Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

05 Dec 2016

Week 13 Quick Reads

by Vincent Verhei

Punters, as a rule, do not get a lot of attention. Even those with long, successful NFL careers often get more headlines for writing a book or doing a dance or being a ninja than they do for kicking a football. People laugh at punters when they tell jokes, but people also laugh at punters when they get kicked in the face. Even the Rams' Johnny Hekker, by all accounts an excellent punter (he was first-team all-pro in both 2013 and 2015), is better known for his trick-play proficiency or his, um, opportunistic blocking than for being one of the very best in the world at his chosen profession. Well let's put a stop to that now, because it's time to recognize Hekker for what he is: not just the NFL's best punter, but perhaps its best special teams player, and a man who is likely to break a couple of records by the time the year is done.

Hekker's football career began as a quarterback and punter for the Bothell High School Cougars north of Seattle. (In the interest of full disclosure, I suppose that I should mention that I am also a Bothell alum. I graduated 14 years before Hekker, and we have never met. Hekker's BHS teams twice reached the state finals. When I went to school the varsity football team had one win in two years. Things change.) He played college ball at Oregon State, where he won a handful of all-conference awards and was a candidate for the Ray Guy award. He went undrafted (I mean, he is a punter) and signed with the then-St. Louis Rams in 2012. And he has been an outstanding player ever since, leading the league in net average in 2013 and 2015, while finishing third in 2014.

Which brings us to 2016. The Rams are just 4-8 in their return to Los Angeles, a season from hell in the City of Angels. Still, there have been some individual stars on the roster. Aaron Donald could be the defensive player of the year. Kenny Britt could be the first Rams wideout in a decade to top a thousand yards. Hekker, though, should be the first name on the Rams' marquee, because he's the one doing things that have never been done before.

Of the 31 punters with at least 30 punts this season, Hekker is just seventh with a gross average of 47.5 yards. However, he leads the NFL with a net average of 45.8 yards. He is also first with 40 punts downed inside the 20, nine more than any other player. True, that's partly because of opportunity -- Hekker is tied with San Francisco's Bradley Pinion with a league-high 72 punts. Hekker is still on top after adjusting for that, though. All told, 56 percent of his punts this year have been downed inside the 20. Carolina's Andy Lee is the only other punter who is even at 50 percent. (In last, place, coincidentally, is Pinion, at 26 percent.) And only one of Hekker's punts has resulted in a touchback, a rate of 1.4 percent. Pat McAfee, the league leader in gross average at 50.1 yards, has seen a league-worst 19.0 percent of his kicks result in touchbacks. Hekker has also been the beneficiary of outstanding coverage units that have allowed only 101 punt return yards all season. With so few touchbacks or punt returns, Hekker's net average is only 1.7 yards lower than his gross, which is again the best figure in the league.

Hekker's brilliance goes beyond just what he has done this year though. NFL.com has detailed punter statistics back to 1991, and among all qualified players (30 punts in 2016, 40 punts in all full seasons) in those 25 years, Hekker in 2016 has the best net average, best difference between gross and net average, and best percentage of punts downed inside the 20, while finishing in the top 10 in lowest touchback rate. His 40:1 ratio of inside-the-20 punts:touchbacks would be second on record behind Sav Rocca, who had 26 punts downed inside the 20 with zero touchbacks with Washington in 2013. Barring an epic December collapse, each of Hekker's last four seasons will be among the top 15 on record in net average.

There's little question that Hekker is having the pest punting season in a generation. The only questions surrounding that fact are, A) how much of that is luck? And B) how much credit goes to Hekker, and how much to his teammates? Both questions are hard to answer. We can start by looking at the year-to-year correlations in punting numbers, which are fairly sticky, as far as football numbers go. In the 629 instances since 1991 that a punter qualified for the final rankings in back-to-back seasons, the year-to-year correlation in gross average was 0.635. The correlation in net average was ever-so-slightly higher at 0.636, but the correlations of other stats that compose net average (touchback rate, inside-the-20 rate, fair catch rate, return yards allowed, etc.) ranged from 0.273 to 0.445 -- still positive relationships, but with a lot more noise. Of all raw statistics, gross and net average are clearly the best way to evaluate punters. We have already talked about Hekker's dominant net punting statistics, but his gross numbers are fine too -- he is about to finish in the top 10 in gross average for the fourth year in a row, and he was first in 2015. We are splitting some hairs here -- for all qualifying punters in our sample, the correlation between gross average and net average in a given year was 0.743.

The final factor to look at here is stat inflation, which in this case is minor. Since the birth of the league, the average NFL punt went about 40 yards until the late 1980s. Since then, that average has gradually climbed to about 45 yards. That's nothing like the way passing numbers have exploded each decade since the 1970s, but it's a legitimate difference of about 10 percent. Deadlines prevent us from adjusting for these numbers, but even if we could, it's likely that Hekker's numbers would only slip from "best we've ever seen" to "among the best we've ever seen."

