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» Scramble for the Ball: With All the Fixings

An idiot's (two idiots'?) guide to Thanksgiving football, prepped and primed for the monsters-in-law who only watch these three games in a year.

26 Dec 2016

Week 16 Quick Reads

by Vincent Verhei

Only ten pass plays in all of 2016 have gained 80 yards or more, and three of them came in Week 16. The longest of those was an 86-yarder from Andy Dalton to Brandon LaFell in the fourth quarter of Cincinnati's loss to Houston. There were also a pair of 80-yard plays: Carson Palmer to J.J. Nelson in the second quarter of Arizona's win over Seattle, and Alex Smith to Travis Kelce in the first quarter of Kansas City's Christmas Day win over Denver. There was also a 71-yard passing play this week, from Sam Bradford to Adam Thielen in the second quarter of Minnesota's loss to Green Bay.

Four plays, 317 total yards gained. Must have been a bunch of deep-ball passes out of seven-step drops, right? Well, wrong. Palmer's pass to Nelson was caught 46 yards past the line of scrimmage, with 36 yards after the catch. Bradford's big play was also caught deep downfield, gaining almost as many yards through the air (33) as after the catch (38). LaFell's catch, though, was caught only 5 yards downfield, while Kelce's ball was actually caught right at the line of scrimmage.

Going down the list of explosive completions this week, we continue to find a mix of dumpoffs, bombs, and everything in between:

  • DeSean Jackson: 15 yards in the air, 42 YAC, 57 total.
  • DeVante Parker: 4 yards in the air, 52 YAC, 56 total.
  • Sammy Watkins: 49 yards in the air, 4 YAC, 53 total.
  • Travis Benjamin: 45 yards in the air, 5 YAC, 50 total.
  • Jordy Nelson: 22 yards in the air, 26 YAC, 48 total.

When you think about it, it's kind of silly to just bundle all these together and put them in a bin called "passing plays." Obviously, the less distance a pass travels down the field, the more likely it is to be completed, but the more reliant it is upon the receiver to gain yards on the ground. Deeper passes, meanwhile, are reliant on a quarterback's arm strength and accuracy to get to the right place at the right time, and any yards they produce after that point are just icing on the cake. This is an oversimplification, of course -- an accurate quarterback will give his receivers more opportunities to make big plays out of short routes than one who is constantly throwing behind his guys, while receivers like Mike Evans can help their quarterbacks by winning 50-50 jump balls downfield. Regardless, we can probably learn something about quarterbacks by analyzing their throws at various distances rather than lumping all their passes together.

So… let's try to learn something about quarterbacks by analyzing their throws at various distances. The following tables show the passing stats for each of the 34 quarterbacks this year with at least 200 pass plays. (This list is unlikely to grow -- Josh McCown and Blaine Gabbert are next in line with 186 and 175 pass plays respectively, but both have been healthy scratches as of late.) I then checked the DVOA for each quarterback in each of the following ranges:

  • Short: Passes thrown to receivers within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage.
  • Medium: Passes thrown to receivers 6 to 15 yards downfield.
  • Deep: Passes thrown to receivers 16 to 25 yards downfield.
  • Bomb: Passes thrown to receivers 26-plus yards downfield.

For this essay, we are looking only at completions, incompletions, interceptions, defensive pass interference calls, and incomplete laterals -- in other words, plays where quarterbacks actually attempted to throw to someone. No scrambles, sacks, aborted snaps, or other weirdness. For that reason, the DVOAs in these tables will be somewhat inflated, because we are comparing each pass at each distance to all passing plays -- including those sacks and aborted snaps.

Without any further ado, here are the best and worst passers this year when it comes to short-range throws:


Best and Worst Short Passers, 2016
Best
Worst
Name Team DVOA Passes Name Team DVOA Passes
2-M.Ryan ATL 39.8% 243 16-J.Goff LARM -38.4% 102
4-D.Prescott DAL 28.0% 183 12-M.Barkley CHI -33.9% 71
2-B.Hoyer CHI 27.5% 101 1-C.Newton CAR -33.1% 157
3-C.Palmer ARI 16.6% 238 13-T.Siemian DEN -28.4% 202
9-D.Brees NO 16.5% 350 17-B.Osweiler HOU -22.9% 226
Passes thrown within 5 yards of line of scrimmage. Minimum 200 total passes.

These plays include things like screen and swing passes to receivers behind the line of scrimmage, as well as very quick curl and slant routes. They are almost entirely reliant on the receiver making plays with the ball in his hands to gain significant yardage.

In Matt Ryan's case, the primary receiver on those routes has been Devonta Freeman (51 targets), though Tevin Coleman, Julio Jones, and Mohamed Sanu have each seen 30-plus targets at this range. This is one of the reasons Atlanta's offense has been so successful this year -- they have multiple weapons who can make a big play out of nothing.

Dak Prescott's top targets on short passes have been Jason Witten, Cole Beasley, and Ezekiel Elliott; Carson Palmer has leaned on David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald. On the other hand, Brian Hoyer (five players with 11 to 21 targets) and Drew Brees (six with 34 to 58) have spread the ball around more. With the notable exception of Prescott, the best quarterbacks at this range are all in their 30s, which suggests that success here is largely based on having the experience to know when to throw short -- and when not to.

Jared Goff's numbers are based on only 201 pass plays in six starts and are going to be a little hinky, but it's surprising to see that his top receivers on short throws have been Lance Kendricks and Kenny Britt, not Tavon Austin and Todd Gurley. Matt Barkley's presence here is a surprise, considering the success his teammate Hoyer had on similar short throws. Perhaps it's because Barkley focused so much on Cameron Meredith (21 targets) and Jordan Howard (18) and didn't look for other options. On the other hand, Cam Newton had seven players between 12 and 28 targets, and it didn't do him any good. Trevor Siemian and Brock Osweiler bring up the rear, showing again that young quarterbacks seem to struggle here -- and that the 2015 Broncos won the Super Bowl with some really bad quarterbacks on their roster.

And now, the medium passers.



Best and Worst Medium Passers, 2016
Best
Worst
Name Team DVOA Passes Name Team DVOA Passes
12-T.Brady NE 88.3% 104 16-J.Goff LARM -70.0% 61
9-D.Brees NO 65.0% 172 14-R.Fitzpatrick NYJ -44.4% 122
17-P.Rivers SD 56.1% 171 17-C.Keenum LARM -7.3% 93
8-K.Cousins WAS 52.6% 170 7-C.Kaepernick SF 8.2% 113
8-M.Mariota TEN 52.6% 177 10-E.Manning NYG 11.0% 173
Passes thrown 6 to 15 yards past line of scrimmage. Minimum 200 total passes.

