments, Last at 23 Sep 2014, 2:09pm by

Comments

1
by Led :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 4:52am

"The secret to Smith's career-best 82 percent completion rate? A bunch of short passes. His average completion came a league-low 3.5 yards past the line of scrimmage."

This strikes me as irrelevant since the YPA was 7.89, so the short passes were apparently effective. I think a more helpful comment would explain why 82% completion rate with YPA of 7.89 and long of 26 yards (so lots of consistent gains rather than a boom/bust situation) yielded a crappy DYAR. I imagine it has to do with the INT (a great play by Woodson, btw), 2 fumbles, and 1 hideous sack that knocked them out of FG range. The problem, it seems to me, was not general ineffectiveness (as implied in the comment) but rather consistently efficient production outweighed by a small number of very negative plays, which is how it looked in live action. That's an important distinction if you're evaluating Smith because last year he rarely demonstrated efficient production and completed a low percentage of even short passes, at least until the last month.

10
by dbostedo :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 9:11am

It's relevant because it explains why the completion percentage was so high. No one said they weren't effective - just that they were short.

Does DYAR take YAC into account? If Smith had lots of short passes with YAC, it could possibly conclude that Smith didn't contribute that much and not give a lot of DYAR credit for those short passes.

12
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 9:36am

Taking away credit from the QB for YAC is tricky. Did the receiver get YAC because he juked a defender after making the catch? Was there a blown coverage? Or was the QBs ball placement so good that the receiver could catch it in stride and continue running away from the defender? (Montana was a master at this, while mediocre/bad QBs make their receivers stop to catch short passes, allowing the defender to tackle them immediately). You would need someone to watch every single snap to adjust DYAR for YAC.

14
by mehllageman56 :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 10:05am

If Greg Salas catches the ball in the end zone or Decker's OPI doesn't get called, Geno's yards per completion would have gone up. I think it looks like Geno improved from last year, while not completely eliminating the foolish decisions that hurt the Jets last year. Philip Rivers also took a sack that put the Chargers out of field goal range; the difference is, the Chargers were playing a stronger team, so the mistake turned a win into a loss.

70
by dbostedo :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 10:20pm

I'm not really thinking about taking away credit, per se. In stead I'm wondering if empirically you could show that YAC amounts or rates would predict anything about a QBs future performance.

For instance, if QBs that had a lot of YAC tended to have worse performances in the future, or when moving teams, then it could be factored into various projection or assessment systems (like DYAR or KUBIAK).

So I'm wondering if YAC has been analyzed for predictivity with regard to future performance.

71
by coboney :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 10:29pm

I don't know if they have - but I do think that QBs contribute to YAC as well because of ball placement and accuracy. Its not just throwing the ball to the person but leading them and making it so that its easier to continue running in stride and make those plays - or using eyes to slightly move the corner off and get the player a bit more space.

Now how much is QB skill vs WR skill is something I have no clue on!

2
by Jerry :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 7:23am

Thanks for including the "leading rushers" section.

3
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 7:24am

Stafford has had games with more yards,TDs,YPA and passer rating than he did last night, but that was the best game I've seen him play in his career (barely edging out week 7 2012 against Seattle). Great footwork, great accuracy, no unnecessary risks.

But since Lions fans can't seem to have nice things for too long, I still can't shake the feeling of dread that the old backfoot, sidearm, throwing into triple coverage Stafford is still lurking beneath the surface.

5
by Guido Merkens :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 8:43am

One thing I really liked about Stafford last night is that he took appropriate situational risks. A great example is the first TD to Megatron. It happened on a 3rd and 9, and when scrambling out of the pocket Stafford launched the ball about 50 yards into what appeared to be double coverage. When he threw the ball, Stafford couldn't know that Stevie Brown would take a terrible angle and knock down DRC, which made Johnson wide open.

