Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

29 Sep 2014

Week 4 Quick Reads

by Vincent Verhei

The New York Jets marched 71 yards on their first drive against the Detroit Lions on Sunday, kicking a field goal to take a 3-0 lead. Their next six drives netted a total of one first down and 22 yards of field position before halftime. They moved the ball much better in the second half, with touchdown drives of 74 and 75 yards, and though they were ultimately undone by a pair of fourth-quarter turnovers, the improvement on offense was obvious.

It was a similar story in San Francisco, where the Philadelphia Eagles' first nine drives against the 49ers produced five first downs and 105 yards. They then put together a 15-play, 90-yard drive, and had a chance to take the lead before a fourth-and-goal pass fell incomplete.

On the surface, it appears that both offenses, and especially their quarterbacks, played poorly in the early portions of those games, but then "went on a streak" or "got hot" or "entered the zone" or whichever cliched reference to momentum you'd like to use. Is this a repeatable occurrence? Are some quarterbacks more likely to go on a streak than others?

Before we can answer those questions, we must first find a way to define and measure "streakiness." That's not as easy as it sounds. We need something that can measure an entire game's performance, accounting not only for accuracy, but also rewarding players for big plays and punishing them for losing yards or turning the ball over. In other words, we need something like DYAR.

We publish each quarterback's DYAR every week in Quick Reads, but just in an lump-sum end-of-game total. We've never done much to analyze the way a player's DYAR progresses throughout the game. Is there any way we can summarize each player's evolving DYAR and concentrate those changes down into one stat?

One idea is to check the correlation between the DYAR of every passing play and the DYAR of the play that immediately follows. In theory, if a given quarterback has a lot of bad plays at the beginning of a game, and a lot of good plays later (or vice versa), then the results of each of his passes should correlate strongly with the next one. Conversely, if a quarterback's good and bad plays are jumbled together, we should see a strong negative correlation between each of his plays.

It may be a sound theory, but in execution? The streakiest quarterback of Week 4, by this methodology, was Oakland's Derek Carr, and his play-to-play DYAR correlation was just 0.246. That's not very high at all. On the other hand, a play-by-play DYAR chart for Carr does show some clear trends in his production:

Carr's first six dropbacks against Miami produced 62 yards and five first downs, including a touchdown. Then he went into a deep freeze. His next 14 dropbacks produced 24 yards and only one first down, then his next throw was intercepted (the steepest dropoff in his chart, obviously). He did pick up three first downs after that before getting injured.

The least streaky quarterback of Week 4? By this metric, it was Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers. The correlation between each of his passes was fairly strongly negative at -.444. As you can see by his chart, though he was very effective overall with no terrible plays, he had incompletions scattered throughout his day that stopped him from ever putting together a half-dozen strong plays in a row.


One flaw in this system is that big plays, especially turnovers, are so drastically higher or lower in value than most plays that they could throw everyone's results out of whack. Another method, a simpler one, is to look at the success or failure of each play, and whether it was followed by another success or failure. Count two successes in a row or two failures in a row as a streaky play, and simply check what percentage of that quarterback's plays (not counting the first one, obviously) are streaky. This will lessen the effect of big plays, both negative and positive, and might paint a more accurate picture of which players are getting on a roll (or going into a slump).

In this measurement, the streakiest quarterback of the week was, of all people, Matt McGloin, Oakland's other quarterback. McGloin had 20 total dropbacks against the Dolphins, and 13 of them were streaky, a rate of 68 percent when we throw out his first play. McGloin's DYAR progression chart shows that he did have his share of peaks, and more than his share of valleys.

And on the flip side we have Carolina's Cam Newton. In 28 dropbacks against Baltimore, Newton never had more than two successufl plays in a row, nor more than three consecutive failures.

This should all be taken not as a definitive conclusion, but the start of a discussion. Does one of these systems make more inherent sense than the other? Is there another idea we're missing that deserves exploration? Please share your ideas and questions in the comments. In the meantime, here are the charts for Smith and Foles, since we used them to open the essay.

Rushing Leaders

Here are this week's leading running backs, by rushing DYAR only:

  • 1. DeMarco Murray, DAL (24 carries, 149 yards, two touchdowns, 56 DYAR)
  • 2. Matt Asiata, MIN (20 carries, 78 yards, three touchdowns, 38 DYAR)
  • 3. Jerick McKinnon, MIN (18 carries, 135 yards, no touchdowns, 32 DYAR)
  • (I'm starting to think the Atlanta run defense might not be very good.)
  • 4. Chris Ivory, NYJ (17 carries, 84 yards, no touchdowns, 30 DYAR)
  • 5. Andre Williams, NYG (15 carries, 66 yards, one touchdown, 30 DYAR)

Not that list does not include Antone Smith of the Falcons, who only had four carries against Minnesota, and thus does not qualify for our tables. Those four carries: a 2-yard run for a first down, a 3-yard gain on first-and-10, a 9-yard gain on second-and-10, and a 48-yard touchdown. That's good for 34 DYAR.