At this distance we're looking at things like crossing routes, ins, and some shorter curls. These are more difficult for a quarterback to complete, but often still give a receiver a chance to get some yards after the catch.

And on that note, Julian Edelman has been a big reason Tom Brady has been so successful at this distance, with twice as many targets at this range as any other Patriots player. Drew Brees has gotten big results by throwing to Brandin Cooks, Michael Thomas, and Willie Snead. Philip Rivers has often targeted Antonio Gates here, but also Dontrelle Inman and Tyrell Williams. You can probably guess Kirk Cousins' top targets: Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson, and Jordan Reed. And this is the range in which Marcus Mariota excels, throwing to Rishard Mathews, Tajae Sharpe, and Delanie Walker.

The Rams' Jared Goff shows up in last place again -- though Case Keenum's struggles at the same distance indicate that the troubles in Los Angeles go beyond the quarterback. Like Keenum, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Colin Kaepernick have spent parts of 2016 on the bench, so no shock to see their names on this list. But Eli Manning? What's he doing here? Perhaps the problem is that he has been forcing the ball to his favorite receiver -- Odell Beckham has 60 targets at this range, 12 more than any other Giants receiver.

As for the deep routes…


Best and Worst Deep Passers, 2016
Best
Worst
Name Team DVOA Passes Name Team DVOA Passes
12-T.Brady NE 171.7% 44 17-B.Osweiler HOU -51.6% 51
4-D.Carr OAK 145.0% 54 5-J.Flacco BAL -10.9% 56
17-R.Tannehill MIA 139.4% 30 5-B.Bortles JAC 4.8% 80
6-C.Kessler CLE 126.0% 22 10-E.Manning NYG 9.2% 58
8-S.Bradford MIN 118.1% 50 17-P.Rivers SD 15.8% 70
Passes thrown 16 to 25 yards past line of scrimmage. Minimum 200 total passes.

Now we're moving deep into the defensive backfield. These are the deep outs and seam routes that test the limits of secondaries. In some cases they require more arm strength than even long bombs, because throws must hit receivers in tight windows in the defense that usually don't stay open for long.

And this, in turn, suggests that Brady's arm strength is just fine at age 39. And it's not just because Rob Gronkowski was making big catches downfield before he got hurt -- Edelman has actually been Brady's most frequent target at this distance. Derek Carr got the Raiders into the playoffs in large part by throwing deep balls to Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree -- we'll see if Matt McGloin can have similar success. Ryan Tannehill, like Carr, was at his best on deep passes -- and like Carr, he will be watching the playoffs from the sidelines (or will he?). Sam Bradford's name here is unexpected, considering that Minnesota's sorry offensive line would theoretically give him few chances to make plays downfield. As for Cody Kessler, he is listed here mainly due to Terrelle Pryor, who was the target on 11 of Kessler's 30 deep passes.

When you look at the names on the right side of this table, you find some of the NFL's most overpaid players. Joe Flacco, in particular, was given $44 million guaranteed mainly because his strong arm was supposed to deliver big results downfield. Philip Rivers and Eli Manning were once traded for each other, and both have had their arm strength questioned in recent years. As for Brock Osweiler and Blake Bortles, well, who knows if either will be starting in 2017.

We'll close out with the home run hitters.


Best and Worst Bomb Passers, 2016
Best
Worst
Name Team DVOA Passes Name Team DVOA Passes
2-M.Ryan ATL 192.3% 34 12-M.Barkley CHI -42.3% 18
8-K.Cousins MIA 172.0% 42 2-B.Hoyer CHI -36.8% 11
12-A.Luck IND 161.5% 37 16-J.Goff LARM -35.6% 8
14-A.Dalton CIN 153.8% 33 5-B.Bortles JAC -33.7% 35
9-M.Stafford DET 135.5% 31 11-C.Wentz PHI -29.3% 28
Passes thrown 25-plus yards past line of scrimmage. Minimum 200 total passes.

Now we're talking the highlight patterns -- corner, fly, and post routes designed to flip field position in an instant.

So, in conclusion, Ryan has been at his best throwing very short and very long. (He was eighth in medium throws and sixth in long passes, so he's good at those too.) Ryan has had some big games without Julio Jones this year, but not many big catches -- Jones has been the target on 17 of Ryan's 34 bomb passes. It's a similar story for Kirk Cousins (DeSean Jackson has been the target on 21 of 42 bombs) and Andy Dalton (A.J. Green 16 of 33). Andrew Luck and Matthew Stafford, though, have split the bulk of their bombs between two players each: T.Y. Hilton (15) and Phillip Dorsett (14) in Indianapolis, Marvin Jones (13) and Golden Tate (12) in Detroit.