Given that Johnson is the best jump-ball receiver in the league, that's still a 50-50 ball where the upside is a 50-yard gain and the downside is an interception near where the punt would have landed on the next play. On the next possession, Stafford made a similar throw where the Lions went play-action max-protect, and had Johnson running deep with Tate crossing underneath, and Johnson almost brought it in again except for a great play by Amukamara. That play call leads me to believe that these jump balls are something the coaching staff has planned.

24
by Rick_and_Roll :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 12:26pm

I think the same thing every time I watch him or Jay Cutler have a great game... Strange to see guys turning a strength (like a crazy arm) into a liability.

25
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 12:37pm

If Caldwell can put an end to Stafford going down the Cutler path, there may be no more valuable head coach in the league.

27
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 12:45pm

If this is the first time in Stafford's career that he has been really worked consistently hard, with regard to mechanics, that's borderline criminal. Who knows? Maybe his coaching has been good all along, and he's finally decided to be a professional. Maybe this is a one game aberration. That's why it's fun to watch the games.

75
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 09/10/2014 - 10:00am

People often forget how young Stafford is (26, two months younger than Kaepernick). He entered the league at 21 and was immediately told he's the franchise quarterback. It's not inconceivable that a young man needed some time to mature in his early 20's, before he finally "gets it" as he enters his mid to late 20s. Like you said, it will be fun to see if that's the case.

4
by nickbradley :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 8:24am

Dreadful performance by the giants, and nothing should really be taken from this by lions fans.

This highly anticipated giants D looked confused and unprepared; terrible offensive gameplan that did not feed Jennings nearly enough until late (often swapping in an ineffective rookie.

And don't get me started on Eli. Some of those throws were horrible.

6
by Guido Merkens :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 8:47am

The Giants defense wasn't very good. But I disagree that the Giants didn't feed Jennings enough early on. On the Giants' first three drives, they gave the ball to Jennings seven times, resulting in rushes of -2, 1, 1, 2, 4, and 0 yards, plus an incomplete pass. It's tough to keep feeding a guy when you're behind by multiple scores and he's averaging less than a yard per play.

8
by Duff Soviet Union :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 8:56am

Yeah, but if they'd given it to him 18 more times they would have won, because teams are 347983-1 when a running back gets 25 carries.

29
by Kibbles :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 12:59pm

I wasn't able to query carries by a single player, but historically teams have only won 73.4% of games with 30 rushing attempts, 87.6% of games with 40 rushing attempts, or 92.3% of games with 50 (!) rushing attempts, so I somehow find it hard to believe they have a cumulative 99.9997% winning percentage when a single RB gets 25 carries.

Not to mention the fact that entering this weekend there had only been 27,126 games played in NFL history, so I don't know where you're getting the other 320,858 games in your sample. Possibly including high school games? College? CFL? Arena league? NFL Europe? Either way, I don't think results from other leagues are all that relevant to NFL outcomes.

I'd really love to take a look at your database sometime, if I could. I'm having a bear of a time getting your results to reconcile with mine.

81
by Silversmith :: Fri, 09/12/2014 - 12:42am

One of the more exhaustive attempts at sarcasm I've seen on these boards in a while.

30
by Kibbles :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 1:07pm

I'm looking at this some more. I went back to 1960 and found 2,839 instances of a player receiving 25 rush attempts. The cumulative record of those players in those particular games is 2278-542-19, good for a winning percentage of 80.6%. While certainly an impressive rate, it stands far removed from the 347,983-1 total you provided earlier. Various internet searches have yet to turn up any hits on the figures involved, suggesting that if you have some other primary source for that value it has not been made available to be cached by any of the popular search platforms. I'm beginning to think that the most likely explanation is that you, in fact, are the primary source of this data and are reporting the outcome of your own independent research. I do not mean to be incendiary, but absent the discovery of some logical explanation that is just staring me in the face, I'm beginning to question whether you weren't just making up your data entirely.

