Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

22 Sep 2014

Week 3 Quick Reads

by Vincent Verhei

The Indianapolis Colts' destruction of the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 3 was savage and thorough. While Jacksonville's six first-half drives netted a total of 60 yards, five punts, and one lost fumble, the Colts' had a half-dozen possessions of their own and produced 335 yards, three touchdowns, and three field goals. As is usually the case with the Colts, the star of the day was Andrew Luck, who finished with a 31-39-370 statline, with four touchdowns, no interceptions, and only two sacks. That leaves Luck second in our quarterback tables this week, behind only Matt Ryan (whose Atlanta Falcons team also unleashed thorough, savage destruction on Tampa Bay), though the difference is slim enough that the two might switch positions when opponent adjustments kick in later in the year.

It's never easy to find a hole in Luck's game, but this week in particular he was nearly flawless. He was good in all areas of the field. He excelled on first, second, and third downs. He found success with the deep ball, and he found success throwing short. He hurt the Jaguars when throwing to his right, gouged them when throwing up the middle, and to his left ... wait, what the hell happened when throwing to his left?!

If we sort Luck's passes by direction (left, middle, and right), we can clearly see that there was a flaw in Luck's game. Sorting further by depth (passes thrown to receivers at or behind the line of scrimmage, 1 to 15 yards downfield, or at least 16 yards downfield) shows which specific zones in the Jacksonville defense Luck was able to exploit, and which left him stymied (Table 1).

Table 1: Andrew Luck Passing By Direction vs. JAC
Depth
Left
Middle
Right
All Directions
16+
--
2-2 (100.0%)
44 Yds (22.0 avg.)
6-7 (85.7%)
152 Yds (21.7 avg.)
8-9 (88.9%)
196 Yds (21.8 avg.)
1-15
2-6 (33.3%)
23 Yds (3.8 avg.)
6-6 (100.0%)
54 Yds (9.0 avg.)
7-9 (77.8%)
52 Yds (5.8 avg.)
15-21 (71.4%)
129 Yds (6.1 avg.)
At/Behind LOS
3-4 (75.0%)
7 Yds (1.8 avg.)
1-1 (100.0%)
21 Yds (21.0 avg.)
4-4 (100.0%)
17 Yds (4.3 avg.)
8-9 (88.9%)
45 Yds (5.0 avg.)
All Depths
5-10 (50.0%)
30 Yds (3.0 avg.)
9-9 (100.0%)
119 Yds (13.2 avg.)
17-20 (85.0%)
221 Yds (11.1 avg.)
31-39 (79.5%)
370 Yds (9.5 avg.)


To recap: Luck only completed half his passes to his left against Jacksonville, for 3.0 yards per attempt. On all other passes, his completion rate dipped just below 90 percent (89.7 percent to be pedantic) and he averaged 11.7 yards per throw.

Is there a root cause for Luck's struggles when throwing to this side of the field? It's hard to blame any single receiver. Three of Luck's left-bound targets went to Trent Richardson; two went to T.Y. Hilton; and Donte Moncrief, Ahmad Bradshaw, Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen, and Reggie Wayne had one apiece. Ordinarily, forcing checkdowns to Trent Richardson sounds like a great plan against the Colts, but Richardson's 15-yard gain on third-and-3 was actually Luck's only first down throwing to that side of the field.

Really, this probably isn't useful information for Indianapolis. In Weeks 1 and 2, Luck completed 75 percent of his passes to his left, for 6.5 yards per throw, and that's not including a 25-yard DPI. In 2013, he completed 60 percent of his passes to that side of the field, with an average gain of 6.1 yards. In this regard, Luck's performance against Jacksonville was the exception, not the rule.

For Jacksonville, on the other hand, a clearer picture is beginning to emerge. In Week 1, the Jags defense limited Nick Foles to 6-of-13 passing for only 32 yards, with one first down and one interception when throwing to his left. When Kirk Cousins threw to his left against Jacksonville in Week 2, he completed 5-of-10 passes, but for a total of just 40 yards. All told, the Jacksonville defense is allowing opponents to complete only 49 percent of passes to their left-hand side, for 3.1 yards per attempt. Those are both the lowest rates in the league.

Remember, this is Jacksonville we're talking about. Entering the weekend, this team was 19th in overall defense and pass defense according to DVOA, and that rating is sure to plummet after Luck strafed them. Before the Bears-Jets Monday night game, the Jags defense was eighth-worst in completion percentage allowed, fourth-worst in yards per pass, second-worst in opponents' passer rating, and had given up a league-high eight touchdown passes. This is not a good defense! Yet somehow they've managed to dominate one side of the field.