We opened this analysis noting the difference between Hoyer and Barkley, but they did have one thing in common: miserable results on home-run balls. The first order of business in Chicago is figuring out who is going to play quarterback next year, but the next item on the to-do list might be finding a reliable downfield threat. We shouldn't put too much stock in Goff's numbers, especially here, where he has thrown only eight bomb passes all year. (Ben Roethlisberger threw nine in one game against Week 9 against Baltimore.) Bortles is, well, Bortles, while the inability to connect on home-run balls is the biggest hole in Carson Wentz's game.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
1.
Aaron Rodgers GB
28/38
347
4
0
4
175
163
13
MIN
Using the terminology defined in this essay, Rodgers didn't do much on short passes, but excelled at medium, deep, and bomb throws: 14-of-21 for 283 yards and three touchdowns.
2.
Tyrod Taylor BUF
26/39
329
3
0
2
156
157
-1
MIA
Taylor was best against Miami when throwing to his right: 16-of-21 for 245 yards and three touchdowns.
3.
Dak Prescott DAL
15/20
212
3
0
1
151
145
6
DET
Third downs: 3-of-5 for 51 yards with three conversions, including touchdowns of 25 and 21 yards.
4.
Drew Brees NO
23/34
299
1
0
2
140
143
-3
TB
Brees struggled at either end of the field, but was lights-out between the 20s: 18-of-24 for 273 yards and 14 first downs, with a 12-yard DPI and one sack.
5.
Alex Smith KC
25/36
244
1
1
0
134
103
30
DEN
Smith only threw three passes that traveled 10 or more yards downfield. None were caught; one was intercepted. His receivers produced a league-high 183 yards after the catch this week, exactly 75 percent of his overall total.
6.
Russell Wilson SEA
29/45
350
4
0
6
128
134
-7
ARI
Wilson is just the tenth quarterback since 1950 to throw four touchdown passes and give up six sacks in the same game. His last four throws of this game all went for first downs (including two touchdowns), gaining 79 yards and 92 DYAR in the process.
7.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
24/31
279
3
2
0
122
122
0
BAL
Take away all fourth quarters from all quarterbacks this week and Roethlisberger was in the bottom five in DYAR. He led all quarterbacks, though in fourth-quarter DYAR, going 14-of-15 for 164 yards and two touchdowns, with a 16th throw resulting in a 35-yard DPI.
8.
Kirk Cousins WAS
18/29
270
1
0
0
116
90
26
CHI
Not that it matters, since Washington won by 20 points, but Cousins wasn't very good in the red zone: 3-of-7 for 24 yards and only one first down (a 17-yard touchdown to Chris Thompson).
9.
Blake Bortles JAC
26/38
325
1
0
2
109
80
5
TEN
Bortles' total DYAR includes 24 DYAR for his 20-yard touchdown catch. By DYAR, he was actually Jacksonville's second-most valuable receiver on the day.
10.
Carson Palmer ARI
16/26
284
1
0
1
105
105
0
SEA
It's kind of amazing that Arizona scored 34 points even though Palmer failed to convert a single third down, going 2-of-6 for 12 yards.
11.
Andrew Luck IND
19/29
288
2
2
0
89
87
1
OAK
12.
Matt Ryan ATL
27/33
277
2
0
4
84
84
1
CAR
Ryan would rank much higher if we ignored the end of this game. His last play of the third quarter was a sack-fumble. Then he had just one first down in the fourth, going 5-of-7 for 41 yards and a sack, with 31 of those yards coming on that one conversion.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
13.
Derek Carr OAK
21/30
228
3
0
1
78
76
2
IND
Carr started off just 1-of-7 for 11 yards, but then caught fire in the middle of the game -- no quarterback had more DYAR in the second and third quarters this week. Then came the fourth quarter, the saddest that Carr or the Raiders have seen in a long, long time.
14.
Tom Brady NE
17/27
214
3
0
1
76
76
0
NYJ
A game of streaks. Brady started 6-of-8 for 70 yards and a touchdown. Then he went 3-of-9 for 14 yards, and then he produced first downs on five straight throws (four completions and a DPI, gaining 134 yards and two touchdowns in the process. And that was all just in the first half!
15.
Carson Wentz PHI
13/23
152
1
1
0
73
57
16
NYG
Wentz's game was the opposite of Brady's. He started 3-of-6 for 25 yards and an interception, and finished 5-of-11 for 44 yards. In between, he went 5-of-6 for 83 yards and a touchdown.
16.
Sam Bradford MIN
34/50
382
3
0
4
54
52
2
GB
17.
Matt Moore MIA
16/29
233
2
1
0
52
52
0
BUF
Streaks seem to be the theme of this week. In the first half, Moore went 6-of-15 for 61 yards. Then he completed each of his first seven passes of the second half, including six straight first downs at one point, for 146 total yards. And then he shut down, going 4-of-8 for 30 yards the rest of the way.
18.
Colin Kaepernick SF
28/38
266
2
1
4
45
39
6
LARM
19.
Joe Flacco BAL
30/44
262
1
1
2
33
33
0
PIT
Flacco's performance in scoring range shows how completion percentage can be a misleading stat. Inside the Pittsburgh 40 he went 11-of-17. That's 65 percent, which is about average. However, those 11 completions produced only 63 yards, and only two first downs. Five were failed completions. He was also sacked once.
20.
Eli Manning NYG
38/63
356
1
3
0
25
25
0
PHI
Red zone passing: one 4-yard touchdown to Odell Beckham, but otherwise, 3-of-9 for 6 yards and no first downs.
21.
Marcus Mariota TEN
8/20
99
1
0
2
3
2
1
JAC
Forgive me for kicking a man when he's down, but Mariota threw eight passes that traveled at least 14 yards past the line of scrimmage against Jacksonville, and all were incomplete.
22.
Matt Cassel TEN
13/22
124
1
1
1
-3
-3
0
JAC
All of Cassel's passes came with Tennessee down by at least 14 points in the second half.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
23.
Matt Barkley CHI
24/40
323
2
5
1
-4
-4
0
WAS
Speaking of cold streaks, here's what Barkley did in a 15-minute stretch of this game starting about five minutes into the third quarter: In 12 passes, he completed as many to his teammates (four, for 46 yards) as he did to the Washington defense. Total DYAR in that "quarter:" minus-161.
24.
Andy Dalton CIN
28/41
268
1
1
3
-6
-6
0
HOU
Here's another cold streak: Dalton's first 13 passes against the Texans produced seven completions, 40 yards, and zero first downs.
25.
Robert Griffin CLE
17/25
164
0
0
7
-10
-26
16
SD
And another: Griffin closed this game completing five of his last six passes. That sounds good, but those completions gained only 25 yards and one first down. Two of them went backwards. Worse, there were four sacks scattered amongst those ten dropbacks, one of which knocked Griffin out of the game, and perhaps out for the season, and out of Cleveland forever.
26.
Tom Savage HOU
18/29
176
0
0
4
-12
-17
5
CIN
Savage did not pick up a first down in the first half, going 2-of-7 for 13 yards. In one six-play sequence he went sack-sack-sack-incomplete-incomplete-incomplete. Now go back and read Andy Dalton's comment. This was the late game on Christmas Eve -- it was probably going to have a small audience no matter what, and that start might have driven all the viewers away.
27.
Jameis Winston TB
24/35
277
2
2
2
-19
-14
-5
NO
28.
Philip Rivers SD
23/44
295
2
1
0
-28
-28
0
CLE
29.
Trevor Siemian DEN
16/42
171
0
1
0
-43
-43
0
KC
Siemian's cold streak was really just "most of this game." From the middle of the second quarter to the end, he picked up only three first downs and went 8-of-25 for 85 yards and an interception.
30.
Matthew Stafford DET
26/46
260
0
1
4
-62
-72
10
DAL
31.
Ryan Fitzpatrick NYJ
8/21
136
0
2
0
-67
-67
0
NE
All of Fitzpatrick's passes came with the Jets down by 13 points or more (much more, usually) in the second half.
32.
Jared Goff LARM
11/24
90
1
2
4
-156
-156
1
SF
In the final three quarters of the game against a terrible San Francisco defense, Goff went 8-of-18 for 40 yards (not a typo) with only two first downs: a 9-yard gain on second-and-9, and a 2-yard touchdown. He did gain16 yards and another first down on a DPI, but he also gave up an interception and three sacks.
33.
Cam Newton CAR
18/43
198
1
2
2
-159
-156
-3
ATL
Cam Newton's strength, as a passer, has always been a one-of-a-kind arm that produces big plays on long passes. Against Atlanta, he threw 15 passes that traveled at least 13 yards past the line of scrimmage, and only one was complete (a 26-yard touchdown), while one was also intercepted. He had streaks in this game of eight and six incompletions in a row, and in another stretch went 2-of-7 for 14 yards with an interception. He also went 0-for-5 in the red zone. Throwing to his right, he went 4-of-19 (not a typo) for 34 yards (not a typo either).


