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04 Dec 2017

Week 13 Quick Reads

by Vincent Verhei

On behalf of all of us at Football Outsiders, I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to the New York Jets, and especially to their offensive coaches and staff. We doubted them coming into the year, saying they would have the worst team and the worst offense in our official projections. Even when we put our numbers aside, seven of our nine writers tabbed them to wind up with the first pick in the 2018 draft in our official staff predictions. We were hardly alone in these predictions, but the Jets have proven us all wrong. Here we are in December, and New York is only two games out of the playoffs with four weeks to go, and the offense has been perfectly respectable most of the season. New offensive coordinator John Morton deserves a ton of credit for molding a passing game out of youngsters and rejects from other teams. Robby Anderson has exploded in his second season, and Jermaine Kearse and Austin Seferian-Jenkins should each soon have more catches, yards, and touchdowns than they ever had in a single year with their old clubs. Nothing, however, is more impressive or surprising than the season the Jets have gotten out of Josh McCown.

McCown was drafted in the third round in 2002, and in 14 seasons with the (deep inhale) Cardinals, Lions, Raiders, Panthers, Bears, Buccaneers, and Browns, he was almost never any good. There was his fluky year in 2013 with Chicago where he threw 13 touchdowns and one interception, but that came in only five starts. That is the only season in which McCown had finished with a positive passing DVOA; only twice more was he even above replacement level. Usually he wasn't even good enough to see the field, crossing the 200-dropback threshold only six times. In 2010 he wasn't even in the NFL, playing for the Hartford Colonials in the United Football League. (In fairness, he was the UFL's highest-rated passer that year.) Most recently, McCown had spent two years in Cleveland, where he failed to hold onto a starting job amongst the Johnny Manziels and Cody Kesslers of the world. When the Browns decide they can do better than you, it's usually a sign that you need to find a new career. But the Jets gave McCown his eighth chance, and he defeated Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg for the starting spot in training camp.

Given McCown's lousy track record and his advanced age (he turned 38 in July), we began listing the Gabbert Watch every week in Quick Reads. McCown entered the season with -1,331 career passing DYAR. Only Ryan Leaf (-1,388) and Blaine Gabbert (-1,928) were worse. It seemed certain that McCown would finish no better than the second-worst quarterback on record and might even fall below Gabbert's level. However, after passing Leaf with a terrible performance in Week 1, McCown spent several months more or less treading water, and in recent weeks he has caught fire. In his last five games, he has thrown for nearly 1,300 yards with eight touchdowns and only one interception. McCown has more than 300 passing DYAR in that stretch, one of the ten most valuable quarterbacks in the league if you discount New York's bye week in Week 11. That peaked this week, when McCown's 164 passing DYAR against the Chiefs were most in the league. (McCown's opponent in that game, Alex Smith, climbs to first place when we include rushing value.)

McCown now has 199 passing DYAR in 2017, among the 20 best numbers in the league. As such, he is no longer threatening to break Gabbert's career record for worst passing DYAR. (Gabbert himself has 61 DYAR this season and remains comfortably in last place.) McCown's career total of -1,132 passing DYAR is better than not only Gabbert and Leaf, but also David Carr, JaMarcus Russell, Rick Mirer, Trent Dilfer, Kelly Stouffer, and Akili Smith. Blake Bortles and Jared Goff were also in the bottom 20 when the season began, but have dug themselves out of that hole in 2017; we covered Goff's remarkable improvement in Week 9.

With a month left to play, McCown has already set career highs in completions, passing yards, passing touchdowns, and rushing touchdowns, and he needs only 41 more yards on the ground to set a career-high in that category as well. By DVOA and DYAR, it has not been the best season of his career (a 13:1 TD:INT ratio will do wonders for your advanced stats), but it has certainly been the most productive. How strange is that for a player of McCown's age? We can try to answer that question using a very simple metric: fantasy points. Fantasy points aren't always an accurate measure of a player's value, but when you're poring over more than a thousand player-seasons of data, they do a decent job of measuring both opportunity and performance. Unlike DYAR, they are also accessible for most of NFL history, so we can use them to evaluate quarterbacks who played before the mid-1980s. And when you're looking for comparable players to McCown, you need to go way, way back in time.

For the record, here is the formula we're using to measure fantasy points:

  • One point for every 20 passing yards.
  • Four points for every passing touchdown.
  • One point for every 10 rushing/receiving yards.
  • Six points for every rushing/receiving touchdown.

Right away, fantasy points point out just how surprising McCown's improvement this year has been. Prior to 2016, 44 players with at least 500 career fantasy points had thrown at least 100 passes in their age-37 seasons. Thirty-two of them declined or did not play the following year. The 12 who improved include five players already in the Hall of Fame (Fran Tarkenton, Ken Stabler, Joe Montana, Warren Moon, and Brett Favre) and another (Tom Brady) who will join them. Five of the others (Charlie Conerly, Earl Morrall, Craig Morton, Kerry Collins, and Brad Johnson) played in NFL Championship Games or Super Bowls. The 12th was Jeff Garcia, whose random improvement in 2008 was completely illogical; he never started again after that season.