It's way too early to start looking for charting data yet, so we can't accurately attribute this success to any one player's coverage right now, but a quick scan of the play-by-play indicates that Alan Ball is usually Jacksonville's cornerback making tackles on that side of the field. Ball spent most of his career as a safety on the Cowboys' bench, then played one year as a reserve corner for the Texans. He joined Jacksonville as a starter in 2013 and proceeded to finish in the top 10 among all cornerbacks in Adjusted Success Rate. A very rough look at early data (we're only talking about 35 total passes, after all) would suggest that Ball remains one of the NFL's better cover corners, even as everything around him has fallen apart. It also suggests that the coaching staffs in Dallas and Houston might not have known what they were doing.

Ball is 29 years old, and even if he plays lights-out this season, he's not the kind of guy around whom you can build a team. But in a season where nearly everything has gone wrong for Jacksonville, it's nice to know that at least one thing appears to have gone right.

Rushing Leaders

Here are Week 3's leading running backs, as measured by rushing DYAR only:

  • 1. Rashad Jennings, NYG (58 DYAR): 34 carries, 176 yards, 5.2 average, 1 TD
  • 2. LeGarrette Blount, PIT (50 DYAR): 10 carries, 118 yards, 11.8 average, 1 TD
  • 3. Bishop Sankey, TEN (30 DYAR): 10 carries, 61 yards, 6.1 average, 0 TD
  • 4. Lorenzo Taliaferro, BAL (30 DYAR): 18 carries, 91 yards, 5.1 average, 1 TD
  • 5. Lamar Miller, MIA (29 DYAR): 15 carries, 108 yards, 7.2 average, 0 TD

