Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» Week 11 DVOA Ratings

DVOA has finally climbed on board the Wentz Wagon! The Eagles move into the No. 1 spot, but they aren't the only strong, well-balanced team in the NFL this year. New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and the Los Angeles Rams make this one of the best seasons ever for multiple teams over 30% in DVOA, and Minnesota isn't far behind.

28 Dec 2015

Week 16 Quick Reads

by Vincent Verhei

With ten of the NFL's 12 playoff berths locked up headed into Week 17, and an 11th sewn up barring a remarkable nine-game parlay, there's not a lot of drama left headed into the final Sunday of the NFL season. The only question left is not which teams will be playing in the postseason, but who will be taking home the individual hardware?

There seem to be two clear favorites in the MVP race this year, but let's take a look at all the candidates and see if we can make a case for a dark horse or two.

CARSON PALMER

At 36 years old, the Cardinals' quarterback is having by far the best year of his career, already setting personal bests in passing yardage and touchdowns, and likely set new personal standards in touchdown rate, yards per pass, yards per completion, passer rating, and QBR as well. And he leads the league in both passing DYAR (with 1,644) and DVOA (35.1%), doing better than ever before in those categories as well. Palmer has done most of his damage with the deep ball -- only Blake Bortles has thrown more deep passes this season, and Palmer, Andy Dalton, and Russell Wilson are the only qualified quarterbacks to hit on more than 50 percent of their deep passes (counting DPIs as successful plays). Despite all those deep passes, though, Palmer is doing a decent job of protecting the football. His interception rate of 2.0 percent is outside the top ten, but still better than average.

Palmer's individual statistics are the best in football this year, and with 13 wins and a first-round bye (and home-field advantage still a possibility), the Cardinals have had the on-field success necessary to support an MVP campaign too. The only argument against Palmer, really, is that he has a better supporting cast than some of the other candidates, and while that's certainly true, let's take a look at what Palmer is helping his teammates do. Going into Monday night, Larry Fitzgerald is fifth among wide receivers in DYAR, and 14th in DVOA; he hasn't finished that high in either category since 2008 (Perhaps not coincidentally, that was the last time the Cardinals played in the Super Bowl.) With two catches in Week 17, Fitzgerald will set a personal record for receptions in a season, and with two scores (admittedly a taller order), he will hit double-digit touchdowns for only the second time since 2009. Fitzgerald has looked to be on the decline for the better part of the last decade, but Palmer has made him look like a Hall of Famer again.

It's a similar story for Palmer's second and third receivers. John Brown failed to make the top 60 wide receivers in either DYAR or DVOA last season; this year, he is third and fourth in those categories. Michael Floyd is now 14th in DYAR and seventh in DVOA; those would be the highest rankings of his career as well. There's little doubt that Arizona has the best stable of wideouts in the league this year, but Palmer has helped all of them play better than ever.

CAM NEWTON

Newton has only 428 passing DYAR this season, and even if we give him credit for his 153 rushing DYAR (best among quarterbacks this season), that total of 581 is still only 16th among quarterbacks. He is considered a candidate because the Panthers were undefeated (and still have just the one loss), and because public perception acknowledges that the Panthers' receivers stink. Is it fair to say that Newton's stats are being held down by his receivers? Let's go down the list:

  • Tight end Greg Olsen is by far Newton's primary target, with 30 more catches and 300 more yards than any of his teammates. He is currently sixth among tight ends in DYAR and 18th in DVOA; both are actually worse than what he has typically done since joining Carolina in 2011.
  • The top wide receiver this year has been Ted Ginn, has 65 DYAR and -4.1% DVOA, failing to make the top 40 wideouts in either category. However, and this is key, this would still be the best season in Ginn's career. It's already a new mark for DYAR, and the only time he posted a better DVOA was in 2013, when it was way up at 0.8%. He hasn't even seen enough targets to qualify for our tables in four of the past five seasons! Ginn came into the season with 11 receiving touchdowns in 122 NFL games; he has ten this season. With 61 yards against Tampa Bay in Week 17, he can hit 800 for the first time in his career. And remember, this is Newton's best wide receiver this season.
  • Newton's second wideout, Jerricho Cotchery, has 78 DYAR and a 7.4% DVOA; save for his fluky 10-touchdown season in 2013, those would be the best marks for Cotchery in any full season since 2009.
  • Corey Brown and Devin Funchess are the third and fourth options at receiver. Brown, an undrafted rookie in 2014, has already set new marks in catches, yards, and touchdowns, though his DYAR and DVOA are basically the same as what he did in his first season. Funchess, a second-round pick in last April's draft, is still learning to play wideout after spending part of his collegiate career as a tight end, and he has only 24 catches all year.

That's a lot of fancy math to tell you that Carolina's receivers, especially their wideouts, are pretty crummy. (And that's not even considering his offensive linemen. His left tackle is Michael Oher, who was only available because he couldn't stick with Baltimore in 2013 or Tennessee last year. His right tackle, Mike Remmers, is a 26-year-old who entered the league as an undrafted free agent who only had five NFL starts before this season.) And we also used fancy math to paint Newton as a pretty mediocre player by himself. Now here's some very simple math to explain why Newton is a very worthy MVP candidate: he has 33 touchdowns passing and eight more rushing, a total of 41 that is better than any other quarterback this year. Newton also has 52 first downs rushing this year; only three players at any position (Adrian Peterson, Devonta Freeman, and Doug Martin) have more. We can argue about the specific definition of a most valuable player, but it's pretty clear that Newton has done more with less than anyone else this season.