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.
Le'Veon Bell PIT
20
122
1
3/4
15
1
91
86
6
BAL
Baltimore's run defense DVOA was still best in the league coming into the weekend. Bell ripped them for nine first downs and four runs of 10 yards or more, while getting hit for no gain or a loss just twice.
2.
Zach Zenner DET
12
67
2
2/3
25
0
59
49
10
DAL
Three runs of 10-plus yards, six first downs, two stuffs for no gain or a loss.
3.
Tevin Coleman ATL
9
90
1
3/3
45
0
50
30
20
CAR
A touchdown run of 55 yards, another run for 15 yards, and just one hit for no gain or a loss. Also had catches of 12 and 31 yards.
4.
David Johnson ARI
28
93
3
4/7
41
0
46
38
8
SEA
Not a lot of pop against Seattle's very good run defense -- only three of his 28 runs gained 10 yards or more, while he was hit for no gain or a loss eight times and also had a fumble. But he also produced 10 first downs on the ground, and also had catches of 13 and 29 yards.
5.
DeAndre Washington OAK
12
99
2
1/1
18
0
37
29
8
IND
Four total first downs on the ground, each gaining 10 to 22 yards, while getting hit for no gain just once.


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.
Le'Veon Bell PIT
20
122
1
3/4
15
1
91
86
6
BAL
2.
Zach Zenner DET
12
67
2
2/3
25
0
59
49
10
DAL
3.
David Johnson ARI
28
93
3
4/7
41
0
46
38
8
SEA
4.
Mark Ingram NO
18
90
2
2/3
3
0
25
38
-12
TB
Only two 10-plus-yard runs, but six first downs on the ground, while getting hit for no gain or a loss just twice.
5.
LeSean McCoy BUF
24
128
1
6/7
17
0
23
34
-12
MIA
Yes, he was hit for no gain or a loss six times. But 13 of his 24 runs gained 6 yards or more, four gained 10 yards or more, and five went for first downs.


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.
Ronnie Hillman SD
9
6
0
0/2
0
0
-51
-40
-11
CLE
No first downs, no successful runs, a long gain of only 3, and four hits for no gain or a loss.


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.
Latavius Murray OAK
15
40
0
2/2
11
0
-48
-45
-4
IND
Two first downs, but a long gain of just 8 yards, and five hits for no gain or a loss.


Five Best Wide Receivers and Tight Ends by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
Jordy Nelson GB
9
11
154
17.1
2
94
MIN
Eight of Nelson's nine catches produced first downs, including gains of 33 and 48 yards, plus a 21-yard touchdown.
2.
Dez Bryant DAL
4
5
70
17.5
2
84
DET
Just before deadline, we realized we had forgotten to include DYAR for Bryant's 10-yard touchdown pass. We'll double-check that and add it to his DYAR some time on Tuesday, but for now we will just list his catches: 18-yard gain on second-and-15; 8-yard gain on second-and-7; 25-yard touchdown on third-and-7; 19-yard touchdown on second-and-8. (Ed. Note: Now added, Bryant gets 22 DYAR for the touchdown pass.)
3.
Adam Thielen MIN
12
15
202
16.8
2
74
GB
Thielen's DYAR total includes 72 DYAR receiving, 2 DYAR rushing for his one carry, a 4-yard gain. Eight of Thielen's receptions produced first downs, including gains of 24 and 32 yards and a 71-yard touchdown.
4.
Travis Kelce KC
11
12
160
14.5
1
63
DEN
The 80-yard touchdown, obviously, was the big blow, but Kelce's catches produced five other first downs too.
5.
Cameron Meredith CHI
9
12
135
15.0
1
57
WAS
Meredith had eight first downs on the day, including one on a 15-yard DPI. His longest catch gained 32 yards.


Worst Wide Receiver or Tight End by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
Cody Core CIN
8
14
39
4.9
0
-40
HOU
A sixth-round rookie out of Mississippi, Core set a career high with eight catches against Houston. However, only one of those catches produced a first down, none gained more than 9 yards, and one went backwards. He also had zero conversions on four third-down targets.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 26 Dec 2016

74 comments, Last at 30 Dec 2016, 12:33pm by Goeagles581

Comments

1
by big10freak :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 8:58am

Thielen made some very fine catches. The GB secondary is less than great but other than the 71 yard pass which was a comedy routine most of Thielen's catches were a combination of a pinpoint throw and a fine reception.

Unrelated and at the risk of being banished for even broaching the topic if any baseball player were having a season like Brady at that age the discussions of PEDs would be open and rampant. Just vastly different how the sports participants are viewed. Weird

2
by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 9:37am

I think how well an older QB plays is largely predicated on how good the team he is on and how healthy/in condition he is in at that age. So few older QBs are on really good teams with really good coaching, like Brady's situation. Farve was on a pretty good team in 2009 with a great RB and was pretty healthy. When he came back in 2010 he was far from healthy, not in very good condition and the results spoke for themselves.

3
by big10freak :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 9:39am

The distinction is that a guy who was shaky on deep throws is now much better. Favre's arm was never in question.

But thanks for a response not involving hysterics. I am not being sarcastic.

5
by BJR :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 9:58am

The complete non-discussion of PEDs throughout the NFL is ridiculous really. Just look at these guys! Occasionally there's some window dressing whereby somebody reasonably high profile gets a slap on the wrist (4 game ban) and blames a dodgy food supplement. Sure. But absolutely no suggestion there's a wider scale issue.

Maybe that's hysterical. Sorry.

4
by Theo :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 9:49am

It's not uncommon that older QBs remain to be playing well.
Rich Gannon comes to mind, who was 36 in the 2002 season, and 37 when he played in the Superbowl vs the Buccaneers.
Only the seasons afterwards was it that he had injuries - but that team collapsed after the Super Bowl loss.

6
by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 10:00am

It's not that Brady continues to play well that is so strange - it's that he's probably a better player than he was most of his younger years. And that is in part due to the fact that at 39, he's way more mobile than he was at 29.

He's always had good pocket awareness, and moved well in the pocket, but now he's moving well outside the pocket. Players usually aren't developing new skills in their 30s.

7
by PatsFan :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 10:27am

It's not like he was a statue early in his career. The statueness started after the 2008 knee injury and persisted for many years. Then in the 2014 "on to Cincinnati" game he suddenly started showing mobility again and that has continued to the present (and yes, I do believe he's better at it than he was in the early days, though not as much better as people think when their Brady memories are mostly about 2009 on).