McCown is now the 13th quarterback to improve from age 37 to 38. His 258 fantasy points this year are already a career high. No quarterback older than McCown has ever peaked in fantasy production. Only one other set his career best at age 38: Craig Morton, who threw for 3,195 yards and 21 touchdowns with the Broncos in 1981. There is an asterisk here: Morton played 15 games for the first time in 1981, after spending most of his career playing a 14-game schedule. That said, his 213.0 yards per game that season was still the best rate of his career.

Six other quarterbacks had their best fantasy seasons at age 37: Peyton Manning, Rich Gannon, Doug Flutie, Steve Young, Roger Staubach, and Y.A. Tittle. That's four Hall of Famers, a late bloomer who got to play with two Hall of Fame wide receivers in Oakland, and one very unusual career. Flutie was drafted by the Rams in 1985, and after some time in the USFL, he spent the next four years battling for playing time with the Bears and Patriots. In some ways, he was the Tim Tebow of his era, a college football legend with a good NFL win-loss record despite some ugly passing statistics. For nearly a decade, Flutie was exiled to the Canadian Football League. He dominated north of the border, winning three Grey Cup championships and six Outstanding Player awards for three different teams. He returned to the NFL for seven years with the Bills, Chargers, and Patriots, finishing 15th or better in passing DVOA four times. Given those numbers and his success in Canada, it's clear the NFL as a whole missed the boat on him for a long time.

The difference between Flutie and McCown is that Flutie barely got a chance to show what he could do as a younger player; McCown did, and usually failed to make a good impression. The other quarterbacks who peaked so late were all much better than McCown -- two are in the Hall of Fame, one more will be, and each played in a Super Bowl or NFL championship game.

If we're looking for comparable players to McCown, we need to find guys who did nothing for many years, then put up relatively big numbers late. In McCown's case, his age-38 season is producing a huge share of his total fantasy production. His 258 points this year already represent 18.0 percent of his career total of 1,431. That will likely wind up closer to 19 percent, maybe 20 percent if he really catches fire, but for right now that 18.0 percent already tells us plenty. Only five other quarterbacks with at least 500 career fantasy points have amassed at least 10 percent of their career production in a single season at age 38 or older. Flutie holds the record, with 19.8 percent of his career points coming in 2001 at age 39. Flutie is followed by Kurt Warner (2009, age 38, 11.7 percent of his career total), Morton (1981, 38, 10.9 percent), Flutie again (2000, 38, 10.7 percent), and Vince Evans (1995, 40, 10.2 percent). Warner wasn't an NFL starter until age 28; like many other quarterbacks we have talked about today, he spent time in another football league (the Arena League, in his case). Evans may be the player most similar to McCown. A longtime backup for the Bears and Raiders, he only started 39 NFL games in his 17-year pro football career. His biggest years actually came in his mid-20s, as he topped 2,000 passing yards with the Bears in 1980 and 1981. After two years in the USFL, Evans spent seven quiet seasons as a backup with the Raiders. Then at age 40, he started three games, throwing for more than 1,200 yards with half a dozen touchdowns. Those were the last games of his career.