As for the contributions of Hekker's teammates, it's usually true that there is no such thing as individual statistics in football, and that goes for punters too. No matter how precise his kicks, Hekker still relies on his gunners to limit opponents' opportunities to return punts, and on all of his coverage men to get a handle on balls before they roll into the end zone. To a degree, we can get some separation here in Football Outsiders' numbers, which measure punters based on the spot from which balls are kicked, and where they are caught/fair caught/spotted out of bounds/downed. Based on those numbers, we assume a league-average rate of returns, and a league-average yardage gain per return. And by these metrics, Hekker looks even better. On kicks alone, he has been worth 12.7 points more than an average punter this season. Marquette King, second at plus-7.5 points, is closer to ninth-place Brett Kern than he is to Hekker. Time prevents us from comparing these numbers to those of prior seasons, but it's clear that Hekker is just on another planet from his peers right now.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
1.
Andy Dalton CIN
23/31
332
2
0
0
247
240
7
PHI
Third downs: 10-of-12 for 187 yards and eight first downs, including a touchdown. He was also tremendous on deep passes, completing five of his six long balls for 167 yards.
2.
Andrew Luck IND
22/28
278
4
0
1
212
198
14
NYJ
This was Luck's fifth career four-touchdown, zero-interception game, and his first since the season opener against Detroit. He has gone 3-2 in those games, which seems like the most Andrew Luck stat ever.
3.
Joe Flacco BAL
36/46
381
4
1
0
195
195
0
MIA
Flacco threw nine passes that traveled 9 to 16 yards downfield, completing all nine for 158 total yards and a touchdown. He threw one pass deeper than that. It was intercepted.
4.
Derek Carr OAK
19/35
260
2
0
0
109
117
-8
BUF
Carr's overall third-down numbers weren't great (4-of-8, 56 yards, three conversions), but those completions included some of his biggest plays: gains of 22 and 26 yards, plus a 3-yard conversion. A ninth third-down throw resulted in a 23-yard DPI.
5.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
24/36
289
2
1
2
108
108
0
NYG
Inside the Giants' 40, Roethlisberger went 8-of-9 for 79 yards with two touchdowns and one sack.
6.
Matt Ryan ATL
22/34
297
1
1
2
101
92
9
KC
The Falcons' play calling against Kansas City was pretty predictable by down. On first down, they had only 15 runs, but 22 pass plays (Ryan went 13-of-20 for 169 yards, plus a sack and a 40-yard PDI. On second down, they had 13 runs, but only six passes (Ryan went 4-of-6 for 38 yards). And on third and fourth down they had two runs, but 10 passes (5-of-8, 90 yards, an 11-yard DPI, and a sack).
7.
Alex Smith KC
21/25
270
1
0
1
94
94
0
ATL
For about half of a game -- from about the 12-minute mark of the second quarter, to about the 12-minute mark of the fourth, Smith reeled off completions in 15 straight dropbacks, picking up 169 yards and a touchdown in the process.
8.
Matthew Stafford DET
30/42
341
2
0
2
92
85
7
NO
9.
Carson Palmer ARI
30/45
300
3
0
2
84
84
0
WAS
Palmer provided almost all his value on Arizona's last three drives: 13-of-16 for 131 yards and capping off each drive with a touchdown.
10.
Jameis Winston TB
20/30
280
1
1
1
68
72
-4
SD
11.
Aaron Rodgers GB
20/30
209
2
0
1
64
75
-11
HOU
Through three quarters, Rodgers' longest completion gained only 10 yards. He had four plays longer than that in the fourth quarter alone, when he went 4-of-6 for 98 yards.
12.
Matt Barkley CHI
11/18
192
0
0
1
58
78
-20
SF
Barkley didn't throw often in the Chicago snow, but when he did, he had success on deep passes, going 5-of-7 for 127 yards on deep balls.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
13.
Russell Wilson SEA
26/36
278
1
1
3
48
39
9
CAR
Not that it mattered, but in the red zone Wilson went just 3-of-10 for 14 yards with one touchdown.
14.
Tom Brady NE
33/46
269
1
0
0
46
46
-1
LARM
A shockingly inept day on third downs: 7-of-15 for 65 yards and only four conversions.
15.
Kirk Cousins WAS
21/37
271
1
1
2
31
26
5
ARI
16.
Dak Prescott DAL
12/18
139
1
0
3
16
10
6
MIN
If there's a hole in Prescott's game, based on this week, you'd have to say it came in ultra-long yardage. Prescott made the absolute worst of bad situations -- he had five plays with more than 15 yards to go: two sacks (and a fumble), an incomplete pass, a completion for a 5-yard loss, and a 16-yard gain on third-and-29.
17.
Cam Newton CAR
14/33
182
1
1
0
13
8
4
SEA
18.
Philip Rivers SD
16/26
225
2
2
2
-2
-6
4
TB
From the middle of the second quarter to the middle of the third, Rivers had what must have been one of the worst 10-dropback stretches of his career: 2-of-9 for 28 yards with an intentional grounding and a pick-six.
19.
Brock Osweiler HOU
22/35
213
2
0
2
-23
-28
5
GB
20.
Blaine Gabbert SF
4/10
35
0
0
1
-28
-27
-1
CHI
Basically all of Gabbert's good plays came on first down. On second and third downs, he went 1-of-6 for 6 yards, plus a sack for a safety.
21.
Sam Bradford MIN
32/45
247
1
0
2
-30
-34
4
DAL
22.
Paxton Lynch DEN
12/24
104
0
0
2
-36
-34
-3
JAC
Third downs: 3-of-9 for 20 yards with one conversion and one sack.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
23.
Ryan Fitzpatrick NYJ
5/12
81
0
1
0
-41
-41
-1
IND
24.
Ryan Tannehill MIA
29/40
226
1
3
2
-44
-44
0
BAL
On Baltimore's half of the field, Tannehill went 7-of-10 for just 49 yards (22 of them on one play) with one touchdown, two sacks, and two interceptions. That's nothing, though, compared to Blake Bortles...
25.
Blake Bortles JAC
19/42
181
0
2
1
-51
-70
19
DEN
... who went 3-of-11 for 11 yards with no first downs and an interception on Denver's half of the field. He also threw one pass from the Jacksonville 49. It was a pick-six.
26.
Drew Brees NO
32/43
326
0
3
1
-58
-58
0
DET
Probably the most shocking result of Week 13. Drew Brees came into the weekend leading the league in passing DYAR, while Detroit was last in the league in pass defense -- and THIS happened. If anything Brees was even less valuable than his totals, because a good chunk of his production came in garbage time. After the Saints fell behind by 15 points in the fourth quarter, Brees went 12-of-14 for 129 yards with two interceptions (one of which we're counting as a Hail Mary, so it counts as any other incompletion for Brees).
27.
Eli Manning NYG
24/39
195
2
2
2
-76
-76
0
PIT
Third-down passing: 3-of-8 for 39 yards with two first downs and a sack. He also had three fourth-down plays: an interception, a sack, and an incompletion on fourth-and-1.
28.
Tyrod Taylor BUF
18/35
191
0
1
4
-91
-109
19
OAK
Taylor had the worst fourth-quarter DYAR of the week, going 6-of-15 for 59 yards with two sacks, a fumble, and an interception.
29.
Bryce Petty NYJ
11/25
135
1
2
1
-95
-95
0
IND
30.
Carson Wentz PHI
36/60
308
1
3
1
-95
-103
8
CIN
Wentz quietly tied Chris Weinke and Marc Bulger for the rookie record with 36 completions. Why was it so quiet? Probably because all of them came with the Eagles losing, 30 of them came with Philly down by 13 points or more, and 19 came up short of the sticks,
31.
Colin Kaepernick SF
1/5
4
0
0
5
-128
-122
5
CHI
OK, here we go. First of all, you're probably wondering why this didn't finish lower -- forget being one of the worst games of all time, it wasn't even the worst game of the week? Well, remember that DYAR is a counting stat, and Kaepernick still managed more negative DYAR in ten plays than Carson Wentz had in 61. Now, let's talk about those sacks. Five sacks in a game is bad, but hardly historic. Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked five times in a game 24 times in his career; Alex Smith, 21; Aaron Rodgers, 18; and Ryan Tannehill, 14 in less than five seasons. All of the hundreds of prior five-sack games in league history, though, happened to quarterbacks who threw at least three more passes than Kaepernick, with at least two more completions, for at least 13 more yards gained. Between sacks and his one completion, Kaepernick finished with minus-22 net yards passing, which is actually not a record -- we can't say for sure what the record is, but we do know that in the season opener in 2000, Troy Aikman (of all people) went 0-for-5 with four sacks and 30 yards lost. Aikman also threw an interception, which Kaepernick managed to avoid. On the other hand, one of Kaepernick's sacks ended in a fumble. Anyway, perhaps DVOA will do a better job than DYAR of saying just how bad Kaepernick was against Chicago. His overall passing DVOA was -198.8%. That includes a -279.8% DVOA on his five sacks; a -120.0% DVOA on his four incompletions; and a -117.2% DVOA on his one completion, a 4-yard gain on third-and-8.
32.
Jared Goff LARM
14/32
161
1
2
4
-214
-214
0
NE
At the end of Week 10, Case Keenum was fourth-worst in the league with minus-192 DYAR, and was benched for top overall draft pick Jared Goff. In just three starts, Goff has produced minus-339 DYAR, worst in the league over that time, and already second-worst over the whole season ahead of (behind?) only Brock Osweiler's minus-411. As for this game, by DYAR it was the second-worst of the year, and the worst since Ryan Fitzpatrick's six-pick trick against Kansas City in Week 3. Against New England, only three of Goff's plays gained more than 10 DYAR, and two of those (a 66-yard pass to Kenny Britt on fourth-and-11, and then a 1-yard touchdown to Britt) came with the Rams losing by 23 points in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. He did not complete a pass for 10 yards or more until the Rams were down by 14 in the second quarter; that completion was a 10-yard gain on third-and-20. His next 10-plus-yard completion came early in the third; it was an 11-yard gain on third-and-15. Aside from the big play to Britt, which actually came on fourth down, Goff failed to convert a single third down, going 5-of-11 for 39 yards with an interception and a sack. He threw 14 passes that traveled more than 6 (SIX!!!) yards past the line of scrimmage, with one interception and only two completions -- Britt's 66-yarder, and a 17-yard gain to Brian Quick.