21
by RickD :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 2:07pm

Brady made it a point to work on his deep ball this offseason, and the improvement is showing.

He's not more mobile than he was at the age of 29. He's certainly looking good compared to the immediate post-ACL years. What Brady does very well is use a small amount of movement to find space to make passes. He's not threatening Wilson as a scrambler, or even Rodgers for that matter. But he has as good awareness of the locations of all the defenders as anybody in the league.

That's part of why he's much more effective than RG3, who is the opposite.

23
by theslothook :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 2:31pm

I have to admit, I'm pretty puzzled by this development happening now. Sure, Brady has said he's worked on it in past offseasons(please don't make me hunt for quotes). And past breakdowns of brady's deep skills were always just average. I wonder if its just a random uptick this year or maybe the receivers are just better at medium and deep passing.

Whenever I see a big uptick in quality of a player beyond his standard, I usually wait to see if the feat is repeated next year and the year after. This is probably unfair to Brady - given that his age makes a sudden and rapid decline likely.

26
by Anon Ymous :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 2:44pm

For the past several years, Brady has famously devoted extra offseason training to work on weaker parts of his game. Mobility was the 2014 project and this year it was deep passes.

The level of growth in his production is most likely a combination of factors. The OL has been very good this year, so NE has been able to utilize longer-developing routes more often/strategically. Then you have the additions of Hogan, who has been outstanding at getting open deep, and Bennett, who allowed Gronk to act as a deeper threat. There is also the improved running game, which requires LB and S attention. And lastly, you have Tom, whose deep touch is much improved... though not enough to have made this big a difference by itself.

24
by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 2:37pm

Have to strongly disagree that he's not more mobile.

The 28 yard pass to Edelman in the 3rd quarter where he was pushed out of the pocket to the left, ran a loop back around the tackle and back up into the pocket and threw a strike is one that, in my mind, he absolutely doesn't make 10 years ago.

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-cant-miss-plays/0ap3000000762580/Can-t-Mis...

29
by theslothook :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 2:49pm

Now I'm going off memory, but I've watched the pats A LOT. Brady's calling card from the very beginning was good pocket presence and movement. Its the one thing he absolutely did better than Peyton Manning early in their careers.

I have to think his mobility is the same, he's just utilized it better as his other skills vastly improved. He might have had the same mobility in 2001, but he(or the coaching staff) had no faith in his abilities then to take full advantage.

30
by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 3:08pm

He's always been fantastic at sensing hits and sliding around and moving in the pocket - we completely agree on that.

What he's doing now is different though. He's taking off more when things break down, he's moving outside the pocket, etc. It might just be that he's using it more, and that might be a product of them having more confidence, or a product of the offensive line not being as good as when he was younger, or a product of him actually being faster. No way to really tell. He looks a lot faster to me though.

25
by big10freak :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 2:37pm

And Barry Bonds in his late 30's discussed all the special training he employed to make himself an offensive wrecking crew.

I am just pointing out that in one sport the discussions of a players's special regimen (such as Brady's well known dietary approach) and focus on a particular part of his game would be received in baseball with open cynicism if not outright accusations of cheating.

In football there is no discussion whatsoever. It's just.........weird.

Oh well.

28
by Anon Ymous :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 2:47pm

There isn't as much cynicism because there isn't as much naivety about football players and stimulants. If it came Brady is on something I wouldn't be shocked in the least because I wouldn't be shocked about any football player.

That said, there were tons more warning signs about Bonds, so your comparison isn't as apt as you imply.

31
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 3:08pm

There isn't a single player that I would be surprised to learn was on PED's, in the past 40 years. As many pitchers have shown, PED use need not result in noticeable body changes.

Frankly, I'm kind of at the point that I think it all should be made legal, with the only requirement be that it all be disclosed, so nobody has exclusive access to something useful.

34
by big10freak :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 3:14pm

Yup. Though I do think the usage, if there is usage, creates a difficult working environment for guys uncomfortable trying that stuff and therefore likely being at a disadvantage to their peers.

In baseball the crackdown on amphetamines has put a real premium on young talent. The older guys just cannot keep their energy level up over the course of the season as before. This is not any great insight from me. This too is freely discussed by front office types.

38
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 3:20pm

The only thing that really bothers me about PED usage is that some of the stuff can get you put in prison, and I'm really uncomfortable with somebody having to risk incarceration in order to keep on an even playing field.

49
by PirateFreedom :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 6:00pm

I think the unknown and possibly catastrophic long term health effects are enough of a reason to keep PEDs banned.
Competing in football shouldn't force players to take risky drugs to get an even playing field. Football is destructive enough without becoming a sacrificial guinea pig on the alter of short term gain.

66
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Wed, 12/28/2016 - 1:39pm

One of the huge problems with PEDs is that no-one really knows what their effect is.

There are no decent academic longterm studies.

We only have anecdotal evidence that they're dangerous because 20-30 years ago players like Lyle Alzado abused PEDs. They took whatever quantity they thought would get them results. If results weren't coming, they'd take more rather than consider other explanations.

I also don't understand what defines a PED. You drink a glass of cow's milk it provides calcium that helps your bones get stronger. Why is that allowed when it's 'alien' but something like testosterone that occurs naturally within the body isn't?

69
by BJR :: Thu, 12/29/2016 - 12:30pm

At the NFL level I'd be reasonably comfortable that players had equal access to PEDs, and were old enough to make a proper evaluation of the risks involved in taking them. But I wouldn't be comfortable with the idea of college or high school players being pumped full of drugs by unscrupulous coaches/parents, whilst basically turning the junior levels of the game into a competition as to who had access to the best pharmacists.

35
by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 3:15pm

What's interesting to me is that there were almost no statistical changes in baseball when they started more stringent steroid testing. (which is probably because most guys aren't dumb enough to take the stuff that they can detect regularly).

There were significant changes when they banned amphetimines though (significant increases in strikeout rate)

I'm generally with you here - the fact that Bonds wasn't a first ballot HOF-er is a bit ridiculous considering how prevalent it was.

37
by big10freak :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 3:20pm

His chances are likely increasing now that Bud Selig has been inducted. Because baseball writers are weirdos they rejected Bonds previously because he 'cheated' but now are apparently persuaded by the argument that since PEDs happened on Selig's tenure and Selig is going in the cheaters can now be inducted. Or at least that is how I understand the 'argument'.

42
by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 3:40pm

Yeah, mostly nonsense from the writers.

It's just strange to me that steroids are this big bugaboo, but nobody seems to give a crap about amphetamine usage, which was clearly a bigger performance increaser.

44
by big10freak :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 3:55pm

I don't think even the players understood the value of being able to retain an elevated and sustained energy level.