In the end, we never did find a good match for Josh McCown. He's a little bit of Craig Morton, a lot of Doug Flutie, with a heaping helping of Vince Evans, and a decent portion of Jeff Garcia to boot. That's four extremely different careers spanning over more than four decades. It takes a lot of persistence, thousands of airline miles, and some time in a minor league or two to put together a career like this.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
1.
Alex Smith KC
19/33
366
4
0
2
177
156
21
NYJ
Smith was perfect on Kansas City's first two drives, going 5-of-5 for 111 yards and two touchdowns. All five of those completions resulted in first downs, but then he only had nine more first downs in the final 50 minutes of the game. His third-/fourth-down numbers were a tad extreme -- 2-of-7 plus a sack, but those two completions resulted in gains of 20 and 40 yards. But then, big plays were the order of the day for Smith. On deep passes, he went 5-of-10 for 217 yards and all four touchdowns.
2.
Josh McCown NYJ
26/36
331
1
0
0
175
163
12
KC
McCown moved the Jets into scoring range almost at will, but had problems in the shadows of the goalposts. On five separate trips inside the Kansas City 25, he went 8-of-12 for just 34 yards and one touchdown. He had a monster day, though, on third downs, going 10-of-14 for 162 yards and nine conversions.
3.
Russell Wilson SEA
21/31
227
3
0
2
134
123
11
PHI
In Football Outsiders Almanac, we define "Mid" passes as those thrown to targets 6 to 15 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. Wilson tore up the Eagles on Mid throws, going 7-of-10 for 96 yards. All seven of those completions gained a first down, including two touchdowns. One of those incompletions was a throwaway.
4.
Case Keenum MIN
25/30
227
2
0
2
114
116
-2
ATL
With 25 seconds left in the first half, Keenum threw an incomplete pass to Stefon Diggs. It was the last incompletion he would throw all day. From that point forward, he completed each of the 15 passes he threw, for 151 total yards. There were some failed completions in there -- most notably when he started with a first-and-25 and completed passes for 1, -2, and 4 yards -- but nine of those plays went for first downs, including a touchdown.
5.
Andy Dalton CIN
21/36
234
2
0
2
102
94
8
PIT
6.
Joe Flacco BAL
23/36
269
2
0
0
97
97
0
DET
The most interesting stats here aren't necessarily about Flacco's splits, but about Baltimore's play calling. They were very balanced on first downs, with 12 passes and 13 runs. On second down, however, they were very run-heavy, with 13 runs and only four passes. And then they passed on every one of their 12 third-down plays, including four plays with 5 yards or less to go for a first down. On those third downs, Flacco went 6-of-12 for 71 yards with five conversions.
7.
Philip Rivers LACH
31/43
346
1
0
1
95
95
0
CLE
Remember our discussion of Mid passes and Russell Wilson? Rivers' best window was even more narrow. On throws to targets 7 to 13 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, he went 11-of-13 for 142 yards and a touchdown.
8.
Tom Brady NE
21/30
258
0
1
3
95
95
0
BUF
On passes up the middle, Brady went 5-of-7 for 62 yards, with every completion picking up a first down.
9.
Matthew Stafford DET
24/29
292
1
1
3
91
95
-5
BAL
Stafford gained 63 DYAR due to opponent adjustments, second-most this week. Stafford has made a career out of second-half rallies, and for a while here it looked like he might pull off another one. After Baltimore went up 20-0, Stafford completed 14 passes in a row for 201 total yards. The last of those 14 completions was a 1-yard touchdown that pulled the Lions within one score. But then the Ravens added a field goal, and on the Lions' next possession, Stafford was sacked, then threw an interception and was knocked out of the game. The Ravens then added two more touchdowns to turn what might have been a close game into a blowout.
10.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
24/40
290
2
1
1
86
85
1
CIN
11.
Derek Carr OAK
22/36
287
1
0
1
84
84
0
NYG
Carr was effective throwing to his left or up the middle. To the right? Not so much. To that direction, he went 8-of-15 for 68 yards. Only three of those completions resulted in first downs.
12.
Drew Brees NO
26/34
269
1
0
2
78
81
-3
CAR
Brees didn't throw a ton of passes up the middle against Carolina, but when he did he was effective, going 5-of-5 for 66 yards and four first downs.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
13.
Blake Bortles JAC
26/35
309
2
0
1
77
72
5
IND
Bortles lost 68 DYAR due to opponent adjustments, most of any quarterback this week. The deeper he threw, the more effective he was. On passes that traveled at least 10 yards downfield, he went 8-of-11 for 162 yards.
14.
Carson Wentz PHI
29/45
348
1
1
3
75
80
-5
SEA
Wentz did not complete a pass for a first down in the first 26 minutes of this game. And throughout the game, he had trouble getting points on the board. At or inside the Seattle 40 (weirdly, he had three plays exactly at the 40-yard line), he went 8-of-17 for 81 yards, with only three first downs.
15.
Cam Newton CAR
17/27
183
2
0
2
70
57
13
NO
Newton's average completion gained 8.5 yards after the catch, most of any starting quarterback this week.
16.
Jimmy Garoppolo SF
26/37
293
0
1
2
55
50
5
CHI
The 49ers outgained Chicago 388 yards to 147 and beat them in first downs 23 to eight, yet still needed a field goal in the final seconds to win. Why? Partly because Garoppolo went 4-of 10 for 21 yards and no first downs on five separate trips to the red zone.