The least valuable rusher of the week can be found in the following tables.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
1.
Matt Ryan ATL
21/24
286
3
0
218
221
-2
Ryan threw no passes in the fourth quarter, and only two in the third (completing both for a 25-yard gain and a 40-yard touchdown). What kind of numbers could he have posted if he had been allowed to finish the game? Consider that only 17 games in all of 2013 that surpassed 220 passing DYAR, and only five times did a quarterback play that well through three quarters (Nick Foles, Peyton Manning, Tony Romo, and Drew Brees twice). Even looking only at first-half data, Ryan had 163 DYAR at halftime, a feat that was accomplished a half-dozen times last year (Manning twice, Brees twice, and Foles and Aaron Rodgers once each). So yes, Ryan likely could have threatened the all-time DYAR records if he had been allowed to finish the game; on the other hand, what he did do, though very rare, was not entirely unprecedented. (Remember also that all 2014 DYAR numbers are flexible, and will change as opponent adjustments evolve throughout the year.)
2.
Andrew Luck IND
31/39
370
4
0
208
209
-1
3.
Nick Foles PHI
27/41
325
3
0
165
157
8
Foles threw 11 passes to receivers at or behind the line of scrimmage. He completed seven of them, but six of those completions amounted to 19 total yards and only one successful play. The seventh was a 50-yard gain, but that's not enough boom to justify all that bust.
4.
Kirk Cousins WAS
30/48
427
3
1
142
138
4
Cousins converted each of his first five third-down plays, gaining 66 yards in the process. He had seven third-down plays after that, and threw incomplete passes on every one of them.
5.
Philip Rivers SD
18/25
256
2
0
140
139
1
Rivers could have had an even bigger game if had thrown just a little farther on third downs. He went 7-of-9 on third downs for 63 yards, but that only included three conversions (including a touchdown). Meanwhile, he had a 4-yard gain on third-and-5, a 6-yard gain on third-and-10, and an 11-yard gain on third-and-13.
6.
Drew Brees NO
27/35
293
2
0
133
133
0
On Minnesota's half of the field, Brees went 7-of-8 for 119 yards. Two of those completions went for touchdowns, four others went for first downs, and the other was a 7-yard gain on first-and-10.
7.
Brian Hoyer CLE
19/25
290
1
0
129
140
-10
At one point in this game, Hoyer completed 14 passes in a row, gaining 198 yards in the process. They weren't all great plays -- there was a 1-yard loss on second-and-16, and a 6-yard gain on the ensuing third-and-17. But still.
8.
Drew Stanton ARI
18/33
245
2
0
124
110
14
Stanton roasted San Francisco on third downs, going 7-of-10 for 134 yards with a touchdown and six other first downs, plus a 21-yard DPI on third-and-8. He converted 7-of-8 third downs with less than 10 yards to go. His average pass traveled 15.2 yards past the line of scrimmage, and his average completion came 10.8 yards downfield, both the most of any starter this week.
9.
Tony Romo DAL
18/23
217
2
1
102
94
9
Throwing up the middle, Romo went 7-of-8 for 142 yards, with two touchdowns and four other first downs. He also picked up a 26-yard DPI.
10.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
22/29
196
2
0
102
101
2
Roethlisberger had ten failed completions, tied with Nick Foles for most in the league this week -- and Foles threw a dozen more passes than Roethlisberger did.
11.
Austin Davis STL
30/42
327
3
2
81
81
0
If we remove every quarterback's interceptions, Davis would rank fourth this week. On third downs, he went 9-of-11 for 83 yards with seven first downs, including all three touchdowns.
12.
Eli Manning NYG
21/28
234
2
0
78
78
0
Manning had a rough day on third downs, going 2-of-6 for 16 yards and only one first down. That conversion came on third-and-11, but he failed to convert two third-and-2s and a third-and-4. Weird.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
13.
Colin Kaepernick SF
29/37
245
1
0
65
79
-14
Kaepernick was only sacked once, but he was forced to scramble six times for 28 yards. He also had seven designed runs for 26 times. That's a 4.2-yard average (pretty bad for a quarterback) on 13 runs, only one of which picked up a first down, and three of which failed to convert third downs. Throwing up the middle, he went 5-of-5 for 74 yards, with every completion gaining at least 10 yards and a first down.
14.
Alex Smith KC
19/25
186
3
0
64
58
7
On Miami's side of the field, Smith went 11-of-11 for 97 yards, with one sack. He completed each of his four passes inside the red zone. Three of them went for touchdowns, including a 20-yarder on third-and-2. (The fourth was a 1-yard gain on first-and-10.)
15.
Joe Flacco BAL
19/30
217
1
1
53
63
-10
In Week 1, Flacco threw 28 passes to the middle of the field. That number fell to 14 in Week 2, and then to just three in Week 3. Those three passes: a 4-yard gain on first-and-10, a 9-yard loss on second-and-8, and an interception on third-and-12. Well, I'd stop throwing in that direction too.
16.
Andy Dalton CIN
15/23
169
0
1
53
28
4
Dalton's DYAR totals include 22 DYAR for his 18-yard touchdown reception. On third downs, Dalton went 3-of-5 for 18 yards, put only picked up one first down.
17.
Blake Bortles JAC
14/24
223
2
2
48
33
14
Bortles got a lot of help from his teammates. His average completion gained 9.7 yards after the catch, most of any qualifying passer this week. That includes a 21-yard gain with 17 YAC by Allen Robinson, a 26-yard gain with 31 YAC by Toby Gerhart, and a 63-yard touchdown with 55 YAC by Allen Hurns.
18.
Russell Wilson SEA
24/34
258
2
1
47
28
9
Wilson was either very bad in this game, or very good, with virtually no in-between. On Seattle's three touchdown drives, he went 12-of-15 for 155 yards and 11 first downs or touchdowns. He also had four runs for 21 yards and two more first downs. The rest of the game, though, he went 12-of-19 for 103 yards, with only four first downs, with an interception and three sacks. He also had four more runs for 20 more yards, but only one first down. Obviously, every quarterback will look better on his touchdown drives than he would otherwise, but this split seems particularly dramatic. His DYAR totals include 10 DYAR for his 17-yard reception.
19.
Tom Brady NE
24/36
234
1
0
46
46
0
Brady stayed almost exclusively with short passes until the end of the game. He only threw two deep passes, both in the fourth quarter. (He completed one for 22 yards.) In fact, he only had eight other attempts that went even 10 yards past the line of scrimmage (six completions for 89 yards, plus a 14-yard DPI), and four of those were in the fourth quarter too.
20.
Peyton Manning DEN
31/49
303
2
1
33
33
0
Manning on passes to Emmanuel Sanders: 15-of-19 for 149 yards with eight first downs. Manning to everyone else: 16-of-30 for 154 yards and 10 first downs, including two touchdowns.
21.
Aaron Rodgers GB
16/27
162
1
0
16
16
0
Rodgers was only sacked one time, but Detroit's pass rush pretty much took the deep ball out of his arsenal. He threw only five deep passes all game (including a desperation fourth-down heave on his last pass of the game), completing only one of them for 16 yards.
22.
Cam Newton CAR
24/35
250
1
0
13
14
-2
On Pittsburgh's side of the field, Newton went 6-of-12 for 78 yards and only four first downs (including a touchdown with the Panthers down by 17 in the fourth quarter).
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
23.
Matthew Stafford DET
22/34
246
0
2
6
13
-7
The Lions beat the Packers despite Stafford's woeful performance in the red zone. He went 2-of-5 for 13 yards with no touchdowns, just one first down, two sacks, and one fumble, which was recovered by Green Bay.
24.
Teddy Bridgewater MIN
12/20
150
0
0
2
-5
7
Bridgewater entered the game in the second quarter and threw a 10-yard gain on second-and-long, then a 41-yard gain on the ensuing third down. (That included 44 yards after catch from Matt Asiata.) Things were going great. Then, in the red zone, he was sacked on first down and threw for a 5-yard loss on second down. The Vikings kicked a field goal, and Bridgewater didn't get another play in the red zone.
25.
Jay Cutler CHI
23/38
225
2
0
-2
-5
4
26.
Ryan Fitzpatrick HOU
20/33
289
1
3
-5
-10
5
First half: 4-of-13 for 39 yards with two sacks and two interceptions, last in the league in DYAR. Second half: 16-of-20 for 250 yards, with no sacks, one interception, and an 11-yard DPI, second-best in DYAR. Too little, too late: the Texans trailed by at least seven points for the entire second half.
27.
Matt Cassel MIN
5/10
53
0
0
-6
-2
-4
Cassel missed two passes, then completed five in row (albeit for only two first downs), then missed three in a row. And then he got hurt.
28.
Mike Glennon TB
17/24
121
1
0
-10
-18
8
The Bucs' offense is built around jump balls, and that often leads to quick tackles. Glennon's average completion gained 2.8 yards after the catch, lowest of any qualifying quarterback. (He was decimal places behind Drew Stanton and Peyton Manning.)
29.
EJ Manuel BUF
24/39
238
1
0
-45
-41
-4
At the end of the third quarter, Buffalo trailed San Diego 20-10 and were still very much in the game. In the final frame, Manuel went 11-of-21 for 119 yards with two sacks, one fumble, and an intentional grounding in the end zone for a safety.
30.
Derek Carr OAK
21/34
174
0
1
-48
-48
0
If there's a bright spot for Carr, it's that he played well on third downs, going 7-of-12 for 88 yards with five first downs, plus a 24-yard DPI on third-and-7. He converted 6-of-9 third downs with 7 yards to go or less.
31.
Geno Smith NYJ
26/43
321
1
2
-61
-61
0
32.
Josh McCown TB
5/12
58
0
1
-79
-79
0
McCown's only first down came with the Bucs down by 35 points in the second quarter. On third downs, he went 1-of-5 for -5 yards and a pick-six. Man, that's bad.
33.
Ryan Tannehill MIA
21/43
205
1
0
-81
-85
4
On third and fourth downs, Tannehill went 6-of-14 for 36 yards with one sack and only four first downs, including a touchdown.
34.
Jake Locker TEN
17/34
185
0
2
-105
-125
20
Locker's first third-down play resulted in a 23-yard completion to Delanie Walker on third-and-4. For the rest of the game, on third and fourth downs, he went 1-of-8 with one interception and a sack. That one completion was a 2-yard gain on third-and-13.