The least valuable rusher of the week was Buffalo's C.J. Spiller (15 carries, 60 yards, no touchdowns, -29 DYAR). He only had two first downs, 22 of his yards came on one play, four of his carries failed to convert with 7 yards or less to go for a first down, and he also had a fumble.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
1.
Andrew Luck IND
29/41
393
4
1
233
233
0
Speaking of streaky: Luck's last pass of the first half was intercepted, and the Titans soon scored a touchdown that made it a game at 20-10. From that point forward, Luck threw 15 passes. Twelve were completed for 175 yards, three touchdowns, and seven other first downs; one resulted in a 33-yard DPI; and two were incomplete.
2.
Joe Flacco BAL
22/30
327
3
0
225
224
2
Throwing to his left, Flacco went 7-of-8 for 149 yards with three touchdowns and two other first downs.
3.
Aaron Rodgers GB
22/28
302
4
0
211
206
5
Rodgers threw five deep passes against Chicago (four to the right, one to the middle, none to the left), completing them all for 156 yards, one touchdown and four other first downs.
4.
Alex Smith KC
20/26
248
3
0
158
164
-6
5.
Philip Rivers SD
30/39
399
3
0
127
127
0
Remember last week when we talked about how good Jacksonville was defending the offense's left? Yeah, never mind. Throwing to his left, Rivers went 10-of-13 for 162 yards with two touchdowns and five other first downs.
6.
Eli Manning NYG
28/39
300
4
1
124
115
10
Manning, meanwhile, ripped up the right side of Washington's defense, going 12-of-14 for 144 yards with two touchdowns and seven other first downs, plus a 17-yard DPI.
7.
Tony Romo DAL
21/28
254
3
0
108
105
2
On first downs, Romo went 8-of-9 for 112 yards. Each of those completions was a successful play, including one touchdown and five other first downs.
8.
Teddy Bridgewater MIN
19/30
317
0
0
104
106
-3
Thanks to Russell Wilson, we covered the list of best all-time rookie games in Week 13 of 2012 and then again in the playoffs that year. Bridgewater's game against Atlanta was awfully good, but it doesn't come terribly close to that list, and probably won't unless the Falcons defense plays a lot more like they did against Tampa Bay than they have the rest of the year. The Vikings brought him along slowly; his first four passes were thrown to receivers behind the line of scrimmage, and his first 10 passes were all thrown to receivers within 10 yards of the LOS. The deep stuff came at the end; five of his last six passes were deep balls thrown to receivers at least 17 yards downfield.
9.
Ryan Tannehill MIA
23/31
278
2
1
90
78
12
Tannehill completed each of his last 14 passes of the first half for 178 total yards, with two touchdowns, and eight other first downs.
10.
Matthew Stafford DET
25/34
293
2
0
82
70
12
Stafford started off going 10-of-13 for 97 yards, but in the process he picked up only two first downs while giving up two sacks and an intentional grounding. Then his next pass was a 59-yard touchdown to Jeremy Ross, and everything seemed to go OK after that.
11.
Matt Ryan ATL
25/40
298
3
2
78
80
-2
Ryan threw nine passes to receivers at least 18 yards downfield. He completed more of those passes to Vikings (two) than Falcons (one), though one of those interceptions came on his last pass of the game, a fourth-down pass down by 13 points, and we're counting it as a Hail Mary (i.e., just counting it as an incompletion and not docking Ryan for the turnover).
12.
Drew Brees NO
32/44
340
2
1
76
73
3
On third and fourth downs, Brees went 5-of-7 for 41 yards, but only picked up two first downs.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
13.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
30/40
330
3
0
51
52
-1
The Steelers reached the red zone three times, with ten total plays inside the Tampa Bay 20. That includes one run and nine passes. Roethlisberger completed seven of those passes for 31 yards and two touchdowns. That is, in total, a good day in the red zone for Roethlisberger (DVOA: 17.4%), but man, he had a lot of plays to try and score.
14.
Mike Glennon TB
21/41
302
2
1
43
43
0
Glennon's first pass of the day was a 7-yard touchdown, and his last pass of the day was a 5-yard touchdown. In between, he threw seven other red zone passes, all incomplete. Over that span, the Bucs rushed for one touchdown, kicked one field goal, and had one failed fourth-down play (an incompletion, of course) inside the Steelers' 20.
15.
Derek Anderson CAR
6/9
71
0
0
32
32
0
All of Anderson's passes came on the Panthers' last drive, with Carolina down by 28 points and throwing passes to guys like Darrin Reaves and Brenton Bersin. So, you know, don't put too much stock into this.
16.
Jay Cutler CHI
22/34
256
2
2
29
18
11
On passes to the short middle of the field, Cutler went 9-of-10 for 78 yards, and he wasn't just checking down to well-covered receivers -- eight of those completions were successful plays, including five first downs.
17.
Cam Newton CAR
14/25
197
1
0
17
15
2
It was feast or famine for Newton on third downs. He went 9-of-10 for 154 yards, with every completion picking up a first down, including a touchdown. But he was also sacked twice and fumbled a snap (the Panthers recovered the ball).
18.
Derek Carr OAK
17/25
146
1
1
-14
-15
0
19.
Ryan Fitzpatrick HOU
25/37
268
1
2
-19
-23
4
Inside the Buffalo 40-yard line, Fitzpatrick went 3-of-5 for 46 yards, with a fumbled snap and a sack. That's one first down in seven snaps, though that one first down was a 35-yard touchdown to DeAndre Hopkins.
20.
Colin Kaepernick SF
17/30
218
2
1
-25
-48
23
On first and second downs, Kaepernick went 11-of-20 for 130 yards. That sounds OK, but he gave up as many sacks (three) as he gained first downs, though one of those was a 55-yard touchdown.
21.
Charlie Whitehurst TEN
12/23
177
1
1
-29
-14
-14
Whitehurst did not throw a pass on first down until Tennessee was down by 17 points in the second quarter. Which is funny, because he was great on first downs, going 7-of-10 for 115 yards and six first downs. (The seventh completion was 7-yard gain on first-and-10.) He failed to convert a third down, though, going 1-of-4 for 17 yards (all of which came on third-and-10) with one interception and two sacks.
22.
Nick Foles PHI
21/43
195
0
2
-54
-55
1
Foles threw 14 deep passes against San Francisco, completing more of them to 49ers (two) than to Eagles (one, for 22 yards).
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
23.
Matt McGloin OAK
12/19
129
1
2
-60
-62
2
Throwing to his left, McGloin went 2-of-6 for 11 yards with no first downs and two interceptions.
24.
Geno Smith NYJ
17/33
209
1
1
-69
-66
-3
Smith struggled badly in short-yardage situations. With 6 yards or less to go for a first down, he went 0-for-4, and also fumbled a snap that resulted in a 17-yard loss.
25.
Blake Bortles JAC
29/37
253
1
2
-71
-77
7
In his first start, Bortles threw a league-high 12 failed completions, though part of that was because he was stuck in so many long-yardage situations. Five of those failed completions came with 14 or more yards to go for a first down.
26.
Kirk Cousins WAS
18/33
229
1
4
-117
-124
7
On third downs, Cousins went 2-of-7 for 14 yards with one first down, two interceptions, and one sack-fumble. On Washington's last five drives, he went 3-of-9 for 42 yards with one first down, three interceptions, and sack. And the drive before that ended with an interception too.
27.
EJ Manuel BUF
21/43
225
2
2
-122
-120
-1
Manuel threw 12 passes that traveled at least 10 yards downfield. Ten were incomplete, one was intercepted, and one was completed (for an 80-yard touchdown -- but still).
28.
Tom Brady NE
14/23
159
1
2
-144
-144
0
We'll run the numbers on this later this week, but yeah, there's a pretty good chance this was Brady's worst game ever. UPDATE: Thanks to reader dmstorm22 for doing the work for us. Brady's worst game was -181 DYAR in the infamous Lawyer Milloy Revenge Game, Week 1 of 2003 against Buffalo. He also had -147 DYAR against Baltimore in the 2009 AFC Wild Card game.