17.
Matt Ryan ATL
16/29
173
0
0
0
53
58
-5
MIN
Ryan didn't even throw a pass in the red zone. Inside the Minnesota 40, he went 4-of-9 for 31 yards.
18.
Marcus Mariota TEN
15/23
150
1
0
2
49
29
20
HOU
Mariota didn't have a pass inside the red zone either, though in his case that's partly because he didn't need to, throwing a 24-yard touchdown pass to Delanie Walker. Mariota completed each of the five passes he threw to Walker for 63 yards, for that touchdown and three third-down conversions. Walker would have finished among the top receivers this week, except that fifth catch was a 3-yard loss on first-and-5.
19.
DeShone Kizer CLE
15/32
215
1
1
3
45
40
5
LACH
Kizer threw seven passes to receivers within 3 yards of the line of scrimmage, completing all of them for 56 yards and three first downs. And he threw six passes to receivers 20 to 24 yards downfield, resulting in four completions and a DPI for 155 yards and five more first downs. On all other throws, he went 4-of-20 for 31 yards and no first downs.
20.
Dak Prescott DAL
11/22
102
2
0
1
41
34
7
WAS
Precott's first downs came in bunches. He had three in a row to start the second quarter: a 10-yard gain on third-and-8, a 6-yard DPI, and an 8-yard gain on second-and-4. And he had five first downs in his last six dropbacks, going 4-of-5 for 58 yards plus a 16-yard DPI in that stretch. And that was it. On all other throws, he went 5-of-15 for 26 yards.
21.
Tom Savage HOU
31/48
365
1
1
4
38
38
0
TEN
Third-/fourth-down passing: 9-of-15, 172 yards; two DPIs for 18 more yards; one sack; eight conversions in 18 plays.
22.
Jared Goff LARM
21/31
220
2
1
1
19
18
1
ARI
Goff had a lot of struggles on L.A.'s end of the field. Inside his own 40, he went 3-of-7 for 17 yards with a sack-fumble.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
23.
Jay Cutler MIA
18/31
239
2
2
2
5
5
0
DEN
What No Fly Zone? On passes that traveled 20 or more yards downfield, Cutler went 5-of-7 for 119 yards (with one interception).
24.
Jameis Winston TB
21/32
270
2
0
7
-7
14
-21
GB
Winston had a boom-or-bust day throwing to his left. He went 5-of-9 throwing to that side, including two failed completions that gained 2 total yards. However, the other three completions were gains of 22 and 34 yards, plus an 11-yard touchdown.
25.
Jacoby Brissett IND
21/34
174
1
2
4
-13
-12
-1
JAC
Brissett gained 103 DYAR this week due to opponent adjustments, by far the most in the league. He only threw for nine first downs on the day, but he was perfect on fourth down, going 4-for-4 for 57 yards and four conversions, including a 40-yard touchdown.
26.
Blaine Gabbert ARI
18/32
221
1
2
6
-19
-14
-5
LARM
Gabbert's first first down came on his last pass of the first quarter. By that point he had already thrown two interceptions, including a pick-six, and the Cardinals trailed 16-0. He did not have a good day on deep balls, going 2-of-10 for 46 yards with an interception.
27.
Mitchell Trubisky CHI
12/15
102
1
0
2
-55
-51
-5
SF
As has often been the case this year, Trubisky struggled to gain yardage when throwing to his left. Yes, he completed 5-of-6 passes in that direction, but those five completions gained only 21 total yards.
28.
Nathan Peterman BUF
6/15
50
0
0
1
-56
-58
2
NE
All of Peterman's passes came with Buffalo down by 20 points in the fourth quarter. He started with two incompletions, then gained 12 and 13 yards, then didn't throw for another first down the rest of the game. In the process, though, he cut his 2017 interception rate from 21 percent to 13 percent. So that's good.
29.
Brett Hundley GB
13/22
84
0
1
2
-73
-102
29
TB
Hundley completed each of his first five passes for 37 yards and three first downs. He had only two more first downs the rest of the day. He converted his first two third-down plays but then never converted another. On deep balls, he went 0-for-5 with an interception. With 5 or more yards to go for a first down, he went 8-of-16 for 50 yards with one conversion, one interception, and one sack.
30.
Geno Smith NYG
21/34
212
1
0
3
-94
-98
4
OAK
Smith lost 66 DYAR due to opponent adjustments, second-most of any quarterback this week. He completed 62 percent of his passes against Oakland. Only three quarterbacks had lower completion rates against the Raiders this year, and two of them were Trevor Siemian. It really doesn't help that Smith fumbled on two of his three sacks.
31.
Tyrod Taylor BUF
9/18
65
0
1
3
-124
-139
15
NE
Taylor only threw for one first down against New England, a 10-yard gain to Charles Clay in the first quarter. He failed to convert a single third-down dropback, going 1-of-4 for 7 yards and a sack. That sack lost 20 yards, the most yards lost on an offensive play this year. Throwing to his right, he went 1-of-7 for 3 yards and an interception.
32.
Kirk Cousins WAS
26/37
251
2
2
4
-129
-125
-5
DAL
Cousins' DYAR (and Washington's chances of winning) were largely sunk by a five-play stretch between the first and second quarters when he went interception, incomplete, incomplete, sack-fumble, sack-fumble. In the second half, with Washington down multiple scores, he completed 13 passes in a row, but for only 111 yards, and with four failed completions mixed in.
33.
Trevor Siemian DEN
19/41
200
0
3
3
-235
-239
5
MIA
Sieimian is the first quarterback to throw multiple interceptions in a game against the Dolphins this year. On deep passes, he went 1-of-7 for 23 yards. Up the middle, he went 4-of-8 for just 15 yards and an interception.