Five most valuable running backs
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Rashad Jennings NYG
176
1
0
0
59
59
0
Jennings' 34 carries included a whopping 14 first downs. That's more than anyone had in a game in the 2013 season. He had a half-dozen runs of 10 yards or more, but was stuffed for no gain or a loss only three times.
2.
Joe McKnight KC
3
0
64
2
54
-2
55
Last week's edition of Quick Reads was beset with problems, including the omission of Darren Sproles from the running back tables despite 178 yards from scrimmage. We had a minimum of five carries for running backs to make our tables, and Sproles only carried the ball four times in Week 2, so he slipped through the cracks. So we've now changed our minimum to five touches, either rushes or receptions. Which brings us to Mr. McKnight. He had only one run against Miami, a 3-yard gain on second-and-6 in the first quarter. However, he had six catches in seven passes for 64 yards, leading the Chiefs in all categories. Each of those receptions was a success, including two touchdowns, three first downs, and a 4-yard gain on second-and-6.
3.
LeGarrette Blount PIT
118
1
0
0
51
51
0
Four of Blount's 10 carries gained 10 yards or more including a 50-yarder, and he finished with one touchdown and five other first downs. Meanwhile, he was stuffed for a loss just once.
4.
Fred Jackson BUF
34
0
78
1
48
14
35
Jackson only carried the ball six times against San Diego, but all of those carries gained at least 2 yards, and three went for first downs. He had eight receptions in 10 targets for 78 yards, leading Buffalo in each of those categories. He had one touchdown reception and three other first downs through the air.
5.
Zac Stacy STL
67
0
54
0
39
14
25
Two of Stacy's 12 carries were stuffed for no gain or a loss, but he did have gains of 12 and 16 yards. He caught five of the six passes thrown his way, including one touchdown, four other first downs, and a 4-yard gain on first-and-10.


Least valuable running back
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
LeSean McCoy PHI
24
0
0
0
-70
-59
-11
McCoy's 19 rushes resulted in seven stuffs for no gain or a loss, one fumble, one first down, and nary a 10-yard gain to be seen. He failed to catch either of the two passes thrown his way.


Five most valuable wide receivers and tight ends
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Julio Jones ATL
9
11
161
17.9
2
95
Jones' receptions included eight total first downs and a 9-yard gain on first-and-10. He converted each of his three third-down targets.
2.
Jeremy Maclin PHI
8
10
154
19.2
1
62
Maclin's receptions included gains of 26, 27, and 50 yards, for six total first downs.
3.
Antonio Brown PIT
10
10
90
9.0
2
60
Yes, Brown caught every pass thrown his way, including six first downs. But he had 4-yard gains on second-and-10, second-and-16, and third-and-5, as well as a 7-yard catch on third-and-13. He also drew a 19-yard DPI.
4.
A.J. Green CIN
6
9
102
17.0
0
53
Each of Green's receptions gained at least 10 yards and a first down. He also drew two DPIs for 29 total yards.
5.
Malcom Floyd SD
2
4
98
49.0
0
48
Only two receptions, true, but they both went for 49 yards. He also drew a 31-yard DPI.