TOM BRADY

Brady is second to Palmer among quarterbacks in DYAR, and he makes a good case study for the effect a quarterback's teammates can have on his statistics. The Patriots have been beset by injuries at receiver, running back, and offensive line. In particular, Dion Lewis, Julian Edelman, and Nate Solder have all missed at least the last six games. And without his receiver, runner, and blocker, Brady's numbers have suffered. In the first ten weeks of the year, Brady led all quarterbacks in DYAR. In the past six weeks, he is sixth, and just barely ahead of seventh-place Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Brady still leads the league in passing yards and touchdowns, and if the Patriots do clinch the top seed in the AFC, he will get some support. His impressive DYAR numbers, though, are largely based on opportunity -- he has 645 dropbacks this season, second only to Philip Rivers. Brady is just fifth in passing DYAR, behind Palmer, Andy Dalton, and the next two candidates on our list.

RUSSELL WILSON

After trading Max Unger to New Orleans in the offseason, the Seahawks spent half a season experimenting with converted defensive tackle Drew Nowak at center, even though he had never started an NFL game. The results were disastrous, and Nowak was released during Seattle's Week 9 bye week. He eventually cleared waivers and joined Seattle's practice squad. Meanwhile, Patrick Lewis, who started four games for an injured Unger in 2014, took over as a starter, and since then Wilson's numbers have been ridiculous. In the first eight weeks of the year, Wilson had only 134 DYAR passing, 18th in the league. Since Week 10, he has 943, 150 more than anyone else, with a league-best 22 touchdown passes and only two interceptions over that span. Over the course of the season, he has 1,077 passing DYAR and another 131 DYAR on the ground, a total of 1,208 that is third behind Palmer and Brady. Still, the MVP award should theoretically go to the best player of the entire season, not just the last two months.