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.
Alvin Kamara NO
9
60
2
5/6
66
0
86
52
34
CAR
Kamara ran for 20- and 2-yard touchdowns, plus a gain of 17, while being stuffed just twice. He had four first downs as a receiver, including a 22-yard gain on third-and-10.
2.
Le'Veon Bell PIT
18
76
0
5/6
106
1
76
13
64
CIN
3.
Alex Collins BAL
15
75
2
2/2
23
0
53
36
17
DET
Eight of Collins' runs resulted in first downs, and two others were 8-yard gains on first-and-10. Only two of his carries went for no gain or a loss.
4.
Alfred Morris DAL
27
127
1
0/1
0
0
50
57
-7
WAS
Eight total first downs on the ground, including gains of 11 and 15 yards, while being stuffed for no gain or a loss just twice.
5.
Peyton Barber TB
23
102
0
4/4
41
0
45
36
9
GB
Barber's biggest play was a 34-yard reception. He had six first downs as a runner, including a 19-yard gain on second-and-10, while being stuffed for no gain only twice.


Five Best Running Backs by DYAR (Rushing)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Alfred Morris DAL
27
127
1
0/1
0
0
50
57
-7
WAS
2.
Alvin Kamara NO
9
60
2
5/6
66
0
86
52
34
CAR
3.
Kenyan Drake MIA
23
120
1
3/5
21
0
32
46
-15
DEN
Drake gets a boost of 31 rushing DYAR due to opponent adjustments. He had only three first downs, but his 42-yard touchdown was just the third 40-plus-yard run the Broncos have allowed this year. He was hit for no gain or a loss four times.
4.
Giovani Bernard CIN
13
77
0
2/3
19
0
19
38
-19
PIT
5.
Peyton Barber TB
23
102
0
4/4
41
0
45
36
9
GB


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.
Bilal Powell NYJ
18
48
1
2/3
2
0
-53
-44
-10
KC
Powell loses 20 DYAR to opponent adjustments. He only ran for three first downs on the day, with a long carry of 13 yards, while being stuffed for no gain or a loss six times, including three times in goal-to-go scenarios. His three targets: 2-yard loss on second-and-9; incomplete on third-and-7; 4-yard gain on third-and-7.


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.
Bilal Powell NYJ
18
48
1
2/3
2
0
-53
-44
-10
KC


Five Best Wide Receivers and Tight Ends by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
Tyreek Hill KC
6
9
185
30.8
2
67
NYJ
Hill's touchdowns went for 70 and 40 yards, and he also had a 40-yard gain on third-and-10.
2.
Larry Fitzgerald ARI
10
10
98
9.8
1
65
LARM
Seven of Fitzgerald's catches produced first downs, and the others included 6- and 8-yard gains on first-and-10. He converted all three of his third-down targets.
3.
Jermaine Kearse NYJ
9
10
157
17.4
0
56
KC
Kearse's longest catch with Seattle last year gained 36 yards. He had catches of 44 and 51 yards in this one game against the Jets. Six of his catches resulted in first downs.
4.
Trent Taylor SF
6
6
92
15.3
0
53
CHI
All six of Taylors catches resulted in first downs, including five third-down conversions, most for any receiver this week.
5.
Rob Gronkowski NE
9
11
147
16.3
0
51
BUF
The first pass thrown to Gronkowski was incomplete, and the last was intercepted. He caught nine in a row in-between for seven first downs, the longest a 30-yarder.


Worst Wide Receiver or Tight End by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
Demaryius Thomas DEN
2
10
27
13.5
0
-46
MIA
Thomas didn't catch a pass until the Broncos were down by 17 points in the 45th minute of the game. He didn't pick up a first down until they were down by 26 points in the 57th minute.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 04 Dec 2017

40 comments, Last at 06 Dec 2017, 4:48am by Vincent Verhei

Comments

1
by Raiderfan :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 8:40am

Congratulations. You seemed to have fixed the loading issue for the page. Read through the entire thing without having to reload it.
Knock on wood.

2
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 8:56am

I wish there was a good way to quantify bad coaching, because the correlation between bad coaching and qb performance might be interesting.

10
by andrew :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 11:28am

We could call it the

Football Instruction Substandard Having Egregious Results

16
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 1:15pm

Perfect.

17
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 1:20pm

HA!

3
by Jerry :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 9:40am

Proofreading:
"Alex Goff"
"but it has certainly be the most productive"

4
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 9:54am

Also Flutie was drafted by the Rams

13
by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 11:40am

These errors should now be fixed.

5
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 9:58am

Good writeup Vince on McCown as well as acknowledging what the Jets have achieved. For me, this exemplifies why Cleveland should be moving on from Hue Jackson instead of accepting the "awful roster" excuses.

6
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 11:04am

Makes me wish that Bowles was working for a better managed organization.

