Our offseason Four Downs series continues with a division-by-division look at each team's biggest remaining holes and their most notable UDFA signings. In the NFC North, quality wide receivers and defensive backs are in short supply.
22 Feb 2006
comments by Aaron Schatz
Once again, I would like to thank everyone who voted on the awards this season. Here are the second half of this year's Football Outsiders awards.
Who is the best national football columnist, not counting Football Outsiders writers on FOXSports.com? (two votes per ballot) (Last year's winner: Dr. Z)
|23.4% Paul Zimmerman (Dr.Z), SI.com
21.7% Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com
16.3% Gregg Easterbrook (TMQ), NFL.com
9.6% John Clayton, ESPN.com
6.7% Peter King, SI.com
6.5% Chris Mortensen, ESPN.com
|3.2% Jay Glazer, FOXSports.com
2.6% Michael "not David" Smith, ESPN.com
2.1% K.C. Joyner, ESPN.com (subscription only)
1.9% Vic Carucci, NFL.com
1.7% Don Banks, SI.com
4.3% (seven other candidates)
We expanded the list to 18 candidates this year, and gave every ballot two votes instead of one. Len Pasquarelli moves up for the second straight year, Peter King moves down for the second straight year. Jay Glazer is by far the most popular of the non-FO FOX columnists, with more than twice as many votes as the other three listed candidates combined. We listed two ESPN Insider-only writers: It's nice to see some votes for K.C. Joyner, one of the few writers out there whose perspective is similar to FO, but I'm a little surprised there were so few votes for Todd McShea (one of ESPN's Scouts Inc. guys). Nobody seems to have any reason to visit CBSSportsline's NFL coverage anymore, as Pete Prisco and Clark Judge barely received any votes.
By the way, I'm told that Michael "not David" Smith's nickname among other NFL writers is actually Michael "Word" Smith.
Which is the best announcing team in the NFL? (top 8 listed) (Last year's winner: Madden/Michaels)
|22.3% Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, FOX
21.4% John Madden and Al Michaels, ABC
13.3% Dick Stockton and Daryl Johnson, FOX
13.0% Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, CBS
6.7% Dan Dierdorf and Dick Enberg, CBS
6.4% Ian Eagle and Solomon Wilcots, CBS
4.1% Randy Cross and Kevin Harlan, CBS
3.5% Kenny Albert and Brian Baldinger, FOX
A huge jump for the top FOX team, which nearly doubles its percentage of the vote this year. Here's my guess: this is not because of Joe Buck, this is because it is clear that Troy Aikman thinks things through a lot more than other color analysts, as evidenced by the "Aikman Ratings." (By the way, I messed up and listed FOX's top team as still including Cris Collinsworth. I assume that didn't affect any votes.)
Which is the worst announcing team in the NFL? (top 8 listed) (Last year's winner: Patrick/Maguire/Theismann)
|71.8% Mike Patrick, Paul Maguire, and Joe Theismann, ESPN
7.0% John Madden and Al Michaels, ABC
4.3% Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, FOX
3.0% Dan Dierdorf and Dick Enberg, CBS
2.5% Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, CBS
2.3% Sam Rosen and Bill Maas, FOX
1.8% Randy Cross and Kevin Harlan, CBS
1.5% Kenny Albert and Brian Baldinger, FOX
The Three Stooges retire undefeated, winning this category by a larger amount each year: 30% in 2003, 57% in 2004, and 72% in 2005. You can relive their glory days by clicking here or here or here or here.
Once again, Dick Stockton and Daryl Johnson reign as the "most inoffensive announcing team," as the only announcers with more than 10% of the vote for "best announcing team" but barely any votes for for "worst announcing team."
Who is the best Sunday morning pre-game personality? (top eight listed) (Last year's winner: Chris Berman)
|19.8% Tom Jackson, ESPN
13.4% Chris Berman, ESPN
11.4% Howie Long, FOX
10.3% Steve Young, ESPN
|10.0% Terry Bradshaw, FOX
8.6% Boomer Esiason, CBS
4.8% Greg Gumbel, CBS
4.6% James Brown, FOX
Not much to say here. Howie Long moves up, Boomer Esiason moves down. Once again, we make this category "Sunday" pregame personality because otherwise Ron Jaworski would win in a landslide for Monday Night Countdown.