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.
Thomas Rawls SEA
15
106
2
1/1
12
0
60
53
7
CAR
In addition to his 45-yard touchdown run, Rawls had gains of 12, 12, and 13 yards, with six first downs, while getting hit for no gain or a loss four times.
2.
Devonta Freeman ATL
15
56
2
4/5
49
0
56
36
20
KC
Though he was hit for a loss twice, Freeman had a pair of goal-line touchdown runs, plus gains of 13 and 14 yards. He also had three first downs receiving, on gains of 12, 16, and 17 yards.
3.
LeSean McCoy BUF
17
130
0
7/7
61
0
49
24
25
OAK
Three of McCoy's catches went for first downs, including a 14-yard gain on third-and-10 and a 16-yard gain on third-and-15. He also had runs of 54 and 14 yards, while getting hit for no gain or a loss just twice.
4.
Melvin Gordon SD
17
84
1
4/6
54
0
48
27
21
TB
Gordon ran for five first downs against Tampa Bay, including gains of 11, 17, and 23 yards, while getting hit for a loss three times. He had three more first downs as a receiver, on gains of 11, 17, and 17 yards.
5.
Terrance West BAL
10
50
1
3/3
18
1
44
19
24
MIA
West's receptions included a 3-yard touchdown and a 10-yard gain on second-and-9. Only one of his runs went for no gain, while he ran for four first downs, including a 9-yard touchdown and a 15-yard gain on second-and-10.


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.
Thomas Rawls SEA
15
106
2
1/1
12
0
60
53
7
CAR
2.
Devonta Freeman ATL
15
56
2
4/5
49
0
56
36
20
KC
3.
Jay Ajayi MIA
12
61
0
6/7
26
0
17
34
-17
BAL
Ajayi had negative DYAR rushing before opponent adjustments. Ajayi is just the second player this year to average 4 or more yards on at least ten carries against Baltimore this season. He was hit for no gain or a loss five times, but had three runs of 10 yards or more, capped off by a 19-yarder. The only other player to get three 10-plus-yard runs against Baltimore this year: Ezekiel Elliott.
4.
Mike Gillislee BUF
8
49
2
0/0
0
0
33
33
0
OAK
Gillislee was hit for a loss just once. Meanwhile, he went 4-for-4 on short-yardage runs, including two touchdowns, and also had a 29-yard gain.
5.
Melvin Gordon SD
17
84
1
4/6
54
0
48
27
21
TB


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.
Theo Riddick DET
4
2
0
5/6
15
1
-24
-12
-12
NO
Riddick's runs included two 3-yard losses, one on first-and-10, one on third-and-1. His receptions included a 1-yard touchdown, but also a 1-yard gain on second-and-7 and a 7-yard gain on third-and-11.


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.
Andre Ellington ARI
5
5
0
1/2
10
0
-19
-24
6
WAS
Three of Ellington's carries lost yardage. The other two were a 2-yard gain on first-and-10 and an 8-yard gain on third-and-23.


Five Best Wide Receivers and Tight Ends by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
Dwayne Allen IND
4
4
72
18.0
3
61
NYJ
Allen had scored three touchdowns in his last 40 catches before scoring three times in four catches on Monday night.
2.
Julio Jones ATL
7
9
113
16.1
0
61
KC
Though Jones didn't score against the Chiefs, he had catches of 20, 20, and 21 yards, plus a 40-yard gain on a DPI.
3.
T.Y. Hilton IND
9
10
146
16.2
0
59
NYJ
Hilton's only incompletion came with the Colts up 31-3 late in the third quarter, and they made it 34-3 on the next snap. Eight of his completions went for third downs, including a pair of third-down conversions; the other was a 7-yard gain on second-and-9. His longest catches gainst 23, 24, and 34 yards.
4.
Jordy Nelson GB
8
10
118
14.8
1
54
HOU
Nelson's five first-half receptions gained a total of 37 yards. He didn't get a single target in the third quarter, but got three in the fourth, producing a 32-yard touchdown plus gains of 21 and 28 yards.
5.
Tyler Lockett SEA
5
6
63
12.6
0
51
CAR
Lockett's DYAR total includes 15 DYAR receiving, 36 DYAR rushing for his 75-yard touchdown on a jet sweep to start the second half. He also had a 40-yard reception, and a 9-yard gain on third-and-1.