Five most valuable running backs
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
DeMarco Murray DAL
149
2
6
0
58
56
3
Murray had 24 carries against New Orleans, including four stuffs for a loss, but six runs of 10 yards or more, and three shorter first downs. His last seven carries were clock-killing runs into a stacked defense when up by at least 14 points in the fourth quarter; three of his stuffs came in that stretch. He caught the only pass thrown his way for 6 yards.
2.
Frank Gore SF
119
0
55
1
51
28
23
Consistent gains: though Gore only ran for four first downs against Philadelphia, he was stuffed for a loss just twice in 24 carries, and his median carry gained 3 yards. And of course, his one catch in two targets was a 55-yard touchdown.
3.
Jamaal Charles KC
92
1
16
2
41
29
11
4.
Roy Helu WAS
8
0
78
0
34
5
29
Helu only had two carries for 8 yards against the Giants, but he caught each of the five passes thrown his way, including gains of 27 and 36 yards. He led Washington in all receiving categories.
5.
Le'veon Bell PIT
63
0
46
0
29
11
18
Bell's rushing day was pretty ho-hum - - 19 carries, 3.3-yard average, four first downs, six stuffs. As a receiver, though, he had six catches in seven targets, including three first downs.


Least valuable running back
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Alfred Blue HOU
9
0
16
0
-24
-17
-7
Nine carries for 9 yards is, in fact, bad. His median gain was zero yards. Also bad. Blue had no first downs, and he was stuffed for no gain or a loss five times. He had two catches for 16 yards in three targets.


Five most valuable wide receivers and tight ends
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Reggie Wayne IND
7
8
119
17.0
1
73
Each of Wayne's receptions gained at least 10 yards and a first down, including two third-down conversions.
2.
Steve Smith BAL
7
10
139
19.9
2
54
Six of Smith's receptions picked up first downs. The seventh was a 7-yard gain on second-and-8.
3.
Randall Cobb GB
7
9
113
16.1
2
52
Cobb had five first downs against the Bears, including a 22-yard touchdown in the second quarter that put Green Bay ahead for good.
4.
Torrey Smith BAL
2
3
53
26.5
1
50
Smith's two receptions both gained at least 24 yards and converted third downs. He also drew two DPIs for a combined 29 yards and another third-down conversion.
5.
Keenan Allen SD
11
12
157
14.3
0
49
Ten of Allen's 11 receptions gained at least 8 yards and a first down, including four third-down conversions.


Least valuable wide receiver or tight end
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Robert Woods BUF
3
12
17
5.7
0
-60
Woods' three receptions all came on first-and-10. The first gained zero yards, and the second gained four. His lone successful play was a 13-yard gain that came on his 11th target, in the last two minutes of the game. The Bills' next play was another pass thrown Woods' way. It was intercepted.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 29 Sep 2014

70 comments, Last at 05 Oct 2014, 2:48am by atworkforu

Comments

1
by theslothook :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 2:03am

Is this the first time in his career that Tom Brady has a bottom third offensive line? I don't have very strong memories of his 2001 squad, but since 03 to the present, its never been anywhere near this bad.

2
by mehllageman56 :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 2:17am

Perhaps it wasn't as bad, but the line really wasn't that great back then. I remember the Jets getting four sacks in a half in 2003, and really just beating the hell out of him, and Brady still beat them. He took a beating against the Bills a couple of times too, still getting the win somehow.

4
by PaddyPat :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 4:46am

One of the main things that distinguished him from Bledsoe in the beginning was pocket presence and slipperiness, which was crucial because the offensive line was suspect. It got better by 2003, but there was certainly pressure. Jason Taylor used to eat Matt Light alive.

The line isn't great now, but that's not what killed the Pats in KC, at least not by itself. Brady's picks were awful. He several times had passes sail or threw at the feet of his receivers. He seems intent on throwing to where he thinks the receivers should be--even if they're gaining separation elsewhere--almost as if he's trying to punish them for not running the right routes. Receivers are getting open--there's plenty of talent. The Pats offense has become rather infamously difficult for receivers to learn, and I'm starting to wonder if it's because Brady is becoming more and more inflexible as he ages. Honestly, he's looking rather done to me.

10
by BJR :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 8:19am

The Patriots only suited up 3 receivers last night - Edelman, Amendola and LaFell. That's offering almost zero outside/deep threat. Perhaps that's because Brady can't make those throws anymore, or perhaps it's because the other young receivers can't be trusted. But once they went behind quickly with those personnel they were completely ill-equipped to force the ball downfield, which contributed to the blowout.

