Quick Reads
The best and worst players of the week according to Football Outsiders stats.

Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Vince Verhei

Was the New York Giants' 21-17 win over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI a great game for Eli Manning? Or a lousy game for Tom Brady? Neither, actually. Although Manning's team won and Brady's team lost, the two quarterbacks were virtually equal in their performance on Sunday.

The raw numbers are close, but they give the edge to the Giants passer. Manning had three more completions for 20 more yards. Brady threw four more incomplete passes, and though he threw two touchdowns to one for Manning, he also threw the game's only interception. And while Brady took one less sack than Manning, he also committed an intentional grounding penalty that cost the Patriots two points.

Remember, though, that Brady and Manning weren't competing head-to-head. Brady was playing against the Giants defense, while Manning was playing against New England's, and that's a huge advantage for Manning. The Patriots were 28th in Football Outsiders pass defense rankings during the regular season. The Giants defense ranked 21st, and that includes games when they were missing several key defenders. By the end of the year, when everyone was healthy, they were clearly better than that.

When you factor in opponent adjustments, the quarterback battle on Sunday was virtually a wash. Manning finished with 129 DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement - more info available here), while Brady had 127. As close as that matchup is, it seems unfair that one of those players should be deemed a winner and the other a loser.

Which brings us to the manner of legacy. Should our perceptions of Brady and Manning change based on Sunday's game? Two weeks ago we ran a table showing the best playoff quarterbacks since 1995. Here's what the table looks like after the Super Bowl:

Most Total Postseason DYAR, 1995-2011
Quarterback DYAR Games
Peyton Manning 2,317 19
Tom Brady 1,831 22
Kurt Warner 1,612 13
Drew Brees 1,330 9
Brett Favre 1,111 20
Eli Manning 837 11
Aaron Rodgers 832 7
Matt Hasselbeck 787 11
Ben Roethlisberger 634 14
Philip Rivers 595 7

Manning's performance in the Super Bowl bumped him up two spots on that list, passing Hasselbeck and Rodgers. He finished with 479 DYAR this postseason, so it's feasible that he could pass Favre or even Brees with one more Super Bowl run. While Rodgers, Roethlisberger, and/or Rivers could all pass him in the future, the present results match common perception: Manning's status has notably risen in the past five weeks.

But Brady? He remains in second place, and is closer to Peyton Manning's place atop the list now than he was before Kelly Clarkson sang the national anthem. And that reflects Brady's performance. He wasn't sensational, but he played well against a good defense while under constant pressure. It wasn't enough to win the game at the end, but that should be a credit to the Giants, not a sign of failure on Brady's part at all. The idea that Brady cost New England the game, that he somehow sullied his legacy, or even that he would have been better off not reaching the Super Bowl at all, is just silly.

Brady said as much to reporters last night. "I said after the game, I'll keep coming to this game and keep trying," Brady said, when asked what he had told his teammates in the locker room. "I'd rather come to this game and lose than not get here."

So Brady will keep trying. Can he play in this game again? He'll need more help at wide receiver. Both of his starters in the Super Bowl, Wes Welker and Deion Branch, are free agents. Even if both men come back, New England could still use a viable deep threat. Fortunately for the Patriots, the 2012 free agent class is ridiculously deep at wide receiver. Some of the best names available include Vincent Jackson, Reggie Wayne, DeSean Jackson, Dwayne Bowe, Marques Colston, Brandon Lloyd, and Robert Meachem. That's 38,778 career yards (more than 22 miles) of receiving production on the open market.

And the champions? Only two starters in New York's offensive lineup (tight end Jake Ballard and offensive tackle Kareem McKenzie) will be free agents, but they have to be concerned about the age of their offensive line. The five starters in the Super Bowl averaged 30.2 years old, and the youngest (Kevin Boothe) will be 29 in July. The Giants could use an infusion of youth here.

But that's for the future. For now, the Giants are Super Bowl champions. And that's really all that matters.

Eli Manning NYG
Manning's fourth-quarter performance in the Super Bowl: 10-of-14 for 118 yards, seven first downs, 62 DYAR. In his four fourth quarters this postseason (including overtime against San Francisco in the NFC title game), he went 32-of-45 for 339 yards with three touchdowns, three sacks, and no interceptions, good for 181 DYAR. In the Super Bowl, he went 9-for-9 in the first quarter, but he was also sacked twice in that span, and seven of those completions gained less than 10 yards. The NFL's leader in deep passes (16 yards or more past the line of scrimmage) in the regular season, Manning threw only seven such passes in the Super Bowl, completing two of them for 56 yards.
Tom Brady NE
Brady completed 16 passes in a row between the second and third quarters, for 158 yards and eight first downs (including two touchdowns). Aside from that streak, he went 11-of-25 for 118 yards, with two sacks, one intentional grounding call for a safety, and one interception. He was no better on deep passes than Manning, going 2-of-8 for 40 yards, with the interception and the grounding call both coming on deep passes.
Five most valuable running backs
Danny Woodhead NE
Woodhead rushed seven times for 18 yards, and actually finished below replacement level in rushing DYAR. His longest run was only 6 yards, and he was stuffed for a loss on a second-and-goal carry in the second quarter. However, whenever Tom Brady threw Woodhead the ball, good things happened. He caught all four of the passes thrown his was for a total of 42 yards. One catch was a touchdown on third-and-goal from the 3. Two others were first-down plays for 11 and 19 yards. And the fourth was an 8-yard gain on first-and-10.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis NE
Green-Ellis’ first carry of the second half gained 17 yards. His other nine carries averaged 3.0 yards each, and he ended up with only three first downs and two stuffs for a loss. He was also thrown three passes: a 7-yard gain on second-and-11; an 8-yard gain on first down; and an incompletion on second-and-8.
Ahmad Bradshaw NYG
Bradshaw rushed 17 times for 74 yards, but nearly one-third of those yards came on one first-quarter run. Otherwise, he averaged 3.0 yards per rush and was stuffed for no gain or a loss four times. He had five total first downs on the ground (including the game-winning accidental touchdown), but he also had a critical fumble deep in Giants territory in the fourth quarter. Fortunately for New York, they recovered the football, but Bradshaw should still be criticized for coughing it up in the first place. He also caught two of three passes for 19 yards. One of those receptions was an 8-yard gain on first-and-10; the other was an 11-yard gain on third-and-15.
Least valuable running back
Brandon Jacobs NYG
Somebody had to finish last among running backs, and Jacobs was that guy. The only pass thrown his way fell incomplete on first-and-10. Meanwhile, he ran for 37 yards. He picked up only two first downs and his longest carry gained just 11 yards, but each of his nine carries gained at least 1 yard, and six of them gained 3 yards or more. By the standards of the 2012 postseason, this really wasn't a bad game for a running back at all.
Five most valuable wide receivers and tight ends
Victor Cruz NYG
In many ways, Super Bowl XLVI was a pretty weird game, but this was perhaps the weirdest fact of all: With four catches for a mere 25 yards, a whopping 6.3 yards per reception, Cruz was the most valuable receiver in the contest. Though none of Cruz' catches gained more than 8 yards, one was a 2-yard touchdown, two others were third-down conversions, and the fourth was a 7-yard gain on second-and-8. Meanwhile, he had zero incompletions.
Wes Welker NE
A lot of chatter after the Super Bowl concerned Welker's drop of a fourth-quarter pass that would have given New England a first down deep in New York territory, but that was Welker's only incompletion of the day. Even including that play, he was by far the most dangerous weapon in the New England offense. Part of that comes in rushing value - his two carries gained 10 and 11 yards, respectively, and he led all players in total rushing value. On the other hand, only two of his catches gained first downs, five gained less than 10 yards, and one was a 6-yard gain on third-and-7.
Bear Pascoe NYG
New York's second-most valuable receiver caught four passes for 33 yards. Like Cruz, he caught every pass thrown his way; unlike Cruz, he gained only two first downs.
Hakeem Nicks NYG
Nicks had eight first downs, six 10-yard plays, and converted all three of his third-down targets. However, he is docked severely for his fumble in the third quarter, even though his Giants teammates fell on the ball. Had he not fumbled, he would have finished tied with Welker (but still behind Cruz) in total value among receivers on the day.
Rob Gronkowski NE
His three targets, in order: a 20-yard catch on first down in the second quarter; an interception by Chase Blackburn in the fourth quarter (although for Gronkowski, that play is treated like any other incomplete pass); and a 6-yard gain on second-and-9 in the fourth.
Least valuable wide receiver or tight end
Mario Manningham NYG
He had the biggest catch in the Super Bowl, and he still finished as the game's least valuable receiver. At the end of the third quarter, Manningham had been thrown only two passes, both failed third-down plays (one incompletion, one catch for 5 yards when the Giants needed 10). His first target in the fourth quarter was caught for a 12-yard gain. Manning's next pass went to Hakeem Nicks, and then Manning threw six passes in a row Manningham's way. Three of those passes were incomplete (including another failed third-down play). He also had catches of 38, 16, and 2 yards.