32
by big10freak :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 3:11pm

Jose Bautista got the fifth degree from the media when he went bonkers on the league in 2010 and kept it going in 2011. If you Google you will find articles like "Is it fair to ask if Bautista is on PEDS?" or similar.

Now, Bautista was 29 not 39. And he was a journeyman versus an established uber star like Brady. But that stuff is openly discussed in MLB. Player integrity is openly questioned and nobody seems to think it's an issue.

I just find it interesting.

33
by PatsFan :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 3:13pm

I also wouldn't be surprised because of the shadiness of his business partner.

41
by PatsFan :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 3:37pm

However, Brady's problem with deep balls was never arm strength (heck, most of his deep ball misses are long).

Some of it is definitely personnel. Gets Moss, suddenly had good deep ball year. Loses Moss, it goes away until Gronk establishes himself on seams. And Grinknis gone for now, but they picked up Hogan, who is prob their fastest downfield receiver since Moss.

45
by Goeagles581 :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 3:58pm

If I recall correctly, Brady graded out as average on the deep ball while having Moss, the greatest deep threat we have ever seen.

50
by PirateFreedom :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 6:05pm

You're going to have to show your work before I believe 2007 Brady was average on the deep ball.

55
by theslothook :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 7:08pm

Scott did some analysis on this a while back, showing that the Pats 07 offense was still a predominate short centric scheme with some Moss level tosses sprinkled in. I don't know if that meant Brady was average throwing deep that year, but most of his career he has been. In all honestly, the throws brady really was average at were medium and deep sideline throws. That could have been a function of his receivers as well.

One game that really crystallizes this was the 2013 afc championship game where brady missed a few open receivers deep.

58
by mehllageman56 :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 8:24pm

Brady's deep ball has always been inaccurate, not highly so, but enough to be a little weakness compared to his 0-30 yard accuracy. When Moss was there the accuracy didn't matter as much because Moss just outjumped or high pointed the ball away from defenders. Compare Brady's long balls in 2007 with Pennington's long balls to Moss at Marshall. Pennington would hit Moss in stride.

Haven't paid as much attention to the Pats this year, so I can't speak for Brady's long ball this year. The Jets are so bad, I've lost a lot of interest, until the playoffs. Probably will watch the playoff games though, and am curious if the Pats can pull it off this year.

59
by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 8:48pm

not sure about long ball of Soft Balls Brady

61
by ramirez :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 10:12pm

You need to go back and actually watch the film. Moss certainly did not high point every deep throw from Brady. And half of Brady's deep completions that season went to other receivers, usually Stallworth or Gaffney. I won't claim that Brady is the best deep passer in the league, but in 07 and in other years like 2004 and this season, he's proven that when given the right receivers, he can throw deep as consistently as any QB in the league.

51
by MJK :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 6:07pm

A few thoughts:

* I would not be surprised to find out that Brady is taking *something*. It is rather suspicious that Brady is fighting Father Time so well.

But I also wouldn't be surprised to find out that practically every player is taking *something*, as Will Allen said.

With the fierce desire by the NFL and most of the other owners (and many many fans) to crucify the Patriots for the smallest infraction, real, imagined, or fabricated, the fact that there have been no allegations against Brady in this area perhaps speaks somewhat to him being clean (or at least, no dirtier than any other player).

* I find it interesting that the Patriots have a reputation as a "dink and dunk boring short pass offense", and yet Brady doesn't show up on the list of best "short passer" QB's. Most of his success, it seems, is predicated on medium and deep passes.

* Brady's deep ball (which, by the definition of this article, is the "bomb ball") has always been...not great, except with Moss who makes any QB look better. His moderately deep ball (defined as "deep" in this article) has always been good.

The improvement this year has been due to the receiving corp being deeper. In past years, they had a bunch of shifty slot receivers. Now they still have the best of their shifty slot receivers, but also have Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell. Those two have made a big difference.

* Brady's mobility has gotten better from earlier in his career, and certainly better than it was immediately post ACL tear. In the few years in the early 2010's, as soon as the pressure closed on him, he would throw the ball away. Now he's sliding out of the pocket and buying time. I think when he was younger he did this as well, but not as well as he does now.

However, what has gotten worse is his ability to take check downs and get something out of nothing. In the early years of his career when nothing was open downfield, he would dump it off to a RB or FB for 4-6 yards. Post ACL tear, he would throw it out of bounds. Now he buys more time, and then tries for a big hit that works sometimes, but leaves you in 2nd and 10 sometimes.

I suspect two things have changed--the Pats personnel aren't as well suited to check downs now--Blount is useless as a receiver, and if White or Lewis are in, they're probably running deeper patterns.

The second thing is greater protection for QB's. It used to be that once a QB broke the pocket, he was fair game and it was open season for the pass rushers. Now, QB's are still reasonably protected even outside the pocket. This has led to the rise of more good scrambling QB's like Newton and Wilson, and also QB's like Brady being willing to take longer buying time for a big play when outside the pocket.

53
by theslothook :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 7:00pm

I don't like assuming people cheat. Age curves are all different and Brady isn't trying to play qb like Mike Vick or anything. I definitely noticed a dip in his arm strength, but much like Manning before his arm completely died, that only means you need to set your feet and have proper mechanics - unlike Rodgers who can throw balls on a rope while standing sideways.

The Patriots offense adapts to its personnel. Its bread and butter is the short passing game, but that doesn't mean it will take a Randy Moss or Gronk and run three yard patterns all day. Like you said above, Hogan and Mitchell have let the pass game open up more. Add to the fact that blount is as you said, useless as a receiver and it makes even more sense to transition to a medium pass game.

I still maintain, Brady's mobility is more or less the same, its just now being highlighted more because hes doing more than he use to earlier in his career.

For my eyes, Brady became the focal point of a pass centric offense in 2005 when the run game completely died on them. They shifted slightly back in 2006 because the receiving core was terrible, but the full pass transition didn't happen till 2007 - basically 6 years past his entry into the league.

That we are seeing it highlighted more is a function of how the offense has evolved, less than Brady suddenly getting better at it. But that's my take.

67
by gomer_rs :: Wed, 12/28/2016 - 4:58pm

Warren Moon was pretty good until what? 41.
_______

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

52
by Alternator :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 6:10pm

Brady is also married to the most (financially) successful model in history, and there is NOBODY who puts more effort into physical conditioning than a professional model. Through his wife, he should have access to one of the finest health and conditioning teams on the planet, one that's already accustomed to helping an aging performer remain at their peak.

There's not a player in the league that I'd be shocked to learn was using PEDs, but I don't consider Brady to be particularly suspicious.