BEN ROETHLISBERGER

The wildest of wild cards in this race, Roethlisberger is just fifth among quarterbacks with 1,068 total DYAR. However, he has amassed that total in only 11 games. That's a rate of 97.1 DYAR per game, and that's better than anyone else except Palmer. The Steelers still have the best offensive DVOA in football, even after the loss to Baltimore. The Steelers need a Week 17 win over Cleveland and a Jets loss in Buffalo to get into the playoffs, but they wouldn't even have a chance to get in were it not for Roethlisberger's efforts.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
1.
Drew Brees NO
26/36
412
3
0
1
174
174
0
JAC
The Jaguars scored a touchdown on the first drive of the second half, a 6-yard Blake Bortles-to-Allen Hurns touchdown that left Jacksonville down 24-13 and threatening to make this a game. At that point Brees said "Nah." The Saints next three drives led to two touchdowns and a blocked field goal, and in the process Brees went 12-of-15 for 161 yards and eight first downs, including a 44-yard touchdown to Travaris Cadet. He lit up the Jacksonville secondary with deep balls all day, going 6-of-10 for 201 yards and all three of his touchdowns. He was also nearly perfect on third and fourth downs, going 9-of-10 for 125 yards and seven conversions.
2.
Kirk Cousins WAS
31/46
365
4
0
2
174
189
-15
PHI
Cousins had a very streaky day. At one point he picked up first downs on six straight dropbacks. He also had streaks of four straight dropbacks with a first down, and then later four first downs in five dropbacks. But then there was a point in the second quarter when he went nine dropbacks in a row without picking up a first down. Perhaps that's why his third-down numbers were so much better after halftime. First-half third downs: 3-of-6, 27 yards, one conversion. Second-half third downs: 5-of-6, 69 yards, four conversions, including touchdowns of 12 and 13 yards.
3.
Matt Ryan ATL
23/30
306
1
0
2
140
145
-5
CAR
Ryan only threw three deep passes against Carolina, but he made them count, completing all three of them for 119 total yards and a touchdown. (It helped that all three were thrown to Julio Jones, of course.) And it's a good thing, because he couldn't do a thing on Carolina's half of the field. Across the 50, he went 9-of-12 for only 54 yards and two first downs, with one sack and a fumbled snap.
4.
Ryan Fitzpatrick NYJ
26/41
296
3
0
1
120
116
4
NE
The Jets' offense was either very good against New England (five scoring drives that averaged 70 yards apiece), or very bad (five punts and a lost fumble on drives that produced 66 yards, total). On those good drives, Fitzpatrick went 20-of-24 for 261 yards and 15 first downs (including, obviously, his three touchdowns). On the bad drives, he went 6-of-17 for 35 yards and two first downs (plus a DPI for 7 yards and another first down), with one sack-fumble that was returned for a touchdown. And yes, of course, all quarterbacks would have better numbers on their scoring drives, but these splits seem particularly extreme.
5.
Brock Osweiler DEN
27/39
299
1
0
3
117
119
-2
CIN
6.
Brandon Weeden HOU
15/24
200
2
0
1
113
103
11
TEN
The Texans came out after halftime with a 17-0 lead, and Weeden went on to put together what was almost certainly the best half of football in his NFL career, going 8-of-11 for 104 yards, with every completion going for a first down. He also picked up 18 yards and another first down on a DPI flag.
7.
Carson Palmer ARI
18/27
265
2
1
2
106
106
0
GB
Palmer had very modest numbers on third down, going 4-of-7 for 24 yards and a sack, with only three conversions and no gain longer than 8 yards. Two of those conversions, though, went for touchdowns.
8.
Ryan Mallett BAL
29/41
274
1
0
1
96
96
0
PIT
When the Steelers got Mallett to third down, they either forced an inneffective dumpoff to Kyle Juszczyk, or they gave up a conversion, with barely any exceptions. On third-down throws to Juszczyk, Mallet went 4-of-6 for 21 yards, but only one first down. On third-down throws to anyone else, he went 9-of-10 for 75 yards and eight conversions, including an 8-yard touchdown to Chris Matthews.
9.
A.J. McCarron CIN
22/35
200
1
0
2
93
79
14
DEN
10.
Matthew Stafford DET
29/37
301
2
0
2
85
78
8
SF
11.
Russell Wilson SEA
25/41
289
2
1
4
75
75
0
STL
Wilson's rushing numbers: four carries for 39 yards and one first down, including a 21-yard gain that would have been a first down on second-and-13, but Wilson fumbled the ball away at the end of the run.
12.
Tom Brady NE
22/31
231
1
1
2
60
60
0
NYJ
Best argument in favor of electing to kick off in overtime: Brady was having a terrible day on third downs and wasn't likely to produce a long scoring drive. On third downs, he went 2-of-7 for 1 yard (not a typo) and one first down, plus a sack. That's minus-4 net yards on eight third-down dropbacks. He did make up for that, though, by converting all three of his fourth-down throws, gaining 47 yards in the process.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
13.
Jameis Winston TB
15/28
295
2
1
1
58
63
-5
CHI
14.
Philip Rivers SD
31/49
277
1
0
1
52
52
0
OAK
15.
Case Keenum STL
14/23
103
1
0
0
32
33
-1
SEA
16.
Jay Cutler CHI
20/27
156
1
0
1
25
17
8
TB
Third downs: 5-of-7 for 54 yards, but only two first downs, both of which came in the fourth quarter. He was also sacked once on third down, and ran for a 16-yard gain on third-and-7.
17.
Blaine Gabbert SF
22/33
225
2
0
3
23
19
4
DET
Gabbert did not complete a pass for a first down on third or fourth downs, going 5-of-9 for 12 yards (!) with a sack-fumble. That includes four failures to convert with 3 yards or less to go. His only third-down conversion came on a 4-yard DPI on third-and-5, so even that didn't get the ball past the sticks.
18.
Alex Smith KC
15/22
125
2
1
1
5
1
4
CLE
Smith was very, very good at getting the Chiefs across the 50, not so good at doing much after that. He completed all six of his passes on the Chiefs' half of the field, gaining 55 yards and four first downs in the process; a seventh throw resulted in a DPI for 40 more yards and a fifth first down. However, he only had four first downs on 17 dropbacks on Cleveland's side, going 9-of-16 for 70 yards with a sack and an interception in the process.
19.
Matt Hasselbeck IND
8/15
99
0
0
1
1
1
0
MIA
Hasselbeck only threw three passes across the Miami 50. All were incomplete.
20.
Charlie Whitehurst IND
9/14
78
0
0
1
-2
-2
0
MIA
21.
Tyrod Taylor BUF
13/18
179
0
1
3
-6
-11
5
DAL
Inside the Buffalo 40, Taylor went 3-of-6 for 20 yards and only one first down, plus an interception.
22.
Johnny Manziel CLE
14/31
136
0
1
0
-8
-49
41
KC
Manziel ran 11 times for 106 yards and six first downs against Kansas City, including gains of 23 and 34 yards. Among quarterbacks in single-game performances this year, only Tyrod Taylor (once) and Cam Newton (three times) have had more carries; only Marcus Mariota has run for more yards; and nobody has run for more first downs.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
23.
Blake Bortles JAC
27/35
368
4
2
2
-12
2
-14
NO
Against this, one of the worst NFL defenses any of us is likely to see in our lifetime, Bortles got off to a horrifically bad start. On Jacksonville's first four drives, he went 5-of-9 for 33 yards with one sack, two interceptions and only one first down. And then he played the way everyone else has against New Orleans this year. From that point forward, he went 22-of-26 for 335 yards with 16 first downs (including four touchdowns), one sack, and one fumbled snap.
24.
Ryan Tannehill MIA
26/38
329
0
1
6
-17
-29
13
IND
A red zone performance for the ages: 2-of-9, 15 yards, one first down, no touchdowns, one interception, two sacks. Keep in mind, Miami lost this game by six points.
25.
Teddy Bridgewater MIN
15/25
168
1
0
3
-19
-18
-1
NYG
26.
Sam Bradford PHI
38/56
380
1
0
5
-27
-8
-19
WAS
27.
Kellen Moore DAL
13/31
186
0
1
0
-28
-28
0
BUF
Inside the Buffalo 40, Moore went 0-for-6 with an interception.
28.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
24/34
230
0
2
3
-42
-42
0
BAL
In the first half, Roethlisberger went 7-of-12 for 66 yards with one sack, one interception, and only two first downs. He was better in the second half (it's not like he could have been much worse), but not good enough to overcome a 10-point halftime deficit.
29.
Cam Newton CAR
17/30
142
0
0
2
-59
-76
18
ATL
On Atlanta's half of the field, Newton went 4-of-11 for 25 yards with one sack and none -- zero -- first downs. (He did run for four first downs on that half of the field, including a touchdown.)
30.
Zach Mettenberger TEN
27/51
234
1
1
1
-68
-68
0
HOU
The Titans had 51 pass plays and only 11 runs on Sunday, which is a nutty over-reliance on Mettenberger by itself, but things were just ridiculous in short-yardage. Tennessee had eight plays with 1 or 2 yards to go for a first down, five of them needing 1 yard for a touchdown, and they passed on all of them. The results: four completions for 47 yards and four conversions (including one first down), three incompletions, one sack-fumble, -13 total DYAR.
31.
Derek Carr OAK
24/38
204
1
1
3
-127
-128
1
SD
From the middle of the second quarter to the first few passes of overtime, Carr was about as impotent as an NFL quarterback can be, going 12-of-21 for 64 yards with one intentional grounding, two sacks, and only one first down. On the one hand, that first down was a touchdown; on the other, it gained only 3 yards and came after Benson Mayowa returned a David Johnson fumble for 40 yards. Including that scoring play, Oakland put together nine consecutive drives that lasted three plays or less and gained less than 10 yards.
32.
Aaron Rodgers GB
15/28
151
1
1
8
-162
-172
10
ARI
Rodgers had three sack-fumbles in this game (two of them returned for Arizona touchdowns), tying Marcus Mariota for most in a game this year, and he didn't even play the fourth quarter. Cam Newton has only had one sack-fumble all season. And when he wasn't handing points over to the Cardinals, he was failing to put them up for Green Bay. On Arizona's half of the field, he went 4-of-11 for 34 yards and only two first downs, with two sacks, one fumble, and one interception. That includes the following horror show in the red zone: 3-of-6 for 6 yards with no first downs and one interception.
33.
Eli Manning NYG
15/29
234
1
3
4
-175
-175
0
MIN
Manning started off 0-for-4 with an interception. Then he was sacked twice, and then he fumbled a snap. He did not pick up a first down until the Giants were down 10-0 in the second quarter. On third and fourth downs, he went 4-of-9 for 28 yards and only one conversion, with two sacks, a fumbled snap, and a pick-six. He only threw for seven first downs all day; five of them came with New York down by at least 29 points in the fourth quarter. Eli's last interception set the Vikings up at the 4-yard line, and Minnesota scored two plays later to go up 29-3 midway through the third. At that point in the game, Manning had gone 6-of-15 for 66 yards with two first downs, three interceptions, three sacks, and one fumbled snap.