Who is the worst Sunday morning pre-game personality? (top eight listed) (Last year's winner: Michael Irvin)
|38.5% Michael Irvin, ESPN
20.0% Shannon Sharpe, CBS
12.2% Terry Bradshaw, FOX
6.6% Chris Berman, ESPN
|4.2% Boomer Esiason, CBS
3.9% Mike Ditka, ESPN
2.9% Greg Gumbel, CBS
2.5% Dan Marino, CBS
For the second straight year, Jimmy Johnson received almost no votes for either best or worst pregame personality. Is he even on the set?
Which team is the best fit for Terrell Owens?
1.3% New York Jets
Every year we ask a random personnel question, so this year we asked about T.O. It does look like he's headed to Denver at this point, doesn't it? I like the idea of sending him to Chicago. How would a defense cover Owens and Muhammad without leaving tons of space for Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson to run? Even if Rex Grossman is really no better than a replacement-level quarterback, he's better than Kyle Orton, and that would be a much better offense than in 2005 -- keeping the Bears in Super Bowl contention even if the defense does regress to the mean a little bit.
The best commercial during NFL games this year was: (Last year's winner: Peyton Manning "Cut that Meat")
|33.4% Burger King mascot superimposed on classic NFL footage
24.7% Master Card Peyton Manning "D-CAF!"
8.8% Sony HDTV Cal vs. Stanford as tabletop electric football
8.4% Dr. Pepper "I'd Do Anything for Love"
8.1% Visa New England Patriots offensive line as "Metaphors"
6.6% Miller Lite lawsuit commercial with Flava Flav
3.8% NFL Network Big Man Dance Challenge II
3.6% Diet Pepsi Machine drafted by Patriots
2.5% Coors Light "Silver Bullet" through Super Bowl history
Good year for good ads. The best part of the Burger King campaign was that every few weeks they would introduce a new one so that you wouldn't get tired of it. Did it make me go and buy a burger from Burger King? Nope, I haven't eaten there in months. That Sony HDTV commercial was great because it didn't try to convince you that Sony was better by showing you the TV. Usually a commercial shows you an HDTV set and tells you how great the picture is. But how are you supposed to tell the difference between that HDTV and your current television when you are watching the commercial on your current television?
The most annoying commercial during NFL games this year was: (Last year's winner: "anything even remotely connected to erectile disfunction")
|18.6% Nokia "I delete him from my phone"
17.7% Diet Pepsi Machine drafted by Patriots
14.1% Coors Light "Silver Bullet" through Super Bowl history
11.8% Visa New England Patriots offensive line as "Metaphors"
11.1% Capital One "Just Say No"
8.3% FedEx "Stop Using Football Cliches"
5.0% MasterCard Peyton Manning "D-CAF!"
4.3% All Miller Lite lawsuit commercials without Flavor Flav
3.5% NFL Network Big Man Dance Challenge II
3.2% Domino's Steak Lover's Pizza "They're Statues"
2.5% Dr. Pepper "I'd Do Anything for Love"
The target audience for football is men aged 18-44. Seriously, was that Nokia ad supposed to make us want to buy a Nokia mobile phone? That ad would be annoying during figure skating too, but at least then it would be reaching the correct audience. Then again, I like the Coors Light ad and the Dr. Pepper ad makes me want to claw my eyeballs out so maybe I don't think like the rest of you.
The Patriots finally start doing a ton of ads and lose in the postseason for the first time since 1998. By the middle of the season, two of the "metaphors" were lost with season-ending injuries and a third, Tom Ashworth, was stuck on the bench. Let this be a warning for Alan Faneca and Marvel Smith.
