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» Seventh Day Adventure: Week 13

The biggest game this week is the Iron Bowl, where the playoff hopes of Alabama, Auburn, and Georgia hang in the balance.

28 Nov 2016

Week 12 Quick Reads

by Vincent Verhei

Projecting the future of NFL draft prospects is a hard, hard job -- not only for the general managers and scouts of the NFL's 32 teams, but also for those of us who make a living trying to guess which teams got it right or wrong. This is especially true when analyzing college quarterbacks, where wildly disparate qualities of coaching, teammates, and competition can create huge amounts of noise in the system. It's very difficult to tell which quarterbacks really played best in college, and it's exponentially harder which of those players will develop best as NFL passers.

This is why we can't be too hard on everyone who missed on Dak Prescott -- and by now it's clear that everyone missed on Dak Prescott, as the NFL sat back and watched while 134 players went off the board in last April's draft before the Dallas Cowboys took him late in the fourth round. The Cowboys themselves passed on Prescott four times, and though at this point we can't really criticize them for taking Ezekiel Elliott fourth overall, they then selected Jaylon Smith, Maliek Collins, and Charles Tapper before taking Prescott. Smith is a project at linebacker -- the Cowboys knew he was going to miss the 2016 season when they drafted him. Collins has started most of the year at defensive tackle, but hasn't stood out as anything special. Tapper, a defensive end, has missed the entire season thus far with a back injury. Prescott's DUI arrest in March partly explains his slide, but if the Cowboys had believed last April that Prescott really had franchise quarterback possibility, they never would have let him sit as long as he did.

But they were not alone -- as noted, everyone underrated Prescott going into the draft, even those who liked him as a fourth-round pick. "He's a solid prospect to develop as a starting quarterback," NFL Media's Mike Mayock said. "... You want to talk about a young man that's tough, has arm strength. Does he have to learn how to play the position and continue to develop? Absolutely. But I think learning behind Tony Romo, getting an opportunity with no pressure to come in and get reps behind him, he's got the athletic ability, he's got the arm talent. Ultimately, I think he's got the ability to be a starting quarterback in the NFL down the road."

Todd Archer of ESPN.com noted that the Cowboys had attempted to trade into the first round to select Paxton Lynch, but also said they were happy to get Prescott as a Plan B. "The Cowboys spent time with Prescott at the Senior Bowl, where he was named the game’s MVP," Archer wrote. "They met with him at the combine. They also had him in for a pre-draft visit after his March DUI arrest. The Cowboys clearly feel comfortable with what happened there and believe he can be a developmental quarterback."

Many analysts compared Prescott to one of the NFL's most famous flash-in-the-pan stars. "There are physical, athletic, and leadership traits comparable to Tim Tebow, but Prescott is vastly more pro-ready as a passer," wrote Mark Dulgerian of NFL.com. "He's an ideal backup as he continues to work on overall consistency, but he'll bring a dynamic element if his name's ever called."

Rob Rang and Dane Brugler of CBS Sports also compared Prescott to Tebow. "It is the natural comparison," they wrote, "beyond just the connection to Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen, who was Florida's offensive coordinator when Tebow was in Gainesville. Although Prescott has a slightly better arm and more consistent mechanics, he and Tebow grade similar in several categories, including composure, mobility, power and leadership."

Prescott drew those Tebow comparisons in part because, like the Heisman Trophy-winning Gators star, he was a prolific runner in college, gaining 2,403 yards and 37 touchdowns on the ground in his three years as a primary starter at Mississippi State. Unlike Tebow, though, Prescott has proven himself to be an NFL-caliber passer. In just 11 starts, he has already surpassed Tebow's career totals in completions, yards, and touchdowns, while throwing about 20 percent as many interceptions and taking about one-third as many sacks.

We were higher than most on Prescott when we wrote about this year's quarterback crop in our annual QBASE piece, because our system recognized that Prescott's college performance against SEC defenses, without a lot of top talent teammates, was much better than his raw stats showed. But even we didn't like Prescott's odds of turning into a star, because no quarterback who slips out of the first round is likely to be a star. "The projection rates Prescott far ahead of [Paxton Lynch] and [Connor Cook], prospects currently expected to go earlier in the draft," Andrew Healy wrote. "QBASE does not predict Prescott to be a likely NFL success. But his 45 percent chance of being at least an adequate starter gives him enough upside to make him very much worth a Day 2 draft pick." (Healy, by the way, also acknowledged Prescott's comparisons to Tebow.)

Well, Prescott has exceeded all of our expectations. After 12 weeks of the 2016 season (not counting the Packers-Eagles Monday nighter), Prescott is completing 67.9 percent of his passes for 8.3 yards per attempt, with an NFL passer rating of 108.6, ranking sixth or better in all three categories. And his advanced stats are even better. Of the 35 NFL quarterbacks with at least 150 pass plays this season, Prescott ranks third with 1,153 passing DYAR, and his DVOA of 39.7% is the best in the league, beating Tom Brady (39.1%) by a few decimal points. Since 1989, no rookie has ever led the league in passing DYAR before. Matt Ryan came closest when he finished seventh in 2008.