Five Best Running Backs by DYAR (Total)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
DeAngelo Williams PIT
17
100
2
6/6
53
0
75
50
25
BAL
Williams now has 199 rushing DYAR on the season, and has a good chance to pass the injured Thomas Rawls (214) this week for the rushing DYAR crown among running backs for 2015. He ran for six total first downs against Baltimore, including gains of 11, 16, and 30 yards, while getting hit for no gain just twice. His six completions produced three more first downs on gains of 11, 10, and 22 yards.
2.
Tim Hightower NO
27
122
2
3/3
47
0
70
50
20
JAC
Hightower had more boom than WIlliams, with four 10-plus-yard runs and eight total first downs, but he also had more bust, with five runs for no gain or a loss. His receptions included gains of 27 and 11 yards.
3.
Buck Allen BAL
18
79
1
5/5
35
0
55
32
23
PIT
Allen's longest reception gained just 10 yards, but he had three first downs through the air, including a third-and-2 conversion. He had three 10-plus-yard runs and five first downs on the grouns, while getting hit for no gain or a loss twice.
4.
David Johnson ARI
9
39
1
3/6
88
0
48
18
29
GB
Johnson's longest run was a 14-yard touchdown; he had only one other first down on the ground, while getting hit for no gain or a loss twice. His three completions went for 15 and 29 yards (both on first-and-10) and 44 yards (on second-and-13).
5.
Eddie Lacy GB
12
60
0
1/2
28
1
47
30
17
ARI
Lacy had a 28-yard touchdown catch and a 25-yard run, and otherwise never gained more than 9 yards, with only two other first downs. However, he was hit for no gain or a loss just twice.


Five Best Running Backs by DYAR (Rushing)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
DeAngelo Williams PIT
17
100
2
6/6
53
0
75
50
25
BAL
2.
Tim Hightower NO
27
122
2
3/3
47
0
70
50
20
JAC
3.
Jerick McKinnon MIN
7
89
2
2/3
8
0
27
37
-10
NYG
A 68-yard touchdown run will do wonders for your average when you only run the ball seven times, but McKinnon also had two other first downs.
4.
Mike Gillislee BUF
9
93
1
2/2
16
0
40
35
5
DAL
A 50-yard touchdown run will do wonders for your average when you only run the ball nine times, but Gillislee also had three other first downs.
5.
Jeremy Langford CHI
19
83
0
0/2
0
0
22
33
-11
TB
Langford's longest carry gained just 11 yards, but he had five first downs on the ground while getting hit for no gain just once.


Worst Running Back by DYAR (Total)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Doug Martin TB
17
49
1
1/3
6
0
-53
-19
-34
CHI
Martin ran for four first downs, but his longest run was just 9 yards, he was hit for no gain or a loss six times, and he also fumbled once. He also fumbled on his only reception against the Bears.


Worst Running Back by DYAR (Rushing)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Donald Brown SD
14
17
1
3/4
33
0
-11
-20
9
OAK
Brown's only first down was a goal-line touchdown. His longest run was a 5-yard gain on first-and-20, and he was hit for no gain or a loss four times.


Five Best Wide Receivers and Tight Ends by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
Julio Jones ATL
9
11
178
19.8
1
72
CAR
Jones' 70-yard touchdown catch might have been the biggest highlight of the weekend, but he also had gains of 25 and 30 yards, plus three other catches that gained at least 10 yards and a first down, for three total third-down conversions on the day.
2.
Brandon Marshall NYJ
8
10
115
14.4
2
71
NE
Marshall's biggest plays were a 33-yard touchdown on third-and-11 and a 20-yard gain on second-and-6. Seven of his catches produced first downs; the other was a 7-yard gain on first-and-10.
3.
Jordan Reed WAS
9
11
129
14.3
2
66
PHI
Reed caught touchdowns of 22 and 12 yards, and also had a 28-yard gain and a 19-yard catch on third-and-5.
4.
Allen Hurns JAC
8
10
106
13.2
2
47
NO
Hurns had touchdowns of 20 and 6 yards, plus a 23-yard gain.
5.
Michael Floyd ARI
6
8
111
18.5
0
44
GB
Five of Floyd's catches produced first downs, including a 47-yard gain. The other catch was a 9-yard gain on first-and-10.


Worst Wide Receiver or Tight End by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
Mike Wallace MIN
2
6
11
5.5
0
-25
NYG
Wallace's only first down was an 8-yard gain on second-and-7. His other catch was a 3-yard gain on first-and-10.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 28 Dec 2015

60 comments, Last at 31 Dec 2015, 2:10pm by Red

Comments

1
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 8:53am

It'll be interesting to see if the Vikings bring back Wallace. The impulse is to think obviously not, but supposedly he's had a much better year on the All-22 than what his numbers show. I might be more willing to believe this, if not for the drops.