Finally, here are the single-game DVOA ratings for Super Bowl XLVI. In case you didn't think it could get any more frustrating for Patriots fans, well, you were wrong.

DVOA (with opponent adjustments)
NE 12.9% 25% 14% 2%
NYG 12.7% 11% 5% 7%
VOAf (no opponent adjustments)
NE 10% 30% 22% 2%
NYG -6% 21% 34% 7%


311 comments, Last at 11 Feb 2012, 5:05pm

1 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Brady threw four more incomplete passes, and though he threw two touchdowns to one for Manning, he also threw the game's only incompletion.

game's only interception*!

2 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

There's really no excuse for NOT giving us the individual VOAs in the Super Bowl. What are you thinking?!?

As for the team VOAs, anyone who was paying attention knew that the fumble recoveries were huge. It's things like fumble recoveries that make this a game rather than just a skills competition. The Giants were simply better at those "little things" that aren't statistical indicators of future success. In a close game, that's what determines the winner.

Congrats Giants fans.

12 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

I think "better" at something that is "not a statistical indicator of future success" is more correct than "random". It's not a coin flip. Alertness, aggressiveness and good hands matter. You or I could match an NFL captain in calling-the-coin-toss skill. We could not do so in a loose ball drill.

If the Patriots outplayed the Giants on an average play (see VOA), it wasn't by much, and it wasn't at the right moments in the game. The Giants had the edge in plays, yards, first downs, and of course, the score. If that came from fumble recoveries and making the most of what good plays they had, that's what made them winners.

Football is not all about having the best average per-play repeatable-skill result.

145 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Fumble recoveries aren't random as in "not repeatable" they are random as in "no skill on behalf of either party". The Giants were no more alert than the Patriots, the ball simply bounced directly to them.

253 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

I wouldn't say that, but in the spectrum of "things I might be able to do as well as an NFL player", yes, recovering fumbles that bounce right to me would be close to the top of the list. Maybe only behind standing in the endzone and watching a kickoff sail over me for the touchback. Yeah, I think I could pull that one off.

This isn't the right question to ask, of course. The right question to consider is if there's an appreciable difference in the ability to recover fumbles from one team to the next. All evidence suggests there is not.

258 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

"Alertness, aggressiveness and good hands matter."

Except for the fact that every team in the NFL apparently has equivalent alertness, aggressiveness, and good hands, because they're all equally good at recovering fumbles as far as we can tell.

"You or I could match an NFL captain in calling-the-coin-toss skill. We could not do so in a loose ball drill."

Maybe... but apparently every other NFL player could match an NFL captain in a loose ball drill, because they're all equally good as far as we can tell.

However, I can suggest a more likely explanation. The reason we have an oblong football is because players liked the fact that a semi-flat round ball bounced randomly. So maybe, just maybe, fumble recoveries are random because the people who play the sport liked the idea that the ball bounces randomly.

259 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

I'm starting to wonder if forcing fumbles are also random - that is, it is correlated more with the offense than with the defense. I've no evidence and done no research - but anecdotally, it seems to me that outside of strip-sacks, very few players are consistently good at forcing fumbles, but many players are consistently bad at losing the football.

263 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

That few players are good at something does not mean it's not a learnable or repeatable skill.

As an example, few baseball players can effectively throw a knuckleball. That does not mean it is not a skill, or not repeatable.

More to the point, I believe there is a mechanism by which a player can become better at generating fumbles, and thus it can be considered a skill.

268 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Yeah, off the top of my head I can really only think of Charles Woodson as a player who seems particularly skilled at stripping the ball out of a WR's or RB's hands. When nobody batted an eye at helmet-to-helmet hits, the way to most consistently force fumbles was to concuss the ball carrier. That's still effective (Pierre Thomas), but obviously not as kosher now.

286 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Brian Dawkins had waaay more forced fumbles than the average non-defensive lineman (although less so with Denver, so there may be a connection with the type of defense). Maybe Sean Taylor too, but sadly we have nowhere near enough statistics for that.

270 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

This is only observational, but it seemed to me that all season this Patriots team was adept at stripping the ball (as evidenced in the Super Bowl) under the principle of, if you can't defend or tackle, strip the football as a last resort.

283 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

In strip sacks, it's just obviously a real effect. Dwight Freeney has 43 career fumbles forced to Michael Strahan's 14, and he has several years to pad that lead.

For non-strip-sacks, I give you Brian Dawkins (36 fumbles forced in 911 tackles) or Charles Woodson (28 fumbles forced in 753 tackles) vs Darrell Green (5 fumbles forced in 1159 tackles) or Eugene Robinson (15 fumbles forced in 1250 tackles.)

Clearly it's a real skill that differs from player to player, but I had to take some very, very experienced players just to get a sample size large enough to be meaningful.

265 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Which is why my favorite play in football, generically, when I don't care who wins or loses, is the snap over the punter's head, when the punt team has a rush on. Sheer chaos, and I love it.

269 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Hmm, it seems more likely to me that it is oblong because that is the shape that just makes sense if you want to be able to secure the ball with one hand in the crook of your arm.

287 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

It was serious. Footballs started off nominally round, but were usually not actually round because well, they leaked, and it was too hard to blow them up to be completely round.

So they ended up more like an oval - and eventually people preferred that, because it's easier to hold, and it bounces weird when it hits the ground. They became more oval when the forward pass came along, for aerodynamics and ease of throwing. (Arguments for this here).

But the bounce of a football is fairly chaotic. It's not surprising that recovering a fumble is essentially random - especially when you also realize that the positioning of the players near the fumble is also essentially random (except for the relative number of offense/defense, which is why certain types of fumbles are more likely to be recovered by offense/defense).

294 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

> It was serious.