Have we ever seen a rookie quarterback like this before? Statistically, no, and it's not close. Here's a look at what Prescott has done through 11 games, and what the full-season rookie records are in each category:


Dak Prescott vs. NFL Rookie QB Record Book
Category Record Holder Season Number Prescott (Through
Week 12)
Completions Sam Bradford 2010 354 231
Attempts Andrew Luck 2012 627 340
Yards Andrew Luck 2012 4374 2,835
Touchdowns Peyton Manning 1998 26 18
Russell Wilson 2012
Interceptions Jay Schroeder 1985 5 2
Nick Foles 2012
Robert Griffin 2012
Completion Rate Ben Roethlisberger 2004 66.4% 67.9%
Yards/Pass Ben Roethlisberger 2004 8.88 8.34
Touchdown Rate Mark Rypien 1988 8.7% 5.3%
Interception Rate Robert Griffin 2012 1.3% 0.6%
NFL Passer Rating Robert Griffin 2012 102.4 108.6
Passing DYAR Matt Ryan 2008 1,012 1,153
Passing DVOA Ben Roethlisberger 2004 31.7% 39.7%
Pass + Rush DYAR Russell Wilson 2012 1,019 1,246
Minimum 200 pass attempts

If Prescott doesn't throw another pass for the rest of the season, he will still break seven of the records on this table (assuming nothing bizarre happens with opponent adjustments in DYAR or DVOA). He's also threatening several others. He would need to average nearly 60 pass attempts per game from here on out to break Andrew Luck's record there, but the 24.6 completions, 307.8 yards, and 1.6 touchdowns per game he would need to set benchmarks in those categories are at least plausible -- through 11 starts, he has averaged 21.0 completions, 257.7 yards, and 1.6 touchdowns per game.

And though the record isn't perfect (hi, Nick Foles and Robert Griffin!), to a large degree the record-setting rookie quarterbacks have been long-term successes. Mark Rypien, Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, and Russell Wilson have combined for 10 Super Bowl appearances, with six rings.

We haven't talked much about Prescott's running, because he hasn't done it very much as a pro. He is just eighth among quarterbacks this season with 180 rushing yards. However, he is tied for first at the position with five rushing touchdowns. And it's not because he's running a lot inside the 20 -- only eight of his 41 runs this year have come in the red zone. But he has scored on five of those eight red zone carries. This shows that even if you can contain Prescott's passing abilities, he's more than capable of finishing drives off with his legs, too.

It is important to remember that there is really no such thing as individual statistics in football. You'd be hard-pressed to find an NFL team that has more to offer a quarterback than Dallas. Prescott benefits from playing behind perhaps the NFL's best offensive line, with a running back who has outrushed anyone else in the league this season by 150 yards. The Cowboys have an excellent No. 1 receiver in Dez Bryant, a Hall of Fame candidate at tight end in Jason Witten, and a fine third-down option in Cole Beasley. Prescott's head coach was an NFL quarterback himself for nine seasons, and if you include Jason Garrett's stint as an offensive coordinator, he has led seven offenses to top-12 finishes in DVOA in the past ten years. The Cowboys have been far from dominant on defense this year, but they specialize in preventing explosive plays, which means Prescott has rarely had to face a big deficit early.