7
by jmaron :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 10:23am

He could conceivably have 5-6 more tds with some good fortune, but it's not like he's miles open - when he beats people deep it's usually by a step. I don't see spending that kind of money on him.

9
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 10:31am

If he had done a good job of catching the balls that got to him when he was open, I could make the argument. I can't make that argument, however.

2
by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 9:03am

Brady is my MVP. Against the Jets, The Pats had 4 returning starters on offense from the SB, Stork, LaFell, Gronk and Brady. Stork and LaFell started the year on PUP and Gronk missed a game, the O line, RB and receiver injuries have been massive and yet they will likely receive the #1 seed and could of easily have been undefeated. If they had a normal amount of injuries and had Dion Lewis the whole year, they probably would have gone undefeated.

Having said that, what a year Palmer and Newton had also.

5
by PirateFreedom :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 10:11am

At the start of the year me and my pals who are patriot fans were fond of saying things like: "as long as Brady and Gronk are healthy everything will be fine"

Somewhere the football gods heard this and laughed.

Give some credit to the Jets though, their defense is playing well.

53
by BJR :: Wed, 12/30/2015 - 10:48am

They are on track to be #1 seed. I'd say everything is fine.

13
by hscer :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 12:24pm

Does any quarterback get more credit for his hypothetical supporting casts than Brady? 2006, 2013, 2015...if only his team were perfectly healthy and he had one of the top 3 weapons for the whole season instead of 15 games (Gronk this year), he'd never have lost a game or thrown a pick! His reliance on everything being absolutely perfect--by the arguments of many of his own supporters--is never a demerit.

This article does a great job demonstrating that Palmer is making his players better than they've ever been. Meanwhile, Brady was completing 53% at New England's most depleted.

19
by Snoth :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 1:25pm

Brady's supporting cast from 01-06 was horrible you arent going to convince any one otherwise. the Davids, a 33 year old receiver and deion branch.

Health wasnt a major factor on offense in 2013 as it is this year. That offense consisted of josh boyce, kenbrell thompkins, aaron dobson and julian edelman. Thats a horrific receiving core but they managed to have a top 10 offense and Brady managed to be in the top 10 of DYAR. This year is no different except besides having a bad receiving core injuries have ravished it, Edelman,amendola,lafell,Gronk,KM,Dobson all play off of each other. When 5 of them go down and you have 2 or 3 healthy receivers you're in a bad spot.

When has the patriots receiving core been absolutely perfect? 07,10-12 and this year before everyone got hurt. The fact that we're looking at THIS patriots receiving core and saying its good is a testament to what Brady can do. Lafell,amendola,KM are all looked as serviceable receivers for a top 5 offense. We look at amendola as a real factor to the success of a great offense, just think about that.

"This article does a great job demonstrating that Palmer is making his players better than they've ever been. Meanwhile, Brady was completing 53% at New England's most depleted."

Brady's completion percentage has been a bit skewed the Buffalo game he had a lot of throw aways and an interception but by no means was he bad. The denver game he was great but only completed 54 percent of his passes. The one truly bad game he's had during this stretch was the Philly game.

24
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 1:51pm

Offensive linemen are part of a qb's supporting cast, and the one constant of the Patriots offense for 15 years, besides Brady at qb, has been sound offensive line play. If they falter early in the playoffs this year, i think it will be due to offensive line injuries as much as receiver injuries. This not without precedent. I maintain that David Tyree is irrelevant if Stephen Neal plays the entire game in the first Super Bowl against the Giants.

27
by Snoth :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 2:03pm

They won the SB last year with a pretty inconsistent o-line. I get what you're saying but Brady has just as much to do with his offensive line playing well as Peyton manning has to do with his. Take the contrast from 07 to 08 and 08 to 09. The Patriots offensive line was horrible in 2008 but was great again in 09.

31
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 2:42pm

Peyton Manning's o-line his last year in Indy was awful beyond words. Charlie Johnson had about as much business playing left tackle in the NFL as I do, and Kyle DeVan at left guard wasn't much better. Seriously, to even mention any Patriot line with that atrocity, to think about Kaczur, Neal, Koppen, Mankins, Neal, and Light as being in any way similar to Diem, Pollak, Saturday (at age 35), and, God Save Us, Devan, and Johnson, just defies reality.

After the early troubles, the Patriots o-line was quite sound last year.

(edit) It should also be noted that Manning came within a quarter or two of winning the championship in 2009, with Charlie Freakin' Johnson at left tackle, and Devan at right guard. Yes, Manning had very large advantages over Brady, prior to 2007, in terms of receiving talent, but it is just wrong to state that Brady has not had very large advantages in offensive line performance. I say this as someone who has zero interest in the Irrational Debate.

44
by Snoth :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 5:42pm

Having a great o-line matters but dont overstate the importance of having a great QB. That same offensive line that was phenomenal in 2007 became human in 2008. No ones comparing Peyton and Brady's offensive lines, im comparing how much they lift up their offensive lines. Brady's 2013 squad was horrendous but still finished top 10 in AJSR.

Your turning this into something it never was. This isnt a Brady Peyton debate.

57
by mehllageman56 :: Thu, 12/31/2015 - 1:12am

I don't think the line for the first few years of Brady's reign was really that great. Perhaps I'm biased from watching Shaun Ellis and John Abraham shove them around, but I felt Matt Light was overrated and the rest of them were ok, but looked much better due to Brady's great pocket presence. Once they drafted Logan Mankins things started turning around.