Worst Wide Receiver or Tight End by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
Kelvin Benjamin CAR
2
9
18
9.0
0
-34
SEA
Though Benjamin's two catches both went for first downs, his four targets on third or fourth down all fell incomplete.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 05 Dec 2016

88 comments, Last at 07 Dec 2016, 12:28pm by JoeyHarringtonsPiano

Comments

1
by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 9:11am

Goff was pretty bad, but I have to say that the Rams D actaully played pretty well after the 1st Quarter.
Which leads me to the hot take of another reason the NFL is unfair: Why are mediocre and bad West Coast teams subjected to 1:00 pm starts when playing on the East Coast when good West coast teams (SEA) get the 4:00 pm window? Seattle also got a huge advantage a few weeks ago playing NE in a prime time game that ended around midnight and Pete Carroll had the nerve to say that the crowd was dead and the SEA crowd is never like that - probably because your team is alway playing at either 1:00 pm or 5:30 pm!!!

3
by Flounder :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 10:02am

Because higher profile games (i.e. games involving better teams) get the higher profile (and higher ratings) late afternoon time slot.

Life isn't fair.

15
by RoninX :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 12:18pm

Seattle has gotten prime time slots, but that 4:00 slot vs. Tampa Bay was their first east coast 4:00pm start in *years* (as far as I can tell, at least in the regular season).

18
by Joe Pancake :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 12:41pm

Also, the last three road playoff games for the Seahawks have started at 10:00 a.m. PST. I've found there typically isn't much merit to schedule complaints. It tends to even out in the end.

2
by BJR :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 9:48am

Always enjoy the Quick Reads column more when there are hilariously bad QB performances to read about. Good work.

On that note I'm surprised Ryan Fitzpatrick didn't manage to rack up more negative DYAR before he was benched. Those numbers appear very bad, even before factoring in the Colts' terrible defense.

11
by justanothersteve :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 11:53am

I don't recall a week with this many bad performances at QB. He had lots of competition who outplayed him negatively.

4
by af16 :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 10:23am

So the Ravens had a good offensive gameplan and Joe had a good game. I'm not saying he's ever going to be Peyton Manning, but I contend that Flacco has NEVER had a good offensive coordinator in Baltimore. Maybe Marty can be his first, who knows.

7
by jonnyblazin :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 10:51am

Gary Kubiak?

8
by af16 :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 11:11am

You're right, it was early when I posted that. 2014, the year Joe had his best season.

36
by theslothook :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 2:11pm

IS Flacco any better than Alex Smith when you think about it? They both fall into average but take two different paths to it

71
by LionInAZ :: Wed, 12/07/2016 - 12:59am

I don't think Flacco is very good, but at least he can throw the ball downfield.

5
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 10:36am

If Goff is going to dump off that many short passes, Jeff Fisher may have finally found himself his perfect QB.

6
by Tim R :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 10:42am

I really can't fathom how kroenke thinks Fisher's the right coach to develop the qb you just mortgaged the future on. I can't think of one offensive player thats improved in his time as HC.

12
by Winterguard78 :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 11:57am

Not to discourage making fun of Fisher/Kronke who are both cartoon level villans+incompetents, but Steve McNair/Eddie George/Frank Wycheck were all very good offensive skill players developed by teams Fisher was HC of. Granted, it was late 90's early 00's and I imagine guys on his offensive staff were more competent. He is the last coach I would in trust a #1 overall QB to.

14
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 12:17pm

He's subsequently had an opportunity to draft Vince Young #3 overall, get to Sam Bradford a year or two after he was drafted #1 overall, and now Goff at #1. He's had years of opportunities to build a staff capable of developing an offense around a young QB, and has never done so. He's effectively a living testament to the fact that certain owners (namely, Bud Adams and Stan Kroenke) couldn't care less about winning as long as they're getting paid.

It's a shame Fisher wasn't coaching back when Hugh Culverhouse owned the Bucs; no desire to win, bad drafting, not developing players . . . they'd have been a match made in extremely-mediocre heaven.

47
by Joe Pancake :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 3:10pm

The Rams have had so many high draft picks in the Fisher era, and with the exception of Aaron Donald they haven't really hit on any of them. Guys like Michael Brockers and Alec Ogletree are fine players, but they are hardly stars, and Tavon Austin is the type of player smart teams find in the middle and late rounds or as UDFAs, not as the 8th overall pick. (To be fair, that was a pretty bad draft.)

The verdict is still out on Goff, but given his start, it seems unlikely he is going to be a really good player next year, and so that's already two years gone of a four year contract. At this point, I doubt Goff pans out in L.A.

It really is a head-scratcher of an extension. What about this team makes you think "right path?"

72
by Tim R :: Wed, 12/07/2016 - 3:36am

The offense has gotten worse every year he's been in charge. And it wasn't exactly the GSOT to start with. Its baffling that he still has a job.

75
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 12/07/2016 - 7:48am

I remember the 2011 Rams offense....it defies comprehension that subsequent offense actually became worse. You would think at least a dead cat bounce effect happen and make them somewhat better in subsequent years.

87
by Tim R :: Wed, 12/07/2016 - 12:22pm

Its so frustrating. An offense with austin davis at qb was better than this. Thr brian schottenheimer offenses were better than this. How is that even possible

88
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 12/07/2016 - 12:28pm

That's a very good question. It would be like somebody deposing Hitler in 1943 and somehow making the Third Reich even more reprehensible that it already was.

9
by Winterguard78 :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 11:41am

The co-longest tenured Chief Dustin Colquitt (who was a 3rd round pick in 2005 along with 1st rounder ILB D.Johnson in Dick Vermeil's final year) isn't mentioned above, but I think he is one of the league's best punters. He doesn't have a monster leg, but his hang time is second to none and the spin be gets as a lefty causes more fumbles and muffs by opponents than any punter I can think of. I'm not an advanced enough mathlete to do the calculations, but I would love to see the data+comparisons on punters over the last decade.Of all the names that come up every year for coaching vacancies, you hardly ever hear Dave Toulb's who consistently fields a top 5 ST unit both here and in Chicago. I think he'd make a much better head coach than Doug Pedersen or Doug Marrone or any other Doug.