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

Speaking of Jason Taylor and bad Brady games, I recall a NE loss to MIA in which Brady threw an INT from his butt to Taylor, possibly for a pick six, near the end of the game. Maybe 2002? 2005? I don't recall the majority of the game, but figured that would rank pretty high (or low) on the list of personal stinkers for Brady.

27
by PatsFan :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 12:47pm

That was 2004, I'm pretty sure. Was a week after he completed a pass from his ass against CIN.

25
by In_Belichick_We... :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 12:41pm

Agreed: His pocket presence was a major improvement over Bledsoe.

His pocket presence has been poor the past couple of years. This year it is terrible. With his loss of pocket presence and loss of accuracy, he is looking a lot like Bledsoe.
The OTs are looking bad when they get beat wide with speed but a QB should be able to get rid of the ball or step up to minimize trouble from a wide speed blitz. Brady doesn't appear to have that ability any more. They are probably going to have to line up with help (TE/RB) on each side to help with the outside speed rush.
The OL has been poor but many QBs would have performed better under the same circumstances.
It is just a matter of time before he gets hurt.

33
by theslothook :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 2:11pm

In the early days of the brady manning debate, one of the things pats fans rightly pointed to was Brady's pocked presence and his ability to move and throw.

The ducking was the first crack I noticed in Brady and it started in the 2010 afc divisional game against the jets. It got more pronounced in the 2012 season. By the 2013 season, Brady's movement and feel itself were no longer strengths and his arm had also declined. I haven't watched a brady game all season, so I can't tell where he is now.

If you take away his movement and his arm, paired with the fact that brady's pure accuracy has never been a strength - your left strictly with brady's decision making and presnap awareness. Its funny, even with just this skill, I'd still put him in the top 10 of qbs, but its no longer enough to overcome the roster deficiencies.

37
by PaddyPat :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 3:54pm

Short area accuracy did used to be a big strength--never really the deep ball. You can probably count the great deep balls of his career on your fingers and toes. Pocket presence, decision making, presnap awareness, short-area accuracy, and fast release are the things I would credit him with as strengths throughout his career. At this point, I would say pocket presence is probably replacement level or worse. Decision making seems sketchy--he gets impatient, probably snowballing. Presnap Awareness, still good, but it's not buying him much when the o-line lets him down and he can't deliver. Short-area accuracy--not bad, but not quite what it was--too many balls at the feet of his receivers, and anything beyond about 12-3 yards seems to sail. Fast release--still seems to be there.

Add it all up, and I really do think they'd do well to think about getting ready for a transition.

39
by Scott C :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 4:14pm

Rivers is currently playing at a higher level than Brady has at any point in his career.

Pocket presence has been marino-like, decision making fantastic, pre-snap awareness rediculous, short-area accuracy fantastic, extremely fast release, accuracy from all sorts of contorted, distorted platforms, and a beautiful deep ball. He is even making decent decisions on when to run for 2 to 6 yards.

Throughout his career, Rivers has displayed each of these traits, but rarely all of them at once. Sometimes his decisions were bad, Norv limited his pre-snap capability with very late play calls that got them to the line with only a few seconds to spare, in 2012 his pocket presence took a vacation, his short area accuracy had issues prior to 2008, and his deep accuracy has on occasion had bouts of 'averageness'. We'll see if he can keep his play at this level for a year or not.

The S.D. O-line play has been arguably worse than the Pats. On the other hand, Rivers has at least two fantastic receivers, and several above average ones.

With Manning, Brady, and Brees fading away, Rodgers and Rivers are the next veterans up that have recently demonstrated HOF caliber play.

As much as some of the younger guys have had a good year or two, I'm not sure which ones will be able to match any of the above 5, five years from now. Perhaps Wilson -- someone who actually can do a lot more varied things than his read-option peers. Or Ryan, who has occasionally played fantastic. Luck -- perhaps, I'm still not a believer; throwing interceptions early to put your team behind so you can come back is no better than playing well early then throwing an INT late.

In any event, time will tell who in the next generation is the real deal, with the old guys riding off into the sunset soon.

41
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 4:19pm

The Colts' roster is terrible. That's a 2-4 win team with a replacement level qb.

49
by Dave Bernreuther :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 8:52pm

I don't know. 2-53 they're stronger than the '11 2-win team that got them Luck. They just have gaping exploitable holes on defense that will keep them from being true title contenders. I'm not saying EJ Manuel could lead them to the playoffs (well, maybe, in that division) but I've definitely seen weaker rosters.

54
by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 1:28am

That '11 team still had 30 starts from Freeney and Mathis, so they could get a little pass rush going at least.

55
by theslothook :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 1:44am

As someone who actually watched both for all 16 games - the 2010 team was worse. That team had o line injuries on top of very bad players. In addition, for large swaths of the year, they were reduced to using blaire white as a their second receiver when garcon/ collie went down. They had no run game of which to speak - and a defense that had a huge number of injuries as well.

The 2011 squad was also terrible, but their defense and o line were reasonably healthy than previous years, with Costanzo being an upgrade over the woeful charlie johnson.

61
by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 1:58pm

I remain convinced that 2010 represents the peak of Peyton Manning's career, and the playoff appearance and offensive production that year, with that team, his greatest achievement to date.

62
by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 2:07pm

The 2009 team that made it to the last game wasn't a lot better, outside of one guy. If they had won that last game (Hank Baskett, I'm looking at you), it might have been the greatest individual player accomplishment in league history.

63
by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 3:21pm

/signed.

64
by theslothook :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 4:17pm

That was the single most painful loss I have ever had as a colts fan. It was worse than the 2003 playoff game against Ne, it was worse than the 04 one. It was worse than that 2005 steeler loss that nearly made me give up on football.