32
by Kibbles :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 1:10pm

I apologize for being rude and engaging in character assassination like this; it's totally out of character for me. It's wildly inappropriate to engage in such loaded speculation about a person's actions or motives without first hearing back from them about their process. Please accept my apologies. I'm sorry that I acted like one of these "internet trolls", and will endeavor to comport myself in a more civilized manner going forward.

33
by Kibbles :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 1:13pm

I'm still struggling to get our data to reconcile. I've begun spot-checking my database for errors, but so far everything is checking out. I don't mean to imply user error on your side, but I think if you wanted to perform a similar check on your own database, it would not be totally amiss. Lord only knows how these little errors always slip in under our nose. My kingdom for a quality data scraper, am I right?

34
by Kibbles :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 1:15pm

Also, while I'm thinking about it, you might want to check the terms you queried. That total games played value remains most vexing to me and I'm suspicious that you might be mislabeling your outputs. Not that I want to accuse you of negligence, of course! I'm just trying to be thorough and cover all of our bases, here.

35
by Kibbles :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 1:20pm

Okay, seriously, how do you not even sanity-check your outputs? Have you never heard of Fermi estimates? Even cursory thought should have told you that the numbers you were quoting were obviously implausible by several orders of magnitude. Even discounting for the effects of expansion on games played, surely you should have realized that even if 32 teams played 16-game schedules for 100 years we're still only looking at 51,200 total games, good for just over 100k unique win/loss datapoints... and yet you blithely reported a figure more than three times that! This is basic mental math! The sheer negligence is appalling!

36
by Kibbles :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 1:25pm

Ugh! I'm so sorry again. I'm well aware of the dangers of projection bias, I should know better than ascribing to you my own priorities and capabilities. Further, my therapist has been cautioning me about keeping my emotions under control, probably to avoid embarrassing situations precisely like this one. Look at me, first I accuse you of malintent and then, after apologizing, I accuse you of incompetence. I am better than this! I must strive to be better than this! We are all allies here in the quest to better quantify and thereby understand the chaotic interactions of human agents within the confines of the rules and regulations of football.

I have made a fool of myself. You all must think me quite the fool. I feel terribly foolish. DUMB DUMB DUMB DUMB DUMB DUMB DUMB DUMB DUMB.

37
by Kibbles :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 1:27pm

Oh, dear God, it has just occurred to me how this may appear. Please, I am not calling you dumb! I am calling myself dumb! All flaws and failings are surely my own! I apologize and will endeavor to do better in the future!

38
by Kibbles :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 1:28pm

... it's just that... the total games. They don't add up. I mean, even ignoring the fact that the subset of games with 25 carries represents a relatively small percentage of total games playeOH GOD I'M DOING IT AGAIN.

39
by Kibbles :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 1:33pm

Wait, why must I assume pure motivations on the part of people I don't know? Shouldn't my patrons in this, as in every, matter be Occam and Bayes? Isn't the most logical conclusion to be drawn here that I was right and you were wrong? Does it not logically follow from there that your initial post was made either in error or not? Were it in error, does not the size and obviousness of the error indicate negligence or even gross incompetence? And if you were not mistaken, if you knowingly posted false data, does that not imply malicious intent?

DOES NOT MY ENTIRE EPISTEMOLOGY JUSTIFY MY INITIAL REACTION? DO I REALLY WISH TO TEMPER MY OWN BELIEFS IN THE QUEST FOR SOCIAL APPROBATION?

40
by Kibbles :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 1:34pm

AM I NOT A MAN? AM I NOT AS ENTITLED TO MY PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE AS ARE YOU?

41
by Kibbles :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 1:35pm

THE WORLD WILL LONG REMEMBER THE CHICANERY YOU ENGAGED IN THIS DAY, AND WILL REWARD ME FOR MY PRINCIPLED STAND AGAINST YOUR TYRANNY. I CONSIGN OUR RESPECTIVE ACTIONS TO THE DOMAIN OF HISTORY AND LET IT STAND AS JUDGE. I DO NOT FEAR ITS UNWAVERING GAZE.