9
by Led :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 11:14am

I'm agnostic on Hue Jackson, but I think McCown's performance this year (while somewhat flukey) is also evudence for just how much of a team game football is. Just like it takes a halfway decent starting pitcher to lose 200 games, McCown had to have been moderately competent to have been given so many opportunities. (Most truly terrible QBs either don't see the field or do so only because they were highly drafted amd rarely get the chance to start many games for a second team.) To be sure, he isn't good. He's probably replacement level or slightly worse. It's just that virtuLly every team for which he's played has been awful (with the Jets and Bears being the exceptions that prove the rule). Even a replacement level guy on one of the worst teams in the league is going to look terrible.

The fact is that the Jets offensive talent around McCown is nowhere near as bad as advertised. The 3 RBs are talented and limiting Forte's touches has allowed him to remain reasonably effective despite some age related decline. Robbie Anderson is a rising star. Kearse has always been pretty effective. Seferian-Jenkins was a physically gifted player held back by alcoholism and who is now sober. The guards have been decent the past couple years and the tackles are a combo of a 5th round draft pick coming off of a promising rookie season and a once effective starter in his second year removed from a major knee injury. This is not the 2007 Patriots by any stretch, but signs of potential competence were there for those who wished to see it. Kidos to the coaches, but they're not magicking up something out of nothing. With McCown, they're not good enough to win shootouts regularly or stage 4th quarter comebacks, but they're not too bad.

11
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 11:34am

The contrast with The Ponderous One is instructive. The only reason he was given 36 starts was because somebody powerful in the organization, probably the owner, had a psychotic episode and decided We Must Draft a QB with Our First Pick, in a bad year for drafting qbs, and took him in the 12 spot. 4 years later, in a league desperate for qbs who can chew gum and walk at the same time, he was done, despite all reports of him being a diligent and hard working teammate.

Anybody who lasts as long as McCown has obvious value.

35
by OldFox :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 9:33pm

Totally agree. Hue needs to go. Like a lot of people, I bought into the "awful roster" excuse for a while, but now that he's got an even worse record than the poor soul who was saddled with the expansion Buccaneers ... well, he's out of excuses. The Browns do indeed have a roster filled with no-talent bums. But to say that their roster has a higher percentage of no-talent bums than the 1976-77 Bucs ... uh, no. Hue has simply not done a remotely acceptable job, and it doesn't help that he keeps looking for excuses instead of shouldering the blame. Next, he should start looking for another job.

And by the way, while everyone criticizes the Browns' front office (and with good reason), I'll give them props for one thing --- they did what they said they were going to do. They said they were going to strip down the roster, rebuild with kids and stockpile draft picks. That's exactly what they have done. It's been incredibly painful, and they haven't yet shown any great ability to use those extra draft picks to bring in great players. But at least they us what they were going to do, and then they did it. They told the truth. That's worth something.

38
by herewegobrownie... :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 9:55pm

Only thing is that the times they are adding veterans here and there, as you almost have to even when you cut the roster to the bone, the organization isn't pulling in the same direction, and they are picking the wrong ones.

There have been several reports that Hue and Gregg Williams can't stand Kenny Britt - who was supposed to "replace" Terrelle Pryor, and is "mentoring" the younger WRs by staying out late the nights before games with them - but that Sashi is too proud to admit his mistake. This was exactly the same rift between Pettine/Farmer on Dwayne Bowe.

As far as keeping vets, it's easy to say they should've traded J.Thomas before he declined/got injured, but he has been a positive "mentor" even after his injury. They should never have released Haden, and it's going to hurt that he could realistically be holding the Lombardi clad in black and gold.

37
by herewegobrownie... :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 9:53pm

Pretty astonishing that his CLE replacement, despite being under 50% with 2 TOs, made it all the way up to basically league median this week, and Kizer is now "only" last on pass DVOA by 12% instead of 17% - Siemian/Lynch/Osweiler dropped behind the Colts for 31st. Quite an adjustment against the #7 DVOA pass defense?

The problem is as much the "awful roster excuse" as Hue, though. Until Gordon and Coleman came back they had less receiving talent than McCown had last year - T.Pryor >>>> Britt - and even with OL improvements at other spots they have had no J.Thomas for a while.

7
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 11:08am

Obviously, Ditka was not a bad football coach when he was with the Bears. But he did have significant flaws, and I do wonder if Flutie may have had a much better NFL career if he had been paired with a better coach for his talents, early on.

12
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 11:35am

I'm not sure Ditka's flaw was in not giving Flutie a chance.

The 1986 Bears had an amazing collection of misfit JAG QBs! Even given his later career, I'm not sure I can make an argument that Flutie was better than McMahon or Tomczak (he was probably better than Fuller).

Tomczak and Flutie had similarly-constructed careers, and each had one improbable late-career good season.

15
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 12:02pm

Eh, we'll never know, but McMahon was much more than JAG when healthy. I think about the Vikings in the 2nd half of the 80s, with a terrific roster with several HOFers and near HOFers, trying to win playoff games with Wade Freakin' Wilson, and a boozed up, broken down, Tommy Kramer, and I think about how much success coach Jerry Burns had with a small (albeit not as small as Flutie) qb in the 1970s, named Tarkenton. I wonder if they might have done better in big games with Burns crafting an offense to fit Flutie, because Wilson was the early adopter version of Gus Ferrotte.