But there have been a lot of rookie quarterbacks in NFL history, and a lot of them have benefited from strong coaching, receiving talent, pass protection, running game, and/or defense. And none of them have come close to matching Prescott's accomplishments so far. There's no question that Prescott has been blessed with good circumstances, but there is also no question that he is getting the absolute most out of what he has been given to work with.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
1.
Aaron Rodgers GB
30/39
313
2
0
0
233
220
13
PHI
Rodgers gets a boost of 68 DYAR due to opponent adjustments. He is the first quarterback this year to complete 77 percent of his passes against the Eagles, and just the second to throw multiple touchdowns without an interception. He converted eight of 11 third- and fourth-down plays, going 10-of-11 for 115 yards in the process.
2.
Drew Brees NO
29/35
310
4
0
2
153
145
8
LARM
Brees threw one incomplete pass at the 3:28 mark of the first quarter, then another at the 10:10 mark of the third. He did not technically have an incomplete pass in between, officially completing 15 passes in a row for 160 yards. (He did have two sacks, an intentional grounding, and a DPI mixed in there.) He was also perfect tearing up the vulnerable underbelly of the Rams defense: on passes to receivers 1 to 7 yards past the line of scrimmage, he went 16-of-16 for 104 yards and two touchdowns.
3.
Kirk Cousins WAS
41/53
449
3
0
0
147
150
-3
DAL
Cousins did everything he could to rally Washington to a second-half win, but the Cowboys wouldn't stop scoring themselves. Cousins threw touchdowns on each of Washington's last three drives, going 21-of-24 for 228 yards in the process. At one point there he completed 14 passes in a row for 160 yards.
4.
Colin Kaepernick SF
29/45
297
3
1
2
136
92
45
MIA
Kaepernick's biggest throws came in either long yardage (conversions on fourth-and-15 and fourth-and-11) or short yardage (touchdowns of 1, 4, and 11 yards).
5.
Dak Prescott DAL
17/24
195
1
0
1
121
102
19
WAS
Prescott shouldn't have even bothered throwing deep passes against Washington. On passes that traveled no more than 10 yards past the line of scrimmage, he went 13-of-13 for 124 yards and his touchdown.
6.
Marcus Mariota TEN
15/23
226
2
0
0
117
98
19
CHI
Mariota completed each of his first seven passes against Chicago, gaining 79 yards and a touchdown in the process. He also scorched them with his deep ball, completing four of six passes that traveled 20 or more yards downfield, gaining 127 yards and a touchdown in the process.
7.
Ryan Tannehill MIA
20/30
285
3
0
2
107
111
-5
SF
Tannehill only converted three of his eight third-down plays, but those conversions were gains of 17, 43, and 46 yards.
8.
Matt Ryan ATL
26/34
269
2
1
3
103
96
7
ARI
Ryan didn't throw up the middle often against Arizona, and didn't have much success when he did, going 3-of-6 for 26 yards and an interception.
9.
Jameis Winston TB
21/28
220
2
1
0
99
88
12
SEA
Remember what we said about Dak Prescott four comments ago? That also applies to Winston. On passes within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, he went 17-of-17 for 126 yards and a touchdown.
10.
Trevor Siemian DEN
20/34
368
3
0
5
99
88
11
KC
Siemian went 5-of-7 on Denver's first five drives, but it might have been the worst 5-of-7 you ever saw. Those five completions gained a total of 50 yards, one went backwards, and they were scattered amongst four sacks and a lost fumble resulting in a safety. (The other four drives all ended in punts.)
11.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
14/20
221
3
0
0
93
93
0
IND
Roethlisberger didn't throw a single pass in the red zone against Indianapolis. Usually that's a sign of an offense that can't get out of its own way. In Roethlisberger's case it just means he didn't wait to reach the red zone to score -- he threw touchdowns of 22, 25, and 33 yards.
12.
Matthew Stafford DET
23/38
232
1
0
2
86
75
10
MIN
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
13.
Tyrod Taylor BUF
12/18
166
1
0
5
75
63
12
JAC
Not a good day on third downs: 3-of-5 for 13 yards and only two conversions, plus three sacks and an 18-yard DPI. Net yardage: 21, or 2.3 yards per play.
14.
Derek Carr OAK
26/38
315
2
1
2
67
75
-8
CAR
The biggest mistake Carolina made in this game was taking a 32-24 lead early in the fourth quarter, because at that point Carr caught fire. From that point to the end of the game, he went 8-of-11 for 116 yards and a touchdown.
15.
Alex Smith KC
26/43
220
1
0
6
61
63
-2
DEN
Smith gained a league-high 94 DYAR in opponent adjustments this week. He only threw six passes that traveled more than 10 yards past the line of scrimmage (and only two that traveled more than 15 yards downfield), completing one of them for 21 yards.
16.
Philip Rivers SD
22/30
242
3
1
1
53
53
0
HOU
Rivers produced all the points San Diego needed in three second-quarter drives, going 7-of-10 for 117 yards. One of those drives ended in a field goal, but the other two resulted in touchdown passes of 52 and 21 yards.
17.
Ryan Fitzpatrick NYJ
23/32
269
2
0
1
47
44
3
NE
Fitzpatrick played well most of the game, and his 22-yard touchdown to Quincy Enunwa put the Jets up 17-13. From that point forward, though, he went 2-of-3 for 28 yards with an intentional grounding, a sack, and a game-ending fumble. That's 14 net yards and a turnover in five plays, and the Jets lost 22-17.
18.
Tom Brady NE
30/50
286
2
0
0
42
42
0
NYJ
19.
Eli Manning NYG
15/27
194
3
0
1
36
36
0
CLE
Manning's last pass of the first half was a 32-yard touchdown to Odell Beckham that put the Giants ahead 14-3. And then he did nothing of any value for a long time, opening the second half by going 1-of-6 for zero yards and giving the Browns plenty of chances to get back in the game. Then he hit Beckham again for a 41-yard gain, and shortly thereafter hit Beckham once more for a 4-yard, game-clinching touchdown.
20.
Blake Bortles JAC
13/26
126
2
0
2
29
-5
34
BUF
Bortles' 12-yard touchdown to Allen Hurns put Jacksonville ahead 21-20 early in the fourth quarter. From that point forward, Bortles went 4-of-6 for just 13 yards, and the Jaguars lost 28-21.
21.
Brock Osweiler HOU
22/36
246
0
3
1
20
11
9
SD
22.
Josh McCown CLE
25/42
322
1
0
7
5
5
0
NYG
As if seven sacks weren't bad enough, McCown also fumbled the ball on two of those sacks, with the Giants recovering both of those balls.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
23.
Joe Flacco BAL
25/35
234
1
1
2
-5
-9
4
CIN
24.
Matt Barkley CHI
28/54
316
3
2
0
-24
-24
0
TEN
Barkley somehow threw 15 passes in the red zone in this game. That's as many as Jay Cutler has thrown in the red zone all season. Mind you, Barkley wasn't any good in the red zone, going 5-of-15 for 34 yards with two interceptions. He did have three red zone touchdowns, but in plays, that's a touchdown rate of just 20 percent. The league-wide rate this season has been 21 percent.
25.
Cam Newton CAR
14/28
246
2
1
2
-38
-39
1
OAK
Pretty much everything important that happened to Newton in this game happened in short yardage. He threw eight passes with 6 yards or fewer to go for a first down. Those eight passes included touchdowns of 44 and 88 yards, but also a sack and a pick-six.
26.
Carson Palmer ARI
26/45
289
2
1
2
-39
-39
0
ATL
27.
Andy Dalton CIN
26/48
283
1
0
3
-44
-55
11
BAL
Dalton is now the 20th player ever (and the second this season, joining Sam Bradford) to fumble four times in a game.
28.
Carson Wentz PHI
24/36
254
0
1
4
-48
-60
12
GB
Wentz played well enough for one half, but really struggled in the third and fourth quarters, going 11-of-19 for 107 yards with an interception and three sacks.
29.
Sam Bradford MIN
31/36
224
0
1
0
-71
-71
0
DET
Bradford lost 58 DYAR due to opponent adjustments, most of any quarterback this week. For starters, he took dink-and-dunking to an extreme degree. He threw just one deep pass, and his average pass traveled only 3.3 yards downfield. That wasn't just the lowest this week, it was the lowest of any quarterback with at least 20 passes in a game this season. This is why his 84 percent completion rate was mostly useless. It's also partly why he became the first quarterback this season who failed to throw for a touchdown against Detroit.
30.
Jared Goff LARM
20/31
214
3
1
3
-85
-85
0
NO
Goff threw three touchdowns in the first half against New Orleans, the first three touchdowns of his career, and the first time a Rams quarterback had thrown three first-half touchdowns since Sam Bradford did it against the Broncos in his rookie season of 2010. In the second half, though, he went 8-of-12 for 47 yards with an interception and two sacks.
31.
Scott Tolzien IND
22/36
205
1
2
3
-113
-90
-23
PIT
Kind of fitting that that Tolzien's first play was a "turnover" (a sack-fumble, though Indianapolis recovered), and so was his last, an interception. First down was a huge problem for Tolzien all day -- he went 6-of-13 for 45 yards with two interceptions, a fumble, and a sack.
32.
Russell Wilson SEA
17/33
151
0
2
6
-139
-168
29
TB
When you total Wilson's 16 incomplete passes and his six sacks, you get 22 passing plays that gained zero yards or went backwards, a career-worst for the fifth-year quarterback. Officially, the Seahawks failed to convert their first ten third-down plays, though they did pick up a 29-yard DPI on third-and-14 in the second quarter. Still, Wilson's third- and fourth-down struggles played a big role in Seattle's loss: 3-of-8, 40 yards, plus that DPI but also three sacks, for 51 net yards and only three conversions in 12 plays.