Ultimately though, even with that onside recovery, the colts just weren't a better team and it was starting to show. Maybe the alien could have done it, but the defense was really in cave mode at that point and without a solid run game, the saints dropped everyone into coverage so it was a slog.

Then again, I did my best to wipe most of that game from my memory. I don't even remember most of the sequence of that game, other than how the first half ended and the 2nd half began. And of course the fatal pick. UGH.

70
by atworkforu :: Sun, 10/05/2014 - 2:48am

Oh man I loved that pick so much. Love me some Manningface.

65
by tuluse :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 7:03pm

Are you sure you want to say this with Tarkenton's Giants still having happened?

66
by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 8:57pm

As much as I prefer football where two competent groups of linemen are having at it it is something to see a great qb single-handedly trying to will a team of horses, better suited for the soap factory, to a win over an obviously superior foe. The game Tarkenton played in a Monday Night Game in '71, leading an awful Giants team against the eventual champion Cowboys, in Dallas, remains the greatest game I ever saw anybody play. For years, I thought it may be just my childhood memory playing tricks on me, and then I read Dr. Z, a few years before his stroke, mention it in his column as being perhaps the greatest performance he ever saw. Vindication!

I really oughta drop a note to the NFL Network, to suggest they re-air that contest some time in the off-season, in honor of Zimmerman.

47
by theslothook :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 6:13pm

These last two games have really started to click for Luck. Yes they have come against the dregs of the nfl - but his accuracy and decision making have been ultra sharp. And his offensive line is still pretty terrible. It sort of breaks my heart that the colts have tried to address the issue with picks and money and they still suck.

58
by KB :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 4:51am

I honestly don't think any QB currently in the league will match the careers of the 4 veterans that will end up in the HoF(Brady, Brees, Manning, and Rodgers obviously). You mentioned Wilson but I just don't see it. I don't think the potential is there. The 4 future HoF QB's haven't ever had the defense/running game combo that Wilson has been lucky enough to have to start his career. IMO without that he wouldn't have nearly as much success or honestly much success at all. I'm actually a fan of Wilson but I truly believe this. I guess I'll find out if I'm delusional or not in the future because I truly don't think the Hawks can keep this great of a defense and obviously Lynch will decline fast very soon. They have great depth at that position but to believe they will perform at the level of Lynch is unrealistic, most likely.

Luck is performing at a very high level right now but I still have my concerns. He is still young and has a lot of potential and room to grow so the mistakes he has seemed prone to do each game could fade away.

Ryan is only 1.5 years younger than Rodgers and Rivers is nearly 2 years older than Rodgers. I don't think either make a strong enough of a case to make the Rodgers. Rodgers is basically a guarantee already IMO. Maybe I'm way off base with there 3 players but IDK. If GB's D or their running game would contribute positively in the slightest for Rodgers and the Packers I honestly think he would be even further on his way to separating from a career standpoint from the 3 he has been compared to over his career. As of right now, I wouldn't take any other QB over Rodgers.

59
by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 8:45am

Luck turned 25 all of two weeks ago. In his first two years, he dragged two terrible rosters to 11-5 records. In the season that Rodgers turned 25, he started for the 1st time, and finished 6-10 with a significantly better roster. Brees had his first non-terrible season in the season in which he was 25, and he had a hugely better rosters around him as well.

40
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 4:15pm

Oh, he's slipped no doubt, but now getting pedestrian o-line play, to go with the very frequent pedestrian receiver play, matched with a defense having a bad night, and nearly every qb alive will appear to be making bad decisions. In my mind he just doesn't throw the ball all that well anymore, and the rest of his offense is pretty mediocre or worse. If the defense doesn't play very well, they're toast, except nobody else in the division is good, either. Swap them with the Raiders, and they'd likely be taking the last place finish from the Raiders as well.

43
by PaddyPat :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 5:28pm

I honestly think you're underrating the supporting cast.

Volmer has been a very strong RT throughout his career. Dan Connelly is a good guard/center. Solder is a massive talent. Cannon and Stork and Devey etc., all have upside. The offensive line has been abysmally handled, what with all of the incessant shuffling, and seems to be poorly coached, but there's a lot of talent, skill, and experience there. Edelman is a Pro Bowl-level possession and mid-range YAC receiver. Amendola has upside as another slot receiver. Dobson is a rangy, tall, speedy outside threat with a lot of upside; Kembrell Thompkins is a touch slower, but also has a lot of upside. Rob Gronkowski is an All-Star working his way back from injury. Ridley is a very decent power back, as long as he's not fumbling, and Vereen is a good scat back 3d down type.

Compare this crew to Brady's supporting cast from years ago, and I think it looks pretty good. In 2003 the line was under-sized 5th round rookie Koppen at center, Matt Light at LT (a good, but never outstanding tackle who run-blocked well but tended to have a few miserable pass blocking games every year), Ashworth and Gorin at RT--strictly journeymen, and Woody, the one great player at one Guard with an aging veteran Compton at the other spot. The line might have been a little wilier, but was definitely less talented. Christian Fauria was TE--a decent player, nothing too exciting. The receiving corps was Troy Brown (probably less good than Edelman), David Patten (certainly no better than Dobson), and rookie Deion Branch (something like Amendola could be, perhaps). The backfield consisted of a broken down, over-the-hill Antowain Smith, and the incomparable Kevin Faulk. There was no deep threat, no reliable ground game. Honestly, Brady was just great... and now he isn't.

44
by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 6:03pm

The thing is, Brady's 2013 would have been quite acceptable by quarterbacking standards in 2003. As a matter of fact, Brady threw for more yards, fewer interceptions, the same YPA, more touchdowns and a better completion percentage in 2013 than he did in 2003.