I only meant the part about the shape of the football evolving how it has in order to produce crazy, random fumbles. I know that's a byproduct but I've never heard of it cited as a cause.

308 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Perhaps in a hundred years, the ball will be approximately the dimensions of a javelin, which will make the QB position that much easier, but make WRs and D-backs jobs incredibly harder. And if Will Allen thinks a botched punt is exciting chaos now...

310 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

And is it considered a reception if it passes through his body and touches the ground? Does he have to make a football move before it passes through his body in order to have kept control?

311 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

I think a ball passing through your body is clearly in your control, so he would have controlled the ball before and after it touched the ground, which is a catch.

46 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

In particular, I'm very interested in what Aaron Hernandez's numbers were. I don't think anybody watching the game thought that he was outplayed by Gronkowski. He must be facing a stiff penalty for his last dropped pass. And what about Manningham? Seriously, guys, you're not pressed for space here, are you? It's the Super Bowl. You've got the numbers. Why not publish them?

Glad to see that the numbers can be used to easily rebut the "Welker is the goat" nonsense.

5 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

The DVOA numbers don't make me feel anyworse (bad case of spastic colitis since Welker's drop). It makes me think the numbers don't reflect what happened in the game....

7 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

The DYAR chart sorted by DYAR/GM (I'm aware of the problems with doing this but I still think it has value)

Drew Brees.........1,330....9.....147.8
Kurt Warner........1,612...13.....124.0
Peyton Manning.....2,317...19.....121.9
Aaron Rodgers........832....7.....118.9
Philip Rivers........595....7......85.0
Tom Brady..........1,831...22......83.2
Eli Manning..........837...11......76.1
Matt Hasselbeck......787...11......71.5
Brett Favre........1,111...20......55.6
Ben Roethlisberger...634...14......45.3

13 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Not sure too much about the problems with this once you get to a certain number of games played. But, I prefer this. If you just go by total DYAR, then unless you really suck in a game, you're going to seem "better" just by playing more.

I guess we could split this out into divisional, championship, and SB rounds to make it clearer, but I like this because it doesn't make sense to say the more the better. (Think Bernie Williams in baseball. The most RBI's ever in post season play, but he's not nearly the best post-season player in MLB history.)

175 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Not sure too much about the problems with this once you get to a certain number of games played.

The thing is, none of them have played enough games for there not be a problem. It's much easier to have a high DYAR/game in a smaller number of games than in a larger number, at these sample sizes.

It's analagous the binomial probability. E.g. given a 50% winning percentage for playoff games on the whole, the probability that a coach will have a 66.7% winning percentage in 9 games, going 6-3 or better, is 25% by random chance. But the probability that he will in 18 games, going 12-6 or better, is only 12%.

So Peyton's 122 DYAR/game over 19 games may be a lot better than Brees' 148/game over only 9 games, in the sense of being less likely and so presumably attributable to skill.

The snag is that such probabilities are much easier to figure with binomial (W-L) outcomes than with performances on a scale.

26 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

I wonder how much of this DYAR is built from playing against slightly subpar defenses in the Wild Card round. Manning has had multiple opportunities to blow teams out, like Denver, in the Wild Card, while Brady has tended to sit and then play in the divisionals, drawing strong defenses. I know these numbers are adjusted for defense, but it still seems easier to put up strong DYAR by wrecking a middling team than by playing solid against a great team. Just a thought. Warner's numbers are also curious to me. I have strong recollections of the 1999 Championship game, the 2001 Super Bowl, etc. I tended to think of him as a bit reckless in big games. Perhaps the Arizona run really lifted his numbers?

79 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Theoretically, playing against subpar defenses wouldn't give a disproportionate bump in DYAR, which is opponent-adjusted.

That said, even if you give Peyton Manning 250 DYAR for each Broncos game (I couldn't find the exact amounts, but 250 DYAR is extremely high), then remove those games, his overall DYAR is 1817, in 17 games. That comes out to 106.89 per game, which is still well into the upper half of that list, and considerably above the next tier (Rivers, Brady, Eli Manning).

174 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

That's an interesting question that I don't have the data to answer but I'm going to guess anyway. Yes that's right I'm going horribly off topic and posting several massive ascii formatted "charts".

He played in 14 (9-5) playoff games in the 90's over 6 seasons (93-98) and 10(4-6) playoff games in the 2000's over 6 seasons (01-04, 07, 09).

Generally you'll get more DYAR in a win than a loss and of course he had 4 more games to pick up DYAR with in the 90's. But that isn't to say he didn't have some stinkers in the 90's and some very good games in the 2000's, if you just base it on rating or AY/A (last two actual numbers before the score below). ( http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/F/FavrBr00/gamelog/post/ )

01 1993 15-26(57.7) 204y 3TD 1INT 105.3 08.42 W28-24 v DET
02 1993 17-27(62.2) 331y 2TD 2INT 080.9 06.24 L17-27 v DAL
03 1994 23-38(60.5) 262y 0TD 0INT 081.2 06.89 W16-12 v DET
04 1994 19-35(51.4) 211y 0TD 1INT 058.2 04.74 L09-35 v DAL
05 1995 24-35(68.6) 199y 3TD 0INT 111.5 07.40 W37-20 v ATL
06 1995 21-28(75.0) 299y 2TD 0INT 132.9 12.11 W27-17 v SFO
07 1995 21-39(53.8) 307y 3TD 2INT 084.1 07.10 L27-38 v DAL
08 1996 11-15(73.3) 079y 1TD 0INT 107.4 06.60 W35-14 v SFO
09 1996 19-29(65.5) 292y 2TD 1INT 107.3 09.90 W30-13 v CAR
10 1996 14-27(51.9) 246y 2TD 0INT 107.9 10.59 W35-21 v NWE
11 1997 15-28(53.6) 190y 1TD 2INT 057.1 04.29 W21-07 v TAM
12 1997 16-27(59.3) 222y 1TD 0INT 098.1 08.96 W23-10 v SFO
13 1997 25-42(59.5) 256y 1TD 1INT 091.0 06.45 L24-31 v DEN
14 1998 20-35(57.1) 292Y 2TD 2INT 079.7 08.34 L27-30 v SFO

15 2001 22-29(75.9) 269y 2TD 1INT 112.6 09.10 W25-15 v SFO
16 2001 26-44(59.1) 281y 2TD 6INT 053.5 01.16 L17-45 v STL
17 2002 20-42(47.6) 247y 1TD 2INT 054.4 04.21 L07-27 v ATL
18 2003 26-38(68.4) 319y 1TD 0INT 102.9 08.92 W33-27 v SEA
19 2003 15-28(53.6) 180y 2TD 1INT 082.4 06.25 L17-20 v PHI
20 2004 22-33(66.7) 216y 1TD 4INT 055.4 01.70 L17-31 v MIN
21 2007 18-23(78.3) 173y 3TD 0INT 137.6 10.13 W42-20 v SEA
22 2007 19-35(54.3) 236y 2TD 2INT 070.7 05.31 L20-23 v NYG
23 2009 15-24(62.5) 234y 4TD 0INT 134.4 13.08 W34-03 v DAL
24 2009 28.46(60.9) 310y 1TD 2INT 070.0 05.22 L28-31 v NOR

If you order them by AY/A you get this (The split is top 12 vs bottom 12)