44
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 1:36pm

Not sure if I should marvel at the time and effort you put in to trolling Duff, or fear for your sanity, and the safety of those around you.

49
by Kibbles :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 1:42pm

Mostly the former.

45
by Kibbles :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 1:37pm

This is my final post i am Done engaging in ths frutliess BACK AND FORTH with an nemesis who so clearly is NOT INTERESTED in meanignul discussion because HES WRONG

46
by Kibbles :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 1:38pm

You know what, forget football. You can have it. I'm taking up hockey.

50
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 1:46pm

(Applause!!!)

72
by VarlosZ :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 11:35pm

I enjoyed that quite a bit. It's impressive that the whole thing barely took more than half an hour.

82
by Silversmith :: Fri, 09/12/2014 - 12:44am

Jesus. And I only said it was "exhaustive" after the first comment.

43
by Bernie :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 1:36pm

This is a lot of effort for something that is really not that funny. Are you Dane Cook?

47
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 1:39pm

My second guess was going to be Titus Young.

48
by Kibbles :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 1:39pm

No.

51
by Led :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 2:15pm

Now I'm picturing Dane Cook wrestle with the word "epistemology," which actually IS funny.

61
by countertorque :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 4:19pm

I was entertained.

68
by LionInAZ :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 7:41pm

My guess was that it's Siri.

73
by LionInAZ :: Wed, 09/10/2014 - 12:03am

"Nothing should really be taken from this by lions fans."

Yes and no. With a few changes, this is pretty much the same Giants team that the Lions bumbled away an OT loss to in week 16 last season. Hell, Victor Cruz wasn't even on the field in that game. The difference is that the Lions didn't make many big mistakes in the 2nd half, which can be considered a huge improvement.

77
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 09/10/2014 - 10:19am

Agree on all counts. About 7 minutes into the game it became clear to me the Giants were not a good team. In the second half, they did what you're supposed to do to bad teams: put them away. If, on the other hand, they had to squeak out a win over them, I would have been very discouraged about the rest of the season.

79
by LionInAZ :: Wed, 09/10/2014 - 6:45pm

The Lions still got too many bad penalties, including the usual Bentley "running into the receiver with his back to the ball" DPI, the rookie running into punter, and a couple of hands to the faces, but the offense didn't make a lot of drive-stopper mistakes.

I will admit that a couple of Stafford's throws -- the 2nd TD to Calvin in particular, were very scary.

I hope that time has run out on Bentley -- my recollection is that he has accumulated about 8 DPIs now in not even 16 games. Blecchhh.

80
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Thu, 09/11/2014 - 4:20am

Well, Nevin Lawson has the rest of the season to prove he's better than Bentley...

7
by Duff Soviet Union :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 8:52am

I thought at the time and I think it now that Aaron was wrong on the BS report when he said the Cardinals would be the "season from hell team". It's the Giants. Their offensive line sucks, the receivers aren't what they were, the pass rush has disappeared, the fluky good secondary from last year probably won't repeat, Coughlin is reaching his expiration date (and I've always been a fan of him) and I think Eli is just done. This is going to be ugly, and I completely agree with Nick that the Lions shouldn't take much from this.

9
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 9:10am

I didn't think the Giants secondary was all that bad. Yes, the DRC and Brown collision looked bad, but Brown made a nice play to save a touchdown to Ebron. Amukamara only gave up one reception and made two nice breakups to save a TD and a long gain (against Megatron no less).

The problem for the Giants zero pass rush, which is too much pressure to put on any sub-Seahawks secondary. That, and the Giants offense kept putting them in terrible spots.

74
by LionInAZ :: Wed, 09/10/2014 - 12:15am

The Giant secondary made a few plays, but they didn't look great either. DRC was out of position more than once and kept making the mistake of watching the QB while Calvin got away from him. With respect to the Giants' pass rush, when was the last time the Lions got burned by any team's pass rush? Stafford looked pretty effective moving around even under pressure, which I hope is more routine than not.