32
by Led :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 3:11pm

Brady is a great QB. When he has great blocking and an all-time great, uncoverable receiver in the offense (Moss, Gronk), he is dominant. When the blocking is good and he's playing with normal humans at WR/RB, he's great. When the blocking sucks and he is playing with normal humans, he's merely very good. But it takes a great player to turn that situation into very good results.

Brady also has had the benefit of brilliant coaching that modified the offense and game planned to get the most out the talent on the team in a way that is without peer. For example, the early Brady years lacked talent at WR, to be sure, but the OL was excellent, and Corey Dillon and Kevin Faulk were great at what they did. So in 2004 (Brady's best year in that period) they ran it 51% of the time. In 2014, they had nobody in particular at RB but a healthy Gronk and Edelman, and so they passed it 59%. And it's not just the run/pass split. In 2011, with Gronk and Hernandez, they threw 238 passes to tight ends, and only 310 to WR and 58 to RB. In 2013, with Gronk hurt and Hernandez (well, you know), they threw only 92 passes to TEs and over 400 to WRs and 119 to RB. The fact that Brady has been flexible enough to make those different strategies work speaks highly of him. He and Belichick are well matched. But it gives him an advantage in statistical efficiency -- fewer wasted passes.

Also, don't under estimate Edelman. He is a very, very good player. He's better than Welker was in my view. Although his hands are a bit dodgy at times, he is just as quick (if not more), more physical, and a better runner after the catch.

34
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 3:19pm

Yeah, 2014 Edelman, paired with 2007 Moss, with 2007 blocking, and normal Brady, is an interesting thought experiment. Toss in a healthy Gronk, and I think 700 points in a season is a conservative estimate.

23
by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 1:41pm

Palmer is throwing to an aging HOF, the 13th pick in the draft, a 3rd and 5th round pick and actually has a RB that's better than serviceable behind him with a pretty healthy O line.
Nobody is crying for Palmer on the lackt of talent he is playing with.

60
by Red :: Thu, 12/31/2015 - 2:10pm

Pats win: Brady is the GOAT. He carries his mediocre supporting cast on his back. Nobody does more with less than TB12.
Pats lose: Brady's supporting cast let him down. If only he had decent teammates, everyone would see that he's the GOAT.
Gostkowski kicks game winning FG: Brady willed him to nail that kick.
Butler makes SB winning INT: That's Brady's leadership on display. TB12 is so clutch he can win a game from the bench.

Tom Brady is a football God. If you doubt me, just wait until I come up with another excuse for him.

17
by Hummingbird Cyborg :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 1:13pm

"Could easily have gone undefeated"

You lost me there. With a bit of luck and a weaker schedule, sure, it was theoretically possible. But, they were very unlikely to actually do it. They weren't that particularly dominant when healthy this year. Yes, they were very good, but not "It's reasonable to expect an undefeated season" good.

20
by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 1:27pm

They lost two OT games and to PHL when they were up 14 and the other team scored 3 TDs on returns - you don't think it was easily possible? And they turned out to have a pretty weak schedule.

21
by Snoth :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 1:30pm

They had one of the best DVOA's in the first 9 games since they've been tracking it. They may not have gone undefeated but they were dominant enough to do it. up 21-7 against the best defense in the league while injured and took a really good jets team to OT without their top 2 SF, best linebacker hobbled and no Amendola or Edelman just think what this team would've been if they didnt have an outrageous amount of injuries.

33
by SandyRiver :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 3:17pm

Could have - of course, but always a long shot, as the Pats - perhaps more than other good teams - always seem to have 1-2 dumpster-fire games each year, the Eagles atrocity being the 2015 example. (And hopefully the only one.) Even in 2007 they had a couple, narrowly beating an even worse Phil team then getting some extremely favorable calls while barely avoiding a loss to the Ravens. After Carolina survived the Giants' comeback, many pundits figured they had were a lock 16-0, with two supposedly easy games remaining. We all saw how that worked out.

52
by t.d. :: Wed, 12/30/2015 - 10:38am

Given that Buffalo and Miami have severely underperformed, the Pats faced the NFC East and AFC South (and the Steelers in week one with a new coordinator with Bell suspended), the Pats are looking like one of the softest 13-3 teams I can remember. Then again, the last time they looked like this was 2011, when they made it to the final game. Not Brady's fault, he didn't make the schedule, but I think the NFC West quarterbacks clearly have better cases

3
by big10freak :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 9:47am

One has to wonder if James Starks gets on the field against the Vikes. Continuing the tradition of GB coaches since Holmgren you don't play as a running back or receiver if you put the ball on the ground. And Starks has fumbled in consecutive weeks.

And it's anyone's guess which Lacey shows up on Sunday. What a weird season for that guy

4
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 10:01am

What the hell is it with that guy? He's deep enough into his rookie deal to make the love of future money a strong incentive, even if he really doesn't like playing football, or more likely, doesn't like preparing to play football.

I think it is easy for fans to not grasp how much pain and drudgery have to be endured to be an NFL player, and it ain't for everybody. The cash is supposed to fill that gap, of course, but occasionally you'll get a guy who doesn't love money enough to make it worth it, either.

6
by andrew :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 10:18am

Lacy is ideally suited for facing the vikings though. I would expect him to be a big part of their game plan.

"I was corrupt before I had power!" - Random

8
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 10:27am

Tell me how Linval Joseph's foot feels, and I'll make a prediction on the Vikings chances of winning. I don't expect the Vikings defenders to play with as much uncharacteristic poor discipline as they did 5 weeks ago, but if Joseph can display the All-Pro form he had before he hurt his foot, their chances improve mightily.
The Packersdefense is talented enough that the Vikings offense will be completely overmatched if the Vikings defense falters at all.