10
by Joe Pancake :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 11:48am

"Hekker is having the pest punting season..."

As a fellow Seahawks fan, I couldn't agree more. Hekker is a pest -- if he's not pulling off a fake punt to seal a victory, he's flipping field position in a game in which neither team can move the ball. He's so annoying!

On a different note, isn't it amazing that Sammy Baugh averaged over 45 yards-per-punt 75 years ago?! That's better than many punters today and better than *every* punter pre-2000. When you compare this to field goal kicking back then, it's even more remarkable.

13
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 12:11pm

Baugh quick-kicked a lot.
http://mmqb.si.com/2013/11/14/sammy-baugh-1943

If you want to get a sense of a modern guy who was similar, though, it's Cunningham.
http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/C/CunnRa00.htm#kicking::no...

Randall has the 3rd-longest punt in NFL history.
http://www.pro-football-reference.com/leaders/punt_long_single_season.ht...

Both he and Baugh have two punts of 80+ yards.

30
by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 1:42pm

Yeah, you are probably going to have a better average when there is no punt returner back there a lot of the time since the punter is one of the greatest QBs in history.

52
by SandyRiver :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 4:20pm

If memory serves, Cunningham's punt was all net, from his own 1 to the NY 8, in Q4 of a close game. He was not their usual punter at that time, but was chosen perhaps because it had to come from the tight-punt formation and he might better escape if a rusher broke thru.

61
by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 5:13pm

Cunningham punted 145 times for a 45.2 yard average in college so I think he knew what he was doing putting foot to ball.

64
by SandyRiver :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 6:01pm

Absolutely. However, in 1989 he had 6 of Philly's 87 punts during the regular season, the rest by people for which I had no memory. Cunningham's gross average was 53.2 (45.6 w/o the monster) while the other 3 averaged about 38.

24
by PatsFan :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 1:13pm

In one of the press conferences during game week Belichick went on at length about Hekker.

16
by xMRNUTTYx :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 12:21pm

*WARNING, WEIRD-ASS FANTASY LEAGUE DISCUSSION*

For the last 8 seasons, I've run a IDP/special teams-only fantasy league. Included amongst 13 defensive players, kicker, and a RB/WR position that only gets points for kick returns, we have punters. Punting scoring is based on is based on number of punts, net average, inside the 20, and inside the 10. As a general rule, the Top 10 scorers in the league usually contains 1-3 punters. I didn't start keeping track of top scorers per position until 2011, but Hekker's season is on pace to be one of the highest scoring for a punter ever in our league. At his current pace, he'd score 312 points (19.5 per game), which would put him third. Both first and second place on that list were punters in 2012: Dave Zastudil put up 349, and Dustin Colquitt (mentioned above!) dropped 322.5. Zastudil's record is probably out of reach for Hekker to beat, but Colquitt is in sight.

Frankly, this makes me proud. As the designer of the scoring system, it's been shockingly accurate in predicting things like DPOY and even the rise of young players. JJ Watt's rookie season put a lot of us on notice for his breakout season, particularly in how- at his position- he was getting a lot of points for pass defenses. And punter stats usually fall right in line with who you generally think of as the best in the league.

21
by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 1:08pm

please post scoring sysyetm. would geuiniely like to see it.

as for my tema clinch playoffs last week. was 10-2. now 10-3. one more regular season week to go, then playofolfs.

was top seed in borth my leagues 2015. won championship game in both. hope for same this season.

26
by xMRNUTTYx :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 1:28pm

http://games.espn.com/ffl/leaguesetup/settings?leagueId=211717

The emphasis on big-play scoring is by design so that players who seem to do that more often then others (hey, Eric Berry!) are generally more valuable. It's also a bit of a crapshoot. In the league, if your CB has a pick six, it's the equivalent of a RB with 4 TDs and 150 yards in a standard league. Shit happens, y'know? The inspiration for the league in general were the 2005-2007 Bears who won a lot of games due to defense and special teams. Scoring TDs for your team as a defender is kind of the ultimate expression of the league.

The insane point value for safeties is just my way of throwing a randomness into the game. We've seen it influence championships. When I do my end-of-year analysis, I note which players have had the safety bonus. Interestingly enough, we don't see a correlation between safeties and what you generally consider the best defensive players in the league. That's probably due to the general rarity of the situation and the number of defenders on the field. But it adds an element to watching score tickers on Sunday. Anytime you see a score tick up by 2, you're pulling up the ESPN app to see if anyone benefited.

81
by ChicagoRaider :: Wed, 12/07/2016 - 10:40am

Am I the only one that finds the idea of playing fantasy football against Raiderfoe terrifying?

17
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 12:38pm

Something happened with the punting stats in about 2007 ... pretty much no-one ever managed to get net avg of above 40yds before that and suddenly Shane Lechler, Andy Lee, Donnie Jones were doing. Now it's the standard and over half the league can achieve it.

One of the huge factors of being a statistically good punter is having a crap offense. Ten years ago, Shane Lechler was grossing 50+ yds per kick and netting almost 45 - the ArtShell B&B offense working to perfection for him. Likewise Lee in the terrible 49ers years and low behold another Rams punter. To gross high avg's your offense has to regularly fail to reach midfield and then punter skill to avoid touchbacks.

I'm still not sure what happened with punting circa 2007 because the grosses and nets started to inflate. Part of it was players like Darren Bennett introducing the "Aussie rules" punts that led to few touchbacks but I'm sure there was something else.

For a long time Brian Moorman was one of the league's best punting in the wintry, blowy conditions of Buffalo. I watched Jeff Feagles punting at Wembley in almost his twentieth year and aiming for the out of bounds kick inside the twenty.

Punting was always a part of the game that fascinated me for no obvious reason!

22
by Eddo :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 1:10pm

"One of the huge factors of being a statistically good punter is having a crap offense. Ten years ago, Shane Lechler was grossing 50+ yds per kick and netting almost 45 - the ArtShell B&B offense working to perfection for him. Likewise Lee in the terrible 49ers years and low behold another Rams punter. To gross high avg's your offense has to regularly fail to reach midfield and then punter skill to avoid touchbacks."