Least valuable wide receiver or tight end
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
David Nelson NYJ
3
7
20
6.7
0
-65
Nelson's raw numbers are bad enough on the surface, and he also fumbled twice.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 22 Sep 2014

54 comments, Last at 26 Sep 2014, 9:30am by ZDNeal

Comments

1
by Jerry :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 2:20am

A couple of typos: "Before the Steelers-Jets Monday night game" and "Roethlisberger threw had ten failed completions".

2
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 3:19am

Fixed.

3
by theslothook :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 4:15am

I wish charting data would be applied because while Manning wasn't great, he had a herculean task this week.

23
by Ferguson1015 :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 11:26am

I'm looking forward to seeing the results with defensive adjustments as well since SD has gone up against the 1st, 2nd, and 5th place Defenses from a year ago.

Rivers went up against the same Defense last week and still made 3rd on the list. I'm looking forward to see this Offensive rating jump.

4
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 8:13am

If you take away Cutler's 30-plus yards from the phantom dpi call in the 1st quarter, I wonder where he ends up.

7
by TomC :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 10:05am

He'd be lower.

But if M. Bennett hadn't dropped an easy TD, he'd be much higher.

But the Jets dropped an INT, so he'd be lower again. Except that his arm was hit on that throw, and if that hadn't happened, that play would have been a long completion, and he'd be higher again.

(Counterfactuals are fun!)

9
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 10:21am

My favorite one from last night is what happens if the Jets get a td just before halftime, if the fumble by Cutler doesn't get stupidly blown dead. Players making or not making plays is what the game is about. Unfortunately, last night's game was unduly affected by guys in striped shirts making very blatant errors.

13
by TomC :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 10:47am

Yeah, but this column isn't about game outcome; it's an attempt to isolate individual player performance from circumstance, of which the play you isolated was just a small part.

16
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 10:56am

That play comprised a large part of the Bears passing yardage (QB DYAR is more properly seen as a measurement of team passing performance), and it purely was a function of referee performance, unconnected to player performance. Over the course of 600 attempts in a season, that'll even out usually, but it sure skews the weekly metric.

27
by acr :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 12:12pm

Depends on what you mean by circumstance. Team context could be considered part of circumstance and FO makes no claims that DVOA can separate individual performance from team context.

This column is just about who had the best performances of the week according to DVOA (and I'm surprised anyone has to go out of their way to point that out).

15
by Led :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 10:52am

That's what is so frustrating. The Jets were 1 for 6 in the red zone, gifted the Bears 7 points, and made a bunch of unforced errors, and yet they probably still would have won but for the two calls you mentioned. So as a Jets fan, what do you take from it? The team is not terrible. They are averaging a yard per play more than opponents for the year (and out gained Chicago 414 to 257 last night). The good news is they are good enough to suffer a highly improbable series of mishaps in all three games, including having a TD erased in consecutive games, and either win or have a shot to tie all three of the games. But the bad news is they are bad enough to have been responsible for a large number (albeit not all) of the improbable series of mishaps. I have no idea what to make of the team.

18
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 11:07am

It sure does change the nature of the contest, even if the Bears get a field goal on that 1st offensive possession, and if the Jets get the td they earned just prior to the half. Smith's final pass probably should have had dpi called as well. A db can't be allowed to, with his face turned 180 degrees from the ball, place his facemask into the chest of the receiver, and drive him out of the back of the end zone, prior to he ball arriving, and unless the pass ends up in the stands, I don't want to hear anything about the pass being uncatchable in bounds. It is the most ridiculous speculation, that we should wish to have zebras avoid, for that judgement call to be made. The Jets should have a first down at the one, with a few more cracks at the end zone. I don't think they would have obtained the 2 pt conversion anyways, even if they did get the td, but it would have been more satisfying for the neutral fan (my disdain for Cutler is balanced by my regard for Trestman and Jared Allen) to see the attempt.

46
by Steve in WI :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 6:33pm

I agree completely that there was no DPI on the play that set up the touchdown; however, I don't know why you would assume that the Bears get only a field goal on that drive without it. The penalty happened on 1st and 10. Given the way they moved the ball at times last night, I feel like they'd have had a good chance to score a TD on that drive anyway even if the correct call of an incompletion would have been made and the Bears had had 2nd and 10 from the 40. (By the same token, while the Bears did not deserve to be spotted at the 7, the Jets still gave up the TD. It's not even like they had the ball at the 1 and just had to punch it in).