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.
Mark Ingram NO
14
146
1
1/2
21
1
63
48
14
LARM
Ingram was hit for no gain or a loss just twice, while he had five runs of 10 yards or more, the longest a 61-yarder. Ingram now has three 60-plus-yard runs in his six-year career. Two of them came in the past month. His one reception against the Rams was also a big play: a 21-yard gain on third-and-17.
2.
Derrick Henry TEN
8
60
1
0/0
0
0
37
37
0
CHI
All of Henry's carries gained at least 3 yards. Seven were successful plays; the eighth was a 3-yard gain on second-and-10. His longest gains went for 17 and 11 yards.
3.
Jeremy Hill CIN
12
21
0
6/6
61
0
36
9
27
BAL
Hill's longest run against Baltimore's stout defense gained only 7 yards, and he was hit for no gain or a loss five times. But five of his six receptions were successful plays, including gains of 24 and 10 yards.
4.
Devonta Freeman ATL
16
60
2
2/3
17
0
31
21
10
ARI
Freeman had runs of 16 and 11 yards against the Cardinals, plus two shorter touchdowns, while getting hit for no gain or a loss just twice.
5.
David Johnson ARI
13
58
0
8/11
103
1
29
-14
43
ATL
Five of Johnson's receptions gained 10 yards or more, including a 21-yard gain on third-and-18. He also had three 10-plus-yard runs, while getting stuffed for no gain or a loss three times.


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.
Mark Ingram NO
14
146
1
1/2
21
1
63
48
14
LARM
2.
Derrick Henry TEN
8
60
1
0/0
0
0
37
37
0
CHI
3.
LeGarrette Blount NE
11
67
0
0/1
0
0
24
32
-8
NYJ
Blount was hit for no gain or a loss three times against the Jets, but also had runs of 10, 18, and 23 yards, the latter on third-and-2.
4.
Bilal Powell NYJ
8
36
0
1/3
7
0
9
31
-22
NE
Powell's longest run gained only 7 yards, but all gained at least 2 yards, and six were successful plays.
5.
Devonta Freeman ATL
16
60
2
2/3
17
0
31
21
10
ARI


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.
Jay Ajayi MIA
18
45
1
1/2
11
0
-37
-35
-2
SF
Ajayi takes a big hit in opponent adjustments -- his 2.5 yards per carry is the worst of 13 players with at least 10 carries in a game against San Francisco this season. Plus, you know, 2.5 yards per carry sucks against prettty much anyone. Seven of Ajayi's carries resulted in no gain or a loss, while only four gained more than 5 yards, and only two gained more than 10.