This is really interesting.

We often see offenses or defenses look weird in DVOA because of field position provided by one of the other facets of the game, but how does that affect punting, in particular?

Hekker, on a team with a bad offense, will often be punting from farther back than King. Therefore, Hekker has more available value available (a punt from your own 20 to the opponents' 10 will gain more value than one from your own 40 to the opponents' 10, based on my understanding).

It would therefore be interesting to see the punting figures adjusted for value available (i.e. the sum of (expected points after punt - expected points before punt) / (expected points of opponent at their own 1 - expected points before punt)). I suspect Hekker still rates at the top, because he's so far ahead of King, but it would be an interesting thing to look at.

32
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 2:01pm

Yep, it's a lot harder for a punter kicking from their own 25 to screw up with touchbacks than one punting from their own 45. I'd guess punt stats this year may be marginally effected with offense receiving touchbacks at their 25 instead of 20.

The NFL situational stats breakdown for punters is sadly lacking with it categorising as own 0-20yd, own 21-midfield, opponent 49-20, opponents 19-1 based on where they punt from. Obviously the last category never shows up.

Nonetheless I'd assume DVOA is perfect for comparing punters based on where they punt from with a yard by yard line breakdown.

34
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 2:08pm

So using the NFL crappy situationals ...

Hekker is:
Own 01-20 - 18punts / 57.6 / 53.6
Own 21-50 - 41punts / 46.6 / 45.9
Opp 49-20 - 13punts / 36.2 / 34.7

King is:
Own 01-20 - 2punts / 54.5 / 54.5
Own 21-50 - 45punts / 50.7 / 44.0
Opp 49-20 - 10punts / 35.9 / 33.9

It's a real shame they don't have more granularity between the 21-50 because Hekker sort of looks better in there on net but on gross King is way ahead.

19
by BroncFan07 :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 12:50pm

Not sure what to make of Paxton Lynch yet, and I realize it's only been 2.5 games. But he hasn't shown much accuracy, and he had one particular play at midfield where they ran a play action boot to the left. He had all day to set up and throw, but instead chucked it off his back foot and put air under it, so Emmanuel Sanders had to stop near the 5 yard line and let 2 defenders catch up and knock it away. If Lynch sets and throws it in the end zone, it' a great chance for a TD.

67
by Hang50 :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 6:08pm

Agreed. When Siemian first started, I saw some decent passes mixed with the dross. He still throws behind his receivers, and makes some real head-scratching mistakes, but you can at least argue that he's shown some promise.

I just haven't seen similar promise in Lynch. He looks like a lesser Osweiler, though Brock got several red shirt seasons so the comparison isn't quite fair. I remember not seeing anything really outstanding in his college tapes, at least when it came to situations he'd see in the NFL (tight windows, fast blitzes), but I don't pretend I'm a scout and figured someone smarter than me saw promise that I didn't. (Note of caution when I play scout: I thought Ryan Mallett would be a fine NFL QB based on his tape. Just goes to show...)

So I wonder how Denver will address the situation in the off-season: work on the offensive line under the theory that a good line makes a good QB (and RB) or draft new ball carriers. (Note 2: I detest the phrase "skill position" with a passion. They get to carry the ball, regardless of "skill." Want to see skill, watch Earl Thomas or Chris Harris or ...)

68
by Grendel13G :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 10:48pm

I think "lesser Osweiler" nails it. And that's not good.

20
by Travis :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 1:01pm

Kaepernick finished with minus-22 net yards passing, which is actually not a record -- we can't say for sure what the record is, but we do know that in the season opener in 2000, Troy Aikman (of all people) went 0-for-5 with four sacks and 30 yards lost.

Worst net pass yards, 1970-2016:
Parnell Dickinson, Bucs, 10/4/1976 vs. Colts: -46 [1/5, 12 yards, int; 6 sacks for -58]
Mike Loyd, Cardinals, 12/21/1980 vs. Redskins: -44 [0/9; 6-(-44)]
Mike Boryla, Bucs, 9/9/1978 vs. Lions: -42 [2/5, 15; 4-(-57)]
Ken Anderson, Bengals, 10/31/1971 vs. Oilers: -38 [4/13, 11, int; 6-(-49)]
Randy Hedberg, Bucs, 10/9/1977 vs. Redskins: -33 [0/2; 3-(-33)]
Frank Ryan, Redskins, 11/22/1970 vs. Cowboys: -32 [1/4, 3; 4-(-35)]
Jim Zorn, Rams, 11/4/1979 vs. Seahawks: -30 [2/17, 25; 6-(-55)]
Troy Aikman, Cowboys, 9/3/2000 vs. Eagles: -30 [0/5; 4-(-30)]

Special pre-1970 bonus: Steve Tensi, Broncos, 9/10/1967 vs. Raiders: -33 [2/12, 17, int; 5-(-50)]

Note that sacks were an official category for passers from 1961 on, even if they weren't an official category for defensive players until 1982.

23
by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 1:11pm

should ahev teams flip flopped for rams bs seahawks 1979 game so that it appears Zorn played for seahawks. Los Angeles total destruction of sehahwks in that one. seattle had one first down

25
by Travis :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 1:20pm

Yup, my mistake.

Bonus Jim Zorn note: In back-to-back starts in 1983, Zorn put up a 2 against the Raiders and a -13 against the Steelers. He was benched at halftime of the Steelers game and never started for the Seahawks again.

27
by LyleNM :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 1:31pm

I watched that whole game. I couldn't explain why. It was sort of like watching a slow-developing 80 car pileup. "Oh, look, here come the next 3 cars. Yep they didn't stop in time either."

But this wasn't Ryan Lindley or any Cleveland or NY Jets QB of the last decade, it was Jim Zorn and a usually competent offense that completely failed to do anything of value. Can't blame weather either as it was in the cozy confines of the Kingdome.

31
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 1:53pm

Being only my first full year of watching football, I never appreciated at the time just how good the Bears defense in Super Bowl XX was. Wasn't it something like -21yds at halftime.

Just looking at the play-by-play it appears that Eason's statline was -28 on 3 sacks to go with that 0 of 7 performance.

40
by SandyRiver :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 2:24pm

Plus a fumble on one of the sacks. IMO, that was the most one-sided of any SB, not by score differential, but by ability (on that day) differential.