11
by Led :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 11:45am

I think the first sentence of your second paragraph should be pinned to the top of every NFL website. The average fan would be shocked by how much harder on average NFL players (and pro athletes in general) work than he does. There's nothing necessarily wrong with that. There's no shame in a solid 9 to 5 job. But I wish fans would have more perspective and not be so quick to judge and vilify pro athletes (the occasional Aaron Hernandez and Greg Hardy excepted).

14
by big10freak :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 12:31pm

His enthusiasm (at least what is visible) does seem to wax and wane week to week. And the coaches have learned to act quicker when Lacey is not showing signs of being 'into' a game. Basically he gets planted to the bench and Starks rotates with Cobb at running back.

Some games he's a house afire.

45
by Snack Flag :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 5:50pm

The second part of this comment is completely true. It's also why Thursday night games border on criminal.

10
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 11:17am

How many games in his career has Rodgers had negative DYAR? How many below -100?

12
by Boots Day :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 11:45am

For the record, Johnny Football apparently finished third among all rushers in DYAR this week.

15
by Led :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 12:36pm

Vince: Is a 4th down conversion valuable enough to outweigh a missed 3rd down conversion? Can you tell us how much DYAR the completion to Gronk on 4th and 9 was worth? Thanks!

16
by RickD :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 12:58pm

I feel like the media created a Cam Newton bandwagon specifically to have an alternative candidate to Brady, who was, IMO, the MVP through Week 10. Since then Newton has played very well while Brady's definitely been hurt by the disappearance of his many teammates. I like the choice of Palmer, though I cannot decide whether it's out of contrariness or not. Certainly I don't think Newton should be favored for having only 1 loss against the softest schedule in the NFL, while Palmer has a massive 2 losses against a much tougher schedule.

22
by Led :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 1:34pm

There's definitely something to what you say, but I don't think it's about Brady per se. There's a clear bias in favor of a new candidate over the same old, same old. You saw this when Manning was dominant, and also Lebron James and Barry Bonds in their respective sports. New and different always makes a better story. Newton's style of play, while less efficient than Brady, is also more exciting. The Arians offense, with its emphasis on deep passes, is also more exciting and entertaining (in my view, but I don't think I'm alone). For a lot of people (me included), stolen bases and frequent doubles and triples are much more fun than lots of walks with regular HRs sprinkled in even though I know the latter will result in more runs. Sports is entertainment, and Brady's ruthless efficiency is much easier to admire (perhaps grudgingly) than to enjoy unless you root for the Patriots.

All that said, although Brady has had an impressive year under the circumstances, I'd still give Palmer the nod. If Roethlisberger played the full year and with the same effectiveness, he would probably be the choice. Wilson also should be be getting more consideration.

25
by RickD :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 1:52pm

I agree that the media have a motivation to elevate their own status by seeking new stars to replace the old ones. Michael Jordan should have won several MVPs that he didn't for that reason. Ditto for Kobe Bryant. The baseball writers are a bit more willing to simply give the award to the "best player" (with the caveat that they seem to have very inconstant attitudes about when pitchers should and should not be considered).

Like I said, I thought Brady was the MVP through Week 10. Both Palmer and Newton have passed him since then. Wilson hasn't been playing at the same level all season, and unless the Seahawks win in Arizona (unlikely, I think), he'll be the QB of a 9-7 team. I'm very hard-pressed to put him ahead of Palmer.

28
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 2:09pm

Kobe's problem was never not being the new guy, he only won a single MVP in his whole career and it was when he was 30 years old.

His problem was being mean and having the rep of a ball hog.

37
by RickD :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 3:32pm

That and the rape charges.

Just at the point he should have been getting MVPs left and right, after Shaq started to decline, Kobe's rape issue came up.

I still think based on basketball talent alone, he should have gotten about 5 MVPs. But I don't really like the guy, so it's not like I'm upset.

We're starting to see the same thing happen to LeBron. At the risk of diverting into basketball too much for a football discussion board, LeBron >>>>>> Steph Curry and everybody else in the NBA. But the media have gotten bored with him.

39
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 3:38pm

Yeah, I love Curry, but anybody who thinks that if they swapped teams in last year's finals, Curry could have made Cleveland as competitive as James did, well, that's just nuts.

58
by mehllageman56 :: Thu, 12/31/2015 - 1:20am

I don't know about that. What was Golden State, 29-1, 30-1 going into that game the other night against Dallas? Curry doesn't play, and they lose by 20 something. Curry is a pretty important player. He's not LeBron, but would you say that if Clyde Drexler had switched with Jordan in the finals the Bulls would not have been competitive with the Blazers?

41
by Travis :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 3:52pm

Which years should Kobe have won the MVP award and didn't? Even in the Steve Nash MVP years LeBron (and a handful of others) were probably better players.

55
by t.d. :: Wed, 12/30/2015 - 12:04pm

If Steph and LeBron traded places, both Cleveland and Golden State would be worse (Golden State would look a lot like LeBron's Heat looked), and Steph, in that system surrounded by those teammates, is arguably one of the most valuable players any team has ever had (thus the 67 wins, 29-1, and historically awesome point differential)

18
by MustafaSmith :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 1:21pm

I thought the media narrative for Newton was one of the following:

1. The Panthers are undefeated, and therefore it only makes sense that the MVP should come from their team. Since Cam Newton is playing well this year, the team's improvement (and therefore undefeated record) must be primarily attributable to him. Therefore, he should be the MVP.

2. The Panthers are undefeated, and therefore Newton's impact clearly can't be measured by traditional passing stats (#1 in TD%, but #11 in Y/A, #22 in Y/G, #18 in INT%, and #7 in ANY/A) but rather must be measured by the amount of games Carolina is winning. Since Carolina has won the most games by far, Newton is the MVP.

Either way, you would think that Carolina's loss last week would have had a bigger impact on the Newton narrative, but it doesn't appear that this train can be stopped at this point.