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.
Jay Ajayi MIA
18
45
1
1/2
11
0
-37
-35
-2
SF


Five Best Wide Receivers and Tight Ends by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
Michael Thomas NO
9
10
108
12.0
2
76
LARM
Thomas had one failed completion, a 2-yard gain on first-and-10. However, he had catches of 21 and 35 yards, plus a 24-yard DPI to convert a third-and-15.
2.
Marquess Wilson CHI
8
11
125
15.6
1
67
TEN
Wilson had no failed completions, but he did have catches of 21 and 23 yards, plus a 33-yard DPI.
3.
Emmanuel Sanders DEN
7
10
162
23.1
1
62
KC
Zero failed completions, but gains of 20 and 64 yards, plus a 35-yard touchdown.
4.
Quincy Enunwa NYJ
5
5
109
21.8
1
60
NE
Four of Enunwa's catches gained more than 20 yards, the longest a 40-yarder to convert a second-and-1.
5.
Mike Evans TB
8
11
104
13.0
2
58
SEA
Zero failed completions, with three third-down conversions and long gains of 23 and 26 yards.


Worst Wide Receiver or Tight End by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
Cameron Meredith CHI
2
9
19
9.5
0
-40
TEN
Well, at least those two completions were both third-down conversions.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 28 Nov 2016

52 comments, Last at 02 Dec 2016, 3:22pm by dryheat

Comments

1
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 6:47am

"Mind you, Barkley wasn't any good in the red zone, going 5-of-15 for 34 yards with two interceptions."

To be fair, his red zone numbers would have looked much better if his receivers were capable of catching footballs that hit them in the hands or chest.

2
by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 9:45am

You look at his hand size, throwing motion, prodction/winning at MSU with marginal talent, etc. and it is shocking that he went in the 4th round. More shocking? That someone didn't talk Jerry Jones out of picking him.
Yeah, he probably went to the perfect situation in Dallas, but can't stop thinking how his situation and Russell Wilson's in 2012 areso similar - and we know how that has turned out.

3
by big10freak :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 9:52am

So last year Davante Adams was a train wreck of a receiver. This year his hands are better, he's playing MUCH tougher and he has stopped griping at the refs. Rodgers is still going too much to Nelson (old habits die hard) but as Adams keeps making catch after catch one has to think number 12 will realize that DA should be the first option.

6
by justanothersteve :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 11:24am

Nelson's best catch last night was at the end of the game and helped by a blatant uncalled pushoff. I couldn't believe it was called and I'm a Packers fan. I also think Adams is playing much better. I can't help but wonder how much of his problems last year were from playing through injuries.

10
by Arkaein :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 12:02pm

Refs were letting everything go in the secondary in that game. They missed a pretty obvious DPI on the deep sideline go to Nelson just a few plays earlier in the drive, and in general weren't calling any bumping or jostling down the field all night.

12
by The Powers That Be :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 12:32pm

I saw nothing resembling a pushoff or any kind of interference on that catch. And the fact that it won me my fantasy matchup in no way colors my judgment.

13
by big10freak :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 12:33pm

Personally I think his biggest step forward was to stop being such a whiner. He's not throwing up in his hands in obvious disgust. He's not standing on the field at the conclusion of a play staring straight ahead. These were all signals to the refs (and to everyone else) that Adams thought he had been fouled. He's just playing. And playing hard. He might start getting those calls now that he is not openly trying to embarrass the refs.

33
by saneiac :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 3:23pm

While that is a big step, I think his biggest step this year is that he's actually catching the ball. Game after game last year, balls would hit him in the hands, and he'd drop them. The loss vs. Detroit last year was especially bad, with what seemed like a dozen catchable dropped balls. This year, not only is he holding onto those, but he's making the difficult, jumping, twisting catches as well. When this season started, I was appalled that he was still on the team. I've never been so glad to be wrong.

8
by dryheat :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 11:36am

I simply think that Adams (and Cobb) was overmatched against defenses that didn't have to contend with Nelson last year. Cobb is a good 1A receiver, and Adams a very good 3, but when they got promoted, they showed they couldn't overcome the extra attention the defenses were able to give them.

11
by big10freak :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 12:29pm

This is simply not true this year. Nelson is a glorified Tight End as he has clearly lost a step due to the injury. Nelson is fine in the red zone where his combination of strength, precision routes and body control along the lines are all huge assets. But Nelson cannot regularly gain separation.

Any coaching staff that is treating Nelson as any kind of deep threat should lose their jobs. The loss of speed was evident by game 2 of the season.