Brady's strengths have always been his presnap reads and decision making. His accuracy has always been iffy compared to (for instance) Manning and Brees, but he has been good enough to get the ball to the right man, and he is perhaps as good as Manning and better than Brees at identifying that man.

His deep ball isn't great, but I'm not sure how we'd know given how few of them he has thrown in the past few years. Ditto for passes outside the numbers.

45
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 6:08pm

However much talent there is on the o-line, right now their play is pedestrian. We'll have to differ on Edelman's relative value, especially when the big tight end is a shell of his former self. Maybe he'll get back in the area of what he once was. We'll see. Amendola has been indicating upside now for many years.

Brady, unsurprisingly, didn't become a statistical monster until he had great receivers around him, for a few years. Prior to that, he was still great, but the formula for winning championships included championship level defense. Maybe they can be that this year, but I thought last night was more indicative of what the defense we'll be when faced with a good, prepared, offense. I'll stand by my assertion that in the AFC West, they'd finish behind the Broncos, Chargers, and Chiefs.

46
by theslothook :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 6:12pm

The receivers have become a kind of excuse by the Brady fanbase at large. Do I think they are good? Not really, but from my perspective - elite qbs don't need great receivers to have a functioning offense. Manning's 08, 09, and 2010 seasons come to mind. And as you correctly point out, in years past, Brady's weapons have been of similar quality.

I do think you miss the mark with the offensive line. While individual parts might be better now, the whole point of an o line has to be solid across the board. The guard/center middling has undermined the entire unit. Furthermore, solder's suddenly awful play is as surprising as Revis' lack of elite play.

Oh and I was wrong above, I saw the NE Minnesota game. But that one didn't give me a good handle on where this pats offense is right now.

48
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 6:39pm

That Viking game was really a weird one. The Vikings get thrown into chaos 48 hours before kickoff, and then they get exposed on special teams by the their coach being suspended. Even so, just average qb play by the Vikings likely results in the game being competitive deep into the 4th quarter. I'm just ignoring that game for purposes of evaluating the Vikings. I don't think the Patriots have done anything yet to indicate that they are an above-average team.

53
by PaddyPat :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 10:17pm

You're too kind. I don't think they have done anything yet to indicate that they are an above-awful team.

42
by RickD :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 4:35pm

"With his loss of pocket presence and loss of accuracy, he is looking a lot like Bledsoe."

Take that back!

Seriously, Bledsoe never saw a deep receiver too covered to be a target for a long pass. Brady's recent mistakes are problems with accuracy. Bledsoe intentionally threw into coverage.

67
by mehllageman56 :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 11:33pm

Jason Taylor wasn't the only one who destroyed Matt Light. I felt that Light's only chance at blocking John Abraham was to hold him. Fortunately for the Patriots, Abraham kept getting hurt back then.

69
by atworkforu :: Sun, 10/05/2014 - 2:43am

"Brady's picks were awful... He seems intent on throwing to where he thinks the receivers should be.

I'm sorry but this is nonsense on stilts. Throwing to where receivers **should** be is how you throw in the National Football League. It's the only way to throw a ball with a flight time of 1-2s in a league where "open" is maybe a step and a half on your man.

I haven't watched enough of the Pat's to know if Brady is done, but I have watched enough to see that **more worryingly** they don't seem to be tuning into Bill. Is there any chance that any player on the 2003 team would give up on the route like Edleman did? That is what caused your pick by the way, not Brady "looking rather done".

15
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 9:31am

I remember a couple stinkbomb games in 2001, like a 4 interception effort against the Brian Griese-era Broncos. I haven't seen him look this bad in a long time.

18
by PatsFan :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 9:56am

All through the early-to-mid 2000s Brady would have an annual choke-up-a-hairball 4-or-5 INT game. But even those didn't look as bad as last night.

3
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 2:25am

I wonder if Norv will have enough confidence in Bridgewater to go deeper earlier on Thursday night, perhaps off of a bubble screen look, or a double move off a read option look. I think there's a decent chance the Packer dbs will be creeping up early. The offensive line would need to perform well, of course, to have that work.

8
by jmaron :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 8:12am

I wonder if Norv was protecting the offensive line as much as Bridgewater with the early short passes? Zimmer has already made comments about Kalil having to forget bad plays.

12
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 8:27am

I don't know what has happened to him from his rookie year. I suspect the back issues which have been mentioned are more significant than has been acknowledged.

5
by Malene_copenhagen :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 7:11am

Brady has back to back weeks of -118 and -120 DYAR last year, so obviously not unprecedented level of bad, but perhaps slightly worse this time around.

Two weeks later, he had 212 DYAR, 432yards and 4TDs, so who knows what he has left.

56
by beargoggles :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 2:10am

Exactly. We've seen poor mouthing of Manning and/or Brady's abilities at times a couple of years yet. i.e. last year in Brady's case. Let's give it a few games before we throw dirt on his career. I acknowledge his obvious limitations.

6
by Dales :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 7:26am

I am curious as to how Donnell came out in DYAR?

7
by jmaron :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 8:07am

Had the Vikings chosen to throw more inside the 5 yd line Bridgewater's DYAR may have rated in the top rookie games of all time. The Vikings were successful running the ball in the red zone. I think they only tried one pass inside the 10 yard line.

Asiata was not as effective as McKinnon - he just was the guy who got the ball on three TD runs inside the five against a soft defence.

9
by jmaron :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 8:16am

I wonder what Bridgewater's DYAR would have been if instead of 3 Matt Asiata runs inside the 5 for TDs they had been Bridgewater passes?

11
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 8:24am

Looking back, Brady had a -147 in the 2009 AFC Wild Card game against Baltimore. In the comment for that, you mention it was his 2nd worst game, the worst being the Lawyer Milloy game, with a DYAR of -181.