26
by RickD :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 1:55pm

Yes, and to your last point, this is why I dislike how the media treats the entire process as a horse race. If you wait until the end of the season, the difference between a 1-loss team and a 2-loss team would not be considered very big in terms of who the MVP should be. But since they've been pumping up Newton for the past six weeks, he's "perceived" to have a lead that he doesn't really deserve.

35
by WeaponX :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 3:26pm

Cam deserves the MVP. His supporting cast isn't quite what the other 2 guys have. This very site had poor projections for Carolina , said they were likely to fall short of those projections and one staffer said 4 wins was on the table. 8th ranked O, best record in football and the QB is getting it done with a supporting cast (esp WR/OL) that nobody is enviable of. He has a lead and it's deserved.

Sometimes I even trip myself out.

54
by BJR :: Wed, 12/30/2015 - 11:27am

'Doing much better than expected' is not the bar for MVP. You are looking for the very, very best. Newton's had an excellent season relative to expectation, but Palmer has played better by pretty much any objective measure.

That said, Cam certainly won't be a terrible choice (unlike, say, Shaun Alexander). His team would undoubtedly be much worse off without him.

29
by techvet :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 2:22pm

OK, so Tim Hightower is out of the NFL for four years and then comes back and eventually gets over 100 yards. Who else was out of the NFL for that length of time or longer and came back to get substantial playing time?

30
by Travis :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 2:31pm

If CFL guys count, Doug Flutie didn't play an NFL game between 1990 and 1997. (Flutie didn't go to the CFL for a higher salary - the Patriots released him after the 1989 season and no one signed him as a free agent.)

36
by TomC :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 3:30pm

Check out the bottom 6 in QB DYAR this week. You've got two of the candidates in the MVP discussion directly above, a two-time Super Bowl winner, and The Greatest Human Being Ever To Walk The Earth (according to at least one poster here---speaking of which, where is that guy lately? oaktoon, paging oaktoon...). Anyway, not surprising that you get some big upsets and some teams blown out that don't normally get blown out when some of the best QBs in the league choose the same week to fall apart.

38
by RickD :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 3:37pm

If Cam has another crap week and the Panthers lose the #1 seed, he's done as an MVP candidate.

It's hard to keep playing at a high level for 4 months!

As for Roethlisberger and the Steelers, they have no excuse for losing to Ryan freakin' Mallett and the Ravens. It's the kind of thing that adds fuel to the "Tomlin sucks" argument. Very good teams don't lose to very bad teams led by a replacement QB who joined said team less than a week prior.

40
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 3:44pm

In 2010, the Eagles were playing for a bye week, when they lost to a bad Vikings team quarterbacked by Joe Freakin' Webb. In Philadelphia. Andy Reid is a terrific coach. Interim Leslie Frazier is decidedly not

Stuff happens.

59
by MilkmanDanimal :: Thu, 12/31/2015 - 11:13am

Cam is facing the Bucs, who are allowing opposing QBs to complete an almost record-setting-bad 69.3% of passes against them. They in particular have had issues covering TEs running through the middle. I am going to go out on a limb and suggest Cam is not going to have a notably bad game on Sunday.

42
by andrew :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 5:11pm

Mike Gillislee's comment should probably refer to himself, not Jerrick McKinnon.

43
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 5:39pm

I'm pretty sure when the DYAR lists get updated later, Stafford and Cutler will both move ahead of Rodgers and have a very good chance of staying ahead of him through the end of the season.

This will be the first time Rodgers is not the NFCN DYAR passing leader since 2009 when it was Brett Favre.

46
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 6:21pm

Not really relevant to Quick Reads, other than it lists the qbs who took significant snaps, but I see Ryan Lindley just was signed by the Colts. How bad must The Ponderous One be, if he can't get a job anywhere this season, with teams deperately signing anybody with a pulse? I think he's worked with teams at least a half dozen times since getting cut by the Raiders, but nobody will offer him a spot on a roster, no matter how desperate they are. Good grief.

47
by Hurt Bones :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 7:05pm

And the Bengals signed Mike Kafka to their Practice Squad to backup A.J. McCarron and Keith Wenning.

48
by Travis :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 7:22pm

Ponder was actually on the Broncos' 53-man roster for Weeks 12 and 13, was inactive for both games, and then released.

49
by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 10:14pm

Surprised nobody's asked how Cousins' silly kneel-down was scored for FO purposes. Is it part of his negative rushing DYAR? Or was it thrown out like most kneel-downs?

50
by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 12/30/2015 - 3:24am

Vince: Is a 4th down conversion valuable enough to outweigh a missed 3rd down conversion? Can you tell us how much DYAR the completion to Gronk on 4th and 9 was worth? Thanks!

The third-down failure was minus-3 DYAR; the fourth-down conversion was worth 22, because it wasn't just a conversion, it was a 26-yard gain and Brady's second-longest completion of the day.

In general, third-down conversions don't "outweigh" earlier failures, because we account for every play. A QB who goes incomplete-on-first, incomplete-on-second, 11-yard-gain-on-third-and-10 will have worse DYAR than a quarterback who just gained 11 yards on first down and didn't futz around with incompletions.

Mike Gillislee's comment should probably refer to himself, not Jerrick McKinnon.

Dammit! Fixed.

Surprised nobody's asked how Cousins' silly kneel-down was scored for FO purposes. Is it part of his negative rushing DYAR? Or was it thrown out like most kneel-downs?

We ignore all kneeldowns, and as weird as the timing was there, it was still a kneeldown, so it gets ignored.

51
by Jerry :: Wed, 12/30/2015 - 5:46am

Since no one seems to have noticed, the font in the Brees commentary is too big.

56
by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 12/30/2015 - 2:58pm

Well that was weird. It's fixed.