21
by Flounder :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 1:48pm

This is exactly correct. Watching him get caught from behind the one time he caught a deep pass this year was seriously depressing.

22
by dryheat :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 2:24pm

The point remains that he needs to be covered, and not just paid lip service to. He's never had elite speed, yet puts up 1000 yard seasons. His declining long speed doesn't hurt him much. Last year defenses had a much easier job defending Green Bay,and neither Cobb nor Adams proved themselves up to the task.

25
by lokiwi :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 2:42pm

"He's never had elite speed"

This is a preposterous statement. He may never regain his speed because he's old and coming off a serious injury, but to pretend he never had it is ridiculous.

28
by Temo :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 2:51pm

4.51 40 time is good, but not elite. Eddie Lacy ran a 4.44.

Nelson certainly caught his share of deep throws over his career, but I'd say it was more due to excellent route running and technique than elite speed.

30
by dank067 :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 3:05pm

Nelson was/is relatively slow off the snap but given space to accelerate, like on a deep post or if he got into the clear after the catch, he absolutely had elite speed.

32
by big10freak :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 3:16pm

To follow up Nelson is one of those guys who was as the scouts say faster in the uniform. He routinely gained separation from defensive backs.

But not now.

36
by lokiwi :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 3:37pm

If we're going on 40 times, sure. But I watched him run away from entire defenses to take short slants for long touchdowns for years. If that's not elite speed, I don't know why you would need elite speed.

27
by ammek :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 2:47pm

For the first 10 games of this year, defenses had done a very good job of defending Green Bay.

James Jones was a sort of Jordy surrogate last season. He also lacked deep speed but needed to be paid more than lip service. Through ten games, Jones' DYAR in 2015 was outpacing Nelson's in 2016 by a fair margin (on about two-thirds as many targets).

29
by big10freak :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 2:52pm

In the two seasons before the injury Nelson was in the top 8 for DYAR, DVOA and VOA for receivers. This season he's right around 30th in these categories (give or take)

I don't know how you quantify 'doesn't hurt him much', but to my mind this dropoff is pretty significant and hurts the team quite a bit. Nelson can be single covered. And has been including at times by safeties which was never the case previously.

34
by Richie :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 3:27pm

Nelson's yards per catch has cratered this year. Prior to this season, he averaged 15.3 ypc. This year he has fallen to 12.4 ypc.

It will be interesting to see if he can bounce back next year. Seems like it can take 2 years for guys to fully recover from severe knee injuries. But he'll be 32 next year, so that won't help.

35
by big10freak :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 3:35pm

Yup. There is no metric that is not pointing to a dropoff in his ability to separate. And this is coupled with the anecodotal info shared by fans here. Nelson is not the same player right now and it's tough to see. Because when he was at the top of his game he was awesome

39
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 4:40pm

ACLs are often two-year injuries, are they not? He's at least functional now, but I don't think it's inconceivable he can recover his quickness and regain some form next year. A 31-year-old WR is different than a 31-year-old RB, and I think it's feasible he comes back at something resembling old form. I can't think of a comparable player who suffered an ACL injury at 30, but there has to be one, right?

43
by Richie :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 5:27pm

Wes Welker jumps to mind, but his game wasn't based on speed like Nelson.

Joey Galloway tore an ACL at 29. He went on to have some of his best years in his mid-30's including 2 seasons of 1,000+ yards with 17+ ypc. It took him 3 years to recover, but Chad Hutchinson and Quincy Carter were involved.

Jerry Rice? (recovered)

Reggie Wayne? (didn't recover. Not sure if the injury was the problem.)

4
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 10:51am

"Bortles' 12-yard touchdown to Allen Hurns put Jacksonville ahead 21-20 early in the fourth quarter. From that point forward, Bortles went 4-of-6 for just 13 yards, and the Jaguars lost 28-21."

When the game is close, Blake Bortles pulls a Mirror, Mirror, sketches a goatee on his face with marker, and becomes Anti-Bortles.

14
by LyleNM :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 1:01pm

Sort of like Evil Spock? I like it.

26
by lokiwi :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 2:46pm

Wouldn't Anti-Bortles be good at football?

47
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 6:06pm

Even in a multiverse, with its plethora of realities and all the myriad threads of quantum possibility that stretch out their tendrils to capture every conceivable circumstance, there is still no universe where Blake Bortles is good at football.

5
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 11:10am

I think the Dallas o-line may the best the league has seen in years. You simply cannot overstate what it means to a rookie qb to rarely play under duress, from a pass rush, down and distance, and game score perspective, while having excellent receivers, and an All Pro running back who is a threat to score every time he touches the ball.

The wonderful thing for Cowboys fans is that if Prescott gets into unfamilar territory in the playoffs, and doesn't react well, they have a veteran qb who has excelled in high duress situations for years, who can come in and provide relief.

(edit) Another thing that needs to be noted is that this is not a Jason Garrett offense. It is a Scott Linehan offense, and Scott Linehan is really, really, good at optimizing good o-line play, pass blocking and run blocking, and good receivers. It is no coincidence that Daunte Culpepper had his best year, MVP quality, when Linehan was his coordinator, and before we attribute all that to Moss, let it be noted that Moss was hurt that year, and only had 49 catches.