64
by Bobman :: Wed, 12/28/2016 - 3:11am

I keep waiting for his wheels to suddenly fall off like they did for Manning mid-season 2014, but not yet. Most QBs just a generation ago were in deep downward spirals about 33-35 (how long did Marino last? His drop was fast at the end.) I think that as much as Manning was blessed with longevity (genes, the work he put in, environmental externalities beyond his control), Brady might just have more of that in the bank for whatever reason.
I've seen his draft combine underwear photo and my 16 year-old son has a more athletic and muscular build and has had so since 8th grade, so a recent photo might reveal that Brady sports a back full of acne and Barry Bonds/Popeye-esque bulges where they weren't a few years ago... but I doubt that. Until I see him fire a short past that carves a hole through Ndomakung Suh's chest and still sting's Edelman's fingers, or see him tear the head off the Bronze Ray Lewis statue in Baltimore and sh!t down its neckhole, I'll give him the benefit of the PED doubt.
I mean, really, a recipe for avocado ice cream-style non-dairy dessert in his $200 cookbook? The dude ain't eating that crap for the hedonism aspect. If that's his deal with the devil, he's welcome to it.

BRADY: Please, Satan, I just want five more years of greatness. I'll do anything.
SATAN: Well my friend, I just bought this avocado grove... does "doing anything" include eating anything and convincing others to do the same?
BRADY: Where do I sign?
SATAN: (aside to himself) Man, I will totally dominate the universe of Brussels sprouts! After all, tis better to rule in the world of kale than serve in a Ben and Jerry's shop.

70
by MJK :: Thu, 12/29/2016 - 12:32pm

This is awesome.

Remember, Satan is about bringing despair to humankind. If he can somehow convince people that eating disgusting food is good for them, he's succeeding.

60
by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 8:50pm

well also if baseball guy like a. thielen would be getting questioned abnot ped usage. some obscure guy sgarts doing good and questions get asked in babsella. In football, creickets are heard

8
by t.d. :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 10:29am

As a Cowboy fan, I'm a lot more scared of the Falcons than anybody else. Seems like 'be better at what you're great at, than anybody else is at what they're best at' is as good a formula for postseason success as there is, and the best thing I've seen this year is the Falcons passing game. I think the 'no visible decline' evident in Brady this season is as likely to be a schedule full of tomato cans as it is PEDs

9
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 10:51am

Zak Prescott's performance is a total confirmation of a Joe Gibbs approach to offense. Everything, and I mean everything, right down to the pass blocking of the best ball carrier, works to ensure that the qb never experiences distress while in the pocket. Throwing mechanics are maintained, patience is tewarded, and risks are minimized. Tony Romo must wish he was 8 years younger, even moreso than is typical for an NFL qb.

10
by Gormiepoo :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 10:57am

No DYAR for Garoppolo? Why not? He played for over a quarter, heck, he even managed a TD...there's 33 listed...so it's obviously not just starters...what's the rule for inclusion?

13
by Andrew Potter :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 11:54am

He only threw two passes. I believe the minimum threshold to qualify for the table is around eight passes, but whatever the exact number is it's higher than two.

11
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 11:12am

The Vikings need to start Taylor Heinecke against the Bears, after keeping a roster spot for him for two years, in order to keep him from being picked off the practice squad by another team, despite being listed behind Shaun Hill on the depth chart. Among the major injury debacles, Heinecke's freak injury in July became really costly after Bridgwater's knee disaster, because they had lost a training camp to evaluate whether he was ready to play, and they knew that Hill simply can no longer throw the ball well enough to be a viable starter for more than a game or two. Well, Bradford's a very well known quantity, and he is good enough to win a championship with, if the rest of the roster is strong enough, but who knows what his agent Tom Condon will be able to drum up; the guy's a genius. Who knows what Bridgewater will be going forward. They need to learn all they can about Heinecke as quickly as they can. The Vikings defense thinks the guy can play; reportedly he gives them fits in practice.

14
by big10freak :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 11:59am

He might pull a Matt Flynn, throw for a bazillion yards and sign a big contract only to never be heard from again.

16
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 12:21pm

Did FO ever do a film study piece on that game? It's been so long I can't remember if guys were just wide open, there was no pressure, the reads were extremely easy, or if Flynn was just freakishly better than his norm that day. In any case, I'm sure his stockbroker, among others, remembers the game fondly.

17
by big10freak :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 12:26pm

Flynn was helped by a LOT of yards after catch along with a big heaping spoonful of Jordy Nelson. And terrible pass defense

27
by big10freak :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 2:45pm

If you Google Matt Flynn Detroit game it goes to the highlights of that game.

36
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 3:18pm

Which would get the Vikings a compensatory draft pick, so probably still worth it for them.

40
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 3:30pm

He's under contract for 600k through next season. Presumably, if he started next week and had an excellent game, he'd be willing to extend a year or two for a few million guaranteed.

12
by bmay :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 11:30am

I noticed that you defined the ranges of pass depths as Short/Medium/Long/Bomb, but labelled them in the chart titles as Short/Medium/Deep/Bomb.

15
by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 12:03pm

Fixed. Dez Bryant passing DYAR has been added as well.

18
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 1:10pm

how much was Dontari Poe worth?
--------------------------------------
The standard is the standard!

65
by Bobman :: Wed, 12/28/2016 - 3:14am

That was one of the most beautiful plays I've ever seen. A shame they "wasted" it instead of springing it as a surprise in the playoffs. But the name, "the Bloated Tebow," makes it all the sweeter.

19
by ramirez :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 1:22pm

When are the analysts at this site going to figure out that air yards and depth of target are not a reflection of a QBs skill level?

20
by theslothook :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 1:56pm

Has that been established somewhere ?

22
by RickD :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 2:16pm

OK, so what is the debate?

Let's say we have QB A, who connects with a receiver 10 yards downfield, who gets 30 more yards of YAC. And we have QB B, who connects with a receiver 40 yards downfield, who is tackled immediately.

In each case, how do we weight the relative contribution of the QB and the WR? I would agree that it's too simplistic to simply give the QB the air yards and the WR the YAC. After all, the WR has to do something to get open, and that's not easier to do 40 yards downfield. OTOH, the placement of the pass relates a lot to how much YAC a receiver can get. Part of the reason the Brady/Edelman combination does so well is that Brady excels at putting the ball in a place where Edelman can catch and run. Of course credit also has to go to Edelman there, too: he's the best of the Pats' receivers at doing that (at least, that's clearly the case when Gronk is out: Gronk is also excellent at catching and getting YAC afterwards).

I would disagree if the statement is that air yards is not a reflection of a QB's skill level. Clearly there is some skill involved in hitting a target 40 yards downfield. Not every QB can do it with consistency. And it's more than arm strength.