41
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 2:31pm

I don't know much about the rest of the league in 1985, but was there any team in the AFC that would have had a prayer against the Bears? (I know the Dolphins gave them their only loss that season).

44
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 2:50pm

Raiders won the West 12-4 and lost 27-20 in the divisional to the Pats. There was no scoring in the 4Q. Marcus Allen was the league's leading rusher. After the game, Matt Millen got involved in a fight with Patrick Sullivan - Pats GM(?), son's owner. They'd probably have given the Bears an interesting matchup if only because their defense hit QBs just as hard.

The Dolphins were obviously defending AFC champions so that would have been the best matchup. Don't know what the story of the AFC Championship loss to the Pats was other than it was in the Orange Bowl.

IIRC that was the year the Browns won the AFC Central at 8-8. Schottenheimer beginning to work his magic.

The Patriots were one wildcard, I can't remember the other - probably either the Broncos, Seahawks or Jets.

50
by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 4:10pm

dollphins or Raiders maybe could have beat bears. nobody else. dolphins did win reg season but of course game was in Miami back when they had more fans and meaner stadium (now playh in antiseptic one) and was Monday night affair with no j. McMahon.

Raiders klost to Beras 17-6 in chicagho 1984 season. some consider it hardest hitting game ever or at least in modern era (I clal modern era 1950 forward when single platoon era stratted). If 1984 Raiders lose 17-6 to 1984 bears, what could have happned in 1985 at neutral site. we will never know. tough to say,. can only pretend

82
by ChicagoRaider :: Wed, 12/07/2016 - 10:44am

Was that the one where McMahon got a lacerated kidney, and Marc Wilson a broken thumb? One wonders if any quarterbacks would have lived in a Super Bowl.

84
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Wed, 12/07/2016 - 10:54am

That was the one. Story retold here ... http://deadspin.com/what-it-was-like-to-play-in-the-most-violent-nfl-gam...

Including a bit of game footage.

51
by SandyRiver :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 4:13pm

As bad as they were crushed, the Pats were the only team to score on the Bears during the PS that year. Of course, 3 points were a gift from Sweetness, whose first-play fumble gave NE the ball inside the Bears' 15. The TD came in garbage time with the score 44-3.

56
by theslothook :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 4:32pm

A fun convo. Most people consider the 85 bears as the best team of all time. The best team I ever saw was 07 pats. What might have happened if the two clashed.

60
by LyleNM :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 5:00pm

The path to defeating the 07 Patriots required getting consistent pressure with just 4 pass rushers (as the Giants were able to do). I have very little doubt that the 85 Bears could accomplish that.

The path to defeating the 85 Bears required a gunslinger and a means to remove McMahon from the field of play. The 07 Patriots surely had the former and any fairly strong gust of wind could have provided the latter.

It might indeed have been an interesting matchup.

62
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 5:14pm

The mid-80s Bears had some wild stat to the effect that they'd won 70+ consecutive games when they'd kept their opponents under 17 points.

The strength of their defense was putting 7 men on the line of scrimmage and then rushing some of them. Offenses never knew who was coming. Having all those defenders there made running the ball almost impossible.

For about three years (84-86) the Bears defense was the toughest thing in football and the 86 team went 14-2 but failed to repeat in large part due to McMahon being injured on a *late* hit (throwdown) by Charles Martin of the Packers.

As Miami showed in the one loss, the 46 defense could be defeated by quick slants and I think they also had Marino rolling out which was a surprise give he was immobile. At least one of Miami's TDs in being 24-0 up at halftime was some kind of flukey tipped catch.

From the Pats perspective, I don't think Buddy Ryan would have been flexible enough to move away from stacking the box so the Patriots might have been able to get the ball out quick to receivers in man coverage. Belichick is obviously the master at exploiting mismatches but a lot of the WR bubble screens and defensive pick plays came after 2007 IIRC.

That said, Rex Ryan's teams have often proved difficult for the Patriots to beat and he uses many of his dad's ideas.

63
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 5:50pm

It might come down to which era's penalty rules you use.

42
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 2:34pm

Either that one, or the post-1994 49ers-Chargers Super Bowl, which was a similar nuclear-level butt-kicking, just with the SF offense being the utterly dominant side as opposed to the defense for Chicago. That SF team was just ridiculous on the offensive side of the ball.

43
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 2:45pm

The Broncos-49ers in XXIV was an ass-kicking.

And the Cowboys-Bills 52-17 game had 8 turnovers and would have been 59-17 if not for Lett's showboating.

I'd say the other blowouts of that era weren't as bad.

45
by theslothook :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 2:51pm

The seahawks beat down was a true beatdown, but the bludgeoning was a bit overstated given that the broncos could muster drives against them, but kept turning the ball over which kept the offensive point totals lower than they could have been.

Make no mistake though - Denver was a weaker, more injured, more one dimensional team than Seattle was. If they were going to win that game, Manning would have to be god. He was not god and the Seahawks defense made every qb they faced look awful.

66
by Jim C. :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 6:08pm

Special mention for the 2nd quarter of the Redskins-Broncos SB following the 1987 season. The Skins crammed an immense amount of beat-down into 15 minutes of football.

69
by Grendel13G :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 11:08pm

Ah yes, three different Broncos Super Bowl losses mentioned in consecutive posts.

The post-'89 Super Bowl (49ers 55, Broncos 10) was a colossal talent mismatch. Maybe not quite as bad as '85 Bears-Pats or '94 49ers-Chargers, but it's in the discussion. 49ers were favored by 12.

The post-'13 Super Bowl (Seahawks 43, Broncos 8) was the perfect mix of a great team playing its absolute best against a slightly-less great team (Broncos were favored by 1, which was stupid) playing its absolute worst.

The post-'87 Super Bowl (Washington 42, Broncos 10) deserves special mention for the ungodly 35-point 2nd quarter shellacking the Washington team unleashed, but the Broncos were actually favored by 3 and led 10-0 at the end of the first quarter.

I would like to apologize on behalf of the people of Colorado for foisting these Super Bowls on the world.

73
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Wed, 12/07/2016 - 4:19am

The Quarter is my other underappreciated thing of being new to football in the 80s. I didn't realise how exceptional that was.

But at the end of the 1Q Denver looked like they were going to be in charge. Leading 10-0 and Doug Williams out with a hyperextended knee to be replaced by Jay Schroeder taking a sack.