9
by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 12:00pm

Like usual when discussing quarterbacks, I'm stuck with how much is Dak, and how much is the environment?

There's clearly a minimum talent/experience/etc threshold for being able to run an NFL offense (see NE earlier this year - Garoppolo is clearly above it, Brisset isn't) - but past that point it's really difficult to separate how much is the signal caller, and how much is him getting time in the pocket, and having guys open all the time, and not constantly facing defenses keyed up to stop the pass.

Dak has one of the best (if not the best) offensive supporting casts around him - so while I think he's definitely above that threshhold, beyond that it's really tough to tell how good he is.

18
by Temo :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 1:24pm

I don't think there's much of a difference between Linehan's offense and Garrett. Garrett maybe liked the lead draw more (being on the 90's Cowboys, of course he likes the lead draw), and liked to utilize dual TE systems more.

But Garrett actually requested Linehan to join him and eventually replace Bill Calahan because of their shared philosophies. They both coached the Miami Dolphins under Nick Saban and knew each other well (Garrett was Linehan's QB coach at the time, fresh off his playing career).

31
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 3:14pm

I didn't mean to diminish Garrett a much as I wsh to see Linehan given credit where it is due. The guy has always been a good offensive coach.

42
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 5:23pm

I agree. When he was with the Lions from 2009-2013, Linehan managed to build a decent offense with only Megatron, a talented yet very flawed quarterback, and a rotating cast of 9 other players who ranged from below replacement level to barely above average. The offensive Line was usually near the top of the league in adjusted sack rate despite having mostly poor talent. The dropoff from Scott Linehan to Joe Lombardi in 2014 was significant (which is really a shame, because the 2014 Lions had a top 3 defense that dragged a bad offense to the playoffs). My only complaint about him is that he didn't seem to care to coach Stafford on proper QB mechanics the way the current coaching staff has.

7
by tuluse :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 11:30am

"Although Prescott has a slightly better arm and more consistent mechanics, he and Tebow grade similar in several categories, including composure, mobility, power and leadership."

It's very strange to read this scouting report because no one ever knocked Tebow for the areas where they are similar. The problem was always his throwing motion and lack of accuracy.

If someone offers you Tim Tebow with NFL accuracy and throwing motion, you take that player.

17
by gomer_rs :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 1:21pm

It's a stupid, I think this player is bad therefore he must be bad at everything.
_______

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

37
by RickD :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 4:25pm

Tim Tebow with NFL accuracy is very unlike the Tim Tebow who played in the NFL. I'd argue that accuracy is the single most important trait of an NFL QB. Tebow had a career 47.9% percentage. Prescott is 20 points better. That they are similar in height, weight, and arm strength seems very uninteresting by comparison.

What I mean to say is that saying "Tim Tebow with NFL accuracy" isn't like saying "a Shaq that can make free throws". It's not just a slight nudge of an unimportant trait. It's more like taking a 10.5 100m sprinter and waving a wand to make him a 9.7 100m sprinter.

40
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 4:45pm

It's not that dissimilar, actually.

If you make Shaq and/or Wilt league-average FT shooters instead of the walking albatroi they were, they've had scored 2-3 points per game more -- about the same performance boost your sprinter is getting.

Consider that Wilt shot FTs at a 60% clip for two seasons. He averaged 48 pts/game in those seasons. In the rest of his career, he was around 50%. He averaged around 35 pts/game in those seasons.

Shaq's bump isn't as profound, but it's noticeable. It's more than just converting misses into makes 1pt at a time, it affects how teams defend you.

44
by Jerry :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 5:47pm

The point is that both were slam-dunk Hall of Famers without being able to shoot free throws. "Tebow with NFL accuracy" is like "[random marginal 2-guard] with Steph Curry's accuracy"; now we have a serious NBA player.

50
by tuluse :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 6:50pm

I didn't say hall of fame level accuracy, but yes if you take a guard who is physically capable of competing in the NBA and give him minimum levels of shooting abilities, he will probably be a good guard.

15
by Temo :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 1:16pm

The negatives that were given at the draft and after the pick was that he failed to throw downfield in his senior year, that he was hyper-aware of pressure and lacked pocket presence, he wasn't comfortable under center and didn't play in a pro-style offense, and that his footwork was a mess.

A lot of the pressure/pocket presence stuff hasn't mattered because he went from having probably the worst offensive line in the SEC to the best in the NFL, including having a fantastic pass blocking RB in Elliott.

He has thrown downfield successfully in the NFL, and his lack of attempting deeper throws in college is also attributable to the horrible O-line he had. Though to be he still doesn't throw downfield as much as most, but considering how successful he's been at short and medium range throws, it hasn't mattered.

He's worked a lot on his footwork and under center play since getting drafted, and got way better at those things. Though he's still dropped like 3 under center snaps this year (straight drops, the snaps were fine). And again, his footwork was maybe made sloppy by the terrible protection he had in college in his senior year. Also, the offense he ran was a pro-style offense, it just operated from a pistol-like formation.