23 2009 15-24(62.5) 234y 4TD 0INT 134.4 13.08 W34-03 v DAL
06 1995 21-28(75.0) 299y 2TD 0INT 132.9 12.11 W27-17 v SFO
10 1996 14-27(51.9) 246y 2TD 0INT 107.9 10.59 W35-21 v NWE
21 2007 18-23(78.3) 173y 3TD 0INT 137.6 10.13 W42-20 v SEA
09 1996 19-29(65.5) 292y 2TD 1INT 107.3 09.90 W30-13 v CAR
15 2001 22-29(75.9) 269y 2TD 1INT 112.6 09.10 W25-15 v SFO
12 1997 16-27(59.3) 222y 1TD 0INT 098.1 08.96 W23-10 v SFO
18 2003 26-38(68.4) 319y 1TD 0INT 102.9 08.92 W33-27 v SEA
01 1993 15-26(57.7) 204y 3TD 1INT 105.3 08.42 W28-24 v DET
14 1998 20-35(57.1) 292Y 2TD 2INT 079.7 08.34 L27-30 v SFO
05 1995 24-35(68.6) 199y 3TD 0INT 111.5 07.40 W37-20 v ATL
07 1995 21-39(53.8) 307y 3TD 2INT 084.1 07.10 L27-38 v DAL

03 1994 23-38(60.5) 262y 0TD 0INT 081.2 06.89 W16-12 v DET
08 1996 11-15(73.3) 079y 1TD 0INT 107.4 06.60 W35-14 v SFO
13 1997 25-42(59.5) 256y 1TD 1INT 091.0 06.45 L24-31 v DEN
19 2003 15-28(53.6) 180y 2TD 1INT 082.4 06.25 L17-20 v PHI
02 1993 17-27(62.2) 331y 2TD 2INT 080.9 06.24 L17-27 v DAL
22 2007 19-35(54.3) 236y 2TD 2INT 070.7 05.31 L20-23 v NYG
24 2009 28.46(60.9) 310y 1TD 2INT 070.0 05.22 L28-31 v NOR
04 1994 19-35(51.4) 211y 0TD 1INT 058.2 04.74 L09-35 v DAL
11 1997 15-28(53.6) 190y 1TD 2INT 057.1 04.29 W21-07 v TAM
17 2002 20-42(47.6) 247y 1TD 2INT 054.4 04.21 L07-27 v ATL
20 2004 22-33(66.7) 216y 1TD 4INT 055.4 01.70 L17-31 v MIN
16 2001 26-44(59.1) 281y 2TD 6INT 053.5 01.16 L17-45 v STL

So 4 of his best 12 games came in the 2000's, which is pretty much 33%, so yeah, 70% of his DYAR coming from the 90's is probably right. That 2001 game vs St. Louis was brutal and probably had a huge negative value and while 09 Dallas and 07 Seattle games were both pretty good we've also got the 04 Minnesota and 02 Atlanta games in there. That 97 Tampa Bay game doesn't look great on this but Tampa had a good defense (-10.0% DVOA) to temper it a bit.

Yeah I'd be interested in his DYAR by game numbers. He declined, but really his playoff legacy seems to match his regular season legacy. He could do some brilliant stuff and some horrendous stuff. He's got enough games that it's pretty easy to see good ones sandwiched by bad and vice versa along with several average games.

6 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

How does the system handle things like the no call on Sterling Moore's pass interference?

8 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

I don't believe uncalled penalties are factored, which is why it is a mistake to view fumble recoveries in isolation, as being how randomness affects outcomes. Even called penalties, although counted, I believe, seem to be somewhat random events, when one considers such calls as offensive holding or illegal contact on receivers. I've seen one defensive lineman after another flat out tackled in this year's playoffs, without being flagged, so it was surprise to see the Giants penalized for something less blatant on a critical early play, when they could have really jumped out to a huge lead. I'm not saying the call was wrong, mind you, but instead saying that the rulebook and ref performance have worked together to make the officiating a major random factor in the outcomes of NFL games. This year, when the winning Super Bowl team seemed to get the short end of the zebra wheel spins, it isn't much noticed. When the reverse happens, like the Steelers/Seahawks game, it really damages the perception of the event, I think. I wish there was a good solution to this.

38 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

100% agree.

And I don't think there's a real solution. So many calls (esp. DPI and offensive holding) can easily go either way, and it has a huge outcome on the game.

If there's say, 4 such close calls in a game, and one team gets 3/4 or all four of those close ones...well, depending on the situation, that can easily be as big a factor as fumble luck.

49 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

How can you expect any system to call penalties that are not called? On any given play, uncountably many penalties are not called. You really want the FO guys to be making judgment calls about what should and should not have been penalties?

9 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Brady legacy tarnished? Haha! The causal fan might think so, but the total career would say no. Though, Brady seemed like he played rushed, the Welker drop on the smash route was more on the QB than WR. He threw it to the wrong shoulder and Welker had to do some acrobatics to just get his hands on it.

Really want to see what NE and NY do in free agency and the draft. The Giants need OL help, the Pats need WR and LB help and have two 1st round picks.

18 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Well given that NE didn't have a Corey Dillon-type running back, nor a Randy Moss at WR and the O-line had trouble with just the Giant's front four, I think Brady did pretty good.

The other thing was JPP batted down passes, which is partly due to the O-line. Coaches will sometimes tell O-linemen to "block high" so the D-line can't jump. Which was surprising since a short QB (Brees) didn't have any passes knocked down against that D-line. It seemed like just the front four was confusing the O-line and getting into Brady's head and he still managed to put up 2 TDs.

19 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Based on DYAR it would help him, his DYAR/Game is significantly lower than it was in this game so his average would improve. However based on watching the game I would agree with you.

172 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

But you know that Brady's "reputation" is not based on DYAR. In reality, that game should not change what people think about Brady. But, in terms of reputation, let's face it, much of his early reputation was based on post season success. Sunday was a failure on the largest stage. Is it fair? No. But reputations are not fair. Was it fair that Peyton took a loss in the NYJ playoff game in 2010 even though he put his team in the lead with less than a minute to go? No, but it certainly hurt his "reputation."

Brady is a much better QB now than in the early 2000's when his reputation as a winner on the big stage was established. Unfortunately, when a reputation is built upon a certain standard, in this case SB wins, then failure with regard to that standard is going to hurt a repetition. No one in the early 2000's was championing Brady for his yardage totals, or TD totals. They were shouting about his undefeated post season record.

201 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

This. Brady's legacy was defined by being the QB on 3 Super Bowl winners and "the guy who[se team] kept beating Peyton['s team]". Now that he's been "outplayed" in two Super Bowl losses, the same people who worshipped his legacy into existence have discovered his feet of clay, never mind that he's likely a much better QB now than he was then.

Legacy is public perception. Is he less of a HoF-worthy QB? Of course not. Is he less likely to be voted into the Hall? Probably not - he'd have to play like Big Ben in a Super Bowl before that happened - but he's no longer the wondrous god of all things QB.

233 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Brady played a decent game. But public perception seems to be that he was terrible. I find it somewhat ironic that a mistaken impression of this game may be the thing that brings Brady's public perception back from the stratosphere into something more in line with his actual play.

20 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

I don't know. If VOA is to be trusted, 10 straight games like that would net him 6 wins and 4 losses, or if he was a little unlucky, maybe just 5 wins.

Oh, you meant if the non-VOA-measured factors broke this way in all 10 games? 20 forced fumbles all recovered by the opponent? That would be amazing. But it would have nothing to do with Brady.