46
by eagle97a :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 5:02pm

NFL qbs has to have minimum standards when it comes to arm strength and baseline accuracy to even merit a practice squad roster spot. Incremental performances above this are what makes average qbs so valuable. Most talent evaluators, coaches , scouts and in general FO people will look for other attributes since arm strength and accuracy are theoretically givens at this stage. IMO other skills matter more than this.

47
by theslothook :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 5:08pm

I disagree. Consistent accuracy is an incredibly rare skill even among nfl qbs.

48
by eagle97a :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 5:46pm

Read it again. I said a minimum standard for accuracy and arm strength. All incremental performance increases above this for qbs are incredibly valuable that is why franchise qbs are so rare. Consistent accuracy and reliability when coupled with other good qb attributes like reading defenses and poise usually produce HOFers. All NFL qbs however needs a certain bar for accuracy and arm strength to actually be on a roster period. Haven't seen any qb struggle to throw the ball at least 20 yards downfield except in injury situations but that is the reality of the NFL.

54
by theslothook :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 7:05pm

"Most talent evaluators, coaches , scouts and in general FO people will look for other attributes since arm strength and accuracy are theoretically givens at this stage. IMO other skills matter more than this."

I guess I took that to mean, once you are in the nfl, you have established a baseline level of competency with accuracy and arm strength and now its all about the rest of your game. Its hard to say what is the most valuable skill and I had this debate with Scott on twitter.

Jared Goff showed good pocket poise in his game against the seahawks but his accuracy was absolutely terrible. I'm trying to think of a good example of a qb whos accuracy was ok but his pocket presence was terrible(maybe Kaepernick early?).

I wondered which is worse/needed to survive in the nfl? I guess you need both but for my take - its easier to learn pocket presence than it is to improve accuracy. But that's just my hunch.

56
by eagle97a :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 7:38pm

Jared Goffs' accuracy was probably terrible in your eyes because he was playing against an NFL level defense and is a rookie. We will only have a better baseline for his accuracy when he has played more seasons than what he has now. Jared Goff is a top pick and I imagine that he played well in college (haven't seen any of his college games) but the NFL is a whole different banana.

57
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 7:39pm

"I'm trying to think of a good example of a qb whos accuracy was ok but his pocket presence was terrible(maybe Kaepernick early?)."

Drew Bledsoe kind of fits. Not terrible pocket presence, but not good.

62
by ramirez :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 10:35pm

Yes, I agree that throwing downfield is hard, and is therefore a reflection of skill level. But to echo what eagle97 said, almost all NFL qbs can throw downfield, so we're talking about tiny gradations of skill overall. My point was that if you look at an individual qb, you'll see that things like deep accuracy and % of air yards often vary widely from season to season, even for the most skilled QBs. This leads me to believe that deep passing stats are a reflection of changes in scheme and personnel, rather than innate skill level.

Look at Steve Young's career. In 92 and 93, he was throwing for a lot of air yards. Then in 1994 his rate of YAC suddenly shot up, and remained high through the 1997 season. Then his air yards went up again in 1998. So if we discount for YAC, we would conclude that Young suffered a mid-career crisis, when in fact throughout the entire period from 92-98 he was putting up fantastic numbers. Look at the careers of Brady and Rodgers. Brady was putting up strong air yards numbers in 03 and 04, then dipped a little in 05 and 06, then went back up again in 07. More recently, the Patriots have run the 2 te offense and used guys like Welker and Edelman. Now that Brady has some consistent deep threats, his air yards have gone back up again. Rodgers was throwing for a lot of air yards early through about 2011, but has done worse since, especially since the start of 2015. But I don't think that's because his skills have eroded. It's the personnel downfield.

Now look at Peyton. Between 2002-2006, he completed 133 passes that went more than 20 yards downfield. But 104 of them, or 78%, went to Harrison or Wayne. Between 2012-2014, Manning completed 86 passes, and 66 of them, or 76%, went to Demariyus Thomas, Eric Decker, or Emmanuel Sanders. QBs need deep threats to put up big numbers downfield. Give Brady or Rodgers the receivers Manning had throughout his career, and I think their deep ball numbers would look a lot better than what we've seen in their weakest seasons for deep passing.

I also don't agree with discounting for YAC when judging QBs, but I'm not going to try to fit my reasons why into this post.

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by theslothook :: Wed, 12/28/2016 - 12:04am

You need to do a rigorous statistical study before you make the claims you have or at least reference ones that have. A few anecdotes does not prove or disprove your point.

On the YAc point - people who have done studies show qbs are not that responsible. My own research showed this.

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by ramirez :: Thu, 12/29/2016 - 11:04am

Can you please share with me specifically what your research shows? Because you keep making this declaration, without showing me any numbers. If we really do have evidence showing that QBs should be penalized for YAC, I would like to know what it is.

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by theslothook :: Thu, 12/29/2016 - 2:07pm

I believe I shared the methodology of what I did. Are you wanting me to post the results of the joint significance test or will my word suffice?

And I hate the word penalized. Its more like - "not credited with". Penalized implies the more Yac they get, the worst their numbers should look.

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by ramirez :: Thu, 12/29/2016 - 7:53pm

Your claim about the YAC numbers is the equivalent of a magician telling me "I can levitate my body into mid-air, but I won't show you unless you buy a ticket to my magic show." Now, perhaps I would be intrigued enough to buy a ticket. But I have no obligation to buy one, and I won't actually believe he can levitate until I see it with my own eyes.

I have no obligation to agree with you about the YAC stuff. If you really do have evidence that we should avoid crediting QBs for YAC, that's great. But I need to see it, or at least some small sample of it, before I will change my mind. I'm very open-minded. I will give your work due consideration. But I can't promise I will agree with you. I wouldn't expect you to agree with a statistical claim of my own if I didn't provide the numbers.

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by theslothook :: Thu, 12/29/2016 - 9:18pm

TBH, the project was a secondary one. I have been working on an adjusted pressure rate stat that could be a guest article. Along the way, since it was using the same data source, I decided to do a YAC one as well since many of the variables were shared in both regressions.

Naturally, I agree - you don't know what methods I used so you don't have to believe me. Just note - my findings are consistent with what others have done, so I would not view them as a radical departure from what other people have been finding.

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by Goeagles581 :: Fri, 12/30/2016 - 12:33pm

Should a sinker ball pitcher get credit for fielding a ball in the hole and making out? That's what I personally compare it to.

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by tuluse :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 3:20pm

Wow Barkley throws 5 picks and manages to rate out at essentially replacement level.

QBs who played worse this week: Matt Stafford, Phil Rivers, Cam Newton, Andy Dalton.

What a world we live in.

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by Goeagles581 :: Tue, 12/27/2016 - 3:53pm

Peyton Manning is the greatest quarterback of all time.