22
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 2:04pm

Minnesota might have had the best QB play in the NFC Central in 1986, although history would shine more brightly on Steve Young and Steve deBerg down in Tampa than present play suggested.

I agree McMahon was better than a JAG (when healthy). Even then, though, his stats are pretty so-so. His greatest strength might have been being respected by his defense.

27
by t.d. :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 2:38pm

Ditka was responsible for the Bears offenses of the era. Buddy Ryan and Jim Finks deserve the lions share of the credit for that (briefly) meteoric team. Wish I could find the quote from Walsh about loving to go up against the Bears in big games (cuz he knew he could get the better of Ditka), but it was years ago when I saw it. Regardless, Ditka had a lot of company when it came to not knowing how best to utilize Flutie's talents

29
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 3:03pm

Eh, Ditka was there 11 years, and his last 5 featured two 11-5 seasons and one 12-4, I think. His success was not brief in Chicago. No, he was not as good as Walsh, Parcells, Gibbs or even Seifert, but that is hardly harsh criticism. The top of the NFC in the 80's was comprised of monsters

32
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 5:06pm

Excepting the 1986 MASH unit, Ditka generally had top-10 offenses for the DVOA years, with a rushing attack that was often top-5. It wasn't as remarkable as their defense, but it's not like they were the Eagles' offense.

8
by Anon Ymous :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 11:09am

Color me surprised that Brady was #8 this week. Aside from a couple drives, I thought he wasn't particularly sharp. And it's not like he benefits from a large number of attempts either.

18
by johonny :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 1:45pm

The goal of the Pats was to limit Brady some to keep him sharp for the play offs. He took a lot of hits early this season when their D wasn't functioning. Now that it is and the opponents aren't as tough they seem to have moved back to their preseason plan. I assume the Pats will run a lot against Miami's bad run D on Monday and target 20-25 pass attempts for Brady. They should be able to run their way past Miami and the Bills (not sure about the Jets game because the Jets remain an enigma) saving perhaps the Steelers as the only high exposure game left for Brady until the divisional round. At this point the only thing likely to keep them out of the AFC championship game is a Brady injury and while the Pats have never played scared late in the season, they're not likely to let their 40 year old QB toss 40 pass attempts against patsies. For them the play off berth doesn't matter, the AFC championship game doesn't matter, it's all about winning the Super Bowl.

30
by ClavisRa :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 4:08pm

Entering this season, I expected the Pats to lean on a top five run game and top five defense, resulting in much lighter load on Brady. Instead Brady had to carry the team through the first half of the season as it took a long while to gel. Now, that expectation is becoming reality. The Pats only need to lean on Brady enough to keep the defense from loading up on the run game. There was one play against the Bills that disappointed me, a third and short where the Pats passed, but no receiver had a route past the sticks, and Buffalo sold out to stop the run and used press coverage. Would have been easy to go over the top for a huge gain or touchdown if the play design had allowed for it. As long as they maintain the ability to punish defenses for loading up on the run, they will have easy games from here out vs. the Dolphins, Bills, Jets.

Poetically, I want Hogan to return for the Steelers game and light them up again in a redux of the AFC Championship last year.

36
by RickD :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 9:36pm

He completed 70% of his passes for 8 yards per attempt. He had a few bad plays and made a few bad decisions, but it wasn't as bad a game as some people think.

39
by HPaddict :: Wed, 12/06/2017 - 12:53am

I've forgotten if DVOA/DYAR treats a pass to a WR differently than it does one to a TE or a RB; does it?

40
by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 12/06/2017 - 4:48am

Well, it depends on how you look at it. In passing DVOA, QBs are compared to QBs, no matter who they are throwing to, so the answer would be no. But for receiving DVOA, WRs are compared to WRs, TEs are compared to TEs, and RBs are compared to RBs. So the answer would be yes.

14
by ChrisLong :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 11:45am

I have a question related to opponent adjustments for pass-catchers. Are a player's DYAR and/or DVOA adjusted according to the defense's previous performance against a pass-catcher of that type, or simply by the defense's overall pass DVOA?

For example, Alvin Kamara had 5 catches on 6 targets for 66 yards against Carolina, resulting in 34 DYAR. Is that 34 DYAR based on Carolina's overall pass defense DVOA of 0.3%, or their pass defense DVOA vs RBs of -5.9%?

19
by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 1:47pm

j. mccown always has come across as good guy. oenm of great moments of career was touchdown pass to knock Minnesota ot of playoffs 2003. mccown also certainly going to be coach someday. who knpows if good and likes it could ebentually rise to level of head coach. McCown could be head coach of your tema someday.

not big fan of making fun of palyers unless guy is clown or dirty or jerk. so never liked seeing guys like mccown get clled a bum and stuff like that. same thing with B. Gabbert or B. Bortles. people want to make fun of dog pee dance guy O. Bekchman Jr- yes, do it. Or make fun of E. Elliott for being jerk off field, yes- fine.