76
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 09/10/2014 - 10:13am

You're right, Staffords pocket movement was encouraging to see. In previous years instead of moving around the pocket to avoid pressure, he would either throw early, or bumble into a sack.

11
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 9:15am

I think DYAR is as good a metric as there is for qb play, but the fact that Cutler was top ten shows why metrics, even for the position best suited for evaluation by metrics, cannot be wholly substituted for actually watching the game.

18
by Arkaein :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 11:36am

Didn't watch the game, but a big issue is that as a cumulative stat, DYAR rewards Cutler for throwing 49 passes.

Would be really nice if these tables included a DVOA column, and could be made sortable by different columns to allow comparison by per-play efficiency.

19
by Eddo :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 11:36am

I don't know, this matches up with what I saw.

Cutler led the Bears down the field pretty consistently, and except for three exceptionally-poorly timed plays (two of which Buffalo exploited), looked quite sharp.

About 90 YAR on about 50 plays sounds about right to me.

23
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 12:19pm

Here's what DYAR can't capture; all ints, or dropped ints, are not remotely created equal. Neither are all completions or incompletions. Now, over 600 attempts during the course of a season, it tends to even out (although certainly not perfectly, which is why once season's worth of stats is inadequate for comprehensive evaluation), but within one game, two hypothetical 100% identical stat lines, against two 100% identical opponents, can actually encompass two qb performances which are wildly divergent in quality. I love the quickreads column, but one should keep in mind that the numbers in a sample size of 2-4 dozen attempts can conceal a helluva lot, as opposed to revealing a helluva lot.

Cutler's ints and should have been ints were really, really, bad, and significantly worse than the median int, in terms of qb performance.

21
by tuluse :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 11:42am

DYAR does not have an adjustment for "becomes a complete bonehead for 3 plays a game".

28
by mehllageman56 :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 12:54pm

If it did Geno's DYAR would be 1000.

31
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 1:08pm

DYAJMC (Defense-Adjusted Yards Above Josh McCown)

13
by OldFox :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 9:44am

Defense was supposed to be the only good thing about the 2014 Browns, but it sure wasn't a good thing for Cleveland fans in Week 1. The Steeler offense enjoyed itself immensely against the Browns' defense; according to the FO metrics, Roethlisberger was #8 among QBs, RB Bell was #3 among RBs and WR Brown was #3 among WRs. Did the Browns' varsity defense miss the bus to Pittsburgh?

62
by countertorque :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 4:21pm

Stuck in traffic. They got there at halftime.

67
by OldFox :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 7:26pm

Good answer. And you know, I think you might be right about that.

15
by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 10:12am

I imagine Kaepernick's DYAR for this game will have plummeted by the end of the year because...Dallas secondary.

58
by nickbradley :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 3:59pm

meh. Defensive adjustments to YAR and VOA appear to be really small. Unless you're Matt Flynn or Kellen Clemens in 2013, defensive adjustments don't change your overall performance by more than 5% or so.

ESPN thinks defensive adjustments don't matter at all, because week-to-week variance is larger than the defensive adjustments (In NFL, not college -- defensive adjustments matter a lot in college).

78
by Rocco :: Wed, 09/10/2014 - 3:05pm

True, but Dallas's secondary might be system-breakingly awful.

59
by nickbradley :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 4:18pm

for 23 of 32 defenses last year, Defensive variance exceeded defensive adjustment. but exception was NYG

16
by Paul R :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 10:31am

Eli in 30th place with -95 DYAR, and it's business as usual for the Giants.

Watching the Giants move up and down through the FO charts all season is a constant source of wonder to me. They're statistically as slippery as eels. For all we know, they could win the Super Bowl again.