Other than Football Outsiders, what is the best independent football site on the Web (i.e. not ESPN.com, SI.com, NFL.com, CBS Sportsline, FOX/Sporting News)? (top 12 listed) (Last year's winner: Pro Football Talk)
|21.7% Pro Football Talk
7.8% Cold Hard Football Facts
6.5% Pro Football Reference
5.7% Football Guys
4.8% Pro Football Weekly
|3.5% NFL Draft Countdown
3.0% Football Commentary
A lot more votes on this category compared to years past, so thanks for everyone who answered this question. Pro Football Talk has become an indispensable site for news and rumors, although I could do without their weird feud with Len Pasquarelli and the random pointless gay jokes. (By the way, Mike Florio is welcome to use this quote as a testimonial, as long as he uses the entire sentence.)
I did include votes for independent sites that aren't necessarily football-specific, like Deadspin and PROTRADE. Deadspin really exploded onto the scene this year. People should check out PROTRADE, which is now using advanced statistical measurements on NBA players and will be adding baseball to the game soon. And, speaking of new sites this year, yay for FO reader Tunesmith and his beatpaths. It's cool that FO is inspiring people now to create their own innovative stats and create their own pages.
Football Commentary finished second last year, but William Krasker didn't write much this season.
Which local NFL writer do you feel deserves a more national profile?
Once again, this question didn't get that many votes, although there were certainly more votes than last year. The top vote-getter was Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe, who writes an indispensable weblog about the Patriots as well as exhaustive regular mailbag columns. Why don't other newspapers have content like this? I think the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has a similar weblog but I'm not sure what else is out there. Anyway, I finally had a chance to go to lunch with Mike last week, good guy, definitely someone that those of you outside of Boston will be hearing from someday.
Other writers who received at least three votes included:
Also receiving a few votes were two analysts who aren't writers but are local: Mike Carlson, who covers the NFL for NFLUK.com and Channel Five in Britain, and Ray Didinger from NFL Films and the Comcast Sports Network in Philadelphia.
The funniest moment of the NFL season was: (Last year's winner: Boomer Esiason dismisses Peyton Manning as "this generation's Dan Marino" with Dan Marino sitting right next to him)
|31.0% Clinton Portis and his weekly Thursday costume press conferences
26.3% Ron Mexico
22.3% Carolina Top Cats
14.7% Minnesota Vikings Love Boat
5.7% Lil' Ronnie and the Indianapolis Colts theme song, "Super Bowl Bound."
Shocking upset! I was convinced that the lesbian Carolina Panthers cheerleaders would win this in a landslide. I guess you can't stop Southeast Jerome and all his friends, unless you have Coach Janky Spanky and his defense that features an extra two Sean Taylors. For those interested, Portis has a list of all the characters on his website with fun facts about each one, and all the press conferences are archived on Redskins.com.
Frankly, any of these five events would have won this category last year. 2005 was a very funny year.
The ballot ended with some questions about Football Outsiders. Thanks to everyone who gave us their comments. We forgot to add an optional e-mail for "whose ballot is this," anybody who had a question for us in their comments should re-send the question using the comment form so that one of us can answer it.
There were a lot of good requests and suggestions. Some ideas, unfortunately, are simply not feasible at this stage in our research, like judging player contracts based on DPAR per dollar, or creating values to measure the effect of specific injuries on a team. The other issue is time, since I'm still the only FO writer who does this as my full-time profession
That's why, for example, you have not seen much from the game charting project -- something brought up by a few readers. We did this charting with a crew of reader volunteers who ended up missing many games for various reasons. (That even includes me -- my DVR hard drive bit the dust when I was only halfway through the Week 13 Cincinnati-Pittsburgh game.) This being the first year of the charting, the information that we did get came in all different formats. You wouldn't believe how many ways there are to mark which defender was covering an intended receiver. So we have to fill all the holes and games we missed -- only Seattle and Pittsburgh are complete -- and then clean up all the data to make the formatting consistent.
There's also the problem of how to present the data, of course. Some of you will remember that before the season, I was trying to figure out how we could change the format of DVOA to make it easier to understand. Then I had my family tragedy and when I came back from that we were already in the third week of the season. That's what led to the question on the ballot about how to format DVOA, and here were the results:
|40.4% Leave DVOA as is
32.3% Change to represent the number of points a team is better or worse than average, with average as 0.0
19.7% Change to look like standard NFL stats for points per game, with average as the actual NFL average of points per game (roughly 20.6)
7.6% Put on a 1-100 scale similar to the Aikman Ratings
Well, that sure was inconclusive, and I still don't know what to do.