G. Bernard did run goog last n ight. Might be good fantasy pickup if you need to win week 14 to make playoffs or maybe your [pl;ayoffs start this weke. so, if have spot, get him on your roster.

dii not watch any of Broncos-olphisn game but did see stats on d. Thomas. Horrible game.

21
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 1:59pm

McCown gets piled on a lot because he has had such an utterly bizarre, inexplicably long career, and, outside of this year and that Chicago half-season, he's been completely awful, and he somehow came up with this weird career resurgence. In the five seasons between 2008-2012, he threw 61 passes. In five years. One of those years (2010), he wasn't even in the league.

There's no doubt Josh McCown is a good guy and always comes off that way in interviews, but it's just bizarre that he hasn't gone the way of Alex Van Pelt to try to get into coaching or Trent Dilfer to get into a booth. McCown gets talked about because he has had one of the singly most remarkable careers in the NFL in a while, just because it's pretty unheard of that somebody that bad gets to hang around that long.

26
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 2:24pm

With the way Sean Payton loves his 3rd string qb, I think there is a chance that he gets immediately promoted to starter when Brees quits, and my favorite NFL player, Chase Daniel, would have a chance to play until he is 35, and earn 30 million-plus, while having fewer than 100 pass attempts. How awesome would that be?

20
by jschroe36 :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 1:49pm

Please don't shoot the messenger here because I love the work you guys do. This is also not a knock on Larry Fitzgerald who is a future hall-of-famer.

Fitzgerald just CAN'T be the number 2 receiver by DYAR this week. He had 10 grabs for 98, great. But c'mon, he caught 40% of those passes and gained 33% of his yardage in the final 1:55 of a game the Cardinals had, per PFR, a 99.9% chance of losing. I mean, that is TEXTBOOK garbage yards. Rams are literally gifting those plays. There should be no value applied to any of those plays. NONE. ZERO.

25
by ChrisLong :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 2:23pm

I would imagine the bulk of his DYAR comes from opponent adjustments (Rams #3 pass D, #8 vs top WRs), lack of incompletions/failed completions, and a couple long completions. The completions on the final drive probably don't do much to move the needle when compared to the 5 successful plays earlier.

23
by Craigo :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 2:22pm

65 DYAR is not a particularly impressive total - he only ranked so high because receiving performances were not great this week.

24
by Craigo :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 2:23pm

(Should have been a reply to 20, apologies.)

28
by t.d. :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 2:47pm

Vince Evans is a great comp for McCown. Both had better mobility than you'd expect from a 38/40 year old quarterback, too

31
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 4:42pm

"Alex Goff"

DAMMIT. This is what happens when you have to write about Alex Smith and Jared Goff, but you actually know a guy named Alex Goff. (If you're reading this, Alex, hi!)

Also Flutie was drafted by the Rams

Huh. I had no idea. Thanks for letting me know.

Tomczak and Flutie had similarly-constructed careers, and each had one improbable late-career good season.

Flutie had FOUR late-career good seasons, three in Buffalo and his first year with the Chargers. He was also OK in about a third of a season with San Diego in 2003.

For example, Alvin Kamara had 5 catches on 6 targets for 66 yards against Carolina, resulting in 34 DYAR. Is that 34 DYAR based on Carolina's overall pass defense DVOA of 0.3%, or their pass defense DVOA vs RBs of -5.9%?

The latter.

Fitzgerald just CAN'T be the number 2 receiver by DYAR this week. He had 10 grabs for 98, great. But c'mon, he caught 40% of those passes and gained 33% of his yardage in the final 1:55 of a game the Cardinals had, per PFR, a 99.9% chance of losing. I mean, that is TEXTBOOK garbage yards. Rams are literally gifting those plays. There should be no value applied to any of those plays. NONE. ZERO.

Every time we try taking out garbage yards, for teams and individuals, it becomes less accurate as a predictive tool. DVOA is not win expectancy. Those catches may have done nothing to help Arizona win, but they are a sign that he will still be productive in weeks to come.

33
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 5:12pm

The San Diego year where he went 5-11 and has more INTs than TDs? DYAR sort of liked it, I'll give you that.

But the Buffalo years count for at most 2 years. He played in 30 games over three seasons! That's like a McMahon Service Year!

34
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 9:09pm

He was top 16 in DYAR and and top 13 in DVOA in all his Buffalo seasons, so he was effective even if his time was limited.

He was in the 11th in DYAR, 15th in DVOA with the Chargers in 2001. Yes, he had more INTs than TDs, but it was a different era. Nine qualifying QBS had at least as many INTs as TDs that year. His biggest strength was avoiding sacks -- he was seventh in lowest sack rate.