The Giants remind me of watching the 10,000 meters in the World Track and Field games. In every race, there will be an anonymous Kenyan runner jogging along in the back of the pack, so far behind the leaders he rarely makes it onto your tv screen. But you just know that you can't count him out.
So you watch the runners go round and round until the race gets down to the last 1000 meters, and all of a sudden, there he is in second place and right on the leader's heels.
Of course, it's just as likely that you will keep your eyes on him the whole race and realize that you've wasted your time as he never moves up from the back of the pack. You finally catch a glimpse of him on the screen, jogging across the finish line, out of focus, behind the two-shot of the winner being interviewed by the on-track reporter.

17
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 11:01am

So you're telling me Josh McCown is almost as good as Tom Brady?

#optimism

Didn't have much doubt McCown would be last numerically and it would match what it looked like in the game. Third-down sack to take the team out of FG range. INT from panic throw while being sacked. INT whose idiocy cannot be named.

It felt like Derek Anderson gained about 99% on seam routes; Greg Olsen was wide-open every time. Every pass up the middle seemed successful.

22
by RickD :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 12:13pm

Excuse me while I find a high balcony to jump off of.

#notreally

20
by tuluse :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 11:41am

I suspect the VOA difference between the Bills and Bears is going to favor the Bears by quite a bit despite the loss.

They were consistently driving all game while the Bills offense went in spurts, and the Bills were gifted some great field position.

26
by Mountainhawk :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 12:44pm

I'm surprised by how low Foles is. Obvious, the first quarter was a total disaster, and the INT in the second was ugly, but the second half was pretty solid. I would have guessed more in the -25 range.

42
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 1:35pm

To cancel out the negative DYAR from the sacks, fumbles, interception, and general lack of positive plays from the 1st half, he would have needed to be Peyton Manning in the 2nd half, not just "solid".

52
by Mountainhawk :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 2:26pm

Right ... I wasn't expecting 0 --- definitely negative DYAR. Just surprised by how negative. I watched most of the Eagles and Cowboys games this week, and I would have guessed (wrongly) that Romo would have had the lower DYAR.

53
by theslothook :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 2:31pm

I don't think he will edge out Rice's career numbers - but to me - Megatron is already the second greatest receiver in nfl history. I wonder if I gave Lions fans a choice - Barry Sanders or Megatron for the best detroit lion of all time, who would they pick?

55
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 2:56pm

You're right about Megatron never catching Rice...no way he's still catching passes into his early 40's like Rice did (That's still amazing to me).

As far as best Detroit Lion, some old-timer Lions fans who are into winnersauce will want to throw Bobby Lanye in there since he was part of championship teams, but that's a discussion for another day.

Taking into account the eras they played in, I would vote for Sanders over Johnson because:

A)A running back in the 90's had more influence over his team's success than a receiver does today (even though it's very much a passing league today).

B)Sanders had a much worse supporting cast for most of his career than Johnson had for most of his (excepting 2007-2010). Whatever Matthew Stafford's limitation/faults have been, you have to concede he's several stratospheres above the Rodney Peete/Andre Ware/Erik Kramer/Scott Mitchell/Charlie Batch types Sanders was saddled with.

56
by theslothook :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 3:09pm

True and that's a fair argument. I just think Johnson changes the game in a way no other player on offense does right now.

63
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 4:33pm

Right now is key word. Back then, Sanders gave defensive coordinators nightmares, too. There may be a little bit of recency bias that leads many to favor Johnson over Sanders. That, and the fact that we now all know that passing is a more efficient way to score than running.

65
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 7:02pm

Greatness is a combination of ability and longevity; one of the classic examples is obviously Terrell Davis. If he plays at that level for a long career, he's obviously waltzing into the HOF as one of the all-time greats. Now, he gets debated, because he wasn't great long enough.

Megatron isn't in the "2nd Greatest of All-Time" discussion because he hasn't been around long enough. If he's doing this in five years, sure, open up that discussion. Right now, it's not even worth discussing.