13
by stevenemacks :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 8:56am

I guess I don't see the point in going out of your way to say that Bridgewater didn't have one of the all-time great rookie games. Were people saying that? What I like about Quick Reads is seeing a summary of what made a performance valuable: successful plays on 2nd and long, for instance, or going 0-4 on 3rd and short. So I would have liked to have known how much value those short throws at the beginning of the game were worth, or how he performed on those throws of 15+ later on, as far as DYAR is concerned. But this media-wide trend of qualifying everything Bridgewater does is already getting annoying. Can't it just be that he had a respectable first start, and we can revisit the issue next game, and then again the game after that?

14
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 9:29am

Regarding Geno Smith.

"....and also fumbled a snap that resulted in a 17-yard loss."

I know DYAR puts that on him, but it really shouldn't. Nick Mangold snapped the ball early, while Geno was still in the middle of his cadence, and not ready for it. In fact, Smith did a good job hustling to cover up the fumble (yes, I know DYAR doesn't care who recovers fumbles).

30
by Sakic :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 1:02pm

Larry McCarren who does the Packers radio broadcasts and was a Pro Bowl center for the Packers had a comment regarding that very situation (during the Packer/Bears game) and that is "the best thing about playing center is when it comes to snapping the ball the center is the only one that is always right." So based on that logic it was still Geno's fault. :-)

38
by John Courage :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 4:04pm

"the best thing about playing center is when it comes to snapping the ball the center is the only one that is always right."

Except for Evan Dietrich-Smith's new variation on the butt-fumble last week :-)

68
by mehllageman56 :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 11:36pm

There was a new version of the buttfumble last week?

Jets fan hoping...

16
by dank067 :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 9:31am

Opponent adjustments have started to factor in now, right?

17
by Dr. Mooch :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 9:35am

Streakiness: first a comment on the graphs. It's easy to see differential performance on the graphs of DYAR, but we should call attention to the fact that the "right now" performance is actually the slope of the graph. A more precise representation of differential performance would be a bar graph of the DYAR values for each individual play.

Streakiness seems to be defined roughly as a higher correlation in per play DYAR for proximal plays than for plays further away. The mathematical way to find a "streaky stat," then, is to construct a formula with a numerator that combines correlationes for all plays using weighted correlations, with the weight given to a play's correlation dropping off with decreasing play proximity. This would then be compared with a denominator that is either inversely weighted (higher weight for more distant plays) or is just the overall play-to-play correlation for the game.

19
by nat :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 9:58am

Good point about the graphs. Using a cumulative DYAR graph obscures the streaks rather than highlighting them. This is especially weird in that DYAR is supposed to be "yard-like" and I can't imagine FO making this kind of graph choice for looking at streaks in yardage gained.

The commentary seems to understand the difference. So at least the inappropriate graph choice didn't bleed over into bad analysis.

20
by Dr. Mooch :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 10:16am

I still think it looks prettier and more intuitive on the line graphs above, it's just a matter of being specific about interpretation.

21
by Dr. Mooch :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 10:20am

In a simplest form, if rX is the correlation with a play X plays away:

((r1 + r2/2 + r3/3 + r4/4 + r5/5...)/(1 + 1/2 + 1/3...)) / rALL

If that drops the weight too much, you could weight differently, for instance:
1. Dividing by square root of the play proximity rather than the play proximity itself
2. Multiplying by the percentage difference based on total number of plays (i.e., for a QB throwing 40 passes then +/- one play would be weighted at 95%, for a player throwing 20 passes, +/- one play would be weighted at 90%)

There's probably another way to do this that combines variability samples of N size, where samples are always the first N/2 plays on each side the play in question, compared to overall variability of the game. That would potentially give you a Relative Variability vs. N graph and would let you see which size of play groupings produces the lowest relative variability. Which would be roughly the equivalent of saying "all QBs are streaky, but this QB had maximal streakiness in 3 play stretches, and that QB had maximal streakiness in 7 play stretches."

22
by Scott C :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 11:50am

For streakiness, instead of looking for the raw correlation in DVOA, you want to limit the effect of turnovers, long plays, or TDs which might otherwise break up a streak inappropriately.

You probably simply want to dampen the value of the extremes, which would give you a result somewhere between the two analyses. The Arctangent function is ideal for this. You can adjust its width with a constant. Essentially, it will make things near zero value appear close to linear, and the extremes will approach a constant value.

To me, the correlation of the arctan(dvoa * constant factor) would very well represent 'streakiness'.

24
by Bobman :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 12:32pm

Let's hear it for old, washed-up WRs. Wayne and Smith have always been very different players, but together they're doing a nice job of defying age.

26
by young curmudgeon :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 12:44pm

It's just idle curiosity, but is this the first time Brady has finished last? Or another QB of his caliber? Didn't see much of the game (Steelers performance may have put me off football for awhile), but it seemed like every time I went past the tv, he was having something go wrong.

28
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 12:54pm

I am curious as to how Donnell came out in DYAR?

A shockingly low 25 DYAR. He doesn’t get a lot of credit for catching three short touchdowns (total length: 17 yards), but he is punished harshly for an incompletion on second-and-2, up 17 points in the fourth.

The Vikings were successful running the ball in the red zone. I think they only tried one pass inside the 10 yard line.

Inside the 20: 15 runs (including a pair of Bridgewater scrambles), three passes.

Inside the 10: Eight runs, one pass.

I guess I don't see the point in going out of your way to say that Bridgewater didn't have one of the all-time great rookie games. Were people saying that?

I thought it might make the list, yes. Sorry for overestimating him.

34
by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 2:36pm

Manning had a 17/26 for 210 with three touchdowns (and no picks!) game his rookie season. Marino had 18/29 for 217 also 3 td and clean. More recently, Matt Ryan put up 17/23, 207, 2/0 in Week 12 against San Diego his rookie season.