I think last night was one of the worst officiated games I have ever seen. Where the Jets got completely robbed was the Cutler fumble; there is absolutely no conceivable reason to whistle that play dead. Given how clear the fumble was on the replay, I can only assume that the ref who blew the whistle had zero view of the ball whatsoever.

I also think the review that upheld the 4th down play where the Jets got the first down at the 30 on their final drive was a clear make-up call for that fumble. It looked like he was short and as the announcers pointed out, they had just started the drive from a touchback so the spot the ball needed to reach was crystal clear (the 30 yard line). I don't see how he made it.

47
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 7:02pm

Well, the Bears had 11 meaningful drives, and two offensive touchdowns, so I think it is far more likely that they get a field goal than a td, if that dpi is not called. I'll avoid a debate over whether opi should have been called.

24
by BJR :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 11:46am

To me as a neutral fan it just looked a whole lot like other Jets teams of recent years. Very strong on the defensive line, able to create pressure in funky ways, mostly strong on the offensive line, a steady running game, but hamstrung by a terrible passing game.

I was looking forward to seeing Geno play after hearing plenty about his improvement this year but was sorely disappointed.

30
by Led :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 12:46pm

He's definitely better than last year, which may be damning with faint praise. He's still making a few very costly mistakes per game, but in between the bonehead plays there are legitimately productive pass plays. Last year it was mostly bonehead mistakes interspersed with meh.

48
by mehllageman56 :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 9:21pm

Geno Smith is much more accurate than he was last year. He is still making really foolish decisions with the ball. Both interceptions were terrible decisions, and a Bears linebacker dropped a third. The weird thing is, he cut down on his turnovers the last 3 or 4 games last year, while still not completing more than 60% of his passes. Accuracy is something that is really hard to improve, so I guess I should be happy that he can complete a checkdown throw to a running back, unlike Sanchez.

29
by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 12:39pm

They were playing a team missing multiple starters in the secondary on a defense that appears pretty average. They had plenty of time after that turnover to do something right before half and they came up with their worst non turnover series of the game.

32
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 1:02pm

The best part of the Jets roster is their defensive front. When the zebras keep the best part of your roster from completing big plays, that's gonna be a problem for most teams.

28
by acr :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 12:13pm

Jay Cutler's DVOA would probably be higher if his two top receivers were fully healthy and his third receiver was able to play at all.

31
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 12:56pm

The Jets receiving situation is considerably worse, their qb has a fraction of the experience that the Bears qb has, and the Bears only had 56 more passing DYAR than the Jets. That's why I was curious as to how much the phantom DPI call, down to the Jets goal line, which was followed by a td pass, contributed to the Bears passing DYAR.

I thought the most impressive thing about the Bears last night was the work of the o-line, with two back ups inserted into starting roles, against a very credible defensive front 7. .

54
by ZDNeal :: Fri, 09/26/2014 - 9:30am
5
by RickD :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 9:12am

29. EJ Manuel
31. Geno Smith
33. Ryan Tannehill

In Week 1, the Pats were the only team in the AFC East to lose. Since then, the rest of the division has lost as many games as mathematically possible.

Brady's not having a good season, but if the other QBs in the division are going to play like that ^^^....

8
by D2K :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 10:21am

That's not true, Buffalo is also 2-1 after manhandling the Dolphins in week 2. Buffalo will have a better season then New England if Manuel can play at least league average.

The Bills have better skill position players, a better defense and they play much better special teams.

10
by nat :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 10:35am

I think "mathematically possible" accounts for Buffalo playing Miami, since one of them has to win. (A tie could happen, but you might count that as 1/2 loss for each team, so it amounts to the same thing.)

Still, it sounds a bit like premature whining. If RickD is trying to show that the Patriots are the best team in a weak division, then he's complaining about the three worst teams in a division going 0-4 in non-divisional games in a short stretch, when 1-3 might be more in line with expectations. Big boring deal.

20
by RickD :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 11:21am

Exactly, with the caveat that I would count a tie as a failure to accrue as many losses "as mathematically possible".

I don't see who's supposed to be "whining" here. I'm just expressing hubris relative to the division. That's more like "taunting" than "whining", yes?

25
by nat :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 12:00pm

Taunting then.

But it's way too early for that. Excluding the supposed best NE, the AFC East is 2-4 outside the division so far, against a very tough schedule. Four of those games were against teams projected to be in the top eight in DVOA, the kind of teams that only division leaders should be competitive against.

26
by Purds :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 12:07pm

Speaking about being the best team in a weak division...it's good to the be the Colts in 2014! My goodness, Jax is just terrible.