37 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Considering where his legacy looked like it might be going, 5-5 or 6-4 over a 10 game stretch would knock it down a bit.

I don't want to go overboard with this - some nimrod on the radio last week was saying 3-2 would be a significant downgrade, because look at Troy Aikman! He's 3-0! If I were a yelling-at-the-radio-type, I might have expressed that 3-2 is a *better* Super Bowl record than 3-0, you dope.

But he's not Montana. That's gone now.

47 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Yeah, Montana had his easily interceptible pass, against the Bengals late in the fourth quarter of a close Super Bowl, dropped by a Bengal, after it floated into his belly, and Brady didn't recover any of the Giants' fumbles on Sunday night.

That Brady; he's no Montana.

53 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

I'm talking about legacy, which is public perception. You might be one of a dozen people in the world that remembers that Montana threw a pass that should have been intercepted against the Bengals.

And seriously, fumble luck schmumble luck. Brady's interception on Sunday, taking game situation (first down!) and everything into account, was just an awful, awful play.

56 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

By the the way, is there a link anywhere of this Montana "dropped INT"? I don't remember it either, and am curious whether it was a real drop or a phony-baloney Asante Samuel no-leather-attracting-magnets-in-the-tops-of-his-fingertips "drop".

80 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

I mention it to illustrate that public perception is often about as intelligent as my dog's. If that floater is caught, the legend of Montana is greatly reduced, given that he was coming off horrible playoff performances in '85, '86, and '87. Heck, it's not inconceivable that Walsh decides to keep coaching, and opens things up the next year with Young truly competing for the starting job. I'm not saying Montana wasn't great. I'm saying that using a playoff w-l record is not a reliable way of establishing the greatness of a qb. If you don't like my fumble comment, then think about how perception changes if Welker makes a catch of a pass he had two hands on. When the public's perception of a qb can change greatly if that pass is caught or not caught, there is little reason to care about the public's perception. Or at least no more than my dog's.

87 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Yes, I think your point that legacies often rest on razor-thin margins is a very good one. And while I do think that Sunday's game will affect Brady's legacy, I can get on board with the idea that the correct answer to "will game X affect player Y's legacy?" is "Who cares?"

(Switching from "fumble luck" to "Welker" doesn't help, though, since IMO that play was 25% on Welker and 75% on Brady, who turned an easy catch into a very difficult one)

99 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

I think that Brady, in order to make it an "easy catch", would have had to risk Welker getting decapitated by a safety running at full speed. It could have been a slightly better pass, resulting in less difficulty for Welker, without risking the Giants having either a play on the ball or a defenseless Welker, but not hugely less difficult.

74 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Thank you. I've always been irked by the "Pats would have won SB42 if Asante Samuel hadn't dropped that easy interception" crowd.

Yeah, they would have won if he hadn't "dropped" it, but that would not have been an easy catch.

81 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

It seemed to me that the main reason Samuel dropped it was he was trying to get his feet inbounds and took his eye off the ball. I think a wide receiver should be expected to make that play, but not necessarily a defensive back.

85 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

The level of difficulty of that catch is extremely underrated. He had to jump as high as he could, extend all the way with his hands, and still barely got them to touch the ball, and he was right on the sideline. If he had somehow made one of the most amazing catches in NFL history, he still would have likely come down out of bounds.

It was a much harder catch than Welkers drop that he shouldn't be blamed for.

210 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Ask Aaron.

WRs get penalized by FO for being the nearest player on a throwaway. Airmailing the ball 30 yards past a receiver for a safety counts as a "drop" to FO.

279 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

You've phrased it in the most negative way possible.

It's actually true that all incompletions targeting a receiver get counted the same. A drop and an overthrow both count against a WR equally. Saying that a bad throw is considered a "drop" is just being overly-critical.

302 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Only if you insist on using such terms.

FO counts them all as "incompletions". As such, WRs get a disproportionate amount of blame for overthrows, QBs for drops. Over a large enough sample, it evens out.

62 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Good point. 6-4 would indeed be a downgrade from his career playoff record.

Montana was 16-7 in the playoffs. Brady is 16-6. It's too soon to say "that's gone now" with such finality considering that Brady's playoff record is actually better. In fact, next season is too soon as well, since at worst Brady's playoff record would fall exactly to Montana's level. Yes, I know you're focusing on the Super Bowl. But getting there counts for something, as you pointed out.

200 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Absolutely agree. Downgrading Brady for dragging a mediocre supporting cast to yet another Super Bowl is nonsense. The Pats BARELY won his first three Super Bowls (three points, every time) and BARELY lost the last two. This is easily his least talented team... a bunch of practice-squad refugees starring on defense, two undrafted running backs, and no speed whatsoever at WR. Without Brady and Belicheck, these guys finish 5-11.

50 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

He threw 16 consecutive completions. I should think that would help him.

Some of the Boston press have compared this performance with his game in Super Bowl XXXVI. He was clearly better this weekend. It's not close.

Two factors are involved here:

a) memories of how well Brady actually played are distorted. Brady's early victories were marked more by team efforts than individual brilliance on his part. He's won a lot of games, but he's never had anything approaching Kurt Warner's Super Bowls

b) As Brady has improved, the NE offense has come to lean on him more and more. So now there's a demand that he throw a perfect game every week.

I've been critical of some of Brady's passes. Early in the game, he seemed to be targeting Jason Pierre-Paul. Late in the game, he had horrible problems with accuracy. And in the middle, he threw an egregious interception. But for the middle third of the game, he was positively brilliant.

I think the injured shoulder affected him. I know it wasn't his throwing arm, but if he had pain issues to deal with, that might have altered his mechanics ever so slightly.

58 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

How much of the supposed accuracy issues were caused by pressure? On the interception, he barely escaped getting stripped by Rocky Bernard (I think), dodged another lineman (didn't catch his number), and had JPP right in his face as he released. When he escaped the pressure, he was forced to move laterally and wasn't able to step up in the pocket when he released. He may have made some bad throws, but I don't think they were easy ones.

67 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

I'm sure the pressure played a role, either directly or indirectly (the shoulder injury from the sack seemed to hurt his performance late in the game.)

But I still think the long interception was appalling. And it was exactly the kind of mistake he'd made against the Ravens. In a situation where the Pats were having a lot of success moving the ball, he took a foolish chance on a deep pass he couldn't make.

If he keeps doing that kind of thing, I'm going to start calling him Bledsoe.

When he was younger and humbler, Brady had the sense to respect his limitations.

76 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Not so sure it was a bad decision. Bad throw, absolutely.

But Gronk had the LB beat if the ball wasn't badly underthrown. So the decision was reasonable but the execution was bad.

(And "badly underthrown" is the story of Brady's long balls. I think this bizarre idea that some people have that Brady has a good long ball is memories warped by 2007. And I bet if you looked at the tape, many of those bombs were underthrown balls where one of two things happened:
1) Motivated Moss was able to outjump/outfight the coverage and come down with the ball, or
2) Moss was so wide open that even after slowing up to catch the underthrown ball, he was able to speed up for meaningful YAC before getting caught (if got caught at all))

78 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

But Gronk had the LB beat if the ball wasn't badly underthrown. So the decision was reasonable but the execution was bad.

It's only a good decision if you can make the throw and...

"badly underthrown" is the story of Brady's long balls.