[Kurt Warner was on the Rams and threw 11 NFL passes in 1998, or of course he would RULE this category.]

35
by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 2:50pm

Joe Flacco, also in 2008, had 17/23 for 297 with no TD or picks in a 27-7 shellacking of the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 17 of the "No, David Garrard is not going to magically throw no interceptions over a whole season." year.

Edit: He then went to Miami and went 9/23 for 135 AND WON A PLAYOFF GAME.

Yeah, Ed Reed was pretty good at football.

36
by Travis :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 3:13pm

Kurt Warner was on the Rams and threw 11 NFL passes in 1998, or of course he would RULE this category.

He doesn't qualify as a rookie due to CFL experience, but the best game by a first-year Rams QB is probably the 13/20, 216, 4/0 put up by 34-year-old Dieter Brock against the Cardinals in 1985.

Three weeks later, the Rams won a playoff game against Dallas despite Brock's 6/22 for 50 yards and an interception. (Eric Dickerson ran for 248 yards.) The week after that, Brock went 10/31 for 66 yards and an interception in a shutout loss to the Bears.

Brock never played in the NFL again.

29
by Charles Jake :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 12:58pm

Surprised Cutler's ranking wasn't much worse. Both interceptions happened in GB territory while the game was still contested. How does DVOA feel about the last play of the half to Bennett? Good for getting them to the 1-inch line, or bad for not scoring with no time remaining?

An object at rest cannot be stopped.

31
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 1:43pm

The second-half play was worth 8 DYAR. So it's not an accurate measure for the value of that specific play, but that's not the reason he ranks so high.

The two interceptions were worth -110 DYAR total, so it's not as if he's not penalized for those. He was in top 10 for success rate, though, so he moved the ball pretty OK.

32
by acr :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 2:04pm

Cutler was awesome in the first half. As crappy as that play turned out for the Bears, they were inches away from taking a lead into halftime on a day where Rodgers was unstopable. Now of course Cutler didn't keep it up in the 2nd half and made some bad mistakes. All in all as a Bears fan, given the officiating in that game I'm going to say I'm mildly encouraged rather than crushed. As bad as the score was I feel like they were in that game except for a few rough breaks (falling inches short of the goal line at the end of the first half, getting some 3rd down stops overturned by phantom penalties).

57
by KB :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 4:41am

I have to admit, having watched that game, it was so horribly called both ways. I was very surprised with a handful if not more of those calls(Far more concerned with the officiating than I normally am on a weekly basis).

By far the worst call was the hands to the face called on peppers. Not only did he not commit the penalty but he was the one being held by his face mask when he was attempting to get pressure and most likely would have if he wasn't being yanked back by his facemask. I'm still not sure how that penalty came to be on Peppers or even against the Packers at all. At first I thought another Packers player may have committed a penalty but that wasn't the case either.

Going further into the officiating, there was the penalty against Shields when he basically two hand touched Cutler on Cutler's scramble as he was sliding. The first down Nelson clearly didn't get. I actually forget what happened that gave GB the first down instead of the field goal attempt. In the end it probably evened itself out so I don't think anybody can really claim it was a lopsided officiated game.

I'm not entirely sure how you could be encouraged with Chicago after that game though. Not trying to be unreasonable but Chicago was truly blown out in that game. If there was one positive(if you can take this as a positive which I will explain) they set out to stop the run and achieved it. The reason I said if you could take it as a positive is because 1. GB hasn't had success running against anybody 2. they loaded the box and 3. didn't attempt to adjust in the slightest even after they were successfully stopping the run but letting Jordy dominate their CB's. IMO it was a horribly coached game by Chicago. How can they not adjust to GB's passing attack or even attempt to. Obviously Chi CB's didn't have a chance against Nelson but they apparently believed they did going into the game. After that was proven to be false, Chicago had to put a safety over top instead of dropping him into the box more than not. Well, that didn't happen.

60
by Steve in WI :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 10:32am

I agree with much of what you said. I believe the call on Shields was because the rule says that once the QB slides feet-first, you're not allowed to touch him at all, right? I feel like I have seen similar calls in other games and while I think it's a ridiculous rule, it seems to be called pretty consistently.

The Nelson first down was really inexplicable. He seemed at least a yard short and I don't see how the officials missed it (or why Trestman didn't challenge).

Also, as I ranted elsewhere, I think calling Bennett short at the end of the first half was questionable but the part that bothers me is that they apparently have only one camera on the goal line and if a player happens to be blocking the view from that side (as I think Micah Hyde was in this case), no chance of a review. It sure seemed like the ball made it to the goal line, but they (understandably) couldn't overturn the call on the field since you really couldn't see it.

All that said, I agree with you that the Bears got destroyed by the Packers and I don't see how to blame it on anyone but the team and the coaching staff. I wish I could be more optimistic, but they just looked completely anemic on defense and if they're not going to change things up, any team with a top-15 QB should be able to easily put 35+ points on them.

50
by Mouserx7 :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 9:00pm

I'm new to this outsider stuff and all these statistics but how is antonio brown not on the best wr category are his 2 drops that bad to degrade his pretty much 100 yard a week recieving plus touchdowns

51
by theslothook :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 9:04pm

THe FO disclaimer about their stats used for individual positions should be written in bold:

In short - dvoa will likely ding a receiver if he has drops or fumbles. His pure yardage and td totals will also be discounted by things like accumulating too many of the yards on 3rd and long short of the sticks or when its in garbage time or if it comes on deep passes that are traditionally not very predictive.

Frankly, the only way we have to measure receivers are by the targets they receive. Even when down big or facing third and longs, a receiver still has to get open and make the catch.

52
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 9:57pm

Brown was 11th this week, which is still very good. He was hurt by four incompletions, two of them on third downs.

For the record, Brown was third both in Week 1 and Week 3, and is first overall over the course of the season. So I don't think we're really being that hard on him.