34
by Bernie :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 1:33pm

The Colts O-line either had an excellent day of pass protection, or the Jags D-line is just that terrible. Luck had all day to throw on Sunday. One thing I have noticed about Luck's play, is is reaction to pressure. He doesn't get rattled by the pressure by any means, he's very cool, but his mechanics definitely get thrown off, and as a result he throws some bad passes....usually high. He needs to work on his release...I think he holds the ball too long, and when he tries to speed his delivery process up, it doesn't come out quite right. This seems like something that could be fixed fairly easily by a competent QB coach.

11
by herewegobrownie... :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 10:38am

No, the original statement that the "rest of the division has lost as many games as mathematically possible" "since week 1" is correct.

Games within the division had to be won by one team or the other, and while during week 1 the other division teams did win in the two games outside their division (Buf vs. Chi, NYJ vs. Oak,) in the two weeks since then the Pats have won their games vs. Oakland and Minn while the rest of the division hasn't won games except against each other.

Edit, just got barely beaten to it.

As an aside, the AFC North has conversely won "as many games as mathematically possible" right now.

21
by RickD :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 11:23am

Yes, the AFC North has looked stronger than I expected. Pittsburgh's win in Carolina is particularly noteworthy. And the Bengals are playing as well as anybody right now.

6
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 10:04am

Why do some of the Total DYAR add up as passing+rushing and some do not?

--------------------------------------
The standard is the standard!

14
by Tom Gower :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 10:52am

Rounding to integers for display purposes.

19
by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 11:21am

Also, receiving DYAR are added in for two quarterbacks.

36
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 2:07pm

thank you.

--------------------------------------
The standard is the standard!

12
by Mike B. In Va :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 10:44am

I'm still not sure why some of my fellow Bills fans miss David Nelson - this is pretty standard stuff for him, minus the fumbles, of course.

Man, look at all the high draft pick QBs in the last five places. Smith and Manuel at least still have inexperience as somewhat of an excuse, but Locker's got to be done after this year for the Titans.

22
by nath :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 11:25am

Jake Locker, the latest case study in why you don't take QBs with pretty tools and pretty practice throws and long flowing locks but who can't play the position of quarterback capably enough to even be productive, winning passers at the college level.

35
by tuluse :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 1:40pm

I said this in IRC, but I think it bears repeating. Jake Locker is one of the least instinctual players I have ever seen. It looks like the first time he picked up a football was within the last 5 years and he just has very little feel for how defenses are trying to stop him or what his teammates might do to help him.

42
by RickD :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 3:01pm

Unfrozen Caveman Quarterback?

"What is this oblong brown leathery thing and what am I supposed to do with it?"

44
by Ryan :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 3:20pm

"Your field of lines and numbers frightens and confuses me."

45
by Ryan :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 3:23pm

Well, to be fair, I'm also sitting here, scratching my head, wondering how the other Titans can help him.

39
by Bobman :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 2:36pm

Nath, I think you are mischaracterizing Locker's later college career a bit. Locker was one of those freakish athletes who, like in grade school, "you put your best athlete at QB." Somehow that continued to the D-1 level at college. After his first two years or promise and frustration, this UW fan really advocated putting him at RB (where he would have likely excelled) and putting in a pocket passer (their passing stats improved markedly and games were less frustrating to watch when Locker was hurt and Ronnie Foushe played QB). But after Sarkisian came to town, Locker's passing just blossomed and be became, if not great, then good enough to be drafted top ten. He was actually a darn good QB at the end of his career instead of just being a great athlete who happens to be a good runner playing QB. (there may have been externalities contributing as well, such as improved OL roster/play and the same thing at receiver. I don't recall.)

I think the pros looked at him through the lens of a kid who was big, strong, and fast and made major strides in one year with a good coach and figured a couple years with a pro QB coach/OC and he'll continue to blossom.

Problem is, Sark may have taken him to his peak about five years ago.

49
by beargoggles :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 1:17am

The specifics are different, but the exact same thing happened with Kyle Boller. Boller was a highly sought prospect recruited to a terrible team, with historically bad offensive line and receiver support. As a senior he got a new relatively competent coach and enough supporting talent to put in a decent year. He had the golden arm, the workout (throwing 60 yard lasers from his knees or something like that) to entice Billick to thinking his trajectory could still go up.

I knew immediately that Boller would never be a good pro QB, just like I never thought Locker would be. Locker is better, at least he can run and create plays either directly that way or by creating the fear of running. But both are/were innacurate. I don't know that Boller's instincts were that bad, but since he was innacurate and a statue, he couldn't really play.

FYI, I admired Boller as a fan. He took a complete beating for 4 years and never once complained or threw his lousy teammates or coaches under the bus. I just knew he wasn't an NFL player.