86 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Well, it's not that he totally can't. It's that he mostly can't :)

In contrast to the Gronk throw, look at the Hail Mary at the end of the game. Or the heave that almost connected with Moss on the last or 2nd to last play of That Arizona Game. Both of those (esp the Moss throw) were very long and pretty much right on the money.

So he's capable, but my guess is that the conditions (like getting planted, gripping the ball right, etc.) have to be just right.

155 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Funny you bring up that second-to-last play of SB 42. To my eyes, that also looked underthrown. Moss had a step, but Webster was able to knock the ball away despite trailing. Then again, Brady launched that from his own 20 and it came down at the Giants 20. 60 yard passes are not usually completed for a reason.

157 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

No, you're right. It was slightly underthrown just as you say. If Brady could have put another yard on it Moss may have been able to stay ahead of Webster and McQuarters and catch it. But short by a yard is a lot different than the short by quite a few yards the Gronk throw was.

(And it was more than 60 yards because it was thrown diagonally from the other side of the field from where Moss was running.)

197 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

I'd put the blame on Gronkowski and his bad ankle. The throw was a good decision, even if underthrown. Gronk is open deep with no safety in sight, trailed by a linebacker/substitute school teacher. Even if underthrown, the possible outcomes are:

1. Gronkowski slams on the brakes and Blackburn slams into him...pass interference, first and goal.

2. Gronkowski slams on the brakes and cuts in front of Blackburn.

3. The 6'8" dude wins the jump ball.

4. Or, least probably, what happened, which amounted to a good punt.

You make that throw every time.

245 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

OK, so he gently applies the brakes instead. My point is, the decision to make the throw was the right one. If you've got a receiver who has three steps on his defender (ironically named "Chase"), and the potential payoff is a 40-yard gain and/or TD, you heave it. The decision was the right one. (Unlike, say, the utterly insane decision to throw a bomb to a double-covered Underwood a couple of weeks ago.) It was the execution that sucked.

235 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

It's a bad decision if he tries to make a throw he isn't really capable of making. It's bad execution of an acceptable decision if you think he has a high percentage on that throw. In no way do "you make that throw every time" if you expect to under-throw it.

247 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Point taken. But there are throws where under-throwing is usually disastrous (like an out pattern or trying to drop it over a LB in zone coverage), but this isn't one of them. When the receiver is behind a chasing defender, with no safety help, the receiver has all the advantages. Blackburn can't see the ball coming; Gronkowski can. Usually the result of an underthrown ball in cases like this is DPI. Gronk telegraphed it when he gradually turned and slowed down...he's young... he will learn.

261 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

I thought it caused horrible dancing...

If that's as good as he could do (the play, I mean, not the dancing...OK, either one applies...), maybe the bigger question is...should he have even been out there?

264 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Indisputable visual evidence...


Upon further review...

1) Nice scramble by Brady!
2) 50 yard throw...farther than I remembered.
3) Bad placement. Throw it the left...give Gronkowski an angle.
4) Gronkowski was hobbling around pathetically. He should not have been playing.

267 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Totally agree with you JK. The throw was not well-executed, but we're talking about a lumbering MLB 50 yards down the field not only making a nice play to turn around at the right time and establish position to avoid DPI, but also snaring the football over his head! That's just a great, great play by Blackburn. Total chance of an INT (and not an INT of disastrous consequences, btw) as Brady decides to unleash that pass? I'd say less than 2%, compared with about a 20% chance of a positive result with a catch or DPI. This play is being massively overthought. Inevitable given the bad result, I suppose, but we FO readers should be more objective than the mainstream media.

Beat Brady up over the intentional-grounding safety instead. That was just a flat-out dumb play (I don't buy the "they never call that" explanation, and Brady should be more careful regardless given that he wasn't reacting out of desperation as with most intentional grounding penalties).

17 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Here's a question: when does New England draft a QB? Brady will be 35 next season, and is due for some age-related decline (we've probably already seen it with respect to his deep ball). Barring injury (not a given at that age), he should still be a top tier QB for another 2-3 years, but he can't last forever. Elway, Montana, Marino, & Young retired at 38. Warren Moon was productive at 40, and lingered as a backup for a few more years after that. Aikman retired due to concussions at 34. We all know about Stubbleface.

I think this is one of the benefits to Belichick stockpiling 1st-2nd round draft picks - and maybe the logic behind it. If a QB prospect becomes available in the 1st round, he has ammunition to move up without destroying the rest of his draft class, and with the new rookie cap, he can then sit him behind Brady for a couple years. I wouldn't say this about anyone else, but we know Belichick plays the long game - maybe he's been preparing for Brady's eventual decline/retirement?

29 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Belichick drafted Ryan Mallet in the 3rd round last year. He was probably the most "pro-ready" of all the QBs, except for the maturity/attitude. Seeing how he wasn't cut like other backup QBs (indicated he follows the "Patriot Way") and that he lit it up during pre-season, shows he might be a decent starter in a few years.

55 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

I'm in the same boat. I believe Cam may be a pretty good pro, and I thought he was Jamarcus Russell when he came out.

I have a lot more hope for him than I do for Mark Sanchez, for instance.

113 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

I'm not a Patriots fan (to the extent I have a team, it is the Colts). But Mallett had better physical tools than any other QB in the draft this past year, and was dropped out of the first round solely because of drug allegations (irrelevant assuming he's past it) and mouthing off to reporters. If he actually works at being a pro, there is no reason to think his floor isn't Drew Bledsoe.

Cam Newton is still a pretty inaccurate running quarterback who was very successful his first season because Carolina's offensive line got healthy and defenses did not respect his running ability. He's a good pro; but he could be Daunte Culpepper - or Troy Smith. From his first season, I don't think we know.

I think Cam Newton was a good pick for Carolina. Even good picks don't always pan out. (See: Bradford, Sam).

123 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

I wouldn't give up on Bradford quite yet. His sophomore year was a step backwards, certainly, but his numbers over his first two years are better than Stafford's were a year ago.

I was going to make a comment about Alex Smith, but for some reason the search string "Alex Smith" at NFL.com sends me to the Browns' TE.


So, instead, I'll make fun of bad website design. :)

213 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Stafford last year had the equivalent of one season's worth of games, and 13 of those were for a team coming off the only 0-16 season in NFL history. He had a worse team than Bradford did. His sophomore numbers were pretty good, and this year's results indicate those were more predictive than his freshman numbers.

243 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

There's a difference between a "season's worth of games" and actual seasons though, especially for young QB's. Every additional season in another year of preparation, practice, and experience in a pro system. Was Aaron Rodgers a "rookie" in 2008 nd a "sophomore" in 2009? No, he had been on the league since '05, and despite not seeing playing time, those years on the squad helped his development.

Also: Bradford does not have a Megatron. He doesn't even have a Waspinator.

124 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Drew Bledsoe is an awfully high floor. Jeff George sure sounds like a better all-around match. And Ryan Leaf sounds like the worst-case scenario.

Of course, very little was spent on Mallett (3rd round pick) relative to those three (1st, 1st, and 2nd overall).

142 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

"But Mallett had better physical tools than any other QB in the draft this past year"

Really? Kaepernick was clocked throwing faster at the combine, Mallet came second. Newton wasn't far behind. CK and Newton are much, much faster. How on earth can you make the claim that Mallet had better physical tools?