An example of how little talent he had around him in college: in his senior year game vs. Alabama, Dak was either the passer or rusher on almost 80% of offensive plays. He was a one man offense, and somehow managed to out gain Alabama's offense 393-379.

16
by big10freak :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 1:20pm

This is really great insight. Makes one wonder what NFL scouts are paid to do if they could not get past the context you described.

19
by Temo :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 1:31pm

I don't know, if anything I think it explains pretty well why he dropped and why it's excusable. It's one thing to look at these things now and fit the pieces together because we have the benefit of hindsight.

But if you're a scout watching Dak Prescott college tape before the draft, all you're seeing is a guy who is running constantly, has terrible footwork, is getting hammered in the pocket, and isn't throwing downfield and you're having to project what he might look like in different offensive environment and *if* you can fix his footwork.

That's a hell of a projection to make, and why teams (including the Cowboys) had other QBs as safer picks. The only things they knew for sure was the glowing personal reviews he got from fellow players and coaches, and even that was tainted by a spring break street fight in PCB and his DUI (later thrown out) before the draft.

20
by big10freak :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 1:38pm

Dak's circumstance was very similar to Favre's at Southern Miss and Favre was picked second despite being obviously out of shape at every post season tryout/camp.

It's that context adjustment (for lack of a better phrase) that Ron Wolf traded for him with the Packers staff telling him he was nuts.

24
by Temo :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 2:42pm

Thats fair, but I think Favre was easier projection to make than Prescott because his arm talent was crazy high. Few QBs in the history of the league had the kind of arm Favre had. Prescott's arm is average. Even his speed was good but not great -- especially for a "running QB".

38
by RickD :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 4:31pm

If you look at photos of Prescott, Goff, and Wentz, one trait jumps out.

I mean, it's hard to say specifically that racism is a factor, but OTOH it's hard for me to imagine that it didn't play a role. Scouts have been more likely in recent years to appreciate black QBs than they were in decades past, but there still are good ones getting neglected. What two QBs in recent years were the most underrated by scouts? I'd argue that they are Dak Prescott and Russell Wilson.

When a black QB is as high profile as Cam Newton or RGIII, then yes, race will be set aside. But I think it may play a role when evaluating QBs who are not playing in college at the same competitive level.

41
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 4:57pm

Wilson was also undersized, had dabbled in baseball, and had three decent but somewhat forgettable seasons at NC State. Brees fell into the 2nd round, too, and he absolutely lit the field up on a historically woeful team. Was he too white?

I knew Wilson was decent from NC State (he was obviously better than Mike Glennon, but obviously not better than Phil Rivers), but I didn't expect him to turn into Russell Wilson. Hell, he was notably better than Jacoby Brissett, too, yet he went in the 3rd, too. Maybe NC State QBs just get drafted in the 3rd round?

Tom Terrific fell behind Giovanni Carmazzi and Spergon Wynn. Cardale Jones was a similar QB to Prescott in college and played teams just as good. He was drafted behind Prescott and is the 3rd-string QB on a team where all the QBs are of the "black, running, southern college" variety. Sometimes guys just fall. It's not always a conspiracy.

45
by RickD :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 5:48pm

No, Brees was considered possibly too small for the NFL.

Existence of unconscious racial doesn't depend on the non-existence of other types of bias. It's not like I said "the only reason any QB is ever overlooked is because of race."

Nor does racial bias constitute a "conspiracy".

It would be nice of people could address questions of race intelligently without building straw men.

46
by big10freak :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 5:53pm

Drew Brees throws off his damn toes. I have watched his entire collegiate and pro career and he does not get nearly enough credit for how he has adapted and excelled.

48
by gomer_rs :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 6:14pm

And Russell Wilson got to play behind an O-line his Senior year of college that was larger than any line in the NFL.

Russell Wilson is still very limited throwing 5-10 yards over the middle of the field, but makes up for it being the best deep ball thrower in the NFL and converting plays with his feet.
_______

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

49
by LyleNM :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 6:20pm

If you look at photos of Prescott, Goff, and Wentz, one trait jumps out.

and then

It would be nice if people could address questions of race intelligently without building straw men.

Um, I don't think you should be the one accusing others of building straw men.

51
by LionInAZ :: Thu, 12/01/2016 - 9:31pm

I think Temo's explanation is way more compelling than yours. How many teams with iffy OLs would take a chance on a QB who on a QB who was skittish under less than perfect pressure? Prescott ended up in the best possible situation, great OL and lucking into an E Elliott to take off the pressure..

If you're going to bring up the race card, why haven't the Pats drafted a black QB? We all know how accepting the Bostonians are after the busing riots in the 80s.

52
by dryheat :: Fri, 12/02/2016 - 3:22pm

Which one of Jay Walker, Michael Bishop, Rohan Davey, or Jacoby Brissett isn't black?

23
by ChrisS :: Tue, 11/29/2016 - 2:37pm

Prescott has played well and likely will have a very good career. I wonder how much his claim to all-time great rookie is effected by his (pass-happy) era. Almost all of the records in the comparison chart were set over the last 10 years or so.