Here's one of my favourite videos of it all ... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zxsuttd8wtQ

76
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 12/07/2016 - 7:49am

That video is worth a watch for the nostalgic 80's music alone.

85
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Wed, 12/07/2016 - 10:56am

And Joe Gibbs' jumper.

77
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 12/07/2016 - 7:52am

1989 was the ultimate year of NFC-AFC unbalance. The Broncos were the only AFC team to even get double-digit wins. DVOA seems to think Cleveland would have given the 49ers a better game, but they lost by three scores in the AFC Championship game!

83
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Wed, 12/07/2016 - 10:52am

I think what's often forgotten when we talk about how the AFC used to get blown out is that often the NFC SB winner outclassed the rest of the NFC. In 1989, the 49ers hammered the Vikings 41-13 in the divisionals and the Rams 30-3 in the Championship game.

Likewise the XX Bears posted shutouts in their NFC playoff games so in some ways New England weren't that much more inept.

It's just that the NFC was a bunfight between the 49ers, Bears, Giants and Redskins every year.

28
by Perfundle :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 1:32pm

You've got Newton down for an interception against Seattle, but it was actually Derek Anderson who threw it.

54
by Wikitorix :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 4:24pm

Meh, I'd credit Newton with a tie for that interception.

59
by Perfundle :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 4:52pm

I saw someone suggest that Newton should've opened his press conference with "I didn't know there were ties in the NFL."

65
by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 6:03pm

That's my fault. We're still putting things together from the change in NFL feeds and the new parser didn't mark a "No Play" on an interception nullified by offsetting penalties.

29
by ibrosey :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 1:40pm

The conversation in here regarding the IDP Defense league is a great example of why I dig FO. You guys love squeezing the value out of stats (fabulous obsession) like some people love wine or opera.

Thanks!

35
by xMRNUTTYx :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 2:10pm

Thanks!

One of the more interesting aspects of the league is how much it makes you care more about football in general. Standard fantasy is considered a major contributor to the success of the NFL in the last two decades, but as Quick Reads reminds us weekly, good fantasy stats don't always equate to actual good performance. And frankly, people who can yammer on about fantasy plays are often pretty dumb about the actual sport.

I don't know if my league is much better but we made adjustments to scoring over the years that gives pretty good impressions of how good defenders are. [CB is a major exception. The great shut-down corners (think Revis in his prime) were actually terrible players in the league because no one threw at them.] And following IDPs and punters makes you pay attention to more overall aspects. I like to think this league has made me a smarter football fan.

Another example: Reshad Jones.

He was our league MVP last year (third in total points behind Lavonte David and... Johnny Hekker!) but to do that while playing safety (without a safety!) is really hard. His scoring showed overall solid play, week-in-week-out, with high tackle numbers, good pass defense, and big plays (2 pick-sixes). What did FO think of his 2015?

http://www.footballoutsiders.com/player/24398/reshad-jones

Pretty damn good!

33
by ChrisS :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 2:07pm

This week the top three QB's are all young-ish guys with good reputations who have all been struggling this year . Thru week 12 they had DYAR of about 300 (Dalton), 100 (Luck) and -350 (Flacco, surprised he is so suck). Perhaps they are turning a corner, or perhaps coincidence. Brees was awful for most of the game for the Saints, 34 yards at half time. The Lions DB's are playing better and the Saints did not focus on exploiting the horrible pass coverage of the LB's.

39
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 2:15pm

"the Saints did not focus on exploiting the horrible pass coverage of the LB's."

I was surprised by that, too. Mark Ingram being hobbled, and having a mediocre tight end (Coby Fleener) probably had a lot to do with that.

46
by Kurt :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 3:02pm

Calling Flacco "young-ish" is a bit of a stretch; he turns 32 next month.

55
by ChrisS :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 4:24pm

Mid-Career?

37
by theslothook :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 2:13pm

I felt bad watching Revis in full decline. The drop off has been so dramatic too that I wonder if he's even capable of resurrecting his career as a safety.

38
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 2:14pm

[posted in wrong place]

48
by Bobman :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 3:20pm

So help me out here... three Colts appear prominently displayed above on a night that Luck was sacked just once. I missed the first quarter but saw the rest. There were a lot of Jets around him in the backfield but didn't look like too many QB hits. The line actually looked pretty competent. So to what degree are Luck's, Allen's, and Hilton's accolades here attributable to the OL?

Actually, in light of the Jets' studly DL, that OL performance was maybe deserving of its own QR column! Anyway, nice to know the skill guys can do their jobs when given a chance. The Colts receivers had been second in drops this season... maybe no longer.

79
by BJR :: Wed, 12/07/2016 - 8:10am

The Jets are ranked dead last in adjusted sack rate, and that includes a week 1 effort during which they sacked Andy Dalton 6 times. They have some excellent run-stuffers on the DL for sure, but have no specialist pass-rushing talent whatsoever. So I'd say, be guarded in your enthusiasm.

86
by jonsilver :: Wed, 12/07/2016 - 11:14am

"Jets' studly DL" a mirage after game 1 (7 [not 6] sacks vs. Bengals)...Wilkerson, either due to "I got paid" syndrome or because his leg is not recovered from last year's end-of-season fracture, is not anything near what he was, and Richardson is having a bad year...Harrison is gone to the Giants...Williams is the only one playing worth a darn...

49
by greybeard :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 3:25pm

I am curios how Kelce did not make it to top 5.

53
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 4:23pm

He was 7th, and Albert Wilson was 6th, so two Chiefs just missed. Kelce (who caught all eight of his targets for 140 yards had two catches that were worth negative DYAR: a 5-yard gain on first-and-10 and a 3-yard gain on third-and-12. Take out one or both of those plays and he probably makes the top 5.

57
by greybeard :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 4:46pm

Thanks Vincent.

58
by greybeard :: Tue, 12/06/2016 - 4:46pm

Thanks Vincent.

70
by herewegobrownie... :: Wed, 12/07/2016 - 12:19am

There were 9 QBs (even if it's a "counting stat," as noted re: Kaep) worse than Fitzy, who put up those numbers against the bottom-DVOA Colts defense?

74
by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 12/07/2016 - 5:26am

... yes.

78
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 12/07/2016 - 7:53am

Apparently it was a special week for bad QB play.

80
by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 12/07/2016 - 10:27am

If you "add" together Fitz and Petty, they're #31, like Crappy Jets QB Voltron. Still better than Goff, sadly enough.