66
by theslothook :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 7:26pm

Fair enough. I guess to me, even with longevity factored in, the only receivers I've seen that have matched this kind of peak performance has been Moss. I think Calvin at this stage is already better peak wise than TO or Andre Johnson.

54
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 2:43pm

This strikes me as irrelevant since the YPA was 7.89, so the short passes were apparently effective. I think a more helpful comment would explain why 82% completion rate with YPA of 7.89 and long of 26 yards (so lots of consistent gains rather than a boom/bust situation) yielded a crappy DYAR. I imagine it has to do with the INT (a great play by Woodson, btw), 2 fumbles, and 1 hideous sack that knocked them out of FG range. The problem, it seems to me, was not general ineffectiveness (as implied in the comment) but rather consistently efficient production outweighed by a small number of very negative plays, which is how it looked in live action. That's an important distinction if you're evaluating Smith because last year he rarely demonstrated efficient production and completed a low percentage of even short passes, at least until the last month.

I think “irrelevant” is a litte strong -- it’s worth noting changes in the Jets’ offensive philosophy. Last year, as a team, their average completion came 8.4 yards downfield, second only to Philadelphia. But your point about explaining Smith’s low DYAR is a good one.

Really, it comes down to the three turnovers (one interception, one fumble recovered by New York, one fumble recovered by Oakland). Take those three plays away and Smith finishes somewhere in the top ten. But his “consistent” gains weren’t really that consistent, either. He had a 50 percent Success Rate, which was better than average, but not special — seven starters were better this week. So he moved the ball OK (not great, just OK), but had few explosive plays and a trio of big-time mistakes. That sounds like a bad game to me.

Does DYAR take YAC into account? If Smith had lots of short passes with YAC, it could possibly conclude that Smith didn't contribute that much and not give a lot of DYAR credit for those short passes.

DYAR does not take YAC into account. It only measures yards gained on a play and does not divvy up credit for those yards between a quarterback and his receiver.

57
by Led :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 3:53pm

Sorry, didn't mean to be harsh. Allow me to revise and replace "irrelevant" with "less interesting to me." I don't think there was a major change in philosophy. Yes, there was an increase in percentage of short pass attempts (which may have replaced some runs, at least in the first half), but a much larger increase in completion percentage on short passes (91% on Sunday v. 60% in 2013). That meant the average completion tended to be shorter. Also, as mentioned above, Smith had 2 drops on downfield passes (one in the endzone) and a 20 yarder to Decker nullified by OPI. Those would have impacted the length of the average completion.

By the way, is success rate adjusted for length of attempt? They had a bunch of 2nd and 3rd and longs because of the 11 penalties, which I'd imagine are harder to "succeed" on. With all the drops and penalties, it felt like Smith was playing pretty well for the most part (albeit with the three big mistakes) but they were repeatedly held back by mistakes by others. So Smith looked better than his numbers in real time. Whereas Carr was the opposite. He threw almost exclusively short with limited success, had 2 easy INTs dropped (one of which was a sure pick 6), and his most successful play (and over 20% of the team's total passing yards) was a circus catch by Jones where Carr threw up a prayer into tight coverage. In Carr's defense, it was his first start and he had to get rid of the ball quickly all game, but it was a pretty bad performance. All that random stuff will tend to even out over the course of a season, but in a single game it has a big impact on the numbers.

60
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 4:18pm

To qualify as a Success, a play must gain:

* 45 percent of the yards to go on first down.
* 60 percent of the yards to go on second down.
* 100 percent of the yards to go on third/fourth down.

64
by Duff Soviet Union :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 5:26pm

Has that second down success rate changed? Didn't it used to be about 80%?

69
by LionInAZ :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 7:50pm

Not in the five years I've been following this site.

83
by Silversmith :: Fri, 09/12/2014 - 12:55am

80% doesn't even make sense. Come on, man.