I will add that I thought much of the criticism of Mallett was unjustified, he might not be able to run but he can slide in the pocket to good effect. (Peyton Manning and Brady are as slow as qbs get and they move well in the pocket too)

214 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

I tend to think of accuracy as a skill, and not as a tool.
(Jeff George was a tool, for instance)

You can be tooled and not skilled (young Randall Cunningham) or skilled and not tooled (old Chad Pennington).

168 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Carolina's offensive line still isn't healthy. They haven't had Jeff Otah line up at Right Tackle in almost two years. The cast of misfits they sent out to play tackle this season was terrible.

83 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

I pointed this out in the Audibles thread, but if Brady had threw the ball in the direction Welker was facing (his right shoulder), the Giants' safety would have been able to break up the pass (or worse, intercept it). Brady threw the ball to a place that only Welker could get it; unfortunately, Welker had to turn his body to get it.

I don't give a ton of blame to Welker; it wasn't a terrible drop, but it was definitely a drop. Brady could have thrown the ball a little better (lower), but he did throw it to the correct shoulder.

101 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

I wouldn't call him "wide open". Watch the NFL.com video from about the 7-second mark to the 10-second mark. By the time the ball gets to Welker, the Giant safety is within ten feet, and that's after the throw has caused Welker to move away from said safety.

132 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Not for two players who would have been running towards each other, if Brady's throw doesn't cause Welker to shift course. If Brady throws to Welker's front shoulder, in stride, there is no gap, and Welker is having his concussion symptoms evaluated today.

154 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Did you read the rest of my post? The pass led him away from the safety. Had the throw been to Welker's right at all, the safety would have been able to make the play.

1. Welker is 10-15 feet away from the safety.
2. Brady throws the ball, away from the safety.
3. Welker and safety both move towards the ball.
4. Ball hits Welker, safety is now ~10 feet away.

207 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Looking at the video, I have to say you really have a high threshhold for "wide open". I guess it means the receiver should be able to make any cut he wants and run for another 10 yards before seeing anybody. For me it means "receiver in a position where the pass could be easily thrown to him without any fear of a defender making a play on it."

The pass could have led Welker downfield instead of making him twist around to try to catch it.

It looks like Brady was throwing to Welker's left shoulder while Welker was turning to his right.

He's still wide open no matter how you slice it.

252 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Reviewing the replay last night, I had another thought regarding the Welker catch: did he run a bad route? I haven't heard anyone bring up the possibility, and I don't know enough about football or the Patriots offense to say for myself.

As Will and others have noted, there were three Giants defenders around him, but the deep outside - where Brady threw, and caused Welker to spin & reach - was indeed wide open. So the question I have is why didn't Welker break outside instead of inside? Why was that a back shoulder throw instead of a front shoulder throw?

The route itself appeared to be a sight adjustment - the Giants were unsure of their responsibilities before the snap, and Brady & Welker both saw it and tried to take advantage. The three Giants defenders had the short inside, short outside, and deeep inside covered. Nobody had even a remote chance at covering the deep outside, but Welker ran a seam route with an inside break. To me, it appears that if Welker runs a corner, it's a much easier throw for Brady, probably results in a touchdown, and we call it a broken play for the Giants.

280 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

He certainly might have. Brady had to throw the ball over his left shoulder. That was the right place to throw it.

The throw could have been better, but they're clearly both to blame.

128 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

He appeared wide open to you because Brady threw the ball in a way that caused Welker to move away from the safety. Could Brady have thrown a better ball, allowing Welker to make an easier catch, without excessive exposure to the safety? Yes. Was there as much room as the term "wide open" implies? Not even close.

141 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Yeah...I don't even know where the controversy lies. Welker got both of his hands around the front half of the ball and just couldn't hang on. It wasn't a routine catch, but it was a catch an NFL-caliber wide receiver should make 8 times out of 10. It was a catch the NFL leader in receptions over the last 5 years should make 10 out of 10 times.

NFL quarterbacks oftentimes intentionally put the ball in places that require the receiver to execute a tough catch. The understanding is that an NFL Receiver will make that catch.

Pure and simple, Welker dropped the ball. I'm not going to beat him up too much over it -- everybody had bad plays from time-to-time, but the suggestion that he's getting unduly blamed for dropping the ball is off-base.

209 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

I think Welker is getting unduly blamed because there were 70+ plays in the game and mistakes were made all over the place, by both teams. And the Welker drop is pretty low on the list for me. Well behind the Brady interception, the poor coverage on the Manningham catch, the safety, the 12-men-on-the-field play, and the Ninkovich offsides call.

244 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Poor coverage on the Manningham catch? I thought it was pretty damn good, in that it forced both QB and WR to execute flawlesssly in order to succeed. The fact that they did just that doesn't mean it was bad coverage.

254 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

That was my analysis as well but Matt Bowen on National Football Post makes a pretty good case that the defensive back shouldn't have allowed such a clean outside release and that Chung should have played the fade sooner.

256 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

The operative word in such an analysis is "perfectionism" though. That's just an unrealistic expectation. The coverage was very good by NFL defensive standards. I'm sure that in breaking down film like this coaches stress where something can be done better, but on this play I can't go so far as to use the word "blame". Not even close.

208 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Brady threw the ball to Welker's left shoulder. It's a bit silly to say that this "caused Welker to move away from the safety" since Welker had already turned toward the safety before he located the ball.

If Brady had thrown the ball so it hit Welker on the hands when he turned to the right, that would have been an easy catch. You seem to think that the only way that Brady could have thrown the pass to Welker's right shoulder is if he did so with the same arc and distance.

I see Welker turn to the right and I see that he's wide open when he does so. And you don't think he's wide open at that moment because somehow the only pass to Welker's right shoulder would have led him into the safety. I strongly disagree.

274 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Anyone wondering should watch both plays again on youtube. Welker: wide open. Manningham: Not.

Welker was wide open because the Giants knew that if the Pats picked up another 1st down it was likely curtains. The D was confused, and Welker found a seam. Brady threw a marginally catchable ball but could have made a much better pass. I don't think the probability of Welker holding on was as high as some seem to, but I think most of the time that that particular pass gets dropped is when the receiver lands - since he was likely not going to land on his feet.

Manning had a small window to fit a pass into, and nailed it, tough to blame the D.

275 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

A better pass? Sure. A "much better" pass? If so, then again we're talking about perfectionism.

If anyone is so interested, Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe has churned out a couple thousands words breaking down the mechanics of this single play (link below). One observation is that if Brady throws the same back-shoulder pass but it hits Welker at chest level instead of head-high, he makes the catch no problem. Sure, and that's the difference of about one foot on a pass traveling 30 yards in the air.

Expectations on the play are the key. It's not an easy throw (regarding optimal placement) and it's not an easy catch. Brady can make a marginally better pass, but Welker's execution on the catch-- as measured by the result-- can be much better. Neither is to blame per se, but unfortunately Welker's side of the equation has a binary result-- catch or no-catch-- on a play he will probably make at least 75% of the time. And that's Bedard's final conclusion-- perfect pass or not, it's a catch that should be made. I agree.


282 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

So I read that, and it is interesting! But it didn't seem to support the conclusion that the right pass by Brady was a foot lower, it more seemed to indicate that he went to the wrong location.

Related, I saw a "science of sports" segment last night breaking down the Manning to Manningham throw, and the degree of accuracy required for that to be a catchable ball period. Just astounding for a throw that was probably 50 yards in the air.