We also asked readers which was their favorite team.
|Favorite Team of FO Readers, End of 2005 Season|
We also asked this in the Loser League entry form before the season started so it is interesting to see how the results have changed. The Steelers, Seahawks, Redskins, and Broncos are up. Patriots and Eagles fans, at least as a percentage of our readers, are down. The only team not to receive at least one vote was Arizona. I know we have one Arizona fan who reads the site regularly, but he must not have voted in the awards. Here's that list by division:
|FO Readers by Division, End of 2005 Season|
|NFC East||20.7%||NFC West||11.6%|
|AFC East||18.2%||AFC South||8.5%|
|AFC North||15.6%||AFC West||8.3%|
|NFC North||12.4%||NFC South||4.6%|
Ha! East coast bias! We certainly would like to have more southern and western readers. Besides Arizona, the bottom four teams were all NFC South teams. Only two readers said that their favorite team was Tampa Bay, which means that with Ian Dembsky returning to write Scramble for the Ball, the FO staff now has as many Tampa Bay fans as the FO readership. (Russell Levine is the other one.) The Rams, Jags, and Dolphins were way down as well, so please tell all your friends in Missouri, Georgia, and Florida about Football Outsiders.
And now, for the final element of this year's awards balloting, we present, as voted by the Football Outsiders readers ...
Mike Tanier first introduced the Fantasy Football Hall of Fame in this article and it was so popular that we decided to induct five players each year. To merit induction into the Fantasy Football Hall of Fame, a player or coach must:
Super Bowl appearances count against potential candidates, as do other noteworthy accomplishments like an MVP award. A candidate's best seasons had to occur after the dawn of the fantasy sports era (the mid-to-late 1980s) and bonus points are awarded for non-football factors like a catchy nickname or related food product.
Outstanding fantasy season, 1996. Ran for 1,353 yards and scored 21 rushing touchdowns, seven more than any other running back. Three other 1,000-yard seasons with at least eight touchdowns. Most valuable fantasy running back in 1996, fourth in 1992, and seventh in 1997. Long knock-around career as a veteran running back for hire. Emerged from two years as a part-timer to score nine touchdowns (eight rushing, one receiving) for the 1999 New England Patriots.
Outstanding fantasy seasons, 1994 and 1998. Top six in fantasy value among wide receivers both years. A run 'n' shoot receiver. Holds the career record for two-point conversions. Is short. The 1994 season was one of the great come-from-nowhere seasons in fantasy history, as Mathis went from a four-year bench warmer with the Jets to 1,342 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns with the Falcons. Finished third in the NFL in both categories that year. 1,136 yards and 11 touchdowns in 1998 after two down years. Negative factor: had three postseason touchdowns during the Falcons Super Bowl run in 1998. Now an aspiring NASCAR team owner. Seriously.
Outstanding fantasy seasons, 1998-2000. At least 1,000 yards and 7 touchdowns in each season. Top 20 fantasy wide receiver three straight years despite the fact that Rod Smith was always the team's number one target. Legitimately cool nickname: "Easy Ed." Had his own mustard. Suffered the second most gruesome injury in Monday Night Football history. Negative factor: had considerable postseason success.
Outstanding fantasy seasons, 1994-1996. Unexpected breakout in 1994 (twice as many yards as previous season) responsible for many fantasy championships. One of the seven most valuable fantasy wide receivers in all three years, with an average of 1,180 yards and 13 touchdowns. Caught 540 passes but never played in the postseason. Obvious, overused nickname: Slim.
Unleashed Randall Cunningham on an unsuspecting public. Punched Kevin Gilbride. Popularized the 46 defense, creating some of the most dangerous "team defenses" of the early fantasy era. 1988 Eagles were 27th in yards allowed per pass attempt, second in interceptions. 1985 Bears, 1989 Eagles and 1994 Cardinals led NFL in interceptions. Never won a playoff game. Career record is exactly .500 (55-55-1). Punched Kevin Gilbride. Coined the term "chuck 'n' duck." Placed bounties on opposing kickers. Punched Kevin Gilbride.
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