17
by Babylon :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 11:01am

So looking at that Josh McCown line, it makes me wonder. Is there a list anywhere of the worst/best performances per pass attempt? -79 DYAR on 12 pass attempts is probably not close to the worst, but I wonder how that compares to, say, some of these masterpieces of bad QB'ing:

10-23-11 Kyle Boller 7/14, 61 yards, 3 ints
12-31-06 Rex Grossman 2/12, 33 yards, 3 ints
11-20-05 Sage Rosenfels 5/10, 14 yards, 2 ints
10-19-03 Joey Harrington 5/13, 30 yards, 2 ints

38
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 2:21pm

McCown had -79 DYAR on 13 dropbacks (including one sack) for -6.1 DYAR per play. We talked about the worst games ever last year, and even on a per-play basis McCown didn't come close to setting any records. (Ryan Leaf's notorious 1-of-15 game works out to -15.1 DYAR per play.)

40
by Bobman :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 2:38pm

Guess who just scratched your name off his Christmas card list! If they're allowed to do that sort of thing in prison.

50
by Babylon :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 1:37pm

Thanks, that Leaf number is fantastic.

52
by DRohan :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 9:15pm

Remember this one?

11-11-09 Derek Anderson 2/17, 23 yards, 1 int

Only 1 interception, but 2 of 17?!? And he was the WINNING QB as the Browns beat Buffalo 6-3. Instant Classic!

33
by Dr. Gamera :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 1:04pm

A player that I had incorrectly guessed would be in top 5 DYAR for RBs this week is Le'Veon Bell. Here's a log of his plays:

2-10-PIT 20 L.Bell up the middle to PIT 31 for 11 yards
2-10-PIT 31 L.Bell right guard to PIT 39 for 8 yards
3-2-PIT 39 L.Bell right end to PIT 43 for 4 yards
3-7-PIT 46 B.Roethlisberger pass incomplete short left to 26-L.Bell
1-10-PIT 20 L.Bell up the middle to PIT 18 for -2 yards
2-12-PIT 18 L.Bell right end to PIT 27 for 9 yards
2-13-PIT 17 B.Roethlisberger pass incomplete short left to 26-L.Bell
1-10-CAR 33 L.Bell left tackle to CAR 27 for 6 yards
2-4-CAR 27 L.Bell left tackle to CAR 22 for 5 yards
1-10-PIT 7 L.Bell up the middle to PIT 8 for 1 yard
1-10-PIT 19 L.Bell up the middle to PIT 19 for no gain
2-3-CAR 24 L.Bell up the middle to CAR 19 for 5 yards
2-3-CAR 3 L.Bell up the middle to CAR 6 for -3 yards
1-10-PIT 20 L.Bell up the middle to PIT 23 for 3 yards
3-21-CAR 39 B.Roethlisberger pass short middle to 26-L.Bell to CAR 27 for 12 yards
1-10-CAR 17 L.Bell up the middle to CAR 15 for 2 yards
2-8-CAR 15 L.Bell right guard to CAR 11 for 4 yards
1-20-PIT 10 B.Roethlisberger pass short right to 26-L.Bell to PIT 8 for -2 yards
2-22-PIT 8 L.Bell right guard to CAR 11 for 81 yards
1-11-CAR 11 L.Bell left guard to CAR 7 for 4 yards
1-10-PIT 20 L.Bell up the middle to PIT 20 for no gain
2-10-PIT 20 L.Bell left guard to PIT 24 for 4 yards
1-10-PIT 2 L.Bell up the middle to PIT 4 for 2 yards
2-8-PIT 4 L.Bell up the middle to PIT 6 for 2 yards
1-9-CAR 9 L.Bell up the middle to CAR 8 for 1 yard

Well, I guess that looks like the sort of boom-or-bust performance that DYAR justifiably undervalues; not all "21 carries for 147 yards, 7.0 average" performances are alike. Also, Le'Veon Bell had an uncharacteristically quiet receiving day: 2 catches for 10 yards plus 2 targets on incomplete passes.

- Dr. "Bell Jarred"

37
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 2:14pm

He actually failed more often than he succeeded, with a Success Rate of only 38 percent in 21 carries. He was in the top 10 in rushing value alone, but he also had a 0% Success Rate on four targets, so that effectively cut his value in half.

41
by E :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 2:47pm

Rashad Jennings write-up incorrectly states that "He also caught each of the seven passes thrown his way (including two more first downs), although one of those catches resulted in a lost fumble." He had no catches, as correctly indicated in his stat line. His lost fumble on a catch was in week 2, when he had 4 receptions. TE Larry Donnell had 6 targets, caught all six, and lost a fumble.

43
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 3:06pm

Dammit, I actually caught that last night and forgot to fix it. It's fixed now.

51
by LionInAZ :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 7:30pm

I'm surprised that Stafford finished with positive DYAR after giving up three turnovers, 2 sacks, and no TDs.How much was his arm punt to Davon House worth?

53
by Vincent Verhei :: Thu, 09/25/2014 - 1:04am

Good point. Stafford had 15 incompletions + sacks in that game, and 13 of them qualified as worse plays than that interception.

Hell, he had a completed pass (a zero-yard gain on first-and-10 at his own 10) that hurt him more badly than the interception did.