And I completely agree with the sentiment that it is entirely unfair to break 60 an entire game down to these 2 plays, but in the end it is tough not to compare them.

296 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

> But it didn't seem to support the conclusion that the right pass by Brady was a foot lower, it more seemed to indicate that he went to the wrong location.

Correct, that was only one possibility, for the same approach of throwing a back-shoulder pass to keep the ball well clear of the safety. Other expert analysts preferred that the throw stay in the seam in line with Welker's initial direction, and/or (probably most importantly) that the ball be thrown with a flatter trajectory in order to arrive sooner.

I still think all of this analysis is slicing the matter very thin because this was hardly a bad pass (or a terrible drop on the other end), but that's what we do with such critical plays to get them out of our system, I guess.

303 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Manning's throw was quite simply one of the best throws you will ever see. You won't generally get an appreciation of that here. RickD referred to it as just a 35 yard out pattern. Manning's throw to Manningham was dropped into the bucket and accurate to the inch. Others agree:

"Eli Manning's 38-yard pass to Mario Manningham on the New York Giants' game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter is rightly regarded as the play of the game in Super Bowl XLVI -- it was, quite simply, the single-greatest throw this writer has ever seen." - Doug Farrar

"Manningham 38 yds on 1st play of winning TD drive was as good a throw as you’ll ever see, Also great route by Manningham to give Manning room to drop the ball into the bucket" - Greg Cosell

281 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

"If Brady had thrown the ball so it hit Welker on the hands when he turned to the right, that would have been an easy catch. You seem to think that the only way that Brady could have thrown the pass to Welker's right shoulder is if he did so with the same arc and distance."

The ball had to travel over twenty yards in the air, and had to have enough arc to clear the Giant defender upfield and to the right of Welker. There is absolutely no way that the pass would have gotten to Welker while he was still open under those circumstances.

It wasn't a good throw. It should have been lower. But it should not have been to Welker's right.

103 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

"Brady legacy tarnished? Haha! The causal fan might think so, but the total career would say no"

I think when people bring this up-- the "legacy tarnished" part-- they're not talking about the career. They're talking about this notion that Tom Brady (along with Coach Bill) were simply unbeatable in the final minutes of a game, and that if you give them two weeks to prepare for someone, they'll beat you.

The ESPN talent had serious issues for the past two weeks when they'd say stuff like "clearly, New York is superior, but how can you bet against Brady and Belichick giving them two weeks to prepare????" and thus, they'd end up picking the Pats.

So no, no one doubts that Tom is an all-time great. He's on The List. But let's now finally do away with the notion that he's John Elway plus Joe Montanta times two.

107 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

I think I tentatively agree. While you've certainly poured on the hyperbole, Brady's legacy(*), until now, was that he was one of the two or three best "big game" quarterbacks of all time.

Was this a correct judgement? Maybe. Personally, I wouldn't have said so.

Now, his legacy is slightly lower; he's now "just" a great quarterback, like Peyton Manning or Brett Favre. No one is saying he's no longer great, or is now a choker; just that his legacy isn't as great as it once was.

His legacy is still that of one of the all-time great quarterbacks of all time; but before, it was one of the all-time greats who was also awesome in the clutch.

(*) For the purposes of this post, this is none of my personal feelings, just how Brady is generally perceived.

161 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Well, there was hyperbole on my part, but I'm not exaggerating too much with, for instance, some of the ESPN radio talk I heard this weekend. John Kincade, for instance, really was saying stuff like "How can you pick against New England in the Super Bowl?" arguing that Brady plus that coaching staff was just too good in the playoffs-- even when, he admitted, New York looked better on paper.

And Kincade isn't an anomaly. I listen to ESPN quite a bit, and the media talent they have, plus their regular interviews, all have been weaving this narrative for years now. Even when New England was getting beat in the playoffs, it was never "huh, perhaps something's wrong with our narrative" it was always "huh, something's wrong with New England" because, of course, the narrative (New England just doesn't lose in the playoffs with Brady!!) can't be wrong.

Now, perhaps, thanks to social media (ugh), those who previously had no voice have one (however small) and are pushing back on this meme (constructed largely by a bunch of people who live in New England and work for a New England-based media outlet with massive nation-wide influence) that Brady and the Patriots were invincible under two minutes when the game was on the line in the playoffs. The talking heads are having trouble wrapping their heads around the fact that their narrative might be wrong, and are creating strawmen to fight against ("Now people are saying Tom Brady is a choker! They're idiots!"). But that's not the real discussion-- and if they were honest, they'd admit it.

211 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

There's no point discussing these things with people who bring up the videotaping at every juncture. I doubt Brady's legacy has been "tarnished" with them since they made up their minds a long time ago.

11 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

The numbers don't tell us much about Brady and Eli Manning. We know they are both good quarterbacks who are also good in the postseason. They should probably put to rest the Peyton-chokes-in-the-postseason meme, and of course they confirm that Warner has been insane in the postseason (especially given that his postseason games were mostly ten years ago, before the recent passing DYAR explosion).

The most interesting thing they say contra conventional wisdom is something I wish got more airtime: Ben Roethlisberger is a very average quarterback.

16 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Pats fan and all, I have to disagree with this. Big Ben is a quarterback playing on a team that has traditionally leaned on the defense and the running game. Look at Ben's passes per game. His average production. DYAR is about production, not per-play value. I think Ben fits very nicely into what they ask him to do. He's not a Brady/Brees/Rodgers mold of quarterback, but he's a pretty good player.

22 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

I think the better term for Roethksixcnsgfj maybe "enigmatic". He is much better now than what he was when he was young, when he is healthy, but of course his style of play, holding onto the ball until coverage breaks down, which is possible because he is so big and agile, makes staying healthy problematic.

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I've always thought he was overrated - and, as I mentioned in the last Audibles thread, that his O-line was underrated.

I think guys like Big Ben and Vick give their O-lines a bad rap by holding onto the ball too long and allowing late pressure to get to them.

THAT SAID - I started to come around on Big Ben the last 2 seasons. I think he's only a bit overrated now, rather than massively overrated. He does bring some bad habits with him, but it's hard to argue with some of the plays he makes.

134 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

> The most interesting thing they say contra conventional wisdom is something I wish got more airtime: Ben Roethlisberger is a very average quarterback.

How does Top 10 in the postseason translate to "very average"? Furthermore Roethlisberger has ranked #11-#2-#8 in the last three seasons in DVOA (hint: OA stands for "over average") in the regular season. Nothing about any of this screams "average". Not elite perhaps, but certainly not average.

15 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

I'm suprised opponent adjustments were enough to overcome what were, effectively, two turnovers by Brady. How is the grounding penalty and safety (on first down!)treated in DVOA? It's got to be at least as negative as a down-the-field INT, and presumably worse because it gave the Giants 2 points. Although DVOA doesn't know that, in this case, Brady had more than enough time to get rid of the ball and therefore the grounding penalty was largely an unforced error. By my eyes, even factoring in strength of opponent, Brady played significantly worse than Manning (who made a few clunky throws himself) because of those two very big minus plays and general inaccuracy down the stretch.

21 Re: Super Bowl XLVI Quick Reads

Brady seemed injured at the end. Am I the only one who felt that way? He got really hot there for a stretch, and at the end, it wasn't like the cold streak in the Denver game where he and the receivers were on the wrong page, he just wasn't placing the ball as well. That felt like the margin of screw up consistent with something like a mildly separated shoulder.